Showing posts with label Test Drives. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Test Drives. Show all posts

Sunday, April 25, 2021

Hollywood Blvd: driving video...


Taking a drive down Hollywood Blvd. From beginning to end. 
Starting from the "pretty part" in Laurel Canyon. And going through the ugly touristy part. 
And driving by some really cool old local landmarks...

The white hood you see in the video is the one from the Honda Ridgeline I was driving just a few weeks ago. 




Sunday, April 11, 2021

Chevrolet Tahoe Diesel: test drive...




The current Chevrolet Tahoe mostly seems like an evolution of the previous generation. It looks just fine. With a floating roof design, following a popular trend for SUV designs.
But I am not sure it looks better than the previous generation. It is very similar, and a few inches longer. 
So the rear end does look better (It always looked a bit too short ton the previous one)

The model I was driving for a week is a 2WD RST version with a total cost of $67 335. Including the Duramax diesel option for only $995.



The interior also seems very familiar. Sure, it does look different. But it also seems the same. And even a bit old. The A-pillars (with the handle on the passenger side) look exactly the same as before. And so does the giant console armrest.
Plastics are a bit better, but overall, it is really not up to the $67 000 asking prices.

The switchgear is OK (Although the turn signal stalk feels pretty fragile)
The 9 speaker Bose audio sounds really good. But not as great as many other systems in much cheaper SUVs.


The seats are fine but not great. They are very flat and pretty firm. And the flat heardest is just positioned too far back to provide any comfort.


The push-button transmission is a bit of a puzzler. With that weird little plastic part next to the "N". It does make it easier to shift without looking at it, but the "-L+" is ridiculous. 


My test truck came loaded and it included the $350 Power sliding Console option. 
I have to admit it took me a while to find the switch to control it. Since it is not where you'd think (on the console somewhere, or even the dash) But on the ceiling next to the sunroof controls!
Why???



The rear captain chairs are even flatter than the front seats. But that space is extremely roomy.



The same goes for the 3rd-row seats. Where anyone under 6 feet will probably be comfortable.
The cargo space behind the 3rd row is also more than enough for almost any use.

This basically makes the longer Suburban redundant for almost anyone. Except for people who transport at least 6 people and their luggage every single day...


Once behind the wheel, things, again, look very familiar. The top photo is the new Tahoe while the bottom shows the one I drove back in 2016! (Actually a Suburban)



This is from the window sticker. Describing the "premium smooth ride suspension". As standard equipement.
While it is not harsh, the suspension is far, very far, from a "smooth ride". 

It is basically a pickup truck ride. Just like it has been for decades. The Tahoe still rides like the pick-up it is based on. The only advantage I could see from the new rear independent suspension is how much roomer the back seat is.
As far as I am concerned, it doesn't affect the ride at all. As it is still trucky, with constant shakes and shutters unless the road is glassy smooth. Which, of course, is not a problem for people buying a truck. But this is still far from being something you'd describe as a "premium smooth ride". 

With its rather numb steering, the Tahoe still mostly drives like a giant wonderbread loaf on wheels. 




This weirdly unmarked switch is the Drive Mode switch. And I could see no difference between "normal" and "sport". It also includes a trailer mode. 


Driving around town is as awkward as ever with the Tahoe. It is just too high and too big to maneuver easily. And visibility is actually a problem since the hood is so high and flat. I also noticed that turning left at an intersection was sometimes a challenge as well. Since the A-pillars are so thick, and the mirror is so huge. 
Both a actually blocking the view.


While the suspension is not refined, the transmission is. Very much so. It is very quick to downshift and always seems in the right gear.

But the best part of the Tahoe is the amazing Duramax Diesel.
Yes, you do hear it a tiny bit at first. (But the V8 isn't silent either) But it makes a very muted, sophisticated, and very pleasant sound.
And once underway, it is buttery smooth and powerful. (Although take-offs can be a little slow around town.)

The 2WD Tahoe Diesel is rated a 21/28MPG. As usual, I couldn't match the city rating and the best I got was just under 19MPG.
But I had no problem averaging over 30MPG on the freeway. Which is quite amazing. 
These are almost the same numbers I got from the 2.0 Liter Acura RDX. 


The "new" Chevrolet Tahoe doesn't feel new at all. While it looks different, I don't think it really looks better than the clean-looking previous generation.

And most of all, it still drives the same as it did 6 or even 12 years ago. The ride/steering feel has not really improved.
The interior is also not really better than the previous generation. At least for my taste.

