Friday, April 19, 2019

Lexus RX350 AWD FSport

John Heilig

  • MODEL: 2019 Lexus RX350 AWD F-Sport
  • ENGINE: 3.5-liter V6 
  • TRANSMISSION: 8-speed automatic with paddle shifters
  • HORSEPOWER/TORQUE: 295 hp @ 6,300 rpm/268 lb.-ft. @ 4,200 rpm 
  • WHEELBASE: 109.8 in.
  • LENGTH X WIDTH X HEIGHT: 192.5 x 74.6 x 67.7 in 
  • TIRES: P235/55R20  
  • CARGO CAPACITY: 18.4/56.3 cu. ft. (rear seats up/down)  
  • ECONOMY: 19 mpg city/26 mpg highway/15.6 mpg test  
  • FUEL TANK: 19.2 gal. 
  • CURB WEIGHT: 4,387 lbs.  
  • TOWING CAPACITY: 3,500 lbs.  
  • COMPETITIVE CLASS: Buick Envision, Jaguar F-Pace, Volvo XC60 
  • STICKER: $61,893 (includes $1,025 delivery, $10,158 options) 
  • BOTTOM LINE: For a luxury small SUV you really can’t go wrong with the Lexus RX350. It has style and decent performance, plus very good cargo capacity.

            From its signature spindle grille to its power tailgate, the RX350 is all Lexus. As the first Lexus SUV, it has remained the benchmark for others in the segment, and it rarely disappoints.
            Powering the RX350 is a 3.5-liter V6 that has good power at 295 horses. We were never at a loss for oomph, and we took the RX over some interesting roads as well on Interstates. In addition, the engine is quiet. It’s not quite as quiet as an LS, but as Lexus’s granddaddy of SUVs, it’s fine. 
            We enjoyed a comfortable ride over all surfaces, and Pennsylvania does its share to make sure there is a wide variety available. Handling is good. But this is not a sports car, even with F-Sport goodies.
            The driver faces a large centrally mounted tachometer with a digital speedometer inset. There is an information screen on the left and water temperature and fuel level gauges on the right.
            Speaking of the F-Sport, we enjoyed signature seats with good side support, heat and ventilation. The heat function has an automatic mode, so we were pleasantly surprised when it warmed without our having to look for the switches. 
            Front passengers enjoy good forward vision with a sloping windscreen and large pseudo wing windows. They aren’t real windows of course, but they provide clear vision between the window’s vertical channel and the A-pillar.
            Rear seats offer good legroom, but there is no room under the front seats to put your feet. However, there’s no center hump, making the middle position more friendly for sitting there. 
            The RX uses a central controller to select among functions on the infotainment screen, among others. It takes some experience to work with the simulated detents as you work the mouse-like controller. There’s a wrist support on the center console that makes using the mouse-like controller easier.
            Also on the center console is a knob where the driver can select from several driving modes. “Normal” is best for an everyday balance of performance and energy conservation. “Sport” puts an edge on powertrain performance, while “Eco” operates the powertrain at its most efficient level. The F-Sport package adds a “Sport S+” mode that activates a firmer suspension setting in the Adaptive Variable Suspension.
            Interior storage is aided by door pockets that have a fold-out feature that extends capacity. In addition, there’s a deep center console with a pair of USB plugs, plus AUX and 12-volt outlets.
            Cargo capacity is very good, at 18.4 cubic feet with the rear seat backs up and 56.3 cubic feet with them down. In addition, there is hidden storage next to the space-saver spare. Rear seat back releases are located in the cargo area.
            Recently, I have driven large full-size SUVs as well as true small SUVs. While the RX350 is listed as a small SUV, it is more of a mid-size, in my estimation. The size is right, the power and handling are right, and the luxury is right. I will always carp about the sticker price, but putting it all together, even that isn’t too bad.

(c) 2019 The Auto Page Syndicate 

Thursday, April 11, 2019

This Mirage comes up short!!

Automakers like to develop and build cars that are global platforms, with appeal to several markets. But Bumper2Bumpertv finds that Mitsubishi did not put its best effort forward with the Mirage.

