2022 MINI “John Cooper Works” 2-Door Hardtop

George Gray of Pirate 104.7 FM helped analyze the MINI at the studio parking lot:

Rebel green metallic paint with chili red roof, carbon black leather seating for 4 and heated front buckets, weighs 2,845 lbs., 152.8” long and has 98.2” wheelbase – 9 cubic ft. of cargo capacity – 34 with seats folded down, 18” Two toned aluminum wheels and 205/40R18 Pirelli P-zero summer  radial tires, Lane keep assist, forward collision alert, radar cruise control, rear vision camera, 8.8” infotainment screen, navigation, dual moon roof setup (one powered), six speaker AM/FM premium stereo sound system, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, color keyed door handles, and foldaway heated outside mirrors, 2.0 liter, 228 horsepower four with a 6 speed manual transmission  remote starter and front wheel drive – zero to 60 in 5.7 seconds, $40,850.00  list price – built in Oxford, United Kingdom, Fuel economy 31 mpg on highway, 22 in city, 25 overall – 11.6 gallon tank  – goes 360 mi. on a full tank

2021 Mazda MX-5 Miata RF Grand Touring

George “Elvis” Gray, FM-104.7 DJ, assisted in conducting a review of the Mazda sports car:

Machine gray metallic paint with white leather seating for 2, heated front buckets with console and stick shift, weighs 2,593 lbs. and has a 91.7” wheelbase – 4.6 cubic ft. trunk space, 17” – Silver finish aluminum spoke wheels and 205/45R17 high performance radials, 17″ silver finish aluminum spoke wheels and 205/45R17 high performance radials, Android / Apple integration, power retractable hardtop painted black, and pushbutton start, 7” multimedia infotainment screen – backup camera, navigation, heated steering wheel and Bose 9 speaker premium FM/AM-Satellite stereo, cruise control, lane change alert, rear cross traffic alert, and blind spot warning, 2.0 liter four cylinder with 181 (torque is 151) horsepower – Six speed manual transmission, rear wheel drive, 0-60 in 5.7 seconds, $36,265.00  list price  built in Hiroshima, Japan, fuel economy (34 mpg highway, 26 mpg city, 29 mpg combined)  11.9 gallon tank with 405 mi.range



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 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”.