Big as You Want

April 1st, 2019

By Don Armstrong

The difference between a sport utility vehicle, SUV, and crossover utility vehicle, CUV, is capability. The body-on-frame SUV typically shares most of its underpinnings with a modified truck chassis, giving it more towing and hauling capacity. The CUV is more car-like, with its unibody construction. Each, however, has its own attributes.

Ford Expedition
Expedition is Ford’s version of the Chevy Suburban, a big, hulking, monster of a machine capable of hauling sacks of concrete, people and equipment, all while towing a loaded trailer. However, if you’re more into hauling the ball team and its equipment to the game, it makes the trip effortless, and in the luxury you can afford.

Ford’s infotainment system, Sync 3, provides all the tech connections you could ever want, while seating up to eight people. Air vents, controls and displays are located at your finger tip and easy to use.

Under the hood is a 375-horsepower, 3.5-liter, turbocharged V-6. A new 10-speed automatic transmission helps this beast achieve 17 MPG-city and 22-highway.

Ford researchers know the options most of us like on a do-all, like Expedition, and they package them in trim levels titled XLT, Limited and Platinum.

Pricing starts at $52,130.

Unless you are a Ford fanatic, you’ll also want to shop the Chevy Suburban, Toyota Sequoia and Nissan Armada.

Mazda CX-5
With a sportiness that attracts those who enjoy the art of driving, the Mazda CX-5 brings with it ‘the look’ that enthusiasts appreciate. The leading edge of its hood is thin and evokes a marathon runner’s svelte physique. The door skins have a sharp belt-line transition, giving it cutting-edge swagger.

The CX-5 has an inviting interior. The infotainment screen is perched atop the middle dash. Touch features are limited while the vehicle is in motion, but most can be accessed through a knob on the center console.

The 2019 model addresses the need for more grunt with an optional turbo version of Mazda’s 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine that delivers up to 250-horsepower through a 6-speed automatic transmission.

Its taut suspension fits the sporty nature of the brand. So, when there is an opportunity to carpet the throttle and zoom onto the freeway entry, you’ll do it with a smile.

The CX-5 starts at $24,350. You’ll have to get one of the top two trim levels to access the higher horsepower engine option.

The New Family Trucksters

July 1st, 2017

2017 Acura RDX

By Don Armstrong

Yesterday’s station wagon is today’s SUV but there are dozens to choose from. So, where do you start? This month we look at a couple that may hit your sweet spot, just in time for summer vacation.

Acura RDX
Honda’s luxury brand is known for quality and the Acura RDX is no exception. The 2017 model offers a no-nonsense approach to luxury with its relatively conservative exterior design and straight-forward interior layout.

One of our biggest pet peeves is too many trim levels or option packages but that is not the case with the RDX. Choose from three — AcuraWatch Plus, Technology and Advance. Front wheel drive is standard, all-wheel drive is an option.

The only engine, a 3.5-liter V-6 with 279-horspower, is a perfect match to this vehicle. A smooth shifting six-speed automatic transmission helps return a reasonable 23-MPG combined fuel mileage rating.

If there is one gripe, it’s the infotainment system’s dash-mounted control knob and the split-screen display; you may like it, we think there are easier systems in the marketplace.

The RDX starts at $36,645. A nicely optioned AWD version with the Advance Package hits $43,520 but we think it hits the sweet spot for families looking for a nice caviar with their champagne.

Compare to the Lexus NX, Infiniti QX50 and the Mercedes GLC.

Mazda CX-5

Mazda CX-5
The first-generation Mazda CX-5 was a winner, not only in sales but value, looks, reliability, and the list goes on. Fast forward to the all-new 2017 model and we think you’ll be even more impressed, as we were.

Updated exterior design includes a more aggressive front fascia that integrates the grille, headlights and front splitter. Well done. Sculpted, rocker panels give the lower door panels a beefy look and the rear sun shade salutes a mini spoiler.

The CX-5’s normally aspirated 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine delivers an adequate 187-horses to the drive wheels through a six-speed automatic transmission. The EPA says you can expect to get a combined mileage rating of 26.

The dash just makes good sense and the materials are top notch, including the leather seating. Second-row seating allows adequate legroom for adults and now folds flat to help those large items load easier from the rear. We found the infotainment system confusing to navigate.

Starting at $24,045, Mazda CX-5 competitors, Honda CRV, Toyota RAV4 and Ford Escape, will have a hard time going toe-to-toe.

Bay Area Houston Magazine