Friday, January 5, 2018

2017 Lexus GS350 F Sport

2017 Lexus GS350 F Sport
 A Premium Ride!

By Charles Donaldson

Twenty-eight years ago, Toyota made a move that was a game changer, not only for Toyota, but also for the Luxury car industry with the introduction of the Lexus brand. Originally, the Lexus models were simply Toyota vehicles with luxury level features, however, thousands of dollars less than their new upscale competitors. As Lexus built a strong following, new models filled the showrooms with a look and style that differed from it’s Toyota cousins. Lexus became a true luxury marquee.

There are multiple GS trims available for 2017 as noted below, but for the purposes of this review I will be focusing on the GS350 F Sport model. When I slid into the driver’s seat I was immediately impressed with the styling and quality of the cabin. The exterior fit-and-finish was outstanding, and the ride quality was impressive.

Pricing and Trims
For 2017 the Lexus GS series is available in the following trim levels: GS200t ($47,305), GS350 (rear wheel drive - $51,360 and all-wheel drive- $51,690), GS200t F Sport ($54,975), GS350 F Sport (rear wheel drive - $55,805 and all-wheel drive- $557,550), GS450h Hybrid ($64,630), GS450h Hybrid F Sport ($69,675), and GS F ($84,935).

What’s new for 2017?
The 2017 GS F Sport models are pretty much a carryover from the 2016 version. The exception is that it does now come standard with the Lexus Safety System+, even better handling and ride control with thanks to the new Linear Adaptive Variable Suspension, and painted or Hand-Polished Forged Wheels and optional Heads Up Display.

Interior Highpoints
The 2017 GS350 F Sport interior blends comfort with an excellent fit and finish. It is warm and inviting and well-equipped with luxury touches and technologies. My test vehicle came with an impressive 12.3-inch navigation monitor featuring split screen multi-media display. The 10-way power adjustable leather seats featured both heated and cooling abilities. The F Sport is loaded with features including genuine wood trim, rearview camera, satellite radio, standard 12-speaker Premium Sound System, enhanced Bluetooth® capability, and Lexus Enform® App Suite, Enform Service Connect, Enform Destinations and Enform Remote.

Exterior Highlights
The 2017 GS350 F Sport features the Lexus “spindle” grille that aggressively and assertively identifies itself as a Lexus. The angled LED lighting shouts move-out-of-my-way! The intelligent high beams automatically switch to low when a car approaches. Both low and high beam LED headlights deliver very good visibility at night. The GS profile is strong and organic with a hint of BMWish lines. The roof line is smooth and doesn’t subtract headroom from the rear passengers.

Performance Specs
The 2017 GS350 F Sport is powered by Lexus’ 3.5-liter V6 that delivers 311 horsepower and 280 lb.-ft. of torque. Attached to the V6 is a smooth 8-speed automatic with steering wheel-mounted shift paddles that drives the rear-wheel drive. The F Sport-tuned-adaptive-variable suspension dispenses both a level of driving confidence and luxury yet sport handling. The combination furnishes the driver and passengers with an outstandingly-smooth ride and a velvety acceleration.

Cool Features:

·        Navigation system with 12.3-inch high-resolution display.

·       Climate Concierge automatically monitors the temperature of three separate climate zones and adjusts not only the fans, but also the temperature of the seats and steering wheel individually.

·       Siri® Eyes Free

Safety Integrity
The 2017 Lexus GS F comes equipped as standard with Lexus Safety System+. Lexus Safety System+ includes, Pre-Collision System (PCS), Lane Departure Alert (LDA) with Steering Assist, Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB), Intelligent High Beam (IHB) and High-Speed Dynamic Radar Cruise Control. Other safety features include 10 airbags, including a knee airbag for the driver and front passenger, seat-mounted side airbags for outboard rear seats, and side curtain airbags. Blind Spot Monitor (BSM) which uses radar to detect a vehicle in an adjacent lane as well as a vehicle traveling at a high speed approaching the driver’s blind spot.

