Sunday, September 25, 2016

Nissan Rogue, small but functional.


By John Heilig

  • ENGINE: 2.5-liter DOHC I-4
  • HORSEPOWER/TORQUE: 170 hp @ 6,000 rpm/175 lb.-ft. @ 4,400 rpm 
  • WHEELBASE: 106.5 in.
  • LENGTH X WIDTH X HEIGHT: 182.3 x 72.4 x 67.5 in. 
  • TIRES: P225/65 R17
  • CARGO CAPACITY: 9.4/32.0/70.0 cu. ft. (3rd row seats up/down/2nd row seats down
  • ECONOMY: 26 mpg city/33 mpg highway/25.6 mpg test
  • FUEL TANK: 14.5 gal.
  • CURB WEIGHT: 3,422 lbs.
  • COMPETITIVE CLASS: Mitsubishi Outlander Sport, Jeep Compass, Subaru Forester
  • STICKER: $28,465 (includes $900 delivery, $2,785 options)
  • BOTTOM LINE: The Nissan Rogue is a capable small SUV with decent power and very good cargo capacity.

            The first time I tried to load a package in the back of the Nissan Rogue I was surprised. The cargo area was minuscule at 9.4 cubic feet. My grocery bags would barely fit. That’s because the third row seats were up. I lowered them immediately, and suddenly had 31 cubic feet to use for my two bags. Eventually we would load up even the 31 cubic feet. A medium-sized dog carrier would fit nicely.

            What I’m trying to convey is that the third row in the Rogue is more a hindrance than useful. Sure, you can put a couple of legless adults back there or children if they are suitcases, but otherwise it’s a waste of space (and $940), at least in my mind. 

            I find that small SUVs like the Rogue are practical vehicles, in general, especially for empty nesters. They are big enough to carry all that’s needed when you go over the hills and through the woods to grandkids’ houses, yet small enough to offer decent economy. They also ride slightly higher than a sedan and give you a better view of the road. 

            Rogue doesn’t offer the dramatic styling of its bigger brother, the Murano. There is still a strong family resemblance in the front. Dimensionally, the Rogue is five inches shorter in wheelbase and ten inches shorter overall. Second-row-seats-down cargo capacity is surprisingly greater in the Rogue. Rogue’s sticker is also $16,000 less than Murano.

            Rogue was redesigned in 2014 and receives a freshening in 2017. The 2014 redesign results in a smoother package that makes the previous generation look old.

            Ride comfort is good, thanks to Nissan’s Zero Gravity seats that are similar to those in the Altima. The adjustable seats offer continuous support from the pelvis to the chest, helping reduce fatigue on longer trips. When the old back does get tired, the heat feature helps to ease the aches.

            Second row seats offer good leg room. In addition, the wide (and wide opening) rear doors have large windows for good visibility. Third row access is difficult, with minimal third row legroom.

            Rogue’s 2.5-liter inline four cylinder and CVT transmission are quiet at highway speeds. It also has a tendency to want to exceed the speed limit, which requires judicious use of cruise control to stay within bounds.

            Among the options is the SV Premium Package ($1,620) are Nissan Connect that offers voice recognition for navigation and audio, the Around View Monitor that gives an “overhead” view of the vehicle’s position, Blind Spot Monitor, Moving Object Detection, and heated seats and outside rear view mirrors. The AVM switches on automatically in reverse, but there is also a button that you can use to turn it on when you are parking, just to make sure you are within the lines.

            Moving Object Detection works with the AVM and alerts the driver if it detects a large moving object around the vehicle in dangerous situations as when pulling out of a parking space. It also detects pedestrians.

            Instruments are clear, with a tachometer, info panel and speedometer. We chose from the info panel’s host of options to read, from the top, digital clock and outside temperature, fuel economy - overall and instant - odometer and gear. 

            Interior storage consists of a large cubby at the base of the center stack that contains the USB and AUX plugs plus a 12-volt outlet. There are two cup holders up front with room for water bottles in all four doors. The deep center console/arm rest also has as 12-volt outlet. 

            I appreciate the wheel with its many controls. The switches have back lighting that turns on with the headlights so you can read them in the dark.

            There is a clear infotainment screen with a suite of options - SXM, FM, AM, CD, AUX, NAV and MAP. 

            While the Nissan Rogue might not attract as much attention as the Murano because of its more conservative styling, it still does its job with a minimum of fuss.

