Category Archives: Automobile

American History Through The Cars That Transported The Time.

History is told through objects, and automobiles are important in telling the story of American life, the triumphs, and turmoil that were experienced in the twentieth century.

20190912_094255For fifteen days in September 2019, on America’s front lawn, the National Mall will be displayed two very different vehicles telling two very distinctly different stories of the USA in the 1960s. A 1969 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray owned by Astronaut Alan Bean, and a 1966 Volkswagen Type 2 bus owned by Esau and Janie B. Jenkins, who worked to educate and better African Americans in South Carolina.

 

Aerospace – 1969 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray. On Display September 12 to 20.

IMG_3367Starting in 1961, General Motors offered a program to all astronauts – lease a Chevrolet Corvette for $1/year. Of the three custom-ordered 1969 Chevrolet Corvette 390-hp, 427 Stingray coupes, only this one formerly owned by Alan Bean survives.

IMG_3355The fourth human to walk on the moon, Alan Bean, the Apollo 12 Lunar Module Pilot in 1969, took part in the lease program. Alan Bean, along with his colleagues (all of which had a hand in designing the color scheme) chose a gold and black color combination. On the front left fender of each car was a red, white and blue plaque, in each square were: LMP, CDR, and CMP, to stand for the positions they held on the mission.

IMG_3368The 1969 Corvette Stingray will be displayed on the National Mall in Washington D.C. September 12 to 20 as a part of the fifth annual Historic Vehicle Association (HVA) Cars at the Capital exhibition. After the exhibition, the vehicle will return to its private collection.

 

Civil Rights object – 1966 Volkswagen Type 2 bus on display September 20 to 27

20190912_094822A 1966 Volkswagen Type 2 bus, a now well-known 1960s symbol of freedom and peace, was used by Esau and Janie B. Jenkins. The couple worked to improve the lives of their African-American neighbors on Johns Island, South Carolina from the 1940s through the 1970s. Starting out by owning a farm and selling produce were troubled by the lack of opportunity and rights in his community.

IMG_3363The Jenkins taught Africa-Americans, aspects of the South Carolina state constitution. This was a requirement at the time for becoming registered voters, so they could pass the racial literacy exams required in the State of South Carolina. In addition to launching businesses that employed and served their community.

20190912_094841The couple launched businesses that employed and served their community, organized citizenship schools, and used their Volkswagen Type 2 bus to further their initiatives and advocacy. When Esau Jenkins died in 1972, the 1966 Volkswagen the Jenkinses had last used was parked in a backyard, where it remained until it was retrieved by the Historical Vehicle Association in 2019. In 2014, the family donated the back hatch, along with the engine cover, that sported their famous motto: “Love Is Progress; Hate Is Expensive.” to the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C. where it remains on permanent exhibit.

20190912_094316The 1966 Type 2 will be displayed on the National Mall in Washington D.C. September 20 to 27 as a part of the fifth annual Historic Vehicle Association (HVA) Cars at the Capital exhibition. After the exhibition, the Historic Vehicle Association and professional conservators, working with Volkswagen, will work to preserve the bus to help keep a memento of the Jenkins’ work alive.

 

About the Historic Vehicle Association

CarsattheCap“Ensuring our automotive heritage is never lost nor forgotten is paramount to the HVA mission. We are delighted to partner with Volkswagen and B. R. Howard to preserve this important microbus, and to fully document its rich history as part of our National Historic Vehicle Register,” said Diane Parker, Vice President of the Historic Vehicle Association.

IMG_3350The HVA is dedicated to preserving and sharing America’s automotive heritage. In 2014, The HVA established the National Historic Vehicle Register in partnership with the U.S. Department of the Interior, Heritage Documentation Programs and Library of Congress, respectively, to document historically significant automobiles in America’s past. The HVA is supported by over 400,000 individual historic vehicle owners, key stakeholders and corporations as well as individual benefactors. Please visit www.historicvehicle.org.

 

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Tried and True and American Built – The 2020 Kia Telluride

A Queer4Cars Video Coming Soon

2016 Kia Telluride Revel at NAIAS
2016 Kia Telluride Revel at NAIAS – Photo Kia Media

When Kia announced a new larger SUV at the North American Auto Show in 2016, They let the world know that they are not following the pack on the SUV mountain, instead, carving their own trail when it comes to vehicles that families will love.  Showing that indeed, customers want a family-friendly car that is more like a car, just with style and space. Something different but familiar.

Thus, Kia introduced and let it be known that the Telluride would be built right here in the USA in West Point, Georgia.

2020 Kia Telluride SV AWDWe took the 2020 Kia Telluride SX V6 AWD out for a week, finding that this is anything but a rehashed SUV family van makeover.  A very refined well-sized AWD that provides a lot of the technology and safety features buyers want in a timely classic package with touches of luxury.

 

2020 Telluride 2nd Row Seating
Image by Kia Media

Consumers want space for people and cargo, Telluride has that! Consumers want a surefooted ride that is comfortable and easy to drive, Telluride has that! And while consumers know they need all the latest safety features, it is hard to get them to pay to order then as options. Kia just includes them in the reasonably priced option packages that buyers will order.

 

2020 Telluride Left Front Light
Image by Kia Media

Kia has always been a price-focused high-value content provider and has interpreted the 3-row Telluride in a multitude of ways starting with the LX at $31,690 and going up to the $41,490 with the S and EX models priced in between.  Our top of the line SX stickered at $46,680 with freight was impressive for an under $50K car that had a lot of things on it that you only find on higher-priced vehicles.

While you can get it in a basic economical front-wheel drive package, the Telluride comes with plenty of standard features.

  • UVO link
  • 8-inch Touch-Screen Display
  • Blind-Spot Collision-Avoidance Assist-Rear (BCA-R) 
  • Driver Attention Warning (DAW)
  • Forward Collision-Avoidance (FCA), w/ Pedestrian Detection
  • Forward Collision Warning (FCW)
  • Lane Departure Warning (LDW)
  • Lane Following Assist (LFA)
  • Lane Keeping Assist (LKA)
  • Parking Distance Warning – Reverse (PDW-R)
  • Rear Cross-Traffic Collision-Avoidance Assist (RCCA)
  • Rear View Monitor w/ Dynamic Parking Guidance
  • Rear Occupant Alert (ROA)
  • Safe Exit Assist (SEA)
  • Smart Cruise Control w/ Stop and Go (SCC)

What Kia is doing, is interpreting what today’s buyer wants in an all-wheel-drive seven-passenger (8 is available) plus cargo-hauling capacity vehicle, well outfitted and nicely appointed at an affordable price.