In Summary – The 2017 Lexus GS350 F Sport seems to have gotten it right. It is loaded with performance and high-end elements that deliver both sport and luxury into one incredible vehicle. It was designed for the driving enthusiasts, by driving enthusiasts. From the aggressive grille to the sport-focused dash design to the uncompromising performance, the 2017 Lexus GS350 F Sport hits the mark and more.


2017 Lexus GS 350 F Sport

Base price:                   $54,810 as driven: $60,035 (including destination & optional features)
Engine:                          3.5-liter 6-Cylinder 
Horsepower:                311 hp
Torque:                         280 lb.-ft.
Transmission:               8-speed automatic
Drive:                             Front-Wheel Drive
Seating:                         5-passenger 
Cargo space:                14 cubic feet
Curb weight:                4,034 pounds   
EPA mileage:                City 19/Hwy 27/Comb 22 MPG 
Fuel Capacity:              17.4 gallons
Turning Circle:             36.8 ft.
Wheel Base:                112.2 inches 
Warranty:                    4 years/50,000-miles 
Also consider:             Acura RLX, BMW 5 Series, Cadillac CT6, Infiniti Q70, Jaguar XF, Mercedes-Benz E-Class

Friday, December 1, 2017

2017 Toyota 4Runner 4X4 TRD Off-Road Premium

2017 Toyota 4Runner 4X4 TRD Off-Road Premium
 Who Needs a Road?

By Charles Donaldson

This month’s article is the fourth answer to the question “What type of vehicle works best for camping?” So far, we have reviewed a Crossover, a Minivan, and an AWD Wagon. This month we hit the trail with a 4x4 SUV.

For those readers who have missed my previous three articles, my goal is to look at four different types of vehicles and how they stack up to a camping adventure. All articles highlight the pros and cons of each vehicle category along with my personal camping experiences. 

Our fourth vehicle category is the 4x4 SUV and our test vehicle is the 2017 Toyota 4Runner.  I would like to start by sending out a thank you to Christine Henley of Toyota for helping me to secure my test vehicle at the last moment.

This camping adventure took my son and another father-son team deep into the back hills of Livermore, CA for a Boy Scout excursion. As we hit the last couple of miles, I was elated to be behind the wheel of a 4x4-drive vehicle with the confidence and capability of the 2017 Toyota 4Runner 4X4 TRD Off-Road Premium.

Our scout camp was built in the 1940’s and it doesn’t appear that the road was ever been resurfaced or even well-maintained. You could almost hide a VW Beetle in some of the pot holes. Lucky for us, the 4Runner managed them with ease.

A group of four people out camping can require a lot of space to transport their equipment. The 4Runner (with slide deck) had more than enough room with 46.3 cu. ft. of rear cargo space. If you are wondering what the “Slide Deck” is, well to help people load and remove items from the rear cargo area, Toyota created a “deck” that slides out above the floor allowing for easy access and removal of your stuff. It was great when we had to load and unload our packed cooler from the back.

The 4Runner is one of the few truck-based, body-on-frame SUVs left on the market. Most have moved over to car-based frames called CUV or Crossovers. This structure allows the 4Runner to master some serious off-roading, as well as shuttling the family around town. It combines the characteristics of being refined, accommodating, and also confident. One of the main difference between an SUV and a CUV is the ride. SUVs ride like a truck, but also handles the dirt-filled road better.

Most recently redesigned for the 2014 model year, the 2017 Toyota 4Runner is stylish with a self-assured attitude. From north to south, the body is well-balanced. The front feels aggressive with its powerful grille and headlights resembling eyes that seem self-assured. The ground clearance on the 4x4 sits at 9.6-inches and you feel the height as your cruise down the road.

Inside of the 2017 4Runner, the center dash is boxed-framed with large knobs to control the radio and air systems. You’ll find off-road switches and knobs in an aircraft fashion near the dome lights.

I found the 4Runner, at least our trim level, to have a number of high-tech features, however, it left me without a push-start button. Door-mounted open buttons were nowhere to be seen, forcing me to grab for the keys each time I opened a door. The  interior was comfortable, and the components were well-placed. A 110-volt plug was located in the rear compartment.

