Category Archives: Automobile

You are invited to the LGBTQ Family Night at the Washington Auto Show on Feb 1, 2018.

2017-Washington-Auto-Show-Saturday-54Join us at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center on Thursday evening February First, 2018 for an evening of auto show fun with friends at the LGBTQ Family Night at the Washington Auto Show.

 

Sponsors

Cadillac, Lexus, Mazda, and Toyota are; and we hope you will as well. These automotive companies are some of our 2018 sponsors along with The Washington Auto Show itself.

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Like last year, this will be a gathering of friends at the DC Auto Show. You don’t have to be an automotive enthusiast, and there will be no set program, just come meet new people, or friends of long standing, and enjoy all the 2018 Washington Auto Show has to offer.

Cadillac XT5
Cadillac XT5

We will have a private room, and plenty of friends to talk with about cars and all else. Thanks to Cadillac and Mazda for supporting our event, we will have snacks and iced tea, but more importantly, we want to get you out and enjoy the show, see the displays and experience all that the show has to offer.

 

Toyota HSR Left SideAfter Party

After the show is over, Toyota and Lexus will be hosting an afterparty for those attending the event. So you will not want to miss that and drink a toast to the New Year thanks to our friends at Toyota and Lexus.

 

MX5 Santa

Why are we holding this event, so that LGBTQ friends and family know that the auto manufacturers and dealers in the Washington area appreciate our business and want us as customers.

 

When and Where?

Date, Thursday evening February 2nd, at the Washington Convention Center (Room to be announced ) from 5 pm to 9 pm (when the show closes) then we will transfer the party over to a nearby location for a little more celebrating.

While there is no fee to attend the LGBTQ Family night at the Washington Auto Show, we ask you to register for the event.
Register Here:

Yes, the event is free, though you will have to purchase tickets to get into the show.  You can get tickets directly from the show here. Or if you want discounted tickets through Groupon, you can click here. Or if you are not on Facebook, send us an email to let us know you are coming and if you are bringing a friend or family along with you.

For information on what will be happening at the 2018 Washington DC Auto Show, check out their daily schedule of events.

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The Lexus LC500h is a Supercar that is Eco Friendly and available to the Masses*.

The Lexus LC500h
Lexus LC500 Coupe
*If the Masses have a hundred grand to spend.

Don’t tell anyone that the LC500h saves trees and drops panties at the same time!

 

 

 

Chef Matt in the Navigators Seat of the Lexus LC500h
Chef Matt in the Navigators Seat of the Lexus LC500h

Lexus provided us a pre-production 2018 LC500h for a weekend in early September to attend the Radnor Concours d’Elegance and drive in their fundraising road rally for Thorncroft Equestrian Center. A drive that took us on 90 miles of bucolic Chester County roads, not only a picturesque Pennsylvania countryside, it was an opportunity to test out this “High-Performance Lexus.” Myself and co-driver Chef Matt enjoyed every moment behind the wheel.

Lexus LC500H Hybrid badge.Surprises were many, mostly the attention this coupe got where ever we went, especially women. Women coohed over it, and when offered an opportunity to get the driver’s seat they practically leaped at the chance to get in and caress the soft interior surfaces. Never have I driven a car that so enthralled women of all ages. I kept kidding my co-driver, a single guy, that this was his big chance! We would catch glimpses of people photographing the car where ever we went. Yes, a Lexus can bring that much attention.

 

Stock photo of the Lexus LC500H from the Lexus media site.
Stock photo of the Lexus LC500H from the Lexus media site.

The attention started when my original co-driver found out a wedding conflicted with the rally and he could not join me. I posted a stock photo of the Lexus LC500h on my Facebook Page, asking if any of my friends were interested in spending the day driving around Philadelphia’s fox hunting country. One buddy responded, “If that is the car, count me in, I want to go.”  Though his idea of a Rally was speeding across back roads at breakneck speed, like, so many internet videos show.  I assured him it would be a relaxing and fun ride in the countryside, and We would get a meal out of the deal. “Any meal I don’t have to cook is one I will enjoy.” The classic line of anyone who spends their days in a kitchen for a living.

 

 

The two of us met up with about 125 other participants at the Radnor Hunt Club. A wide range of cars from classic Rolls, compete with the mustard to old farts in Aston Martins (who kept getting in our way but won the Rally.)  Even another Lexus, and a bright RED Infiniti G series, whose owners we became friends with during the weekend.

