Fun Factory Performers

February 27th, 2020

By Don Armstrong

Main-stream automakers have been turning out performance vehicles since the 60’s but today’s factory racers are hotter than ever. Here are a couple examples that should get your blood pumping just looking at them.

Ford F-150 Raptor
Photo credit: NWAPA / Josh Mackey

Ford F-150 Raptor
The Baja 1000 is one example of extreme off-road racing and is where Ford’s F-150 Raptor was developed.

Power comes from a twin turbo, 450-horsepower V-6 engine. No, not a V-8. A new 10-speed automatic transmission handles the gear changes to its computer-controller 4-wheel/all-wheel drive system – when the tires are on terra firma. Controlling the Raptor’s rough and tumble suspension are Fox Racing shocks at all four corners, also adjusted electronically. Because of the extensive power and traction, tires tend to rotate on the wheels, so Ford has optional bead-lock rims available.

The interior gets special body-hugging seating, with Raptor Easter eggs throughout the cabin – in case you needed to be reminded that you are not in grampa’s old grocery getter.
The minute you climb up, strap-in, hit the ignition and put it in gear, you know you are in something like no other. The ride is solid and takes on big city potholes like they don’t exist. The power curve and transmission shifts are confidence-building adrenaline rushes.
Pricing starts at $53,205

Dodge Challenger R/T Scat Pack 392

Dodge Challenger R/T Scat Pack 392
It’s not the Hellcat, with 707 supercharged horsepower, but it does have 485-horses and it’s not nearly as expensive – $38,995. That’s $20,000 less than the Hellcat.

The naturally aspirated R/T Challenger 392 Scat pack comes with many of the same “bad boy” body cues as its more powerful Hellcat brother. And let’s face it, that’s just as important as horsepower. You know – walk-the-walk.

What really draws our attention is the options list. With no fewer than 11 colors, a Wide Body variation, choice of manual or automatic transmissions, myriad of graphics, wheels, tires, spoiler and more, so creating a Challenger 392 Scat Pack that is unique to you is a cinch.

The Uconnect Infotainment system is simply the best on the market and the “Performance Pages” within will have you selling your PlayStation.

Some may dismiss this car as an old heavy weight, but there is something to be said about feeling safe in this rocket ship. Owning a Scat Pack will not only satisfy your need for speed but will tell everyone else, “get out of my way.”

New rides for a New year

January 1st, 2017

By Don Armstrong

The popularity of crossovers and SUVs is unprecedented, seems everyone has one in the family stable. Although sedans and minivans may not be as popular as they once were, Chrysler and Kia have completely redesigned non-SUV’s that are worthy of a look-see.

Chrysler Pacifica
The Town and Country was a name that was once synonymous with Chrysler’s luxury minivan. Now, with its complete redesign, comes a new name, Pacifica.

Chrysler took all the good things its outgoing minivan had to offer and honed them into a beautifully styled and executed all-new do-all.

Sitting in front of the Pacifica’s highly-stylized dash are comfortable bucket seats with a magical center console positioned between them. Second and third row Stow-and-Go seating makes this ride a handyman’s dream with a cargo area behind the front seats capable of swallowing an entire 4 X 8 sheet of plywood.

Chrysler’s U-Connect infotainment system, dual second-row screens for the kids and a built-in vacuum make this the ultimate kid hauler.

Power comes from a 3.3-liter V-6 that gets 28-mpg highway and delivers 287-horsepower through a 9-speed automatic transmission.

Forget the stigma, be different. After you take the neighbors with you to the kid’s soccer tournament in the hill country, we promise accolades from everyone.

Entry-level pricing for the LX starts at $28,595

Kia Cadenza
When you think of luxury sedans, what comes to mind? Mercedes, BMW, Lexus? How about Kia? Stay with us here.
The Cadenza may not have the “luxury” brand name behind it but this car could easily fit in any of those manufacturer’s lineups.

The Kia Cadenza is a sharp-looking, full-size, near-luxury sedan that checks all the boxes for design, integration, materials and execution. Its body is tightly sculpted, the grille hints at Kia’s now signature pinched-in-the-middle design and front and rear head and tail light assemblies highlight styling.

The high-zoot Limited trim level brings quilted leather to the 10-way driver’s seat. We found the dash to be attractive and highly functional, allowing adjustments to climate and infotainment a breeze. Rear seating is among the roomiest and most comfortable of any full-size sedan.

The 290-horsepower V-6 is as smooth as glass and the all-new 8-speed automatic transmission is seamless and responsive.

Ride and handling is spot-on, not too stiff and perfectly engineered for quick, aggressive moves.

Starts at $31,990.