Category Archives: SUV

Big Bold, And Omnipresent – the Ford Expedition – It is as Big as it Sells

2018 Ford Expedition Ruby Red Metallic head on shotRecently the opportunity came about to take Ford’s big selling Full-Size SUV on a trip to the Work Truck Show in Indianapolis Indiana. A 1200-mile round trip, which was a perfect chance to get the feel of this large station wagon of an SUV. Built like a linebacker and dressed in a tuxedo, this highway cruiser, and a suburban hauler, while big, has all the comfort, safety and features you want for a $72K price

 

2018 Ford Expedition Dash GaugesOur 2018 model year ride was decked out in Premium Trim, Part of Ford’s east coast press fleet it came to us with 24K miles already on the odometer. If you follow my columns, you know I like to get cars with miles racked up, this gives you a clear view of how they hold up. Press vehicles take a lot of abuse, maybe more so than rental cars, just that the fleet companies are paid to detail them better, than a quick wash and vacuum before it is rolled out to the next customer at the airport.  This Expedition had held up well, which shows that it is well made with quality materials and workmanship.

 

First Impressions

right rear of the 2018 ford expeditionThe Explorer is tall, and with the automatically appearing (and retracting) side steps, you can easily climb aboard this massive beast. Once inside you really feel connected behind the wheel of this truck, to the controls, gauges, and switchgear. Everything is well placed and being the size it is, is in easy reach while driving.  Visibility is excellent, you have a good view of the road, in all directions all around you.  While this is an over-sized vehicle, it feels more maneuverable than you might first think.

Cockpit of the Ford ExpeditionInterior space is well detailed and thought out. The driver’s seat is heated, cooled and offered both a bottom and back massage feature, useful on a long haul trip. Passengers also benefit from attention to their needs, no wonder families choose this vehicle. Front, rear, even third-row seats provide more than just a place to sit. Power outlets, HVAC vents and controls, and areas to hold small items are located throughout the cabin.

Bells and Whistles

The Red forward collision warning lightWhen I first got aboard I noticed a red light on top of the dash over the gauge cluster, wondering what it was, it proved itself when a vehicle stopped short in front of me. That bar glowed brightly and started the brake pedal action, much better than my own reaction time, by the time I got my foot on the brake the vehicle was already hard at work slowing down. That red bar gave me notice and proved to be effective, a couple of times during the trip.  The Pilot 360 safety system that Ford provides in its vehicles is useful and more important than ever in today’ sever increasing traffic.

Ford Expedition USB outlets in rear seatsBeyond the smartphone interface and satellite radio options, the vehicle was equipped with a CD Player, hard as that is to believe, such old tech, but listening to books on CD (or as we used to say on tape) was a great use of this (Name of Sound System) in this vehicle. Also USB connections to devices for streaming and connecting to apps, which in today’s world this has become the norm on almost every car.

 

Driving Dynamics

twenty two inch tires on the Ford ExpeditionNo large vehicle is going to handle like a sports sedan, this rolls like a pickup truck, just with more interior room. At times it can be a bit disconnected due to the electrically assisted steering that helps keep it safely in its lane. The ride is quite comfortable, to the point of luxurious. One of the benefits of having 22-inch tires on pothole-filled rough roads.

The all-wheel-drive provided a feeling of being well connected to the road. Never did this vehicle feel that it was not sure-footed even on wet slushy roads. Steering was typical for this size Ford vehicle be it a pickup or SUV, the safety sentries every once in a while made a small tug or steering correction.

 

Fuel Economy

Ford Expedition 3.5 ecoboost 6-cyl engine
Ford Expedition 3.5 EcoBoost 6-cyl engine

While it was not dismal, it was what you would expect from a vehicle of this size and stature, we eeked out almost 19 mpg on this trip on the 3.6 EcoBoost v-6 engine, which for a large 5600- pound piece of metal was pretty good.

Ford Expedition USB outlets in rear seats
USB outlets are abundant throughout the Expedition

Speaking of metal, weight savings is critical in the Expedition, and thus many parts of this vehicle are made from Aluminium, not steel. While you may not notice the difference, you will hear it when there is a strong rainstorm, and raindrops are hitting the roof, it sounds very different than it would in a vehicle with a steel roof.  And with that will come additional expense to do metal body repair, as finding a shop with technicians trained in working aluminum is not as common as steel craftsman/women.

 

Ford Expedition with 2nd & 3rd-row seats folded down.
Ford Expedition with 2nd & 3rd-row seats folded down.

Cargo and Passenger space are plentiful, spacious and comfortable, all three rows of seating provide space to spread out, and even allow for the gear that is brought along on any trip, be it a big box store run, or a cross country trip with luggage.

 

Ford Expedition third row seating
Third-row seating in the Expedition is ample.

Overall, I have to say I was quite impressed with the Expedition, how it drove, how it rode, and how it handled. If you are towing a trailer, or just need a large family hauler, this is a vehicle to consider. After driving the Expedition, you can understand the reason that Ford has increased the production of this vehicle at its Kentucky plant, and why

 

Ford Expedition 2nd row hvac controls and power

customers are buying it. Ford had made this vehicle modern, tech-savvy and safe. Keeping the model fresh with more than just a restyle, putting into it what buyers today want from a full-size SUV.  Want bigger, Yep, Ford can handle that with an extended length version, the Expedition Max, for even a larger vehicle.

While you will not be able to find a lot of discounts on a vehicle that is in demand, by visiting your local auto show, or doing some competitive research with Costco, your credit union or buying service, no doubt you can get a great deal on a new Explorer, or even consider a pre-owned one, as we can tell you they hold up quite well.

 

20190310_182801
Words and images by William West Hopper
The 2018 Ford Explorer Platinum Trim Edition was provided to us for a week of unlimited driving by Ford Motor Company, without any compensation. This review is my own personal opinion from real-time experience behind the wheel.

 

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Suzuki’s Mini-Ute Sweeps the World Urban Car Awards In New York City

Check out our Queer4Cars YouTube Channel for a video walk around of the Suzuki Jimny and personal interview at the New York International Auto Show 

 

The Suzuki Jimny takes the Gold at the World Car of the Year Awards for World Urban Car 2019
The Suzuki Jimny takes the Gold at the World Car of the Year Awards for World Urban Car 2019

New York’s International Auto Show is the place many fancy cars and trucks are debuted and shown. Though only a few take the title of a World Car Award winner.