2019 Kia Forte EX

John Heilig

  • MODEL: 2019 Kia Forte EX 
  • ENGINE: 2.0-liter 4 
  • TRANSMISSION: IVT (Intelligent Variable Transmission) 
  • HORSEPOWER/TORQUE: 147 hp @ 6,200 rpm/132 lb.-ft. @ 4,500 rpm  
  • WHEELBASE: 106.3 in.
  • LENGTH X WIDTH X HEIGHT: 182.7 x 70.9 x 56.5 in.  
  • TIRES: P225/45R17  
  • CARGO CAPACITY: 15.3 cu. ft.
  • ECONOMY: 30 mpg city/40 mpg highway/31.7 mpg test 
  • FUEL TANK: 14.0 gal. 
  • CURB WEIGHT: 2,762-2,903 lbs. 
  • TOWING CAPACITY: Not recommended 
  • COMPETITIVE CLASS: Chevrolet Cruze, Honda Civic, Nissan Sentra 
  • STICKER: $26,415 (includes $865 delivery, $3,530 options) 
  • BOTTOM LINE: The all-new Kia Forte is a cable compact sedan with a comfortable ride.

            The 2019 Kia Forte has been redesigned, making Kia’s compact car into - officially - a mid-size. To use the current hot term, it’s a cusp mid-size. 
            Overall length for the Forte has grown by 3.2 inches to 182.7 inches on the same 106.3-inch wheelbase, with the big advantage gained in rear seat legroom, which is pretty decent, depending on the positioning of the front seat. For example, where I position the seat for comfortable driving, there’s about an inch or two in front of my knees when I sit in the back. Behind my wife’s seat, however, the knee room is tighter, because she likes to sit further away from the dash. 
            Cargo capacity is also increased from the former model, and is now up to 15.3 cubic feet with the rear seat backs up. The seat backs fold easily with trunk-mounted releases.
            The Forte is powered by a 2.0-liter four, that its basically unchanged from the previous model and delivers 147 horsepower. Power reaches the front wheels through what Kia calls an Intelligent Variable Transmission, which is basically a smart CVT. Performance is decent. The engine is relatively quiet. Yes, it buzzes on hard acceleration, but in cruise mode it doesn’t make a lot of noise. 
            Fuel economy is excellent. We averaged more than 31 mpg overall on our test that didn’t include a lot of highway mileage.
            We took the Forte on one of our favorite hill climb routes and it proved to be a fun drive. Handling is good, as are the brakes. 
            Front seats are comfortable with some side support. Our tester had power adjustable seats for the driver, but my wife had trouble getting her manual seat to a comfortable setting. Rear seat room is okay, as I said, depending on front seat position. 
            The driver faces a simple instrument panel with a tachometer, speedometer, fuel and water temperature gauges. I had the central information panel set to a digital speedometer, which was handy. 
            In the middle of the dash is a clear infotainment screen. The default screen is a map on the left and audio information on the right. Our tester didn’t have SiriusXM hooked up, so I switched to my old favorite FM stations. Sound quality was good. 
            We remained comfortable through all our drives thanks to heated seats and an excellent HVAC system.
            Safety systems consist of a blind spot monitor, lane departure warning and rear cross traffic alert. All were helpful, sometimes too helpful. For example, the blind spot monitor yelled at me when I signaled to change lanes and it detected a vehicle there. Okay, that was a good nag.
            Internal storage consists of a deep cubby at the base of the center stack with USB, AUX and 12-volt connections. Above this cubby is a shelf with a Qi wireless charger. 
            Overall ride quality for the Kia Forte is good. There is some highway roughness felt in the cabin but it isn’t intrusive. 
            One of the Forte’s more unique features is the key fob. Its has the standard lock and unlock buttons, but rather than being on the face of the fob, they’re on the edge. 
            While it’s officially listed as a midsize, the Kia Forte is, in reality, a large compact, making it gain in practicality.

(c) 2019 The Auto Page Syndicate

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Minimalist Luxury, the Lexus UX 250h.

>br> Lexus has made a pivot with its small crossover offerings. The UX, a vehicle intentionally focused on city drivers, is the latest small crossover from the brand. Bumper2Bumpertv takes a first close look.