(c) 2016 The Auto Page Syndicate

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Prius Four, a second look

The Prius liftback has a lot more to offer than what you might think at first glance. So Bumper2Bumpertv went back to take a deeper look at the features offered in the top of the line trim package of the hybrid.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Cadillac XT5

By John Heilig

  • MODEL: 2017 Cadillac XT5 Platinum AWD
  • ENGINE: 3.6-liter V6 
  • TRANSMISSION: 8-speed automatic 
  • HORSEPOWER/TORQUE: 310 hp @ 6,700 rpm/271 lb.-ft. @ 5,000 rpm 
  • WHEELBASE: 112.5 in. 
  • LENGTH X WIDTH X HEIGHT: 189.5 x 75.0 x 66.0 in. 
  • TIRES: P235/55R20 
  • CARGO: 30/63 cu. ft. (2nd row seats up/down) 
  • ECONOMY: 18 mpg city/26 mpg highway/26.0 mpg test 
  • FUEL TANK: 22.0 gal. 
  • CURB WEIGHT: 4,257 lbs. 
  • COMPETITIVE CLASS: Audi Q5, Acura MDX, Jeep Grand Cherokee 
  • STICKER: $63,845 (includes $995 delivery, $350 options (cargo net))
  • BOTTOM LINE: The Cadillac XT5 is an elegant mid-size SUV with everything you would expect from a Cadillac, styling, performance and luxury.

            Classified as a small SUV/Crossover, the Cadillac XT5, which replaces the SRX, is closer to what I would consider a mid-size. It is comfortable (and a comfortable size), with plenty of room for passengers and cargo. But the XT5 is in all ways a Cadillac.
            Cadillac’s XT designation will be on all the brand’s crossovers, and the XT5 is the first of four Cadillac crossovers to appear in the future. 
            Power is very good from the venerable GM 3.6-liter V6. It offers good acceleration, even though the XT5 weighs more than two tons. There is the important ability to accelerate and maintain speed and keep up with the ambient traffic. Despite its weight, handling of the XT5 is good, with a tendency to lean slightly in hard corners.
            The transmission shift pattern is different. Push the button on the side of the shifter and push up and to the left for reverse. Down for drive. Push the “P” button on the top of the shifter to park. It is a very short learning curve.
            Three drive modes are available - Tour, AWD, and Sport -  and you can switch among them with a pushbutton on the center console. Most of the time we kept it in Tour.
            The interior’s combination of leather and a suede-like fabric adds to the elegance. The combination of black and tan, with wood accents, is stunning. Care was put into the placement of all the elements, so there is none of the slapdash look you find in some other vehicles.
            Instrumentation is clear and complete. White-on-black round gauges face the driver. There are two major dials plus four accessory gauges arrayed at the top of the instrument panel. There is an information panel between the tachometer and speedometer that we set for a digital speedometer. Since we also had a heads up display plus the analog speedometer, this was redundant, but you can never have too many speed indicators.
            In the center is a standard GM infotainment screen. The navigation system was easy to program a destination into, even between states. We took the XT5 on a NY Thruway-center trip and had to program our destination in order to assure that we hit the right exit. 
            We had excellent performance from the HVAC and audio systems.
            Since on our long trip we visited my 93-year-old sister, I was somewhat concerned about her ability to get into the XT5. She had no problems, and commented that getting into the XT5 was easier than getting into some other vehicles she rides in.
            Front seats are comfortable on long rides. There is excellent rear seat legroom, with the standard pair of cup holders in a pull-down armrest. Rear seats, as well as fronts, are heated. The rear seats recline slightly and slide fore and aft. For privacy, the rear side windows are darkened. The rear seat backs also fold easily to increase cargo capacity, but this wasn’t necessary as I was able to fit my golf bag in the back without folding the seats. 
            Owners who choose to travel with pets can fit a medium-sized dog crate in the cargo area without folding the rear seat backs. 
            There is a large sun roof that extends all the way back to the rear seats. Only the front half opens, however.
            Unique to the XT5 is the inside rear view mirror. While it can be set for normal reflection, it can also be set to give a video view of what’s following you. Since the field of vision is wider with this setting, and the view is from a lower angle, it can be disconcerting at times. For example, you look at the grille of the vehicle behind you rather that at the driver. It is, however, much clearer than the standard mirror. It is also quite practical if you have a car full of people and/or cargo and can’t see in the standard mirror. 
            All in all the Cadillac XT5 is a very nice package. It combines styling and performance with decent economy. 

(c) 2016 The Auto Page Syndicate

Honda Ridgeline Black Edition

The Honda Ridgeline truck got a much needed redesign for 2017 including a new trim level. But can it compete in the light duty pickup truck segment? Bumper2Bumpertv has a first look at what it brings to the party.

Friday, September 9, 2016

This Cobra has fangs!!!