World Urban Car of the Year 2019

Marty Haynes and Suzuki Exec accept World Urban Car for the Jimny
Marty Haynes and Suzuki Exec accept World Urban Car for the Jimny

This year the World Urban Car of the Year Award went to the Suzuki Jimny, one of the two categories in which it was nominated. Here a half-century old 4×4 body-on-frame model, mini-ute brought home an award even when the competition was a lot swankier and modern.

World Urban Car today would have to be attractive, ultra-capable, well-sized and rugged. You can see how the Suzuki took the Gold!  Jimny’s street-cred comes with a strong cute factor, that it can be driven on paved roads or those torn up for construction, and you can park it anywhere.

 

 

Jimny Design Features

The modern Suzuki Jimny dash features 7.0 touch screen analog gauges and a manual transmission
The modern Suzuki Jimny dash features 7.0 touch screen analog gauges and a manual transmission

We were impressed with the modern interior of the this the fourth Jimny. While simple with analog gauges and a five-speed manual and manual engaged 4H and 4L four-wheel drive, it also has a 7.0-inch touchscreen with, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, satellite navigation, cruise control. Forward and rear facing cameras and many modern amenities. The multi-point injected 1.5L gasoline engine, matched to either a five-speed manual gearbox or a four-speed automatic makes it a fuel-efficient runabout.

 

Suzuki Jimny features a full rear door with fold down rear seats for more cargo space.
Suzuki Jimny features a full rear door with fold down rear seats for more cargo space.

Seating for four with fold down rear seats expands the small cargo space, giving space for passengers and cargo. On the outside, the classic boxy styling and hardcore four-wheel drive credentials give it the go anywhere in any weather appeal. Add retro projector LED headlights, 15-inch alloy wheels, and rear privacy glass, and you have a vehicle that works in any environment.

 

Suzuki Jimny 1.5 liter engine
Suzuki Jimny features a 1.5-liter gasoline engine

Jimny remains a proper body-on-frame with a three-link rigid axle suspension system and part-time four-wheel drive system with manually-engaged 4H and 4L low-range gearing. A brake limited-slip differential function replaces a locking differential redirecting torque to where the traction is if wheels were to spin. Suzuki has a hill-descent control and a hill-hold system for the manual versions.

 

Availability

The 2019 Suzuki Jimny is priced from a reasonable $23,990, add $2000 for the automatic. But Sadly it is not available in the USA.

2019 World Urban Car Award Winner the Suzuki Jimny
2019 World Urban Car Award Winner the Suzuki Jimny

 

Suzuki Jimny’s Tech specs

  • Engine: 1.5 petrol 75kW/130Nm
  • Transmissions: 5MT or 4AT
  • Fuel economy: 6.4-6.9L/100km
  • Fuel tank: 40L
  • Length: 3645mm
  • Width: 1645mm
  • Height: 1725mm
  • Wheelbase: 2250mm
  • Curb weight: 1075-1090kg
  • Ground clearance: 210mm
  • Approach angle: 37 degrees
  • Departure angle: 49 degrees
  • Break over angle: 28 degrees
  • Construction: Body-on-ladder-frame
  • 4WD system: Part-time with 4H/4L
  • Brakes: Disc front, drum rear

 

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

 

 

The 2020 Ford Escape Fourth Generation, Now More Tech-Savvy Than Ever Before

Check out our Exclusive Preview of the 2020 Ford Escape on YouTube

2020 Ford Escape HybridAt the turn of the century, the Ford Motor Company saw the opportunity to build a small SUV that was full of modern tech at an affordable price. That four-door Escape has become Ford’s 2nd biggest selling vehicle. And now in its fourth generation for 2020 it is sleeker and more elegant, loaded with technology for safety and more, while still accommodating four full-sized adults in comfort and carrying their luggage too.

 

While the all-new Ford Escape has a more aerodynamic look, it is also built of stronger and lighter weight high strength materials which makes it more efficient. Where the big story is, the technology that comes standard on all trim levels. And tech that is not just the fact that you can connect your Android or Apple device to the car, it is all about safety, efficiency and more.

 

2020 Ford Escape HeadsUp DisplayEscape for 2020 comes standard with Ford Co-Pilot360™ driver-assist technology; available features include a 12.3-inch all-digital instrument cluster and makes available other driver-assist features such as Adaptive Cruise Control with Stop-and-Go and Lane-Centering. Available features like Active Park Assist 2.0 and Evasive Steering Assist, are just part of the driver-assist technologies. Active Park Assist 2.0 allows the driver to park in a parallel or perpendicular spot with the touch of a button, without having to work the steering wheel, gear shifter, gas pedal or brake pedal. Evasive Steering Assist detects a slower-moving or stationary vehicle ahead and provides steering support that can assist the driver to avoid a collision.

 

2020 Ford Escape Transmission SelectorTitanium models are available with an all-new heads-up display. This projects information onto the lower part of the windshield, giving drivers easy access to important information without taking their eyes off the road.

 

 

Escape will offer a selectable drive mode system standard across the lineup, Escape makes it easy for Escape owners to create the ride experience they desire – or the one that conditions demand. Modes are tailored for normal, eco, sport and slippery, plus snow and sand conditions.

 

PowerTrains – Now there are Four!  Including Two All-New Hybrids.

2020 Ford Escape Hybrid at Heinz House Greenfield Village MIEscape offers the new 2.0-liter EcoBoost engine, available on Titanium, is projected to produce 250 horsepower and 275 lb.-ft. of torque using 93 octane fuel capable of towing up to 3,500 pounds.

And an all-new 1.5-liter EcoBoost, standard on S, SE, and SEL, is projected to produce 180 horsepower and 177 lb.-ft. of torque using 93 octane fuel. When properly configured, rated to tow 2,000 pounds. To help conserve fuel, the 1.5-liter EcoBoost debuts cylinder deactivation, which senses when one cylinder isn’t needed and shuts it down automatically. The system can activate or deactivate a cylinder in 14 milliseconds to maintain a smooth ride.

