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Working on your own car can be rewarding, especially when you take your finished efforts out for a spin. But, finding the space for do-it-yourself car care can be a rare commodity, especially in crowded urban areas, gated communities, or where garage space is otherwise occupied. Well, our Lauren Morrison found a car club in Sacramento, California that’s designed just for DIY’ers.
LAUREN MORRISION: “Whether it be a homeowner’s association that frowns on you fixing up your car in the front yard, or a garage that’s just too small, finding the space to work on your car is a pain, but not if you’re a member of the DIY Car Club here in Sacramento, California.
ROBERT MITCHELL: “It’s always been a hobby and a passion. I built my first car when I was 9 years old in my dad’s tool and die shop. That’s just me.”
LAUREN MORRISION: A passion, and nowhere to practice it, is how Robert Mitchell came up with the do it yourself car club concept.
ROBERT MITCHELL: “It started out with 3 of us working out of a little 600 square foot garage that was part of an old auto shop and…..we found more people that wanted to get involved.”
LAUREN MORRISION: With about 40 active members today, the club has moved to a larger space, where members can rent a spot by the hour, day, week, or month to do anything from a tune-up…to a full on frame off restoration….like Kate Dargan and her 1951 Chevy pickup truck, “Irene.”
KATE DARGAN: “It’s her time now. She gets a whole new look for her next 50 years.”
LAUREN MORRISION: While this is Kate’s first restoration, that’s part of the beauty of the club…there’s always another gearhead, like Cliff Miller, hanging around to bounce ideas off of.
KATE DARGAN: “I mean, he can look at the parts and say, oh that goes there. So it’s kind of like having a friend, or your uncle hanging out with you working.”
LAUREN MORRISION: While you’ve got first timers, you’ve also got old pros, like Miguel Willet, who estimates he’s had around 500 cars in his lifetime….but the 1967 Firebird Convertible he’s working on now is something special.
MIGUEL WILLET: “One day, I came home and it was gone. My dad had sold it. So I think I’ve been looking for one the rest of my life.”
LAUREN MORRISION: While Miguel actually uses several different shops he says this car club keeps him coming back.
MIGUEL WILLET: “I find that I’m here more than those places, mainly because the access to other people, the camaraderie, you know, somebody brings food and you know you need to eat and you’re not stopping and they show up. All that stuff means a lot to me.”
LAUREN MORRISION: Young or old, expert or novice, there’s really only one rule to join…you’ve got to have some kind of vintage vehicle. Beyond that, the club has you covered.
ROBERT MITCHELL: “Jack stands, floor jacks, tune-up equipment, most of the general basic tools they would need if they don't have them themselves to completely restore a car.”
LAUREN MORRISION: With members who come from far and wide…
ROBERT MITCHELL: “We have people in the Bay area that drive all the way up here and bring their vehicles to work on them because there’s nothing like this around.”
LAUREN MORRISION: This gearhead gathering place is a do it yourselfer’s paradise!
ROBERT MITCHELL: “Everyone here loves old vehicles, one way or the other. It doesn’t make any difference whether it’s a Chevy, a Ford, a Dodge, a Pontiac, an AMG, an Alfa Romeo. It doesn’t really make a difference. They all love old, classic cars.”
Our success story this week takes us to Sacramento County, California, where they’ve struck gold by going green!
With one of the nation’s leading green public fleets, over 60% percent of the county owned vehicles run on alternative fuel or advanced technology. Now, the county is one of the first to incorporate hydrogen into their fleet by buying 4 Toyota Mirai fuel cell sedans.
With an over 300-mile range, and zero emissions, these Mirais pack a powerful environmental punch. And with help from Sacramento Clean Cities, rebates and incentives cut their bottom line too.
KEITH LEECH: “No government agency would typically buy a $57,000 vehicle for a motor pool, but because of the incentives available from Toyota, the price of that vehicle actually got down to be competitive with the vehicles that we replaced, a conventional hybrid vehicle.”
JOHN DAVIS: With over 30 public hydrogen fueling stations across California, and 100 planned, infrastructure is growing, paving the way for a California future powered by fuel cells.
