All posts by William West Hopper

An above average middle age guy providing automotive and lifestyle posts from Washington DC USA.

Summer Calls for a Topless Supercar, McLaren 570S Spider to the Rescue.

McLaren 570S Spider top down on the open road.
McLaren 570S Spider top down on the open road.

The new McLaren 570S Spider combines the exceptional dynamics and the refinement of the 570S Coupé with the extra exhilaration of open-air motoring.  Hand-assembled in the United Kingdom, the 570S Spider is the most attainable McLaren Spider ever.

 

McLaren 570S Spider Retractable TopThe carbon-fiber, mid-engine, two-seat, rear-wheel drive 570S Spider is the third body style in McLaren’s Sports Series. McLaren’s integrated, two-piece retractable hardtop that when lowered delivers an even more immersive and exhilarating driving experience for the 570S Spider.

 

Supercar Performance
The 570S Spider is a luxury sports convertible with supercar acceleration from standstill to 100km/h (62mph) in 3.2 seconds and to 200km/h (124mph) in just 9.6 seconds. The combination of lightweight carbon fiber construction and an incredibly potent 3.8-litre, twin-turbocharged McLaren V8 engine, means that the 570S Spider has an impressive power-to-weight ratio and is more powerful and lighter than the competition.

McLaren 570S Spider transmission selector and launch control.
McLaren 570S Spider transmission selector and launch control.

McLaren’s twin-turbocharged M838TE engine positioned mid-chassis produces 570PS at 7,400rpm and torque of 600Nm between 5,000rpm and 6,500rpm.  In combination with a rapid yet smooth seven-speed seamless-shift gearbox featuring Launch Control technology.  Top speed is 328km/h (204mph) with the roof in place – identical to the 570S Coupé – and even with the roof lowered.

Exceptional Body Control
McLaren employs racecar-style, double-wishbone suspension all-round, with steel springs, twin-valve adaptive dampers and anti-roll bars calibrated to the same exacting specification as the 570S Coupé.  Body control is exceptional and the overall drive incredibly pure and rewarding, while retaining impressive comfort. Accessing the Active Dynamics Panel adds another level of personal choice, allowing the driver to choose from Normal, Sport or Track modes, for progressively softer or firmer suspension.  This versatility ensures that the Spider is as at ease in everyday use as it is on a race track.

 

McLaren 570S Spider
McLaren 570S Spider

Electro-hydraulically assisted power steering, Carbon-ceramic brakes, and Pirelli P ZERO™ CORSA tires are standard, while the latest chassis software both enhances the driving experience and increases safety.  Developed originally for Formula 1™, Brake Steer aids cornering and reduces understeer by subtly applying braking force to the inside rear wheel as the driver turns into a corner.   Performance Traction Control calibrated by McLaren provides precise control in extreme situations, while the ESC (Electronic Stability Control) system includes a ‘Dynamic’ mode with reduced intervention and increased ‘driftability’, allowing drivers to enjoy the 570S Spider’s dynamic potential with confidence.

 

 

McLaren's entry Level Supercar the 570S Spider A Cabriolet
McLaren’s entry Level Supercar the 570S Spider A Cabriolet

Topless Style, Elegant as the Coupe’
Electrically operated from the driver’s seat using one simple control, the roof folds effortlessly to stow beneath a beautifully crafted tonneau cover that rises automatically to accommodate the lowered panels and returns to its closed position with the assistance of soft-close technology.   The roof can be opened or closed in just 15 seconds, at vehicle speeds of up to 40km/h (25mph

 

McLaren 570S Spider Technical Specifications

Engine configuration M838TE engine, 3.8 litre twin-turbo V8, 3,799cc
Drivetrain layout Longitudinal mid-engined, RWD
Power PS (bhp/kW @ rpm 570 (562/419) @ 7,500
Torque Nm (lbs ft) @ rpm 600 (443) @ 5,000-6,500
Transmission 7-Speed seamless-shift gearbox (SSG)
Suspension Independent adaptive dampers, dual wishbones with Normal, Sport and Track modes
Steering Electro-hydraulic; power-assisted
Brakes Carbon Ceramic Discs (F: 394mm R: 380mm) with aluminium brake calipers (6-piston front; 4-piston rear)
Wheels (inches) Front: 8J x 19; Rear: 10J x 20
Tyres F: 225/35 R19   R: 285/35 R20
Length, mm (inches) 4,530 (178.3)
Wheelbase, mm (inches) 2,670 (105)
Height, mm (inches) 1,202 (47.3)
Width, with mirrors, mm (inches) 2,095 (82.5)
Width, mirrors folded, mm (inches) 2,045 (80.5)
Width, without mirrors, mm (inches) 1,930 (76)
Track (to contact patch centre), mm (inches) Front: 1,673 (65.9); Rear: 1,618 (63.7) 
Lightest dry weight, kg (lbs) 1,359 (2,895)
DIN Kerb weight, kg (lbs) [fluids + 90% fuel] 1,498 (3,302.5)
Luggage capacity (litres) Front: 150 l; Tonneau: 52 l