2020 Ford Escape with HitchA new Hybrid and PHEV Plugin with CVT. Both come with a towing capacity of 1500 lbs. And due to new smaller liquid cooled battery technology they do not affect passenger or cargo space like in past models.

An all-new 2.5-liter Atkinson cycle hybrid engine and electronic continuously variable transmission. The front-wheel-drive hybrid model is projected to produce a combined system horsepower of 198, and a top speed of 85 mph in electric-only mode. And has an  EPA-estimated range of more than 550 miles;

The plug-in hybrid variant, available on every trim level except S and SE Sport, projects a best-in-class EPA-estimated range of at least 30 miles in electric-only mode. Escape Plug-In Hybrid has a Level 1 / Level 2 AC charging port. Using a 110-volt Level 1 charge, the estimated time to fully charge the battery is 10 to 11 hours. Using a 240-volt Level 2 charge, charge time drops to roughly 3.5 hours.

 

New Styling Inside & Out

2020 Ford Escape Front Headlamps and GrillTo create a sportier look for the all-new Escape, designers turned to some of the most high-profile Ford sports cars. The shield-shaped trapezoidal grille is inspired by the sixth-generation Mustang, while the lower front end borrows from Ford GT.

The 2020 Escape is the most aerodynamic to date, with a sloped roofline, optimized liftgate spoiler and strake, and efficient underbody. Standing lower, wider and longer than the outgoing model. Shedding more than 200 pounds from the current model, due in part to the extensive use of high-strength, lightweight steel.

 

2020 Ford Escape has plenty of room for luggageInside you will find comfort has increased, especially in the rear with sliding and reclining seats, that even tall passengers will find enough room for their legs, improved headroom, shoulder room, and hip room. With the second-row seat in the full-forward position, the rear cargo area in gas engine-powered models extends nearly six inches to increase the cargo area to 37.5 cubic feet.

 

2020 Ford Excape CockpitChanges in the cockpit too, a center console dial controls the transmission. Drivers and passengers can keep compatible mobile devices charged with an available wireless charging pad in the front center console. Also available are type A and type C USB charging ports as well as three 12-volt charging sockets. An 8-inch touch screen – standard on SE models and above – shares information with the available 12.3-inch all-digital instrument cluster, which displays important vehicle information such as speedometer and fuel level. It uses 3D animated graphics to indicate the drive mode. Available SYNC® 3 is compatible with available features such as Apple CarPlay™, Android Auto™, Ford+Alexa and Waze navigation. For music lovers, Escape offers an available 575-watt 10-speaker B&O Sound System by Bang & Olufsen.

 

And Yes, You Can Connect

 

FordPass Connect™ is a standard feature that provides 4G LTE Wi-Fi for up to 10 mobile devices with compatible wireless subscription service. FordPass Connect also gives drivers remote access to their Escape, allowing them to use their smartphone to lock, unlock, locate and start the vehicle, as well as monitor key vehicle diagnostics.

 

Made In America, Available Early Spring.

The all-new Escape, available in S, SE, SE Sport, SEL and Titanium series trim levels, is built at Louisville Assembly Plant in Kentucky. Vehicles are due to reach showrooms this fall. Plug-in hybrid units are due to arrive next spring.

Invited guests to the 2020 Ford Escape Launch
Words and Images by William West Hopper
Ford Motor Company provided a kind invitation to attend this exclusive preview event, flying me to Dearborn Michigan for the afternoon event.

A Chicken in Every Pot, and an SUV in Every Driveway – The All New 2020 Ford Explorer

20190109_204700Check out the Queer4Cars YouTube Video on the January 2019 All New 2020 Ford Explorer Press Revel Event in Detroit Michigan  

Ford Motor Company the American car company that put a car in every driveway, also brought to market the first mass appeal SUV, the Ford Explorer. From 1990 until today the demand for SUVs has grown to be the most desired market segment for vehicles.  Drivers want the room of a wagon and the utility of a truck, and Ford has completed the equation with adding luxury, safety, and technology.

When Ford brought Explorer to market in 1990 it was an all of that and more, a comfortable, spacious vehicle with luxurious options and able to haul and tow like a truck, with seating for the whole family.

21 six generations of explorerNow after six generations, 2020 Ford has redesigned from the ground up an all-new Ford Explorer. Explorer’s all-new rear-wheel-drive platform provides improved capability both on and off-road. Adding an additional six-hundred pounds maximum towing capacity when properly equipped, all at just a few hundred dollars more than the outgoing model.

 

Two improved EcoBoost®  Engines

Ford has improved the engines over the previous Explorer models. The all-new 2020 Explorer features the most powerful 3.0-liter turbocharged EcoBoost® V6 in the Platinum model, with a projected 365 horsepower and 380 lb.-ft. of torque using 93-octane gas. Not to be outdone, Ford has reinvigorated the 2.3-liter turbocharged EcoBoost® I- 4, projected to produce 300 horsepower and 310 lb.-ft. of torque. With an all-new 10-speed transmission that is standard on base, XLT, and Limited models.

Rear Wheel Drive with Optional All-Wheel Drive

The Explorer’s new rear-wheel-drive platform provides a sportier and more athletic feel. The main role for RWD is to improve on- and off-road capability and added towing capability, a key ingredient that Explorer drivers want.

Available Intelligent four-wheel drive has improved Explorer’s off-road capability. Now with a Terrain Management System™ featuring seven easy-to-engage drive modes for various road and weather conditions.  Controllable through a center console-mounted dial and if equipped come with a special 3D animated graphics in the available new 12.3-inch digital cluster.

Rear-wheel drive Explorers host; normal, sport, trail, slippery, tow/haul and eco mode. All-wheel drive Explorers add deep snow and sand mode.

Towing

Ford’s design team knows that Explorer drivers are hauling boats and towing trailers. Thus rear-wheel drive enables more towing capability when properly equipped, regardless of engine. Explorer’s equipped with a 3.0-liter EcoBoost can tow up to 5,600 pounds, a 12 percent increase over previous generations. New Explorer’s outfitted with a 2.3-liter EcoBoost and Class III Trailer Tow Package can tow up to 5,300 pounds, versus a similarly equipped previous version’s 3K pounds.