Left Rear 2020 Kia TellurideThis 2020 model year vehicle is already out on dealer showroom floors, and it is quite impressive. While it may not stunning in overall looks with its somewhat mundane breadbox shape, and some classic Kia styling cues, where it shines is where all Kia vehicles do, in the details. Those are the little ones that most manufacturers either do hurriedly or charge extra for or forgot about altogether.

Ones that stood out for us were:

  • Upon engine shut down, the driver seat retracts allowing for more room to exit, a boon to many who have mobility issues, or for expectant Moms who need that extra room to maneuver.
  • A safety visual, center video on the dashboard, of what is in the blind spot you have your turn signal activated for. While this imagery may be information overload on the highway, on a suburban street, the kid on the bike could be right there.
  • In our three-row seat model, the fact that the 2nd row was two captains chairs instead of a spit bench, with the option of moving to the third row through the middle or folding up one of the seats was a nice touch, because how many times do you use your car as a bus?

 

Who is going to buy this 48K wagon?

20190828_180330Pretty much anyone who needs a versatile and dependable vehicle. Families, seniors, people who want a vehicle that handles and rides like a car but has the capabilities of an SUV without the perceived size. Or that person who is driving for a shared-ride service that wants to offer their passengers plenty of space and the opportunity to bring luggage or other items as well.

20190828_184247Families will like it with the USB power ports in the front seatbacks so kids can power their own devices in the 2nd row, as well as additional power ports in the 3rd row. We were surprised and pleased that the Telluride did not have built-in screens for the 2nd row, as those can become quickly outdated and add not only to price, but maintenance, especially as remotes and headphones get lost in the busy family life shuffle.  The Telluride had HVAC 20190828_184212controls for the rear passenger. On upper-trim models, those 2nd-row sears can be optioned for heated and ventilated seats. Something that all passengers in those rear seats will appreciate. The rear passenger compartment is as well detailed as the front, with nice door panel and seat materials, but most importantly plenty of legroom.

 

Cargo Capacity

2020 Kia Telluride cargo area 2nd row split down loaded with ladders and tool bag.Let’s face it from the dawn of the station wagon era to that of the minivan and SUV, people are buying these vehicles for more than just to bring additional passengers with them, they want to carry stuff. Be it a shopping trip to the mall or big box store, the family dog, or luggage for a trip. Behind the 3rd row seats is actually useable space. And with power, 2nd-row seat releases from the cargo area for putting those seats down is easy when there is a need for a more extended cargo area.

 

Telluride Powertrain

20190828_183934Telluride runs a naturally aspirated Korean made 3.8L 6-cylinder direct-injection gasoline engine with an American made 8-speed automatic transmission with a real center console shift lever that offers a manual mode. The test model we had included the active on-demand all-wheel-drive, other models AWD is an option.  This non-turbo model provided an average of 21 miles per gallon with 19 city and 24 highway on regular fuel. We found it to have enough power for urban and highway driving and found it to be responsive and well balanced.

 

Telluride Pros & Cons

20190828_184433Attention to detail for me is the biggest pro on the Telluride, those little added things that you can tell someone thought about things beyond just a design nicety.  Real control buttons on the center console that are bigger to control features, not only touchscreen points. A sizeable wide center infotainment screen that is not overpowering providing all the information one might need. Regular readers know I am not a fan of those screens, this one was perfectly functional and nicely designed.

20190826_100646Safety is a BIG Pro on the Telluride; the sightlines are excellent and the added feature of the side camera becoming active when the turn signal is on so the driver can see what is down at the curb level and above in their blind spot.  A bright easy to read heads up display that you can see even while wearing progressive sunglasses helps keep the driver’s attention to what is on the road, not what is on a screen. All the assists, from cross traffic to the adaptive cruise control, the Telluride knows what is going on and lets the driver know. And not with an annoying haptic vibration, but with one that is gentle and not distracting.

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Intuitive technology, Kia may not always use the most recent generation tech in their vehicles, it is the best of the current generation. Kia does keep it simple and useful without a lot of fuss to figure out how to use it.

 

Cons are very few on the Telluride, in my 20190828_184507opinion. Some of what makes it a pro makes it a disadvantage, only because it takes some getting used to how Kia interprets things; like the retracting driver’s seat, which I understood its use, but it took me a while to disable it.  Fuel economy of lower 20’s is not impressive. Kia vehicles are adequately powered, are not known for high fuel efficiency. Overall exterior design is somewhat understated, but also timeless. If you are looking for a flashy car, this is not it, at least not in the dark moss green with black wheels that were on our test model.

 

Overall

2020 Kia Telluride SX Left FrontThis is an excellent car for anyone who needs a vehicle to haul both people and items. Someone who needs space and wants a comfortable car-like driving experience with the security of all-wheel drive.  I would indeed buy this vehicle and will suggest others to do as well. Especially since Kia offers a ten year/100K mile limited power train warranty, a 5 year/60K mile limited basic warranty and five years 60K mile roadside assistance.

 

 

Word and images (unless otherwise noted) by William West Hopper

William West Hopper, VIP Tour Guide at the 2019 Washington DC Auto Show. Photo by Bonnie M. Moret
William West Hopper, VIP Tour Guide at the 2019 Washington DC Auto Show. Photo by Bonnie M. Moret

 

Mr. Hopper is a lifelong auto enthusiast. He is a current member and serves as the President of the Washington Automotive Press Association – WAPA and is a member of The International Automotive Press Association – IMPA.

All opinions are his own.

Your Guide to the GLE, GLS, GLC, GLB, GLA, and Gelandewagen Mercedes-Benz has the SUV for Every Occasion

What once was considered a truck, is now more luxurious and safer than could have been imagined.
With the American consumer purchasing more SUVs each year, Mercedes-Benz continues to lead the pack. Little did we know twenty years ago when the first ML rolled out of the new US factory in Alabama that SUVs were beginning a market battle with the minivan. Now in 2020, Mercedes-Benz offers more SUV models in all sizes than ever before. From the smallest-GLA up to the old-school and completely redesigned G-Wagen. These “utility” vehicles are laden with technology and even more luxury touches, meeting every need, except for the drop-top one.
SUVs with Expanded Safety Technologies
Mercedes-Benz pioneered the premium SUV segment in 1997 with the launch of the M-Class and continues to redefine the segment to this day. After driving all the different M-B SUV models, they are as different, and just as good, as that first generation W163. Now offering more comfort and safety – but what makes this upcoming crop stand out, even more, is the technology. Especially in the area of safety, which Mercedes-Benz has always pioneered – the high-tech features have become standard equipment in many vehicles.
It’s easy to forget how prevalent autonomous vehicle technology is in new vehicles. Growing in commonality are driver assistance systems (like M-B’s Intelligent Drive), active stop-and-go assist, active brake assist, cross-traffic detection, and even the new exit warning which alerts upon opening the car door (even when the car is turned off), if the passenger might encounter a motorcyclist, cyclist, or another vehicle. Some new 2020 Mercedes-Benz vehicles have the option to know what is coming up on the road ahead, by communicating with the other cars as well as the connected infrastructure. Digital interactions are providing up-to-date information and warnings of hazardous situations ahead and informing the driver visually and acoustically, letting them know more than mirrors and cameras could ever have.
While we are on the cusp of big changes in both propulsion and safety technology, it comes at an ever-growing price tag. Buyers are willing to pay for visually pleasing options; the harder sell is getting them to accept and purchase the unseen life-saving features. After driving a car with this new tech, once the car jerks to a stop to avoid a collision, the driver will be immediately reminded of the valuable technology investment.

