Wednesday
Feb032016

2015 Nissan Murano SL AWD: Beauty or Beast?

By Ted Orme

It is said that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Well, behold the third-generation 2015 Nissan Murano. Like the design of the first-gen Murano, which debuted in 2003, it is cutting edge bold. With its wild “V-motion” front end, LED boomerang lights, sharply sculpted sides, blacked out D-pillar, and “floating roof,” Nissan describes its new flagship crossover “daring and futuristic” with “concept car-like styling.” Others have called it a Japanese Pontiac Aztec.

Whether this radical design causes your eyes to roll in disgust or light up with delight, it can be granted that the new Murano, which remains virtually unchanged for 2016, it is unquestionably a standout in a segment of basically egg-shaped crossovers.

There is much more agreement on the goodness of Murano's interior design which, to again use the company’s lingo, “offers an engaging social lounge feel.” That’s true. It’s roomy, nicely designed with quality materials and loaded with luxury features and “today’s” technology. The refined instrument panel, infotainment screen and center stack is easy to understand and use – and, praise be to Nissan, retains easy to find knobs for audio and climate controls.

 

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Thursday
Jan142016

1971 Pontiac Grand Prix

By Vern Parker

The weather was unusually nice that early August day in 1971 so Howard Williams thought he would spend the day with his wife Phyllis since it was her birthday.

They went for a drive and stopped for lunch in Alexandria, Virginia after which they continued on to their Woodbridge, Virginia home.

Their route took them by the Bendall Pontiac dealership in Alexandria. On display in the showroom was a Bluestone Gray 1971 Pontiac Grand Prix that caught the eye of Williams wife. He agreed with her that both the color and the style of the car were beautiful.

On a whim he parked by the dealership and told his wife that he was going inside to gather additional information on the car. What he did once he was inside was tell a salesman that he would return the next day to buy the car on display.

He then returned to his waiting wife and resumed the trip home.

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Thursday
Jan072016

2016 Honda Pilot AWD Elite – Third Generation is a Charm

By Ted Orme

My critique ability was put to the test when I got out of a vehicle that I really liked and into a competitor that I, arguably, might like better. I say “arguably” because I’ve had a hellova time picking a winner between the recently reviewed 2016 Kia Sorento SXL V-6 AWD and my Christmas sled, the 2016 Honda Pilot AWD Elite. Such are the trials in this game.

Honda bills the new third-generation Pilot as an SUV while Kia calls the all-new Sorento a CUV (crossover utility vehicle). Both are top-of-the-line, family-oriented three-row seaters that are V-6 powered, handsomely styled, brimming with high-tech entertainment and safety features, comparably priced ($45,600 for the Sorento SXL and $46,420 for the Pilot Elite), and designed to do the same things in the same places for the same target group.

Like Kia, Honda smoothed out and refined its family wagon with a sleeker more aerodynamic profile and softer grille and tail. The new Pilot is also larger than before, with 1.8 inches more in wheelbase and 3.5 inches extra in length; yet it is 300 pounds lighter than last year’s model, weighing in at just more than 4,300 pounds.

 

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Monday
Jan042016

1968 George Barris Barracuda

By Vern Parker

It's not every day that a 48-year-old car remains in the same family all that time, even if part of the family is by marriage.

The first two owners of the 1968 Plymouth Barracuda were brothers. Then along came Austin Hott who began dating Brenda, the sister of the two brothers. He couldn't help but notice the Plymouth Barracuda.

Soon afterward he told the brothers that he would like to buy the car if it ever was to be sold. That was in the mid 1970s.

In 1981 the time finally had come and Hott became the third owner of the Matador Red Plymouth Barracuda.

 

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Wednesday
Dec232015

2016 Kia Sorento SXL V-6 AWD: Family Fun & Function

By Ted Orme

America celebrates the family. But nothing in the automotive lexicon of terms is as warily avoided as “family vehicle.” It denotes all that is unsporting, practical and, well, downright dull. That’s why automakers go to great lengths to describe and design their three-row seat vehicles as crossovers (CUVs), faux SUVs and “sport” wagons – anything to avoid the dreaded stigma of a sliding side door minivan, the undisputed champion of family haulers. Whatever you want to call them, however, the target demographic is families.

I recently got the opportunity to drive two all-new, top-of-the-line CUVs back to back, the 2016 Kia Sorento SXL V-6 AWD and 2016 Honda Pilot Elite AWD. Both are V-6 powered, nicely styled and luxurious inside and out, stuffed to the gills with state-of-the-art entertainment and safety features, loaded with utility/versatility and carrying price tags in the mid $40’s. I would love to own either of them …so add grandpas to your target groups.

The Kia came first and my initial impression was “wow!” Some of that comes from memory of how far Korean vehicles have come in the past couple of decades – from low-priced, unreliable bottom feeders to high-quality, high-tech challengers grabbing market share in every segment. At first gaze, it’s obvious the new Sorento is no cheap suit.

 

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