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Road Tests: 2018 Volvo XC60

Thu, 05/10/2018 - 7:00am

Vital Statistics

Engine: 2.0 liter

Horsepower: 400

Torque: 472 lb-ft.

0-60 mph: 5.4 seconds

1/4 mile: 13.9 seconds @ 99 mph

EPA: 59 MPGe

Energy Impact: 7.3 barrels of oil/yr

CO2 Emisiions: 3.3 tons/yr

After reenergizing the brand with the 2016 XC90 crossover, and following up with an all-new S90 luxury sedan and V90 wagon, Volvo turned their sights to the midsize arena with an all-new XC60 utility. Most of what you see here looks familiar. So, let’s see if that XC90’s brilliance survives a bit of downsizing.

Volvo didn’t think too far outside of the box for their midsize 2018 XC60 crossover. Rather, they just took the wonderful package that is the XC90 and downsized it. Well, like most things, it’s not quite that simple.  

It does ride on the same platform, which means you also have the same powertrains; starting with a 2.0-liter turbo I4, which at 250-horsepower is more than enough for most, add a supercharger and it bumps up to 316-horsepower. Finally, tack on some electric assist, and output for our T8, jumps to 400-horsepower and 472 lb-ft. of torque.

No matter which version you choose, all-wheel-drive is standard, and all have an 8-speed automatic transmission. 

Nothing drastically different underneath, just a revised version of the double wishbone front and transverse leaf spring rear suspension. So, street handling is sound; making the XC60 reasonably entertaining as a daily driver. 

Power is plentiful at all times and smoothly delivered; whether merging on the highway, coming out of curves, or leaving a stop light. Our only driveline quibble is some clunky downshifts at low speed, and a very unrefined feel to this plug-in hybrid’s regenerative braking.  

Inside, you’ll find the high-end expert-level handcraftsmanship of the 90, but with a modified layout and approach. The overall feel is still high on luxury; and perhaps more impressive, many interior measurements are barely different than the XC90. 

In fact, rear seat room actually feels more plentiful, since the 5-passenger XC60 doesn’t need to create access for a 3rd row like the XC90.

Much less cargo space than the 90 of course, but still plentiful for a midsize; at 29.7 cubic-ft. worth of gear in the back; expanding to 63.3 with rear seatbacks folded. 

A “love it or hate it” central control tablet dominates the center stack. Mounted in the dash, glare was not a big problem. It’s very easy to do basic things too, but more involved demands require a few menus to go through and taking your eyes off the road more than we’d like. 

Seats are very comfortable in a way that only Volvo seems to have mastered, and near perfect seat height makes getting in almost like sliding into your favorite recliner. 

Now, your recliner probably can’t get you to 60 in less than six seconds, however; and this XC60 T8 has no problem doing that.

It’s not so much a launch off the line, as it is an explosion of energy. We’re still not sure how this little 4-banger manages to hold together with a turbo and a supercharger feeding in boost, but it’s quickly becoming a favorite of ours. The added electric assist is just positively charged ionic icing on this 3-layer cake.  

We hit 60 in 5.4-seconds. The automatic transmission shifts quickly and aggressively, and this power unit even sounds pretty good. 13.9 was our ¼-mile time at 99 miles-per-hour. 

With less wheelbase, we were surprised it didn’t feel quite as agile, or for that matter refined, as the XC90 through our cone course. But, there was decent feedback and only mild understeer. 

Where the XC60 mirrors its larger sibling the most is exterior design. It’s not quite an exact copy, but pretty darn close.  And that’s just fine by us, why re-engineer a good thing. The front end is a little more rounded, and greenhouse chopped a little.  

The government gives the T8 a Combined MPGe Rating of 59, with an overall Combined rating of 26; which we couldn’t quite match with our average of 24.2 miles-per-gallon of Premium. For a very good Energy Impact Score with yearly consumption of just 7.3-barrels of oil, with CO2 emissions of 3.3-tons. 

And lest we forget, this plug-in also has an EV-only range of 18-miles. 

It may not be quite the value that the XC90 was when it first came out, but the base XC60 is still very reasonable, priced at $43,895.

So, the 2018 Volvo XC60 may be just a scaled down XC90. But that also means it is yet another fantastic product from the new Volvo. One that should have no problem standing out in a crowded field of great luxury utilities. 

Categories: Syndicated

Goss’ Garage: Oil Viscosity

Thu, 05/10/2018 - 7:00am

One of the most common questions that I get is that, well, I took my care in for an oil change and the technician told me that instead of that thin, watery, 0-20, 5-20 or 5-30 that the manufacturer recommends, you need something this is seriously going to protect your engine.