For 2017, the Toyota 4Runner comes in the following configurations: Limited (2WD and 4WD), SR5 (2WD and 4WD), SR5 Premium (2WD and 4WD), TRD Off-Road 4x4, TRD Off-Road Premium 4x4, and TRD Off-Road Pro 4x4.

All 4Runners are powered by the same power-plant, a 4.0-liter V-6 motor that generates 270 horsepower and 278 pound-feet of torque that is matted to a 5-speed automatic transmission. This combination works wells and easily transports you to your daily activities or up the next hill ridge.  The 4Runner sits on top of the Tacoma chassis, but with a better suspension setup delivering an enhanced ride.

Cool Features:

·         Slide Deck
·         Bilstein custom off-road shocks (TRD PRO Series
·         Rear Liftgate Power Window

The safety features are complete with Vehicle Stability Control (VSC), Traction Control (TRAC), Anti-lock Brake System (ABS), Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD), Brake Assist (BA) and Smart Stop Technology (SST)®, driver and front passenger Advanced Airbag System, driver and front passenger TAP, front seat-mounted side airbags, driver and front passenger knee airbags, and front and all row (third-row airbags on all models) roll-sensing side curtain airbags (RSCA), driver and front passenger active headrests, anti-theft alarm system with an engine immobilizer, Front and Rear Parking Assist Sonar (Limited only), Hill Start Assist Control, Downhill Assist Control (SR5 and Limited 4x4 only), and Tire Pressure Monitor System (TPMS).

In Summary – The 2017 Toyota 4Runner is a wonderful vehicle if you’re looking for the sturdiness of a truck-based platform with, as my little scout would say, “Pro-skills” when driving off-payment. The 4Runner is blended with high-tech and off-road features that will take care of your needs. It may not ride like a car, but the buyers of the 4Runner aren’t expecting or wanting it to. They desire the independence and adept ability to master the beaten path.

This is the end of my 2017 Camping Vehicle Series. I hope you have enjoyed it.


2017 Toyota 4Runner 4X4 TRD Off-Road Premium

Base price:                  $39,295 as driven: $42,455 (including destination & optional features)
Engine:                         4.0-liter 6-Cylinder 
Horsepower:               270 hp
Torque:                        278 lb.-ft.
Transmission:             5-speed automatic
Drive:                           4-Wheel Drive
Seating:                       5-passenger (7-passenger with the optional third row seats)
Ground Clearance:    9.0-inches 
Cargo space:               46.3 cubic feet
Curb weight:               4,675 pounds   
EPA mileage:               City 17/Hwy 21/Comb 18 MPG 
Wheel Base:                109.8 inches 
Warranty:                    3 years/36,000-miles 
Also consider:             Ford Explorer, Jeep Grand Cherokee, Nissan Pathfinder

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

2017 Volvo V90 Cross Country

2017 Volvo V90 Cross Country
 All-Season Performance!

By Charles Donaldson

This month’s article is the third installment to the question “What type of vehicle works best for camping?” So far, we have reviewed a Crossover and a Minivan. This month we take a trip in an AWD wagon.

For those readers who missed my past two articles, my goal is to look at three or four different types of vehicles and how they stack up to a camping adventure. I will highlight the pros and cons of each vehicle category along with my personal camping experiences. 

Our third vehicle category is the wagon in the form of the very capable 2017 Volvo V90 Cross Country T6 AWD. The category was called “station wagon” for years, but has now been shortened to just “wagon.”

I remember growing up taking trips in my parents’ Buick Estate Wagon – the biggest of the wagons. It had tons of power but not the best on handling. It was like driving a big boat. It was completely different than Volvo’s V90 Cross Country T6 AWD. The Volvo provides you with power, handling, and an array of features to boot!

The fact that the V90 Cross Country comes in AWD speaks to its capabilities. If you hit a rough uneven patch of dirt road, no sweat…the AWD eats it up and keeps you heading toward your destination. The V90 is part of Volvo’s new flagship 90 series and feels part SUV, wagon and sedan. With that said, the 90 series is available in these forms: SUV, sedan and, of course, wagons.

