Category Archives: First Drive Reviews

2016 Ford F-150

 

After a year long hiatus, I am back!

In this time, I have started a new job at a Ford dealership in my area doing multimedia production and inventory management in addition to long distance vehicle deliveries.

Check out our social media pages!

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So here is what this means to you, the reader.

1- I will have very in depth reviews and photos of Ford’s entire lineup in the months to come.

2- I will have less reviews of other models as in the past, until I can establish relationships at other dealers to continue to new reviews.

Now that we’re up to speed- here is what I have to say about the 2016 Ford F-150 Platinum 4×4.

 

The 2015 model year marked one of the biggest changes for the model line in the entire history of its’ existence. Replacing a typical steel body with a military-grade aluminum one. Many jumped to conclusions about the change, comparing the new F-150 body to that of an aluminum soda can. Others looked at the facts and became excited at the over 700 pound weight loss and increased fuel efficiency and payload capacity.

The frame was also updated; featuring ultra-high strength steel with extra stiffening cross members to increase rigidity.

In addition to the new material, the aluminum body netted the model an entirely new design, featuring more curves and design lines, a new interpretation of Ford’s signature huge grille, and visible increase in materials quality and fit-and-finish.

The 2015 model year also introduced amazing new technology, ground breaking in any pickup truck class. Features like Adaptive Cruise Control, Lane Departure Warning and Mitigation, Park Assist, Massaging Front Seats, Blind Spot Monitoring, and so much more make this truck incredibly smart and safe.

Powertrain options changed for the 2015 F-150 by adding a 2.7L V6 EcoBoost to the lineup, offering simply shocking power, torque, towing capability, and fuel efficiency. This truck is also offered with Ford’s base 3.5L V6, classic Coyote 5.0L V8, and tried-and-true 3.5L V6 EcoBoost. RWD, Part-time 4WD, and Full-time/Automatic 4WD are the drivetrain options, and availability differs based on model.

Ford offers 3 cab configurations and 3 bed lengths to accommodate all customers.

Speaking of models/trims- F-150 has six trim levels available for the F-150 with special packages in each level that allows you to truly build a unique truck to suit your tastes.

In order from most basic and least expensive to most luxurious and most expensive:

XL

XL Sport

XLT

XLT Sport

Lariat

Lariat Sport

King Ranch

Platinum

Limited

 

The interior of the truck shown, a 2016 F-150 Platinum SuperCrew 4×4 is outstandingly appointed.

It features black heated and cooled leather seats with massaging option, SYNC3 with 8″ touch screen, power running boards, heated steering wheel, and all of the aforementioned technology.

The ride quality is still obviously truck-like, but updates to the suspension make it more comfortable at freeway speeds.

This truck is impressively quiet even at freeway speeds, and the solid thud of the doors closing evokes a sense of quality.

New Electric Power Assist Steering provides variable assist depending on speed, and feels different than the classic hydraulic assist. It makes easy work of squeezing out of tight spaces, but gives a sense of vagueness when making small steering corrections at freeway speeds. There is a 1-2 degree measurement in both directions from center that feel numb and almost disconnected.

The 5.0L V8 was no slouch, but the 3.5L EcoBoost is what I would have preferred on the long uphill stretches from Phoenix to Flagstaff.

This truck was taken to northern Arizona after a week of snow storms to capture its capabilities on camera. The photos are attached at the top of this post, and a video production can be found on the home page of the linked YouTube channel.

 

I hope you enjoyed this review of the 2016 Ford F-150 Platinum.

Stay tuned for more frequently occurring posts and reviews.

Thanks!

 

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First Drive Review- 2014 Ford F-150 SVT Raptor

In the full-size truck world, bigger is better. The big 3 American truck producers have always had a great rivalry. Most truck enthusiasts choose one brand for life, tattoo said brand on their arm for all to see and damn all other brands to hell. After driving multiple generations of Dodge Rams, Ford F-Series, and GM trucks, I’ve made my choice as to which I would buy- Ford F-Series. The particular trim level is one of the most well-known and popular trim levels of the current generation F-150- the SVT Raptor.

Popular between Baja 1000 racers and weekend wheelers alike, the SVT Raptor is arguably the most offroad capable truck available from the factory. Standard equipment includes 4-wheel drive (duh) with an electronic locking rear differential, BFG All-Terrain tires, hill descent control, skid plates, long-travel Fox suspension, upgraded control arms and the beastly 6.2L V8.

Surprisingly, the big V8 is quiet, I presume due to the factory exhaust, but beneath the muffled sound, you can hear the throaty and hearty nature.  The steering is nicely assisted, the wheel features generous grip bolsters, and the backup camera is much appreciated when hooking up a trailer, or just trying to not smash in the bumper of the scared little Nissan Versa you’re backing up in front of.  In addition to the rear facing camera, the SVT Raptor also features a forward facing camera, accessible in 4WD Low Range or when “Offroad Mode” is selected under 5MPH. Upfitter switches allow for aftermarket electrical accessories (winch, offroad lights etc) to be wired cleanly and in a way that appears OEM.