By John Heilig

            The first thing we noticed was the car lying on its side. Now, cars often end up on their sides at Pocono Raceway, but this was different. It was far away from the track, and it looked as if it had been intentionally placed there. It was.
            We (approximately 50 of us, journalists and enthusiasts) were at Pocono as part of the Ford Performance North American Track Tour. Pocono was the seventh of eight stops on the tour. It began in California and will end in Atlanta.
            The purpose of the Tour was to introduce us to Ford Performance and particularly the Ford Mustang GT350 and GT350R. 
            We broke up into four groups and made four stops. Ours, the Green group, went first to the Ford Performance Garage, where we were treated to an entertaining talk by Jim Owens, Marketing Manager, Performance, who has been with the various forms of Ford Performance as well as with Carroll Shelby’s skunk works for all of his career.
            Owens related how Lee Iacocca wanted something more than a car that looked nice when the Mustang was introduced on April 17, 1964. He wanted it to be a performance car. He talked with Shelby, who had been i instrumental in Ford’s conquering of LeMans with the original Ford GT and asked what he could do. Shelby then developed the original GT350 that dominated SCCA B Production.
            Ford Performance is an amalgamation of the former SVT program, the European rally program and Australian racing programs. None of these programs could “talk” to one another because of different philosophies and methods of operation. Now they are all under one umbrella, with Henry Ford III in charge. And, as Owens said, when HF3 is in charge, things happen.
            Other products in the Ford Performance garage are the F150 Raptor, the Escort ST and the Ford GT production car. But the emphasis at Pocono was on the GT350. 
            After Owens’ talk, the Green group headed out to Pocono’s infield road course (we didn’t go on the tri-oval at all) for some seat time. But first, we were fitted with helmets and modified HANS devices, just in case something should go wrong. The HANS devices, which were attached to the helmets, restricted our head movement somewhat, but we were still able to see all we needed to see. Besides, we weren’t racing on the track, we were just “testing” the GT350. 
            Each car had an instructor from the Ford Performance School. We were also captured by a GoPro camera mounted at the base of the A Pillar. After the event we will be sent copies of our tape as well as a post-race debriefing. 
            We pulled out onto the track for the first warm-up/familuarization lap. I still felt we were going at a good clip, and was encouraged when my instructor didn’t scream that we were going to be killed by my driving. 
            Actually, I discovered that I was creeping up on the car ahead of me, and just as I was about to back off on the accelerator, that car radioed my instructor that we should pass. Okay.
            I floored the pedal and zipped past the other car and was rapidly approaching the braking point at a high rate of speed. I braked and hit the left-hander and chicanes after that to complete my first lap. 
            Three laps ended too quickly. I was set to walk away, when my i structor said, “Oh, no. We’re switching seats.” And he drove, showing me just how much performance could be wrung out of the GT350 and how deep toward the corner he could brake. Still, I felt comfortable in the passenger seat and there is no screaming by me on my video.
            Actually, I would like to have had a few more laps after he shoed me the faster way around the track, but common sense says that many drivers would then be tempted to get in over their heads and try to emulate the car under the tent. 
            I was impressed by how smoothly the GT350 handled. It is very compliant. The suspension, while set up for hard cornering, is also comfortable with no strain on my kidneys or back. I got the impression that the GT350 would be as comfortable on the track as it would be going to the grocery store.
            After our 40 minutes of track time - way too short for my tastes - we did our debriefing video and told of our feelings about the car. I hope I able to adequately express how I felt about the car and my rides.
            Two instructors from the Ford Performance School gave us a walk around of the GT350 and the GT350R. The 350R is set up more for competition and several weight-saving measures were taken. For example, there is no back seat, although experience has shown me that the back seat in a Mustang is, well, less than ideal anyway. The GT350R also has, lighter body panels, no radio or air conditioning, no trunk liner and no resonators on the exhaust. It also wears carbon fiber wheels, and has a more serious spoiler out back and front splitter. The GT350R also has red accents, like a red cobra insignia rather than black, red stitching on the seats, a red mark at the top of the steering wheel to show when the wheels are pointed forward, and red brake rotor hats.
            The car has five drive modes - Normal, Sport, Track, Weather (rain) and Drag. In Drag, for example, the rear shock settings are adjusted for a better launch off the line. 
            Either way, the engine is, the most powerful naturally aspirated engine Ford has ever produced. The 5.2-liter V-8 delivers 526 horsepower and 429 lb.-ft. of torque. 
            The GT350 and 350R are purpose-built. The only manufacturers’ names, other than Ford are the Recaro seats, Brembo brakes, and Michelin tires. 
            Our final stop on the tour was a detailed explanation of some of the features of the car. Here, we saw the underside of the upended car that displayed some of the air ducting, the crossed exhaust lines, and the many cooling features to keep the brakes, oil and transmission as cool as possible. 
            No prices were given for either version of the GT350, and I wouldn’t hazard a guess. Jim Owens indicated that the Performance program is not necessarily designed for great profits, giving us an understanding that even though the profits aren’t high, they aren’t negative either.