In MotorWeek Podcast 169, Greg Carloss discusses his drive of the all-new Ford Expedition and refreshed Mustang. Then the gang gives their impressions of the massive Mercedes-Benz G550. Next, the panel debates the Texas DMV's ban on dune buggies, and they help a viewer figure out what SUV to tow his boat with.
Comparison Test: Three-Row SUVs
Goss' Garage: Diamond in the Rough
Over the Edge: Hippie Bus
Long Term Update: BMW X1
Quick Spin: 2018 Buick Enclave
Quick Spin: 2018 Mercedes-Benz S-Class
Road Test: 2018 Porsche Panamera
2017 Honda Pilot
2018 Volkswagen Atlas
2018 Chevrolet Traverse
2017 Toyota Highlander
One of the hardest parts about buying a new vehicle is narrowing it down to just the right make and model. Most buyers don’t have the chance to do a side-by-side driving comparison, but we do. This week we do that with family-size 3-row utilities. And, once again team up with our friends at cars.com, to see which one stands above the pack.
Three row crossover-style SUVs are firmly entrenched in the American culture, being more or less the replacement for the full-size station wagon of generations past. Families depend on them to haul their brood and possessions, and manufacturers rely on them for the bottom line. With so much at stake, the competition is fierce.
We joined our colleagues at cars.com near Chicago where 4 of these hefty haulers were ready for our challenge. We also had the help of a local buyer, who’s looking for the best option for his family.
As in our previous challenges, there was a price cap; $46,000. All are V6 powered with automatic transmissions; all but one includes all-wheel drive, and have a Combined Fuel Economy rating of 19 or better. While there are quite a few choices in this class most have remained much the same since the last test, so this challenge targeted four with recent redesigns and updates.
Last year’s winner… the Honda Pilot.
An all-new entrant… the Volkswagen Atlas.
The fully redesigned Chevrolet Traverse.
And the updated… Toyota Highlander.
Each one went through careful scrutiny, and at the end this is how they ranked.
The fourth spot went to the Toyota Highlander. This all-wheel driver was equipped with a new 3.5-liter V-6 engine and an 8-speed automatic. The $44,514 sticker put it at the top of pricing. But it had the shortest wheel base and overall length, so it lost points for space in the second and third rows.
FRED MEIER: ”The highlander was the smallest SUV here, but it had some of the most comfortable front seats. They were plenty wide, not too narrow, nicely bolstered.”
GARICK ZIKAN: “One of the things you notice about the Toyota Highlander on the road is how polished it feels. It really is a quiet and smooth ride, and that shelf along the dash really is a nice feature”
JOHN DAVIS: While the 2017 Honda Pilot came out on top last time around, it garnered a 3rd place finish here. The Pilot is well designed, and as solid as they come. Its price is just under the Highlander at $44,370. It also shares the Highlander’s Combined MPG rating of 22 from its 3.5-liter V6 and 9-speed automatic.
BRIAN WONG: “The Pilot’s 9-speed transmission which is one of its two transmissions has always kind of baffled me. There’s a noticeable delay in acceleration. So you hit the gas and you have to wait for a second for the engine to catch up”
MIKE HANLEY: “Honda’s touch screen multimedia system was the hardest to use in our test because it lacks familiar controls like volume and tuning knobs and its menu structure is the least organized.”
JOHN DAVIS: Second place goes to the 2018 Chevrolet Traverse, the only front-wheel drive ute in this test. But it has the most horsepower at 310 from a 3.6-liter V6 mated with a smooth 9-speed automatic. The Traverse is rated at 21-miles per gallon. At $44,185 it comes in a few hundred dollars less than the Pilot… while providing the longest wheelbase and overall length among this group.
BRIAN WONG: “It uses that space very well. It has the most cargo room and the most spacious second and third rows.”
GARICK ZIKAN: “The Chevrolet Traverse can certainly haul people and their possessions in a comfortable cabin, but it really brings more to the driving experience than just that. On the road it’s easy to maneuver and really has a sense of confidence”
JAMES GORMAN: “I was impressed by the overall design of the interior, the spaciousness of it. Again, not what I would consider luxurious, but a decent vehicle and something I could certainly see myself driving from day to day.”
