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 Volkswagen “Dune” 1.8T Turbo Beetle

20160825_163702Volkswagen Beetles were built from 1938 to 2003, and  over 20 million have been manufactured and sold worldwide since the inception of the car in Germany.  A man named Porsche designed the car, and along with the rear engine placement, the car was air cooled, without liquid coolant or a radiator.

What is commonly called a “New Beetle” with coolant, a front engine, and front-wheel drive, has been marketed on and off since 1997.  Such a car is what I picked up at General Mitchell Airfield in Milwaukee to drive on a midwest vacation.  It was a 2016 Turbocharged Sandstorm Yellow metallic unit with “Dune” equipment specified, including a rear spoiler, raised suspension, ten-spoke polished alloy wheels, exclusive bumpers and air intakes, black exterior cladding, aluminum pedal covers, and special badging and decals.20160825_153231

Power for my front wheel drive test car was supplied by a 1.8 liter, 170 horsepower (184 lb. ft. of torque) four cylinder gas engine with an EPA mileage rating of 25/city, 34/highway, 28 combined MPG.  The fuel tank capacity was 14.5 gallons.  The transmission on hand was a six-speed automatic, and it seemed sturdy and somewhat enjoyable.  For having a turbocharger, the engine had a definite grumble to it, belying the high RPM turbo operating in the power department.  Turbochargers whir at about 150,000 revolutions per minute – roughly 30 times as fast as the engine.  They are nice in Colorado, spinning faster at that altitude and mitigating power loss that can be associated with naturally-aspirated (i.e. fuel injected) engines.  I can’t say I hated having turbocharged power in Illinois and Wisconsin – the technology is just great.

Inside the four passenger Volkswagen, a Fender premium stereo was on hand as well as heated cloth and leatherette buckets with yellow piping and stitching, Bluetooth connections, pushbutton starter, flat-bottomed steering wheel, rear view camera, and satellite radio.  The theme inside was tasteful and coordinated well with the outside styling.  Beetle “Dune” looks was great, featured a wider track, honeycomb grill, LED tail lights, and while on our trip several tourists stopped by to comment on our ride.

Acceleration of the 3,093 lb. VW was great fun, road manners were on target, and handling/guidance were fine, as well.  It’s a pretty quiet sedan and visibility is fine.  List price was $25,065.00 for the 2016 that I drove and that included freight.  The only optional uncharge was for the Sandstorm paint, at $250.00.  The Volkswagen Beetle has a niche market and doesn’t sell over 400,000 per year (in the U.S.!) like the old days, but still has a nice following and a fan in this reviewer.

2016 Buick Envision Premium II AWD Luxury SUV

20160620_200850_HDRBuick’s newest SUV offering comes in the form of the Envision, a mid-size luxury crossover made in China but designed and engineered in the U.S.  It is designed to take head-on the Audi Q5 and Acura RDX, et al.

I fell in love with my test Envision, right off the bat.  It handles like a dream, seems to be just the right size, and offers good ride and visibility while generating little road noise.  Buick has positioned the classy, analog clock angled towards the driver but to the right of the dashboard middle so that others can easily peek at it from elsewhere in the cabin.  A little thing, no doubt, but when you add up a lot of little things a great motoring experience generally unfolds.

My test Buick carried an M.S.R.P. of $47,525.00, including a panoramic moon roof for $1475.00, Ebony Twilight metallic paint for $395.00, and freight for $925.00. 20160621_072112 Base price was $44,710.00.  The Ebony (black) paint was offset by an interior with light neutral perforated leather seating (for five), front buckets (both heated and ventilated), and a 60/40 back seat with fore/aft and reclining feature.

Interior equipment included GPS navigation with 8″ touch screen, Bose 7-speaker stereo with satellite radio, OnStar 4G LTE and built-in WiFi hotspot, head-up display, remote/push button starter, and memory driver seating.  I liked the support of the driver seat and thought visibility was good.

