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“Everything that Glitters – ” 2021 KIA Seltos SX Turbo AWD

When the press fleet driver pulled up at my home with a new KIA, I immediately was pleased with the glittering gold paint job that I was seeing out the front door.  When I pulled the window sticker out of the glove box, I was surprised to find the name of the paint was “Starbright Yellow”.  It brought to mind for me the song by Dan Seals – “Everything that Glitters is Not Gold”, from 1986.

Dan Seals is one of my favorite all-time singers, and is often heard on K96.9 FM radio, including him performing the number one hit that he co-wrote.  “Everything that Glitters is Not Gold” involves the song’s narrator and an estranged female lover, now popular on the livestock rodeo circuit.  The rodeo star, with her flowing blond hair, is burnished in the singers’s brain and he struggles to deal with his little girl’s curiosity about the ex-lover riding on her horse “with the sunlight in her hair”.   

So it is that I had a yellow KIA to test, and along with the distinctive paint, it featured terrific styling.  KIA Motors, based in South Korea, is that country’s second largest auto manufacturer, trailing only Hyundai, its one-third owner.  As recently as 1986, KIA only produced 26 automobiles, but the total was 658,000 in America last year.

The 2021 Seltos that was brought to me was an SX turbo upgraded all-wheel drive model.  Total M.S.R.P. came to $29,485.00, including freight charges of $1,120.00. With the SX, a buyer gets heated front seats, cargo cover, heated outside mirrors, and a Bose stereo.  The seating was black leather with room for five and luggage space came to 26.6 cubic feet behind the rear seat.  Electronics included the navigation, backup camera, pushbutton starter, proximity keyless entry, Bluetooth connectivity, USB input, and power seats.

The 1.6 liter turbocharged gas engine produces 175 horsepower and 195 lb. ft. of torque.  With its seven-speed automatic transmission the KIA reportedly accelerates from zero to 60 in 7.7 seconds.  Fuel economy ratings are 25-city and 30-highway with a 27 combined reading.  I averaged 28.8 mpg with the SX – the gas tank holds 16.4 gallons on this model.

The wheels were 18” ten spoke alloys with red center trim rings.  Tires were Kumho 245/45R18 all-season radials.  Dual exhausts peeked out from the rear of the SX,  and brushed nickel door handles and window trim was on the car.  Matching roof rails were on top and deep tint windows were all around the rear.

Ruth and I drove the SX to a Denver destination one afternoon; the KIA’s road manners were fine as were its guidance and road noise.  Turning diameter (34.8′) is minimal, reducing stress on the narrow streets in parts of the Mile High City.  And the perky turbo engine makes for a fast escape in city traffic after the visit.

The KIA test car turned out to be a bit of a favorite of mine with a generous amount of glitter and audacity.  

 

 

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2020 Honda CR-V 1.5T AWD Touring

 Honda Motor Company started exporting motorcycles to America, from Japan, in the early 1960’s with a clever slogan, “You Meet the Nicest People on a Honda”.  I became  an early customer when I purchased a new 1964 Honda while in high school in Grant,  Nebraska.  All three Wright brothers eventually bought Hondas, and of course mine was the smallest, the Honda 50, a little machine I rolled past the Perkins County fairgrounds on thinking I would impress those patrons inside with my little exhaust report.564569_4530557393104_1470037628_n

 It was later, in the 1970’s, that Honda started exporting automobiles to the U.S., and in 1997 they sent their first in-house designed sport utility vehicle, the CR-V to our shores.  The CR-V (compact recreational vehicle) is based on the Civic sedan and is currently in its fifth generation configuration.  Sales of the CR-V started off at 67,000 in the first year and they have swelled to over 300,000 per year for the last seven years.  

   Recently, a 2020 Honda CR-V 1.5T Touring edition was loaned to me out of the press fleet, and I drove it for a week.  The CR-V comes in a hybrid, LX, EX, EX-L, and Touring edition, which is the top model and the one I tested.  For $35,845.00, including freight, the Touring edition has a leather interior, navigation system with backup camera, adaptive radar cruise control, heated steering wheel, lane departure warning, moon roof, and dual heated power bucket seats.  