Performance Data

ACCELERATION
0 -60mph 3.1 seconds
0-100 km/h (0-62mph) 3.2 seconds
0-200 km/h (0-124mph) 9.6 seconds
0-400 m / ¼ mile 11.0 seconds
Maximum speed (roof raised/roof lowered) 328 km/h (204 mph)/ 315 km/h (196 mph)
200 – 0 km/h (124mph – 0) braking 5.3 seconds/130 metres
100 – 0 km/h (62mph – 0) braking 3.2 seconds/32 metres

 

Customizing the McLaren

McLaren 570S Spider's cockpit is clean focusing the driver on driving.
McLaren 570S Spider’s cockpit is clean focusing the driver on driving.

Customers can choose from standard six-way-adjustable or optional eight-way adjustable electric memory seats, with luxurious Nappa leather or performance-oriented Alcantara® trim available at additional cost. Lightweight carbon-fiber-shelled sports seats, the same as those fitted to the McLaren P1™, can also be specified.

Three new exterior colors celebrate the Spider’s introduction, with Curacao Blue, Vega Blue, and Sicilian Yellow joining the existing Sports Series palette and giving Spider customers a choice of 20 colors in total.  The new hues dramatically showcase the complex forms of the aluminum bodywork and unique-in-class dihedral doors, particularly when combined with added visual impact with an optional Dark Palladium grey contrast finish on the roof, windscreen pillars and rear buttresses.

An all-new, 10-spoke lightweight forged alloy wheel design (19-inch front, 20-inch rear) has been crafted as an option for the new 570S Spider. For further differentiation, a new brake caliper color, Liquid Black, is also available.

  

Summer 2017 Availablity
The new McLaren 570S Spider will make its public debut on 29th June at the Goodwood Festival of Speed, West Sussex, UK. The 570S is available to order now from more than 80 McLaren retailers worldwide, and the first cars are scheduled to be delivered to customers in August. Each 570S Spider is hand-assembled at the McLaren Production Centre in Woking, England.

 

McLaren 570S Spider, a two-seater supercar.
McLaren 570S Spider, a two-seater supercar.

About McLaren Automotive:
McLaren Automotive is a British manufacturer of luxury, high-performance sports, and supercars, located in Woking, Surrey. For the past 30 years, McLaren has pioneered the use of carbon fiber in vehicle production,

and since introducing a carbon chassis into racing and road cars with the 1981 McLaren MP4/1 and 1993 McLaren F1 respectively, McLaren has not built a car without a carbon fiber chassis.

McLaren Automotive Partners             
To support the development, engineering, and manufacture of its range of innovative and highly acclaimed sports cars, McLaren Automotive has partnered with world leading companies to provide specialist expertise and technology including, AkzoNobel, Kenwood, Pirelli, Richard Mille and SAP.

Visit cars.mclaren.com for more details.

McLaren's entry level 570S Spider.
McLaren’s entry level 570S Spider.

This post has been generated from the McLaren Press Release using their photographs.

Side Notes:

  • All the high-performance dynamic attributes and refinement of 570S Coupé with the added exhilaration of open-air driving
  • Third body style in McLaren’s Sports Series product family, alongside Coupé and GT
  • World debut at Goodwood Festival of Speed, UK, June 29 – July 2, 2017
  • Retractable hardtop using technology is proven in McLaren 650S and 675LT Spiders
  • Just 46kg weight premium over 570S Coupé and structural rigidity unchanged
  • Roof takes just 15 seconds to open or close, at vehicle speeds of up to 40km/h (25mph)
  • Electrically operated, glazed rear window/wind deflector
  • Unique-in-class combination of carbon fiber construction, mid-engined drivetrain layout, and McLaren dihedral doors
  • Extended rear spoiler is 12mm higher than Coupé’s to compensate change in body shape
  • 3.8-litre twin-turbocharged McLaren V8 engine with seven-speed, seamless-shift gearbox produces a class-leading 570PS and 600Nm
  • Acceleration from 0-100km/h (0-62mph) in 3.2 seconds and 328km/h (204mph) top speed are identical to 570S Coupé. Top speed with roof down is 315km/h (196mph)
  • First 400 Spiders built will be launch edition models, following success of 720S launch edition
  • Available to order now, priced from £164,750 (UK)