 

The Lexus LC500H an Aston Martin and Infiniti all lined up and ready for the Radnor Concours Road Rally.
The Lexus LC500H an Aston Martin and Infiniti all lined up and ready for the Radnor Concours Road Rally.

It did not take long before we quickly found that our car was both adored and somewhat sneered at. “That is some High-Performance Lexus,” said one upper-crust passer-by. A hybrid called High Performance, well shows what great styling can do! Chef Matt also quickly found out that the LC was a chick magnet. Watching an introvert struggling to talk to pretty girls was painful, and sometimes more so when you could see the ladies were more interested in the beautiful road machine he was driving, than the man with incredible culinary talents.

First of all  How it Looks.

Lexus 500H Rear view, lots of shapely lines.
Lexus 500H Rear view, lots of shapely lines.

This two-door coupe has muscular lines from the front fenders to the rear haunches. It seems like an oxymoron to hear the word muscle when the car has hybrid badging.

While guys, from tatted and bearded Harley riders to conservative mainline types gave it thumbs up, and as we found out, it really seduced the ladies. And once inside they really connected to the Alcantara suede door panels and heated and cooled leather seats. Lexus has always known that marketing to the fairer sex is a smart business decision, and this car will have a lot of women becoming owners of their vehicles.

Inside

The very clean dash on the Lexus LC500H
The very clean dash on the Lexus LC500H

OK, this is a two-seat coupe, and yes it has four seats. And in those seats, you felt in control of the vehicle as a driver and enveloped as a front seat passenger.  Do not expect people to sit in the rear seats, as no adult of any proportion is going to fit back there, or even contort themselves to get into and out of the rear seats. But that is entirely OK! The front seats contoured the body like an elegant glove, holding you in comfort as well as style.

 

The LC500's Trunk is not especially big in the first place, and the hybrids battery takes up additional room.
The LC500’s Trunk is not especially big in the first place, and the hybrid’s battery takes up additional room.

Luggage, who needs a lot of baggage? The boot is limited to a couple of overnighters and a suit bag. No golf club bags, and honestly I had to lay a half gallon of scotch down on its side because it was too tall.

Powertrain & Driveability

While you can get this model in a V8. The one we enjoyed was a 3.5-litre V6 with multistage hybrid technology attached. This power plant may not be what you think of when you think of when you think of the other products in Toyota’s family of hybrids. Lexus was one of the first to put the hybrid engine in a vehicle other than a four-door sedan, with the RX. Now it makes perfect sense to put it in this luxury sports coupe. We experienced plenty of power, and excellent fuel mileage to boot.

With this LC500H you have all the options to make whatever noise you want, or NOT! A hybrid powerplant makes that sound, which you sometimes hear in this vehicle in eco and comfort mode (I call it chewing up logs with a dull blade.) Put the LC500h in one of the two sports mode and step on it, and it takes off like a bat out of Gehenna. Or just put it in EV mode and quietly move it out of the driveway. As sometimes you want to make an elegant exit without anyone hearing the exhaust growl of a performance car.

Lexus LC500H Center Console includes an integrated assistance handle for the passenger.
Lexus LC500H Center Console includes an integrated assistance handle for the passenger.

Fuel Mileage, this is a Hybrid, set it in eco mode and get top fuel mileage, like in the mid-30’s. Set it in Sport Plus and it is all power, and still, you will not be draining the tank!  All the while looking amazing and returning fuel consumption numbers that were impressive.

The classic Hold on for your life handles in this car, aka the O’Crap Handles are there for the front seat passenger.who is hardly forgotten. And since Lexus takes performance and handling seriously, the driver has control of the comfortable steering wheel and the shift paddles and fed constant updates from a well-balanced display screen as well as aided by the touchpad controlled display topping the center stack.

 

Speaking of screens:

 

We could have watched the transition on the dash display time and time again, as the image moved aside bringing more information forward. While the center display controls everything from HVAC to Audio to monitoring the performance of the Hybrid system. And when you want it to display a more extensive map, or set up the seats for heating and cooling, it is a touch of the screen away. We experienced a few lapses in the GPS display on our suburban Philadelphia adventure, with sometimes not displaying the roads we were on, this we chalked up to the car being a pre-production model. While it could have been operator error, and probably was, it would be nice for it to pop back after some time and tell you, hey, I have stopped working at your request.