GLA
You often see these with the Car2Go logos – Daimler’s shared-ride platform. Rent one using a smartphone app for a quick trip or a long weekend. The GLA is the Baby-Benz SUV – perfect for urban driving, A beefed-up hatchback that comes in either front-wheel drive, or all-wheel-drive, this mini-ute is great for the one or two-person family who needs the utility of an easy in-and-out vehicle with limited cargo space.
Seniors are finding it sized right with not too much new technology to learn. Of course, if you want to upgrade a GLA, there are plenty of safety and luxury options: active lane-keeping assist, distance pilot DISTRONIC®, a panorama roof, the Harman/Kardon LOGIC7® sound system, 12-color ambient lighting, and more. You can also include a few AMG tricks like the GLA 45’s night package; for a sportier ride, add the AMG ride control sport suspension with ‘RACE’ mode for a top speed of 167-mph.
The GLA is the gateway to luxury and sporty SUV and is due soon for a refresh. For 2020 there are no changes from the ’19 model. Pricing is from $33k to $51K.

GLB

GLB
The compact luxury SUV market is hot, and the all-new GLB offers aggressive proportions and a strong off-road character. Powered by an efficient four-cylinder gasoline engine and available variable torque distribution 4MATIC, the driver can use the “Dynamic Select” for a sportier all-wheel-drive configuration. It is the first compact SUV to include the versatility of an optional third row with two additional seats, giving the flexibility of room for up to seven passengers, something customers are seeking from all manufacturers.

GLB Dashboard

The GLB features advanced technology along with an extensive list of standard equipment. Being the newest SUV in the lineup, it features Mercedes-Benz’s MBUX (Mercedes-Benz User Experience) infotainment system, the latest driver assistance systems, and an impressive list of options like Burmester® surround sound, and 64-color ambient lighting, because of course, you want to look down and see your shoes lit up in various hues of pink.
The GLB is a lot of luxury and technology in a compact SUV; it will go on sale by the end of the year, prices have yet to be announced.

GLC SUV & Coupe
GLC has become Mercedes-Benz’s largest-selling SUV, originally introduced about a decade ago as the GLK, it is Mercedes-Benz’s C-Class of mid-sized SUV. Recently updated with a host of new technology and safety features, users can choose between a traditional breadbox exterior or a four-door-coupe. The German four-door coupe styling may be controversial, but the GLC has it in just the proportions and looks better than it did in the GLE Coupe.

GLC SUV _ Coupe

GLC 300 comes in rear-wheel drive or you can option it in all-wheel-drive 4MATIC. Both come with Mercedes-Benz’s next-generation 2.0-liter inline-4 turbo offering increased output (255 hp and 273 lb-ft) and lower fuel consumption, as well as reduced CO2 emissions. Its 9G-TRONIC automatic transmission provides a dynamic driving experience.
The new GLC has all the most recent technology available – MBUX, the combination of the standard touchscreen multimedia display, optional Augmented Video for Navigation, standard intelligent Voice Control available via the standard “Hey Mercedes” prompt, and yes, even the newest vehicle-to-X communication, presenting the driver with up-to-date information and warnings of what to expect on the road ahead. LED headlamps and a new 10.25″ Center Touchscreen are standard. Upgrade to the AMG GLC63 for more goodies like the growl of the AMG performance exhaust system, and control of the electronic limited-slip differential. Add-on options include the AMG aerodynamics package, new upholstery in magma grey/black with yellow accents, and AMG performance seat options. On the inside is a standard 12.3″ digital instrument cluster, 64-color ambient lighting, and AMG-illuminated door sills as well as a standard multimedia package. Pricing for 2019 runs from $42,500K to $80K with the Coupe running $47K to $84k (prices excl. $995 destination & delivery).

GLE
Once called the ML, this is the vehicle that put Mercedes-Benz US manufacturing on the map. Now, as the GLE, it continues to be a trendsetter, representing the level of design, comfort, and safety not found in other SUVs. The GLE steps up the game with more technology, like the EQ boost – taking hybrid and electric technology to a new level. GLE is larger and wider, with a longer wheelbase and wider track, running on 19″ to 22″ wheels. The list of standard equipment is impressive. The MBUX user interface includes voice control, navigation, 12.3″ digital display with touchscreen and matching instrument cluster, a center console touchpad, active parking assist, blind-spot assist, keyless-go with hands-free access, and LED headlamps.

Options are plentiful: AIR-BALANCE Package, Head-Up Display, 4-Zone Climate Control, 3rd Row Seat Package, an enlarged panoramic sliding sunroof, Wireless Charging, and MBUX augmented reality among other features. How about electrifying the drive train with E-ACTIVE BODY CONTROL the world’s first 48-volt active suspension system?
New driver assistance systems further enhance the level of safety of the GLE. The interior is more spacious and comfortable, with an available third-row seat. The Infotainment system boasts larger screens, and along with “Hey Mercedes,” you can talk with your hands using the MBUX interior assist, which detects hand and arm movements to control functions. Not sure how one keeps hands on the wheel while doing so, but it’s now a thing! I was more impressed than expected when I took the GLE on mountain roads with its new 3.0L inline-6 turbo. Numerous packages added to the $61,550 base price of the GLE I drove, pushing it to $96,930 including destination and delivery.

