BY H. THROTTLEAUTOMOTIVE COLUMNIST This week it snowed and the “Estoril Blue” 2019 Range Rover Sport SVR was d...
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BY H. THROTTLE AUTOMOTIVE COLUMNIST The Toyota 4Runner arrived just in time for the recent winter blast of icy...
BY H. THROTTLE AUTOMOTIVE COLUMNIST The 2020 Lexis RX 350L is sleek with sloping designs and “Nori Green...
BY H. THROTTLE
The Toyota 4Runner arrived just in time for the recent winter blast of icy roads and highways. Kudos to the CDOT crews and local entrepreneurs who plow snow. While the snowfall wasn’t deep it was wet and heavy and full of water for our lawns, shrubs and trees. It also put an end to any fire dangers in the mountains and was a blessing to the Colorado ski industry.
Driving around during the storm in the 4Runner was a real test of how good an all-wheel drive SUV is in bad weather and icy roads. The vehicle easily shifted from 2-wheel drive to 4-wheel drive and the traction, along with “Terra Grappler” winter snow tires made this a powerful winter drive machine.
Gas mileage was around 18 mpg overall good for such a large vehicle. The “Army Green” paint makes the 4Runner look like a combat vehicle. The six-cylinder 4L-engine provides 270 horsepower to 5-speed versatile transmission. Final assembly is in Tahara, Aichi, Japan with a suggested retail price of $49,765.
The 4Runner is loaded with safety equipment that includes the Toyota Safety Sense system. I noted that during the blizzard with high winds the pre-collision light ceased to function as the snow blocked the bumper cameras. This has happened in other models where the snow covers the cameras. Engineers may have to figure out a heat source for camera-like steering wheel and side mirrors.
The 4Runner has a 15 speaker JBL sound system with amplifier and woofer for the outdoor younger generation. For some unknown reason the vehicle scored an overall four-star safety rating with a three star for passenger frontal crash score, unusual for Toyota products that usually score a perfect five-star National Highway Safety Administration rating.
The heavy rear cargo door has a strap to close rather than the usual button to close and is manually operated to open as well.
This 4Runner drives well, has overall good acceleration, really easy to shift from 2-wheel to 4-wheel drives and is an excellent outdoor winter vehicle.
It would seem to appeal more to younger male drivers and to outdoor enthusiasts with the wide assortment of rugged weather and trail features.
The 2020 Lexis RX 350L is sleek with sloping designs and “Nori Green Pearl” metallic style paint. It is an elegant all-wheel vehicle loaded with the latest safety and technical features. The manufacturer’s suggested retail price is $48,790 but the long list of options took the test model to $63,100. The most expensive extra options include $3,365 for the navigation system and the 15 speaker Mark Levinson premium audio system. 20-inch alloy dark silver wheels with machine finish add $1,130. Triple beam LED headlamps and cornering lamps list at $1,775 and the premium package that is a tilt/slide moonroof and wood ornamentation $1,580. The options are great for the long-term enjoyment of the 350L but add about $12,000 in overall pricing, making this a very premium vehicle.
With or without the premium features this is a luxury all-wheel drive with a powerful V8 engine and 8-speed variable transmission.
The suspension system and soft leather seats provide an exceptional ride soft as a feather.
This Lexus has final assembly in Miyawaka, Fukuoka, Japan. Somewhat surprising is it only scores four-star in safety ratings, that is unusual considering all of the Lexus Safety System featured in this Lexus. This vehicles is loaded with the latest equipment.
One of the nifty features is the hand’s free cargo door that opens with a brush of the foot under the back bumper, so handy at the grocery store.
The 3.5L, V8 engine provides a powerful drive without any turbo assist and for larger three tier passenger seating averages 21 miles per gallon overall and an admirable 25 mpg. open highway.
This is really a quality car in both exterior and interior. The list of options can be determined by the consumer and the car is solid, with or without the long list of extra features.
There are many heated features to deal with Colorado weather including headlamp cleaners as an extra option.
This is a very versatile luxurious sedan with a ride of soft velvet.
