2021 Toyota Venza Limited AWD

The Venza was presented at Pirate Radio for a review by George Gray, Matt Arguello, and myself:

Coastal Gray metallic paint with black SofTex seating for 5, heated and ventilated front buckets, weighs 3,913 lbs. and is 186.6” long, 28.8 cubic ft. cargo room, 19”  chrome finish ten spoke aluminum wheels and 225/50R19  Bridgestone radials, pushbutton/remote start, navigation, dual power seats, leather wrapped and heated steering wheel, panoramic “star gaze”moon roof, wireless phone charger, head up display, Android / Apple integration, 12.3” multimedia infotainment screen, backup camera, 9 speaker JBL XM/AM/FM premium sound system, radar cruise control, lane change alert, rear cross traffic alert, blind spot warning, 2.5 liter hybrid four with 219 horsepower, CVT automatic transmission and all wheel drive, $43,100.00.00  list price, built in Toyota, Aichi, Japan, fuel economy (37 mpg highway, 40 mpg city, 39 mpg combined), 14.5 gallon tank with 536 mi.range



2021 Volkswagen Cross Sport V-6 SEL Premium R-Line

The Atlas was driven to Pirate Radio for a review with George Gray and Matt Arguello:

 Pure gray paint with dark burgundy and black leather seating for 5 – heated and ventilated front buckets, weighs 4,098 lbs. and is 195.5” long – 40.3 cubic ft. cargo room, 21” – two toned finish ten spoke aluminum wheels and 265/45R21 Pirelli radials, pushbutton/remote start, navigation, dual power seats, leather wrapped and heated steering wheel and big moon roof, wireless phone charger, head up display, dressy R-Line package and Android / Apple integration, 8” multimedia infotainment screen – backup camera and 12 speaker Fender XM/AM/FM premium sound system, cruise control, lane change alert, rear cross traffic alert, and blind spot warning, 3.6 liter turbo V-6 with 276 horsepower – Eight speed automatic Tiptronic transmission and 4Motion all wheel drive, $51,615.00.00  list price  – built in Chattanooga, Tennessee, fuel economy (23 mpg highway, 17 mpg city, 19 mpg combined)  19.5 gallon tank with 449 mi.range



2021 Buick Envision Essence FWD

Radio review at Pirate Radio studios featuring George Gray and Matt Arguello:

Cinnabar red metallic paint with ebony leather seating for 5 – heated front buckets, weighs 3,759 lbs. and is 182.5” long, 52.7 cubic ft. of cargo space with the back seat folded down, 17” – Black finished aluminum wheels and 245/45R17 all season radial tires, pushbutton/remote start, power memory seats, leather wrapped  and heated steering wheel, head up display, wireless phone charger and navigation, 10” multimedia infotainment screen, backup camera and 9 speaker Bose XM/AM/FM premium sound system, electronic radar cruise control, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capability, lane change alert, rear cross traffic alert, and blind spot warning, 2 liter turbocharged four with 228 horsepower, nine speed automatic transmission and front wheel drive, $41,315.00.00  list price  – built in Yantai, Etdz, P. R. – China, fuel economy (31 mpg highway, 24 mpg city, 26 mpg combined)  15.9 gallon tank with 492 mi.range 

2021 Chevrolet Trailblazer “Activ” AWD SUV

Radio review at Pirate 104.7 studios featuring George Gray and Matt Arguello:

 Iridescent Pearl metallic paint with Zeus Bronze metallic top and black five passenger leatherette upholstered interior, heated front buckets, 173.5” long, 103.9” wheelbase, 3,275# weight, 8 “touchscreen infotainment, 54.4 cubic ft. cargo capacity behind front seats (25.3 with all seats erect), manual tailgate, start/stop technology and remote start, Bose premium stereo with 7 speakers, gas mileage ratings are 30-hwy./26-city/28-combined, range is 396 miles with 13.2 gallon tank, floor mounted gear shift, nine speed automatic transmission, lane change alert, blind spot monitor and cross traffic alert, 17” gray finish wheels five spoke wheels with 225/50R17 Hankook AT2 trail rated radial tires, 155 horsepower 3 cylinder 1.3 liter turbo engine, $31,375.00 M.S.R.P., built in Bupyeong Gu, In, Korea