GLS 2020

The All-New GLS for 2020
Once called the ML, this is the vehicle that put Mercedes-Benz US manufacturing on the map. Now, as the GLE, it continues to be a trendsetter, representing the level of design, comfort, and safety not found in other SUVs. The GLE steps up the game with more technology – like EQ boost – taking hybrid and electric technology to a new level. Built right here in the U.S.A., the S-Class of the SUV was known simply as the GL; it continues to be the largest and most luxurious of Mercedes-Benz’s SUVs.
GLS offers a choice of engines. A new in-line six-cylinder engine intelligently electrified with EQ Boost and Integrated Starter Generator allows for fuel savings that were previously only possible with high-voltage hybrid technology and producing 362 hp and 369 lb-ft of torque, with a further 184 lb-ft of torque and 21 hp available via EQ Boost over short periods. Or bump it up to a 4.0-liter V8 Biturbo engine with EQ Boost for immediate, smooth power with high levels of efficiency. A redesigned interior includes the dual 12.3″ digital touchscreen display with the MBUX infotainment system.
GLS provides agile dynamics and extensive safety with comfort for up to seven passengers in three fully electrically adjustable rows. All passengers get generous amounts of space and outstanding comfort. The GLS can be ordered with executive seating package: a six-seat option with Captain’s chairs, and up to five zones of climate control. Its price starts at $75,200 and easily tips over the $100K mark with optional equipment.

G-Class
Redesigned for its 40th anniversary year, the G is still big and boxy with distinctive door handles, round headlights (now LED), exposed door hinges, and a spare wheel on the rear door. But now it rides and handles more like a Mercedes-Benz than a military transport, all while still carrying the cache of what celebrities choose as a daily driver. The doors are very solid, with the characteristic closing sound, clear evidence of that hallmark “G” functionality. The G’s multi-contour seats feature massage
functions and are equipped with numerous seat conveniences: memory seating,

heating and cooling in the front and rear, and luxury head restraints in the front. The rear seats can be folded down to 60, 40 or 100 percent. And if you want to trick your G out, make it a 4X4 Squared with massive ground clearance and just about anything else you want to add, from design to a new G Manufaktur Program, which allows for more interior and exterior customization, and of course, all the AMG touches.
A run of the mill G550 features a 4.0L V8 bi-turbo engine, and the G 63 raises the bar with a handcrafted AMG 4.0-liter V8 bi-turbo that sends the G up to 60 mph in 4.5 seconds.
Pricing for the G550 starts at $124,500, with the AMG starting at $147,500. With the right options, the final price falls well into the $200K plus range.
By William West Hopper
Reprinted from the August  2019 Greater Washington Section Mercedes-Benz Club of America, Quarterly News Roundup.
Photos courtesy of MBUSA

The Purr of the Electric Cat. The 2019 Jaguar I-Pace EV 400 AWD

 

 

Jaguar's Race Director James S Barkley

After attending an introduction event for Jaguar’s EV Racing in New York City, last year, I have looked forward to the opportunity to spend time and experience life in a luxury EV. This summer, a Photon Red First Edition Jaguar I-Pace showed up in my driveway.

IMG_3022While the world is focused on SUV’s even as they pertain to electric-powered vehicles, Jaguar has nicely put together a sleek hatchback, that is a luxury sedan, sports sedan, EV and with the full-size hatch, all-wheel-drive SUV. And the adjustable suspension helps on or off road.

 

Design

IMG_2570Ian Callum accepts 2019 World Car Award for Jaguar I Pace
IMG_2570Ian Callum accepts 2019 World Car Award for Jaguar I Pace

First and foremost, it is a Jaguar. You can tell  Ian Callum kept with the brand’s design language using angles to replace the curves of the Jags of my youth. More a 1980’s than 1960’s look, while still quite current. Aerodynamics is the name of the game when trying to stretch every electron into a mile, and with this I-Pace, you have a 230-mile range on a charge. And selling it as a luxury SUV, and sports-sedan in one. This one has all-wheel drive and an adjustable suspension that you can raise and lower the vehicle for off-road travel if needed.

 

Under the Hood

IMG_3048While you will not find anything under the hood, or as it is known the “frunk” or boot, which is the proper British terminology, other than small cargo space. It is almost not worth opening.

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Where is all the power coming from, you ask?  Well, two electric motors that produce 394 horsepower and 512-ft of torque are fore and aft with a 90-k Wh battery pack that is mounted low and provides a 76 MPGe combined.  Actually, the only way to see anything close to the powerplant would be to put it on a lift and take it apart. So for us, we never got to see anything but what the promotional material shows. Single-speed transmission with simple push-button controls and separate buttons for mode settings give you all the control you need in this EV.

 

Electric Plug-In?

20190716_073528Should I have range anxiety? Well, range anxiety is a part of the current EV driving experience, so it comes with the territory.  It did not take us long to figure out how to cure that and enjoy the drive in this iconic brand’s EV 400. We found both pay to charge, and free-to-charge locations via the Plugshare and ChargePoint apps. Which provided fast chare options while we were out, though often not in places we were initially going, or maybe wanted to go.  As well as plugging into our 110v home outlet for a trickle charge, of about a mile an hour.

 

How do you start an EV

Jaguar's Activity Key – allows you to wear a key to the vehicle and not carry one with you.
Jaguar’s Activity Key – allows you to wear a key to the vehicle and not carry one with you.

Like with most modern cars the RFID keyfob has replaced the switchblade or knife blade key, and Jaguar feels its owners will be active and may want to wear their key like a fitness tracker, so they provide an activity key, a black band you wear on your wrist that can get wet if you go kayaking or sailing, or surfing.

 

Door handles are recessed into the Jaguar I Pace until activated
Door handles are recessed into the Jaguar I Pace until activated.

 

Aerodynamics or Tesla design copy? How do you get the door handles to pop out?  Having the key in your pocket and activating the door handle by touching it, front or back, or hitting the traditional keyfob unlock button makes the door handles appear from the side slab of the I-Pace.

 

 

 

IMG_3071

An important part is even if the I-Pace doors are unlocked, the charging plug is still locked onto the charging port, and you have to unlock the car again (even if it is unlocked) to release the plug.

 

Cargo

IMG_3063While the frunk is small, not to worry the conventional rear hatch has plenty of room with the 3rd-row seats up or down, if you are carrying anything, and the four-doors open wide to give you easy entry and exit to the vehicle for all the passengers. Two bucket seats up front and a sizeable split-bench seat in the rear. And as the I-Pace is a wide car, there is plenty of room in that rear seat for three people.

IMG_3060

Open the hatch, and you can load large items, put down those rear seatbacks and the long flat cargo floor is easy to load in and out of.

 

Price – EV’s are not cheap

IMG_3059First of all, EV’s tend to be thought of as the play toys of the Rich, or those that want to be seen as financially successful. Tesla owners feel they have the sole ownership of the upscale EV space. So when Jaguar quietly stepped in without fanfare and put the I-Pace on the scene, we knew the price tag would be comparable.

