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Archive for the ‘Reviews’ Category

First Drive: 2019 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid Limited

Plenty of comfort and convenience with great fuel economy.

by on Feb.21, 2019

The 2019 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid Limited features the S appearance package with blacked out wheels and other updates to make it appealing to men.

Minivans were invented by the old Chrysler Corp. back in the early 1980s and through the company’s various transitions and permeations have been a mainstay in its product portfolio ever since the Reagan years.

Facing stiffer fuel-economy and emission regulations, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles N.V. has brought on a hybrid version that has all the advantages that have made of the traditional minivan a practical choice for families or anyone that needs to carry multiple passengers of all ages to a destination in comfort and with minimal fuss.

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The sliding doors on the 2019 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid remain as practical as ever for dropping children off for school while changes to the powertrain have given it greater range and fuel economy plus FCA also has loaded up with the latest technology, including the ability to connect multiple devices to the Internet and useful driver-assistance features such as blind spot detection that help justify its $50,375 price tag, which includes the $1,395 destination charge. (more…)

First Drive: GMC Sierra AT4

Off-road version of full-size truck could expand its appeal.

by on Feb.19, 2019

The new GMC Sierra AT4 rides higher than a stock truck and also offers plenty of high-line features.

But for the brand badges and subtle differences in grilles and headlights, it has typically been difficult to tell apart General Motors’ two full-size pickups, the Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra. But the automaker seems determined to eliminate this archetypal example of badge engineering.

When it launched new versions of the Silverado and Sierra for 2019, they boasted more dramatic visual differences, inside and out, than ever before. And they even split when it came to appealing new features. The Chevy, for one, got a power-operated tailgate, while GMC’s truck introduced a multi-function tailgate that can be opened and used in a variety of different ways, such as creating a workbench or bed extender.

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Now, GMC is itself planning to broaden out its line-up in a bid to win over more buyers. As a counterpoint to its plushly outfitted Sierra Denali model, it is launching the all-new off-road-oriented Sierra AT4. We had a chance to take the new model for a test drive through the mountainous terrain southeast of San Diego recently and found it surprisingly competent, both on-road and off. (more…)

First Drive: 2019 Ford Expedition

Revised SUV comes back strong in new iteration.

by on Feb.14, 2019

The new 2019 Ford Expedition is a dramatic improvement over the previous generation model.

When motorists a decade ago were faced with the one-two punch of rising gasoline prices and the recession, sales of big SUVs went in an eclipse.

Ford Motor Co., not surprisingly given the market signals that existed then, put the plans for updating its big SUV, the Ford Expedition, on hold where they stayed for a long time. But times change and the popularity of full-size SUVs has risen and Ford has responded with a complete update of the Expedition.

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The end result is a vehicle that’s more comfortable, easier to drive and maneuver and offers a smoother ride than its predecessors without compromising its capacity to carry people and gear or even tow large trailers. Ford’s also added in more technology, including driver assistance features into the package, bringing up to date. (more…)

First Drive: 2019 Ram 1500 Laramie

Comfort reminiscent of a luxury car with truck utility.

by on Feb.12, 2019

The 2019 Ram 1500 Laramie offers comfort reminiscent of a luxury car, but offers plenty of truck utility.

Pickup trucks are hot now and no truck is getting more attention than the Ram 1500, which is ringing up scores of plaudits.

The honors, among them North American Truck of The Year for 2019, are well deserved.

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For anyone who has driven traditional pickup for work, climbing into the cab of a Ram 1500 Laramie is a revelation as it has the kind of comfortable luxury one traditionally associates with full-sized luxury sedans. (more…)

First Drive: 2019 Chevrolet Blazer

Politics, rather than vehicle attribute, could prove the focus for some potential buyers.

by on Feb.04, 2019

The 2019 Chevrolet Blazer RS offers a choice of two engines, front drive or two AWD options.

Everything old is new again, it seems, with all sorts of once-forgotten nameplates rising from the dead. That includes the Chevrolet Blazer which will be rolling back into U.S. showrooms in the coming months.

For those who may remember the Blazer as a classically stocky, body-on-frame SUV, the arrival of the 2019 model could come as a big surprise, however. It’s now taking the form of a sleekly styled, car-based crossover that puts emphasis on the word “sport” and only marginally on the idea of off-roadability.

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A couple days of driving the 2019 Chevrolet Blazer through San Diego and the surrounding countryside proved it to be one of the better new entries for those who will never see anything rougher than a gravel road. But the new ute will have to clear a few obstacles, nonetheless, as it has become the cause célèbre for those upset by Chevy parent General Motors’ decision to close three North American assembly plants this year.