You need 20-50, 10-40, some of these really thick oils. Don’t believe it. Modern engines are different than older engines and going to a thicker oil, it can lead to all kinds of problems. Number one, it can lead to poor circulation in the engine because it’s too thick.

That poor circulation can lead to problems that we see here. We cut a valve cover apart. This area in here that’s all clogged up – that is part of the breather system for the crank case. We had to put new valve covers in the engine because of this crud.

We can see over there that we have another valve cover all gunked  up with sludge and so on. Why does this happen?

Back in the day when these oils were really popular, engines were made very differently. The clearance between bearings and so on inside the engine, between the cam shaft and cam bearing, or the crank shaft and connecting rods bearings, we could probably have measured them using an old fashioned feeler gauge.

But today, engines are built using modern technology, computer controlled machining, lasers to measure things and so on. So the net result is that these modern engines are much more precise. They fit better. The object of oil, the number one things is to move between moving parts and keep those parts from touching one another.

When we have smaller spaces, we need thinner oil to fit through those smaller spaces. Suppose you put a thicker oil in a modern engine. One of the things that’s going to do is increase oil pressure. Variable valve timing works off oil pressure so you might wind up with a check engine light and a code for the variable valve timing, which could lead to some expensive repairs.

The other thing is that oil is the oil thing that cools bearing inside the engine. Anything that’s lubricated is cooled by the oil. And when we increase oil viscosity, what we do is slow down the movement of the oil and that means that the parts inside the engine are going to run hotter because there’s less oil flow and that means more wear.

My recommendation, stick with what the vehicle manufacturer recommends. They spend millions of dollars figuring out what was right for your engine.

If you have a question of a comment, drop me a line, right here at MotorWeek.

Categories: Syndicated

Over The Edge: East Coast Defender

Thu, 05/10/2018 - 7:00am

A boxy SUV from Britain was the first car over half the world ever laid eyes on. The iconic Land Rover is loved by many, including farmers and even the Queen. One company state side is keeping those trucks alive, and beyond today’s standards. Time to go Over the Edge with Zach Maskell as he takes command of a Chevy powered… Defender!

ZACH MASKELL: The Land Rover Defender’s roots date back to 1948 with the Series One. Introduced in 1983… under the Defender name… the light ute is used for military operations, fighting fires, camping, and much more. It was only offered in the US of A for four years. Production ended in 1997, but E.C.D Automotive Design in Kissimmee, Florida is refusing to let them die.

SCOTT WALLACE: Although we didn’t meet until 5 years ago, our upbringing was very similar. We were from pretty poor backgrounds in working towns in the U.K.

ZACH MASKELL: After moving to the U.S. and quickly selling the two Rovers Tom imported, a light bulb went off. The bread and butter of the show… a Defender 90, and 110.

ELLIOT HUMBLE: Just like restoring any old Corvette, any old Toyota FJ. You want to start with that actual vehicle. We don’t want to build kit cars. We want to restore Land Rovers.”

ZACH MASKELL: Salt, sun, and rain work together to breakdown the aluminum body and steel chassis parts on these UK imports. Rusty and corroded– point of no return parts are scrapped here at the acclaimed “Rover Dome”… during step one.

This is a good time for the buyer’s door hinge to be removed and framed for memorabilia.

ELLIOT HUMBLE: It’s like Grahm’s truck. I mean that’s got 30 years of history. We have a folder this big and the guy kept every single MOT test from England, every service, every little repair that was done. He kept every one of them.

Unlike a Mercedes-Benz G-Wagon or Cadillac Escalade, these trucks are not generics off of an assembly line.

SCOTT WALLACE: The base truck has still got that story. That’s what we’re selling. I don’t think we’re selling just the vehicle. We’re selling a journey of how you custom build your own vehicle.

NICHOLAS YEARICKS: These are our mood boards. These basically lay out the description of the customers exact preferences on their individual build. What makes their truck custom is all on this sheet. They’re custom tailored to their specifications.

ZACH MASKELL: Apart of ECD, East Coast Overhaul. Let’s say you’ve already got a Defender and you want to put a new engine in it. Come in here, you can do a LS3 Corvette engine, you can do the same 5.3 liter that you can find in my Chevy Silverado truck and you can probably do just about anything else that you want to.

RYAN LEAVERTON: The original engines in these were anemic at best. You had a 4 cylinder turbo diesel, which made like 80 horsepower or something like that or you had a 3.5 liter v8 which still made about, nothing. So it doesn’t really suit people’s needs on American roads and trying to get up to highway speeds so what we do is we swap out to reliable Chevrolet products.”