20190716_072959Starting at just under $70K for a base Jaguar I-Pace, but really whoever buys a base car?  While there are a few who are looking for basic transportation, and the Nissan Leaf’s and Kia Niro EV’s may work well there. When you get to the level of luxury that Jaguar represents you want to add bells and whistles to your whip. Our I-Pace, the First Edition, 400 AWD I-Pace stickered out at just under $80K.

Now EV enthusiasts will tell you all about the tax incentives and all, but still, you have to buy something before you get a tax break for the purchase. Well, there is the free charging, when and where you can find it.

 

Charging Infrastructure

2019 Jaguar I Pace at a ChargePoint ChargerAs they say, nothing is free in this world. You get what you pay for!  And indeed when it comes to EV Chargers, I would agree about that.  While Tesla owners rave about their own (and totally proprietary, chargers. So don’t even think about plugging in there if you are not driving a Freemont Cali built the car. Charging stations are located all over the country, which is a beautiful thing indeed. Many are at commercial centers, though some gas station | convenience stores are adding them, most EV owners have to rely on public charging stations.  Finding them through Plug Share, Electrify America, and Charge Point, as well as other app-based programs,  are expanding. We discovered that Charge Point seems to have a better handle on their chargers, and they tend to be better-maintained infrastructure.  We found that newly constructed parking garages with EV charging as part of the design are better than those that are retrofitted. If for no other reason than the number of chargers.

IMG_3047Charging at home, if you have installed a 240 V dedicated EV Charger, you will do better than using the supplied charging plugged into a 110v grounded home outlet. The added cost to your home electric bill will help you decide if an EV is right for you.

 

Aud Etron with Electrify America ChargerCharging at your place of work, if you are lucky enough to be located in a location that provides charging for EV’s all the better. I have seen solar-powered chargers as well as banks of chargers in office building garages.

 

 

Promotion and Racing

Jaguar Race to InovateWhere does this E-Grand Prix racing come into play?  For Jaguar, racing is such a part of their heritage; it makes total sense that they are early participants in the sport of racing EVs. Jaguar and racing are like Milk and Ice Cream, they are even better together.  Racing has always been a proving ground for automotive engineering, as it is some of the best testing that any vehicle can go through.

 

Awards and Accolades

Jaguar wins 2019 Word Car Award Ian Callum AcceptingIn 2019 Jaguar I-Pace wins World Car of the Year Awards presented at the New York International Auto Show, and we were there (at the next table when the awards were presented.)  And justly so, Jaguar has brought forth a great product in the early days of modern electric vehicles.

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Words and images by William West Hopper.

William West Hopper, VIP Tour Guide at the 2019 Washington DC Auto Show. Photo by Bonnie M. Moret
William West Hopper, VIP Tour Guide at the 2019 Washington DC Auto Show. Photo by Bonnie M. Moret

Mr. Hopper is a lifelong auto enthusiast. As a member, he currently serves as the President of the Washington Automotive Press Association WAPA and is also a member of The International Automotive Press Association IMPA.

All opinions are his own. Mr. Hopper received no compensation from producing this post. He was given a week with the Jaguar I-Pace that arrived with a 60% charge, and he returned it with a 100% charge.

 

Tough and Solid as a Subaru – Just a Geeky Middle Kid – The Crosstrek

Check out our YouTube Video of this Subaru Crosstrek.

Subaru Crosstrek PHEV at the Washington DC Auto ShowSubaru has a long history of being a go-anywhere, tough roadworthy car brand. From the early days as DL and GL and before, well maybe not as far back as the tiny 360.  Today, Subaru has any number of choices from sleek sports cars to full-size SUV’s, a Sedan and a choice of  Station Wagons.  All with symmetrical all-wheel drive, which along with their boxer engine are Subaru staples.

 

Subaru CrossTrek PHEV Plugin Hybrid
Subaru CrossTrek PHEV Plugin Hybrid

Then there is that middle child, the Crosstrek. An SUV is a smaller size with plenty of what most people want in an all capable vehicle, large enough on the inside for most uses, in a small footprint.   And this middle kid can get even geekier in the Plug-in Hybrid (PHEV) which we had the opportunity to experience for a week driving around for a weekend on the streets of Washington DC.

Subaru Crosstrek PHEV Plugged IN

While the PHEV Crosstrek is more hybrid than EV (Electric Vehicle,) it still provides an intro to the EV lifestyle. Without the range anxiety that a full Battery Electric Vehicle (BEV) may give you.  In my use, it provided 15 miles all-electric on a 110v overnight battery charge from my garage outlet.  After the battery was depleted it seamlessly transitioned into gasoline-powered hybrid mode.  What I liked most is that you had your choice of EV or hybrid mode at the push of a button.  Allowing it to be operated in all EV mode or go hybrid, with the gasoline engine engaged. Personally, I like to save the EV driving for someplace special such as in a park or other peaceful place.

Subaru is known for UTILITY

Subaru Crosstrek PHEV Battery under the rear cargo floor
Subaru Crosstrek PHEV Battery under the rear cargo floor

And the Crosstrek is utilitarian, while still being well turned out, tech-forward, and comfortable. Don’t expect plush in any Subaru. Though the Crosstrek has a lot of nice touches like the use of quality materials and the overall interior design. And being a PHEV, there are lots of iridescent blue highlights on the inside, letting you know this is not just any powertrain you are piloting.

Subaru CrossTrek Interior
Subaru CrossTrek Interior with blue accents and stylish seating.

Anything with four-doors and a hatch is all about utility. The Crosstrek carries the battery under the rear cargo area, elevates the hatch floor about four inches from where it would be in a non-PHEV version.  The downside here is that the second-row seatbacks are at a lower point than the hatch floor. Not one long uniform cargo floor when the 2nd-row seats are folded down. The battery takes up space, so if you had a tall box, you could

Subaru Crosstrek loaded with pet supplies
Subaru Crosstrek loaded with pet supplies

have some problem fitting it in the cargo area.  For our use, the higher floor did not impede loading the cargo area. Though we can see it could be taking up valuable space when you really needed those extra inches.  With doors that swing open wide access for loading items through the rear doors is easy.

 

 

 

Driveability

Subaru Crosstrek with items in the cargo area
Subaru Crosstrek with items in the cargo area the rear seats fold down lower than the cargo floor.

When colleagues drove this car, they complained about the Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT), it did not bother me in the least bit. While in the old days a CVT may have been an issue, being whiny and not very responsive, today Subaru has made it pretty seamless in operation. The Crosstrek had plenty of power in both PHEV and hybrid mode, enough power to propel it down the road and up hills.

Subaru Crosstrek rear seat
Subaru Crosstrek rear seat

Driver and passenger room are plentiful. In our tester, the seats are leather-trimmed in contemporary design and exciting hues. The use of leather may not be what a buyer of a “green vehicle” would choose. Though for pet owners, as Subaru owners tend to be, it tends to be the right choice as other seat coverings can get damaged with claws and nails, as well as troublesome to clean.

