Monthly Archives: May 2016

2016 Lexus RX 450h F-Sport 5-Door Sport Utility Vehicle

Susan Frissell

With styling updates for 2016, the Lexus RX SUV gets better and better. There isn’t much to dislike about the RX sport-ute and one can easily determine the reason-or reasons this model is so popular; and remains so, year after year.

Our test RX 450h F-Sport Hybrid version, with the F-Sport package, suits this writer just fine. Standard equipment alone is enough to satisfy most drivers, but this hybrid model added several nice options.

Lexus took a chance and dared to update the styling of this ever-popular sport-ute for 2016. While some may not like the new front grille, it is different, and stands out a little bit more from the rest. This is a good thing, as the RX was resting on its laurels, not changing much, including boring styling.

A technological leap forward, the 2016 RX sports a 3.5-liter V-6 engine (w/Hybrid drive, in this case), teamed with an eight-speed automatic transmission. Our test car came equipped with On-Demand all-wheel-drive; front-drive is standard on the RX. The RX cabin uses interior materials that can only be construed as ‘upscale.’ The F-Sport package adds supportive seats, among many other upgrades.

While it’s hard for this writer to opt for such a ‘commonly’ available vehicle choice, we couldn’t help but realize the RX would be a keeper. The pricing of today’s vehicles is beyond many people’s reach; the Lexus products among those sought after, hard-to-reconcile price tags. But, there is a good argument for keeping a vehicle when that vehicle is a Lexus product. Although some may say, “Why would you want to keep a car forever?” It isn’t so unusual these days. In fact, statistics demonstrate that the average car on the road is now 11 years old. This writer found herself saying, “I could keep this car for 30 years, and still be pleased.”

While Lexus was the first to bring this RX sport-ute to market, there have been since, several to join the category, including the BMW X4 ($46,245-$58,795), the new Jaguar F-Pace ($41,985-$70,695), Porsche Macan ($53,650), Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class ($39,8750$41,875), Cadillace XT5 ($39,990-$63,495), among others.

Although the public appears to be less interested in choosing a hybrid vehicle, due to lower gas prices, there is still a market, and one with so many other choices in 2016. Lexus has made some changes and additions to the RX 450h version to interest those still looking for ultimate efficiency. Since 2005, Lexus has offered the RX hybrid version, and this year has combined the hybrid feature with their F-Sport trim, for the first time.

We love the F-Sport package ($3410), and grew to appreciate its appeal in the Lexus IS 200t model. When added to other all-wheel-drive models, the F-Sport package includes such things as adaptive variable suspension, F-Sport+ setting for drive modes, a restyled lower front fascia, rear bumper and 20-inch wheels. Visuals like the black mesh grille and black side-mirror caps are also thrown in, with a F-Sport steering wheel. The different drive settings change the throttle response and climate-control function (in Eco mode). Normal and Sport or Sport+ are other choices.

Not sure how many drivers actually engage all these modes, but we like the idea of a “sportier” Lexus. We imagine driving a performance vehicle. While we’re not sure it fits in a SUV, we sure enjoyed the added ‘perceived’ performance in the Lexus IS 200t and now RX sport-ute.

Options on our already $57,045 RX 450h included Blind Spot Monitor with Rear Cross-Traffic Alert and Panoramic View Monitor ($800), Color Heads-up Display ($600), Lexus Safety System+ and
Adaptive Front Lighting System Headlamps ($1,050), Panoramic Moonroof ($500), Navigation System w/12.3 in. multimedia display, Lexus Enform Destinations ($430), F-Sport steering wheel ($50) and credit for All-Weather Drive Performance ($1,400).

In December of 2015, Lexus announced the 2016 RX would be the first sport-ute to offer the optional Lexus Safety System+ (LSS). Equipped with adaptive cruise, forward collision alert, auto high beams, auto-braking with pedestrian detection and lane-departure warning, the system was estimated to cost between $500-$635; as noted above, packaged with the Front Lighting System Headlamps, is at $1,050.

We found the pedestrian detection system to be very sensitive. While sitting in a driveway, a few feet from the road, the system went off each time a car passed. Toyota offers the system on the RAV4 and Avalon models, calling it the Safety Sense P Package. The LSS package was available in 2015 on the Lexus LS sedan; the only model that can come to a complete stop upon braking, accompanied by the pedestrian detection feature.

Having experienced this feature, it’s quite mind-boggling. Being able to come to a full stop at 25 miles-per-hour when detecting stationary vehicles, is impressive technology. Also, Lexus’ pedestrian detection from 19 mph offers a secure feeling when navigating busy areas. As someone who walks dogs in busy areas, these new features help drivers pay attention and be more alert. Always active between seven and 50 miles-per-hour, the LSS technology also controls the steering to maintain the vehicle place within lane markers.