20 explorer st

Cabin Refinements

Ford has refined Explorer’s cabin to be quieter with more space and updated technology. Three rows of seating and a focus on the little details like 123-cubic liters of storage space throughout the cabin accommodating personal items such as everyday drink bottles and cell phones, even a place for drink boxes for the kids.

18 explorer stImprovements like second-row seats that feature a new mechanism allowing for easier one-hand access to and from the third row. Great when you are carrying items or holding onto kids. Available retractable sunshades for the second-row windows make it easier to ensure privacy. Redesigned ISOFIX anchor points allow child seat installation anywhere in the second and third rows.

19 explorer stAvailable PowerFold® third-row seats and new E-Z entry second-row seats provide a flat-floor cargo area that stretches out to offer 87.8 cubic feet of cargo space – wide enough to fit standard 4-foot building materials, depending on seating configuration.

 

Technology

16 ford explorer platinum

The all-new Explorer provides Driver-Assistance with an available 10.1-inch portrait-mounted touch screen with full-screen maps shares information with the available 12.3-inch all-digital instrument cluster. 3-D graphics provide information on the seven drive modes using the available Terrain Management System.

For music lovers, Explorer offers an available 980-watt, 14-speaker B&O premium audio system. Access to SiriusXM™ satellite radio is standard and comes with new touch screen graphics and functionality – including a display of the day’s sports scores.

A wireless charging pad is available, and up to four USB ports, including new type-C outlets, with up to three 12-volt outlets and a 110-volt outlet, are also available.

The all-new Explorer introduces available Active Park Assist 2.0. The class-exclusive feature – standard on Explorer Platinum – allows the driver to park in a parallel or perpendicular spot with a touch of a button without having to work the steering wheel, gear shifter, gas pedal or brake pedal. Available reverse brake assist, also standard on Platinum, uses radar and ultrasonic sensors to detect an object in Explorer’s path and can apply the brakes automatically to avoid an imminent collision when the vehicle is backing up at a low speed – such as when exiting a driveway.

Safety – Traffic-sensing Ford Co-Pilot360

Explorer for 2020 comes standard with Ford Co-Pilot360™, a suite of driver-assist technologies innovations and features that can help reduce stress such as available Reverse Brake Assist and Active Park Assist 2.0, which handles all steering, shifting, brake and accelerator controls during a parking maneuver with a touch of a button.

Ford Co-Pilot360 includes:

  • Pre-Collision Assist with Automatic Emergency Braking, which includes Pedestrian Detection, Forward Collision Warning and Dynamic Brake Support
  • Blind Spot Information System with Cross-Traffic Alert
  • Lane-Keeping System
  • Rearview camera with built-in lens cleaner
  • Auto headlamps with auto high-beams

Other available Ford Co-Pilot360 technologies include Evasive Steering Assist, which provides steering support to help avoid a collision; and Post-Impact Braking provides braking after a collision to lessen injury and damage caused by a secondary crash event

Ford’s all-new Intelligent Adaptive Cruise Control with Speed Sign Recognition is now available on the all-new Explorer. In addition to automatically slowing when traffic ahead slows and helping keep the vehicle centered in its lane, the system uses cameras to read speed signs and, combined with the available navigation system, adjusts cruise control settings accordingly.

Exterior Design

Ford has retained design elements that have helped define Explorer’s heritage. Explorer’s blacked-out A-pillars and D-pillars and body-color C-pillars – are retained. Changes to the overall profile include a more sloping roofline and shorter front overhang, giving the vehicle a stylish and sporty appearance

All New Explorer Model Line Up

explorerfamily_hrExplorer comes with standard features including a power liftgate, 8-inch digital touch screen with SYNC® 3, FordPass Connect™ Wi-Fi service, as well as Ford Co-Pilot360™, a suite of driver-assist technologies. Explorer comes standard with 18-inch painted aluminum wheels, drivers can opt for one of seven wheel designs

Each trim level has additional add-ons like HD Radio™ being standard on Limited and Platinum models. Platinum models also feature a standard twin-panel moonroof, special leather seats, plus leather-wrapped steering wheel, dashboard, door rollovers, and door and front console armrests. Other Platinum differentiators include door handles with satin aluminum insert, liftgate appliqué, lower bodyside cladding insert, available 21-inch aluminum wheels, roof-rack side rails and a unique grille with satin aluminum finish.

Pricing

While exact pricing has not been announced, the all-new Explorer comes packed with more than a dozen new standard features for what we are told is only $400 more over the previous model. The all-new Explorer is manufactured at the Chicago Assembly Plant. New vehicles are due in showrooms this summer.

Ford has meticulously recrafted America’s favorite SUV with capability, comfort, safety, and overall design in mind, improving handling, safety, appearance and passenger accommodations. Check out the all-new 2020 Ford Explorer at an upcoming auto show near you.

Words by William West Hopper, images from Ford Communications and William West Hopper. Ford provided us with our airfare, lodging, and meals during a special trip to Detroit to see the revel for the all-new Ford Explorer.

The Enviable Proper British Bloke – The Land Rover Discovery HSE Luxury Td6

Land Rover Classic
Classic Land Rover Prototype, Photo by Land Rover

Check out our Queer4Cars YouTube Video on the Land Rover Discovery HSE Td6

How does today’s refined Land Rover Discovery live up to the reputation of the great British trekker brand? One known for rugged adventure over all terrain in exotic places? The Land Rover brand has become synonymous with sophisticated luxury and has become an aspirational luxury car for many suburbanites, and it can tow and explore like the Royal leader it is.

Mom Envy

Land Rover Discovery parked in a suburban setting
Land Rover Discovery parked in a suburban setting

The first thing that I heard as I got into the 2018 Land Rover Discovery parked on my suburban Washington DC Street, was how envious the local Moms will be as this is the SUV to aspire too. Moms are one tough demographic to make happy, so the Disco has a tough job on its hands. I asked a local Mom who owns one to go for a spin with me. The first question was: “What model is this?”  My response was, “You drive one of these, and I hear this is the car that all the Mom’s in the ‘hood want.” “No, this one is much nicer than mine, Mine is very basic.” Indeed, they turned out to be very similar, just a year and a trim line apart.

