2017 Lexus IS-350 AWD F Sport Sedan

The Lexus IS was driven to Pirate Radio where George “Elvis” Gray helped analyze the luxury sedan.  Listen in:

Atomic Silver metallic / Black interior – Leather heated/power/ventilated front buckets and heated steering wheel – 10.25” touchscreen, backup camera/navigation Power moonroof  and premium Mark Levinson 15-speaker sound system – 308 horsepower 3.5 liter turbo V-6 / 277 lb. ft. torque – 8 Speed automatic transmission, paddle shifters, and all-wheel drive – F Sport high performance package – Lane departure and blind spot warning plus radar cruise –  $51,515.00            EPA rating is 19 MPG city , 21 MPG combined rating and 26 MPG highway (17.4 gallon tank) 3,583 lbs. – 184” long, 110” wheelbase 56” height, 71” wide

Built in Tahara, Aichi, Japan

2017 Toyota Tundra 4 x 4 Crewmax Limited

This Tundra was taken to Pirate Radio for an analysis by DJ George Gray:

Four Wheel Drive – Quicksand (tan) paint – Black leather interior – 7” touchscreen with navigation system – 5 passenger – 229” long like a GMC Sierra – Heated front bucket seats – Weighs 5,600 lbs. and tows 9,800 lbs.  XM radio and  premium 8 speaker stereo – 5.7 liter V-8 with 381 horsepower  Torque is 401 – TRD performance exhaust and remote engine start – Power moon roof with sunshade and power sliding back glass – 6 Speed automatic transmission –  2 speed transfer case – 20”  aluminum alloy wheels and 275/55R20 all-terrain radials – $51,985.00  list price – 15 MPG combined, 13 MPG city and 17 MPG highway – 38 gallon tank

Built in San Antonio, Texas

2017 Subaru BRZ Limited

Subaru and Toyota joined forces on a joint effort to build a rear-wheel-drive sports coupe during the previous decade, and in 2012  Subaru’s version hit the showrooms as a 2013 model and was named the BRZ.  Subaru handled the lion’s share of engineering of the sports car and installed their vaunted “boxer” engine in the vehicle.  The BRZ moniker denotes the boxer engine, rear-wheel-drive, and Zenith.  Zenith stands not for an old television, but for “above”.

I found a 2017 BRZ Limited in my driveway for testing recently, with keys slipped through the mail slot in my home.  I didn’t have to insert the keys in the BRZ because the Subaru has “keyless access and start”, allowing you to enter and drive with the keys in your pocket.  This BRZ was equipped with the 6-speed manual transmission, and I was able to handle the transmission rather easily.

The BRZ is powered by a 2.0 liter, four cylinder boxer aluminum engine that provides 205 horsepower and 156 lb.-ft. of torque.  The punch-counterpunch action of the boxer pistons in the Subaru cancel each other out and provide a smooth delivery of power.  Also, the horizontally opposed engine results in a lower center of gravity in the vehicle (18”), aiding the handling and cornering characteristics.  Porsche and Subaru are pretty much it when it comes to boxer automobile engines, and the design is found in some BMW and Honda motorcycles.  The motor was patented by Germany’s Karl Benz in 1896.  Fuel economy ratings on the BRZ are 21-city, 29-highway, the car burns premium unleaded gasoline, and the tank holds 13.2 gallons.

I took a spin over to Loveland in the BRZ and took a detour north on the “Jackrabbit Trail” for some winding road driving.  I’ve found that recently most folks around Greeley don’t use that name for Highway 257, but when I arrived in this area in 1979, that was what the road was called.  I think it came from an early name for the Mad Russian over near Milliken.

On the drive the BRZ exhibited its nature as a true sports car with 4-wheel independent suspension, and 4-wheel disc (11.5”) brakes.  Reportedly the 2,800 lb. car travels from zero to 60 in 6.4 seconds.   Inside, the Limited has black leather seating trim with Alcantara (suede-like) inserts to keep the occupants from sliding around, and Subaru has installed a 6.2” touch-screen navigation/infotainment system in the BRZ.  Also on hand are dual-zone air conditioning, Bluetooth capability, satellite radio, and USB/Ipod connection.