Subaru Crosstrek Cockpit
Subaru Crosstrek Cockpit

Crostrek’s interior design is functional and well-tailored. Buttons are where they need to be, and the three screens, the center, the top center, and dash provide plenty of information. The top center screen offers a visual of the hybrid functionality and is an extension of the actual dash screen. While the other screens provide the necessary information that you expect from them.

 

What’s Not To Love

Subaru Crosstrek PlugIn Port
Subaru Crosstrek Plug-In Port

Subaru has a marketing campaign based on Love, so finding things that go against that is not too easy. First of all, the Crosstrek is not plush, while not spartan, it is all Subaru, simple, and to the point. The Crosstrek at times rides like a truck and in our unit, with 9K miles on the odometer, it was a bit noisy, though we expect that noise is a part of the Crosstreck’s character. And yes, the hybrid engine function sometimes sounds like a wood chipper hard at

Subaru Crosstrek dash switches
Subaru Crosstrek dash switches

work.  If you are expecting a more turned out experience the Outback or Legacy or even Forester might be a better choice. Though those models do not come in a battery-powered version. Though we expect they will in the future, as everyone really likes the higher fuel mileage hybrids offer.  Like any Subie, you will get the same experience if you are seated in the front or the rear. This brand creates a complete cabin experience, and not just a nice space up front for the driver, forgetting anyone else is going to ride in the vehicle.

 

Is this EV Drive A FAD?

Subaru Crosstreck PHEV Plugged in at home to a 110v outlet
Subaru Crosstreck PHEV Plugged in at home to a 110v outlet

While the Crosstrek is the only hybrid or EV variant available in the US from Subaru, we doubt that it will be the only one for very long.  EV powertrains are quickly evolving, and the Crosstrek PHEV is an excellent step in the direction.  Especially for those who want to tread lightly on our planet and not burn gasoline to do so. Electric Vehicles can be earth-friendly when not using fossil fuels to produce electrons.  With the ever-growing wind and solar power, it can be a great option for charging. We agree that battery production is hardly earth-friendly.

Subaru Crosstrek Pluged In at a public charger
Subaru Crosstrek Plugged In at a public charger

If you rely on EV Charging stations alone, and not have the hybrid backup, there is that concern of range anxiety. Worrying about where will the next plugin will be, and will it be operational. With the hybrid, you can pretty much find a gasoline station throughout the land.  Having the best of both worlds does give EV ownership a better feel.

 

Why you should buy a Subaru Crosstrek

Subaru Crosstrek PHEV engine
Subaru Crosstrek PHEV engine

EV side, this is a significant step for those looking to upgrade from a smaller hybrid econobox. As this is asymmetrical (which is Subaru’s term) all-wheel drive. If you are looking for a vehicle that is surefooted, rugged, and spacious, this is a good option.

Subaru owners love their cars and return to buy them time and time again.  After passing down their high mileage cars to a friend or family members, or doing a properly reviewed adoption to someone who is also a fan of the brand.  That kind of long-term owner commitment is something that means something.  Ask any Subaru owner, and they will tell you how they will always own a Subaru.

Subaru Crosstrek Engine Oil Filter
Subaru Crosstrek has a gasoline engine which means an oil filter

If you want more room but less attention to detail on the interior check out our review of the Mitsubishi PHEV Outlander.

We thank Subaru and NAV’s for the opportunity to spend a week in this vehicle. Neither provided any compensation other than the loan of the vehicle and the first tank of fuel.

 

Words an images by William West Hopper (unless otherwise noted)

William West Hopper, VIP Tour Guide at the 2019 Washington DC Auto Show. Photo by Bonnie M. Moret
William West Hopper, VIP Tour Guide at the 2019 Washington DC Auto Show. Photo by Bonnie M. Moret

Wiliam West Hopper is a life-long automotive enthusiast who thinks of cars as both an extensions of one’s personality as well as a utilitarian device.  Mr. Hopper has served as local, regional and national leader of the Mercedes-Benz Club of America, and currently serves as President of the Washington Automotive Press Association, a professional automotive media organization based in Washington DC. Mr. Hopper also writes on travel as well as interior design. And is known for an eye for a great consignment or thrift shop, thus authoring a no out of print guide to Washington DC area second-hand stores.

The Italian Job – A 2018 Alfa Romeo Giulia

 

Check out our Queer4Cars YouTube Video on this Amazing Car

 

2018 Alfa Romeo Giulia at the Nebraska Wyoming Border

On a recent trip to Colorado, land of Ram pickups and Jeeps, I had the opportunity to take an Alfa Romeo Giulia for the week-long romp in cowboy country.  Quickly finding out that this little sports sedan was more of a conversation starter than I would have imagined, especially where pickups and 4X4’s roam.

Young and old, male and female, all had an eye for this gorgeous Italian four-door, wanting to know more. A gas station cashier came out of his kiosk and started talking to me about how this car changed everything for the brand. A man and woman stood by holding an intense discussion about it in a

Alfa Romeo Giulia at Lafayette CO Cars and Coffee Aug 2019
Alfa Romeo Giulia at Lafayette CO Cars and Coffee Aug 2019

supermarket parking lot. Upon arrival to a Colorado Cars and Coffee, we were one of three Alfas. An Alfa owner who brought something else, came over and shared the one time he did not show is Giulia, two others would show up. 

 

 

Driving Experience

2018 Alfa Romeo Giulia at the Lady of Peace Shrine in Pine Bluffs WY
2018 Alfa Romeo Giulia at the Lady of Peace Shrine in Pine Bluffs WY

Driving this car fast is what the Giulia wants to do,  and wide-open western interstates were the perfect place to put the pedal to the metal. Comfortably sprinting along the ribbons of high plains pavement, and nimbly carving through mountain passes proved how well balanced and sure-footed the $2500 all-wheel-drive optioned Giulia TI Sport is. While the 2-liter direct-injection turbo engine could be noisy at times, it made excellent use of the 280 horsepower output and provided the upper 20’s in miles per gallon.  Mated to an 8-speed automatic transmission with the Alfa DNA Drive Mode System it had no problem with three people and luggage aboard.

Trunk space in the Alfa Romeo Guilia is tight
Trunk space in the Alfa Romeo Guilia is tight

While it is not a big car, it does seats four.  In our case 3 comfortably for a two-hour road trip. Fully occupied, might be a bit cramped in the passenger compartment and trunk space is tight, so overnight bags and not suitcases are the way to go. Egress in the rear was a bit tight, especially for senior travelers, who had to twist a bit to get in and out of the back and sometimes the front passenger seats.