   The driving experience when behind the wheel of the CR-V is excellent, with a somewhat quieter environment than the unit I drove in 2018 but with similar guidance, handling, and ride; all good.  Visibility is top-notch, and real-world economy for this reviewer came in at 25.5 mpg, right on target with the EPA estimate.  

   The mid-sized Honda CR-V rolls on 19” ten spoke alloy wheels with Continental P235/55R19 Cross Contact all season radials.  All CR-V’s were refreshed for 2020, and the power train is now a turbocharged 190 horsepower four with a continuously variable transmission (CVT).

   In high school I  fantasized about someday driving an automobile with the quality and innovation of my little Honda 50.  Never would I have imagined that sedans would become so unpopular (along with small motorcycles) and that “sport-utility” vehicles would basically take over the roads.  Nonetheless, someday arrived after a fashion a week ago when I tested the very capable, American made Honda CR-V.  And, I suspect, you still “Meet the Nicest People in a Honda”.       

2021 Buick Encore GX Essence FWD

Radio Review:

Buick, now a division of General Motors, actually was the company that established GM in 1908.  Traditionally, Buick products have had an appeal for older, wealthier buyers, but with the foxy SUV’s they now market, their demographic is getting younger. Buick’s lineup of six models (sans any sedans) provides an SUV for pretty much anyone’s taste, and in the midst of the group lies the Encore GX compact crossover. 

     Weld County Garage recently loaned me an Encore GX, and it was painted Deep Azure (blue) metallic and featured Ebony perforated leather seating for five.  It was the Essence model, a trim level that is located atop of the GX line, and includes the leather seating, LED lights front and rear, heated leather-wrapped steering wheel and in-vehicle air ionizer, among other things.  No moon roof was on hand, but luxury items such as power lift gate, surround vision camera, head up display, adaptive cruise control and navigation were  included on the Buick as components of the “advanced technology package”.  

     The Encore GX is a cousin of the Encore Buick, sold by dealers since 2012.  I have tested several of the Encores, with good impressions of them.  I think sales of the Encore have taken the breath away from Buick executives, and I mean that in a positive way.   It seems as if they are everywhere you look, and nationally the sales topped 100,000 in 2019.  The new Encore GX, however, is not really much like the “classic” Encore, and its size suits me quite a bit better – 171.4” long, 1.6” longer than the Encore. 

     Power for the Encore GX is supplied by a three-cylinder turbocharged engine with a continuously variable (CVT) transmission and a front wheel drive arrangement.  All wheel drive can be had on this model Buick and certainly will be popular in Colorado.  Personally, I could go for the front wheel drive for myself and could pocket the $2,000.00 savings effected by such a purchase.  

     Buick promised more power for this new Encore GX when it was announced, and they came through despite dropping a cylinder when compared to the “classic” Encore.  Horsepower is 153, and I found the vehicle performance to be totally satisfactory even with four adults on board.  Gas mileage ratings are 32 mpg on the highway, 32 combined, and 31 city miles per gallon with a 13.2 gallon fuel tank.  My observation was 29.3 miles per gallon in predominantly city driving.  

     The list price of my test car was $33,465.00 including freight ($995.00), the aforementioned technology package ($1,790.00), convenience package ($770.00), power lift gate ($520.00), fancy paint ($495.00) and the 153 horsepower upgraded engine ($395.00).  The power lift gate operation can be initiated by a foot motion and lighting is on hand for finding where to wave said foot at night with a tri-shield (Buick insignia) beam on the pavement beneath the rear bumper.  

     The Buick Encore GX was a pleasure to drive around for a week and in my mind the styling, comfort and performance of the vehicle would provide a prospective owner long term satisfaction.  

2020 Volkswagen Golf GTI 2.0T Autobahn

Radio Review:

 Tornado Red paint with Titan black leather seating for 5, including heated buckets – Weighs 3,127 lbs. and is 168” long – 17.3 cubic ft. of cargo capacity in hatchback area – 18” Ultra Silver five spoke aluminum wheels and 225/40R18 Bridgestone Potenza radial tires – Lane keep assist, forward collision alert, radar cruise control, rear vision, and automatic emergency braking – 8” infotainment screen – navigation, ambient door sill lighting and Fender 7 speaker AM/FM premium sound system – Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, wireless phone charger, head up display, aluminum sport pedals, leather steering wheel – 2.0 liter, turbocharged 228 horsepower four cylinder engine with six speed manual transmission, start stop technology and front wheel drive – $37,415.00  list price  Built in Mexico – Fuel economy (Highway – 32 mpg) (City – 24 mpg)  14.9 gallon tank with 477 mi.range 

