Tuesday, December 27, 2016

A second look at the Jeep Renegade gets it a second chance to impress.

The smallest SUV built by Jeep didn't fare so well the first time Bumper2Bumpertv tried it out. But when delivered with some true Jeep features, the Italian built model improved its image.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Ford Escape

By John Heilig

  • MODEL: 2017 Ford Escape SE FWD
  • ENGINE: 2.0-liter Ecoboost I-4
  • TRANSMISSION: 6-speed automatic with Select Shift  
  • HORSEPOWER/TORQUE: 245 hp @ 5,500 rpm/275 lb.-ft. @ 3,000 rpm 
  • WHEELBASE: 105.9 in.  
  • LENGTH X WIDTH X HEIGHT: 178.1 x 81.8 x 66.3 in. 
  • TIRES: P235/60R18  
  • CARGO CAPACITY: 34/68 cu. ft. (rear seats up/down)  
  • ECONOMY: 22 mpg city/29 mpg highway/21.4 mpg test  
  • FUEL TANK: 15.7 gal.  
  • CURB WEIGHT: 3,613 lbs.  
  • TOWING CAPACITY: 3,500 lbs.  
  • COMPETITIVE CLASS: Honda CR-V, Buick Encore, Kia Sportage 
  • STICKER: $32,165 (includes $895 delivery, $6,175 options) 
  • BOTTOM LINE: Significantly updated for the 2017 model year, the Ford Escape proves why it is Ford’s second-most popular nameplate, behind the F-150. A small SUV in a crowded market classification, it is a good size with good ride qualities and features.

            I know Ford Escapes are popular vehicles because I see a lot of them on the road. But, in my area of the world, we also see a lot of Subaru's, and overall, they aren’t that popular. But I was surprised to learn that it sits only behind the F-150 among Ford’s vehicles in popularity.
            There’s a reason. The 2017 updates only serve to enhance what was a pretty good vehicle in 2016. Besides a redesign that gives the Escape a fresher look, there are feature changes that also help.
            Start-stop technology, in which the engine shuts down on common stops, then restarts when you lift your foot off the brake, is new. SST is a given with hybrid vehicles, but the Escape is a “normal” gasoline vehicle. While fuel economy numbers are good at 22 mpg city and 29 mpg highway, we only achieved 21.9 mpg in our test, which consisted primarily of local driving.
            The 2.0-liter Ecoboost engine is rated at 245 horsepower, more than adequate for the 3,613-pound Escape. We did a lot of local driving, but our longer turnpike run proved the engine was definitely powerful enough. Adaptive cruise control, where the vehicle automatically slows down when you approach a slower vehicle, is also a great safety addition.
            The interior redesign has placed all the controls where they should be. For example, the former hand actuated parking brake has been replaced with a push-button electronic parking brake, freeing up space in the cockpit. The gear lever has also been moved rearward to provide better access to climate controls on the center stack as well as a “media bin” at the base of the center stack with USB and 12-volt ports.
            I liked the overall dash design. It isn’t just a flat panel, but has some 3D sculpting to it. There are leather-like hard surfaces with brushed aluminum trim. 
            Speaking of the HVAC system, it did a great job in some pretty cold weather, warming the cockpit quickly.
            We had to use the navigation system to find a location about an hour from our home (and return home). Programming the destination was done the “normal” way (to me), entering address, town and state in that order. Granted we didn’t change state, but the system figured out the town before I entered it.
            Front seats are leather and heated without a lot of side support. Side support isn’t necessary because you won’t be pulling a lot of side G forces anyway in the Escape. All door panels are large enough to hold water bottles. 
            Rear seat legroom is good, and a flat floor in the middle makes sitting there more comfortable. There is also good outside visibility from the rear seats. Rear passengers have the use of a 110-volt outlet at the rear of the center console and personal HVAC controls.
            SUVs, no matter what the size, live for cargo capacity, and the Escape does its job well. With the rear seats up there are 34 cubic feet of storage in the carpeted cargo area, with four tie-downs. Fold the rear seat backs and cargo capacity doubles to 68 cubic feet. The rear seats fold flat using a lever located at the cushion.
            Ford’s SYNC Connect and I have always had a tortuous relationship. Still, if you can get it to work for you, it has multiple options, including audio, phone, navigation, apps (Bluetooth, mobile apps, Sirius travel link), settings (sound clock, Bluetooth, phone, navigation, mobile apps, general (language, etc.)) and 911 assist.
            There was a time in our life when my wife and I needed large vehicles. But now that our daughters are out of the house, a more practical size is more appropriate. The Ford Escape would fit the bill nicely.