    Take to the open road with the McLaren 570S Spider, orders being taken Summer 2017.
    Take to the open road with the McLaren 570S Spider, orders being taken Summer 2017.
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Powerful Full-Size Pickups, Perfect for Father’s Day

With Father’s Day coming up there is nothing like talking about something that guys appreciate, a good pickup truck. Attending a recent Automotive Media multi-line drive event, it was the full-sized pickups that got my attention. Diesel powered full-size pickups from GM and RAM as well as a gas powered Ford F-150 in studly Raptor trim, each was very different to drive, and for a different lifestyle.

While each had pretty much the same footprint, dual cab, standard bed, it really is the options and the lux touches that make today’s trucks so mainstream. No longer are these just for the man who makes his living working with his hands who needs a truck as a tool for hauling. Today these trucks are ready for the loading dock or to the porte-cochere, hauling towing, or going out to show off.

 

The bed is really the heart of a Pickup Truck as it is for hauling things. GMC's Sierra Denali shown.While pickups were once only a tool for hauling and towing and wearing muddy boots and scruffy clothes is fine, now you might have to shower & shave when driving some of these trucks.  Like the driver, these pickups also hang up the work gloves and clean up for date night.

 

 

20170518_113520Dodge RAM Big Horn Crew Cab 4X4 a hands down favorite of mine, because it is exactly what a pickup is supposed to be, a hard working truck. This one was well trimmed out for passenger comfort, and not overly dressed up. If you jumped in in mudy boots, dirty jeans and a perspiration soaked shirt, you will feel at home, and the power 40/20/40 leather sport bench seat will welcome those clean chinos and a sporty polo shirt for a non-work drive.

The RAM 2500 with the Crew Cab is truly a massive behemoth, With the extended cab and full size bed it is big and long making it not the most maneuverable in tight quarters.  Powered by a 6.7-liter I6 Cummins® Turbo Diesel Engine with a 6-Speed Automatic and full 4-wheel drive. No question this truck will get the job done, just like a rugged working man would, with a price tag as tested of just under $66K.

The RAM's key is what you have known and used since Pickup Trucks came on the scene.
The RAM’s key is what you have known and used since pickup trucks came on the scene.

The Big Horn Package is $1800 option combined with the $2795 Night Special Edition includes both functional and attractive accessories. 20 x 8 inch Black painted wheels replace the Big Horn’s Polished Aluminum Wheels, Anti-Spin Differential Rear Axle, Fog Lamps, Remote Start power 10-waydriver seat and a lot more niceties that will quickly become necessities the more you use them.

Luxury Group added $1045 to the bottom line with added lights, some LED and a color 7-inch Multi-View Driver Info Display. The Off-Road Package brings forth a Transfer Case Skid Plate, Bilstein® shocks tow hooks, spray-in bed liner and hill decent control which proves this vehicle is already set up as a towing rig.

While work may be the focus, as brute power are this truck’s strength. But there are plenty of niceties that make it fine for going out on Saturday Night.

 

GMC Sierra has a BIG Grill showing who is in charge of the Job Site!
GMC Sierra has a BIG Grill showing who is in charge of the Job Site!

GMC Sierra Denali 2500 HD Diesel, Full size and dressed up for both work and play.  While not as flashy in sheet metal as the Ram or the Ford, it has well-tailored lines that hide the massive brute strength, like a guy in a well fitting suit. The Sierra’s muscles are all there under the nicely pressed shirt, with work gloves tucked neatly in the pants pocket. No need here to be a showoff!

The quite capable Sierra is the right mix of comfort and luxury as well. Ready when needed, to get down and dirty. At a price tag just shy of $70K no question it has a few more fancy touches, though you can take some of those off, why would you do that?

Powered by an HD Duramax 6.6-liter diesel providing the highest horsepower in the segment. The Sierra comes across as capable and well-mannered as they come. Loaded this one has everything from the leather seats and 8” color touch screen with IntelliLink.  Onstar with built in Wifi to make the rolling field office fully functional. A wireless charging spot for the phone (not all devices are compatible) and built-in gooseneck hitch capability shows us that GM is thinking like the offshore competition. Twenty-inch wheels (pretty fancy ones) and a corner step rear bumper along with capless fuel filler are just some of the features that make the GMC stand out.