ZACH MASKELL: ECD did $200,000 in sales their first year… now they’re at 8 million.

So here it is fresh out of the factory, this 110 is an NBA players, Kent Bazemore, and we’re driving it before he even takes delivery. He wanted carbon fiber trim, with a very modern two tone, and of course there is the honey comb stitching on the seats.

Everything is up to date like this touch screen infotainment system, a backup camera and wireless charging for your cellphone. Under the hood is the heart of a Corvette. 565 horsepower LS3.

For 180 up to 300-thousand dollars… you get rid of the cold, metal interior, and into something bespoke. But you won’t forget what you’re driving… with heavy steering and off-road ready suspension. Considering what these three British best-friends set out to build, these Defenders deliver.

Categories: Syndicated

Book Reviews: The Complete Book of Classic Volkswagens

Wed, 05/09/2018 - 4:34pm

The name pretty much says it all for this Must Read. It’s The Complete Book of Classic Volkswagens: Beetles, Microbuses, Things, Karmann Ghias, and More by John Gunnell. If it’s air-cooled and built by Volkswagen in the 50s, 60s, 70s, or 80s; you’ll read about it here. Accompanying the wealth of facts and figures, are plenty of technical drawings and period advertising. It’s a great resource for the VW faithful, as well as just an enjoyable read for any car enthusiast.

Categories: Syndicated

This Just In: Ford Ranger Testing Video

Wed, 05/09/2018 - 1:23pm
Fans of the Ford Ranger pickup will have to wait until early 2019 until an all-new Ranger hits the street, but Ford has released a teaser video showing prototypes for the new truck undergoing trials -- from grueling lab tests to robotic testing too harsh for humans to endure, from jagged trails in the Australian Outback to the Arizona desert, all to ensure the Ranger lives up to the company’s “Built Ford tough” mantra.  Packed with adventure-ready features like a Terrain Management System, Trail Control and blind spot monitoring with trailer support, it looks like this mini-Raptor is almost ready to leave the nest.

Categories: Syndicated

This Just In: One Lap of America

Wed, 05/09/2018 - 9:26am
The 35th running of the Tire Rack One Lap of America road/track rally is underway, with more than 70 teams competing in this spiritual (and street-legal) successor to the legendary Cannonball Run.  Teams started with timed wet skidpad runs at Tire Rack headquarters in South Bend, IN on Saturday and moved on to track events in Illinois and Missouri over the remainder of the weekend.  The rally continued on Monday at the Hallett Motor Racing Circuit in Tulsa, OK before moving on to track events in Colorado, Texas, Louisiana and Kentucky throughout this week, ultimately finishing up with dry skidpad runs at Tire Rack HQ on Saturday May 12th. Events are free for spectators, so check out the schedule and follow the results at http://www.onelapofamerica.com/Home.do


Categories: Syndicated

This Just In: Elio Motors’ “Ultimate Commuter Vehicle”

Tue, 05/08/2018 - 9:51am
Elio Motors is moving closer to realizing their vision to produce “the Ultimate Commuter Vehicle”, an 84-MPG, three-wheeled, tandem two-seater with a targeted base price of just $7,450.  The Arizona-based company hosted a supplier engagement meeting last week to provide updates on the vehicle’s development, including the current plan to begin production 76 weeks after completion of the company’s proposed Security Token Offering (STO). Elio’s funding and retail strategies got a boost last month, when Overstock.com agreed to purchase $2.5 million of newly-issued common stock, and expressed the intent of using their Overstock Cars online portal to help deliver the vehicle to consumers.


Categories: Syndicated

This Just In: Chevy Adds RST Performance Pack to Suburban

Mon, 05/07/2018 - 12:47pm
Fans of big muscle SUVs will want to check out Chevy’s just-announced Suburban RST Performance Package.  Available later this summer, the package adds a 420-hp 6.2L V-8 engine, Magnetic Ride Control with performance calibration and a new Hydra-Matic 10-speed automatic transmission. The RST Performance Package debuted on the Tahoe RST last spring, and quickly became the Tahoe’s most popular model. Chevy hopes this blend of performance, handling and ride comfort will hold equal appeal to fans of their biggest SUV. Additional performance upgrades available for the Suburban RST include a custom tuned Borla Performance Dual-Side Exit exhaust system as well as a Brembo performance brake package.  

