Saturday, July 30, 2016

Infiniti QX80

By John Heilig

  • MODEL: 2016 Infiniti QX80 Limited AWD
  • ENGINE: 5.6-liter V8 
  • TRANSMISSION: 7-speed automatic with manual mode 
  • HORSEPOWER/TORQUE: 400 hp @ 5,800 rpm/413 lb.-ft. @ 4,000 rpm 
  • WHEELBASE: 121.1 in. 
  • LENGTH X WIDTH X HEIGHT: 208.9 x 79.9 x 75.8 in. 
  • TIRES: P275/50R22 
  • CARGO: 16.6 cu. ft. (behind 3rd row) 
  • ECONOMY: 13 mpg city/19  mpg highway/13.4  mpg test 
  • FUEL TANK: 26.0 gal. 
  • CURB WEIGHT: 5,888 lbs. 
  • COMPETITIVE CLASS: Cadillac Escalade, Ford Expedition, Toyota Land Cruiser 
  • STICKER: $89,845 (includes $905 delivery)  
  • BOTTOM LINE: The Infiniti QX80 is a big, comfortable, powerful and luxurious SUV, but at a price.

            Infiniti has done a good job with luxury in the QX80, its largest SUV. Inside, it has wood trim, and dark leather seats with diamond-shaped piping. The headliner, door pillars, door trim and dash top are covered in ultra suede. In the luxury department it has just about everything you could want.
            Under the hood of this enormous vehicle is  5.6-liter V8 that delivers 400 horsepower. The is very good power, and it’s necessary for a vehicle that weighs nearly three tons. Acceleration is good for the size.
            The QX80’s size is impressive. It’s a bit smaller than a GM Suburban, but it gives the same feel. The QX80’s size is mitigated somewhat by a host of safety accessories, including a blind spot monitor,  High Beam Assist, Intelligent Brake Assist with Forward Emergency Braking and Predictive Forward Collision Warning. Add to these Backup Collision Intervention, Intelligent Cruise Control, Blind Spot Warning, Distance Control Assist and front pre-crash seatbelt. Also included are blind spot intervention, lane departure warning and lane departure prevention. 
            The blind spot monitor warning lights are located on the A Pillars. I prefer them to be located on the exterior mirrors, but once you use them a few times you remember where they are.
            My favorite accessory is the around view monitor that gives an “overhead” view of the vehicle. Nissan includes this on other models. The feature is very useful when parking, because you can see the lines and what is behind you. You can also switch the monitor on when you’re headed forward to prevent running into a wall in front of you when you’re parking. 
            Entry and exit on the QX80 can be difficult. However, there are assist handles over all four doors as well as assist handles on the A and B pillars. Add to this a running  hard and entry becomes easier, even for senior citizens.
            With considerable size, there are a lot of features that can’t be available in a smaller vehicle. For example, there’s a huge center console/arm rest that eliminates fighting between the front passengers for arm rest space. 
            USB and AUX plugs are located in a small cubby at the base of the center console. In addition, there are the requisite pair of cupholders and a neat small round cubby in the center console that’s great for holding keys. 
            Luxury features include heated and cooled seats. We didn’t use the heated side of the equation because of exterior temperatures that hung around the mid-90s. But the cooling feature was a pleasant surprise. 
            Second row seats offer excellent leg room. They, too are heated and have their own HVAC controls. The second row seats fold and flip forward to provide access to the third row seats. And, again thanks to the 
QX80’s size, third row legroom is also very good. Entertainment screens for the second row are located behind the front row head restraints. 
            Cargo capacity in the QX80 is also extremely good. With the third row seats up, there is a substantial 16.6 cubic feet of cargo capacity. Lower the third row seats (there is a pair of switches on the right side that will do the job for you), and capacity doubles or triples (Infiniti doesn’t quote the capacity, but trust me, it is, as Donald Trump would say, Huge!).
            Infiniti’s goal with the QX80 was to make the most luxurious vehicle it could, and it has succeeded, to the extent that no options are offered. OK, the price sticker is out of the reach of many, but except for that “minor” detail, the QX80 is super.

(c) 2016 The Auto Page Syndicate

Coming to an Accord.