Wheels on the Envision are 19″, ten-spoke alloy with Manoogian silver finish and they have Hankook Ventus S1 Noble2, 235/50R19 mud and snow radials installed.  The tires selected are biased toward traction first, ride quality second, and economy third.  Styling of the Buick stacks up well with the competitors mentioned earlier and the grill is designed in the company “waterfall” design that is seen on Veranos, etc.  Overall length of the Envision is 184″, wheelbase is 108″, and the car weighs 3,800 lbs.  Of course it fits in between the Buick Enclave and the Encore in terms of size and pricing.20160620_201143_HDR

The lone power option for the all-wheel drive Envision is a 2.0 liter, 4 cylinder engine with a turbocharger and 252 horsepower at 5,500 rpm and 260 lb. ft. of torque at 2,000 rpm. I found the car to be quite peppy – transmission is a six-speed 6T70 electronically controlled automatic with floor shift.  Fuel economy ratings are 22 combined, 20 city, and 26 highway miles per gallon.  Premium fuel is burned in the car and it is stored in a 17.3 gallon tank.

General Motors says it wasn’t even sure about bringing the Envision to the United States when it made plans to build it in China years ago. The vehicle was designed for the Chinese market, where Buick is a sales leader and is General Motors’ top brand. The company has sold nearly 150,000 units there since the Envision went on sale about 12 months ago, even though the target was 100,000 so it was natural to take a shot at our market, where I think the car will be well-received.

 

2016 Nissan Altima 2.5 SL FWD Sedan

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For a recent test my wife and I went to Kearney, NE, for Memorial Day and a stop at Fort McPherson National Cemetery, where relatives’ remains are located.  The cemetery was created on a 20-acre plot over 140 years ago on the grounds of Fort McPherson, near North Platte.  The Fort was finished in October of 1863, and served as an outpost to protect travelers between Fort Kearny (now Kearney, NE) and Colorado.

The Cemetery has over 10,000 interments located there, and we visited the site in a 2016 Nissan Altima 2.5 SL sedan.  It was painted Pearl white and had beige leather seating for five inside.  I photographed it at the Julesberg, CO rest stop, and got over 31 miles per gallon on the round trip to Kearney.

Power for the front-wheel-drive Altima SL is supplied by a 2.5 liter, four cylinder engine with 182 horsepower (6,000 rpm) and 180 lb. ft. of torque (4,000 rpm).  Nissan gave in to the 4-cylinder trend with this car, and my trip was pleasurable, even thoughin the past I drove the V-6 Altimas.  A continuously variable automatic transmission is mated to the four cylinder engine, and acceleration was fine.  EPA mileage figures are 27/39 mpg for city and highway (18 gallon tank), and the combined rating is 31 miles per gallon.

The white Altima SL I tested had as options a moonroof package ($800.00), carpeting floor and trunk mats ($210.00), premium pearl paint ($395.00), and technology package ($1,700.00).  Total M.S.R.P., counting the $835.00 for freight, came to $32,510.00.  With rear backup camera, moon roof, navigation system, keeping this sedan under thirty-three  grand is an accomplishment.  Of course it had key-in-your-pocket ignition, tilt/telescope, power locks and windows, cruise control, satellite radio/CD, Bluetooth, and UBS connection.  Seating, as I mentioned, was for five, and the trunk held 15.4 cubic feet of cargo.

Styling for the new Altima, introduced in July of 2012, is an improvement over prior Altimas.  It looks bigger than it actually is, which is 191.5 “ in length and 3,177 lbs. in weight.  Chrome door handles are attached to the Nissan, and dual fog lights are up front along with a bold grill.  Ride is great, and it’s quiet in the cabin (71 decibels).  Ten-spoke, two-toned 17” alloy wheels are surrounded by P215/55R17 Michelin Primacy MXV4 all season radials.

Nissan’s best seller, this Altima, should hold up well in the sales wars with Honda’s Accord and Toyota’s Camry, as it doesn’t offer a person many opportunities to complain.  I spent a long couple of days on the Interstate with it, and the driving didn’t get tiresome, the audio was great, and time flew on our trip to Nebraska.

2016 Volkswagen Beetle R-Line SEL

20160517_150234I remember the first time I laid eyes on a Volkswagen Beetle, in Grant, Nebraska in about 1963.  A young man in town named Charlie Brixius had purchased a used one (perhaps a 1959), and made quite a splash driving it up and down Main Street over and over.  We all did that back then – gas was cheap, the pace was leisurely, and that was the place to be seen.  The U-turns were made at the same intersections on the north and south end of this town of 1,000 population, and some of the guys out cruising were lucky enough to have a girl sitting in the middle of the front seat for the ride.  20160517_150306

Charlie never had a girl sitting in the middle of his front seat, because the “bug” had two bucket seats in the front of the four-passenger, rear-engined, rear-wheel drive VW.  Neither did I, as I rode a Honda 50 scooter/cycle.

