2013 Nissan Rogue SV AWD

Nisssan Rogue

On August 14th, 1965, the Beatles flew to America for their second concert tour here while at the zenith of their popularity.  It was a ten city tour and in the middle of it the band visited old White Sox Park in Chicago for an afternoon and an evening set.  Each lasted 35 minutes and the best seats in the stadium cost $5.50 each.

I found out about the Beatles visit when my wife and I went to White Sox Park on August 14th of this year, exactly 48 years after the Beatles came to America.  I love the Beatles, baseball, and cars, and the Chicago visit was to watch baseball and test a new Nissan Rogue.  The baseball game we attended was between the Detroit Tigers and the White Sox; an afternoon affair which Detroit won.  Tiger star Miguel Cabrera cracked his 38th home run of 2013, and made more money that afternoon ($177,000) than the Beatles did at White Sox Park ($155,000).

The Rogue that I tested was the SV (with SL package, M.S.R.P. – $30,965), with “intuitive” all-wheel drive, which puts power to all four wheels at takeoff and moves into front-wheel drive mode on the road for efficiency.  Power is supplied by a 2.5 liter, four cylinder engine (170 hp/175 lb. ft.) rated at 28 mpg highway mileage.  I did better than that for the week in the Rogue at 28.9 mpg.  The tank holds 15 gallons of regular gasoline.  The transmission in the Rogue was the continuously variable “gearless” unit with sport mode for enhanced response.  Zero to 60 acceleration time for the Rogue is reportedly 7.9 seconds.

From Chicago Ruth and I travelled to Western Illinois, specifically the resort town of Galena.  We like Galena, have been there several times, and enjoyed yet another visit.  Our stay was at the old Desoto House Hotel, where Abraham Lincoln spoke from the balcony on July 23rd, 1856, when the establishment was one year old.  Galena also was the home of Gen. Ulysses S. Grant, and 25,000 locals welcomed Grant home after the Civil War.  The Rogue’s ride was suitable and made the trip to Galena go by quickly, travelling on Interstate 90 through Rockford. Rogue I

The Rogue seats five, and the back seat flops down, providing almost 70 cubic feet of cargo space – 30 cubic feet less when that seat is erect.  The front buckets were heated and pretty comfortable, and the Rogue had pushbutton start, moonroof, navigation, Bluetooth, 7-speaker Bose stereo, backup camera, satellite radio and the “eye in the sky” or “around view” parking assist I find practical.Rogue rear

The Rogue’s styling is conventional, and in fact has a resemblance to the Murano, Nissan’s larger and more expensive SUV.  The Cayenne red paint job enhanced the Nissan’s attractiveness, as did the chrome roof rack and door handles, the ten-spoke 18” alloy wheels, and the chrome exhaust finisher.  Sales of the Rogue are pretty strong, up 13% so far this year.  My experience with the car in Illinois managed to “Please Please Me”, and if a reason exists why someone shouldn’t buy a Rogue, they need to “Tell Me Why”.

Rogue front

2013 Buick Encore Premium AWD Compact SUV

Buick Encore I

The Buick Encore was unveiled at the 2012 North American International Auto Show 18 months ago and rolled into dealerships early this year.  It is a derivative of the German Opel Mokka and is manufactured in Bupyeong, South Korea.  That German auto name sounds like something that is sold at one of the many Starbucks coffee shops in Greeley.  Buick’s name, on the other hand, is appropriate and gives a family cachet to the Buick SUV lineup, topped off with the bigger Enclave.

An Encore is classified as a luxury compact crossover SUV, and with its size it has no real competition.  I tested one last week, courtesy of Ryan Green at Weld County Garage, and it came in White Pearl Tricoat finish with Titaneum leather-appointed seating inside.  The M.S.R.P. was $32,975, including freight, with a base price of $29,690.  Options included the upgraded paint for $745, chrome aluminum wheels for $995, and a Bose AM/FM/Sirius satellite stereo radio with navigation for $795.