The 2020 Honda Pilot is exceptional and an all-around home-run all-wheel drive SUV. The final assembly is in Lincoln, Alabama with engine and transmission made in the U.S.A. They have assembled a masterpiece of a quality vehicle that is awesome to drive and loaded with the latest navigation, technology and safety features.
The appearance of this model is menacing with a total black appearance looking like a highway patrol vehicle. The exterior is called “crystal black” and the interior is black as well. The all-weather tires are mounted on all black rims.
Besides the powerful appearance the Pilot boasts a 3.5L, V6 engine that produces 280 horsepower with variable cylinder management for fuel economy that averages 22 mpg.
The Honda has a push button transmission for park, reverse and drive that with nine-speeds controlled by steering wheel paddle shifters. Unless wanting one of the nine-speeds— the drive range handles the entire drive easily. When in the mountains passing, or descending, the wide choice of gears eliminates riding the brakes down Floyd Hill, and fast accelerations going uphill.
The vehicle appearance attains road respect and the vehicles rates a perfect five-star safety rating. Air bags all-around and three- row side curtain airbags provide additional rear passenger safety. The third seats fold down to make for a large cargo space suitable for snow boards, skis and luggage.
Winter features include heated and ventilated front seats and steering wheel. The key fob provides remote engine start to warm up the vehicle on a cold morning. LED fog lights and heated power outside door mirrors with turn indicators.
The technology is advanced with collision mitigation control that includes braking prior to striking a forward object. Lane assist and road depart mitigation add to the perfect safety score.
A ten-way driver’s seat affords comfort with the smooth ride and drive listening to Sirius XM radio on the ten-speaker system. The Apple Car Play handles smart phone calls for hand’s free phone usage while driving.
Honda has hit a homerun with this popular Pilot, and this is the premium black edition that comes with a manufacturer’s price of $49,620. Watch for sales and year end discounts on other models that may not have all of the features on this black premium edition. The basic engine, transmission, and overall drive make this Honda line an outstanding consumer choice.
BY H. THROTTLEAUTOMOTIVE COLUMNIST
This Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro 4×4 has army green paint and looks like a menacing combat vehicle. A good appearance for the road warrior driving experiences underway on metro jammed highways. Where is everyone going day and night?
The Tacoma has a 3.5L, V6 engine and an excellent sequential six-speed transmission that is a trademark for Toyota vehicles. This truck is manufactured in San Antonio, TX.
The extended cab allows for five-passengers with heated driver 10-way adjustable leather front seats. The center console and radio dials work well and are easy to use while driving. There is a thin rear window and the mufflers rumbles, making considerable cabin noise during the drive. There is also excessive road chatter coming from the tires and asphalt highway, enough to make conversations difficult during the drive.
The transmission and engine are adequate, and the sequential transmission shifts easily to a higher or lower gear range. The truck handles well at high speeds and the suspension and steering are precise for a larger vehicle. Gas mileage averaged 20 mpg. overall.
The Tacoma has skid plates and an electric transfer case for easy shifting to 2- or 4-wheel drive. A towing hitch for pulling a boat or trailer are boosted with oil cooling and power steering assistance.
The truck has the full Toyota Safety Sense package that includes the pre-collision system with pedestrian detection, lane departure alert with steering assist, dynamic radar cruise control, lane tracing and road sign assist. The radar cruise control is far better than the old system of continuous speed with the radar the vehicle keeps the same distance from a forward vehicle.
This particular pro-model has a desert air intake that is located high on the rear of the cab to eliminate some of the road and off-track dust entering the engine oil and air filters.
This pro-model comes complete with options installed at a suggested manufacturer’s price of $49,559. The Tacoma model has an overall four-star safety rating.
Toyota Motor North America reported rising November sales of 207,857 vehicles, an increase of 9.2 percent on a volume basis. The Lexus division posted its best-ever November with 30,093 vehicles sold, an increase of 13.8 percent also on volume basis.
It has been a very good year for the very attractive vehicles.
The 2020 Lexus NX 300 F Sports is just a sweetheart all-wheel drive vehicle. It is not a huge SUV, but more like a graceful ballet dancer.