For me, when it comes to camping, there are four main things I need in a vehicle: cargo space for all of my camping gear (I really need to change over to light weight and compact camping stuff), seating for at least four, minor off-road capabilities, and lastly, comfort.

The 2017 Volvo V90 Cross Country T6 AWD possesses all four characteristics. The cargo volume starts with over 35 cu. ft., seats five (and up to seven, but you lose the rear storage area), comes in AWD with a ground clearance of 6.0-inches, and a suspension and interior that keeps the ride enjoyable.

The 2017 Volvo V90 Cross Country is available in to trims: V90 T5 FWD and V90 T6 AWD. Both models come with a 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder motor, but the T6 adds a supercharger to the turbocharger boosting the horse power from 250 to 316 hp.  Both models are teamed up with an 8-speed automatic transmission.

When you first look at the V90 you get a sense of movement thanks in part to the bright red rear taillights that angle upward and forward framing the rear window in a red glow. You have to look twice as the appearance almost resembles an SUV minus the extra high roofline. The AWD model raises the ground height and in turn the sheet metal is elevated over the wheels with black wheel arch extensions creating an off-road aggressiveness.

The interior starts with Cross Country leather upholstery seat services: a panoramic sunroof, dark walnut wood inlays, and a large 9-inch command touch screen in the center dash that directs you to the navigation, radio, phone and other areas. The leather seats felt firm and comfortable. The center command screen wasn’t as friendly as I would like, but at the same time had cool features including temperature information for your current city location. There is plenty of room for your phone, cups and two USB ports. The drivers dash displays your navigation, temperature and time in convenient eye view. A con would be the interior height is much lower than that of a SUV or Minivan, so avoid stacking your gear too high.

Cool Features:

·         Temperature and weather information
·         Convenient rear air vents
·         9-inch touch screen

The definition of the word Safety must have the word Volvo in it as Volvo has a reputation for being at the fore-front of security. The 2017 Volvo V90 Cross Country T6 AWD is loaded with safety features including the following: City Safe low speed collision system, pedestrian & cyclist & large animal detection system, pilot assist semi-autonomous drive system, driver adaptive front passenger dual-stage airbag system, Multiple-Threshold Front Airbags (SRS), side curtain airbags, lane departure assist system, and more.

In Summary – The 2017 Volvo V90 Cross Country T6 AWD has earned the AWD wagon category and V90 itself, a favorable position on my list, for great vehicles to take camping. Besides camping, the Volvo V90 Cross Country T6 AWD is great for all trips from the family beach outing, to the friend’s getaway, to the snowy ski slopes. The V90 has great styling, performance, power and technology. It’s on my list…

Stay tuned for the next camping special review!


2017 Volvo V90 Cross CountryT6 AWD

Base price:                   $55,300 as driven: $64,640 (including destination & optional
Engine:                         2.0-liter 4-Cylinder supercharged and turbocharged
Horsepower:               316 hp
Torque:                        295 lb.-ft.
Transmission:             8-speed automatic
Drive:                            AWD-Wheel Drive
Seating:                        7-passenger
Turning radius:            37.4 feet 
Cargo space:                35 to 71.3 cubic feet
Curb weight:                4,982 pounds   
EPA mileage:                City 21/Hwy 31/Comb 25 MPG 
Wheel Base:                115.8 inches 
Warranty:                     4 years/50,000-miles 
Also consider:              Audi A4 Allroad

Sunday, October 1, 2017

2018 Honda Odyssey

2018 Honda Odyssey
 A Sports Car Minivan!

By Charles Donaldson
Hello Again. This month’s article is the second part to the question “What type of vehicle works best for camping?” For those readers who missed the first article in August 2017 (2017 Kia Sorento Crossover), my goal is to look at three different types of vehicles and how they stack up to a camping adventure, and highlight the pros and cons of each vehicle category along with my personal camping experiences. 