But it is now almost as roomy as the Suburban was. And the availability of the amazing Duramax Diesel is a huge plus. (Especially for the low $995 asking price) I never thought I would be getting almost 32MPG in one of these. 

Another problem is the price. If you absolutely need to tow a huge trailer on a regular basis, I guess a huge truck is the way to go. 
But if you are looking for a comfortable 3 rows luxurious SUV, this isn't it. Especially for $67 000.
The cheaper loaded Acura MDX I drove a few weeks ago does a much better job at mimicking a luxury car. (while still getting about the same MPG as the Tahoe Duramax)
And so does the much cheaper Chevrolet Traverse. And especially the (still cheaper) Buick Enclave.





 

Monday, April 05, 2021

Chevrolet Tahoe: test drive coming up...


 I have been driving a new Chevrolet Tahoe RST Diesel for a while. And will report on it in a few days. 

So far, the engine is pretty great (The same one I test drove last year on the pick-up) But the rest of the truck is pretty much the same as it's been for many years...

Feel free to ask any questions you might have about this $67 000 beast.

Friday, April 02, 2021

Honda Ridgeline test drive.



The Honda Ridgeline just got a serious "shot of Macho" for the new year. With a new, larger, and more aggressive grille. 
The changes are more obvious when you order the new HPD package. Which adds a different grille, tons of black plastic trim all around, decals and badges. And the bronze wheels you see pictured above.
I'll just be polite and say that none of this is for me. Especially since the HPD is just a visual package with otherwise no improvement to the driving experience. 


My test truck was a base model with the HPD package for a total of $40 500.

(more on pricing later...)

 




.

The interior of the base model (Even with the HPD package) seems pretty basic at first. But, in true Honda fashion, everything feels super solid and well put together. The doors even have a luxury car sound when you close them etc... But that plastic steering wheel does feel pretty basic. And the cloth seats would feel at home in the cheaper Honda Fit. 






The sound of the basic audio system is actually quite good.
But the graphics of the infotainment system look a bit old when compared to others. Even from Honda.
Although, again, this is a base model. 



The back seat is pretty fantastic. (although quite flat and firm) As it is really roomy. And you can flip it up, like in the Fit, and actually fit tons of stuff back there.




The Ridgeline bed is quite roomy. More so than its competition from Toyota, Nissan, GM and Ford, And is very nicely finished. The hidden locking "trunk" is also much roomier than it looks.
Which helps a lot in everyday life. You can actually put plenty of stuff in there and not worry about it being exposed. 


The Ridgeline claim of fame is its car-like ride compared to the competition. And it is all true. This is by far the best riding truck out there. (Although I have not driven the Ranger or Toyota)
The ride is very smooth and solid. 
And Honda's 3.5 Liter V6 is just fantastic. This is really a luxury car engine in a truck body. 
The driving experience is much closer to a luxury vehicle than a truck. 

Too bad the steering is just a bit too numb.




The Honda Ridgeline is rated at 18/22MPG. 
In my daily driving, I got 15/16 around town. And closer to 24/25 on the freeway.

As I mentioned earlier, I thought my test truck was quite expensive for what you get.
But, the base price is $37 665 including destination. Which includes AWD and V6. A similar Tacoma is about $1000 more. And the competition from Ford and GM isn't much cheaper.

What is very expensive is the HPD package. 
Instead, you can order the model up from the base, the RTL for $39 500.
Which includes almost everything you actually want to make life with the Ridgeline much better. Like leather seats, sunroof, leather steering wheel, power heated seats with memory, satellite radio, and more. 
The very well-equipped RTL version is actually cheaper than the base model with HPD. 

The Honda Ridgeline isn't for everyone of course. If you must have an old fashion truck, this is not it. But as they say, this is all the truck 90% of people need. And it's true. 
The RTL model for under $40 000 is actually priced very well against the competition. (even though I still can't believe how expensive pick-up trucks have become...) And absolutely needs to be on your list if you are shopping for a pick-up.

The Ridgeline's main problem is a split personality. It is a basically very refined vehicle, now trying to appeal to people who generally don't care about refinement.

Quite a pickle...





 

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

2022 Acura MDX: test drive...






The all-new Acura MDX is quite an impressive vehicle in the flesh. 

Although I am still not a fan of huge grilles and fake vents, it has a very clean profile. And an overall classy and upscale look.
The design and proportions are a vast improvement over the previous generation.




The interior is all-new as well but seems very familiar. Since it feels like a cross between the MDX and TLX sedan. 
All materials are of high quality. And everything feels very solid. 

