2021 Volkswagen Tiguan 2.0T SEL Premium R-Line

The Volkswagen was driven to Pirate Radio 104.7 for a review with the help of DJ George “Elvis” Gray:

Platinum gray metallic paint with storm gray leather interior for five, weighs 3,757 lbs. and is 185.1“ long – 37.6 cubic ft. of cargo space, 20” ten spoke alloy wheels with  P255/40R20 Hankook all season radial tires, leather wrapped, heated steering wheel, 8” multimedia display with Sirius satellite radio, Fender stereo with subwoofer, radar cruise control, Apple Carplay/Android Auto setup and backup camera with navigation, 2.0 liter turbo four with 184 horsepower and eight speed automatic transmission and all wheel drive, panoramic moon roof and hands free power tailgate, fuel economy is 27 on the highway, 21 in town and 24 mpg overall rating, fuel tank holds 15.3 gallons and car can go 413 miles on a full tank, list price is $40,290.00 and car is built in Puebla, Mexico 

2020 Toyota Highlander Hybrid Platinum AWD

The Highlander was taken over the the Pirate Radio studios for an analysis by the DJ’s, George “Elvis”Gray and Matt “The Big Kahuna” Arguello:Ruby Flare pearl metallic paint – heated leather jet black interior – 7 passenger seating with 4 buckets – Navigation system with 12.3” touchscreen – Radar dynamic cruise control – Power sunroof and power rear tailgate  – JBL AM/FM/MP3/CD/Satellite stereo with eight speakers – Pushbutton start and backup camera – Blind spot monitor, rear cross traffic alert, lane keep assist – 243 horsepower hybrid four – 2.5 liter with stop/start technology – CVT automatic transmission   All wheel drive – 20” polished aluminum wheels and P245/55R20 Bridgestone Dueler H/L 422 all season radials – $52,512.00 window sticker – 34 mpg highway gas mileage – 35 mpg city gas mileage – 35 mpg combined gas mileage   Made in Princeton, Indiana

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

2016 Toyota 4Runner TRD Pro V6 SUV

20161029_160204The Toyota 4Runner, brought out 32 years ago as basically a compact pickup/topper, is now in its fifth generation configuration and has morphed into a brawny mid-sized SUV.  This last week I was assigned to a 2016 4×4 TRD Pro V6 4Runner that arrived at my place sporting Quicksand (tan) paint with a black leatherette interior.

Toyota, U.S.A. was formed in our country on October 31st, 1957, and globally the company ranks 10th in the world in revenue.  Total global sales of their vehicles has tripled to 10.15 million since the 4Runner introduction in 1984, and the vehicle maintains its body-on-frame construction and will for the foreseeable future.  Such construction results in a quieter, heavier machine – traits that were evident to me during the week-long test.

The 4Runner M.S.R.P. totaled $42,800.00, including freight, and the only option  was a sliding rear cargo deck ($350.00).  The TRD Pro V6 4Runner was equipped with power windows/mirrors/windows/locks as well as keyless entry.  SofTex-trimmed seats existed throughout the five-passenger car and the front buckets were heated.  Of course the 40/20/40 back seat folds down, availing the two remaining occupants of the car almost 90 cubic feet of cargo space (47.2 cubic feet with the second row seating erect).  The rear tailgate needs handling by human hands, but the rear glass opens by electric motor.  Hence, the rear window wiper is concealed above the glass in the deflector.  I liked the arrangements at the rear of the 4Runner.

The stereo in the Toyota was a 8-speaker system, USB and Ipod connections were on hand, and a backup camera was installed.  The only gadgets that were missing were lane departure warning, adaptive cruise control, and blind spot monitor.  Ruth and I found the buckets to be supportive on our trip to Denver and the ride (coil springs at every corner) and guidance were suitable.