Our second vehicle category is the minivan and, in particular, the 2018 Honda Odyssey. These days it’s almost unfair to call the current “minivans” mini. When the first minivan arrived in 1984 in the form of the Chrysler minivan, it was only 175.9-inches long compared to a full-size Dodge van stretching 212-inches. The 2018 Honda Odyssey is 203.2-inches long, which is almost as large as what was considered a “Full-size” van.

People may also be thinking, “Take a minivan camping? Its purpose is to take the family to school sporting events.” I can personally tell you a minivan can be that perfect camping vehicle. You have two wide doors to get people and things in and out. There is plenty of storage for your camping gear in the back, especially if you lower the third row of seats flat like the Honda Odyssey allows. The overall height is lower than an SUV or truck, so the lifting is a little easier as well.

The 2018 Honda Odyssey’s cargo room ranges from 32.8 cu ft. (behind the 3rd row seat), 88.8 cu ft. (behind the 2nd row seat), 144.9 cu ft. (behind the 1st row seat), and 172.6 cu ft. of passenger volume. That’s a lot of room!

For 2018, the Honda Odyssey is completely redesigned. The Odyssey has been the best-selling minivan in America for the past seven years. This fifth-generation Odyssey raises the bar for performance, cabin quietness, family-friendly interior space, comfort and connectivity in the minivan segment. It is available in the following trim levels: LX ($29,900), EX ($33,860), EX-L ($37,360), Touring ($44,510), and the Elite ($46,670).

Offering customers greater value than ever before, the 2018 Honda Odyssey development team substantially increased comfort and convenience features such as standard Honda Sensing® technology, new Display Audio system with Apple CarPlay™ and Android Auto™, and new Magic Slide 2nd-row seats™ in EX and above trims, for example. The line-topping Odyssey Touring and Elite models round out the Odyssey lineup with a long list of available new premium features and technologies, including CabinWatch™ day/night video monitor, CabinTalk™ in-car PA system, 4G LTE in-car Wi-Fi, new Rear Entertainment System (RES) with Blu-ray and streaming video, hands-free power tailgate, heated steering wheel, LED accent lighting, and more.
The 3.5-liter engine is new and packs 280 horses under the hood. Now here’s the real kicker: all models except for the Touring and Elite mate the 3.5-liter to a 9-speed automatic transmission with Paddle shifters. If that wasn’t enough, the Touring and Elite both include a 10-speed auto transmission with Paddle shifters! And if you were wondering, yes it accelerates like a performance vehicle, while mastering corners with exhilaration.

The styling on the Odyssey feels more like an SUV than a minivan from many angles. The front end is an intentional clone of the brand’s Pilot crossover and Civic with active grille shutters to improve aerodynamic efficiency on the highway. The hood and sides are carved with deep sporty swoops and “lightning bolt” chrome belt lines.

Inside, Honda has added many soft-touch materials creating a more expensive look and feel. In the center of the dash is a large screen that is the main control center. All of the side windows had shade screens helping to keep the sun out and the shade in. Honda worked hard to make the cabin as outside, noise-free as possible – maybe too quiet as I didn’t hear the ambulance until it was about 30-feet away. The only caveat is that the second row of seats does not fold flat or tilt forward. In fact, you must remove them if you want a fully-flat rear cargo area and they weigh around 70 lbs. each. 

My Elite trim included the new CabinWatch and CabinTalk features that allow you to watch the kids in the back two rows and speak to them through the rear speakers or headphones if they are listening to the DVD entertainment system. Other cool interior features include: built-in 4G LTE Wi-Fi, Smartphone-inspired infotainment system, CabinControl App, built-in vacuum cleaner, wireless smart phone charger and digital gauge cluster.

The cargo area is well-suited to carry your camping gear including: a tent, three large plastic totes, a medium size cooler, fishing poles, three folding chairs, two medium-sized bags of clothes, a box of wood, three sleeping bags, three pillows, small cooler and a bag of sheets and blankets and other small items. In the front center console was a 110-volt power plug.