 

Ford F150 Raptor, lots of bulges in all the right places
Ford F150 Raptor, lots of bulges in all the right places

Ford F-150 Raptor – While the others developed their bulk from working hard, this dude is the really good looking guy in the tight muscle shirt that catches everyone’s eye on a Saturday Night out at the bar. The Raptor had all the right bulges, in all the right places, though when it came to laying pipe this is more of a show truck than a work truck.

Ford F150 Raptor has plenty of switch gear for the gadget obsessed
Ford F150 Raptor has plenty of switch gear for the gadget obsessed

Mostly because it was running the 3.5 Liter Ecoboost gasoline engine, and the others were running oil burners. This test vehicle was very pretty to look at and lots of fun to fondle, with all of its buttons and switches! Just not sure I how comfortable I would be putting this truck out in a muddy job site, the other trucks might call him a prissy-truck. While he has the muscle, he got it in the gym, not sweating it out on the job site.

 

Ford F150 has very bold strong clean lines inside and out!The Raptor is very much the other side to pickup truck ownership that is not designed for work, it is designed as a show truck, one that you would not want to take out in the field and load it with scrap iron, but rather take it out of the garage for a Friday Night on the town or to the

Cruise-in. The Raptor is the perfect example of how the Pickup Truck has evolved in America, and how Americans are flocking to pickups not just for doing the tough jobs, but to be a part of an American lifestyle that drives pickups for shopping trips to the big box store. Hey, no matter what, the Raptor can park in my driveway anytime!

Three very different Pickups, for three very different lifestyles.  All can haul and tow, all can carry passengers, all look good, it just depends on what you want out of your Pickup. Me, I like all three, and once you have owned a pickup, it is hard not to own one! Or at least crave owning one!

2018 Volkswagen Atlas, Large & Practical

2018 Volkswagen Atlas SEL VR6 AWD in Reflex Silver/Black leather interior for $48,490.
2018 Volkswagen Atlas SEL VR6 AWD in Reflex Silver/Black leather interior for $48,490.

American drivers like spacious SUV’s to carry passengers and cargo. And with Minivans losing ground to the SUV with 3-row seating, we think that VW has a hit here with the new 2018 Atlas.

The Atlas is larger than their previous offering, though not a humungous sized SUV. On the inside, you will think it is, space is everywhere, from the rear seating to the cargo area, even the center console storage is large.  What makes this SUV different than others may not be the looks, we think it looks like then other boxy SUV’s on the market. The difference is that it is pure VW, clean and functional, with all the safety and tech, and none of the fluff.

2018 VW Atlas with all controls where you expect them to be.
2018 VW Atlas with all controls where you expect them to be.

Built in VW’s state of the art Chattanooga Tennessee production facility this is not a luxury cruiser. Instead, it is what VW is known for, solid practical, well-designed automobiles. When we say not a luxury vehicle, don’t worry, it still has all the touches that will not have you think you are riding in a simple tin can. Ride comfort and handling are very good. The VR6 model we drove had plenty of power for what most families will put this car through.

Exterior Design is clean and unadorned, while a traditional an almost dull rectangular box, the lines, and proportions are very visually pleasing. Rolling on 18” wheels, this is not a flashy “Look at ME” ride. But the wow factor is how well thought out it is to carry passengers and or cargo.

 

VW Atlas features Fender Audio as well as clean simple interior design.
VW Atlas features Fender Audio as well as clean simple interior design.

Interior Design is clean and modern, not frilly, but well finished and comfortable with good ergonomics for both the driver and all 3 rows of passengers. What will sell this vehicle is the passenger comfort in the second-row and the easily accessible cargo space. Rear seats easily fold forward for access to the 3rd row or fold down for cargo hauling. With both the 2nd and 3rd row folded down, there is more than enough hauling space for the trips to the warehouse store.

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Slipping into the driver’s seat is easy, no stepping up contorting to get in, or slithering down. Everything is within reach and where you would expect it to be, and what you expect it to be. Switches and controls are within reach, easy to find, and use.  A gear shift (eight-speed automatic only) in the center console, and stalk for the windshield wipers, no confusing what these controls do. Two screens, one for entertainment in the center that also provides in-depth vehicle information, and another one dead center between the speedometer and tachometer providing a variety of information as well as the GPS display. Seats have plenty of support and controls exactly where you would think they would be, at the side of the seat. The center console is a bit busy with the info screen, HVAC controls, and then gear shift and mode selectors as well as an electric parking brake and other switches, but that did not bother us. Visibility is good with the rear mirrors properly adjusted and using the assistance options.