This F Sport is fast, with a 2-0-Liter turbocharged engine that provides 230 horsepower and delivers an fuel economy average of 24 mpg.
With Japanese quality, assembled in Tahara, Aichi, Japan, this luxury sedan has all of the latest hi-tech and safety features. The manufacturer’s suggested retail price is $40,360 with a lengthy list of desirable options that can lift the price higher such as the navigation system and premium F Sport package. The test model is complete with all features listed at $51,023.
This Lexus is a perfect lady’s car, petite in style and beauty, easy to drive with great comfort. There are at least three options of eco, sport, and super sport, along with steering wheel paddle shifters. There is a snow option and heated steering wheels and seats. The windshield wipers have heat to prevent that icy build up on winter drives.
The F Sport has a perfect five-star safety rating and features road sign assists, showing the speed limit and your speed, really a nice feature in the fast-changing speed zones and radar police patrols.
Most of us probably drive to fast. But it seems traffic either moves really fast, or very slow, one just goes has to go with the flow. The real speeders stand out and they need to be nailed. Courtesy is also something to keep in mind. Allowing people to change lanes and slowing up so another car can merge. Maybe a “thank-you” wave is in order when someone slows and lets you enter from a side street or from another lane. We need to have more road decorum.
In driving many cars, it is interesting that small cars don’t receive the courtesy of larger pickups or luxury cars.
This NX 300 has the full Lexus Safety System that has lane tracing and road sign assist and pre-collision system with pedestrian detection, so handy in grocery store parking lots.
The NX sports eight air bags and Smart Stop Technology which helps prevent hitting an object in the front. Bi-LED headlights are included, with auto dimming capability. The latest included feature is Car Play which takes the smart phone out of your hand.
This is an elegant model that has racing car features and ballet style class and beauty. A classic masterpiece on wheels.
The Hyundai Palisade is as good as the namesake “Palisade Peaches” that come in late summer every year. While the word palisade deals with mountain ranges the fruit is the best usage of the word, next best is this new 2020 Palisade limited all-wheel drive SUV.
Talk about a sweet vehicle, this new “Sierra Burgundy” metallic paint Hyundai is a masterpiece at $47,605. The appearance is sleek and the “blackjack “ Napa leather seats score a perfect 21 on the highway like the name. But no gamble with this prime vehicle that has a 100,000/10-year warranty on the power train. The V6 3.5L engine produces 293 horsepower connected to the 8-speed “Shiftronic” transmission with paddle shifters.
Hyundai engineers have performed wonders with this new 2020 model starting with safety. First test drive began in the driveway with the car locked in park with the brake light illuminated in red on the dash. Shifting to on the push button transmission panel nothing happened, the car was locked in park. A message related press brake pedal but the key to mobility rested in fastening the seat belt, then the brake pedal and success and the car’s reverse was engaged. The rearview camera has a broad view and also pedestrian alert.
This vehicle is too new for safety ratings but no doubt with all of the safety features will be in the perfect category. This 2020 Hyundai has some new safety features never encountered in any other vehicles so far. Side rear camera lane views when signaling to change lanes, a clear view of lane change in a large circle on the speedometer glass. Additionally, a small yellow light showing any car on either side of the vehicle, no more blind spots with the Palisade. Lane changes in the congested traffic lanes are delicate and these new safety features are very welcome. The speed zone signs and the vehicle traveling speed are displayed on the lower windshield that are also a valuable features when cruising with the 293 horsepower in the sport mode, rather than snow, comfort, smart, or eco modes.
With the recent snow this mode locks in the all-wheel drive and the advanced technology warns of icy roads.
There are seven UBS outlets for smart phones along with Car Play and all Bluetooth features. The second-row seats have one-touch controls and full heating and cooling capacity. The third-row seats can fold down for a huge cargo storage area with a simple rapid switch on the back of the seats. The Palisade can accommodate seven passengers with ease.
Led lights give a bright shine to the early darkness descending on the standard time darkness with daylight time withdrawal.
The Harmon/Kardon premium sound system is easily controlled with screen and dial controls and is loud and clear. A full range of navigation options and the large center control panel lights up at night with a powerful image of controls and features of heated seats, and steering wheel.