(c) The Auto Page Syndicate

2017 Ford Escape, benefitting from upgrades


Sunday, December 18, 2016

2017 Acura TLX

John Heilig

  • MODEL: 2017 Acura TLX Tech
  • ENGINE: 2.4-liter DOHC I-4
  • HORSEPOWER/TORQUE: 206 hp @ 6,800 rpm/183 lb.-ft. @ 4,500 rpm
  • WHEELBASE: 109.3 in.
  • LENGTH X WIDTH X HEIGHT: 190.3 x 73.0 x 57.0 in.
  • TIRES: P225/55R17  
  • CARGO: 13.2 cu. ft.
  • ECONOMY: 24 mpg city/35 mpg highway/20.6 mpg test
  • FUEL TANK: 17.2 gal.
  • CURB WEIGHT: 3,483 lbs.
  • TOWING CAPACITY: Not recommended 
  • COMPETITIVE CLASS: Audi A4,  Buick Regal, Lexus CT
  • STICKER: $36,890 (includes $940 delivery)
  • BOTTOM LINE: The Acura TLX is a very nice package. It is quiet, powerful and has good ride quality.    

            Ever since its inception, Acura has offered sporty luxury cars and SUVs. The TLX is no different. A short time behind the wheel will convince you that the TLX offers quiet operation and sporty performance. Throw in entry-level luxury and you have a car that will serve you well in most circumstances.
            One disagreement I have with Acura is in its definition of the TLX. Acura calls it a five-passenger sedan, while in fact the center passenger in the back will soon develop an intimate relationship with his or her knees, thanks to a fairly tall center bump. The two outside passengers will ride in comfort, though, even if legroom is slightly cramped. 
            The driver enjoys a 2.4-liter inline four that is rated at 206 horsepower, more than enough power to propel the 3,483-pound TLX to illegal speeds almost anywhere. Acceleration is good. I was impressed by how quiet the engine is, even under acceleration. The 2.4-liter engine is connected to an 8-speed automatic transmission with sequential paddle shifters, while the optional 3.5-liter V6 uses a 9-speed automatic.
            Handling is also good. The TLX is equipped with P-AWS - Precision All-Wheel Steer. P-AWS was incorporated into the early chassis design of the car and uses independent left and right rear-wheel toe angle control to enhance overall handling precision. It isn’t true all-wheel steer, like the early Honda models that actually moved the rear wheels during turning, but it does help handling. We drove the TLX over some winding roads with no body lean. It’s a nice compliant ride. Also, there is virtually no wind noise, even at higher speeds.
            A feature I like with the TLX is that then outside right mirror tilts down when you shift into reverse. This is very helpful if you’re trying to locate a curb in parallel parking. 
            Dominating the center stack are dual information and entertainment screens. The upper screen is a map most of the time, but switches to the screen for the back-up camera. The lower screen is primarily for audio, although the lower part of that screen displays HVAC info, such as temperature, fan speed and air direction. All this going on on the center stack is not distracting, which is good.
            Instruments are white-on-black dials with a “three dimensional” effect. Two “toggle rotary” switches on the wheel help navigate through the information screen on the instrument panel. They toggle among fuel economy, vehicle settings, compass, average speed elapsed time and range. Gear, outside temperature and odometers are always on.
            Front seats are comfortable but offer minimal side support. The outboard rear seats also offer some side support. Overall rear legroom is tight, reflecting the car’s classification. The EPA classifies the TLX as a compact.
            The rear seats have a pull-down armrest with a pair of cupholders. There’s also a small cubby that would hold a cell phone. All four door pulls have bottoms, which is also convenient for cell phones, if you have an ancient one like mine. 
            For a compact car, the TLX has a good trunk, at 13.2 cubic feet. There are two areas on the right and left that are convenient for keeping grocery bags or objects you don’t want rolling around. In addition, there are small cargo compartments under the cargo floor. The rear seat back releases are located in the trunk compartment to fold the backs for increased cargo capacity.
            Overall,, the Acura TLX is a very nice car. It is a quiet, comfortable driver/rider with features like the back up camera and outside rear mirror dipping that make it easy to park.

(c) 2016 The Auto Page Syndicate 

2017 Nissan Titan holding its own!!!

The 2017 version of the Nissan Titan can do more than just hold its own in the regular size pickup segment. Bumper2Bumpertv finds it has also grown some more muscle along with a redesign.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Toyota 86, a first drive!!!