JOHN DAVIS: That leaves first place to the new kid on the block, the 2018 Volkswagen Atlas with 4MOTION. The 3.6-liter V6 and 8-speed automatic produced the least horsepower and lowest combined MPG among these competitors. But, with a sticker at $43,615, it boasts the best price. And with measurements that are close to the Traverse… The Atlas earns points for rear room for people and cargo, as well as technology.
MIKE HANLEY: “The Atlas’s multimedia screen looks great. It’s got vibrant colors and a very high resolution, but it’s easy to bump into controls on the touch sensitive panel.”
JAMES GORMAN: “The multimedia was phenomenal in this vehicle. The other really noteworthy aspect of this car was the spaciousness. I was able to sit in the second row and get it in a comfortable seating position and then immediately climb into the third row and also sit comfortably.”
JOHN DAVIS: All of the big utilities can get the job done. But it’s no longer just about roominess and practicality. Technology and refinement raise the bar, and for now the Volkswagen Atlas can shoulder the demands to meet that challenge.
Engine: 4.0 liter V8
Torque: 626 lb-ft.
0-60 mph: 3.2 seconds
1/4 mile: 11.8 seconds @ 120 mph (Panamera Turbo Executive)
We’re pretty sure the pioneering hybrid engineers for the Toyota Prius and Honda insight never imagine something like the Porsche Panamera E-hybrid! But now that hybrid technology has moved from magic to mainstream, Porsche is taking their latest hybrid to a new performance level. And that’s only a slice of Panamera news. So let’s get to it.
The 2018 Porsche Panamera Turbo S E-Hybird is not the first Panamera hybrid of course, but it’s certainly the best yet.
And if you’re still an enthusiast who cringes when you hear “hybrid”, you should know that the 918 Spyder…plug-in hybrid…is the only Porsche more powerful than this one.
Total output for the Panamera’s four driven wheels is 680-horsepower and 626 lb-ft. of torque. All from a twin-turbo 4.0-liter V8, with the help of a 100Kw electric motor.
The usual drive modes allow you to take control of where you want the power coming from. E-Power allows you to go for a max of 31-miles of battery alone, thanks to 14.1-kWhs of storage; more than enough to run silently past your Tesla-owning neighbor’s house. Switch to Sport Plus once you get out of the neighborhood, crack open the throttle, and get max performance from all power sources. Plus, an 8-speed PDK is still there for gearing.
Putting aside the EV techno-babble, this Panamera feels like the most luxurious sport sedan on the road. A new air suspension is standard equipment for a downright luxurious ride, yet Porsche insists that it must still handle darn close to a 911 when the time comes.
That time for us, came at the Vancouver Island Motorsport Circuit, where it didn’t take long to come to grips with the immense amount of grip this Panamera has for cornering. And the rush of power coming out of corners is truly epic! All of this despite over 5,000–lbs. of weight and more than 16-feet of length.
Away from the track, it feels so normal, it’s easy to forget you’re even in a PHEV, until the gas engine kicks in rather curtly, bringing you back to performance car reality. It’s a delightful machine that feels as great highway hypermiling as it does corner carving.
Visually, the Panamera got a makeover just last year, though it still tends to simply look like a stretched 911. The Turbo S E-Hybrid gets 21-inch wheels and Porsche Ceramic Composite Brakes, on which they insist on adding “acid green” calipers.
Likewise, inside, the familiar up-sweeping console was redesigned last year, with touch panel controls replacing many of the previous gens switches and knobs. It may look less like an airplane cockpit now, but we find touch panels still frustrating at times.
Admittedly, the Turbo S E-hybrid resides at the top of the Panamera food chain, but there’s still a “surprising for Porsche” level of standard equipment.
