Front Wheel Drive – Soul Red metallic paint – Parchment Nappa leather interior – 7” touchscreen with navigation – 5 passenger – 192” long like a Chevy Malibu or Ford Fusion – Heated front and rear bucket seats – Weighs 3,250 lbs. – Sunroof, radar cruise control and rear view camera – XM radio and premium Bose 11 speaker stereo – 2.5 liter 4 cylinder with 184 horsepower Zero to 60 in 7.7 seconds – 6 Speed Direct Shift Automatic transmission with paddles – 19” machined-finish aluminum alloy wheels/all-season radials $34,695.00 list price – 30 MPG combined mpg, 27 city and 35 highway 16.4 gallon tank – Built in Hofu, Japan
Front Wheel Drive – Ruby Flare pearl metallic paint – Black leather interior 8” touchscreen with navigation – 5 passenger – 192” long like a Chevy Malibu or Ford Fusion – Heated front bucket seats – Weighs 3,395 lbs. – Sunroof and bird’s eye view camera/display – XM radio and premium JBL 9 speaker stereo 3.5 liter V-6 with 301 horsepower – torque is 267 lb.ft. – Zero to 60 in 5.7 seconds – 8 – Speed Direct Shift Automatic transmission – 19” black machined-finish aluminum alloy wheels/all-season radials – $38,220.00 list price – 26 MPG combined mpg, 22 city and 32 highway – 16 gallon tank – Built in Georgetown, Kentucky
Front Wheel Drive – Night blue metallic paint – Black leather interior – 6.5” touchscreen – 5 passenger – 168” long like a Chevy Trax – Heated front bucket seats – Weighs 3,086 lbs. – Panoramic sunroof and illuminated door sills and door panels – XM radio and premium Fender 8 speaker stereo – 1.8 liter Turbo 4 with 220 horsepower – torque is 258 lb.ft. – Zero to 60 in 5.7 seconds 6 Speed DSG automatic transmission – 18” Austin aluminum alloy wheels and all-season radials – $31,165.00 list price – 27 MPG combined mpg, 24 city and 32 highway – 13.2 gallon tank – Built in Puebla, Mexico
Recently I drove over to Pirate Radio with my latest test car, the 2017 Lexus RC-350 F Sport, which was painted Caviar (black) and featured a black leather interior. Pirate Radio is FM 104.7 in Greeley, and the car was there to be analyzed by the DJ’s, George Gray and Matt Arguello.
Their impression of the Lexus was positive, and if they had driven it they would have really gotten excited.
I took care of the driving of the RC-350 for a week and can report that the Lexus is a solid, smooth performer with enough horsepower to accelerate to 60 mph in under 6 seconds. A couple of years ago I drove the Lexus RC-F, which is identical except for the engine, and of course it was excellent, as well. The power in the RC-F was a V-8, so performance was more exhilarating.
What I will say about the RC-350, the subject of this evaluation, is that with the V-6 in it the performance was very satisfying, in somewhat of a surprise. I expected it to pale in comparison (to the V-8), and that was not the case. In it (the RC-350) is a 3.5 liter, 306 horsepower unit with 277 lb. ft. of torque. The ultra-smooth power plant features 24 valves, dual overhead cams, direct/port injection, and variable valve timing. The transmission is an six-speed automatic with floor shift and paddles on the steering column. Top speed of this rear-wheel drive car is reportedly 155 mph. As for fuel economy, the automobile rates 26 mpg highway, 19 mpg city, and a combined figure of 21 mpg. The tank holds 17.4 gallons.
Inside the four-passenger coupe is leather seating for four adults. It was upholstered in an understated black material with intricate stitching, and black accents were employed successfully throughout the cabin. The F Sport has badging on the steering wheel (on fenders, as well) and alloy foot pedals are on hand. Four driving modes are accessible when operating the RC, and they are normal, eco, sport, and sport+. When in sport+, the dash output changes to red accents and a large tachometer/digital speedometer. The ride is great and visibility is about as good as can be expected considering the sporty performance and design.
Lexus has knocked it out of the park with regards to styling of the RC-350, which in the case of my test car featured an Caviar black metallic paint job. Fifteen-spoke two-toned 19″ alloy wheels were fitted with 235/40R19 (265/35R19 on the rear axle) radials. When I’m testing a vehicle with different size tires on the front and the rear, I know I have my hands on a hot rod. The large black “spindle” grill is out front, a spoiler is integrated into the trunk (10.4 cubic ft.), and stainless exhaust finishers are under the rear fascia.
M.S.R.P. of the Lexus RC-350 F Sport is $57,198.00, including a base price of $45,175.00, fog lights ($410.00), F Sport package ($3,700.00), navigation/audio ($2,550.00), intuitive park assist (500.00), moonroof ($1,100.00), rear spoiler ($399.00), protective mats ($280.00), radar cruise control ($500.00), and triple beam LED headlamps ($1,160.00). Freight was $975.00.
The RC-350 is a surprising value, as performance coupes go, and with its stellar styling and interior appointments, I would recommend it to a prospect in the sector.
Caviar metallic clear coat paint – Heated black leather buckets with black accents – seats 4 – 8.4” touchscreen with navigation – Weighs 3,900 lbs. – 185” long – 3.5 liter V-6 306 horsepower five drive modes – 235/40r19 all season Michelin tires with low gloss F-Sport alloy wheels – Mark Levinson 835 watt premium 17 speaker stereo – Rear spoiler, 10.4 cubic ft. trunk, and moon roof – Six speed Automatic transmission and all-wheel drive – Backup camera, radar cruise control, and blind spot warning – $57,198.00 Window Sticker – 26 MPG on the highway – 21 MPG combined rating – 19 MPG city. 17.4 gallon tank – premium fuel – Made in Tahara, Aichi perfecture, Japan
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
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.
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
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
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