Categories: Syndicated

Episodes: Episode 3735

Fri, 05/04/2018 - 2:58pm

Debut 5.04.2018


Road Test: 2018 Audi TT RS

Goss' Garage: Headlamp Upgrades

Two Wheelin': BMW K1600 B

Long Term Update: 2017 BMW X1 | 2018 Subaru Crosstrek

Road Test: 2018 Lexus LS

Categories: Syndicated

This Just In: Tesla Model Y Production Slated for 2020

Fri, 05/04/2018 - 1:34pm
Despite mounting losses and Model 3 production still coming up short of profitable volume, Tesla CEO Elon Musk said on Wednesday that the company could begin production of its Model Y crossover in early 2020, but no word yet on where that factory will be located.  Speaking with members of the press on a conference call, Musk further predicted that “Model Y is going to be a manufacturing revolution.” And went on to say: “Our understanding of production is improving exponentially.” On Wednesday, Tesla announced first-quarter losses of $784.6 million on revenue of $3.41 billion, nearly double the losses from the same period of 2017.  Model 3 production is up to 2,270 units per week at the Fremont, California assembly plant, which Musk characterized as “jammed to the gills.” That figure is well shy of the 5,000 units Musk has said would be needed to attain positive cash flow.
Categories: Syndicated

This Just In: Toyota Automated Vehicles Test Facility

Fri, 05/04/2018 - 10:38am
The Toyota Research Institute (TRI) has announced plans to construct a closed-course test facility, at an existing private proving ground in Michigan, to develop automated vehicle technology. When it becomes operational in October 2018, the 60-acre site at Michigan Technical Resource Park (MITRP) in Ottawa Lake will include congested urban environments, slick surfaces and a four-lane divided highway with high-speed entrance and exit ramps, and will allow engineers to safely replicate demanding driving scenarios that are too dangerous to perform on public roads.  
The ultimate goal of the facility, says Ryan Eustice, TRI senior vice president of automated driving, is “to customize driving scenarios that will push the limits of our technology and move us closer to conceiving a human-driven vehicle that is incapable of causing a crash.”


Categories: Syndicated

Green Motoring: Alta Motors Electric Dirt Bikes

Fri, 05/04/2018 - 10:29am

We’ve seen some incredible engineering milestones in the last few years… particularly on the electric side of things. Instantaneous power and longer lasting batteries are making some four-wheel EV newcomers irresistible. But, what about in the “two-wheel” world? Well, let’s “shred” over the edge with Zach Maskell as he heads west on what just might be “the future of fast.”


Picture this. No more gasoline, clutch, air filter, oil changes, or top end rebuilds.

“I’ve heard a lot about this San Francisco based company, and today we’re not only going to throw a leg over this Alta dirtbike, but we’re going to check out the inner workings as well.”

LAURENCE LEA: “It started in a garage in 2007, and it took about 5 years before we got the first working prototype.”

ZACH MASKELL: Inside the Brisbane, California factory, they assemble – you guessed it - all electric motorcycles. They offer a super moto good for 60 miles of asphalt cruising, an EX enduro bike for off-road plus urban assault, and for 2018, this, the new flagship of their arsenal… and the first track focused electric dirt bike we’ve driven yet,  the Redshift MX-R.

LAURENCE LEA: “This bike is built for the track. It is built to race, it is built to compete. It is built to win.”

ZACH MASKELL: They’ve already proved their able, zapping into the final four of a Super Cross race full of gas competitors, the 2016 Red Bull Rhythm.

DEREK DORRESTEYN: “The 2018 MXR is a substantial improvement over the last year’s MX base model. We’ve increased power dramatically, from 40 horsepower to 50 horsepower to the rear wheel.”

LAURENCE LEA: “Twist the throttle, which activates the motor controller here. The motor controller, basically think of it as a set of valves on a traditional bike and what it does, is the more you twist it, the more it distributes the power from the battery.”

ZACH MASKELL: From the battery, power goes to the motor, which goes down to a gear reduction… that turns the chain. And waaalaaa the wheel is spinning.

We charged up and headed to Diablo MX Ranch… for a practice session alongside Alta’s in house rider.

BLAKE NICHOLAS: “I didn’t think so and I didn’t feel like it but looking at the data I am faster on this bike.”

ZACH MASKELL: I know there’s 147 ft-lb of torque to the counter-shaft available in a split second. I pictured myself twisting the throttle and the bike looping out from under me, sending it to the moon. But I started off slow – And just like that, a grin was glued to my face.

LAURENCE LEA: “The smooth control and the preciseness that’s delivered from an electric motor can have you in the perfect power band all the time.”