The VW Atlas Dash has two well placed screens and easy to reach controls.
The VW Atlas Dash has two well-placed screens and easy to reach controls.

The Atlas is either FWD or AWD powered by a 2-liter turbocharged or a direct injection 3.6 VR6 engine with five distinct trim levels. Base price starting at $30,500 for the turbo four, $31,900 for the FWD VR6, and $33,700 for the AWD VR6. Options can raise the sticker to around $50K. VW has included a 6 year, 72K mile bumper to bumper warranty on the 2018 Atlas, the best SUV warranty in America, and it is transferrable.

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If you are looking for a modern family sized vehicle, this is one worth checking out.

Milestone for the MINI Brand in the USA

Mini S, the fun little car.
Mini S, the fun little car.

It was 15 years ago this March (2002 to 2017) that MINI USA brought the iconic British pocket rocket to the United States as a modern car. Be it the memories of the iconic little car from the 1960’s, the images of them in great movies, or the fact that MINI is now a separate brand under BMW, this car has once again captured the hearts of Americans selling more than 725K of them since 2002.

Originally, a hardtop 2-door the MINI line has grown to include four unique models, MINI Convertible, MINI Clubman and MINI Countryman, as well as a fast racing John Cooper Works edition for the street, have become well known all across the country.  MINI’s premium performance, daring design, and fun-to-drive dynamics have been hallmarks that put the fun back into the daily commute.

Mini owners gather often for driving events
Mini owners often gather for driving events

When not living in the work-a-day world MINI owners celebrate their passion for the cars through their brand exclusive enthusiasts club. This fiercely loyal owner base celebrates regularly going out on weekend drives as well as extended driving adventures. Where ever there are good driving roads, you see Mini’s in packs enjoying the open road.

MINI was ranked #1 in Sales Satisfaction by J.D. Power & Associates 6 times. The brand was also recognized as one of the Top 100 Global Brands by Interbrand, and Strategic Vision named MINI as the Most Loved Mass-Market Brand in their 2016 survey.

Mini enthusiasts love doing things as a group.
Mini enthusiasts love doing things as a group.

MINI enthusiasts are strong supporters and as customers of the brand have created demand for these little cars. With that level of demand the MINI dealer network has grown from 66 dealers in 2002 to 127 dealers in 2017 across 39 states.

To mark this special anniversary, MINI USA created a brief video compilation celebrating 15 years and counting!

Words by William West Hopper
Images courtesy of MINI USA

Why all the Hate on the Toyota Prius?

2017 Toyota Prius Three
2017 Toyota Prius Three

American drivers have taken heartily to the Toyota Prius since it was introduced as the first mass-market hybrid automobile, while automotive enthusiasts have continued to see it as a pariah.

 

What is it about this car that garners such strong emotions?

 

Is it the design? Now in a third design generation, this hybrid that started a revolution has developed a more futuristic look than the rather a dull looking small econobox that first showed up in 1997. Today it is a cross between an emoji and spaceship styling, almost a throwback to the 1950’s when cars had fins.

Since inception, this successful model line has morphed into a sedan, mini-SUV, even a smaller hyper-miler version and now a fanciful Prime model. First gens are still on the road today which shows that Toyota has earned its legendary reputation for longevity, reliability and road worthiness.

Toyota's Hybrid power-train has led the industry in this high mileage segment.
Toyota’s Hybrid powertrain has led the industry in this high mileage segment.

Is the emotional response to the Prius
because it is different on so many levels?

Nothing in the automotive world has moved the needle more than the hybrid combination of gasoline and electric to power a vehicle. And today some twenty years later hybrid technology is available on almost every mainstream brand. Increasing miles per gallon has staggered for years until Toyota brought this economy car to market. We were getting in the high 40’s as we drove the 2017 Toyota Prius Three for a week.

 

Toyota's Qi-compatible wireless smartphone charger is right where you would put your phone.
Toyota’s Qi-compatible wireless smartphone charger is right where you would put your phone.

As American’s we love all the
technology, so it can’t be that!