Chef Matt and the Lexus LC500H
Chef Matt and the Lexus LC500H

Think Sports Car for those who want a supercar, but may not want to spend the several hundred grand. While this puppy tops out at that $100K mark it is still well priced when you consider what you are buying. A lot of technology in a very, very attractive package. One of the most beautiful Lexus body styles we have ever seen. While you may look at competing brands, this one has a vast dealer network as well as a strong history of brand dependability that comes with it.

Author William West Hopper with the 2018 Lexus LC500H.
Author William West Hopper with the 2018 Lexus LC500H.

Words and photos by William West Hopper.

We were given the use of the Lexus LC500H for a week to use at the Radnor Concours. No other compensation was provided, and all event, travel, and other fees were paid out of our own pocket.
For more information or to test drive for yourself the Lexus LC500H or any of their other vehicles, please visit your local Lexus dealership.

American Sweethearts the SUV & CUV

American family favorites, Crossovers and SUV’s dominate the market due to their versatility. So understandably there are plenty of them at all price points, a mix of high and middle-end models. I have taken these out over the past few months for quick around the block drives as well as extended time periods. Here are my thoughts on them. Some, not all we have done full reviews on which are featured elsewhere on the site.

Fiat 500X – Cuteness seems to be a staple with the Fiat brand. Though with the whinnyFiat 500X engine and a transmission hunting for the right gear provide a less than enjoyable drive experience. I took this funky Italian breadbox up the mountain roads of New York State in May. Pluses are plenty of space and a very attractive interior design. Lots of trim levels and features are available. Discounts are plentiful at year end. Minus are: A clunky exterior, a noisy drivetrain, and a transmission always hunting for the right gear. Prices start at $19,995 and with generous year-end allowances you can put a lot of cute Italian into a small payment for a Fiat.

 

Nissan RogueNissan Rogue – An overall everyday crossover, easy to get in and out of, with plenty of cargo space. I kept expecting more from the Rogue considering the amount of hype this vehicle has gotten from Nissan’s  PR department to the auto media. Including being heavily featured in recent Star Wars movie promotions and #RogueTrip events. Pluses are a well-made dependable vehicle. Minus are that the Rogue is not so memorable in the overall scheme of things.  Starting at $24,680 and going up depending on trim levels and options. My heart does not go pitter-patter over this model as it does with Nissan’s other products. Though I may need a #RogueTrip to experience this vehicle in more depth.

 

 

 

Toyota Highlander

 

2018_Toyota_Highlander_SE
2018_Toyota_Highlander_SE

When did this crossover become so large and in charge? What once was a mid-sized big SUV replacement seems to be growing. While right in the middle of Toyota’s extensive lineup of SUV’s and Crossovers it is a good option for those looking for a dependable, and long-lasting vehicle with plenty of options. Pricing starts at $31,030, incentives are not aggressive due to this being a top-selling model. I was not expecting a WOW, and the Highlander followed suit by not making me squeal for joy while behind the wheel. Though in the long run, the Highlander will be there, dependable and safe as any of Toyota’s vehicles.

 

 

 

GMC Acadia Denali

 

2017 GMC Acadia Denali
2017 GMC Acadia Denali

GMC is an upmarket luxury truck maker showing that GM is paying a bit more attention to the details. Bringing luxury and utility together in an elegant package. While not as finely outfitted as the Terrain (which was not available to drive, though I attended a presentation on it earlier this year, see another post.) The Acadia is available starting at $42,255 and the Denali (upscale) trim starts at $45,415. While this is not a sports car, nor is it a luxury boulevard cruiser, the Acadia provided a very comfortable drive experience, one that I would find enjoyable on a long road trip. It was a nice both inside and out with a lot of attention to detail, especially for the front seat passengers.

 

 

 

Hyundai Tuscon

 

2017 Hyundai Tucson
2017 Hyundai Tucson

Sorry to say, this is one that I took out of the parking lot and quickly brought back. A cheap fit and finish made it memorable, and not in a good way. Even in the next to the top of the line Night Edition drag, there were some basics that could be improved. I have been very impressed with what Hyundai and Kia have brought to market recently and comparing the Tuscon to other Hyundai models driven in the past year, this one was a disappointment. While the Tucson starts at $20,200, it could be so better from a company that offers America’s best automotive warranty and well-known customer service. Hyundai is pronounced like Sunday for those who wrestle with the pronunciation of the brand name.