A local Dad, the owner of a five-year-old Ford Explorer, commented on the similarities of touch feel and operation of this model to the upline classic American SUV. Finding out that much of the drive controls were similar showed me that though Ford’s ownership was a number of years past, the influence is still strong today, and in many ways timeless. Which is good for a brand that had the reputation of being in the shop more than it was on the road.

Land Rover Diesel Cap
Running the bad-boy diesel engine returned great fuel mileage.

Driving the Discovery around town as well as taking it on an extended highway trip shows this is one comfortable cruiser, even for its large size. Did I mention that this test model was powered by a turbo diesel engine?

 

 

Diesel Driver Envy

Land Rover Discovery at an Exxon Diesel Synergy Pump
Discovery returned 30 plus miles per gallon on diesel.

Almost as soon as I pulled into a country fueling station, and the first thing I heard when I got out to pump, “Is that a diesel?” from a bearded, big pickup driving local. “That is the quietest diesel I have ever heard.” Which generated a long discussion of what diesels he had owned. “I used to have that,” he said proudly, though with a sense of sadness in his voice as a Ford Power Stroke® pulled in behind us, loudly clattering away. I shared with him that the Land Rover was at one time owned by Ford. That made him smile, as he jumped back into his mud covered burly pickup.

Td6 Land Rover Diesel engine
The Td6 Land Rover Diesel engine

While here in the USA, diesel engines are thought to be for trucks and the oddball who wants one in a luxury car has only a few options. Land Rover has put this bad-boy of automotive engines to work in its line up including the Range Rover and Range Rover Sport. The diesel-powered Discovery Td6 achieves 21 mpg city 26 highway with a combined 22.5 combined fuel economy for the powerful 254HP 3.0-liter turbocharged V-6 diesel engine.  And this diesel is tow-ready with the Rover® Tow Package, 7,716 lbs maximum permissible towing capacity.  class two hitch and all the connections

Pristine and Refined

Left Rear Side of Land Rover Discovery
The slab rear flanks of the Land Rover Discovery looked right for the size vehicle it is.

No doubt Land Rovers have seen their share of muck boots, Wellies, and fine leather, as this is the brand of choice for the equestrian crowd. And with the towing capacity of this diesel-powered Landy, it could easily have been towing a horse trailer to field trails, fox hunts, and horse shows. Though back at the stable any number of farm pickups would be keeping the barn’s field operation in motion.

 

 

What we liked

Land Rover Discovery Digital Dash
The digital dash of the Discovery was very informative, though the in-depth review was not easy while driving.

What is not to like about the elegance of Land Rover’s line of vehicles?  A British Icon that was granted a Royal Warrant in 1951 and has been providing rugged off-road capable vehicles since. Today the brand is part of Jaguar Land Rover with that added luxury, an air of elegance, on top of the proven Land Rover toughness, Rovers attract owners of an income level who are less concerned about the cost of ownership and more about the sense of luxurious style the brand offers.

Classic Landy’s as they are called from the original British Leyland era are quite collectible and still on the road due to their aluminum bodies and determined mechanics who keep them running. You even see models from the years they were thought to be mechanical nightmares because Land Rover owners love them so much, and do not want to part with one.

Overall Fit and Finish

Land Rover Discover Center Console
Lots of controllability with the Discovery, from ride height to all-wheel drive.

We were quite impressed with this vehicle. The fit and finish, as well as the quality of materials, are top notch. While we heard from other auto journalists that the slab rear loins of the vehicle were a bit chunky, it did not appear out of proportion to our eye, considering that it covered a large well-appointed interior that had a very good use of space.

We liked the design of both the exterior and interior and especially the feel of the dash material. And impressed with the thought that went into the storage areas and power outlets throughout the vehicle. Heated and cooled seats are available in the front, middle and the third row. Up front, seats with a massage function and 16-way adjustment are also available. Since this is a family vehicle, a total of four ISOFIX mounting points make it possible to fit child safety seats in the rearmost row.  And for those who do not require the added versatility of folding third-row seats, Discovery comes standard in a five-seat, 2-row configuration.

land rover discovery 3rd row seats up
With the 3rd row seats in place, there is not much cargo space in the discovery.

With three rows of seats, the second row slides forward and backward allowing access to the Discovery’s distinctive high roof and trademark stadium seating in the third row. This allows for even for 74.8” tall passengers to sit comfortably with visibility as well as leg and shoulder room.

 

Driveability of the vehicle

land rover 21 inch goodyear tire
The discovery rides on 21-inch good year tires

While this vehicle is roomy on the inside and large on the outside, 195.7 in. long, 87.4 in. wide (mirrors out) and 72.7 in. tall. The Discovery rides capably on large 21-inch tires. We found driveability and highway handling excellent, tracking well and holding the road, and very maneuverable with a tight 40.4-foot turning radius. Visibility is very good on the vehicle in tight spaces or out on the open road, with plenty of glass space, and the added modern safety feature of cameras and sensors.

A taut suspension is quite comfortable even on rough roads, and the Four-Corner Air Suspension adjustable advanced integral-link rear suspension system suspension makes it easy to get in and out of and provides adjustable ride height for on and off-road conditions.

land rover discovery cargo control panel
Control the 3rd-row seats as well as the rear air suspension with this controller in the Discovery.

Air suspension is designed to improve on-road ride quality and greater capability when off-roading. The automatic system is able to vary between two ride heights of +1.57 in. and +2.95 in. At speeds below 31mph the +2.95 in. the setting is available; for faster speeds on rutted dirt roads, between 31- 50mph the vehicle will operate at +1.57 in. A new Speed Lowering function cuts drag and enhanced fuel economy by automatically reducing the ride height at cruising speeds above 65mph. Other functions include enhanced tuning to prevent the suspension from lowering in deep wading conditions, as well as preventing belly-out situations where the center of the vehicle rests on the ground.

Permanent four-wheel drive with standard locking center differential and Terrain Response™, optional locking rear differential provided traction no matter the weather or terrain.

Comfort

land rover discovery 3rd row seat view
Discovery’s 3rd-row seat sits higher than the first and second row.