The Encore was the Premium AWD model and it included standard equipment such as a heated steering wheel, power memory driver’s seat, heated buckets, dual zone climate control, and remote start feature.  The car also had rear cross traffic and side blind zone alerts, lane departure warning, fog lamps, rearview camera, cruise, Bluetooth connectivity, ten air bags, tilt/telescope, and OnStar by General Motors.  Keyless entry is on hand with key start, and the hand brake is on the console, like I prefer.  The driver’s front bucket has an armrest for both passengers up front to share.  The back seat is 60/40 and folds down to offer 48.4 cubic feet of cargo room (18.8 is the number when the back seat is erect).  The Encore interior is pretty, and along with the cargo room, is a bit of a pleasant surprise for someone entering the vehicle. Buick Encore interior

Power for this Buick is supplied by a 1.4 liter, turbocharged four cylinder engine with 138 horsepower and 148 lb. ft. of torque.  The transmission is a six speed automatic with driver shift control.  EPA ratings are 23 city/30 highway, and the tank holds 14 gallons of regular gasoline.  The Encore has a wheelbase of 100.6”, overall length of 168.4”, and weighs 3,309 lbs.  The tires are P215/55R18 all-season radial blackwalls.  It is the shortest Buick every built, and has the shortest wheelbase offered since 1975.  But it drives bigger than the specs indicate, with ride and guidance that is suitable.  And parking?  Wow, what a breeze!Buick Encore

I’ve been admiring the looks of the Encore all year as I see them in the community, so it was nice to get behind the wheel of one.  Lots of onlookers were paying particular attention to the deluxe paint, seven-spoke chrome alloy wheels, deep tinted rear glass, three-stage chrome hood vents, gray cladding, and chrome door handles.  I’d like to have driven the Buick some more, and was only able to travel around Greeley a little with a run out on U.S. 34, where I found highway manners to be fine.  When I got back in town, I pulled through the Starbucks drive-in lane – I had decided I’d like one of those Americanized versions of the German Opel Mokka.

Buick Encore wheel

Learning the Lay of the Land in GMC’s 2014 Terrain

Terrain at Hungenbergs I

My most recent test was of the 2014 GMC Terrain, courtesy of Ryan Green over at Weld County Garage.  Ryan is the internet manager there and has been employed at “The Garage” for eleven years.  He tossed me the key fob and dealer license plate; immediately my wife Ruth and I were off on a road trip to Nebraska.

GMC has produced the Terrain since 2009, when the mid-size crossover SUV was introduced as a 2010 model at the New York International Auto Show.  The vehicle shares its drivetrain and platform with Chevrolet’s Equinox, but has styling that is substantially different than that of the Chevy.  It’s been a hit, selling almost 100,000 units last year, with the General Motors twin products leading all manufacturers in this segment.

The Terrain that Ruth and I made the trip in was the SLE-2, with upgraded cloth upholstery in black and beautiful extra-cost ($495) Carbon Black metallic paint.  M.S.R.P. came to $30,890, including freight ($895), power sunroof ($900), and chrome alloy wheels/door handles/mirrors ($795).  The tires mounted on those chrome, five-spoke wheels were Michelin Latitude P235/55R18 all-season radials.Terrain Wheel

Power for the SLE-2 is provided by a 2.4 liter, DOHC 4 cylinder engine with 182 horsepower and 172 lb.-ft. of torque.  The transmission is a six-speed automatic with overdrive and manual shift mode.  The EPA fuel economy ratings are 22-city, 32-highway, and 26 mpg overall.  I checked out the fuel mileage on my trip back from Hastings (392 miles) and calculated 33.75 mpg in gentle highway driving.  My test Terrain was a front-wheel drive model with an 18.8 gallon fuel tank.

Terrain Interior

The interior of the Terrain has seating for five and 31.6 cubic feet of luggage space behind the 60/40 second row seating.  That volume is doubled when the second row seating is folded down.  For and aft sliding and reclining capability is a feature of Terrain’s second row bench seat.  The front buckets were supportive for me and worked well on the extended journey from Nebraska.  A Pioneer 8-speaker premium stereo was on hand in the Terrain with satellite radio, an Intellilink system (Bluetooth, smartphone integration, Pandora, etc.) with 7” screen, tilt/telescope, power mirrors/windows/locks, and cruise control.

Highway driving was excellent in the Terrain, with guidance, ride, and wind noise all acceptable.  Handling is nimble, and I particularly liked the electric power steering.  Since I am fond of Terrain styling and felt comfortable driving the machine, I’d have to say that the reason they are so popular is evident to me.  Were I to be in the market for a mid-size crossover SUV, the Terrain would be a candidate for my purchasing dollars.

Terrain Painting