Horsepower of the 4Runner is rated at 270, and is supplied by a 4 liter V-6 with 278 lb.-ft. of torque.  The four-wheel drive vehicle has a five speed automatic transmission and performance was pleasing.  My fuel mileage ended up just over 21 miles-per-gallon, and EPA ratings were 17 city and 21 highway – 18 overall.  The fuel tank holds 23 gallons.SAM_4011

My family thought the 4Runner looked large, and as mentioned earlier the size has been increased over time.  Styling involves a bold design, and it grew on me as the week went by, presenting somewhat of a military look.  I also liked the way the lighting bulged from the corners.  Wheels were black alloys fitted with P265/70R17 all-season radials.

Personally, the week with the 4Runner resulted in a pleasant surprise, and I see no reason why an SUV shopper would avoid the Toyota dealer and the 4Runners located on their lot.

2016 Lexus GX460 Luxury SUV

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An elegant 2016 Lexus GX-460 Luxury edition was dropped off at my house last week, and I quickly jumped in to take it to the airport to pick up my family.  Lexus is the luxury division of Toyota, and has been producing the GX series of SUV’s since 2002.  This one was painted Silver Lining metallic, a gorgeous finish.  Inside, it featured gray leather deluxe upholstery with comfortable buckets and seating for seven.  The family, consisting of the three girls just back from Disney World, oohed and ahhhd at the Lexus interior.

This GX is a big SUV, weighing 5,179 lbs. and extending out to 189.2 inches in overall length.  It’s 73.8” tall and 74.2” in width.  I mentioned the seven passenger capability, which requires a small double leather seat that folds down into the floor in the far back.  When these seats are up, there is a modest amount of luggage space, but when collapsed along with the middle row of seating, you can obtain 64.7 cubic feet of cargo space.  The back door swings out towards the curb and a hinged rear glass is incorporated into it.  All packaged up and out on the road, this vehicle rides great, and wind noise, guidance, and handling are all commensurate with a Lexus of this caliber.20160518_183452

My GX test car had a base M.S.R.P. of $61,515.00.  The entertainment system added $1,970.00, driver support package added $4,340.00, and the freight added $940.00, bringing total list price to $68,765.00.  Stereo equipment was Mark Levinson (including navigation system) with 7.1 Dolby surround sound and 17 speakers.  The GX had the blind spot monitor that I’ve grown so fond of, allowing Ruth and I to get on Highway 85 at Brighton and sale into Greeley from the south.

The 4.6 liter V-8 provided 301 horsepower (329 lb. ft. of torque) and was mated to a six speed automatic transmission with sport shift mode.  Acceleration is on target, with a zero to sixty timing that is reportedly a respectable 7.8 seconds.  Fuel economy ratings are 15/20 city-highway (17 combined), and I observed a little over 18 for the week spent with the GX.  It has full-time four-wheel drive with crawl control for four wheeling.  This car is a body-on-frame SUV with 8.1” of ground clearance, so can do more than just drive through snow.

Styling of the GX-460 has been changed since the second generation model was introduced in 2009, and personally I think they kept the styling pretty much in line with the prior series, with perhaps a little more aggressive attitude.  My GX had the roof rails, nice lighted steps on the side, ample chrome, and 18”, six-spoke Liquid Graphite alloy wheels.  The tires were Bridgestone Dueler H/T 840’s, P265/60R18 in size, with mud and snow capabilities.

Sleek, unibody “crossover” SUVs are currently the rage, and the GX460 is somewhat of a throwback.  But if the shopper wants to luxuriate with off-road and towing capabilities, the GX-460 Lexus provides an excellent option to consider.

 

 

 

2015 Jeep Cherokee Latitude 4×4

20150921_183023Recently I was chosen to examine the 2015 Cherokee Latitude 4 x 4 by Rocky Mountain Redline of Dacono, CO.  They graciously brought the Jeep by my house and had a copy of the window sticker along – it was $33,825.00, including freight and several options.  I’ll get into that list later, but at first glance I was surprised to see all of the black chrome trim work on the Jeep, and as the test unfolded a lot of my friends made favorable comments about the look.  A gloss black appearance was featured on the grill, the window trim, roof rails, wheels, and the fascia application.  Along with the Granite Crystal metallic clear coat paint, the vehicle therefore presented an aggressive, business-like look.