Front seats were extremely comfortable, while the 2nd and 3rd were hard and plank-like.  The third row is not easy to crawl into, though with its raised stadium style seating once back there you have a commanding view of the cabin, being higher, over the rear axle than the 2nd or 1st row. This is the reason for the trademark Land Rover stepped up Roofline, giving 3rd-row passengers headroom. Both rear seating rows had access to power and to HVAC controls, as well as plenty of storage, and heated seats. Nice Touch!

What we found odd and irritating

land rover discovery display screen
The Landy’s very detailed and in-depth screens were sometimes hard to drill down to get the info you needed quickly.

The unintuitive controls, and very in-depth on-screen menus.  This is not a vehicle that you want to try and figure out what the different controls do while driving, as they can distracting as they are long and involved.  The start-stop button is large, just that it is hidden behind the right side of the steering wheel, and a smaller button that opens a cubby button behind the center dash is visible, we found ourselves opening that cubby when thinking it was the start-stop button.

 

land rover discovery sales sticker and key
We got great fuel mileage from the Discovery, better than the sticker stated.

The unpredictability of turning the engine off after putting the vehicle into park, sometimes, it would just decide on its owns to shut the engine off beyond just pushing the ignition start-stop button, and do it without rhyme or reason. Maybe it was because we had done something else that told the vehicle to shut down, never quite figured that out. Speaking of random, recognition of the key fob was intermittent. Sometimes the key would be behind a phone in a pocket, and by pulling would be enough for the car to recognize it. It could have needed a new fob battery.

Warranty

Land Rover logo in the Velar
Land Rover is known the world over

Land Rover Dealers have been focused on the brand through thick and thin, and through a number of corporate owners. Now Land Rover/Range Rover is owned by Tata along with Jaguar, a very focused group who are making the brand better with each vehicle they produce.

 

 

 

Let us not forget the Royal Land Rover

70 years of Land Rover
First designed in 1948 Land Rovers have been trekking the world for 70-years.

launched in 1948 and simply called Land Rover, the design for the original vehicle was started in 1947 by Maurice Wilks with early choices limited to various shades of light green colour as dictated by supplies of military surplus aircraft cockpit paint. Land Rover was granted a Royal Warrant by King George VI. Since then you often see the brand being used by Royalty the world over.

 

 

 

Overall

cargo space in the land rover discovery
With the 3-row down, there is plenty of room for cargo in the Land Rover Discovery.

The essence of the brand, you have to like what you drive, and driving a Land Rover has some cache to it, a brand that has contoured and explored the world. We found ourselves at home in the 2018 Land Rover Discovery. For $68K, you get a powerful and attractive vehicle that has a timeless design, and with the diesel powerplant, a great tow vehicle. Take it to the stable, off road, the concert hall, or to the school carpool line, sign us up, we will be glad to drive this one again.

Words and Images(except where noted) by William West Hopper.

Land Rover USA provided us the opportunity to test drive this vehicle for a week-long evaluation to produce this report. We were not compensated for this article.

 

 

The Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV The non-status symbol Hybrid – an Outstanding Electric Trekker

Check out our Queer4Cars YouTube Video on the Outlander

Mitsubishi Outlander PHEVMitsubishi’s Outlander – Came to market first as a sensible gasoline-powered small SUV Wagon, while pretty vanilla in styling and options, it offers no-nonsense utility with space for gear, cargo and most importantly for many families, the dogs. At the New York International Auto Show in 2016, they launched the PHEV version, which takes this vehicle to another level both as a battery electric hybrid and an all-wheel-drive off-roader.

Much hype has been made by hybrid and EV owners about owning and operating a green vehicle. Somehow, each of them, are single-handedly are saving the planet with their eco-driving habits. Even from the early days, over a decade ago, the hybrid mystic was big. Tax incentives for the purchase and even special commuter lane access, as well as reserved hybrid parking spots and more.

Mitsubishi Outlander 63 cubic Feet of Cargo
Mitsubishi Outlander features 63 + cubic Feet of Cargo

While that is great if you were in need of a 4-door sedan, but what if your life did not make that a practical vehicle for your lifestyle? What if you needed a cargo consuming wagon? Or if you are all about going off the beaten path and wanted to be more off the grid?

 

Until now that was something that was only done by gas or diesel-powered rigs, not hybrids or electrics. The Outlander provides that flexibility with all-wheel-drive, a 74 MPGe, and a 1500 lb towing capacity.

Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV is a very capable PHEV.

Mitsubishi Outlander 2.0 Ltr PHEV Engine
Mitsubishi Outlander 2.0 Ltr gasoline Engine on the PHEV

The Outlander features a highly efficient 2.0-liter gas engine and two high-performance electric motors, front and rear with Mitsubishi’s superior Super All-Wheel Control (S-AWC) system. Mitsubishi has provided what has been missing in that equation, a passenger, cargo, and towing vehicle, with 4×4 off-road capability. Perfect for the eco- friendly hikers and campers.

 

Going beyond the Grid

Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV features Level 1 & 2 plus DC Fast Charge Ports
Level 1 & 2 plus DC Fast Charge Ports only on the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV.

Rolling in the Mitsubishi Outlander (we tested a GTS-AWD R version with a $42,185 price tag) PHEV an SUV station wagon with seating for five and space in the way back for 63.3 cubic feet of cargo, which could be, the dog, camping equipment, or what have you.  A hybrid EV that you push a switch to put it into four-wheel drive is something that will be great for those folks that want to adventure off into the wilderness, camping fishing, or hunting.  Connect it to a solar or wind charger while parked, and you have yourself a truly granola vehicle

Mitsubishi Charge Cable Not ReadyThe Outlander PHEV has full-time, twin-electric motors to provide quick and optimized torque distribution powering the 4WD system. The motors are mounted separately at the front and rear axles to deliver precise, responsive 4WD performance with the S-AWC system ensuring excellent driving stability and intuitive, linear handling.

Mitsubishi Outlander Plugin hybrid EVThree drive modes are available: EV (full electric mode), series hybrid (electric power with generator operation) and parallel hybrid (engine power and electric motor assistance). The PHEV system automatically selects the most efficient drive mode given the road conditions and other factors. The system also features a regenerative braking mode, where electricity is captured under braking.