Cool Features:
·         CabinWatch and CabinTalk

·         Standard with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, you can access popular smartphone features including: maps, text messages and music

·         110-volt power inverter plug

·         Rear Blue Ray DVD entertainment system with wireless headphones and remote

·         Built-in Vacuum cleaner

·         Wireless Smart phone charger

·         Built-in WiFi system

The 2018 Honda Odyssey is loaded with safety features including the following: Advanced Compatibility Engineering™ (ACE™) Body Structure, Dual-Stage, Multiple-Threshold Front Airbags (SRS), Front Side Airbags, Three-Row Side Curtain Airbags with Rollover Sensor, Driver's and Front Passenger's Knee Airbags, Lane Keeping Assist System, Adaptive Cruise Control, Blind Spot Information System, Smart Entry with Walk-Away Auto Lock and more. Some of these items are optional safety features for purchase.  

In Summary – The 2018 Honda Odyssey is a premier minivan at a premier price. The Honda team managed to equip the Touring and Elite models with almost every new high-tech feature available. If they could change the second-row seats to fold in half and flip up, the vehicle would be almost perfect. The power and performance was sports car-like. The new styling is fun and racy. As for camping, I have found that minivans are the most convenient way to comfortably load up passengers and your cargo. My suggestion is to head over to a Honda dealer if your family is looking for the multi-person people-mover that almost has it all.

Stay tuned for the 4-11 as I am in search of a Pickup to complete our final comparison!

2018 Honda Odyssey Elite

Base price:                  $46,670 as driven: $47,610 (including destination & optional
Engine:                         3.5-liter V6
Horsepower:                 280 hp
Torque:                         262 lb.-ft.
Transmission:               10-speed automatic
Drive:                             FWD-Wheel Drive
Seating:                         8-passenger
Turning radius:             39.64 feet
Cargo space:                32.8 to 155.7 cubic feet
Curb weight:                4,593 pounds  
EPA mileage:                City 19/Hwy 28/Comb 22 MPG
Wheel Base:                118.1 inches
Warranty:                     3 years/36,000-miles

Also consider:              Chrysler Town & Country, Ford Transit Connect, Kia Sedona,
                                        Toyota Sienna 

Friday, September 1, 2017

2017 Hyundai Veloster

2017 Hyundai Veloster
 Three Doors…And Good To Go!

By Charles Donaldson
Two-doors, three-doors, four-doors, five-doors; who’s counting? Hyundai is and their magic number is three when it comes to the 2017 Veloster and three is the perfect number! If the Veloster came in two-doors you would probably end up paying more for car insurance as two-door vehicles are considered sport cars. If it was equipped with four-doors, well, you would be driving a sedan. Let’s face it, with a name like Veloster it better lean more towards the sporty side than the practical direction.

The Veloster entered the market in 2011 to replace the aging Hyundai Tiburon. With its quirkiness of having three-doors adding to its unique appeal, the Veloster has created a category with no direct competitors. The underpinnings are provided by the last-generation Elantra. The styling is part hatchback and part coupe. The only changes for 2017 are the addition of HD Radio and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration.

The 2017 Hyundai Veloster comes in the following configurations: Base ($18,100), Value Edition ($21,350), Turbo R-Spec ($21,600), and Turbo ($22,600). The three-door styling is distinctive with a door on the driver’s side and two “full-size” doors on the passenger side. Saturn used to offer a third-door but it was very small. The Veloster’s rear passenger door allows for easy entries and exits.

The styling of the 2017 Veloster screams “let’s have fun.” It’s lower stance and height, sharply angled roof line, hard and soft body strokes, and rear wheels pushed as far back as possible create the image of a bottle rocket lit and ready to fly. Add in the panoramic sunroof (part of the Tech package for Turbo – a $2700 package) and the Veloster looks pronounced from the outside and inside.

The interior of the Veloster has received mixed reviews. The front seats are comfortable yet, for me, personally, the lumbar support was a little too-inflated and I couldn’t find a way to tone it down. The back seats have nice legroom, but the sloping roof steals away some desired headroom. Yes, we pay for a sporty design!

