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

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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”.       

“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.             

“New Yellow Car” – 2020 Lexus GS-F RWD Sedan

In Dan Seals’ 1985 hit song “My Old Yellow Car”, the singer describes the dilapidated condition of his ride by referring to the stained back seat as the place where “Larry and Sandy could no longer wait”.  The song, often heard on K96.9FM, has as its provenance the fond memories that the singer has for the old days riding around in his junky vehicle.  

When I received notification that I would soon be receiving a “New Yellow Car”, specifically a 2020 Lexus GS-F, I could no longer wait for its arrival, but unlike Larry and Sandy, had to do so for a few days.  I’ve always had a fondness for yellow cars, and that fact along with the specifications of the GS-F caused my elevated anticipation.  

The 2020 Lexus GS-F rear wheel drive sedan sits on a 112.2” wheelbase, is 72.6” wide, 56.7” tall, and weighs 4,034 lbs.  In some ways I was disappointed that I did not test the Lexus during the heart of the pandemic while the roads were vacated and I could have let the GS-F flex its muscles.  

Muscular is indeed what the GS-F is, featuring a 5.0 liter V-8 with 467 horsepower and an eight speed sport shift automatic with paddle shifters along with the floor stick.  Top speed is reportedly 168 mph and zero to 60 acceleration takes 4.5 seconds.  That acceleration, along with the handling and guidance, were exceptional, and the tires were summer-only staggered Michelin Pilots mounted on deluxe 19” aluminum wheels.   

The 5 passenger interior of the Lexus was sumptuous with high-back heated and air conditioned buckets up front and ambient interior lighting that was dim or bright based on whether the GS—F was parked or in motion.  All other expected interior appointments were on hand to include navigation, moon roof, and even aluminum racing pedals.  The trunk holds 14 cubic ft. of cargo on this unit and the fuel tank holds 17.4 gallons (24 mpg highway rating = 418 miles of range).

The  M.S.R.P. of my test Lexus came in at $89, 510.00, including freight and a 17-speaker Mark Levinson surround sound stereo.  I had a lot of car in my hands for seven days and like Dan Seals, created a few present day memories of my own with it.    

 

2020 Toyota Corolla Hatchback FWD XSE

The Toyota Corolla hatchback that I was recently able to test came in a pleasing two toned bronze oxide and black metallic paint combination and featured black and gray leather trimmed fabric seating surfaces.  The Toyota Corolla, one of the best-selling nameplates of all time, has moved over 44 million cars onto driveways around the world (well, mostly driveways), and the car is in its twelfth generation configuration, having been around since 1966.

The 2020 front wheel drive Corolla hatchback sits on a 103.9” wheelbase, is 70.5” wide, 57.1” high, and weighs 3,060 lbs.  The way that Greeley and Ft. Collins have grown, it seems you are always poking around looking for parking space, so with a car that’s 172 inches long, it is not too difficult with Toyota’s Corolla hatchback.

Acceleration, handling, visibility and guidance were all acceptable for the Corolla.  The power was supplied by a 2 liter, 4 cylinder engine, putting out 168 horsepower through a continuously variable (CVT) transmission.  Silver and gray ten-spoke alloy wheels were fitted with P225/40R18 all-season radials on the car.

The 5 passenger interior of the hatchback was comfortable and the seating was supportive and looked good.  The car had a backup camera, 8″ touchscreen, cruise control, power windows/locks/mirrors, tilt/telescope steering column, and keyless entry.  M.S.R.P for my test Corolla came in at $29,391.00, including freight.  The biggest item added to its $24,340.00 base price was a preferred package consisting of a JBL stereo and dynamic navigation. 

The Corolla did a super job for me during the test in Northern Colorado.  The slick styling caught a lot of eyes, the car kept pace at the stoplights, and with the 38 mpg highway mileage rating, I spent a nominal amount of money on gas.  I’d say it is a good value.

 

 

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.