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BMW Reveals New 7-Series Plug-In Hybrid

Three versions worldwide, including U.S.-bound 745e xDrive.

by on Feb.01, 2019

The second-generation BMW 7-Series plug-in opts for a bigger engine and bigger battery.

BMW continues its push to electrify its line-up with the official launch of the new 745e model. Three different versions of the plug-in hybrid will be offered worldwide, including the 745e, the 745Le and the 745e xDrive, the latter being the only variant planned for the U.S. market.

The new model marks the second-generation 7-Series plug-in but gets a complete makeover under the hood, abandoning the previous model’s 2.0-liter inline-four gas engine in favor of a 3.0-liter inline-six. Paired with a single electric motor, the package is claimed to delivered both improved performance and longer range when operating in EV mode.

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Part of the credit for those improvements comes from the increase in the size of the 745e sedan’s lithium-ion battery pack from 9.2 to 12.0 kilowatt-hours.

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First Drive: 2019 Genesis G90

Luxury and performance with a lower price tag.

by on Jan.25, 2019

The Genesis G90 full-size sedan provides plenty of luxury appointments with an impressive driving experience for a lower price than its competitors.

Genesis, the luxury brand from Hyundai, hasn’t sold many cars yet but it has won an ample and growing number of plaudits from any number of judges of automotive metal.

The accolades, by the way, are well deserved since cars such as the G90 from Genesis that I recently had the opportunity to drive, are well-designed inside and out, loaded with technology, handle well and provide almost all the power anyone would ever really need away from a racetrack.

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With its 124.4-inch wheelbase, the G90 is something of a disappearing breed — a genuine full-sized sedan with ample room in both the front seat for the driver and a passenger and the rear seats where the passengers can relax in comfort almost as if they were riding in a vehicle driven by chauffer, which probably is the point. (more…)

First Drive: 2019 Mazda MX-5 Miata

A big experience in a small package.

by on Dec.20, 2018

The 2019 Mazda MX-5 Miata provides an exciting driving experience in a small package.

Sporty two-seaters, despite the glamour and romance that has trailed behind them over the years, have sort of been left behind as car buyers rush into trucks and sport-utility vehicles.

But some two-seaters, such as the Mazda MX-5 Miata, are still out on the road, still fun to drive and continuing to evolve with the addition of new technology.

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Even in a blustery Michigan December, the MX-5 reveals its power, spirit and great driving dynamics that effortlessly handle everything from crosswinds to lumpy pavement and tightly curving freeway ramps.  (more…)

First Drive: 2018 Ford Ranger

Reborn midsize picking aims to make a big splash.

by on Dec.18, 2018

Making a splash: the 2019 Ford Ranger FX4 wraps up an off-road run with a mud bath.

(Midsize truck wars heat up with arrival of Ranger, Jeep Gladiator. Click Here for more.)

It’s been more than six years since the last truck rolled out of Ford’s ancient assembly line near Minneapolis, bringing to a seeming end production of the automaker’s archaic Ranger pickup. While Ford was getting ready to launch a new model for international markets, however, it decided to let the venerable Ranger name die in the U.S.

It apparently seemed a good idea at the time. The midsize market was all but dead and even Detroit rivals General Motors and Fiat Chrysler were quitting the segment. Ford execs, all the way up to then-CEO Mark Fields, insisted they could move Ranger buyers up to the larger – and far more profitable – F-150. But a funny thing happened that threw Ford’s strategy into disarray. For the 2015 model-year, GM launched two all-new trucks, the Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon, triggering a rapid rebound to the seemingly moribund midsize pickup segment.

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After hemming and hawing, Ford finally acknowledged its error and raced to bring the Ranger back to life, heavily modifying the model already on sale in markets as diverse as Abu Dhabi and Thailand. Finally, the 2019 Ranger is getting ready to roll into U.S. showrooms and we had a chance to test its mettle during an extensive on- and off-road drive event in and around San Diego last week.

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First Drive: 2019 Kia Sorento SUV

Practical, yet stylish and laden with technology.

by on Dec.14, 2018

The 2019 Kia Sorento offers practicality, but with plenty of upgrades.

Practical is usually the word associated with sport-utility vehicles and that practicality makes them appealing to a wide cross section of consumers.

The Kia Sorento certainly is practical, but in a segment crowded with a lot of very good vehicles it is also stylish, loaded with features and comes with an interior that looks as if it might belong in a more traditional luxury vehicle.

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The up-level version of Sorento that I drove carried a sticker price of $48,020, which includes the $990 transportation charge so it can hardly be considered inexpensive. (more…)