2021 Lexus RX450h AWD F Sport

Radio review at Pirate Radio studios featuring George Gray:

Atomic Silver metallic paint with black five passenger leather upholstered interior – heated front buckets, 192.5” long, 109.8” wheelbase, 4,740# weight, head up display in windshield and navigation in touchscreen, 16 cubic ft. cargo capacity behind rear seat , power tailgate and panoramic moon roof, Mark Levinson premium stereo with 15 speakers, gas mileage ratings are 28-hwy./31-city/30-combined, range is 482 miles with 17.2 gallon tank, floor mounted gear shift, CVT automatic transmission with paddle shifters, lane change alert, blind spot monitor and cross traffic alert, 20” gray finish wheels five spoke wheels with 235/55R20 Yokohama Avid GT all season radial tires, 308 horsepower 6 cylinder 3.5 liter engine, $63,495.00 M.S.R.P. – built in Cambridge, Ontario, Canada

2020 Subaru Outback Turbo Onyx Edition

This last week I received a Subaru to test, a 2020 Outback with the four-cylinder turbocharged engine and continuously variable transmission (CVT). It was the Onyx edition in Abyss Blue Pearl with two-toned gray StarTex interior. This car is made by Fuji Heavy Industries, a Japanese firm, with final assembly taking place in Lafayette, Indiana.  The Onyx is one of the the top-line Outbacks out of seven models offered in both turbo and non-turbo configurations. This one had an option package that included Starlink 11.6” multimedia navigation infotainment system, moon roof, and reverse automatic braking.  This $1,845.00 package, plus $245.00 for wireless charger, brought the total M.S.R.P. to $37,995.00, including freight. I really enjoyed the charger in the console for keeping my flip phone charged up.  

The Outback is a derivative of the Subaru Legacy wagon, introduced in 1994. It was originally called the Legacy Outback, and the Legacy name was dropped in 2003. Subaru in the 1990s did not want to spend the money for a new design for its crossover SUV to be produced, so simply modified an existing offering. They added side body cladding, raised the ground clearance, and added a rugged-looking rack on the top. In 2009, the second generation Outback was introduced, and sales since then have been brisk – over 181,000 in 2019. Crossover SUVs are quite popular nowadays, and a large part it is the result of the Subaru Outback.

Power for the Outback is supplied by a turbocharged 2.4 liter, boxer four-cylinder, DOHC, all-aluminum engine with 260 horsepower and 277 lb. ft. of torque. The boxer designation refers to its horizontally-opposed configuration, like a Corvair or Porsche. Think of a boxer, throwing punches. The weight of the engine, although modest, is kept at a lower center-of-gravity with this design. Ground clearance, however, is a category-best 8.7 inches. The transmission is a Lineartronic continuously variable automatic with Hill Holder feature and eight-speed manual mode – paddle shifters are behind the steering wheel. Symmetrical all-wheel drive, is, of course, standard equipment. Fuel economy is rated at 23-city and 30-highway for the car, and the fuel tank holds 18.5 gallons of regular gasoline. Acceleration from zero to sixty is reportedly 7.37 seconds.  Wheelbase/length/weight are 108.1”, 191.3”, and 3,915 lbs., respectively.

The front buckets in the Outback are nice, and the three-passenger rear seat is split and reclines somewhat. Cargo space is 34 cubic feet with the back seats up and 75.7 cubic feet with the back seats dropped down. The center passenger in the rear has a shoulder belt, adding to the Outback safety reputation. Both of the front seats are power-adjustable, and the driver ergonomics are fine.

The ten-spoke black 18” alloy wheels on the Onyx are attractive, and they are surrounded by 225/60R18 all-season radials. The blue paint was offset with the dark cladding and bumpers, and the black roof rack gave the car an off-road look. I did not go off-road, but took some bumpy dirt roads with satisfactory results. I like the hefty, solid feel of the car both in town and out on the highway.

A few days with the Subaru Outback, and this reviewer can see the reason that these Outbacks are so popular, particularly in our home state of Colorado, where they outsell everything else. Crossover shoppers would be well-advised to consider an Outback at purchase time.

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.