Technology is not just propelling the vehicle down the road, it is also benefiting the driver from the extensive operational data to little things like the Qi-compatible wireless smartphone charger in the center console. From the backup camera to the heads up display. Toyota’s Saftey Sense ™ Pre-Collision system w/ pedestrian detection, lane departure alert auto high beam adjustment and full-speed dynamic radar cruise control all in a car that stickers at $30,186 including delivery.

 

 

Toyota Prius 3 has lots of flowing lines in its design, and at night ambient blue lighting.
Toyota Prius 3 has lots of flowing lines in its design, and at night ambient blue lighting.

 

Being different is not a bad thing.

Interior has flowing lines, though the choice of contrasting colors and fabric on the seat may be a bit garish, the heads-up display and controls were easy to use.

 

 

Prius's gear selector is a stalk and separate button, which may cause some confusion.
Prius’s gear selector is a stalk and separate button, which may cause some confusion.

The only thing I had some issue with was the gear selector, a lever that went over and up/down to select Drive or Reverse, then a separate button off the stalk for Park. Once placed in reverse it prompted an obnoxious beep, like that of a construction vehicle, but only on the inside. Understandable as quiet as the vehicle is when powered on, the driver may not know it is in reverse. If the occupants are being alerted, why not those outside the vehicle too?

 

Plenty of cargo as well as passenger room in the third generation of the Toyota Prius.
Plenty of cargo as well as passenger room in the third generation of the Toyota Prius.

So it is not a sporty performance car,
it was never designed to be one.

So this is not a muscle car or even a sports car. And it is light enough to be buffeted by a windy March day. My take is that while it may not be a luxury or a sexy sports car, it does exactly what it is designed to do, which is move occupants and their gear economically and safely from place to place without any fanfare. So there is nothing to hate on there.

 

The interior of the Toyota Prius is well appointed for an economy car.
The interior of the Toyota Prius is well appointed for an economy car.

As a guy born and bred from a time when muscle cars ruled the American road and someone who loves technology, I was excited to get the opportunity to spend some time in the Prius. It brought back the memories of the first “foreign car” my family owned, was a 1970 four-door Toyota Corona. At the time it was the latest and greatest, small classicly designed car that costs $1995.00. For its time, it had very modern amenities like bucket seats, automatic transmission, and what they marketed as very customer focused, a power outlet in the glove box for a 12 v trouble light as standard equipment. Today what car company would even want you to think you would ever need such a thing?

So maybe it is the attitude of the Prius driver, which I too had in making a right on red when a big SUV came flying up from behind honking its horn telling me to get out of the way. Yep, I was sipping fuel, and you were guzzling it

The center display screen provides plenty of data on the operation of the Prius.
The center display screen provides plenty of data on the operation of the Prius.

So here we are 47 years later with a Toyota that gets 52 mpg compared to the 20 mpg that the Corona managed. With an advanced technology package that makes that little trouble light plug seem archaic. Though even at the time Toyota was a brand thinking ahead at what you might need.

Toyota pioneered the Hybrid with the Toyota Prius. In 2017 is even more refined as an automobile.
Toyota pioneered the Hybrid with the Toyota Prius. In 2017 is even more refined as an automobile.

 

If you are looking for a modern, safe, high mileage sedan with good trunk space, then the Toyota Prius at the $30K sticker price is well worth consideration. – Though I still long for that Red 1970 Corona!

The Toyota Corona from the late 1960's and early 1970's.
The Toyota Corona from the late 1960’s and early 1970’s.

Toyota was nice enough to send over a 2017 Prius Three for us to spend a week driving and experiencing. With that, we were able to provide this review of the vehicle to you our readers. We appreciate their confidence in Queer4Cars and their support of LGBQ diversity. Toyota is a #NoHate company, which makes us feel good about their products and support of

We appreciate Toyota’s confidence in Queer4Cars and their support of LGBQ diversity. Toyota is a #NoHate company.

Historic photos by Toyota News US Pressroom
Words & Photos  by William West Hopper

GMC’s 2018 Terrain, Hearing from Mark Cieslak, GMC’s Chief Engineer, Global Compact SUV’s.

GMC Terrain for 2018 comes with three engine choices and several trim levels.
GMC Terrain for 2018 comes with three engine choices and several trim levels. Photo GMC.

The new 2018 GMC Terrain defies the image of old line General Motors being a staid automaker. GMC is showing that it is all that is modern in the automotive industry, from powertrain to safety, from styling to the latest in-car technology.