The Ohio-built Jeep Cherokee is not to be confused with the Grand Cherokee – this is a mid-size crossover that was introduced for the 2014 model year and was co-developed by Chrysler and Fiat.  It is 182″ long, 73.2″ wide, 65.7″ high, is mounted on a 106.3″ wheelbase, and has ground clearance of 8″.  Weight of the model I drove was 4,044 lbs.  As of this writing, it should not be driven on the streets of South Carolina, because it can only wade through 19″ of water.  That’s actually pretty good, but the weather in SC is pretty bad.20150921_183352

I enjoyed testing the Jeep in Colorado, and was pleased about the extra punch provided by the 3.2 liter (197.7 c.i.d.) Pentastar V-6 with 271 horsepower at 6,500 rpm.  The torque rating is 239 lb. ft. at 4,400 rpm.  Smooth acceleration was effected through the single-speed Activ Drive I four-wheel drive system and the new 9-speed, Chrysler-built transmission that adds economy to the Jeep’s EPA ratings – they are 28-highway, 20-city, and 23-combined miles per gallon.  My reading came in as expected and just a little above the combined figure.  For the four-wheel drive system, a floor dial is on hand with up to five traction control settings.  They are auto, snow, sport, sand/mud, and rock, and the management system is referred to as Selec-Terrain.

The loaded Jeep Cherokee Latitude has as options the following items: customer preferred package ($600.00) – 18″ x 7″ gloss black five-spoke wheels, black trim work and P225/60R18 Continental ProContact steel radials; safety tech group ($1,045.00) – blind spot monitor, rear park assist and multi-function power mirrors; comfort/convenience group ($1,745.00) – remote starter, power lift gate, remote entry and go, power cloth buckets and XM satellite radio; V-6 engine ($1,745.00) –  includes start/stop feature for economy plus dual exhausts ; UConnect ($600.00) – 8.4 infotainment screen with navigation capability.  All the items were in addition to a base price of $27,095.00 and a freight charge of $995.00.

The total Jeep package was impressive, with V-6 power in an advanced power train, deluxe interior with room for five people plus 25 cubic feet of cargo, acceptable fuel economy and list price, and all the amenities except leather and moon roof.  In other words, everything that you expect in a Jeep, and have since 1941.

 

2015 Range Rover Supercharged LWB

2015 Range Rover LWB that I drove to Rocky Mountain Nat'l Park to test for AAA EnCompass magazine.

Indian conglomerate Tata Motors purchased iconic British automaker Jaguar Land Rover in 2008, obtaining a luxury line of cars and utility vehicles – the Land Rover brand having been around since 1947.  Land Rover started selling a bigger Range Rover SUV in 1970, and since 2013 the model has been available in its biggest version to date.  A Fuji white 2015 Range Rover Supercharged LWB (long wheelbase) was the subject of a recent test that I conducted, and it was the largest foreign non-pickup unit ever loaned to me for review.

American manufacturers produce SUV’s of this size, of course, but not with as many amenities, at such a price, or with as much power.  Power which for my test Range Rover LWB came in the form of a 5.0 liter, 510 horsepower, 32-valve, supercharged V-8, permanent four-wheel drive, two-speed transfer case, and an eight-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters. With such of a power train, acceleration from zero to 60 is reportedly 5.5 seconds, blazing for a 5,320 lb. aluminum-intensive behemoth.  The Range Rover is fast, and it’s ride, handling, guidance and visibility all go hand in hand with its drive train prowess.  Plus it can wade through 35.4” of water.SAM_0713

With regards to the amenities, they are in abundance in the Range Rover that I drove, and included four-zone climate control, front massage seats, rear climate seats that recline, beverage cooler, surround cameras, 360 degree parking control, 825-watt Meridian premium stereo, and panoramic moonroof that is controllable from the rear seats.  Also, HDD navigation, adaptive cruise control, terrain response system with five settings, rear cabin power blinds, and 21” aluminum alloy wheels were on hand.