ZACH MASKELL: It’s got 4 preprogrammed maps, which you can adjust on the fly with the touch of your finger. It changes traction, engine braking, and power delivery for the single speed transmission. Think of MAP 1 as a good technical back woods choice, and MAP 4 for a max power track attack. Brembo brakes, Warp 9 wheels, WP suspension and Dunlop tires from the factory. While this does weigh about 30 pounds more than a traditional bike… it doesn’t ride much different.

LAURENCE LEA: “The bike is IP67 certified. Which means basically, it can be submerged up to a meter of water up to a half hour.”

ZACH MASKELL: At full open throttle, a pro rider would get about 30 minutes battery time. My bike, had a quarter of battery life left… when my tank was on empty and I had to call it a day.

THE MXR costs $11,995, and the $799 fast charger has you back to full juice – in 1 and a half hours.

Those gas bikes also cost around $9,000. But considering the frequent maintenance, and performance upgrades most riders opt for, this electric bike’s pricing isn’t that far off.

And like other electric motorcycles we’ve driven, no more noise complaints from the neighbors.

Seeing that it took all of a couple laps to get comfortable on this alien object – I’m now a believer this way of using electrons could very well be the “future of fast.”


Categories: Syndicated

This Just In: Lexus Launches “Fast as h” Campaign

Thu, 05/03/2018 - 1:24pm
Lexus has kicked off a new national marketing campaign to show that driving a hybrid electric vehicle doesn’t mean being stuck in the carpool lane.  Dubbed “Fast as h,” the ad campaign showcases their hybrid lineup’s impressive performance and new lower pricing. “Our recent consumer research revealed that the greatest barriers to hybrid sales are perceptual,” said Cooper Ericksen, Lexus vice president of marketing. “People believe if they choose a hybrid, they have to compromise on performance, value or styling. The new campaign seeks to prove that hybrids are the very best versions of our vehicles.” The first 30-second TV spot is called, “Cloudy with a Chance of Truth.”

Categories: Syndicated

This Just In: Subaru Milestones and Pet Safety

Thu, 05/03/2018 - 9:20am
As larger, 3-row SUVs have become more prominent in the market, Subaru and the Center for Pet Safety analyzed the design and spacing in these larger vehicles and have identified the safest, and most dangerous, places for pets to travel based on the unique design of 3-row SUVs:
  1. Pets 20 lb. or less can be harnessed or secured in carriers in the 2nd row Captain’s Chair - Larger pets, more than 20 lb., should be properly secured and travel in the 3rd row bench directly behind one of the Captain’s Chairs
  2. NEVER place your pet on the floor between the Captain’s Chairs in 3-row SUV models, as this could result in the pet becoming a projectile and cause serious injury to both the pet and vehicle passengers
  3. When traveling with both children and pets in a 3-row vehicle with Captain’s Chairs, secure the child in the 2nd row and secure the pet in the 3rd row, on the opposite side of the vehicle as the child
“Following these simple tips will help to minimize the risk of injury in the event of a crash and in all cases, pets should be properly secured to prevent distractions for the driver and prevent serious injury to both the pet and vehicle passengers,” said Lindsey Wolko, Founder and CEO, Center for Pet Safety. More information can be found at  http://www.centerforpetsafety.org/ and http://www.subaru.com/pets.


As Subaru celebrates 50 years in the U.S., they are rolling out Anniversary Edition models across the lineup, sporting Heritage Blue exterior paint and special badges. In addition, the company marked several milestones in April, including
  1. The 30th anniversary of the founding of Subaru Technica International (STI), the championship-winning motorsports subsidiary of parent company Subaru Corporation and developer of high-performance Subaru vehicles and parts.
  2. The two-millionth sale of the Subaru Outback in the U.S.
  3. The sale of the nine-millionth Subaru vehicle in the U.S.
  4. The grand opening of the new Subaru of America headquarters campus in Camden, NJ.
Categories: Syndicated

Road Tests: 2018 Audi TT RS

Thu, 05/03/2018 - 7:00am

Vital Statistics

Engine: 2.5 liter

Horsepower: 400

Torque: 354 lb-ft.

0-60 mph: 3.2 seconds

1/4 mile: 11.7 seconds @ 118 mph

EPA: 19 mpg city / 29 mpg highway

Energy Impact: 15.0 barrels of oil/yr

CO2 Emissions: 6.5 tons/yr

It seems that ever since the Audi TT debuted, it has been trying to break free from a cute and cuddly stereotype. Indeed, Audi has put a lot of effort into making the TT a legitimate sports car, adding supercar elements from the R8 along the way. So we might even call the latest TT an R4! But Audi went with TT RS. Regardless, it is the most powerful production TT yet. 