 

The Cockpit

Alfa Romeo Giulia dash and column-mounted shift levers for the 8-speed automatic transmission.
Alfa Romeo Giulia dash and column-mounted shift levers for the 8-speed automatic transmission.

This car is focused on the driver. Don’t get me wrong, the passengers’ are finely cared for as well in leather six-way adjustable heated leather seats. Piloting this gorgeous sedan is foremost in the mind of Alfa’s designers with a comfortable driving position and view of the road access to the controls and gauges. The flat-bottom steering wheel with column-mounted shift levers for the 8-speed automatic give you a racecar feel. Though do it with your loves off, as it is tight clearance, which is no problem in cold weather, as the leather-wrapped steering wheel is heated.

Alfa Romeo Giulia at an Outpost in Pine Bluffs Wyoming
Alfa Romeo Giulia at an Outpost in Pine Bluffs Wyoming

Our test vehicle had striking Red Sport Seats. That and the contrasting black interior trim with aluminum trim ambient lighting and the TI Package added bright aluminum trimmed pedals for that sporty look. As part of the $2500 Ti package, you get sport leather seats with power-adjustable bolsters and manually adjustable thigh support, in addition to the standard heated driver and front passenger power 6-way adjustable seats with 4-way lumbar support.  It was hard for my senior passengers as the seat bolsters hold you firmly during spirited driving, but make slipping in and out a challenge. That combined with the tighter door opening may be an issue for those who people who may not have physical flexibility.

 

My Thoughts

Alfa Romeo Giulia and Vintage Porsche at Cars and Coffee in Lafayette CO August 2019
Alfa Romeo Giulia and Vintage Porsche at Cars and Coffee in Lafayette CO

This car is stunning to look at and lots of fun to drive. Interior is nicely detailed with all you need in a drivers car.  Having the remote start is nice as long as the fuel level is above a quarter of a tank. The $1500 Driver Assist Dynamic Plus Package with forwarding Collision Warning plus, lane departure, adaptive cruise control with stop, and automatic high-beam Bi-Xenon headlamp

Alfa Romeo Giulia with 19 Inch Wheels and Brembo Brake Calipers
Alfa Romeo Giulia with optional 19 Inch Wheels and Brembo Brake Calipers

control was a nice feature. And the added safety of the $650 Driver Assistance Static Package with blindspot and cross-path detection is quite useful in today’s busy world.  And as always LED lighting all around and 4-wheel disc brakes with the $500 optional red-painted front Brembo® calipers with gloss script were a delight to look at through the Bright 5-whole Aluminum Wheels.

Alfa Romeo Giulia at Tru Hotel in Cheyenne Wyoming

Some spots seem to be overlooked like the leather wrapping appears to miss a spot at the bottom of the steering wheel. Sort of that hole you don’t see but feel around for once you know, it is there. The limited USB ports one in the lower center dash and two inside the console, along with a 12V outlet, and surprisingly none in the rear seat area. This led us to think that some of the tech maybe a few generations older than what you might find on the competition,  it is still great to have onboard.

I am not a big fan of modern screens, and the Giulia’s were the least offensive of the cars I have driven recently. Though saying that, I was happy with the limited number of screens to scroll through on the driver’s display. I thought having a G-Force screen was odd. If you were watching it, you could not be paying attention to the driving, which would result in making the red dot move out of the center position.

Alfa Romeo Giulia Center Console

The center controls took time to get used to, as did the stalk-style electronic gear selector with a button to push for Park which also engaged the electric parking brake.  I did like to have the parking brake applied but had to remember to release it each time.  As well as remembering to push the gear stalk forward for Reverse and pull back for Drive.

This test vehicle had 12K on the odometer, and with that mileage, it is an excellent way to experience what the vehicle will be like after the honeymoon is over. This one had held up well, especially for a brand that does not always get the highest confidence level in that area.  There were some hiccups like rough starts, though that could have been the summer heat or quality of fuel. The AC was hard to find a comfortable temp, and the HVAC fan was noisy at any position but the lowest one. There was road noise from the 19-inch Pirelli run-flat tires and was a tad surprised to hear wind noise coming from the upper door, neither were disturbing but noticeable. There is no spare (hence the run-flats), but there is an air pump secured in the base of the trunk. Me, I like to have a spare, so I would want to have one. Since the car does not have staggered wheels, and these wheels are so pretty, it would be a beautiful garage decor item to have. Just in case, but not enough trunk space to carry it with you and any luggage.

Alfa Romeo Giulia Center Console
Alfa Romeo Giulia Center Console

In total, this 2019 Alfa Romeo Giulia TI Sport AWD 4-door sedan in Vesuvio gray metallic paint (a $600 option) stickered out at $51,885 including the $1,295 destination charge.  This car is assembled in Cassino Italy an Italian-built engine, and German-made transmission comes with a 4-year / 50K mile powertrain and basic warranty along with roadside assistance.

 

Would I buy this car?

Absolutely it was a lot of fun to drive and it is simply gorgeous to look at.

 

Thanks To FCA, Alfa and Rocky Mountain Redline

Alfa Romeo Giulia Fuel Filler
Alfa Romeo Giulia Fuel Filler

For allowing us a week in this fantastic Alfa Romeo 2018 Guilia for a week, covering the first tank of fuel and ExpressToll fees.  We were not compensated for this review.

 

 

 

Words and images by William West Hopper. (Unless otherwise noted)

William West Hopper, VIP Tour Guide at the 2019 Washington DC Auto Show. Photo by Bonnie M. Moret
William West Hopper, VIP Tour Guide at the 2019 Washington DC Auto Show. Photo by Bonnie M. Moret

Mr. Hopper is a life long auto enthusiast. He is a member and currently serves as the President of the Washington Automotive Press Association WAPA and is a member of The International Automotive Press Association IMPA.  All opinions are his own.

Upscale Elegance with a sense of Sportiness – The 2019 Lexus ES 350 F Sport

 

Check Out Our YouTube Video Review on the Lexus ES350 F Sport.

Age has its privileges, and my first mistake was to tag a picture of the 2019 Lexus ES350 F Sport that arrived that morning with a hashtag of #V8.  Why? Because that is what these aging eyes saw on the window sticker. Or it could have been that I remember when the brand came to the USA with an 8-cylinder, while everyone else was doing a six.  Within moments a YouTuber who follows me on Instagram corrected me. And let me know how it was a V6 and not a V8. Then, not long after that one of my young compatriots coyly mentioned he too had seen the mislabeled V8 hashtag. Yup, Frickin kid’s, I mistook the 6 for an 8, wait until you grow old and dream of big powerful engines, when you are driving your electric powered whirligigs.