Now, if it’s a new look you’re looking for, feast your eyes on the Porsche Panamera Sport Turismo. It’s not quite a wagon; and since the base Panamera is already a hatchback, we’ll agree that it’s different, what the Brit’s might call a “Shooting Brake”
The ST’s elongated roofline meets some hefty D-pillars, and there’s a redesigned hatch to access the small addition to storage space; 18.3 cubic-ft. over the base Panamera’s 17.6. Folding seatbacks expands it to 49.0 cubic-ft. The Sport Turismo also gained an additional seatbelt in rear for taking along an additional passenger.
Now, in order to get the complete Panamera picture, when it came time to get one for our home test track, we opted for the lengthy, high-powered opulence of the Panamera Turbo Executive.
5.9-inches may be added to the wheelbase for more rear seat leg room, but the 550-horsepower 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8 under the hood is more than enough to get it down the track in a hurry.
We hit 60 in just 3.5-seconds, clearing the ¼-mile in 11.8 at 120 miles-per-hour. PDK launch control is as brutal and flawless as always. We never get tired of experiencing it.
And just in case you’re wondering, the Turbo S E-Hybrid, with its electric assist, can do the 0-60 deed in just 3.2-seconds.
To sum it all up with pricing, expect to pay at least $185,450 for the Turbo S E-Hybrid. So, you’re not just paying for the experience, but for the tech. behind it. The Sport Turismo starts a much more reasonable $97,250, around 10-grand over a base Panamera. The Turbo Executive resides in between at $161,050.
Porsche’s no compromise approach for the 2018 Panamera Turbo S E-hybrid, combined with the truly different Sport Turismo, shows that Porsche is just getting started with its biggest car ever. And while many questioned building a 5-door sedan in the first place, after just 7-years, it’s hard to imagine the brand without it.
So you’ve decided you want to buy a collectable or classic car and you want to check it out yourself. Number one, I would recommend against that. I’d recommend you have a professional do it, but if you insist here are some things you should look for.
First you want to look at the general condition of the outside of the car and the interior, and that’s just self-explanatory. But you want to go under the hood of a car and the things you are looking is to see what’s original and what’s been replaced. You want to make sure you have as many original parts as possible. And you want to make sure whenever possible that it has the original engine because that will have the biggest impact on the value of the vehicle. You want to make sure the transmission is appropriate for the vehicle and so on. All of these things have a big effect on the value of the car.
But here is the thing a lot of you miss, and that is you don’t put the car up in the air. Now you’re certainly going to look for things like we have here. We have a giant puddle of transmission fluid. Well you need to look at that to see if it’s something major. Well in this case, it happens to be a bad transmission fluid pan gasket. So it’s about an hour’s repair, not a big deal. You want to look at the frame and all of the components like that to see if there’s any structural rust. Surface rust is not a problem, but structural rust, that can cost a fortune to fix.
The other thing you’re going to do when you have the car up in the air. You’re going to take some kind of a light and you’re going to illuminate the side of the vehicle. We’re going to go along like this. And what you’re doing is you’re going to sight the side of the car you’re going to look down it as you bring the light towards you and you’re looking for signs of body work. And the other reasons you want the car up in the air is that body work and painting is done on the ground with the perspective is looking down at it. Now you change the perspective and you look up at it and you can see most of the mistakes. You want to look at the rocker panels. You can also usually tell down here if there’s been body work because the finish down here is not as good. Look at the bottoms of doors that will tell you about body work on the doors, and always look for rust in all of these areas. Do it right spend some time doing it and maybe you’ll wind up with a great car. And if you have a question, or a comment, drop me a line. Right here, at MotorWeek.
Recently our Zack Maskell literally stumbled across a family traveling the country in a very artistic “mobile home”. Call it a tiny house, an RV, or a bus… that’s on top of a bus, it truly is a horse…or a house…of a different color. So let’s go over the edge with Zach… and enjoy the simple life… living as a highway nomad.
ZACH MASKELL: If a Chevrolet and a Volkswagen had a baby… would it grow up to look like this? It’s a 1953 Chevy school bus… with a 1969 VW Bus on top of it… which allows for more head room… and a bed.
“’Creative talent is only achieved when passion is coupled with hard work’ That’s one of my favorite artists once told me, I happen to be wearing his shirt right now… Keegan Sweeny. I think he would definitely agree that this family is living up to that motto.”