The Sport edition of the Honda Accord sedan may be in the sweet spot of the model's lineup. Bumper2Bumpertv came to that conclusion after checking out multiple versions of the mid size that has been around for four decades.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Toyota 4Runner


By John Heilig

  • MODEL: 2016 Toyota 4Runner Premium 4X4 Trail
  • ENGINE: 4.0-liter DOHC V-6
  • TRANSMISSION: 5-speed automatic 
  • HORSEPOWER/TORQUE: 270 hp @ 5,500 rpm/278 lb.-ft. @ 4,400 rpm 
  • WHEELBASE: 109.8 in.
  • LENGTH X WIDTH X HEIGHT: 191.3 x 75.8 x 71.5 in.  
  • TIRES: P265/70R17 
  • CARGO CAPACITY: 46.3/88.8 cu. ft. (rear seats up/down) 
  • ECONOMY: 17 mpg city/21 mpg highway/19.1 mpg test
  • FUEL TANK: 23.0 gal.
  • CURB WEIGHT: 4,750 lbs.
  • COMPETITIVE CLASS: Ford Explorer, Chevrolet Equinox, Nissan Pathfinder 
  • STICKER: $41,690 (includes $900 delivery, $1,695 options)
  • BOTTOM LINE: The Toyota 4Runner offers a surprisingly smooth and quiet ride for what is a very good hauler.

            Toyota promotes the 4Runner as “the go-to-SUV for Go-Anywhere capability.” This is true. The 4Runner, which has been around for three decades, not only looks the part, but it can do almost anything you ask of it. 

            Beneath the aggressive hood scoop is a 4.0-liter V6 that pumps out 270 horsepower and 278 lb.-ft. of torque, enough to tow a 5,000-pound trailer with a 470-pound tongue weight. 

            Handling is generally good, but it is compromised somewhat by a tall aspect ratio and ride height. Overall, however, ride quality is surprisingly good for what is essentially a truck. On decent roads, which are few and far between in Pennsylvania, it’s almost like riding in a luxury sedan with a long wheelbase and a heavy chassis.

            Its full-time 4WD system uses a TORSEN center differential with a locking feature and a three-mode center console-mounted switch. The system uses a 40/60 torque split in most driving situations and alters that in response to slippage. If the front wheels are slipping while the vehicle is turning, the differential changes the split to 30/70. If the rear wheels are slipping while the vehicle is turning, the differential changes to a 53/47 split. That’s all courtesy of Toyota.

            Again, according to Toyota because we drove it exclusively on-road, the Trail grade version can adapt the vehicle with the Multi-Terrain Select system. Using an overhead dial to select the mode that matches prevailing terrain and conditions, the 4Runner adjust wheel slip accordingly. Terrain choices include mud and sand, and moguls.

            I was impressed by the 4Runner’s cargo carrying capability, since I had no opportunities for off-roading. First, with two-row seating (three rows are available) there are 47.2 cubic feet of cargo in back. Lower the second row seats (and the seat cushions must also be lowered into the footwells for a flat cargo floor) and you have nearly 90 cubic feet of capacity. In our tester, capacity was somewhat limited by the addition of an available pull-out cargo deck (a $350 option) that can carry up to 440 pounds to make loading and unloading easier. Slide the deck out to its maximum, load your suitcases or boxes on it, then slide it back without having to stretch deep into the cargo bay. You can also use the deck as a seating area or as a table for tailgating. The rear cargo area has multiple tie-downs and grocery bag hooks, as well as a 110-volt outlet.

            We took neighbors to the airport and they were able to put their luggage easily in the back, then enjoyed a comfortable ride in the second row with more than adequate leg room. The second row seats have a pull-down armrest and feature 16 degrees of reclinability in four steps. Entering the rear is made easier with running boards on both sides. These are necessary because the 4Runner rides high. In addition, there are four assist handles, and the front passenger has an additional assist handle on the A-Pillar. Had we brought a third passenger, he or she could have ridden in comfort with a low rear center hump.

            The front seats are comfortable with decent side support. They are well padded. The center console/arm rest is deep. At the base of the center stack are 12-volt, USB and AUX connections.  

            Exterior styling is dominated by that hood scoop and generous use of chrome plating on the bumpers, etc. The “manliness” or “truckness” is emphasized inside with control knobs that have a rugged style. This style is echoed in the speedometer and tachometer bezels. Other than that, it’s a fairly standard instrument panel and dash. I thought the digital clock that is located at the top of the dash was hard to read in daylight. Interior styling has soft surfaces throughout, even on the rear door trim.

            The rear hatch is manually operated. While it’s heavy, it is well counterbalanced and uses good struts. Pulling it back down is tougher, however. The pull-down strap, to me, is located too far from the end of the hatch, where it would provide more leverage. 

            The full-size spare is mounted underneath the cargo area, outside. 

            Overall, the Toyota 4Runner is a rugged vehicle with off-road capability and the ability to carry four to five people in comfort with all their luggage and whatever else they might want to take with them on a trip. 

(c) 2016 The Auto Page Syndicate

The smaller Lexus crossover that is also a hybrid

Is there a place for a smaller crossover from Lexus with a hybrid powertrain ? Bumper2Bumpertv has a quick look at the NX 300h which tries to fill in that space.