Ruth and I took the BRZ to the factory outlet stores and I noticed that the shoppers  were taking a good look at the Blue Pearl Metallic BRZ in the parking lot, admiring the ten-spoke dark gray alloy wheels with 215/45R17 Michelin Primacy HP summer radials, dual exhaust tips, and trunk spoiler (it’s atop a 7 cubic ft. compartment).

M.S.R.P. for the Subaru was based at $27,645.00.  Freight and a performance package brought the total to $29,660.00.  Shoppers looking for an under-$30,000,  2 + 2 sports car with terrific styling and performance would be well-advised to look at the 2017 Subaru BRZ.

2017 Nissan Rogue Sport SL AWD

We (George Gray, Matt Arguello, and myself) discuss the Rogue Sport during the Morning Show on FM-104.7 – Pirate Radio:

Magnetic black metallic paint – Heated light gray leather buckets – Five passenger seating – 7.0” touchscreen with navigation – Weighs 3,385 lbs. – 2.0 liter four cylinder, horsepower is 141, torque is 147 lb. ft. – Power moonroof – 225/45R19 tires with alloy wheels – Premium 6-speaker stereo – Around-view monitor – LED headlights, driving lights, and LED taillights – CVT transmission and all-wheel drive – Backup camera, radar cruise control, and blind spot warning – $31,245.00 Window Sticker – 30 MPG on the highway – 27 MPG combined rating – 24 MPG city – 14.5 gallon tank

 Made in Kyushu, Japan

 

2017 KIA Forte5 SX Hatchback

The latest car that was delivered to my house for testing was the 2017 KIA Forte5 hatchback – the Forte has been around since 2008 but had extensive updates added periodically since that time.  My test car came in Phantom gray metallic paint and included black and red leather seating for five inside.

As of this writing, I do not know where KIA came up with the name for this car, but wonder if they named it after the handsome Fabian, teen idol of the 50’s and 60’s.  Many readers do not know that Fabian’s full name was Fabiano Anthony Forte, or that he was referred to his record producer by Frankie Avalon, another South Philadelphia resident.  Eleven of Fabian’s songs reached the Billboard Hot 100 listing, including “Hound Dog Man”, “Tiger”, and “Turn Me Loose”, and he later got into movies including the part of Pretty Boy Floyd in “A Bullet for Pretty Boy” (1970).

Perhaps KIA’s hatchback that I drove was not named after Fabian, but my research into the matter has ended.  I will say, however, that the Forte is a “pretty boy”, as are several Hyundai and KIA vehicles since the hiring of Peter Schreyer by the corporation to head their California design studio.  The latest KIA’s are lower, wider, and longer that those of the past, with a wheelbase of this Forte5 of 106.3” and an overall length of 171.3”.  The Forte5 weighs 3,058 lbs.

My test Forte carried an M.S.R.P. of $27,020.00, a figure that took me a little by surprise when I withdrew the window sticker from the glove box.  Included was $125.00 for carpeted floor mats and $895.00 for freight.  As standard items, the car was equipped with sun roof, power/ventilated front bucket seats, push button starter, proximity smart key, tilt/telescope steering wheel, navigation system, satellite radio, Bluetooth/USB connectivity, and power outside folding mirrors with light stripes.

The KIA was powered by a 1.6 liter (201 hp/195 lb. ft.) four cylinder, turbocharged, DOHC, 16 valve engine and featured a six speed manual.  Acceleration of the Forte is reportedly zero to 60 in 7.3 seconds, and fuel economy is rated 23-city and 29-highway.  My observance was of 30.1 mpg during my week with the car.

My wife and I drove the KIA to Denver for a visit as well as a trip from Greeley to DIA on Highway 85.  Ride was suitable, guidance was fine, and wind noise was not excessive.  At the airport parking lot and in Greeley I admired the Forte’s small, 34.8’ turning radius.  The car fetched a lot of onlookers with the superb styling I hinted at earlier as well as the well-designed 17” alloys, which were fitted with Nexen Classe Premiere P215/45R17 m/s radials.  Chrome door handles adorned the exterior of the car.