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Top of the line – a Cabriolet with the whole package

What’s not to like? A luxury convertible with racing performance under the hood, just what Bumper2Bumpertv likes to drive on a nice day. All of this comes together in the Mercedes AMG-E53

Monday, March 18, 2019

2019 Chevy Tahoe

John Heilig

  • MODEL: 2019 Chevrolet Tahoe 4WD Premier
  • ENGINE:6.2-liter Ecotec3 V8 
  • TRANSMISSION:10-speed automatic 
  • HORSEPOWER/TORQUE: 420 hp @ 5,600 rpm/460 lb.-ft. @ 4,100 rpm 
  • WHEELBASE: 116.0 in. 
  • LENGTH X WIDTH X HEIGHT: 203.9 x 80.5 x 74.4 in. 
  • TIRES: P285/45R22 
  • CARGO CAPACITY: 15.3/51.7/94.7 cu. ft. (all seats up/third row seats down/second and third row seats down) 
  • ECONOMY: 14 mpg city/22 mpg highway/13.9 mpg test 
  • FUEL TANK: 26 gal.
  • CURB WEIGHT: 5,602 lbs. 
  • TOWING CAPACITY: 8,100 lbs.
  • COMPETITIVE CLASS: Ford Expedition, Nissan Armada, Infiniti QX80
  • STICKER: $78,070 (includes $1,295 delivery, $11,675 options) 
  • BOTTOM LINE: The Chevy Tahoe is a large, luxurious SUV with the comfort of a large sedan and the utility of a major cargo carrier.

            I get a kick out of vehicle classifications. The Chevrolet Tahoe is classified as a “standard SUV,” yet it really is large, although not as large as a Chevy Suburban.
            We spent many miles a few years ago in the previous generation Tahoe traveling from Salt Lake City to the Grand Tetons and Yellowstone National Park. There are few other vehicles I can say I’d be willing to have for that trek. It handled all the paved roads, as well as the assortment of non-paved surfaces we encountered. 
            The Tahoe hit our driveway after a week with the Silverado pickup. The Tahoe is comfortably smaller, if only a bit. I found it much more maneuverable but with a slightly more firm ride.
            We had very good power under the hood. With GM’s largest V8 gasoline engine, there’s no need for more. Acceleration is good, surprisingly so for a 5,600-pound vehicle. The engine is responsive, even in automatic mode, although there is a manual mode if you feel you need more response.
            Parking is easier than the Silverado (check out my review), but not that easy! Rear view mirrors and back up cameras help. For example, we backed into a small space with a small wall at the end. When we neared the wall, my butt vibrated thanks to the rear park assist. I had a similar “thrill” when I deviated from the lane I was in, thanks to the lane change alert. We also had a blind spot monitor that didn’t alert me sensually, although the rear cross traffic alert did.
            Switches for 4-wheel drive are located on the dash and I found it easy to switch into 4WD High. We had a surprise snowstorm mid-week of the time we had the Tahoe and I switched quickly into 4WD and had no weather issues. 
            Entering the Tahoe is eased by running boards that slide out. In addition, front and rear passengers have assist handles mounted on the A- and B-pillars. The driver has to make do with grabbing the wheel. 
            Front and second row seats are comfortable and heated. Second row seats have excellent legroom. Legroom in the third row is decent, although the seat back there is flat. 
            Front passengers have a large center console/arm rest with a Qi charger on top for recharging your so-equipped phone. 
            Sound and heating/cooling are very good. The audio system has Apple Play and Android Auto compatibility's. We had one of our frigid winter spells with the Tahoe and the HVAC and heated seats kept us comfortable, almost too comfortable. We were soon turning everything down. 
            Tahoe has a power lift gate that is convenient. You can lift it using the key fob, the button on the dash, or by gently starting it off after you have unlocked it. Once inside, there are switches to lower the third and second row seat backs to increase cargo capacity.
            It’s bigger than a small or mid-sized SUV, but the Chevrolet Tahoe essentially has it all, for a price. It’s a perfect vehicle for a family that needs the room but is reluctant to go all out for the much larger Suburban.

(c) 2019 The Auto Page Syndicate