2016 Lexus RX-350 F Sport

20160922_100157Recently the Lexus RX-350 was taken to Pirate Radio FM-104.7 (KELS) for a Friday edition of “Stu’s Reviews” featuring George Gray and Matt Arguello:

Adaptive Variable Suspension – Full-time All Wheel Drive – Blind Spot Monitor – Power Tailgate – Moonroof – Heated Steering Wheel – 12.3” Touchscreen Navigation – 15  Speaker Stereo by Mark Levinson – “Caviar” Metallic Black paint – White leather seating for five – $57,375.00, as equipped

Styling of the RX has always been a hallmark and this 2016 had a revised (substantially) look that was an eye-catcher .  Chrome tailpipes were present at the rear, and a nice black cladding strip adorns the lower body panels.  Up front the car features Lexus’ new “spindle”, pinched-in, somewhat massive, grill design.

Power for this car is provided by a 3.5 liter, 295 horsepower V-6 with an EPA rating of 19-city and 26-highway miles per gallon.  I observed 25.1 mpg during my week driving around in the RX, predominately on the highway.  Zero to 60 acceleration is reportedly 7.8 seconds.  Behind the power plant is a eight speed automatic with manual shifting and snow mode.  It, of course, is an all-wheel drive configuration, and the wheels are twenty-spoke black alloys fitted with P235/55R20 Michelin Premier LTX all-season radials.

It’s not a surprise that the Lexus RX is the top-selling luxury SUV;  I can recommend the RX, as it was an enjoyable week with it in my possession.

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2016 Toyota Land Cruiser 4WD

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George Gray, DJ at Pirate Radio 104.7, recently was able to join me in an analysis of the Toyota Land Cruiser outside the studios at KELS FM:

LAND CRUISER SPECIFICATIONS

Blue Onyx Pearl paint – 8 passenger – Power heated and a/c bucket seats – 9” touchscreen – Full time 4WD – LED running lights – XM radio and  premium 14 speaker stereo plus rear DVD player with dual 11” screens – Keyless entry – power windows and locks – pushbutton start – 5.7 liter V-8 with 381 horsepower – 8 Speed automatic transmission – Backup camera and navigation – $84,820.00  list price –  18 MPG Highway – 5,815 lb. curb weight – 16.1 cubic foot cargo space behind third row seats

2016 Volkswagen “Dune” 1.8T Turbo Beetle

20160825_163702Volkswagen Beetles were built from 1938 to 2003, and  over 20 million have been manufactured and sold worldwide since the inception of the car in Germany.  A man named Porsche designed the car, and along with the rear engine placement, the car was air cooled, without liquid coolant or a radiator.

What is commonly called a “New Beetle” with coolant, a front engine, and front-wheel drive, has been marketed on and off since 1997.  Such a car is what I picked up at General Mitchell Airfield in Milwaukee to drive on a midwest vacation.  It was a 2016 Turbocharged Sandstorm Yellow metallic unit with “Dune” equipment specified, including a rear spoiler, raised suspension, ten-spoke polished alloy wheels, exclusive bumpers and air intakes, black exterior cladding, aluminum pedal covers, and special badging and decals.20160825_153231

Power for my front wheel drive test car was supplied by a 1.8 liter, 170 horsepower (184 lb. ft. of torque) four cylinder gas engine with an EPA mileage rating of 25/city, 34/highway, 28 combined MPG.  The fuel tank capacity was 14.5 gallons.  The transmission on hand was a six-speed automatic, and it seemed sturdy and somewhat enjoyable.  For having a turbocharger, the engine had a definite grumble to it, belying the high RPM turbo operating in the power department.  Turbochargers whir at about 150,000 revolutions per minute – roughly 30 times as fast as the engine.  They are nice in Colorado, spinning faster at that altitude and mitigating power loss that can be associated with naturally-aspirated (i.e. fuel injected) engines.  I can’t say I hated having turbocharged power in Illinois and Wisconsin – the technology is just great.

Inside the four passenger Volkswagen, a Fender premium stereo was on hand as well as heated cloth and leatherette buckets with yellow piping and stitching, Bluetooth connections, pushbutton starter, flat-bottomed steering wheel, rear view camera, and satellite radio.  The theme inside was tasteful and coordinated well with the outside styling.  Beetle “Dune” looks was great, featured a wider track, honeycomb grill, LED tail lights, and while on our trip several tourists stopped by to comment on our ride.

Acceleration of the 3,093 lb. VW was great fun, road manners were on target, and handling/guidance were fine, as well.  It’s a pretty quiet sedan and visibility is fine.  List price was $25,065.00 for the 2016 that I drove and that included freight.  The only optional uncharge was for the Sandstorm paint, at $250.00.  The Volkswagen Beetle has a niche market and doesn’t sell over 400,000 per year (in the U.S.!) like the old days, but still has a nice following and a fan in this reviewer.