LUXE

November 1st, 2018

By Don Armstrong

Cadillac CT6

Cadillac CT6
Think American luxury sedans and chances are good that Cadillac comes to mind.

More than just another full-size luxury machine, the 2018 CT6 can now be equipped with Cadillac’s Super Cruise semi-autonomous driver control, that can take you down a road not experienced by many.

Cadillac’s Super Cruise uses multiple cameras and sensors that work in tandem to help keep the car traveling in the highway lane you put it in, alerting the driver and releasing control when it “sees” something that can get you in trouble. No, it’s not completely autonomous, yet, but it’s easy to see where Cadillac is heading.

The body of the CT6 is ultra-modern up front with sharp-cornered lighting that bookend’s the large Caddy emblem center grille. The rear fascia is ultra conservative. Somehow, it works.

Motivating this beauty is an optional 3.0-liter twin-turbocharged V-6 that delivers 404-horsepower to all four wheels. A turbo-4 is standard.

The conservatively designed interior is cutting edge with a large, easy-to-use infotainment screen. All of Cadillac’s latest and greatest techno is there too. Materials and workmanship are top notch.

Pricing starts $54,095. Our loaded CT6 with Premium trim was a touch over $100,000.

Lexus LS 500h
You are either a lover or hater of the Lexus “spindle” grills. Either way, it certainly makes a statement, and so goes the LS grille.

The Lexus LS is the brand’s full-size model and we think it’s a beauty, particularly the interior. And really, isn’t that what matters most?

This Lexus comes with sumptuous, perforated leather seating with reclining and massaging functions in back along with real wood trim and the optional 23-speaker Mark Levinson sound system.

The dash is very different with many shapes and forms coming together in a museum quality work of art. There’s even a backlit piece of eye candy for the front passenger to enjoy. If there is a drawback it would be the finger touch control pad for the infotainment screen. We could make-do though.

Lexus no longer offers a V-8 engine in the LS. Instead, you’ll get the naturally aspirated V-6 or the hybrid that whispers 354 horsepower through a continuously variable transmission to the rear wheels. All-wheel drive is available.

The ride is what you’d expect, like a cloud and worthy of at least 10-hours behind the wheel or as a lucky passenger.

Pricing begins at $79,510.

Not Grampa’s Station Wagon

September 1st, 2018

By Don Armstrong

Toyota RAV4

The 2018 RAV4 has become America’s go-to SUV. Dependable, maneuverable and sized for a growing family, the RAV4 makes driving in rush hour traffic a little more bearable.

The RAV4’s 2.5-liter I-4 engine may lack the zippiness of some of its competitors but who’s complaining about fuel efficiency? Getting 34 MPG-city and 30-highway, the little engine that could, does. It’s matched to a 6-speed automatic transmission.

Front wheel drive is standard, all-wheel drive is optional.

The shape of the RAV4 is familiar to most and is not one that says, “Hey, look at me!” Conservative, sellable styling have contributed to making it a fast mover at Bay Area dealerships.

Like most models that have been around awhile, the interior looks a little dated, as is the technology. It has more of a utilitarian feel to it and that make work well for you, but if you are the “tech” type person, you may want to opt for the 2019 model. A completely redesigned RAV4 will be arriving in showrooms this winter. The 2018 will be priced to move and may be snapped up before you get a chance to get one of your own.

Current pricing starts at $24,660.

Lexus RX350
The 4th generation of the RX continues a tradition that started in 1999, a luxury SUV that strikes a chord with many fans of the Lexus brand.

Chances are that you or someone you know has owned an RX. This writer bought one of the first generation RXs and I still have fond memories of it. A small, luxurious runabout that fits our family of four perfectly.

Like most manufacturers, Lexus grew the RX in size to what you see today, a mid-size SUV, but owners still love it.

The polarizing spindle grille may be off-putting to some, but the overall design seems cutting edge. Coupled with the high-zoot lighting, this RX makes a statement.

A 3.5-liter V-6 delivers its 295-horsepower to the front wheels through an 8-speed automatic transmission. All-wheel drive is available.

The interior has plenty of luxury that you must check out, but a joy stick controller for the infotainment system may be a deal-breaker for you. Quality is a hallmark of the Lexus brand and if you a willing to pay a little more for your ride, chances are, you won’t regret it.

Starts at $43,470.

Different Shapes of Family Haulers

January 1st, 2018

By Don Armstrong

Whether you’re on a budget, or have a preferential shape or style, every manufacturer offers a variety of vehicles with hopes of winning your approval. This month, we look at the two most popular styles in the Bay Area, a minivan and a crossover.

Lexus NX 200 T
Known for quality workmanship and service that has set the new benchmark, Lexus offers a compact SUV that is perhaps the most stylized of all, the NX 200 T.

From its oversized, spindle-shaped grille and scalloped sides to edgy lighting fore and aft, the NX turns heads wherever it goes.

The outside-the-box design continues on the interior with its unique approach to controlling the infotainment system. The screen is set too far back on the dash for the driver to facilitate finger-touch control so a joystick-like pad is placed atop the center console, forward of the shifter, to move the invisible cursor with your finger. A slight vibration on your finger tip and a highlighted option on the screen’s menu indicates where you are. A press of the pad will select the desired function.

Cargo space behind the second-row seats is smaller than its competitors but you’ll have to decide its importance.

Our 200 T version of the NX includes a 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine that produces 235 horsepower.

Starts at $35,285.

Honda Odyssey
Will you ever use your SUV for true off-roading? Our guess is, probably not. So, why buy something that you’ll only use some of its capability? The minivan remains the ultimate people hauler and Honda has an all-new version of its reliable Odyssey.

Now in its fifth iteration, the Honda Odyssey is a solid contender in the minivan class. Its attractive, conservative shape will appeal to everyone. The hallmark of the minivan, of course, is its sliding, second-row passenger doors. And, yes, the popular, on-board vacuum system returns

New this year is a second row of seats that slide fore and aft, making it easier to get back to the third row of fold-in-the-floor seating. Honda also has a rear cabin camera system that allows mom to monitor the goings-on behind her without having to stop the vehicle and referee the misbehavior.

Thank you, Honda, for keeping the 3.5-liter V-6 engine that is now married to a nine or ten-speed automatic transmission. Plenty of horsepower for luggage, 6-kids and mom and dad.

Start planning the summer vacation starting at $30,965.