JEANNETTE APPLAUSO: “The kids go ‘Mommy, Mommy, look, look. Look at this big bus… let’s go talk to these people.”
LEROY HERR: “It’s here for you to just smile at and enjoy. It’s actually here for you”
ZACH MASKELL: Dubbed the “Dragonfly Bus” by a trucker in Nebraska. He says it drags up hills, but flies down them. Artist, Heather Platon and husband, LeRoy Herr, who’s a mechanic by trade travel with their two kids and dog, Moonshine. They use it to spread respect, freedom, and of course…love.
HEATHER PLATEN: “We live full time in the bus. It’s a tiny home and mobile pop up art gallery. We invite people inside to check out the bus we want to talk about sustainable living what it’s like to be on the road, how it is to live in a tiny house. We try to bring people together… lighten the mood and the country make people smile.”
ZACH MASKELL: Staying off the grid for six years, building and living in this bus the last two, they stay at national parks sometimes two weeks at a time.
LEROY HERR/ HEATHER PLATEN: “40 hours a week making somebody else’s money doesn’t really make a lot of sense to me.”
ZACH MASKELL: The couple stresses to students in art classes across the U.S. that a 30-year home mortgage isn’t for everyone. For them, spending more time with their kids and being forced to go outside is far more rewarding.
LEROY HERR: $100 to me, in the position that I’ve put myself in, is a lot.
ZACH MASKELL: They don’t just buy something new when it breaks. If it can be fixed, they fix it.
LEROY HERR: “So this is a 40-gallon water cistern. And then I use this pump here to pump the tank, to pump pressure up in the tank to get me water.”
ZACH MASKELL: Using solar panels to power the refrigerator and lights, along with resources from the woods… they remain mostly self-sufficient.
LEROY HERR: “This is where I put my wood in here. The wood fire cook stove.. is awesome.”
ZACH MASKELL: So it was only natural that a vehicle this unique ventured to our local cars and coffee in Maryland…to see and feel the vibes this bus spreads at Hunt Valley Horsepower.
ERIC LEE: “I think it’s cool. It reminds me of Woodstock.”
TARA WHITLOW: “Just you looking at this and you asking yourself what’s in there, you being curious yourself, you’re kind of opening your mindset towards art.”
ZACH MASKELL: Activating the higher consciousness. Your imagination and emotions… everything is tied together. So, art could be the accelerant. To get the wheels turning upstairs… they allow anyone… to draw anything… anywhere on the bus. Why? because you can’t confine creativity.
HEATHER PLATEN: Janis Joplin, somebody in Alexandria, he looked at me and said, please put Janis Joplin on your bus. So I started on her right away. And then Bruce Lee, another suggestion. I could not go to one town without people demanding, angrily, that I put Jerry on the bus.”
HEATHER PLATEN: This is the first piece that ever went on the bus. This was done by somebody else in Austin, Texas.
ZACH MASKELL: Should you meet the Dragonfly bus, get more artistic than me, and who knows… how many states or people it will spread to… and positively impact.
Road Test: 2017 MINI Countryman ALL4
Goss' Garage: Ceramic Nano Coating
FYI: Fuel Economy Guide/AFDC Data Center
Motor News: Tokyo Motor Show
Long Term Update: Kia Niro | VW GTI
Road Test: 2018 Lexus LC 500
Engine: 2.0 liter I4
Torque: 207 lb-ft.
0-60 mph: 7.1 seconds
1/4 mile: 15.4 seconds @ 91 mph
EPA: 22 mpg city / 31 mpg highway,
Energy Impact: 12.7 barrels of oil/yr
CO2 Emissions: 5.7 tons/yr
Since the 3rd gen “new MINI” arrived for 2014, its improvements have been steadily making their way through the entire mini lineup. And now that roulette wheel stops at MINI’s crossover utility vehicle, the Countryman. Well, Americans sure love their SUVs, so let’s see if they’ll also love this most biggest MINI yet!
With the latest Mini Clubman wagon growing bigger than the Countryman, you expect a size increase for the redesigned 2017 Countryman as well. And, indeed MINI delivers it; or actually BMW does, as the Countryman’s new architecture is shared with the BMW X1 Sports Activity Vehicle.