SAM_0717People like this journalist are not often spotted in the driver’s seat, or back seat for that matter, of a vehicle such as the Range Rover.  It’s convention is often as a form of transportation for an entertainer or business owner.  In fact, Range Rover LWB sales are brisk in China, where owners enjoy riding in the back seat where all the room is.  This model represents nearly half of Sino-sales, whereas in America only 25% of Range Rover buyers opt for the 7.9” longer version.  All but a half inch of that additional exterior dimension benefits the legs of the passengers in the rear, and a lengthened back door that needs careful handling is often taken care by someone outside of the vehicle – the driver.

My rating of the Range Rover in question would be “par excellence”, in the areas of driving experience, off-road capability (reportedly), comfort, and styling.  As for the value proposition of this vehicle, I admit that it is expensive, at $118,000,00.  However, I  suspect that shoppers in this category, for the most part, are not concerned with that aspect.20150715_055242

 

 

2015 Range Rover Supercharged LWB Specs

MSRP:  $118,501.00, including all standard LWB equipment and freight.  Options include climate comfort, vision assist, driver assist, towing, and premium audio packages.  Base price is $106,995.00.

POWER: 5.0 liter (305 c.i.d.) supercharged V-8 with 510 hp (@ 6,000 rpm), 461 lb. ft. of torque (@ 2,500 rpm) and start/stop technology. Permanent all-wheel drive with eight speed automatic transmission.

CAPACITIES: Fuel 27.7 gallons, cargo 32.1 cubic feet behind rear seat (50 more with seats folded flat), passengers 5.

EPA RATINGS: 14-city, 19-highway, 16-combined miles per gallon.  Reviewer-observed MPG – 16.7 mpg.

DIMENSIONS: Wheelbase 122.8”, Length 204.7”, Width 87.4”, Height 72.4” Weight 5,320 lbs., Obstacle clearance 8.68” (11.63 off-road).

2015 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon Hard Rock 4 X 4

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Jeep has been building off-road and sport utility vehicles since 1941 (civilian vehicles since 1945), making it the country’s oldest SUV brand.  They were originally provided for the U. S. military during World War II, specifically light 4-wheel drives for the Army.  Willys-Overland, the manufacturer of Jeeps, provided about 640,000 units for the war effort, and the initial contract price was $648.00 each.

Thousands of Jeeps were left behind in the Philippines after the Allied victory over the Japanese, and most were converted to taxis and became the primary mode of public transportation there.  Called Jeepneys (Jeep/jitney), they were also my primary mode of transportation beyond the gate at Clark AFB while I served there in 1970.  Up front, each Jeepney had a driver and a conductor, who managed passengers and collected fares.  Air Force GI’s rode in them to their favorite bar for about 20 cents.  Jeepneys in the PhilippinesSAM_4031

Jeep, now owned by Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, LLC, has sold the Wrangler since 1987, and the compact SUV is now in its 4th generation configuration.  Since 2007 it has been available in a 4-door “Unlimited” model with an additional 20.6” of wheelbase, but my latest test vehicle was the Wrangler Rubicon 4×4 Hard Rock two-door  Although much evolved, the Wrangler remains a knockoff of the original Army Jeep of the 1940’s.

My test Wrangler was good-looking Firecracker red clear coat paint outside with black leather seating and front buckets that were heated.  M.S.R.P. for the Jeep was $39,255.00 and included the base price, freight, connectivity group ($1,570.00), 3-piece hard top/soft top ($595.00), and Hard Rock convenience package ($4,500.00).  The Hard Rock package included power locks/windows, cruise, tilt, XM radio, fold-down 3 passenger rear seat, and Bluetooth connectivity.    Cargo capacity is 55 cubic feet with the back seat folded and 12.8 cubic feet with it erect.  SAM_4032

A nice feature of this year’s Wrangler is the new 3.6 liter Pentastar V-6 with 285 (@6,350 rpm) horsepower and 260 (@ 4,200 rpm) ft. lb. of torque.  Along with the 6-speed manual transmission, it provided me with enough power and can go zero to 60 in 8.5 seconds.  Gas mileage ratings are 17/21, city and highway, 18 combined and my observation was 18.8 mpg for the week.  Ride and guidance on the road with the Jeep is better than can be expected and wind noise is acceptable.  Off-road capability is exemplary, of course, with 2-speed transfer case, ample ground clearance, and the limited-slip differential.