Standard Sony sound system offers great sound quality, and the amplified subwoofer adds a great, hearty thump to your tunes.

Be conscious of the widened fenders, and bumper corners when trying to park this monster, power adjustable driver’s seat will help you find a comfortable driving position.

When you purchase a truck, you consciously make sacrifices of fuel economy, maneuverability, and overall cost. However, you buy lots of features- high ride height, inherit safety, towing ability, versatility. Trucks appeal to a wide market, and the F-150 ranges in price from a base model XL starting at just over $25k to a range topping Limited at over $60k (Most people are surprised to find that the Raptor is not the top trim level)

There is my overview of the 2014 Ford F-150 SVT Raptor, comment if you have any questions. Stay tuned for my reviews of Acura’s lineup of SUV’s and luxury sedans, and some offerings from Infiniti.

Thanks for reading!

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First Drive Review- 2015 Ford Mustang

Since 1964 the Ford Mustang has been the quintessential affordable American muscle car. 2015 marks the newest generation of Ford’s most muscular car and underneath the new sheet metal, and new sexy curves, lies some controversial working bits.

In addition to the spicy 5.0 V8 GT and the mild-sauce 3.7L V6, which have been offered in Mustangs for years, the new generation includes the option of a 2.3L EcoBoost 4-cylinder. This is where the controversy lies, most die-hard muscle car fans will scoff at the idea of a turbo four planted underneath the same body as their fire-breathing 5.0 V8. The move to a hot turbo four is not surprising, with C.A.F.E. (Corporate Average Fuel Economy) regulations getting tighter and tighter, auto manufacturers have to find ways to satisfy the government, the environment, and the consumers- which all have different interests.

The previous body style began in 2010 and was a seemingly natural progression from years past. Interior quality was nothing too special, and saying the media interface was dated would be an understatement.

The new Mustang however, is a no-detail-overlooked, finely crafted, more mature interpretation of Ford’s muscle heritage. The interior, especially on Premium trim levels, showcases all of Ford’s current technology and high-quality materials. Each Mustang now features keyless push-button ignition, Premium trim levels get the huge touch-screen interface, which is much appreciated and really updates the cabin. All Mustangs get a backup camera as standard, which is something every car in this class should have, in my opinion. GT models have adjustable driver modes, which connect to the new Electric Power Assist steering, which replaces a hydraulic assist unit, which most will argue gives the steering a more hefty, and organic feel. The GT Performance Package adds Brembo 6-piston fixed calipers, unique Traction control tuning and chassis tuning, and special bracing and suspension components.

The leather is smooth, soft-grain and seems durable. Seats are bolstered adequately, but are comfortable.  Everything in the interior feels well put together, but the doors don’t create a supple yet solid thud I expect from every new car built this year.

The styling is a more modern interpretation of the Mustang form, but still calls heritage to many strong body lines. Ford design has been suspiciously Aston Martin-esque ever since the Fusion’s redesign a few years ago. In my opinion, it is a smart move on Ford’s part, it almost implies quality.

The 6-speed manual transmission may just be my new favorite manual transmission (previously 6-speed from the SRT Challenger). The clutch grabs low on the pedal travel, isn’t too limp nor too stiff, and the detents in the shifter make gear shifts feel confident and solid.

All in all, the new retro-muscle offering from Ford is a stellar competitor to the recently updated Challenger, and the Camaro. I expect the new model to outsell it’s cheaper predecessor, and outsell the competition.

Thanks for reading! Stay tuned to see reviews of Acura’s lineup and some luxury offerings from Infiniti.

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Like my the content of my blog? Want something a little different? Check out RNR Automotive Blog http://rnrautoblog.com/

First Drive Review- 2015 Acura ILX

Honda’s luxury brand Acura has always been the understated luxury Japanese import. When names like Lexus and Infiniti are your direct competitors, and BMW, Mercedes-Benz, and Audi are often cross-shopped by consumers- making a statement and setting your product aside from the competition is important. The platform sharing is very obvious here, which Honda has done a pretty good job at keeping low-key. Lets be frank- this is a Civic sedan that went to Princeton and wears Gucci suits and Rolexes.

You get the choice of inline 4-cylinders displacing either 2.0L or a 2.4L. 2.4L only available with a manual transmission and is good for just over 200 horses unleased at 7,000 rpm in typical Honda fashion. The base 2.0L produces 150 horsepower at a lower 6500 rpm. Don’t even bother with torque, its minuscule, but sufficient. Average fuel economy is low 30’s, and it requires 91 octane or better- the automotive equivalent of drinking only Dom Perignon while the proletariat Civic is happy with Korbel.

You get a few trim choices, the most base starting at just over $27k. Opt for a fully loaded Technology Package equipped ILX you’ll pay nearly $32k. Essentially the Technology Package gets you Navigation, ELS Premium Audio and Sirius XM radio.

The suspension is nicely controlled and taut but not jarring. The transmission holds first gear longer than I would like and seems confused- for lack of a better term. The steering is very assisted, and does not provide much weight or feedback.  Like all members of the Acura family, the steering wheel is wrapped in supple leather, and feels very nice in your clutch. The front seats provide only minimal lateral support, but is nicely trimmed in your choice of two leather colors.