 

 

 

Land Rover Discovery

 

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Well now we are talking, no longer the boxy wannabe of its forebears, the odd exterior design is not unpleasing to the eye, just reminded me of a bathtub, a luxury spa tub. The Disco, as it is known, would not take long to get used to. The interior was quite comfortable, though not as impressive as I would expect from this legendary British Empire Automotive brand. This is one we would like to spend more time with to get the full Rover experience. Starting at $52,090 it is right at a price point with some strong competitors offering top-notch larger size SUV’s. The Discovery and it’s twin the Discovery Sport are positioned just under the famed Range Rover. The brand is owned by Tata, a large multi-national, multi-product-service company based in India. Which may be why this vehicle and the Jaguar F-Pace seemed to be so closely related, almost cousins. (Jaguar is also owned by Tata.)

 

Diesel powered Jaguar F-Pace
Diesel-powered Jaguar F-Pace

Jaguar F-Pace  – Here is a sleek and sumptuous SUV that I was very excited to get to drive for a few days this Fall. While it was an enjoyable ride, it was not everything I had hoped it would be. The 2.0 liter turbocharged 4-cylinder diesel-powered version provided excellent fuel economy power and responsiveness. Comfort was nice with heated and cooled seats and all that one would expect in a proper English road car. Some of the technology was substandard compared to the competition, such as a limited vision camera, the center console display and the tinting on the windows rendered my two separate electronic toll pass devices inoperable, which was a tad embarrassing, as I was driving a Tata executive from China to an automotive media event. With prices starting at $42,065 for the basic model, topping out at over $62K for The pinnacle of F-Pace luxury, the Portfolio Edition. With a great ride and wonderful styling and fuel economy in the upper 20’s on diesel fuel, it is not one we would ask to leave the stable. But maybe send back for some more training.

 

 

Kia Niro

Kia Niro Hybrid
Kia Niro Hybrid

Stepping into a Kia, the last thing you would expect is to fall in love with an economy car, a hybrid at that. That is what I did, within a few moments of driving this odd little crossover, I said to myself, I would buy this car. It was nimble, spacious and had plenty of technology aboard. A bit quirky and awkward at first, but it grows on you like a loveable, nerdy, best friend. I could easily see loading stuff in this car and be heading out on adventures. Prices start at $23,240 for the base model going up to $31,900 for the top-of-the-line Touring model. All feature a 1.6 L 4-cylinder and Full Parallel Hybrid System and provide anywhere from 40 to 52 miles per gallon. Even more of a reason to love this little Korean Crossover. Yet another vehicle from Korea that will give the Prius some challenges in the marketplace.

 

Cadillac XT5
Cadillac XT5

Cadillac XT5 – For me, it is hard to see Cadillac as a crossover, or even as an SUV. In my mind, Cadillac is a luxury car that says you have made it in the game of life. I have fond memories of the powder blue Eldorado Convertable (with a white top) that I drove to my Junior and Senior Prom in High School (it matched my Tux, hey it was the mid-1970’s and I still have the clip-on bow tie and button on ruffles for the shirt! And even the tux jacket somewhere.) The XT5’s interior rear-view mirror (the same on all Cadillac models) is a bit unnerving as it is a live video feed out the back, which for some reason played havoc with my sense of equilibrium, and eventually, I did find a way to switch it off. As a Crossover, it was a nice, but not as roomy or easy to get in an out of as I would like. And as a Cadillac, it was quite plain. I just would like it to be more elegant, more luxurious, more everything that a Cadillac is. Which also means different from the other GM products on the market, which the XT5 really is not. Prices start at $39,395 and with a number of add-ons it could be a contender. I especially like all of the safety features that Cadillac is offering on its current line of vehicles.