Volkswagen Beetles were built from 1938 to 2003, and  over 20 million have been manufactured and sold worldwide since the inception of the car in Germany.  A man named Porsche designed the car, and along with the rear engine placement, the car was air cooled, without coolant or a radiator.

What is commonly called a “New Beetle” with coolant, a front engine, and front-wheel drive, has been marketed on and off since 1997.  Such a car is what was brought to me a week ago for testing, a 2016 Turbocharged Tornado red unit with “R-Line” equipment specified, including a spoiler, “twister” alloy wheels, extra gauges, aluminum pedal covers, and special badging.

Power for my test car was supplied by a 2.0 liter, 210 horsepower (207 lb. ft. of torque) four cylinder gas engine with an EPA mileage rating of 23/city, 31/highway, 26 combined MPG.  The transmission on hand was a six-speed manual, and it seemed sturdy and somewhat enjoyable.  For having a turbocharger, the engine had a definite grumble to it, belying the high RPM turbo operating in the power department.  Turbochargers whir at about 150,000 revolutions per minute – roughly 30 times as fast as the engine.  They are nice in Colorado, spinning faster at our altitude and mitigating power loss that can be associated with naturally-aspirated (i.e. fuel injected) engines.

Inside the Volkswagen, a Fender premium stereo was on hand as well as sunroof, heated leather buckets, Bluetooth connections, navigation, pushbutton starter and satellite radio.  The theme inside was two-toned black and gray and somewhat kicky.  Styling was great with ten spoke polished alloys and attractive black trim work low on the outside.

Acceleration of the VW was great fun, road manners were on target, and handling/guidance were similar.  It’s a pretty quiet sedan and visibility is fine.  List price was $32,270.00 for the 2016 that I drove and that included freight.  It has a niche market and doesn’t sell over 400,000 per year (in the U.S.!) like the old days, but still has a nice following and a fan in this reviewer.

 

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.

 

 

 

2016 Scion iA 4-Door FWD Sedan

20151212_092205My most recent road test was of the Scion iA,, the new-for-2015 compact that is essentially a Mazda2 (the Mazda2 is not sold in America).  Scion is the division of Toyota that has marketed affordable smaller cars since 2002 with the goal of selling them to millennials.  The i in its name stands of individualism and the A is emblematic of accommodation, referencing the ample luggage space in the trunk, which is 13.5 cubic feet.  Interior space is 85.9 cubic feet (five people).

I drove my test iA (2016) to Pirate Radio in Greeley, which is 104.7 on the FM dial.  The DJ’s at the Pirate, George Gray and Matt Arguello, looked over the Scion and sat inside for a feel for the car.  Their impression was favorable, and they commented that the vehicle was the least expensive of any offering that I had showed to them.  We talked about the car on “Stu’s Reviews” at 7:30 am on December 11th, and the positive remarks were voiced on-air that morning.

The M.S.R.P. of my Scion was $17,570.00, including freight of $770.00.  Standard equipment on the car included an air conditioner, AM/FM radio with 6 speakers, 7″ audio touchscreen display, tilt/telescope steering column, push button starter, keyless entry, Bluetooth connectivity, backup camera, cruise control, and power windows/locks.  Up front were black cloth bucket seats and the rear 60/40 bench seat folded flat for additional cargo capacity.

I drove the Scion iA for a week and the performance was satisfactory in all respects. The power for the car is supplied by a 4-cylinder, 1.5 liter, dual overhead cam, 16-valve engine.  Horsepower is 106 @ 6,000 rpm and torque rating is 103 lb. ft. @ 4,000 rpm.  EPA ratings have been computed at 42 mpg-highway, 33 mpg-city, and 37 mpg-combined, and my result was 40.6 mpg for the week.  Fuel tank capacity is 11.6 gallons, so range is quite good.  Zero to 60 acceleration for the iA is reportedly between 8 and 9 seconds.

With Mazda putting together the styling of the iA, you can expect a good-looking car, which the iA is.  I have my reservations about the grill, but must say that onlookers at my radio station visit seemed OK with it.  It is not a hatchback, just a conventional sedan with trunk, and looks pretty nice with the Pulse red paint and ten spoke alloy wheels (not plastic hub caps).  The car is 171.1″ long and weighs 2,400 lbs.

The Scion iA is good, basic, inexpensive transportation and I enjoyed having it in my possession for a week.  An entry-level automobile shopper would be doing themselves a favor dropping by the dealership to test drive the iA.