In summary, Acura’s entry level offering- the ILX- is everything you could expect- an entry level offering. Step up to the TLX if you want a true luxury sedan from a brand that knows how to make one.

Thanks for reading! Stay tuned for reviews of the rest of Acura’s lineup and some offerings from Infiniti.

 

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First Drive Review- 2015 Acura RLX Advance

If you’ve followed my blog for any period of time, you know that I am a loyal fan of Acura products. I love the understated luxury, high quality and track record of reliability. This is Acura’s flagship sedan.  The large luxury sport sedan segment is fiercely contested, with competitors such as the Audi A6, BMW 5-Series and Lexus GS. Acura is relatively new to this segment, and the RLX is not what you would call a strong competitor among the others, selling supposedly less than 8,000 units last year. The 3.5L V6 makes a healthy 310 horsepower which is enough to calmly propel the large sedan at a nice pace and still have enough grunt in store for freeway merging or passing. The RLX sets itself apart from the competition by offering a 3-motor Hybrid AWD system. You read that correctly- 3 electric motors. The largest of the 3 mated to the transmission in between the front wheels operates like any other FWD-based hybrid- providing power assist at low speeds and also in high-load scenarios. The rear motors- operate together using Acura’s SH-AWD torque vectoring programming to allow for stellar cornering and traction and can be powered under low speed.

The bolstering isn’t excessive, the RLX is geared towards comfort, not sport. The back seat is roomy and the cushioning is soft. The leather is high-quality and surrounds the entire cabin. Acura is now using a two-screen infotainment system, the larger screen sitting high on the dash is used for the navigation map, and the smaller, sits lower in the dash and is an interactive touch-screen with tactile feedback. The smaller unit is used to control climate, audio, phone and navigation inputs.

Models with the Advance Package include safety features such as Blind Spot Monitoring, Collision Mitigation Braking System, and Lane Keep Assist. The RLX can be ordered in a few different trim levels- base, w/ Navigation, w/ Technology Package, w/ Krell Audio, w/ Advance Package and SH-AWD Hybrid w/ Technology or Advance. Prices begin at $48k and climb to a steep $65k before options and accessories- prices are right in line with the competitors.

The car feels as large as it is. The steering has weight to it, but not a sporty type of weight- almost an artificial feeling designed to create the feeling of size. The 3.5L Direct Injected V6 provides a nice feel of power reserve and the brakes inspire confidence.

All in all, the RLX is aimed at a very specific demographic of a very large market. I honestly think the only people who will buy an RLX are Acura loyalists who find themselves in the market for a large sedan. Thanks for reading! Stay tuned for more reviews of the rest of Acura’s lineup and some offerings from Infiniti.

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First Drive Review- 2015 Infiniti QX80

Infiniti offers something for almost every market that appeals to buyers in the luxury segment. This is their flagship SUV- the QX80 (formerly QX56). Sharing platforms with both the Nissan Armada and Infiniti’s own M-Sedan, the QX80 is a large SUV with three rows of seating and stuffed with technology and luxury features.

The 5.6L V8 makes 400 horsepower and 413 pound-feet of torque which will push this nearly 6,000 pound monster along at a rate of 14mpg city and 20mpg highway- drinking 91 octane or better. The QX-80 has an optional AWD system, powering all four wheels constantly, and offering the driver a Low-Range setting for towing or off-roading (If the mall parking lot is blocked by rubble, proletariats, or domestic compact cars). The QX80 is independently sprung at all four corners, and provides a tall ride height, and an exceptionally supple and floaty ride quality. The steering is weighty, in a “I’m driving something that weights 3-tons” kind of way.

Infiniti loads this badboy to the brim with technology- Blind spot monitoring, lane keep assist, collision mitigation braking, 360-degree camera system, and object detection. All of these features make piloting this extremely large SUV much less stressful. Remote start system engages quickly and is much appreciated on hot summer days or cold winter mornings. Rear seat passengers will be kept entertained by individual headrest mounted monitors. The rear seat can be ordered in dual captains chairs or as a split folding bench. The third row is two separate seats that are electrically folded into the floor or brought up, they can be controlled individually. Keep third row passengers to small children and you should experience no complaints. Power liftgate makes closing the gate after unloading groceries with full hands a breeze. The driver controls navigation and radio through dash-mounted buttons and dials underneath a relatively small screen. This system has been used in Infiniti products since the late 2000’s. The only Infiniti product to have an updated infotainment system is their newest model-the Q50. Heated front seats are standard, and cooled seats are optional. Bose speakers are optional, and this system is exceptional- in typical Bose fashion.

A fully loaded QX80 will cost you in the neighborhood of $80k. If you are in this tax bracket, and want a large Japanese luxury SUV, the QX80 is the car for you.

Thanks for reading! Stay tuned for reviews of Acura products and more Infiniti products.

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Like my the content of my blog? Want something a little different? Check out RNR Automotive Blog http://rnrautoblog.com/