 

 

 

Jeep Compass

 

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When you think America, the original SUV is just one name JEEP. While it may not be what we see on today’s roads, it was the World War II Jeep that the soliders brought home with them. Realizing that this rugged little four-wheel drive workhorse that took them all across the world’s battlefields. Now it has now become a staple in US driveways. No longer simple or even little, the Jeep has many iterations and is as capable as ever. The 2018 Jeep Compas is as close to the original as you might want to get, just now with a battalion of safety and technology features, not to mention and comfort that was unknown when it became a civilian product.  The Compass may not have much more room, but four guys in this Jeep can be an interesting experience. We all found the engine noise annoying, especially on long drives. The Compass is a great size for urban runs. Prices start at $20,995 and discounts can be had depending on the dealer or buying service you are using.

 

Alfa Romeo Stelvio

 

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A much-anticipated SUV that feels direct from the Italian Alps is this upscale
ride from the legendary automaker, Alfa Romero. With prices starting at $41,995 the Stelvio will be one that will sell quickly, even adding lots of options. This is one great looking SUV, sales will happen due to the Stelvio’s exceptional style, if for no other reason. Size is not enormous, but the driving experience is all European. Fit and finish need some work, though as with an Italian lover, you get the good with a few rough edges. We have not spent enough time in this vehicle as we would like, and hope to do so in the coming year.

 

Volkswagen Atlas

 

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We reviewed this full-sized 3-row American style SUV from the company that built the People’s Car earlier this year. The Atlas will fit the needs of many Americans due to the amount of interior space it offers. The Atlas is not going to win beauty pageants, it is a rolling bread box with very square angles. Made in Tennesee, it looks like a Ford Explorer just with a little some German styling cues. This is not the SUV for you If you are looking to make a statement about what you drive. Starting at just over $30K, this one will be a dutiful and dependable workhorse, as VW’s are well known for.

 

 

I was able to drive these vehicles due to membership in several professional automotive media organizations or by invitation of the manufacturer. I received no compensation or incentives for driving and reviewing the vehicles mentioned, other than the loan of the vehicles for up to seven days.

William West Hopper and the Kia Stinger
William West Hopper and the Kia Stinger

Words and Photos by William West Hopper
Photos of the Toyota Highlander, GMC Acadia, Hyundai Tuscon were from their respective automotive media sites.

 

 

The Toyota Camry, All New for 2018

Docile, Domesticated, Dependable, Durable, and Now for 2018, Dynamite!

What would improve, the ever-popular Camry? Currently, the most American made vehicle on sale in the USA. An every day plain-jane sedan that has sold over ten-million vehicles since it was introduced in 1983.  Styling!  Toyota has made the 2018 edition sportier. Actually, it is all-new for 2018, from the ground up.  Let’s take a look!

The hand painted roof is only available on Camry's upper X trim models, notice the lower stance and swooping lines.
The hand painted roof is only available on Camry’s upper X trim models, notice the lower stance and swooping lines.

This new model will not alienate previous owners who have been devoted to Toyota’s four-Door Sedan for years. Buyers of sports sedans will now be taking a second look at this model as a viable competitor in the market place. Toyota’s reputation for reliability, safety and more are now embraced in this new model.

Styling

Designed from the ground up, the dull staid image has been left in the dust! With an all-new platform and powertrain, still that dependable, long lasting, and safe Camry. Now, some might even say it has become sexy. Where the 2018 Camry grabs attention is in the flowing lines. Inspired by the design of a catamaran, known for skimming across the water’s surface with strong bold outriggers, and a very light and airy body. Now you will be able to tell the difference from the SE and LE models by defined front-end styling cues.

2018 Camry interior is very cockpit inspired. Focused on the driver.
2018 Camry interior is very cockpit inspired. Focused on the driver.

The Camry’s sweeping lines flow from outside into the passenger cabin.  A wraparound cockpit for the driver and front passenger bring controls within easy reach of the driver, and with the upper trim level offers a head’s up display (which wearing polarized sunglasses is a tad hard to see) keeping the driver’s eyes on the road. The front passenger will feel snug in the wraparound interior design. Visually it may be a bit confining, though there is plenty of space.

For rear passengers, no gymnastics are needed to get into the rear seats, as in some sports sedans. The rear bench seat fits two comfortably and 3 snugly. While the trunk is spacious, it’s rectangular trunk lid opening may take some negotiating with bulky items. Even the Camry Logo has been redesigned – individual letters stamped across the center of the trunk lid.

The rear of the 2018 Toyota Camry is different as well. Only the Logo remains the same.
The rear of the 2018 Toyota Camry is different as well. Only the Logo remains the same.