Hearing from the GMC Terrain’s Chief Engineer

March Cieslak GMC's Chief Engineer for the 2018 Terrain presents the vehicle to auto journalists in NYC.
Mark Cieslak GMC’s Chief Engineer for the 2018 Terrain presents the vehicle to auto journalists in NYC.

Recently we got to spend some time with GMC’s Chief Engineer, Global Compact SUV’s, Mark Cieslak in New York City over lunch, to hear more about the new GMC Terrain as well as the brand’s dedication to the future.

Clearly, the ’18 Terrain is a premium SUV that provides the performance one expects from GM’s premier SUV and truck brand. While the exterior of the Terrain is classic GMC with all the design cues of bright grill work and distinctive lighting, Cieslak shared that the engineers, stylists, and designers are paying attention to the smallest details of this vehicle. While you can identify a GMC from a distance, it is this attention that makes the vehicles even better close up.

 

GMC Intelligent Engineering is all inclusive of the brand, and from the wheels up.
GMC Intelligent Engineering is all inclusive of the brand, and from the wheels up.

GMC’s intelligent engineering provides better aerodynamics, fuel economy, powertrain performance, ride, handling, and maneuverability with the 2018 GMC Terrain. This vehicle is 400 pounds lighter, 34% stiffer, 10% improved turning radius, up to 3500 pounds towing capacity. You can get the Terrain configured with either Front Wheel Drive (FWD) or All Wheel Drive (AWD). Both have snow and trailer/tow settings, the AWD models are engineered to be able to engage just two wheel drive for better fuel economy, with AWD for off-road or when traction is most needed.

The 2018 GMC Terrain is all new from the Ground Up.

2018 GMC Terrain offers three turbo engine choices, including a whisper quiet diesel.
2018 GMC Terrain offers three turbo engine choices, including a whisper quiet diesel.

What is new for the ‘18 Terrain? Three engine choices, two gasoline, and one diesel powered. Yes, I said, C12H23, Diesel Power! Though GM’s luck with diesel passenger vehicles has been less than stellar in years past, it has had a strong reputation in the truck segment, with this power plant. Diesel power has dedicated fans, of which I am one! With the new Terrain’s whisper quiet 1.6 turbocharged 4-cyl diesel connected to a 6-speed automatic, there is no doubt this powerplant will develop a cult following with its 136 hp and 236 lb-ft of torque. The two gasoline engines: a 1.5 turbocharged 4-cyl with 170 hp 203 lb-ft of torque and a 2.0 liter 4-cylinder turbocharged with a 9-speed transmission with 252 hp 260lb-ft of torque, both provide users with both fuel economy as well as enough power to tow, the 2-ltr is rated to tow up to 3500 lbs.

Safety is as important as performance and fuel economy.

GMC Terrain offers many standard safety features including many new to the model for the 2018 model year.
GMC Terrain offers many standard safety features including many new to the model for the 2018 model year.

New safety technology has been built into a ‘18 GMC Terrain; Low-Speed front automatic braking; Lane keep assist; Forward Collision Alert with Following distance indicator; Lane change alert with side blind zone alert; Automatic Park Assist; Rear seat reminder; Teen Driver Control; and Tire Pressure Monitoring system. This in addition to the long list of standard safety features: Six standard airbags, Rollover sensing protection, Front passenger seat occupancy sensing, Three-point safety systems, Saftey Belt Retractor Pre-Tensioner, LATCH – Child Seat latching and Rear vision camera all standard. While available on all Terrain models the following come standard on Denali models: Surround Vision Camera; Safety Alert Seat Available; Rear Cross Traffic Alert Available; Rear park assist®.

 

Inside the 2018 GMC Terrain 

Premium feel and attention to detail were key in the engineering of the 2018 GMC Terrain.
Premium feel, and attention to detail is part of the engineering of the 2018 GMC Terrain. Photo GMC.

Signature interior design with subtle interior design touches shows the Terrain’s premium vehicle status with timeless design, fine touch materials, and an advanced use of space in this mid-sized SUV segment. A new electronic precision shift technology features the transmission selector on the dash. This frees up the open flying buttress design center console uncluttered, with two side-by-side cupholders above and a storage area underneath.

 

Spacious Passenger Vehicle or Cavernous Cargo Hauler? 

GMC has designed the interior of the 2018 Terrain to be very versatile with seats that fold down flat.
GMC has designed the interior of the 2018 Terrain to be very versatile with seats that fold down flat.