Engine choices are familiar, however. Like the rest of the MINI lineup; 1.5-liter or 2.0-liter turbos, both with available all-wheel-drive. We love the 134-horsepower 1.5-liter 3-cylinder’s responsiveness, but for this heavier, all-wheel-driver, we recommend the 189-horsepower and 207 lb-ft. of the 2.0-liter I4, despite some noticeable turbo lag.
Mini has always made cars that are fun to drive, but some have also proved hard to live with on a daily basis. So Mini has maximized space here, as well as added a host of premium features to make a kinder, gentler, more practical Mini.
A Panoramic sunroof, leatherette upholstery, keyless entry, and rear view camera are all standard on all Countryman.
As is the latest Mini Connected, BMW-based, infotainment system with a 6.5-inch high-res. display. Upgrading to the Technology Package ups screen size to 8.8-inches and adds even more features.
Countryman has indeed lost none of the fun to drive nature that keeps Mini buyers coming back. But, keep in mind that comes with a much stiffer ride than a typical compact crossover.
Optional all-wheel-drive offers plenty of grip for launching, and the 2.0-liter provides great torque to exploit it. 60 miles-per-hour comes in 7.1-seconds; while the ¼-mile trip is completed in 15.4 at 91 miles-per-hour. Power is plentiful, and there’s a pleasing exhaust note.
Standard transmission remains a 6-speed manual, but our car was shifted by the optional 8-speed automatic. It provides a nice little surge of power every time it selects a new gear. Clearly, the BMW influence is in full effect here.
Just 112-feet was our average stopping distance from 60. Brake pedal is firm, and there’s good stability when braking in full.
Like all Minis, the retro flavor is so pronounced, it takes careful study to see what actually is new.
Well in addition to everything being larger, the grille gets cleaned up a little and the front bumper smoothed out. Trademark fender flares and fender trim are still here. Still not exactly pretty, but unique and now better for the eyes.
While we will call this an SUV, there’s not enough ground clearance here to venture too far off the beaten path; 6.5 inches, which is up from 5.9 last year. Still Mini’s capable ALL4 all-wheel-drive system is more than adequate for wintery travel.
Interior space gets a nice boost, but again everything you see and touch looks very familiar. Things are highly functional as well, with rear seats sliding fore and aft, as well as reclining.
Cargo space grows to 17.6 cubic-ft. behind that rear seat. 40/20/40 split-folding seatbacks add flexibility, as well as expand the space to 47.6 cubic-ft. An optional hands-free power liftgate is new too.
Under power, Government Fuel Economy Ratings are 22-City, 31-Highway, and 26-Combined; so our 27.3 miles-per-gallon average on Premium was acceptable. The Energy Impact Score of 12.7-barrels of yearly oil use, and 5.7-tons of CO2 emissions is only slightly better than average for all vehicles.
But, really the only thing to give us pause about any Mini, is their consistent dwelling near the bottom of reliability ratings.
Base pricing is a reasonable $26,950. The Cooper S 2.0-liter starts at $29,950; tack on another 2-grand if you want AWD. But most transact for much higher than that; our optioned out tester eclipsed $40,000.
So while there is no shortage of choices for a small crossover these days, if you’re also looking for the Mini brand of fun, it can only be found in the 2017 Mini Countryman. And, it joins the tamer-looking Clubman wagon in offering Mini-style all-wheel drive security.
We think the Countryman’s increased refinement and practicality will also attract a few more traditional SUV shoppers who are looking for something a bit more exciting in a mini-ute. And, that should mean big things for Mini.
Engine: 5.0 liter
Torque: 398 lb-ft.
0-60 mph: 5.0 seconds
1/4 mile: 13.3 seconds @ 110 mph
EPA: 16 mpg city / 26 mpg highway
As a luxury high-performance flagshgip coupe, the Lexus LC 500 must not only feature enough style to attract attention to the brand; but it also needs to back that up with impressive performance. Both keep buyers happy, and get the automotive press like us excited. So, let’s find out if this all-new luxury missile delivers.