The 3rd generation Audi TT arrived for 2016, on Volkswagen’s then new MQB architecture. It was undeniably more fun than ever, yet still more of a Golf Coupe with all of the trimmings than an outright performance car. 

And while we can still see shades of Beetle cuteness, there is ever more high-performance menace lurking beneath all of the RS’s still adorable curves. 

Exterior RS add-ons are relatively minor, but very noticeable; including oval exhaust outlets, a big fixed rear wing, red brake calipers, and matte aluminum optic trim; unless of course you choose to replace it with our car’s gloss black trim. 

The smooth-running 2.5-liter turbo under the hood is technically not a new design, but it does feature an aluminum block now. Thus, the 5-cylinder weighs less and outputs more; 400-horsepower and 354 lb.-ft. of torque. We’ll stop short of saying it sounds awesome, but with the available sport exhaust system, it truly has a unique roar that is mostly pleasing to the ears. 

No manual transmission is available, but the 7-speed S tronic DCT comes with paddle shifters on the wheel, and works well enough to keep us from complaining about that too much. 

The TT RS’ Haldex all-wheel-drive system is similar to the one found in Volkswagen’s Golf R, which means less front bias and less tendency to understeer. 

In somewhat of a reversal of the norm, it’s the magnetic ride dampers that are standard; the Dynamic Plus upgrade does away with them, going back to conventional shocks with fixed-rate springs. I guess Audi wants to make sure you are up for the lower ride height and stiffer ride that comes with the improved handling aspects. 19 or 20-inch wheels don’t really help the comfort cause either. 

Even ceramic brakes are available. Our car wasn’t so equipped, but still brought us to a halt from 60 in 112-feet, with laser-like stability. 

We could have used a little more feedback trough the pedal, as well as from the front end when we took to our cone course. Here, it stays noticeably flatter than the TTS, and is perhaps a little more eager to turn in; understeer has been eliminated, but otherwise not a vastly different TT experience. 

What does set it apart, is the additional power. A flawless Porsche-like launch mode had us effortlessly hitting low three second 0-60s all day without breaking a sweat; including a best run of 3.2.

Firm, all-business gear transactions result in non-stop torque delivery until you finish the ¼-mile in 11.7-seconds at 118 miles-per-hour. 

And you don’t have to be guns-a-blazin’ for it to put a smile on your face, any quick break in traffic can do that; and while firm, the ride is certainly not a teeth jarring one. 

There is plenty of Audi awesomeness inside to appreciate. Besides the usual virtual cockpit, climate control integrated into the circular vents, and quilted seats; you’ll find a new flat-bottom steering wheel with the start button and drive select mounted right on it, carbon-fiber trim, and red accents.

One small gripe, with the backup camera display located in the gauge cluster, it tends to get blocked when you’re working the wheel. 

Government Fuel Economy Ratings are 19-City, 29-Highway, and 22-Combined; so our 25.9 miles-per-gallon average on Premium was not bad at all. Though there’s a slightly below average Energy Impact Score of 15.0-barrels of annual petroleum consumption, with 6.5-tons of CO2 emitted. 

The TT RS Coupe is total fun, until you realize you can get a mid-engine Porsche Cayman S for about the same base sticker of $65,875. And sorry Audi, we think the Cayman’s even more fun.  

And that may not be a coincidence, as both companies do come under the same corporate umbrella, and perhaps they don’t want an Audi overshadowing a Porsche. And it’s not only the Cayman they have to deal with, as there’s a wide variety of other performance cars near its price point. But, no doubt the 2018 TT RS is a more serious car than before, and clearly belongs in any sports car conversation.

Categories: Syndicated

Road Tests: 2018 Lexus LS

Thu, 05/03/2018 - 7:00am

Vital Statistics

Engine: 3.4 liter

Horsepower: 416

Torque: 442 lb.-ft.

0-60 mph: 5.2 seconds

1/4 mile: 13.6 seconds @ 103 mph

EPA: 18 mpg city / 27 mpg highway

Energy Impact: 15.7 barrels of oil/yr

CO2 Emissions: 6.9 tons/yr

We all know the Lexus LS story. Not only did it kick off Toyota’s new luxury brand for 1990. But it ushered in an entire new segment of prestigious Asian-built sedans. Well now a 5th generation LS arrives to tempt us with even more luxury and technology than we’ve ever seen before from a Japanese flagship. Looks like we’re in for a real treat! 

While for the most part, Lexus has been on a full court press to change their staid and soft image over the last few years; when it comes to the 2018 LS 500 sedan, the mission is a different one, convincing people to buy the all-new 5th generation of their luxury flagship sedan instead of the high-zoot SUV they likely came looking for at the dealership.

