Car of the Year

                              Car of the Year

                                Audi SQ 5

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By Ron Amadon

DAMASCUS, MD. – The Audi SQ5 leaps ahead with an exhaust note that would have Beethoven running back to his composing desk.

 My initial reaction to this marvelous addition to the Audi lineup and one strong reason why this performance driven sport utility topped the long list of vehicles driven in 2017.

 Add in a luxurious and logically laid out interior, impeccable build quality, and Audi has reached out with both arms open to those who want an SUV but also want something that is fun to drive.

 Helping the cause is a re-engineered 3.0-liter V6 that produces 354 hp and 369 lb-ft of torque and sprints from 0-60 mph in 5.1 seconds. Want more?

 The eight-speed Tiptronic automatic transmission proved to be a fine performer when a twisty back road beckoned and wrists were ready to engage the paddle shifts.

 A total of 354 hp @ 5,400 – 6,400 rpm

 Torque: 369 lb-ft @ 1,370 – 4,500 rpm

 Top track Speed of 155                                                                    

 And again, folks, were are not talking about a high performance Audi sedan here but an SUV.

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 Quattro all-wheel drive is standard and handling was excellent. The S sport package brings a rear differential that can actively split torque between the wheels of the rear axles, with the ability to direct nearly all torque to one wheel, something just might come in handy on a number of occasions.

 There are five different drive modes – Comfort, Auto, Dynamic, Individual and Offroad. SQ5 models can be equipped with the available sport adaptive air suspension also add a Lift/Offroad and Allroad mode. But as a fellow auto writer said, “no one is going to take this off road.”

 Drivers can quickly get comfy in the “Sport” front seats, the flat bottom steering wheel was a nice touch, and in certain models they face what Audi calls a virtual cockpit with a 12.3-inch display.

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 Three unique modes are available for viewing vital data: Classic, Infotainment, and on the SQ5 a Sport mode is added.

 In the “Sport” mode the tachometer and speedometer come front and center of the display along with boost gauge and lap timer. Also available is a full-color head-up display which projects relevant driving information directly in the driver’s field of vision.

That should help you avoid a “blue light special” in the rear view mirror if your exuberance exceeds the posted speed limit.

 Fit and finish were first rate, and buyers have a choice of standard matte brushed aluminum inlays or carbon inlays.

 The SQ5 comes standard equipped with a power tailgate with hands free opening and closing.

 Do check the box for the available 19-speaker, 755-watt Bang & Olufsen system that would leave both Bang and Olufsen smiling.

 Standard Audi smartphone interface for compatible devices provides Apple Car Play and Google Android Auto integration via USB connection.

 Plus all the expected safety equipment with a base price of $54,300 for the Premium Plus model, and $58,500 for the upscale Prestige model. That does not include $950 for delivery to your local outlet. 

 Now you might enter an Audi showroom destined for the Q5 and an excellent choice it is.

 But look yonder to the one with the platinum gray single frame grille with “aluminum optic double horizontal blade bars”, Audi’s term not mine.

 It would be easier to look to the rear for the chrome SQ5 designation. Take one out. Take it home budget permitting.

 For its marvelous performance, excellent handling, luxury interior, and outstanding build quality this is one of the greatest Crossover/SUV’s on the market.

 And an easy choice for Car of the Year.

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Auto News for Dec. 29

The British government has ruled that by “2040 all vehicles shall be electric” and all gas and diesel powered vehicles will be banned. That has raised questions about the future of racing.

“Ever since this announcement some question whether this will be the end of motorsport, but I simply don’t believe this will prove to be the case. The announcement didn’t clarify that petrol or diesel simply can’t be the ‘sole’ source of propulsion from 2040, so Hybrid vehicles, with internal combustion engines, will be fine,” said Motorsport Industry Association CEO Chris Aylett.

He looks forward to further development of hybrids and electric power units that “will attract a new, young audience who will be entertained and excited by the transport of tomorrow. We’ll see new racing series emerging for this new audience to enjoy in a different way than today.”

“I’m confident we will be enjoying similar, and also different, forms of motorsport up to 2040 and far beyond, which is good news for the industry and fans too.”
New vehicle sales are expected to decline 7 percent this month according to a new forecast from Kelley Blue Book. But that is comparing this year’s sales with the strongest month in 15 years back in December of 2016.

After a record year of sales in 2016 and seven consecutive annual increases, Kelley Blue Book expects sales for 2017 to come in at 17.1 million, which is a 2 percent decrease from last year and yet also the fourth-largest sales total in history.

Kelley Blue Book anticipates nearly all automakers to report negative sales growth for December 2017. Out of the major manufacturers, Ford could have one of the better months, gaining nearly a percentage point of market share, headlined by the new Ford Expedition and Lincoln Navigator. The new Expedition is pictured.