The rear seats hold two people separated by cup holders and a minor pocket for unsecured storage.  The front dash has two 12v plugs but only one USB port. The Tech package for Turbo includes a 110 outlet.  The center of the dash lays out the vents and controls in a “V” shape accentuating the Veloster name.

The Veloster engines are shared with the Hyundai Accent and range in horsepower from 138 HP to 201 HP on the turbo version. Now the zippy look has the horses to back up the sporty flare. All models come standard with a six-speed manual Transmission or a 6-speed EcoShift® Dual Clutch transmission, except the Turbo R-Spec which is manual only. The Turbo is also available with a 7-speed EcoShift® Dual Clutch transmission for an extra $1,200.

Cool Features:
·         Three-door design

·         Panoramic sunroof

·         110-volt power inverter plug (requires the Tech package for Turbo)

The 2017 Hyundai Veloster comes well-equipped with safety features including the following: Vehicle Stability Management System, Electronic Stability Control, 4-wheel Anti-lock Braking System (ABS) with Electronic Brake-force Distribution, driver and front passenger side-impact airbags, side-curtain airbags, rearview camera, driver’s blind spot mirror.

In Summary – The 2017 Hyundai Veloster is a fun-to-drive little sports car, especially when equipped with the turbo engine. The styling is amusing and clever as well as sporty. The rear seats fit adults, but might be considered more child-appropriate. The turbo 1.6-liter 4-cylinder engine delivers the power while the unique sport-tuned steering and suspension completes the aggressive package. If you are looking for a vehicle that doesn’t conform with norm, then jump into the 2017 Veloster and experience an entertaining ride!

2017 Hyundai Veloster Turbo

Base price:                  $22,600 as driven: $26,260 (including destination & optional
Engine:                         1.6-liter 4-Cylinder Turbo
Horsepower:                 201 hp @ 6000 rpm
Torque:                         195 lb.-ft. @ 1750 ~ 4500 rpm
Transmission:               6-speed manual
Drive:                             Front-Wheel Drive
Seating:                         4-passenger
Turning radius:             34.12 feet
Cargo space:                15.5 cubic feet
Curb weight:                2,877 pounds  
Fuel capacity:               13.2 gallons
EPA mileage:                City 25/Hwy 33/Comb 28 MPG
Wheel Base:                104.3 inches
Warranty:                     10 years/100,000-miles powertrain limited
Also consider:              Fiat 500 Abarth, Mini Hardtop, Nissan Juke, Volkswagen Golf

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

2017 Kia Sorento

2017 Kia Sorento
 Camping Wars – SUV/Crossover

By Charles Donaldson

With summer upon us, I have found that one of the primary questions around the water cooler is “What are you and your family going to do this summer?” This year, the trophied response was “camping,” followed by my co-water-cooler friends asking me “What type of vehicle works best for camping?”

This question gave me the inspiration for this article, which will be the first of three that will highlight the pros and cons of three vehicle categories along with my personal camping experiences of each. That said, what are our choices outside of renting an RV?

The three most common vehicles, are an SUV (Crossover), a Minivan, and a Truck, where the first two choices offer the security of an enclosed area for your stuff. The pickup’s attributes include a large bed for your outdoor wilderness provisions and perhaps, more off-road capabilities.

I enjoy and began the sport of camping several years ago, thanks to “the bug” that I caught from an old girlfriend’s family. They would pack up the tents, coolers, hot dogs and family to recreate their home in the woods for two weeks every year. After joining them for a couple of days, I found that I was hooked and started buying supplies.

In the beginning, there was enough room in my 1966 Mustang for camping gear for two people. Now, however, with the addition of kids and equipment, I need a canyon of cargo space. When my daughter, Cayla, and I started a tradition of camping adventures, my cabinets began multiplying with the essentials needed. The space grew from one half cabinet to two large ones.

A request went out into the universe, and the 2017 Kia Sorento SXL AWD Crossover was delivered. At first glance, I was happy to see that the Kia came with AWD in case a dusty trail crossed our path. The 2017 Sorento comes in four trim levels: L, LX, EX, SX, and SXL and range in price starting at $25,400 to $45,700. All except the L is available in both FWD and AWD.