One thing the LS clearly has going for it; it remains quite pleasant to drive, even with the improved dynamics that come from now riding on a stretched version of the LC Coupe’s platform. But as in most things Lexus, it’s mostly due to all of the electronic aids that are in play, many of which are integrated into the VDIM, or Vehicle Dynamics Integrated Management.    

It’s still a heavy beast, about 5,000-lbs. depending on fitment, but the updated Adaptive Variable Suspension helps to control the transfer of it. 

Cruising down the highway, you’ll find everything you expect in a Lexus and more, meaning near-total isolation from the outside world and oodles of luxury.

Most notably, this LS trades in its V8 for a twin-turbo V6. But not to worry, the 3.4-liter delivers more power than the V8, and feels much better when delivering it; and the majority of the LS owners would never lift the hood anyway to know the difference. Horsepower is now 416; torque at 442 lb.-ft. 

It runs through a 10-speed automatic transmission in both rear or all-wheel-drive, and we found its operation very quick for a luxury ride. 

And speaking of quick, the available F-Sport package provides the best driving experience, and it’s quite a good one; though, you’re not fooled into thinking your driving skills are delivering the mechanical precision. It’s more along the lines of, the car knows what to do, so just put things into motion, and enjoy the increased clip through the corner. 

And things held up really well when we pushed even harder at our test track. Despite its heft and large footprint, our all-wheel-driver stayed commendably flat, and proceeds confidently wherever you point it.  

Keep it pointed straight and it pulls hard and relentlessly. Power builds rapidly right from the get to, and it rifles through gears almost as quickly. We hit 60 in just 5.2-seconds and cleared the ¼ in 13.6-seconds at 103 miles-per-hour. Yeah, you definitely won’t miss the V8.

We’ll go out on a limb and say you won’t miss the previous gen’s boring exterior either. The new LS is longer; but there are also some seriously sporty lines to go along with those dynamic credentials. 

There’s a coupe-like roof line naturally, along with exaggerated fenders; and whether you like or not, the front end is dominated by their infamous spindle grille, which we think works well here. 

Inside, things are not quite as appealing as the LC Coupe. The linear dash is here, along with many unique shapes and materials; but the overall theme is a little harder to determine. 

Material quality is quite good, as you’d expect; but there are puzzling aspects like the imprecise and frustrating touch panel controller, and the digital gauge cluster that provides a wealth of information, yet seems to leave a lot of empty space in the I.P. 

Government Fuel Economy Ratings with all-wheel-drive are 18-City, 27-Highway, and 21-Combined, and we averaged a fine 23.9 miles-per-gallon on Premium. Still, that’s a slightly worse than average Energy Impact Score of 15.7-barrels of yearly oil use, and CO2 emissions of 6.9-tons.

A hybrid LS version remains available, and will get you up to 33-mpg in the city. 

The biggest LS tradition of all, is offering an amazing amount of luxury and comfort for not a whole lot of money. Fortunately, that continues with base pricing of $75,995.

The LS of course, launched the Lexus brand, and over the last 28-years, they’ve certainly gained ground on the German luxury brands they were oh so obviously copying. But with the 2018 LS 500, Lexus seems to have abandoned that approach, now carving out a niche that is all their own making. We applaud that strategy and think it will lead to bigger things for the LS, and Lexus. 

Categories: Syndicated

Goss’ Garage: Headlight Upgrade

Thu, 05/03/2018 - 7:00am

For decades, headlights on cars and trucks have been like these: incandescent lights. Well as time has gone on, they have moved from incandescent to HID and now we are seeing most cars with LEDs.

Alright, now, what is the difference here? Well the difference primarily is gonna be that the color of these new lights is brighter and that the durability may be better. One of the things that you have to keep in mind is that well you can make conversions to these things. Like here we have an HID conversion. Take this cover off of here and we can see that we have HID bulbs in there. It comes with the various transformers and everything like that, but you have to make sure that if you are gonna do one of these conversions, that you get quality parts, because some of these parts are expensive if they are gonna last and be reliable.

Over here we have an LED conversion and we look in the bottom of this one and believe it or not, we have a teeny little fan in there that keeps the bulb cool. So some of them with have heat sinks, some will have fans and so on. You have to research these things, make sure they have the proper cooling and that they have the proper attachments for your car.