Engineering – TNGA Platform

Toyota New Global Architecture (TNGA) is a re-engineering of the whole vehicle, not just one part. Resulting in a new and improved driving dynamics for the 2018 Camry. Which was very apparent behind the wheel. This chassis has 3-times more welds giving it a stiffer more in control feel. A double wishbone rear suspension still provides a comfortable ride. While wider and with a lower center of gravity, the Camry has tighter handling due to this new platform as the weight is evenly distributed over the four tires. This results in better overall performance. “The new Camry is an extremely balanced machine with much more excitement.”

Toyota New Global Architecture is what the 2018 Camry is all about.
Toyota New Global Architecture is what the 2018 Camry is all about.

Three Power Trains

Three new drivetrains, a 4-cylinder, 6-cylinder gasoline engine, and a new second-generation hybrid powerplant mated to a new Eight-Speed automatic transmission are what drive the 2018 Camry.

2018_Toyota_Camry_LE_Hybrid_03_291A080C9D9BCA2A2D7D8EE7A412740433B7FB8BWhile the 2.5 4-cylinder is fine, we found the 3.5 six provides a better powerband for our driving style. At the time we drove the new Camry the hybrid was not in the press fleet. With MPG numbers reported to be over 50 mpg this will be the one to test drive. The car handles like it on rails, having the hybrid system repositioned in the engine bay and battery moved out of the trunk and under the car will definitely provide a more evenly balanced feel of driving.

 

The Direct Shift 8 Speed Transmission offers plenty of gears to operate in at all speeds and load parameters, we found it to be smooth and best of all, a gear shift lever positioned where one would expect it, in the center of the console. Some classic styling touches just seem right.

Camry Safety

New light designs are just a part of the 2018 Camry. Lights were one of the first safety features on cars.Safety TSSP – is a suite of safety sysems including pre-collision system and if the vehicle is equipped with an electric parking brake can take the car down to zero. Combine that with the other dynamic safety systems (Saftey systems are standard in all models of Camry models for 2018.) And like the 2017 model, no doubt the all new Camry will also have a Five Star Overall Saftey Rating.

 

Camry Trim Levels

Making the trim levels distinguishable from each other was part of the redesign. Now there will be no mistaking the SE and L grade models.  It is details like the quad tip exhaust, a dual exhaust with four tips and other details you will notice.

  • L Model –  Will be the most base entry-level – very budget friendly.
  • LE Model – You will see a large chunk of Camry models outfitted in this high tech trim level.
  • XLE – The top of the line luxury model with all the technology that is available and special options will be available.
  • XLE V6 – Total luxury with the power of the V6 engine.
  • SE – Sport Trim – Toyota expects this to be a volume leader.
  • XSE – Full sport with full tech!
  • XSE V6 – Adding the V-6 powerplant to the top of the line sport model, even a hand painted black roof will be available in this trim.
Cockpit focused controls for the driver in the 2018 Toyota Camry.
Cockpit focused controls for the driver in the 2018 Toyota Camry.

Camry’s interior is driver-centric focused with the center console stack wrapping around the driver and the passenger. Controls turned toward the driver giving it a cockpit feel.

 

New Camry Colors

While we are used to seeing a lot of the basic colors, silver, white, black, there are three new colors coming to the 2018 Camry; Windshield Pearl, Brownstone, Galactic Aqua Mica.

A Two Tone Roof is now showing up in different manufacturers lines, as well as in the Toyota  C-HR.  Camry will offer the hand-painted black roof on three different colors of the XSE model completing the aggressive look in sports sedans along with black painted window trim and side mirrors. You can order the two-tone roof when you order your XSE in Blue Streak Mettalic, Celestiral Silver, and Wind Chill Pearl.The Camry has an all new center console.

 

The redesigned 2018 Toyota is now available at dealers nationwide. This model is the most American Made vehicle sold in the USA today. Produced at the Georgetown Kentucky plant for the American market.

 

Words by William West Hopper
Photos by William West Hopper & Toyota Motor Company’s media site.
For more information on Toyota go to toyota.com

 

Audi leads the pack with fun to drive Compact SUV’s

The Audi SQ5 provides all the benefits of a small SUV with a lot of technology.
The Audi SQ5 provides all the benefits of a small SUV with a lot of technology.