There are three engine choices that vary on the trim level. They include: 2.4-liter I-4 with 185 hp/178 lb. ft. torque, and a 6-speed automatic transmission, 2.0-liter turbo I-4 with 240 hp, and 260 lb. ft. torque and a 6-speed automatic, and a 3.3-liter V6 with 290 hp and 252 lb. ft. torque, and 6-speed automatic.

Some new features of the 2017 Sorento include and again are based on trim level: Telematics Audio with head unit Android Auto™, Apple CarPlay®, Advanced Technology Package, Autonomous Emergency Braking, Paddle shifters, and Dynamic Bending Headlamps.

The styling on the Sorento is both sophisticated and attractive. The lines are modern and clean with just enough contour to create the presence of an elegant and bold silhouette. From the front, the signature Kia grille is met with a bank of quad running lights below the headlights to help illuminate your way. My trim, the SXL, embodied a full-length sunroof that furnished a panoramic view of the sky. The roof line flowed downward into the tailgate.

The interior was comfortable with plenty of amenities and legroom. The wood trim touches created an upscale feel and the entire vehicle felt solid. The dash was a mixture of soft touch points and a 7-in LCD display panel. Our model included, front ventilated and heated 10-way power seats trimmed in Nappa leather. The two rapid USB charging ports kept our phones fully charged while out exploring. In the back, there’s a third row of seats for two extra passengers.

The cargo area allowed: a tent, three large plastic totes, a medium size cooler, fishing poles, three folding chairs, two medium-sized bags of clothes, a box of wood and other supplies. The backseat alongside of my 9-year old son, Chase, embraced three sleeping bags, three pillows, small cooler and a bag of sheets and blankets. At the back of the center console was a 110-volt power inverter plug which worked perfectly for Chase’s portable DVD player.

Cool Features:
·         Panoramic Sunroof

·         Standard with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, you can access popular smartphone features including: maps, text messages and music

·         110-volt power inverter plug

The 2017 Kia Sorento comes well-equipped with safety features including the following: Vehicle Stability Management System, Electronic Stability Control, 4-wheel Anti-lock Braking System (ABS) with Electronic Brake-force Distribution, Hillstart Assist Control, driver and front passenger advanced airbags, front seat-mounted side-impact airbags, roof-mounted side-curtain airbags with rollover sensors, rearview camera, driver’s blind spot mirror. Some of these items are optional safety features for purchase.

In Summary – The 2017 Kia Sorento is a wonderful representative for the SUV/Crossover class. It delivered plenty of power without sputtering over hills with its 3.3-liter V6 motor. We loaded the Sorento up with our camping gear and our vehicle took it without hesitation. I must admit that it would have been difficult but not impossible, to create room for one more person due to my efforts to be overly-prepared and overly-stocked.

We never did feel uncomfortable in the 2017 Sorento, and in fact, we left and returned in a very relaxed state. The verdict – an SUV/Crossover definitely wins over my 1966 Ford Mustang and all sedans as well. Having the enclosed space for our stuff adds a level  of security while traveling. Properly organizing and packing your supplies optimizes the amount of people and cargo you can transport. The raised height of an SUV/Crossover improves visibility when driving, and…
Stay tuned for the 4-11 on how an SUV/Crossover compares against a Minivan and Pickup!

2017 Kia Sorento SXL AWD

Base price:                  $45,700 as driven: $46,595 (including destination & optional
Engine:                         3.3-liter V6
Horsepower:                 290 hp
Torque:                         252 lb.-ft.
Transmission:               6-speed automatic
Drive:                             AWD-Wheel Drive
Seating:                         7-passenger
Turning radius:             18.6 feet
Cargo space:                154.2 cubic feet
Curb weight:                4,211 pounds  
EPA mileage:                City 17/Hwy 23/Comb 19 MPG
Wheel Base:                109.4 inches
Warranty:                     10 years/100,000-miles powertrain limited

Also consider:              GMC Acadia, Honda Pilot, Jeep Cherokee, Mitsubishi Outlander