I mentioned the paint – also, the Jeep had 17” polished semi-gloss black 5-hole alloy wheels, BF Goodrich Mud-Terrain T/A, LT255/75R17 black-letter tires, fog lights, iconic seven-slot grill, and front tow hooks on the bumper.

When the Rubicon arrived, I was extremely excited to run around with it.  Not being a hunter or fisherman, however, I suppose ownership of such a car would be inadvisable for me.  For those that want it for those activities, I strongly suggest they take a look at buying one of these Jeeps.

2015 Jeep Patriot Latitude 4WD

SAM_0614Jeep has produced its Patriot since the introduction of the compact crossover SUV nine years ago this spring at the New York Auto Show.  It, along with the Jeep Compass, is manufactured on what is called the MK platform.  The Compass is designed to appeal to female motorists with the Patriot as a designated favorite of males.  The Patriot, in its Latitude model offering, is the subject of this week’s review, one which was loaned to me by Rocky Mountain Redline in Dacono, CO.

My Patriot test car (crossover?) was painted Granite Crystal metallic with Light Pebble beige leather interior.  The Latitude is stationed at the middle of the Patriot lineup, with a Limited model available for additional cost.  The Latitude carries a base price of $24,395.00, and freight adds $995.00 to that figure.  My Patriot had as options a preferred package (moon roof, power leather seating, etc.) for $1,095.00, a security package (security system, tonneau cover, etc.) for 695.00, a navigation package for $1,385.00, and a U-Connect/XM radio/Bluetooth technology package for $495.00.  Total M.S.R.P., therefore, was $29,060.00.SAM_3891

Styling of the Latitude has been around for nearly a decade, but has aged well and looks good.  “Patriot” and “High Altitude” badging on the car as well as the functional luggage rack gave it a “Jeep” look, as did the giant round headlamps.  Firestone P215/60R 17 Touring mud and snow tires were mounted on five-spoke gunmetal gray alloy wheels.

Inside, comfortable leather buckets and a bench back seat provide five passenger seating, and a tonneau cover can conceal guns or golf clubs in the 23 cubic foot luggage compartment (which expands to 53.5 when the second-row seating is folded flat).  Features included Bluetooth, air conditioning, power windows, liftgate speakers, keyless entry, remote start, a touch-screen audio system, the navigation, Uconnect Web with a Wi-Fi hot spot, satellite radio and a USB port.  A lever-type hand brake is on hand, and the shift tower is mounted neither on the console, nor on the dashboard; kind of in-between, like a Prius.  It worked fine with its duties to shift the six-speed automatic transmission, and an additional benefit of the interior is the space for odds and ends above the glove box in front of the passenger seat.  I liked it for my stuff while making rounds in the Patriot for a week.  A Jeep is the one brand of vehicle that I can name when entering blindfolded – that being a result of the husky, bold steering wheel grip.

The Latitude engine was a 2.4 liter, four cylinder with 172 horsepower (@ 6,000 rpm) and 165 lb. ft. of torque (@ 4,400 rpm).  EPA fuel economy is rated at 21 city-mpg, 27 highway-mpg, and 23 combined-mpg.  My observance was of 23.8 mpg for the week of driving the Latitude.  The fuel tank holds 13.5 gallons of regular unleaded gasoline.

Ruth, my wife, made mention of the visibility of the Patriot, which was good.  Driving the Jeep is pleasurable, with ride, guidance, and interior noise within tolerances.  It’s not a hot rod, but with 9.1″ of ground clearance and four-wheel drive, highway driving is not its forte.  All around utility is, and in that department I think the Jeep gets the job done, and for under $30,000.00, no less.