 

2016 Mazda3 “S” 5-Door Grand Touring Hatchback

20151202_161511The first Mazda3 that could be purchased was the 2004 model, and the 2016 recently was introduced in a third generation configuration.  The Mazda3 was loaned to me for testing recently by Greeley Mazda, and it came in Soul red metallic paint with a black and almond leather interior.

At the same time as the Mazda arrived, the January, 2016 issue of Car and Driver magazine arrived, and in it was the Mazda3 designated as a “10 Best Cars for 2016” selection.  The test car that I received was the top-of-the-line Grand Touring S edition with an M.S.R.P. of $30,270.00.  The base price was $26,495.00, and to it was added several options that totaled $2,955.00, most notable among them being an appearance package for $1,750.00.  In the package was a grouping of spoilers and side sill extenders that actually added nicely to the appearance of the car.

As a Grand Touring Mazda3, my loaner had a moon roof, heated front seats, power driver seat, navigation/rear camera setup with 7” touch screen, 20151202_162227and a Bose 9-speaker surround sound stereo. Additionally, the Mazda was equipped with XM radio, a console-mounted command control for the infotainment system, blind spot monitor, proximity keyless entry, and power windows/locks/outside mirrors. A genuine “hand brake” and push button (plus remote) starter, always positives for me, were on hand in the attractive Mazda interior.  Also, the Grand Touring model features auto on/off bi-xenon adaptive headlights, LED combination taillights, LED daytime running lights, rain-sensing windshield wipers, auto-dimming rearview mirror with Homelink®, and perforated leather-trimmed seats.

Power for the Mazda3 S is supplied by a 2.5 liter, four-cylinder, 184 horsepower (@ 5,700 rpm), 185 lb. ft. torque rating (@3,250 rpm) engine coupled to a six-speed automatic transmission with floor shift and paddles on the steering column. Reportedly, zero to 60 timing for the 3 is 7.4 seconds.  Fuel economy ratings are 27/city – 37/highway, and 31/combined miles per gallon. Mazda equips this drive train with what is called SkyActiv technology, a combination, among other things, of 13 to 1 compression ratio and direct, multi-hole fuel injectors. Therefore the EPA highway readings are excellent, with my observation coming in at above the 31 mpg combined number.

20151202_162141Styling of the Mazda3 Grand Touring S, introduced in 2014, features a longer hood and elevated trunk lid with aerodynamic spoiler attached. All four windows roll down out of sight, and the windshield has an impressive rake to it. Wheels are ten-spoke dark gray alloys fitted with P215/45R18 all-season radials, and the new grill has a more menacing, blacked-out customized look.  I gave high marks for the ride, handling, and guidance of the car, and adjusting the sound system and navigation is easy with the right hand on the command control arrangement.

The Mazda3’s handling is improved by virtue of the electric-assist power steering, MacPherson strut front suspension and multi-link rear suspension (a rarity in this class). The car is 180.3” in overall length, with a wheelbase of 106.3” and weight of 2,848 lbs. The fuel tank holds 13.2 gallons and the trunk holds 12.4 cubic feet.
I liked the 2016 Mazda3 five-door hatchback, and could anticipate recommending a purchase to a prospective compact hatchback shopper.  And the new Car and Driver magazine editors agree with me.

 

 

2016 Scion tC 3-Door Liftback

20151124_161413Scion automobiles are a product of Toyota (the Scion name means descendant of a family or heir), and were developed for the American market starting in 2002.  Last month I tested a Scion tC 3-door lift back that was delivered to me by Rocky Mountain Redline out of Dacono, Colorado.  Originally, the Scion lineup included the xA hatchback and xB wagon, and in 2004 they introduced the compact tC sports coupe like I drove, and the tC is now in its thirteenth year of production.  The paint was Blue Streak metallic blue, with black cloth bucket seats and five passenger seating.  It is an attractive sport coupe with extensive re-styling that took place two years ago.20151123_124926

My test tC had a 106.3” wheelbase and a chassis that was derived from the European-market Avensis sedan as well as the Lexus HS-250h.  Acceleration (0-60 in 7.5 sec.) is provided by the 2.5 liter, 4 cylinder, DOHC, dual variable valve-timed, in-line powerplant.  Horsepower is 179 and the torque comes in at 171 ft.-lbs.  Fuel economy of the tC with the 6-speed manual transmission computes at 23 mpg city, 31 mpg highway, and 23 mpg combined, with a 14.5 gallon fuel tank.  The front MacPherson strut and double-wishbone rear suspension gave me a sporty ride and smooth handling, and visibility and road noise are fine for a twenty-thousand dollar automobile.