Well, this 2018 Lexus LC 500 certainly has the level of refinement you expect in a top-tier automobile. And remarkably, Lexus was able to keep most of the LF-LC concept’s dynamic lines in place; as the LC looks better in person than we ever imagined.
And that includes the ultra-slim LED headlights, and the best interpretation yet, of Lexus’ controversial spindle grille. From the rear, there are hints of the LFA supercar. But from any angle, it’s one slick, ultra-modern looking piece of automotive sculpture, that holds its own against the best in sheet-metal benders like Aston Martin.
Standard wheels are 20-inches, but you’ve come this far, so why not opt for the 21s?
But as modern as the exterior is, the interior is spiced with retro flavor. Lexus designers were allowed to have some fun here, and it shows; as they’ve managed to infuse it with a mishmash of mid-century automotive Detroit clichés. It’s way cool!
The very linear dash has a flowing design highlighted by chrome-trimmed controls, horizontal vents, sharp angles, grab handles, and well-integrated infotainment.
There are mini-stalks behind the wheel for some controls, while audio inputs reside on the console; unfortunately, so does Lexus’ not terrific touchpad controller. It all combines for a beautiful, modern space, with a time warp sense of a bygone era.
Front seats are very luxurious and comfortable, though there’s not much space in the rear for taking along friends. It’s clearly at 2+2. Which makes it perfect for using the space packing for weekend getaways with your significant other, as there’s just 5.4 cubic-ft. of room in the trunk.
Fire up the engine, and there’s a nice powerful burble coming through the dual exhaust tips.
That audio comes from a 471-horsepower 5.0-liter normally-aspirated V8 with 398 lb-ft. of torque. A 10-speed Sport Direct Shift transmission channels all of the goodness to the rear wheels. A 3.5-liter V6-based hybrid is coming as well.
But the V8 goes like a rocket, and even feels like one blasting off the line. We leapt to 60 in 5.0-seconds flat, with just a touch of wheel-spin at launch.
The transmission rifles through gears with CVT-like smoothness, and you hear virtually nothing in the cabin except for some fantastic V8 exhaust notes that sound more like a 60’s muscle car than an Asian luxury coupe. The ¼-mile run was 13.3 seconds of utter smoothness at 110 miles-per-hour.
As for handling, well, there’s a lot to love; but there’s no getting around the fact that the LC is a heavy beast. Curb weight is 4,280-lbs.
You have to engage Sport+ for it to feel really serious, and even then you mostly notice it in throttle response and steering, as handling stays amazingly flat no matter what mode you’re in.
Steering feel is awesome, something we don’t say often, and certainly not in reference to a big Lexus. It is very quick and direct. There is a slight understeer tendency, but plenty of mid-range torque to overcome it with just a quick stab of the throttle.
We averaged very consistently short 105-foot stops from 60. However, brake pedal feel was very inconsistent. Yet, it didn’t affect the numbers.
Away from the track, Comfort mode keeps thing pleasant and inoffensive in every way, for that true Lexus experience; with barely any noise seeping into the cabin, and all of the serenity of floating through outer space.
Government Fuel Economy Ratings are 16-City, 26-Highway, and 19-Combined; which we almost matched exactly at 18.9 miles-per-gallon of Premium.
A $92,995 base price will keep sales limited, but it’s a relative bargain for those who are able to enjoy the finer things in life; fully competitive with cars costing 50-grand more.
So the 2018 LC 500 does indeed deliver; it’s quite the personal-luxury 2+2 euro-styled grand-touring flagship coupe, that fully encapsulates all that Lexus is about, yet at the same time points to where they’re undoubtedly headed.
The bi-annual Tokyo Motor Show is best known for its sometimes wild and creative concept cars, and this year was no exception.
Mazda’s sleek view of the future includes the VISION COUPE. But, surprise, they’ve actually packed 4-doors into the elegant coupe shape.
Mazda also publicly revealed their KAI CONCEPT. The compact hatchback will feature Mazda’s next-generation SKYACTIV-X gasoline engine.