The Terrain can be configured as a spacious passenger vehicle or reconfigured to haul cargo. Fold-flat front passenger seat provides the driver a mobile office and easy access to power outlets in USB, 120v, and the conventional cigarette lighter aux outlet. Add to that GMC’s optional in-car hotspot internet, and you have a mobile office. Rear seat passenger comfort is not ignored, with best-in-class 2nd-row seating featuring a two-position seat with spacious leg room.

Rear ventilation has been improved in the '18 GMC Terrain, along with plenty of power outlets for rear passengers.
Rear ventilation has been improved in the ’18 GMC Terrain, along with plenty of power outlets for rear passengers.

More than just the seating, the HVAC and improved airflow for rear passengers. Second-row passengers have access to their own USB power outlet, as well as an optional 120-volt outlet and heated rear seats are available on higher trim models.

Shrink wrapping the rear cargo area has provided more interior space. The two-tier cargo storage with underfloor cargo storage for added security. Atop of that, the rear cargo floor provides a flat, uninterrupted rear cargo floor when the rear seats are stowed.

 

Apple Carplay and Android Auto are integrated into the 2018 GMC Terrain's advanced entertainment system.
Apple Carplay and Android Auto are integrated into the 2018 GMC Terrain’s advanced entertainment system.

Technology abounds within the 2018 GMC Terrain, with safety and convenience items, such as surround camera, side object detection. Infotainment features both Apple Car Play® and Android Auto® capability, Bluetooth® audio streaming, available navigation, and available OnStar® wi-fi hotspot accommodates seven mobile devices.

 

 

We are looking forward to driving and experiencing the new GMC’s in person, later this summer.

William West Hopper


Photos are from GMC’s online pressroom and the author.

 

The Humble Four-Door Sedan, the Nissan Sentra

Nissan Sentra SV a frugal and dependable car
Nissan Sentra SV from Avis Car Rental

While brand new cars are exciting, it is only that once. We want a car to be able to wow us after the passage of time and thousands of miles of driving. That is where our 2016 Nissan Sentra SV from Avis Car Rental comes in. On a recent January road trip from Washington DC to Detroit MI, this mid-level car average everyday 11-month old car intrigued me, as to how good it was after 22K hard-driven rental miles. And I was more impressed with it at the end of the 1200 mile trip than when we started

 

The Nissan Sentra SV provided great average fuel economy.The first thing that you notice is that the Sentra’s 1.8 liter 1.8-liter DOHC 16-valve, 4-cylinder engine Front wheel drive with Xtronic CVT® (Continuously Variable Transmission) is just as peppy as you will need. Fuel mileage averaged 28 mpg, this car shows you get better economy at slower speeds. I saw 25 mpg in fuel consumption when average speed was higher v/s 30 mpg at a slower pace.

 

Nissan Sentra's dash is clear and easy to reach and understand.
Nissan Sentra’s dash is clear and easy to reach and understand.

Ride comfort was fine, handling was not like a sports car, but it is not one either!  Cabin noise was acceptable without squeaks or rattles no matter driving the interstates or streets of downtown Detroit. Modern touches were there, push button start, keyless entry, a rear camera, and Bluetooth connectivity that in the past would have been expensive add-ons for any car, and unavailable in a lower priced mid-line model such as the SV.

 

Nissan's NissanConnect Bluetooth systems connects the apps in your phone to the car's entertainment system.
Nissan’s NissanConnect Bluetooth systems connects the apps in your phone to the car’s entertainment system.

The Nissan Connect program that connected a phone to the audio system through Bluetooth was available on the Sentra. While a USB plug connected to an older iPad, never seemed to connect to the device. Even an old school single disk CD player was part of the built in entertainment with a decent sized 5-inch screen.

 

 

 

The Nissan Sentra had plenty of trunk space for all the gear you may want to haul.
The Nissan Sentra had plenty of trunk space for all the gear you may want to haul.

Overall Impression: While this is a basic 4-door sedan, it was powerful and efficient, as well as comfortable for a long drive.  Technology may not have been over the top, with the basics of what you need, and nothing more. Interior space was plenty as was trunk space. Complaints, for the purchase price of this vehicle it would be a great buy providing the technology and safety that one needs.

 

 

This vehicle was rented by me and not provided as a press vehicle, and this review is my personal opinion of the Nissan Sentra SV.

William West Hopper bundled up for a winter road trip in the Nissan Sentra SV.
William West Hopper bundled up for a winter road trip in the Nissan Sentra SV.