Speaking of which, M.S.R.P. of the Scion was precisely $20,180.00, including all standard equipment and freight of $795.00.  Standard equipment included a glass tilt/slide moon roof, 8-speaker stereo with Bluetooth connectivity, pushbutton starter, power windows/locks, tilt/telescope steering 20151123_124706column, remote keyless entry, and cruise control.  The glass that runs the entire span of the roof presents a striking appearance, as it is a hatchback design without a package tray in the rear (you can peek in the 14.7 cubic ft. cargo area from outside).

Turning radius on the Scion is 18.7 ft., and the length is 176.6 in., making the handling and parking of this vehicle quite manageable.  Whenever I took the tC around the community, a lot of looks and questions were presented to me because of the car’s top-notch styling.  Males seemed to pay particular attention, which is good for Toyota because they are striving for 60% male purchasers.  The tC features 18-inch ten-spoke alloy wheels surrounded with 225/45R18 Yokohama all season radials.  Looks are enhanced with the bulging rear wheel-wells and the front grill that has a Lexus look to it, and on balance, the car is a solid alternative for the compact sporty car shopper.

2015 Infiniti Q50S 3.7 RWD Sedan

SAM_4142Ruth and I travelled to Alabama in October for the Camping World 500 at Talladega, Alabama, and while there tested a Hagane blue Infiniti Q50S.  Unlike the race, our trip and test ended pleasurably with a drive to Atlanta for the flight to Colorado.  Our stay was on Lake Martin in central Alabama, where in a lakeside cabin Hank Williams wrote “Kaw-Liga” – a reference to a lovesick cigar store wooden Indian – in 1952.  The number was included in Williams’ final recording session, and was placed on the flip side of “Your Cheatin’ Heart”, with both songs reaching Billboard’s number one position.  Hank Williams died January 1st, 1953, at age 29.

20151025_174521We enjoyed going through the Hank Williams museum in Montgomery, Alabama, but also had a good time for the first 500 miles of racing at Talladega on a temperate, overcast Sunday afternoon.  Nascar officials flubbed up the ending of the race, but by that time we had thoroughly enjoyed watching the proceedings and eating Alabama bar-b-que.  It was my third trip to the Talladega race, and the paddock arrangement behind pit road was great – we were there for nine hours.

I have tested several Infinitis in the past, and this one seemed particularly suited to my taste – a high performance luxury Q50S sedan.  Its M.S.R.P. was $47,755.00, including freight, and that price included the following options – navigation package ($1,400.00) and performance wheel package ($1,800.00)  Thus, the car carried a base price of $43,650.00 and freight came in at $905.00.  The interior was sumptuous, and included a suede headliner, semi-aniline leather trim, Bose 14-speaker surround20151029_163210 sound stereo with satellite radio, tilt/telescope, navigation system, backup camera, moon roof, and heated front bucket seats.  The Stone (off-white) upholstery was striking with “Infiniti” stitching in the front buckets and soft double-stitched speedometer/tach hood.

20151023_155757The Q50S is a high performance car, with 328 horsepower and 269 lb. lb. of torque – it is a 3.7 liter V-6 with dual overhead cams.  It’s rear-wheel drive, the preferred architecture for a luxury performance sedan in this category.  The transmission is a seven-speed automatic (like the Infiniti V-8s have) with manual shift mode and paddles.  The driver selects from four driving modes with a console-mounted button – sport, standard, eco, and snow.  The eco mode maximizes fuel economy, and this car’s ratings are 20 city and 29 highway.  I observed 22.8 mpg during the time spent with the Q50S and that matches up with the EPA combined rating of 23.

The Q50S styling features chrome door handles, exhaust tips, and Infiniti signature grill.  The paint was “Hagane” (Japanese for steel) blue metallic, and actually looked best in sunlight.  The 19” alloy (RAYS branded) ten-spoke dark gray forged wheels were surrounded with P245/40R19 (front) and P265/35R19 (rear) summer radials.  Staggered tire sizes – that’s when the car owner knows that he has a performance machine.SAM_4147

The Infiniti was great to have possession of during the week of racing fun.  The Alabama roads are smooth, winding, and secluded in the tall timber.  This reviewer had fun with the Q50S, and it comes with my recommendation.