SUVs Rule the Bay

August 1st, 2018

By Don Armstrong

Ford Expedition MAX
Leaps and bounds better than the outgoing model, the all-new Ford Expedition MAX finally gives the GM brand some real competition in the standard SUV category.

When compared to the Chevrolet Suburban, the Expedition Max is only 2.5-inches shorter. But there is a laundry list of differences. First and foremost is technology and that includes engine, transmission, suspension and the new Sync 3 infotainment system.

This body-on-frame SUV, now with independent suspension, delivers a family friendly ride.

Gone is the gas-thirsty V-8 power plant. A new 3.5-liter EcoBoost V-6 delivers up to 400 hp and 480 lb.-ft. of torque, which should handle its 9,000-lb. towing capacity with ease.

There are three trim packages available, XLT, Limited and Platinum and there is a sizeable price difference between each, so we suggest doing your research and picking one that best suits your needs.

Three rows of seating hold up to 8 passengers with plenty of legroom, the dash is taken from the F-150 pickup, a popular design that is highly functional. After decades of real-world research, Ford has a handle on what works.

We encourage you to check out the new Ford Expedition MAX that starts at $51,790.

GMC Acadia
In the world of SUVs, the crossover is the most popular. Usually built on a car chassis, these pseudo high-riders offer most folks everything that a body on frame sport-ute does but without the weight. And they usually deliver much better fuel economy.

Fully redesigned last year, the 2018 GMC Acadia packages the things a true crossover shopper is looking for in one sharp-looking package. And it’s priced competitively.

Interiors, in-general, seem to be moving toward a more complex, artsy design level. Not the Acadia, and we feel it makes a good fit for those inclined to head for the simpler things in life.

We loved the cloth seats because they weren’t ugly and were very comfortable. We like the faux wood accents and dash layout. In fact, there wasn’t much we didn’t like about the passenger compartment. The infotainment system was intuitive and easy to use.

A 4-cylinder engine is standard, but we prefer the optional 310-horsepower, 3.6-liter V-6 that gets 18 mpg-city and 25-highway. While others are going to a 10-speed automatic transmission, the GMC Acadia retains a six-speed.

The 2018 starting price hits the sweet spot at $29,995.

Rolling Luxury

August 1st, 2017

By Don Armstrong

Luxury SUV’s come in many forms, but no matter which you choose, it really boils down to personal taste and the vehicle’s agility. This month, Bay Area Houston Magazine looks at two examples, one American and one British, either of which would have the neighbors talking it up.

GMC Acadia
Unlike most revamped models being built today, the all-new GMC Acadia bucks the “make it bigger” trend with a significant reduction of overall dimensions and a 700-pound weight loss.

The Acadia now rides and handles better than before and still does all the things you buy an SUV for.

We drove the upscale Denali version with a 3.6-liter V-6 that delivers 301 horsepower to a 6-speed automatic transmission, ours had optional 4-wheel drive. Like most other midsize crossovers, it is capable of off-road duty but, let’s face it, 4-wheel drive would most likely be utilized mainly at the local boat ramps.

We love the exterior design with its squinty, new headlights and big rectangular chrome grille.

The interior is what we like to call, “business luxury.” GMC’s “Professional Grade” applies to the brand’s take on upscale.
The bells-and-whistles infotainment system is easy to use and includes all the connection options we now expect in new rides.

Base price starts at $29,995, Denali bling brings it to $46,390.

Land Rover Discovery
Gone is the boxy, outdated look of the LR4. Welcome the all-new 2017 Discovery to the Land Rover lineup.

Like the GMC Acadia, the Discovery has also gone on a diet, weighing a half-ton less than the old LR4 which it replaces. With its tighter beltline comes a svelte new body with a raked grille, a more rounded look and a much-needed overall modern exterior design.

There are three trim levels; SE, HSE and HSE Lux. We had the HSE. What do you envision the Discovery interior to be like? How ‘bout leather everywhere with contrasting stitching that’s well-done and not over-the-top. It’s from the UK, remember?

Yes, there is a third-row seating option but we wouldn’t recommend it. The touch screen infotainment system takes some getting used to but once mastered, you’ll probably like it.

The heart of any Land Rover is its off-road agility but explaining it would take more room than we have here. Get schooled at your dealer because you’ll want to test how far it will really take you.

Pricing starts at $68,153.