The S-AWC system found on the Outlander PHEV is a specialized application of all-wheel drive from their performance car, the Lancer Evolution.  This Super All-Wheel Control is developed specifically for the Outlander PHEV’s unique twin electric motor configuration for maximum performance, efficiency, traction, and safety.

What we liked

Mitsubishi Outlander PHEVOur test vehicle a 2018 Outlander PHEV a GTS-AWD model in R Trim styling, continues to be understated, while practicality and utility are out of this world. Driver comfort and ease of operation are first class.

Driver comfort

Expect a comfortable but taught ride while it may not be as cushy as other upscale vehicles with a $48K price tag, you feel connected to the road surface as you drive.  Outlander provides a command of the road from a well-designed cockpit. Good visibility which is aided by modern tech 360 cameras.

Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV CockpitComfortable seats covered in durable and attractive leather. Car upholstery takes a beating. The Outlanders will resist the elements and whatever your kids and pets will pelt it with.

Safety

Advanced safety and convenience features available on Outlander PHEV include multi-around view camera monitor, forward collision mitigation with pedestrian detection capability, blind spot monitoring with rear cross traffic alert (RCTA), and available smartphone integrations including Apple CarPlay™ and Android Auto™.

Passenger and cargo space

White Mitsubishi Outlander and Blue Subaru OutbackWhile this is not a large vehicle on the outside, interior room is plentiful, with 63 cubic feet of cargo room. It is a nifty little wagon that is a tad bigger than a Subaru Outback, and a tad smaller than a Toyota Rav4.

Mitsubishi Outlander and Toyota RAV4

Power-Inside and Out

Charging both inside and out is well thought out.

Mitsubishi PHEV has two Charge ports for Level 1 & 2 and DC Fast Charging

Outside: You have options at the charger to power the high capacity 12kWh Li-Ion battery pack, as you can plug in the PHEV thorough one of two EV charge ports: for Level 1, 120V home charging, or level 2, 240v as you find at public chargers. What this PHEV has is what you often only find on dedicated EV’s, a DC fast charge port.

Power Outlets on the Mitsubishi Outlander

Inside: plenty of power ports including two 110v outlets with up to 1500 watts of power along with USB outlets make plugging in devices seamless, no matter where you are, or where the Outlander is in the world.

What we did not like – not very much not to like.

What stood out was the tininess sound as the door closed. The Outlander had more than a fair share of warning bells and buzzers. While the controls and displays were simple and easy to use they could be gathered together instead of them spread between the center stack and the center console. The steering felt a bit disconnected on occasion, which was Ok, as no doubt that it was part of the advanced safety system that comes standard on the Outlander.

As a whole, the Outlander provided quite a good experience for our week of driving it. We would say yes to any adventure, on or off road in a Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV. This un-status brand makes going green the right thing to do.

Other Models from Mitsubishi

Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross
Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross

While the Outlander comes in a smaller version the Outlander Sport, there is also an Eclipse Cross, as well as the standard gasoline-powered Outlander. Campers, hikers, have had little choice in taking a vehicle into the wilderness, as there was not truly a minimal eco-impact vehicle that was off-road capable.  Mitsubishi has provided what has been missing in the EV equation, a passenger and cargo hauler with 4×4 off-road capability for the eco- friendly off-road enthusiasts.

 

The Language of the Three Diamonds

Mitsubishi three diamondsA Mitsubishi? What’s that? Lost in the influx of imports, the brand came to the US more than three decades ago, with dependable, though boring sedans, for a while they partnered with a previous version of Chrysler Corporation and supplied sporty cars with a price point that attracted younger drivers.  With the age of SUV and Crossover love,

Mitsubishi Mirage G4
Mitsubishi Mirage G4

Mitsubishi has narrowed their USA offerings to a practical line of SUVs and small cars.

The company Mitsubishi goes back into the early 19th century as a shipping company. The name Mitsubishi (三菱) consists of two parts: “mitsu” meaning “three” and “hishi” (which becomes “bishi” under rendaku) meaning “water caltrop” (also called “water chestnut”), and hence “rhombus“, which is reflected in the company’s logo. It is also translated as “three diamonds”.

100K Mile / 10-year Warranty

Car companies do not warrant their vehicles for long periods of time if they don’t build them with longevity in mind. Mitsubishi has a 10-year 100K mile warranty that covers powertrain, PHEV Components, and the LiIon battery, some limitations do apply, as they always do. New vehicle warranty of 5 years 60K, anti-corrosion of 7 years and 5 years of roadside assistance are all included in the Outlander’s warranty.

Offers

As of this writing, you can get zero percent financing for 60 months, a $2k factory rebate, or  $289 per month lease for 36 months with $4,088 down.

And while Mitsubishi dealers are few and far between, with approximately 360 dealers in the USA. They are often part of larger multi-marque dealership organizations, finding that person in the dealership who speaks the Mitsubishi language, is not hard.

 

Mitsubishi provided us with this test vehicle through Drive Shop, a fleet management company. We received no compensation from them for this article, other than the opportunity to experience the Outlander for a week.

Words by William West Hopper. Images from the Mitsubishi Press Office as well as William West Hopper.

 

 

 

The Audi Q3 – Surprise it is an Alamo Rental

The Audi Q3 is the smallest of the Audi SUV lineup.
The Audi Q3 is the smallest of the Audi SUV lineup.

Recently I had the opportunity to spend a long winter weekend with friends in New England’s epicenter of Sailing, Newport Rhode Island. Since we were where hanging out at the elite New York Yacht Club, it seems right to book a luxury car through Priceline’s AutoSlash, which Alamo stated would be a Cadillac or similar.

 

Alamo Rental Car Logo

After a grand welcomed to the top level of PVD Airport’s rental car garage, though by an Alamo competitor, we walked the few steps to the Alamo area and were once again welcomed with the offer of an Audi sedan or SUV as our luxury car.

 

 

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.