KIA Forte auto sales are sizzling in the U.S. – about 70,000 sold in 2017, year-to-date – and this hatchback is a key component of that success.  I can see why; it’s quite a “Tiger”.

Phantom gray metallic – Heated and ventilated leather black front buckets – 5  passenger seating – Navigation system with 7” touchscreen – LED headlights – Power sunroof – AM/FM/MP3/CD/Satellite stereo – Pushbutton start and backup camera – D – shaped steering wheel and metal pedals – 201 horsepower 4 cylinder – 1.6 liter with turbocharger – torque is 195 lb. ft. – Six-speed manual transmission – 18” ten – spoke aluminum wheels – $27,020.00 window sticker   29 mpg highway gas mileage – 23 mpg city gas mileage       25 mpg combined gas mileage – Made in Pesoueria, Mexico

2017 MINI Cooper S Countryman All4

 

George Gray was in the studio (on the right) to look over the Mini Cooper with me at Pirate Radio 104.7FM.  See what we thought:

Island blue paint – Heated chesterfield brown leather buckets – 5 passenger seating – 8” touchscreen – Weighs 3,629 lbs. – Premium stereo – 2.0 liter four – 189 horsepower / torque is 207 lb. ft. – Panoramic moonroof – LED headlights and cornering lighting – Eight speed automatic transmission and all-wheel drive – Backup camera and navigation – $38,430.00 Window Sticker – 31 MPG on the highway – 26 MPG combined rating – 22 MPG city.  16.1 gallon tank – Made in Born, Netherlands

2017 Toyota Avalon Hybrid Limited FWD Sedan

The Toyota Avalon was driven to Pirate Radio for an analysis by DJ’s George Gray and Matt “The Big Kahuna” Arguello during the Morning Show.  Listen in:

Parisian Night Pearl blue metallic paint with black interior  – 5 passenger – 195” long like a Chevy Impala or Ford Taurus – Power black heated and air conditioned leather bucket seats and heated second row seating – 8” Touchscreen with navigation – XM radio and  premium 11 speaker JBL “cabin surround” stereo – Pushbutton start and power rear window shade – 2.5 liter four with 200 system (gas and electric) horsepower – CVT Automatic transmission –  3 driving modes – Backup camera, lane departure warning, heated steering wheel, radar cruise control, and blind spot monitor – 17”  aluminum alloy wheels – $43,639.00  list price – 40 MPG combined mileage, 40 city, and 39 highway – Built in Georgetown, Kentucky

2017 Volkswagen Golf GTI “S” Hatchback

The GTI was driven to Pirate Radio for an analysis by Matt “Big Kahuna” Arguello and George “Elvis” Gray.  Listen in:

Front Wheel Drive – Tornado Red paint/Titan black and Clark plaid interior – 5 passenger – 168” long like a Beetle or Chevy Sonic – Heated front bucket seats – 5  Star NHTSA Safety rating – weighs 3,031 lbs. – XM radio and  premium 8 speaker stereo  – 6.5” Touchscreen with backup camera – 2.0 liter turbo four with 210 horsepower, torque is 258 lbs. ft. – 6  Speed Tiptronic Automatic transmission –  3 driving modes – Paddle shifters – 18”  aluminum alloy wheels and 225/40R18 summer radials – $27,515.00  list price – 27 MPG combined mileage, 24 in city and 32 on highway – 13.2 gallon tank – Built in Puebla, Mexico

2017 Toyota Tacoma TRD/Pro 4×4 Double Cab Pickup

The Pirate Radio Morning Show Crew (George Gray and Matt Arguello) took a look at the Tacoma over at KELS FM104.7 Studios.  Listen in:

 

 

Cement gray paint – 5’ bed – Heated black leather buckets – 5 passenger seating – 7” touchscreen – Weighs 4,445 lbs. and has 9.4” ground clearance – 212” long – Entune premium stereo – 3 .5 liter V-6— 278 horsepower / torque is 265 lb. ft. – Six speed automatic transmission – Four wheel drive with locking differential – Backup camera and navigation – $45,087.00 Window Sticker – 23 MPG on the highway – 20 MPG combined rating – 18 MPG city.  21.1 gallon tank – Made in San Antonio, Texas