The V6 turns out 24 miles per gallon with the eight-speed transmission, 21 mpg overall average for this larger SUV. The Eco mode and a lighter shoe on the gas pedal can boost the mileage
The Hyundai is manufactured in Ulsan Korea by the famed family with 91 percent of the parts made in Korea.
This is a real “Peachy” product and comes complete with a full tank of gas and loaded with very functional exciting new safety features that really add to highway safety.
This is a five-star quality vehicle in all categories.
BY H. THROTTLEAUTOMOTIVE COLMUNIST
I received the “Ultimate Driving Machine” last week in the form of the 2020 BMW X3 M Competition all-wheel drive SUV. The factory isn’t kidding with that title, this is a 503 twin-turbo beast that will do 0 to 60 in 4.0 seconds. Powered by a six-cylinder 3.0 engine and an 8- speed transmission it is always in sports mode or even ultra-sports mode. The factory states a 161 mile an hour top speed, but a governor control tops out at that level, otherwise it feels like 200 mph could be achievable or beyond.
Adding to the joy of driving this ultimate machine described by the factory as having the most powerful engine ever built by BMW it has a muffler “snarl” that is awesome. (The state patrol can hear this car coming for miles.)
The BMW has a standard 3X SUV, but this is the top of the line M competitive series with all the bells and whistles and the performance to match that of muscle cars in today’s market. The starting price for the X3 M model is $76,900. Add more special features and the test model price goes to $82,695.
The X3 M seats five passengers in elegant leather with 29 cubic ft. of cargo space enough for some skis and snow boards. This SUV will roar up the road to Vail in a flash, but gas up before you go, mileage for the 503 horses is an average of 14 city and 19 on the freeways.
The 2020 BMW has a final assembly in Spartanburg, GA with a German engine and transmission. The frame has multi-chassis braces, stiffer springs, and vented disk brakes. The X3 goes fast and brakes fast earning a five-star perfect safety rating.
Supporting the vehicle are Michelin pilot sport tires on 21-inch wheels. The vehicle has been described as a “Hot Rod” SUV. Outside of the twin chrome mufflers this Beamer looks like a standard BMW all-wheel SUV with that trademark BMW grille and sloping hood.
This is a special vehicle for an experienced driver who can handle extreme performance and major horsepower.
You’ll feel the power in the first 100 yards!
The Toyota 2019 RAV4 “Adventure” all-wheel drive four-door SUV is spectacular in every aspect. This is one of Toyota’s stellar models and many older RAV4s still on the highway with that distinctive rear tire molding in the rear deck panel.
The 202 horsepower 2019 version has plenty of spunk and the six- speed sequential transmission works well. Toyota transmissions are the best in the business.
Final assembly of this model is in Woodstock, Ontario, Canada and could be subject to any future tariff considerations. The RAV4 has risen in price considerably over the years and this test model has every bell and whistle that can be added to a RAV4. The initial suggested retail price is $32,900, but the factory has added a long list of desirable options amounting to over $7000 making a final sticker price of $39,948. The options include an Adventure Grade weather package at $1,185 that includes heated wipers with deicer function, along with heated seats and steering wheel. Most of the other options deal with navigation and a technology package of additional safety and communication features.
The RAV4 is a fine drive with excellent handling, performance, comfort and easy center console controls. There are three drive modes of Eco, Normal and Sport and fuel economy averaged 28 mpg. overall during the drive.
Safety features are so impressive in the new vehicles such as lane departure warnings, pedestrian rear traffic alerts, and the Safety- Sense Pre-collision system that prevents striking a forward object.
RAV4 owners will be pleased at the advancements in the 2019 models and the multiple safety, navigation, and technical features.
However, the upgrades have given way to a higher price range.
The RAV4 is a solid drive and so well suited to Colorado weather and traffic conditions. The drive alone is worth of strong consideration and the many options are just adding more frosting to the cake.
Toyota is excited with the 2020 GR Supra that is igniting show room floors with excitement with stock and fully race prepped models celebrating the 40th anniversary of Toyota racing developments.
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