2018 Expedition Media Drive

On the other end of the spectrum, Fiat Chrysler is poised to lose the most volume year-over-year, projected at a 12 percent decline. Some of the decreases are due to the discontinuation of several model lines this year, including the Chrysler 200, Dodge Dart and Jeep Patriot.

KBB expects Honda sales to decline 5.3 percent this month and Toyota to drop 9.6 percent.

The Auto News column will take a little time off to mark the start of 2018. We will be back on Jan. 2.

Auto News for Dec. 28

 It is time for just about everyone to announce their Cars, Trucks and SUV’s of the Year.

Lincoln Navigator

XC60 T8 Inscription

2018 Honda Accord 

The 2018 Lincoln Navigator, Volvo XC60 and the Honda Accord are the selections made by the Detroit Free Press for truck, utility vehicle and Car of the Year.

You can see more at:

https://www.freep.com/autos/ 

2018 Jeep® Wrangler JK Rubicon Recon

 The 2018 Jeep Wrangler is the “Vehicle of the Year” at the Detroit News. It said the Wrangler has “matured into the icon of the hottest SUV brand on the planet” and called it “a Swiss Army Knife in the Outback.”

 In case you missed it, Motor Trend named the Alfa Romeo Giulia as its Car of the Year.

 Next month, on the 15th to be precise, we will learn the winners of the North American car, utility vehicle and truck of the year at the start of the Detroit auto show.

 Finalists for Car of the Year are the Honda Accord, Kia Stinger and Toyota Camry. Utility Vehicle finalists are the Alfa Stelvio, Honda Odyssey, and Volvo XC60.

 And the Truck of the Year contestants are the Chevrolet Colorado ZR2, Ford Expedition, and the Lincoln Navigator.

 Oh, this had to be fun. Britain’s “Car” magazine tests both the old VW Microbus and the upcoming version of one, the ID Buzz.

 Volkswagen will offer a two row Atlas according to Automotive News. VW will also offer three row, or two row seating for the Tiguan.

Those of you who have ever visited New Hampshire know where that Accord picture was taken.

 

Auto News for Dec. 27 – Tesla Pickup?

Musk 

 Elon Musk on Twitter:

“I promise that we will make a pickup truck right after Model Y. Have had the core design/engineering elements in my mind for almost 5 years. Am dying to build it.”

 He added later:

 “Will it be F150 class or larger? I’m hoping for a regular family size truck.”

 And:

 “Similar total size. Maybe slightly bigger to account for a really game changing (I think) feature I’d like to add.”

 The Model Y is a crossover vehicle that would likely ride on the Model 3 platform. It remains up in the air when the company will begin production of the crossover and the pickup, given the Model 3 delays.

 Volvo cars just got closer to Volvo trucks. The company that owns the cars, Geely Holding, has purchased an eight percent stake in AB Volvo which makes the big trucks you see on the interstates.

 Millions and millions are traveling for the holidays and guess what? Big oil has noticed. AAA said the nationwide average price for a gallon of petrol has increased two cents over the past week to $2.44 a gallon.

 Despite that jump, motorists in 33 states are paying less on the week, by as much as five cents, the motor club said.

 Yet, today’s average price is about 26 cents a gallon higher than it was at this time one year ago.

 And once again, drivers along the West Coast are paying some of the highest prices with California at $3.08 a gallon.

 The least expensive gas is mainly being sold in the South.

 

Auto News for Dec. 26

 For the eighth time this year, new vehicles sales are expected to take another turn downward. J.D. Power is forecasting a 2.6 percent decline in retail sales in December, compared to one year earlier. December sales results will be released in 8 days.

 Power is concerned about rising incentive spending being used to maintain the current sales pace. It has reached an all-time high of $4,302 on average up $114 from the old record that was set in November. And trucks now account for 68 percent of new vehicle sales.

McLaren 720S

 The McLaren 720S has been named Car of the Year by British performance car magazine, evo. It was also named Best Supercar of 2017.

 Stuart Gallagher, editor of evo, commented, “The McLaren 720S is as much about what it represents for the company, how far it has come and, perhaps crucially, what is yet to follow. It is the product of a manufacturer that hasn’t changed its focus on wanting to build the most exciting, thrilling and best performance cars it can.”

 How satisfied are owners after driving their vehicles after driving them for three years?

 Consumer Reports posed that question and found that Tesla, Porsche and Genesis came out on top.  The Honda Ridgeline finished first in the compact pickup category by a wide margin, the magazine said.

 

 Remembering a great trip in 2017 in the nation’s best- selling vehicle.    

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                     Ford F-150 4×4 Supercrew

                    “Almost Heaven, West Virginia…”          

By Ron Amadon

PAW PAW, WVA. – Okay, the idea was to find out how this “Ingot Silver” big and heavy 4×4 stood up to the “mountain mama” hills of West Virginia with just a V6.