Friday, July 15, 2016

The RAV4 Hybrid


By John Heilig

  • MODEL: 2016 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid
  • ENGINE: 2.5-liter DOHC I-4
  • HORSEPOWER/TORQUE: 194 hp total/ 206 lb.-ft. total
  • WHEELBASE: 104.7 in.
  • LENGTH X WIDTH X HEIGHT: 181.1 x 72.6 x 65.9 in.
  • TIRES: P235/55R18 
  • CARGO: 35.6/70.6 cu. ft. (behind 2nd row/2nd row seats down)
  • ECONOMY: 34 mpg city/31 mpg highway/22.2 mpg test 
  • FUEL TANK: 14.8 gal.
  • CURB WEIGHT: 3,950 lbs.
  • COMPETITIVE CLASS: Ford Escape, Buick Encore, Kia Sportage
  • STICKER: $36,609 (includes $900 delivery, $2,099 options)
  • BOTTOM LINE: The new Toyota RAV4 Hybrid is smooth running, quiet and comfortable in a package that is a practical size for a SUV.

            Introduced at the 2015 New York International Auto Show in April, the 2016 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid is the latest addition to Toyota’s growing hybrid stable. Adding the fuel economy of a hybrid to what I believe is the almost perfect size for a SUV is just gravy on the mashed potatoes. Larger SUVs may carry more, but for the greater majority of the time a small SUV fits the bill perfectly.

            Unfortunately, we didn’t achieve anything nearly close to the RAV4’s advertised economy numbers, despite the fact that we drove it on Interstates and local roads. I’m not sure what the problem might have been, but 22.2 mpg isn’t bad. Its just isn’t 31-34 mpg.

            Nevertheless, the RAV4 delivered a comfortable ride over all roads. Both the driver and front passenger have power adjustable seats with a lumbar adjustment that helped an achey back from too much golf.

The front seats also were heated (didn’t need in summer) and offered some side support.

            The engine in the RAV4 is a 2.5-liter four rated at 194 total horsepower with the addition of Toyota’s Hybrid Synergy Drive. Torque is 206 lb.-ft., a decent number. Acceleration is very good, thanks to the electric motor assist. And, more importantly, the combination is quiet. It doesn’t have the power of a sports car, but the RAV4 can get up and running with the better of them.

            I have a few concerns. The speedometer, for example, is not that easy to read, being hidden by the nacelle surrounding the meter. A digital speedometer would have been a nice addition, but I couldn’t figure out how to program the instrument panel between the tachometer and speedometer to convert to a digital speedometer. However, that info panel did display the cruise control setting, so on our longer trips we kept it in cruise most of the time.

            Speaking of cruise control, the system in the RAV4 is called Dynamic Radar Cruise Control and it adjusts your speed to that of the vehicle in front of you. It will also brake the car if the speed differential is too great. I’m not totally sure if the system will actually stop the car if a collision is imminent. I didn’t have the courage to test it. 

            In place of the tachometer is an “ECO” dial that shows how much power you are using or whether or not you are operating the RAV4 economically or not. 

            The infotainment screen is split between audio and a map. You can touch either to expand it to a full screen view, but after a while in audio it reverts back to the split screen. The navigation system is very easy to program in a new destination.

            I’m a proponent of good interior styling, almost as opposed to good exterior styling, because you see the inside of the vehicle more than the outside. That’s what kept the Pontiac Aztec alive for as long as it did. Anyway, the interior styling of the RAV4 is very nice. There’s a padded panel in contrasting color running from the right of the instrument panel across the dash. The color combination matches the two-tone seats. An added benefit is that the visors have extensions, for those difficult days.

            At the base of the center stack is a panel with switches for EV mode, ECO mode, and Sport mode, with heated seat switches, USB and AUX connections and a 12-volt outlet. A small flat cubby beneath this is ideal for holding keys, since the RAV4 has push button start and stop. 

            The cup holders are different. There’s a normal round one close to the center console/arm rest, but the one closer to the center stack has a different shape to accommodate cups with handles. There is room for two water bottles in each door. 

            Rear legroom is excellent. There are four assist handles, one over each door. In the rear they are excellent for carrying clothes on hangers. There are also hanger hooks, but these are smaller. 

            Behind the power rear hatch is a very good cargo area. We were able to put a golf bag in there horizontally, without having to wedge it in diagonally or fold down a rear seat. The rear seats fold easily to create a flat cargo area. The inside rear hatch release is almost hidden next to the steering column, but it’s there. 

            Safety features include a lane departure warning with an annoying beep, blind spot monitors with lights in the exterior rear view mirrors, rear cross traffic alert, and a “bird’s eye camera” that shows an overhead view of the RAV4 when you’re backing up.

            In a sense it’s hard to evaluate Toyotas because they are all, generally, pretty good and have well thought-out designs. The RAV4 Hybrid is no exception. It does all things well and is a star in its class.

(c) 2016 The Auto Page Syndicate