The choice was the SUV, which turned out to be a Q3. While I have driven both the Q7 and Q5 variants, I have not been in a Q3. Alamo escorted us to the vehicle with a personal walk around offering to help with our luggage. Was this because we were renting a luxury car? Turns out, this is how Alamo is treating every customer who rents from them. Upon our return, again, we received a personalized, by name, welcome and “How was the Q3 for you?”  To add to this excellent level of service, an Alamo employee drove us, in our car, directly to the airport terminal. No need to unload and navigate the long walk with our luggage.  Big Kudos to Alamo Rental car for that kind of personalized service.

 

Now about the Audi Q3

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The Audi brand name alone is what must classify this as a luxury vehicle for Alamo. As the Q3 rented from them was an un-optioned base model, even with the S-Line nomenclature that appears on it. The $2100 navigation function was not included, which left the center screen a selection of menu options. Having just the Audi logo would have been better than the un-informative sub-menus that were displayed.

 

The Q3 is the smallest of Audi’s SUV line up, Q5 and Q7 being the larger kin, has a sticker price according to Audi’s website of $32,900 plus $975 destination, taxes registration, and title. Upgrades available are the $2900 Premium Plus package and the $2900 quattro® all-wheel drive that Audi is so well known for.

 

Audi Q3 sported an S line emblem on both the front fender and rear door threshold.
Audi Q3 sported an S line emblem on both the front fender and rear door threshold.

This rental did not have the paint upgrade ($575 for a standard color, up to $3900 for an exclusive Audi Paint color. Nor the $1000 Audi Sport Package, which includes Audi Drive Select, three-spoke multifunction steering wheel with shift paddles, or 19 inch 5-double spoke offroad design wheels with 255/40 all-season tires. No sport seats, either!  Both optional packages require the $1350 Convenience Package, which includes the Audi Advanced Key (front doors and tailgate.) Auto-dimming interior mirror with compass. And a power tailgate and decorative aluminum satellite design inlay on the interior. All those options would have made the Q3 even better than it already is.

 

Q3's rear seat while comfortable was a tad tight to get in and out of.
Q3’s rear seat while comfortable was a tad tight to get in and out of.

While the Q3 is comfortable, it is small. Easier to get in and out of due to the SUV’s height, though rear passenger egress was tight as was rear storage. The standard Xenon plus headlights with LED daytime running lights were nice to cut through the February fog and rain.  While it seems the now standard on most vehicles, a rear-view camera and acoustic parking system did help in backing in and out of tight parking spots.

 

The Q3 was equipped with a 16-valve Double Overhead Cam turbo-charged fuel injected 2.0 TSFI Engine. This cast-iron engine block with an aluminum head four-cylinder (1,984 cc displacement, 82.5cc bore, and 92.8 stroke) produces 200 horsepower @5100 to 6000 rpms, and 207 lb.-ft torque at 1700-5000 rpm. Mated to a six-speed Tiptronic® automatic transmission. The Q3 has a 0 to 60 mph speed in 8.2 seconds. Which was a bit anemic for Rhode Island’s fast moving I-95 traffic.

 

Fuel Economy for our short under 100-mile drive, a mix of highway and in-town driving, was unimpressive at 18.63 mpg on premium 91 Octane gasoline. But for a 2-wheel drive and the short driving we did, not amazing. Averaging -20   City 20 Highway 28 estimated with a 16.9 Gallon Tank I did expect better for this small car.

 

Audi Q3 hatchback design allows for cargo area access.
Audi Q3 hatchback design allows for cargo area access.

I found the handling of the Q3 was a little numb, which surprised me for an Audi with front MacPherson struts and four-link rear suspension. Unlike the Q5 which is more nimble. The fully galvanized steel unibody with an aluminum hood and tailgate gave the Q3 a feel solid. Running on 235/50R18 all-season tires mounted on 7-inch wide wheels gave it a solid grip on the wet roadways. Steering is tight, and I did not notice the power dropping off with electromechanical power steering when the engine shuts off at stop lights. Braking was fine with the 12.3” front ventilated discs and solid 11.1” rear disc brakes.

 

Interior Accoutrements

Leather seating surfaces were nice, though without reading the website, I might have thought they were faux leather.  The 60/40 split folding rear seat made the useable but tight cargo area better (16.7/50.3cu ft, cu ft, rear seatbacks up/folded down.)

 

Audi's Q3 cockpit is well appointed and comfortable to be the driver in.
Audi’s Q3 cockpit is well appointed and comfortable to be the driver in.

Even in the dreary weather, it was nice to have the panoramic sunroof over both the front and rear seats. The three-spoke multifunction steering wheel with tilt and telescope manual adjustment was comfortable to hold onto as was the leather-wrapped shift knob.  I always like ambient LED interior lighting, and today you need the power outlets.

 

I missed pushbutton start on the Q3, for an upscale car having to get the switchblade key out and put back every time seemed so old-fashioned. While our trip did not encounter freezing temperatures having the heated windshield washer nozzles is a great help.

The Q3 came with a spare tire, which is rare in small SUV's.
The Q3 came with a spare tire, which is rare in small SUV’s.

The Audi Concert Single CD player Radio with MP3 capability was confusing to operate, especially while driving. Having the BLUETOOTH® and voice control system did make it easier.

 

While this Audi made for a great rental vehicle, stylish and well sized, with decent handling. If I were to choose one as a daily driver, having more optional equipment would make me happier. Though after driving the Q5 and the SQ5, I would upgrade to one of them, preferably the SQ5.

 

he Dashboard controls and switches on the Audi Q3 are easy to understand and navigate.
The Dashboard controls and switches on the Audi Q3 are easy to understand and navigate.

This Q3 is made at Audi’s production facility in Spain and has a 4-year/50K Mile Audi New Vehicle Warranty and comes with 12-month / 10K mile no charge first scheduled maintenance.

Check out the Audi Website for more info on the Q3 as well as their other SUV’s. Audi dealers are plentiful and very customer focused like Alamo was to us when I rented this car.

 

Queer4Cars is always big on getting deals when we go shopping, for anything. Check with organizations you belong to for their buying service options, from your insurance company or financial institution to the warehouse clubs. When local auto shows happen, always stop by the booth of the brands you are interested in and request them to send you more information. Many times you will get a monetary incentive opportunity to buy a vehicle because of this.

 

Photos and words by William West Hopper.