Audi of America hosted a number of regional automotive journalists at their headquarters in Herndon Virginia where we heard from their President Scott Keogh about the current market and Audi’s focus on technologically forward vehicles. While EV’s were not in the mix, CSUV’s and Sportbacks were, as they are the current trend in the market.

Mr. Scott Keogh presented the market performance of the the Audi Brand in 2017.
Mr. Scott Keogh presented the market performance of the Audi Brand in 2017.

Mr. Keogh spoke of how well the Q line of vehicles is doing all across the USA, from Boston to Dallas, from DC to San Francisco. Relating that the owner demographic is one of the youngest in the industry. And that is directly related to not only the vehicles providing up-to-date technology such as Apple Car Play and Android Auto as much as for the well designed and efficient vehicles, as well as the Audi dealer network that supports the Audi brand.

The Audi SQ5 provides comfort for the driver and passengers.
The Audi SQ5 provides comfort for the driver and passengers.

We have always liked the styling of Audi’s even back in the day when the brand was barely on the US roads. While today ‘s Audi’s are great looking, what impressed us is the driver and passenger comfort, due to the thought behind the ergonomics of the interior. The dash layout and control placement, the comfort of the seats, and not just the high-end S-line seats, the base Q5 seats were just as comfortable.

Audi has one of the most visually attractive dash screens providing vivid graphics.
Audi has one of the most visually attractive dash screens providing vivid graphics.

 

Driveability of the Audi vehicles was excellent in both the turbocharged 4-cylinder and the 6-cylinder powered models. Handling was tight, accurate and with excellent ride comfort in both the CSUV and A5 Sportback models. While a CSUV is not a sports car, these Audi’s provide a sporty experience behind the wheel with plenty of luxury. The only down side was that the S-Line exhaust was a bit noisy, especially for a long drive. Though a throaty exhaust seems to be what buyers of the up market performance trim vehicles are expecting.

Our overall experience with the A5 Sportback and both the SQ5 and the Q5 Compact Sport Utility Vehicles was excellent. A year ago Queer4Cars spent time in the full-size Audi Q7 and our opinion of the brand has only increased after spending time in these additional models.

Speaking of Audi experiences, we will be driving an Audi A5 on a week-long test drive in September driving from Washington DC to Cooperstown NY, on to the 911 Memorial in Manhattan, and back to DC.  Stay tuned for that update.

Until Then, Enjoy the Adventure!

 

Words by William West Hopper, images courtesy of Audi Newsroom and William West Hopper.

 

 

Will The Hyundai Ioniq Become Iconic?

Hyundai Ioniq provides exceptional efficiency
Hyundai Ioniq provides exceptional efficiency

More than a decade ago hybrid drivetrains were an automotive novelty since then they have become a staple in all market segments from economy cars to trucks. Their novelty became a necessity with rising gasoline prices and tax breaks, end the elimination of HOV, and toll road exemptions. Now, these vehicles have gone beyond the “look at me, I beat the commuter crowd system” status symbol, as almost every manufacturer has a hybrid version.

Hyundai Ioniq Electric Powertrain
Hyundai Ioniq Electric Powertrain

Electric Vehicles once an urban staple a century ago, are following suit. Today with more technology, range and initial out of pocket costs, they too are no longer just cult vehicles out of the financial grasp of the everyday driver, they are becoming common in driveways across the USA.

 

 

Hyundai Ioniq features a traditional shape in all power-train model variants.
Hyundai Ioniq features a traditional shape in all power-train model variants.

Hyundai has brought to market the efficient and fun to drive Ioniq, challenging Toyota’s Prius at all levels from the economy and ride to build quality and cost. Ioniq comes in three powertrains; hybrid, plug-in hybrid and full electric, all on the same hatchback platform that drivers find familiar.

 

 

 

Clean looking, earth sensitive materials used in the Hyundai Ioniq have an authentic feel.
Clean looking, earth sensitive materials used in the Hyundai Ioniq have an authentic feel.

What makes Ioniq different from the other hybrids on the market, beyond its economical operation? It is designed and built with less reliance on oil-based materials. With the use of recycled or ecologically-sensitive interior materials, door covers are made of plastic combined with powdered wood and volcanic stone producing a softer, more natural feel. Headliner and carpet have been developed using sustainable sugar cane and paints with renewable ingredients extracted from soybean oil are used to achieve lustrous metallic colors on key components.

