Thursday
Nov302017

2017 Toyota Highlander SE AWD: A van for all seasons

By Ted Orme

The classic cars filling this site are seldom used as everyday drivers. For that most of us exercise our more pragmatic side. You know, a vehicle that always starts and runs us through our daily routines without drama and in all kinds of weather.

I’ve got one for you: the 2017 Toyota Highlander SE AWD, a worthy combination of comfort, versatility and drivability. Classified as a three-row crossover “family vehicle,” a condemning nomenclature for “enthusiasts,” the Highlander is what I would call a do-it-all van for all seasons.

I’ve got to add a qualifier up front, however. Although enlarged somewhat in 2014, the midsize Highlander is still smaller than most of its three-row competition. The third row in the Highlander is a pinch that should only hold small people or kids. And storage behind the third row is a meager 14 cubic feet, just enough for a few grocery bags. But with the seats stowed cargo volume grows to 83.7 cubic feet – plenty big enough for all kinds of stuff.

So the easy solution for me was to forget about the third row until pressed into service. I much prefer the smaller size and more nimble handling of the Highlander as opposed to big maladroit three-seaters that are hard to maneuver or park in cities. I could be very happy with a four or five-seat Highlander (two captain’s chairs in the second row of the SE and higher trims and a three- person bench seat in other models).

 

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Saturday
Nov112017

1981 Chrysler Cordoba

By Vern Parker

Ryland Tedeton's attraction to cars manufactured by Chrysler was nurtured by his father who favored Chrysler vehicles.

Over the years Tedeton has had his fair share of Chrysler products.  However, he is always alert for attractive, low mileage antique Chryslers for sale

About a decade ago he was looking through a publication devoted to the sale of antique cars when he spotted an ad for a 1981 Chrysler Cordoba.

After telephoning the owner he learned the original owner of the car had been the owner's neighbor.  Upon the death of the first owner the car had spent several years in a garage  before being sold to the neighbor who now was offering it for sale.

 

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Saturday
Nov112017

2018 Volvo XC60: Dropping the Hammer on the Competition

By: Brian Armstead

With such a wide array of Crossover and Sport Utility Vehicles now on the market, wily auto manufacturers are in a pitched battle to infuse their ‘Utes with the latest comfort, convenience and safety technology.

Volvo is no different.  Once on the brink of extinction, the renowned Swedish brand was purchased by Chinese auto giant Geely, which wisely pumped cash into Volvo to resuscitate it, while allowing Volvo to do what it does best -- build superb cars with tons of luxury and safety.  The result has been a string of hits for Volvo, including the XC90, S90, V90 Cross Country and the 2018 XC60.

Let’s start outside with the all-new XC60 where surprisingly, Volvo’s are now known for sensuous, sleek styling.  Up front, “Thor’s Hammer” Daytime Running Lamps with LED technology are a “smashing” styling hit. Loosely based on the shape of Thor’s Hammer from Norse mythology, these lights make quite a statement that carries into the side styling.  Along the sides, the profile sports a high character line that accentuates the height of the XC60.  Deeply sculpted concave lower door panels angle down toward symmetrical, convex rocker panels.  Add an upper hatch lip spoiler and gorgeous, optional 20” diamond-cut alloy wheels, and the XC60 is a bonafide head turner.  At the rear, high mounted taillights and dual rifled tailpipes round out another impressive design from Volvo.  Remember folks, Volvo was formerly known for safety and boring styling.  Still a safety icon, Volvo’s new styling themes are super impressive.

 

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Wednesday
Oct252017

1939 Chevrolet

By Vern Parker

Ralph Langford finds it easy to recall his first car even though that car is long gone.  An exact duplicate now occupies space in his garage.

When military service beckoned that first Chevrolet was placed in storage with the thought of eventual restoration in mind.

Reality eventually set in and Langford realized the car was too far gone for an amateur restoration so he reluctantly sold the car.

Then along came the spring of 2004 when Langford saw an ad offering for sale a restored twin to his first car.  It was a top of the line 1939 two door Master DeLuxe Town Sedan that the seller said had been restored.

 

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Monday
Oct092017

2017 MAZDA CX-5 Grand Touring AWD: Making a good thing better.

By Ted Orme

I’ve been reviewing cars on and off for a lot of years. But to call yourself an “expert” you have to immerse yourself in this business full time just to keep up with all the changes. That’s why the car mags employ whole staffs of experts.

But there is one model I consider myself an expert on: the Mazda CX-5 crossover. I was so favorably impressed by a test drive of the 2015 model that I bought one. Over the past three years, I have logged thousands of enjoyable miles in my mid-trim CX-5Touring AWD. So I jumped at the chance to test drive the next generation, top-of-the-line 2017 version of a vehicle I love.

That may have been a mistake. Mazda has so improved and refined the CX-5 that, once again, as Jimmy Carter would say, I have lust in my heart. To the point that I am sorely tempted to extend my car payment just to get all those neat new treats and bells and whistles.

First introduced in 2012, the CX-5 was much praised by auto writers for its sporty character combined with family friendly utility. Tapping into a burgeoning SUV and crossover market, this compact crossover with “SKYACTIV” engineering and “KODO” design quickly became Mazda’s sales leader.

So how do you make a good thing better? You start by retaining your core strengths – solid platform and drivetrain. Then you take a fine-tooth-comb to literally every component and feature of the vehicle and upgrade where possible. Mazda claims 250 improvements were made to the all-new CX-5.

 

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