2020 Chevrolet Bolt EV Premier

Radio On-Air Review:

Slate Gray metallic paint with Dark Galvanized/Sky Cool gray leather interior with heated front and rear seats – Weighs 3,580 lbs. and is 164” long with a 102” wheelbase – 16.9 cubic ft. of cargo capacity behind the back seats (56.6 with them flopped down) – 17” Ultra Bright multi-spoke aluminum wheels and 225/45R17 Hankook all season radial tires – Lane keep assist, forward collision alert, cruise control, rear vision camera, and automatic emergency braking – 10.2” infotainment screen – backup camera, 7 speaker Bose AM/FM premium sound system – Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, fast phone charger – Electric 200 horsepower engine with single speed automatic transmission and front wheel drive – zero to 60 = 6.5 sec. – $43,735.00  list price  Built in Lake Orion, Michigan – Fuel economy (Highway – 108 mpg) (City – 127 mpg)  259 mi.range 

2020 Lexus RX-570 Five-Door SUV

Radio review broadcast:Satin Cashmere metallic paint with black leather seating for
5, including heated and ventilated front and rear buckets and panoramic moon roof – Weighs 6,000 lbs. and is 112.2” wheelbase – 9.1 cubic ft of cargo capacity with all seating for eight in upright position – 21” polished aluminum wheels and 255/55R21 Goodyear all weather radial tires – Lane keep assist, rear collision alert, radar cruise control, blind spot monitor and automatic emergency braking – 12.3” infotainment screen – backup camera, navigation, 19 speaker AM/FM Mark Levinson premium sound system – Dual screen rear DVD entertainment system
Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, wireless phone charger – 5.7 liter, 383 horsepower V-8 engine with 8 speed automatic transmission with paddles and full time four wheel drive – $101,248.00 list price – built in Toyota, Aichi, Japan – Fuel economy (Highway – 16 mpg) (City – 12 mpg) 24.6 gallon tank with 394 mi.range

“Best Day” in a 2020 BMW 228i xDrive Gran Coupe

This reviewer has been test driving cars for ten years, but my love of them started in western Nebraska when I was fifteen and got my learner’s permit.  That is fairly typical for a young man, and as George Strait renders in his 2000 hit “Best Day”, a teenager’s dreams “revolve around four spinning wheels”.  Mine sure did, and as a rule back then I dreamt of a Chevy or perhaps a Pontiac.  A BMW?  That was something driven through town by a visiting city dweller.  

But a dreamy BMW was indeed the test car I received just in time for a birthday (mine) ride all over Weld and Larimer counties recently.  The model was a 228i painted Storm Bay metallic (gray) and featured Mocha perforated Dakota leather seating for five.  The moniker “Gran Coupe” sounds fancy, but generally a coupe is a 2 door with a sloping roofline.  BMW, however, has elected to name this four door as such, and the practice of doing so seems to have been popularized with several other manufacturers.

My test car qualified as a subcompact (178.5” long), and the interior provided supportive seating for two of the passengers, a large moon roof, a 10.3” dandy infotainment screen, and an electronic shifter that I struggled with a little bit.  BMW’s always offer the operator a solid, Teutonic feel and sensation, and this 228i was no exception.  All of the safety features such as lane change alert were on hand, but the cruise control did not have the radar system that prevents the driver from running up on a slower moving vehicle.  The customary cruise control suited me fine, however.

The styling of the 228i is terrific, and neighbors and motorists sure did notice Ruth and I as the day progressed.  Power is provided by a turbocharged four with 228 horsepower and the transmission is an eight speed automatic coupled to the all-wheel drive system underneath. Zero to 60 mph can be arrived at in 5.1 seconds and highway fuel economy is rated at 33 mpg. 

The M.S.R.P. for my test vehicle worked out to $47,845.00 with all the options. 

It was a blast to drive the BMW for the week that I had possession, and I would have to rate my experience driving around in it on my birthday as the “Best Day” of 2020, so far.