Alright, now, here is the rub with all of this, you see changing to one of these systems, well it may make the light whiter or more blue, but it may not give you more light on the road, because that is controlled by a number of different factors. Number one is the design of the reflector, which matches the way the light comes out of the bulb. The other thing is, especially if you have a pickup truck or an SUV or something that sits taller, in order to keep the light from blinding oncoming passengers, they’re designed so that they are tilted down a little bit and that means the light doesn’t go out as far. So just changing the bulbs, you’re still gonna have the same adjustment, the same characteristics, you’re just going to have a more whitish or bluish colored light. So do your research before you spend money on an upgrade kit because you may not be happy with the results. And if you have a question or a comment, drop me a line right here at MotorWeek.

Categories: Syndicated

Two Wheelin': 2018 BMW K1600 B

Thu, 05/03/2018 - 7:00am

BMW has been making motorcycles for a long time. And if there’s one thing they know how to do, it’s create bikes that make anyone who rides them want to hit the back roads and never look back. At least that’s the excuse our resident two wheeler Brian Robinson had, after a recent disappearing act on one of BMW’s latest.

BRIAN ROBINSON: “At their essence, motorcycles are essentially an engine, with a frame and wheels attached to it, to get it and you down the road. But, if you want to get really far down that road, and minimalism is not your thing, BMW has got a bike for you.”

To create the K 1600 B, BMW essentially took their K 1600 GT sport-tourer and sprinkled some “cruiser dust” on it, to make it more appealing to American riders.

Now before you R1200C fans that are out there get all excited, this is not a cruiser clone; here, BMW is more looking to capitalize on the current custom bagger trend. 

Basically, BMW has grafted a new back end onto the K 1600 that not only looks a lot more stylish, but brings the rear seat and passenger significantly lower; more like a traditional cruiser.

Exhaust pipes are rerouted, staying low to the ground; and expelling exhaust through a pair of huge mufflers. 

Up front, the adjustable windscreen is also lower and there’s a traditional-appearing, though far from normal tubular handlebar. 

The 1649cc inline-6 engine is beyond smooth, making 160-horsepower and 129 lb.-ft. of torque, as is the rest of the bike wrapped around it. Yet it’s also fast and solid feeling; all leading up to a riding experience that’s more sport-tourer than cruiser. Cracking open this 6-pack can indeed be exhilarating. 

Most things will be familiar if you’ve spent any time on one of BMW’s other K bikes; including the generally intuitive multi-controller on the left handgrip that controls a multitude of functions including riding modes, adjustable suspension, heated grips and seat, as well as all of the usual trip meter displays. 

With BMW’s optional keyless ride, no need to take the key out of your pocket, just hit the ignition button and thumb the starter; you’re good to go. 

Side-opening saddlebags are longer and lower than the GT’s, yet hold a decent 37-liters worth of gear each. Big grab handles inboard, make strapping on a duffel a simple affair.

7.0-gallons in the tank, easily gives you more than 250-miles of ride time before a refuel, and the seat is just comfortable enough to make an easy chore of it.

The only time you really feel its 740-lbs. of weight is in really slow maneuvers; otherwise at speed, the K1600 B tends to shed weight as quickly as it eats up miles. 

If you do find the weight too much to deal with, the GTL’s reverse assistant is available. 

Mid-mounted pegs are standard for a relaxed riding position, with the left-side shifter working the 6-speed gearbox seamlessly. Front mounted floorboards are an option if you like to stretch your legs while still in the saddle. 

Pricing starts right at 20-grand, and you can get closer to 25 with available Premium and Touring packages. 

Now, as for who the 2018 BMW K 1600 B is most likely to appeal to; well unlike the R1200C, it’s not really meant to win over the V-Twin crowd. More realistically, it gives sport touring riders and particularly BMW buyers a highly stylish option to satisfy their wanderlust touring needs. 

Categories: Syndicated

This Just In: New Hood for Hellcat

Wed, 05/02/2018 - 3:45pm
Dodge is not letting the Hellcat lean on its pitchfork to rest: Just-released teaser photos of the 2019 Challenger SRT Hellcat reveal that a fully functional dual-snorkel hood scoop will be added to Hellcat models for next year.  This design element harkens back to some of Dodge's most iconic muscle car models from the mid-60s and early 70s, but with a modern interpretation that looks even more sinister and provides maximum air intake to the supercharged powerplant.  Look for more info to be released this summer.

Categories: Syndicated

This Just In: Porsche Cayenne E-Hybrid

Wed, 05/02/2018 - 2:05pm
Porsche is adding a new Cayenne E-Hybrid to the line-up.  The turbo 3.0-liter V6 combines with an electric motor to generate total system output of 455 horsepower and 516 lb-ft of torque. EV range = 27-miles.  Porsche says it will go 0-60 in 4.7 seconds.  The price starts at $79,900 when it goes on sale in early 2019.

Categories: Syndicated