Hyundai Ioniq hybrid has a very traditional instrument and dash layout.
Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid has a very traditional instrument and dash layout. With easy access to modern technology.

All the while advanced technology is as much a part of the Ioniq driving experience through enhanced state-of-the-art connectivity features like Apple CarPlay®, Android Auto® and Blue Link®, as well as wireless charging for smartphones. Ioniq also offers the very latest in advanced safety, including Automatic Emergency Braking with Pedestrian Detection, Lane Departure Warning, Blind Spot Detection and Rear Cross-Traffic Alert, for high levels of both active and passive vehicle safety. Even the HVAC runs efficiently to use as little energy to heat and cool the vehicles.

 

Wireless charging for mobile devices is becoming as important as power outlets.
Wireless charging for mobile devices is becoming as important as power outlets.

Not only can you choose the color, but also your choice of drivetrain. High mileage hybrid, high range electric for around town or a bit of both for trips further afield.

 

 

 

 

 

Ioniq Hybrid

20170622_130931Prices run from $22,200 for the base blue to $27,500 for the top-line Limited. Hyundai’s proprietary hybrid specific drivetrain has been engineered for this vehicle and gets 55+ MPG. Hybrid system architecture with a Kapa 1.6 GDI 4-cylinder engine, 32KW Permanent Magnetic Electic motor, and six-speed hybrid dual clutch transmission. The front of the Ioniq Hybrid is characterized by the Bi-Xenon HID headlights surrounded by C-shaped LED positioning lamps. Hyundai’s signature hexagonal grille and vertical C-shaped LED daytime running lights further convey purity of design. The hybrid rolls on either 15 or 17-inch Eco-Spoke alloy wheels.

20170622_123756Ioniq Plug-in Hybrid (Available 4th quarter2017)

While pricing has not been announced, this is the combination of plug-in electric for urban use and true hybrid for long distance driving, this is labeled for 27 miles in full EV mode with gasoline mpg to be announced. In addition to general exterior design details, the Plug-in Hybrid also integrates a charging portal into the left front fender for the lithium-ion polymer battery. Specially-designed 16-inch alloy wheels further differentiate the Plug-in Hybrid model.

 

20170622_123739Ioniq Electric

Pricing starts at $29,500 for the base and $32,500 for the limited, depending on the state, there may be tax incentives that lower that cost. Powered by an 88 kw permanent magnetic electric motor, a 28 kWh Lithium Ion Polymer battery and a gear drive.  And is labeled as 135 MPGe with real world expectations of going 124 miles on a full charge. The Electric model also features HID Xenon Headlamps with Dynamic Bending Light (DBL) and LED tail lamps with a unique pattern and identity for the rear view, as well as unique 16-inch eco-spoke alloy wheels.

Inoiq Unlimited PlusIoniq Unlimited+

An electric vehicle subscription program for the Los Angeles California residents called “Ioniq Unlimited+” offers a carefree means to drive with a fixed payment that includes unlimited mileage, electric charging reimbursement, scheduled maintenance and vehicle wear items.

20170622_134815Hyundai Assurance

Hyundai offers an industry-exclusive Lifetime Hybrid Battery Warranty with Hybrid Blue Drive Systems. All Hyundai vehicles sold in the U.S. are covered by the Hyundai Assurance program, which includes the 5-year/60,000-mile fully transferable new vehicle limited warranty, Hyundai’s 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain limited warranty and five years of complimentary Roadside Assistance. Hyundai Blue Link Connected Care provides owners of Hyundai models equipped with the Blue Link telematics system with proactive safety and car care services complimentary for one year with enrollment. These services include Automatic Collision Notification, Enhanced Roadside Assistance, Vehicle Diagnostic Alert, Monthly Vehicle Health Report and in-vehicle service scheduling.

For more details on Hyundai Assurance, please visit www.HyundaiAssurance.com

Hyundai vehicles are distributed throughout the United States by Hyundai Motor America and are sold and serviced through more than 830 dealerships nationwide.

To learn how to pronounce Hyundai, please visit Hyundai’s blog:  www.hyundailikesunday.com 

Hyundai is an official sponsor of the NFL

#BecauseFootball

Hyundai, an official sponsor of the NFL.
Hyundai, an official sponsor of the NFL.

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.