 To wit, the 3.5 EcoBoost V6 with 375 horsepower @ 5,000 rpm with 470 lb-ft of torque @ 3,500 rpm. Did this truck really need a V8?

 And would the new 10-speed transmission have heart failure with all the steep ups and downs that characterize a favorite route out of the getaway town of Berkeley Springs. 

 Well, the V6 never broke sweat conquering the hills, and the ten speed was such a smooth operator that necessary frequent shifts were really not noticeable.

 “Nice truck,” said the man parked next to me at the Paw Paw combination gas station, deli, restaurant, grocery store, and THE command center for neighborhood gossip. Situated deep in a valley, internet connectivity and social media are just a rumor. So gossip is exchanged the old fashioned way – face to face!!!

  A local flyer available at the checkout advertised “affordable bankruptcies.” I thought, “How could that be?”

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 Thankfully there were places to test the 4×4 that gave the truck a chance to get coated with some good West Virginia mud, so that it blended in rather nicely with the other vehicles out and about. The F-150 climbed some muddy and potholed grades with ease, forded a couple of small streams, and chugged along with ease over a dirt trail that once was a railroad right of way.

 During a very full day behind the wheel, the nation’s best-selling vehicle for the past 39 years was as comfortable as sitting in your favorite easy chair at home.

 Back out on I-70, the F-150 cruised along at 70-75 in a quiet, relaxed manner as it engaged the low, low 10th gear.

 The leather wrapped seats were heated and cooled, and the spacious rear seats were also heated. There was abundant room back there for adults, or the seats folded down for added lockable cargo space. Further, Ford included their inflatable second row seatbelts that will provide additional protection for a passenger’s chest in the event of a crash.

 Even up Maryland’s South Mountain, the six and the ten speed were quick with the power to pass weighed down semis, and two not so weighed down Smart Cars.

 Basic controls were all within reach, the 8” touchscreen was easy to figure out, and the audio system had real knobs for volume control and tuning. Thank You Ford!

 All right, I will fess up. I enjoyed the Bluegrass channel on satellite for my Paw Paw journey, but what else ya gonna listen to over here?

 Gas mileage. Now that is probably something you are wondering about. The EPA rates the test truck at 17 city, 23 highway for a combined 20 mpg. After a week of any kind of driving you can imagine I came in at 18.6 mpg. I only filled up once thanks to the huge 35 gallon tank.

 Suffice to say this truck will haul big loads and lug heavy trailers. Ford offers a huge variety of combinations to match anyone’s towing and hauling needs.

 In fact that is the case right across the board with a miles long list of options that allow you to tailor the pickup to match your slightest whim.

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 With the Lariat Sport Appearance Package, spray in bedliner, Adaptive Cruise Control, a welcome tailgate step, park assist and a technology package, among other things, the test truck carried an MSRP of $59,600.

 At the end of the week long test period, I was truly sorry to see the F-150 go away. It did everything I wanted it to do with ease and comfort. I confidently predict that the F-150 will continue as the nation’s best seller well into the future.

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 A note about the town. It is home to 500 or so souls, and is not named for an early Indian tribe as you may have guessed. Instead, the name comes from a wild fruit which grows in abundance throughout the region, according to Wikipedia.

 Rumors are there is a nudist camp somewhere in the woods around here.    

 

 

 

Auto News for Dec. 22

First off, my best wishes to you all for the holiday. May it bring, as that old carol goes, “Comfort and Joy…”

The Auto News column will snuggle in for “a long winter’s nap” and resume on Dec. 26. But there will be a Saturday Road Test.
Now on with today’s events!

Infiniti concept

Infiniti has released a teaser image of a new concept car that will debut at the Detroit show next month, a picture that at first blush looks a lot like a weird high heel shoe.

The concept is said to preview a new generation of Infiniti vehicles, one that will take a traditional sedan to its “next stage of evolution.” We will learn more on January 15th.

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Motor Trend said Bugatti delivered 70 of its very high performance Chiron supercars to customers this year. That was the company’s target for 2017. With an 8.0-liter 1,479 horsepower engine, the Chiron will raise your pulse level with a 2.4 second run to 60. And they are not inexpensive commanding a price tag of about $3 million.

Hyundai will introduce a voice enabled virtual assistant system called “Intelligent Personal Agent” in new models scheduled to roll out as early as 2019.

It acts as a proactive assistant system, predicting the driver’s needs and providing useful information. For instance, the system may give an early reminder of an upcoming meeting and suggest departure times that account for current traffic conditions.

It will also make phone calls, send text messages, search destinations, search music, check weather and manage schedules. It also allows drivers to voice-control frequently used in-vehicle functions such as air-conditioning, sunroofs and door locks. The only thing missing is a coffee maker. But it comes close with the ability to communicate with electronic devices at home as soon as you go on line with your coffee maker.