While the Scion brand has been shut down by parent company Toyota, one of its offerings continues with a few tweaks. Bumper2Bumpertv got a chance to see what the former FRS is like with a new name the 86.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

2017 Honda Accord Sport Coupe

The Honda Accord Sport Coupe is loaded with a lot of technology and is also available with something we don't see much of these days, a V6 engine in a mid size vehicle. Bumper2Bumpertv has a look at the 217 version of the vehicle

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Lincoln MKX

By John Heilig

  • MODEL: 2016 Lincoln MKX
  • ENGINE: 2.7-liter V6
  • TRANSMISSION: 6-speed automatic 
  • HORSEPOWER/TORQUE: 335 hp @ 5,500 rpm/380 lb.-ft. @ 3,000 rpm 
  • WHEELBASE: 112.2 in. 
  • LENGTH X WIDTH X HEIGHT: 190.0 x 76.1 x 66.2 in. 
  • TIRES: P245/60R18 
  • CARGO CAPACITY: 37.2/68.8 (behind 2nd row/behind 1st row) 
  • ECONOMY: 17 mpg city/26 mpg highway/24.1 mpg test 
  • FUEL TANK: 18.4 gal. 
  • CURB WEIGHT: 4,168 lbs. 
  • TOWING CAPACITY: 3,500 lbs. 
  • COMPETITIVE CLASS: Acura MDX, Lexus RX, Jeep Grand Cherokee 
  • STICKER: $54,570 (includes $925 delivery, $8,430 options) 
  • BOTTOM LINE: The Lincoln MKX offers excellent ride quality ensconced in a luxury package. It has its quirks, which may be overcome easily.

            First, I have issues with Lincoln’s nomenclature. This week’s test vehicle is an MKX, but what does that mean? Does the X in its name mean that it is a sport utility, which it is? Or is it just another alphabetical naming. And if X means SUV, what does MKC, etc. mean?
            Now that I’ve gotten that out of my system, the MKX is a very nice entry level luxury SUV. I say entry level because the Navigator would have to be considered an upscale SUV for Lincoln. But entry level is not a disparagement. The MKX has all the goodies of a luxury SUV, it’s just smaller than a bigger one.
            With a 2.7-liter Ecobost V6 engine, there is plenty of power. We cruised along on Interstates with ease and were able to enter into flowing traffic with ease. Our Thanksgiving trip took us to Virginia for a family dinner. We encountered high speed runs as well as stop-and-go “parking lots” when we got near DC. I was impressed by how quiet the engine was, except for under hard acceleration.
            Maneuverability is good. We had our Interstate runs, but we also drove over some urban and back country winding roads and the MKX comported itself well. It gave us a comfortable ride all around.
            The push button shifters take some acclimatization. Every time I shifted I had to pause for a moment to double check which gear I wanted. With manual shifters, you can often shift by feel (two clicks back from Reverse is Drive, etc.). There are paddle shifters behind the wheel.
            The MKX has some features that I like. For example, active cruise control keeps you a safe distance behind the vehicle in front of you no matter how fast or slow that vehicle is traveling. We also had a blind spot monitor and lane departure correction. Normally I’m not a big fan of lane departure features, but this one gently returns the MKX back into the lane if you don’t use the turn signals to change lanes. 
            The MKX also has an “overhead” view as well as a rear view camera when you shift into reverse that is a big help when parallel parking. Also, when you lock the MKX the exterior mirrors fold in.
            I have issues with some of the switches and buttons. For example, when I was trying to set the audio, I accidentally pushed the four-way flashers switch. Where was it? I eventually had to pull off the road to find it. It is located on the right side of the center stack and is poorly marked. Sure, I could have been less sloppy setting the radio, but what if there was an emergency and I had to turn them on? 
            Outside, the MKX has fairly conventional SUV styling with Lincoln touches. The daytime running lights are dramatic. Unlock the doors and a Lincoln logo “puddle light” illuminated the ground in front of the doors. Inside, the driver and front passenger are treated to accent lights - blue around the doors, in the cupholders and door pockets.
            The front seats are comfortable on long rides. Rear seat legroom is good, and with a flat center hump a third passenger would be comfortable back there. The rear seat backs fold easily with a switch in the cargo compartment that powers them down.
            Cargo capacity is good for a mid-size SUV at 37.2 cubic feet with the rear seats up and 68.8 cubic feet with them down. We carried an artificial Christmas tree on one trip and a large artificial snowman on another (don’t ask). There is also useful cargo capacity under the cargo floor.
            Instrumentation is good, with blue back lighting. The infotainment screen is divided in quarters, with phone, navigation, entertainment and climate. Pushing the desired screen will expand it. Oddly, we could find no external temperature readout. 
            We enjoyed the easy lift tailgate. All I had to do was put my foot under the body by the tailgate and it opened without using my hands. It was very useful when I was loading the snowman. 
            Except for some of the switches on the right side of the center stack that are hard to find at night, the MKX is a nice package. Perhaps more seat time or a more thorough reading of the owners manual would help.

(c) 2016 The Auto Page Syndicate