Although I still have an issue with the Mode Dial placement. As a driver, you do get used to it. But more than once, my passenger used it to change the volume. (Since it is exactly where the volume knob should be)
 I know (from multiple comments here) that some people mind the piano black trim, I usually don't. But there is a lot of it in the MDX.  And, maybe, a little bit too much.
The wood trim that looked so amazing in the TLX, looks a bit too grey here. At least in the brown interior of my test car (It could be lighter with other interior colors)

 The 17 speaker sound system is amazing like it is in all current Acura models. And the seats are very comfortable. (Although for the price, I would have liked 4-way adjustable headrests)
The info system is still not very intuitive. But again, as an owner, you do get used to it pretty quickly. 
(The lack of a touchscreen is still baffling)
The screen can also be a bit slow to navigate through the menu pages.
I also had an issue with the wireless CarPlay that would never allow me to play music from another source. Even though there was a USB drive plugged in and the USB selection seemed available.



The second-row seat is very roomy. Usually the case in large crossovers of this size. Climate controls and heated seats are available. And multiple ports.



The 3rd-row access is fairly easy. And once back there, there is enough room and the seat is pretty comfortable. Keep in mind that I am an inch under 6 feet. A taller person might feel pretty tight. 




The cargo area is very roomy, even with the 3rd row up. And the "hidden " area is actually pretty large as well. 


The first thing I noticed while driving the MDX was how amazingly smooth and quiet the 3.5 Liter V6 was. But also how light the steering feel was. Which is easily fixed by selecting sport on the steering settings. (And I guess that's something many people associate with "luxury")

The drive modes are actually not that different from one another. The steering is just a bit too light for me except in the sports mode. I couldn't really tell big differences in the suspension. But the engine comes with a fake exhaust, not in "sport" mode. 
The "Individual" mode is actually the best since you can pick individual settings for each. (You can also disable the start-stop system, which is not the smoothest around...)

The V6 has plenty of power all the time. There is really no need for more in this type of vehicle.
The 10-speed transmission works perfectly.

The ride is very smooth, but still had some trouble absorbing some of the large bumps from our horribly neglected roads in L.A.

One small thing I also noticed was how small the info was on the screen behind the wheel. Maybe I never noticed this before on other cars, but it became strangely hard to read (photo above).




The MDX is rated at 19/25 MPG. As usual with a large V6, I got about 17/18 MPG around town (Which is actually better than most)
But easily got over 28 on the freeway. 




The new MDX is a great choice for a 3-row luxury SUV. And it does have a truly upscale feel and demeanor.
It is also a huge step above the current Honda Pilot. And really worth the extra money.

At $62 000, my test car was pricey. (A few thousand more than the Avenir version of the great Buick Enclave.) And it will soon be getting strong competition from the upcoming Infiniti QX60.

The MDX starts at around $47 000. And already comes with a huge list of standard equipment.
Especially, the same wonderful 3.5 Liter V6. Since the "Drive Mode" selector (and other things) is not really a must-have,  either version would be a great choice...

For Acura fans who don't need an SUV, the new TLX is fantastic. And of course, much cheaper. (It basically tops where the MDX starts). The TLX also has nicer steering and even a smoother ride.












 

Thursday, March 18, 2021

2022 Acura MDX test drives: the drive modes...

 

I noticed a few comments asking me about the various drive modes in the new Acura MDX. And I thought I would do a quick post about it instead of waiting for my week drive to be over. 

As you can see in the photo above, you can pick "Comfort", "Normal" or "Sport". This affects all of the items you see on the screen. And I tried most of them.  

You can also pick the "Individual" setting where you modify everything individually. Which I like to do for normal driving. For instance, the steering feel is very light in both "Normal" and Comfort". So I use it in "Sport". But I do like to use the suspension in "Comfort" mode for everyday driving.

If you use "Sport" for everything, the suspension is a bit firmer but never uncomfortable. But what is uncomfortable is the horrible (and ridiculous) fake "sporty exhaust" sound that comes with it. By using the individual mode, I can switch the "Engine setting to "Normal" and get rid of the fake sound.

The only annoying thing is that every time you get back in the car and start, it reverts to the "Normal" mode. You just have to switch back to "Individual" (or any other mode) every single time. 

And why????

Otherwise, the engine and transmission are super smooth. The ride is very, very comfortable and steering in Sport mode feels great. (although still not really "sporty")

I'll go into more details in a few days...