Lexus premiered this stylish "LS+ Concept". Their "Highway Teammate" allows automated driving from on-ramp to off-ramp.
Parent company Toyota revealed the Fine-Comfort Ride concept. This fuel cell vehicle gets its electric power from hydrogen for a range of 621 miles.
Toyota expanded its hybrid prowess by thinking really big with the Tj CRUISER. This extra-boxy SUV is powered by a 2.0-liter engine hybrid system.
Hybrid power is also under the hood of Toyota’s GR HV SPORTS concept. With GAZOO Racing influences, the targa top has the hybrid battery mounted near the vehicle center for improve handling.
Honda unveiled this Sports EV Concept. It combines pure electric performance and artificial intelligence, similar to the Urban EV Concept we saw at Frankfurt. But, now with a body that signals a more sports car like driving experience.
Subaru premiered the VIZIV Performance Concept. The sports sedan naturally features a boxer engine and all-wheel drive, but with the next-gen EyeSight driver-assist system.
The performance theme continued with the Nissan LEAF NISMO concept.
The manufacturer also unveiled the IMx concept. This all-electric crossover claims a driving range of more than 372 miles. There is a steering wheel, but it slides inside the dash for full autonomous driving.
MITSUBISHI premiered the e-EVOLUTION CONCEPT at Tokyo. The all-electric high performance SUV includes an onboard Artificial Intelligence Personal Assistant.
And it’s only a matter of time before we see which of these ideas actually make it to the road. And that’s it for this week’s Motor News.
As automobiles have evolved, so have the finishes that go on them. Let’s face it, paints these days are much different than they were 15 or 20 years ago. And that means you may want to consider a more modern protection for your paint something line Nano technology. And to explain that to us we have Rob Freeman from Prof Form Auto. Rob welcome to Goss’ Garage.
ROB FREEMAN: Hi Pat, thanks for having me again.
PAT GOSS: Absolutely. Tell us about Nano technology.
ROB FREEMAN: Well today what we have is the Ceramic Pro Line of Nano products. These are paint sealants and what they’re going to do is once the car is properly prepped they’re going to protect your paint give it glass like coatings. It’s self-cleaning. It’s gonna make it to where your car is virtually maintenance free for the time that you own it.
PAT GOSS: Alright, I’ve been on the internet, I’ve seen all kinds of do it yourself nano technology products and so on. How good are they?
ROB FREEMAN: There are some out there that are consumer based that are gonna be alright, but everything we use is professional, so it goes through the whole process. You can always put something on that’s just gonna cover for a little while, but you really want to go through the whole process to make sure it’s done properly. On this one what we’ve done is a wash, a clay bar, a buff, and then a polish, then we apply the Ceramic Pro 9-H on top of it to give it the ultimate protection that it’s gonna need.
PAT GOSS: So you’re cleaning the paint up and cleaning everything before we coat it with anything.
ROB FREEMAN: Absolutely, just like with anything else it’s always preparation, preparation, preparation. You want to make sure the surface is in the most pristine shape that it can be before you apply to any products to it.
PAT GOSS: OK, what is the end result for this as far as the consumer is concerned?
ROB FREEMAN: The end result is going to be ease of cleaning, longevity, it stops acid rain everything self-cleans in the rain itself all you have to do is wash the car there’s no more waxing for clients. Everything can be taken care of and it’s gonna last and make the car look better.
PAT GOSS: Quickly, what about wheels?
ROB FREEMAN: We do have products. We have a wheel and caliper product that’s designed specifically for rims and calipers which is gonna stop the brake dust from etching into the rims self-cleaning again so as you’re driving it’s gonna make it easier for you to take care of your car.
PAT GOSS: Alright now you have a demonstration you’re going to show us on this.
ROB FREEMAN: We do. What we’ve done on this the processes I’ve explained before and we’ve only done half of this hood so we’re going to do the mud test on it. This is putting the mud prone on and we’ll see how the treated side compares to the untreated side.
PAT GOSS: Alright, and let’s take a look at that. Wow, that’s impressive. And if you have a question, or a comment, drop me a line. Right here, at MotorWeek.