20190630_184623It was back in the latter part of the last century, the news was about upstart luxury brands, offshoots of Japanese economy brands. And while today, three remain Lexus has kept both tried and true to the concept of luxury all the while holding on to Toyota’s reliability, quality, and dependability.

While in the past 30 years, Lexus has become a leader. Toyota, the parent company, realized that it was time to put excitement into their models, with the We will build no boring cars ideology. Lexus’s ES line is often confused with being an upscale Toyota Camry.  Which had been considered one of the less exciting cars to drive.  And that just isn’t right. Especially in the F-Sport trim, the ES is not a Camry, or should I say the Camry is not quite an ES350 in F Sport trim.

 

What makes the F Sport special?

2019_Lexus_ES_006_C3FAD6239DA48AE1D46B22F7A777ED968DB419AEIn the automotive world, you are either a Sport or a Premium Luxury, and bringing the two together rarely makes either side happy. Toyota does just that with a more sporty persona in the F-Sport as well as the luxury and tech that Lexus is known for.

Lexus’s high-performance models are named F Sport from the Fuji Speedway in Japan whose first corner, 27R inspired the shape of the “F” emblem. First brought to market in 2007 as a factory-sanctioned high-performance line, it succeeded the TRD (Toyota Racing Development) based L-Tuned of earlier in the decade. Now F Sport has expanded across the marque’s entire model lineup and not just limited to the IS and GS models as when it was first introduced.

 

Driving the 2019 Lexus ES 350 FSport

Lexus F Sport with Lexus RX350A week behind the wheel of the 2019 Silver Lining Metallic with a red interior Lexus ES350 F Sport gave us the feel of the many features that come standard on the ES model, as well as the sporty aspects of the F Sport, more importantly, the drive experience.

 

 

Quite a comfortable sedan, especially as a long-distance road warrior, with plentiful interior passenger and trunk cargo space. Aided by the $750 Adaptative Variable Suspension, the ride was excellent and quite centered and controlled.  The 3.5 V6 24 valve DOHC Aluminum front-engine with variable valve timing and intelligent wide intake exhaust mated to an 8-speed Direct-Shift transmission, and front-wheel drive provided plenty of power no matter the need, with 22/31/25 in mileage.  Though it was not as powerful as it would have been with the original thought of 8-cylinder. (Which I will say on my first drive after the initial IG post, I thought to myself, this is not an eight!)

Lexus ES 350 F Sport GrillDriving the Lexus, you realize how big it is, parking it though, it does not seem large, and with the parking sensors and auto-brake both come in to play in tight spaces. Pulling into a space in a parking garage, it quickly sensed I was too close to the car in front of me, jarringly the auto-braking engaged quickly and securely stopping well clear of the vehicle parked in front of me. The Blindspot monitor with Rear Cross Traffic alert and parking assist with auto braking, a $1065 option is always an excellent option to have on any car.

Lexus F Sport Key Glove

 

While I marveled at the twenty-dollar Key Glove, but really is it necessary? And at twenty bucks, it would have been something that could have been acquired from a local artisan, instead of an optional add on.

 

 

 

Luxury Inside and Out

A lot of what is standard on the ES is nothing new or not found in other vehicles, interior ambient lighting, 10-way F Sport bolstered front heated and ventilated power seats with 2-way lumbar with Lexus memory system of driver seat outside mirrors and steering wheel tilt and telescope. And of course, sporty aluminum trimmed pedals.

INTERIOR_Lexus-ES-350_Flare-Red_Hadori_FSport18_79317162B50BE8E8E177B05BBE99789C4BCB1DDBIt is how Lexus brings it together inside the F Sport that is special, the interior design, the quality touch and feel that makes you appreciate it as a Lexus. Something that did bother me was the $75 optional wireless charging option hidden away under the console armrest. I think all cars should come with wireless chargers. I did indeed use it, and it to charge my Samsung outfitted with an Otter Box Case. It did not overheat like some chargers do. Where I found myself frustrated, is I wanted to look at my phone, even if things were relayed to the car’s display. And yes I know we should not be distracted by our devices, cars are meant to be driven.

Some fun aspects of the F Sport are the moveable meter in the center dash, roadside sign assist, and the smartwatch and Amazon Alexa integration. All help you integrate closer to the car so that driving becomes one with the body and soul.

20190630_184945Ride comfort with the F Sport Suspension Tuning with Performance dampers front and rear gives you a soft but sporty ride. And the large 19-inch wheels were of course more sporty 235 40 R 19 Bridgestone tires which are different from the 215/55R 17-inch wheels and tires on the non-F Sport model. Though the smoked split 5-spoke alloy wheels were indeed attractive, I worried about scratching them.

Exterior styling with a unique rear spoiler and valance and that unmistakable and controversial front bumper grill get plenty of attention. Again, I worried that someone would bump into the grill and damage it while parallel parked.  And yes indeed the ES had the intuitive parking assist option.

Lexus Strong Dealership Commitment

 

Darcars Lexus of Silver Spring MD
DarCars Lexus of Silver Spring MD Online sourced photo

Dealerships are often that first and only interaction that any auto buyer really has with a brand. Lexus ensures that commitment to the customer is a strong one, and has been very pro-active in this area long before other brands who tout it. The Lexus brand attracts a more affluent buyer who has an appreciation for the finer things in life and willing to pay for service. Here is where Lexus really shines. Their dealerships commitment to service, being one of the first to provide true concierge service, where a staff member will come to the customer to pick up their car for service and return it. This is something very attractive to women buyers, as well as those owners who have little time to attend to such things. It is our experience relayed to us from female friends that while shopping in a Lexus dealer. They now own Lexus vehicle because of this focused on the Brand’s owners. 

 

Who is Lexus today?

Lexus RX 350 and ES 350 F SportA brand that has the reliability and dependability of a Toyota, expert dealership customer service. Lexus sells a wide range of sedans, sports coupes and of course crossovers and SUV’s. Customers of Lexus have enjoyed the best of Toyota quality and technology (Lexus is one of the first luxury brands to put hybrid powertrains into their cars) from the very beginning.  Expect great things to come from the brand as it continues to grow and respond to what their customers want.

 

William West Hopper, VIP Tour Guide at the 2019 Washington DC Auto Show. Photo by Bonnie M. Moret
William West Hopper, VIP Tour Guide at the 2019 Washington DC Auto Show. Photo by Bonnie M. Moret

Words and Images by William West Hopper

This 2019 Lexus ES350 F Sport was provided to us by Toyota Motor Company and Lexus for a week to review, no compensation other than the use of the car was provided. Parking expenses were covered by myself as was any fuel used after the first tankful.