Luxury Summer Tow

July 2nd, 2019

By Don Armstrong

Towing a boat and trailer is second nature to many in the Bay Area but the right vehicle can make all the difference on the easiness scale. We recently drove a couple of contenders that would be a welcome addition to any skipper’s fleet.

Lexus GX460
The body-on-frame Lexus GX 460 hits the right notes when conducting the luxury and towing symphony. This player touts a somewhat subdued interior that feels rich, without being over the top. Quality fit and finish, combined with high-end leather and real wood accents, remind us of Uncle Jimmy’s library.

As with most SUV’s with 3-rows of seating, the last row should be relegated to the kids as leg room and seat bottom height will cripple most adults on all but short jaunts.
Powering the full-time all-wheel drive system is a 301-horsepower, 4.6-liter V-8. While some manufacturers offer 10-speed automatic transmissions, Lexus soldiers on with a 6-speed. That combination gets a 15 MPG-city and 18-highway rating from the EPA.

The GX460 is equipped with an air suspension that smooths most road bumps, but don’t expect car-like or crossover smoothness. Despite its heft, however, store parking lots that require tight maneuvering are easier than you’d think.

We recommend shopping the high-end Luxury trim level that is $11,500 more than the $53,505 entry model price.

Chevrolet Tahoe
When we think of luxury, Chevrolet doesn’t typically fall into that category, but we recently drove a loaded-up 4-wheel drive, top of the line, Premier Plus Edition that we’ll put up against almost any competitor in the luxo class.

First, let’s talk price. The entry-level Tahoe starts at $46,800. The Premier 4WD jumps up to $65,600, while our test Tahoe stickers for $78,565. You’re probably thinking, “wait, this is a Chevrolet?” Yes, and this one definitely separates the men from the boys.

As you might expect, everything but the kitchen sink is on board, including the new, optional 6.2-liter V-8 that hums out 420-horsepower, more than enough to haul 8 humans and tow up to 8,400 pounds. The 10-speed automatic transmission is smooth as silk, but fuel mileage is on par with most others in the body-on-frame class, 14-city and 22-highway.
The Tahoe Premier Plus also comes with Chevy’s Magnetic Ride Control that dampens bumps like no other suspension gizmo. Those auto-folding running boards make climbing into our football-brown leather interior a breeze.

Fun Fall Rides

October 1st, 2017

By Don Armstrong

Despite growing sales of SUVs and coupes, sport cars continue to intrigue aficionados and car lovers alike. This month, we look at America’s sport car and a 4-place coupe that will whet your appetite for fall weekend road trips in search of autumn leaves, crooked roads and cooler weather.

Chevrolet Corvette GS
Readers of this column always ask us, “what is your favorite car?” Raising kids dulled sport car thoughts for the past two decades but a recent drive of a 2018 Corvette GS awakened sleeping desires.

For 65 years, the Corvette has been the dream of every red-blooded, American kid, including me. I’ve owned many in my lifetime and enjoyed each one.

The new 2018 GS is a notch above the base level Corvette and gives the driving enthusiast all the attributes of the ultra-powerful, Porsche-killer, Z06, but without its mega-horsepower.

Let’s face it, the base 455-horspower, 6.2-liter V-8 that resides under the hood of the GS is enough to get even the most skilled pilot into some serious trouble.

Equipped with a 7-speed manual or 8-speed automatic transmission, this Chevy makes it easy to compete on the track and get you to the office in style. Add the carbon fiber package and ceramic brakes and you’ll announce to the world that you mean business.

The entry-level Corvette begins at $56,490, add another 10-grand to get the GS package.

Infiniti Q60 Red Sport 400
As the name implies, this is not your mama’s every day, run-of-the-mill, luxury coupe.

New for 2017, the Q60 Red Sport 400 is Infiniti’s way of getting to the fast lane in style.

What differentiates the Red Sport from the lower Q60 trim levels is the 400-horsepower, twin turbo V-6 that powers the rear wheels through a 7-speed automatic transmission. All-wheel drive is available. Just by touching the paddles on the steering wheel, the Q60 comes alive with a whoosh of power.

The 2-door sport coupe seats 4 in ultra-plush leather. Even the dash has supercar flair with its dual screens located in the laidback center stack. The instrument pod sits under a notable sunshade that rises in front of the driver.

With adaptive steering and ride adjustability, road trip destinations will become the number one searched item on your new, expensive smart phone.

The Infinti Q60 Red Sport 400 starts at $51,300. Add another 10-grand for a loaded up one, like our tester.

Bay Area Houston Magazine