It is near impossible to find negatives surrounding the Lexus RX lineup; the Hybrid has few exceptions. Although we found the hybrid system to be a tad noisy upon start-up; at idle, not so. Getting up to highway speeds is impressive and of course, the cabin is quieter than most. This vehicle is near perfection, particularly when raising the windows; they go up so quietly and unobtrusively. Fit and finish are top-notch, the interior rich-looking and the rear seat, roomy.

Rumor has it that Lexus may add third-row seating to the RX models; we hope not. Trying to be all things to all people doesn’t necessarily turn out well.

While it goes without saying, the standard features on the RX 450h are plentiful and include the expected ABS w/Electronic Brakeforce distribution and Brake Assist, Automatic On/Off Bi-LED
Headlamps/integrated LED fog lamps/LED daytime running lamps, Vehicle Theft-Deterrent System with Engine Immobilizer, Lexus Enform Safety Connect/Automatic Collision Notification, Stolen Vehicle Location Emergency Button, Roadside Assistance, Lexus Enform Service Connect, Lexus Enform Remote, Lexus2-speaker Premium Display Audio System HD radio with iTunes tagging, dual USB Control, Sirius XM Radio; Backup Camera, Auto Dual Zone Climate Control, Moonroof, Power back door, Rear View Mirror/Auto Dimming/Homelink Garage Door opener, Smart/Access with push button Start/Stop, Carpeted Floor Mats.

We found the Lexus display helpful and easy to read, however, not very intuitive to operate. We also became accustomed to the heads-up monitor, displaying not only the local speed limit, but the driver’s speed and a compass. An additional compass is available on the display.


MSRP: $57,045; total vehicle price $60,015; destination $940
Engine: 3.5-liter DOHC, 24-valve V-6 with VVT Front Electric Drive Motor’s w/Lexus Hybrid Drive, 308 hp.
Transmission: Electronically-controlled Continuously variable with Intelligence ECVT-I, 8-speed automatic
Wheelbase: 109.8 in.
Length: 192.5 in.
Width: 74.6 in.
Height: 67.7 in.
Curb weight: 4,857 lbs.
Zero-60 MPH: 7.1 seconds
EPA Fuel economy: 30/28 mpg.
Fuel tank capacity: 17.2 gal.
Warranty: 4 yr/50,000-mile Basic; 6 yr/unlimited corrosion; 6 yr/70,000-miles drivetrain; 1 yr/10,000-mile maintenance; 4 yr/unlimited roadside assistance

2016 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport 2.4 GT AWC

Susan Frissell

Every new iteration of this Mitsubish favorite is better and better. As is the case with the 2016 Outlander Sport GT, equipped with Mitsubishi’s 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine. Interior features and quality have improved, although, somewhat dated, and the standard three-row seating fits family needs; although one has to be agile and/or small to access it. Optional advanced safety technologies are also available to make Outlander compatible with its many rivals in the SUV marketplace. It remains to be seen what happens next for Mitsubishi after a recent statement that at Mitsubishi Motors in Tokyo employees allegedly improperly manipulated fuel-economy data to inflate mileage results on at least 625,000 vehicles.

The company also said it had violated Japanese law by deploying an improper fuel-economy testing method in some vehicles in Japan since 2002. It remains unclear at this time whether this affected fuel-economy information was provided to customers. An investigation will follow.

New for 2016 is the revised exterior styling-which is handsome, and standard LED headlights for the GT trim level. A revised navigation interface and more user-friendly folding arrangement in the second-row seating. Also new this year is a SEL midgrade trim level offering.

2016 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport

2016 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport

Cons? They all have them and the Outlander is no exception. Performance is wanting, and if one wants higher level features, he/she must opt for the GT Model. We could not warm up to the Rockford-Fosgate sound system. In spite of its 710-watt premium sound system with 9 speakers, the sound was good but not so the operation of the radio choices. This writer could not get the menu right so wasn’t able to determine song titles or performers. A minor point you might think, but it drove us crazy. We also could not locate the nav system, so assumed there wasn’t one; hard to believe in a GT trim level.

However, Mitsubishi gets credit for staying in the marketplace. Many times, the threat to leave the U.S. market looms. After just two years on the market, the Outlander received an upgrade and redesign; commendable. Considering the Outlander from a distance is favorable; it’s a good looking little SUV.

Our test vehicle was the GT version, with the 2.4-liter, 4-cylinder engine. If under serious consideration, we would most likely opt for the 6-cylinder. According to Mitsubishi, they also made improvements to the ride and handling, both which aren’t bad, but not A-plus. We found the car wandering on highway drives and felt as though it was a lightweight. The ride is quiet and smooth, and the car easy to handle, however, there is some road noise.

A seven-passenger SUV, the Outlander is available in four different levels: ES, SE, SEL and GT. The V-6 engine is only available in the GT, as is AWD. Mitsubishi offers a lengthy warranty, standard third-row seating and many standard features. Rival crossovers include the Mazda CX-5, Honda CR-V, Subaru Forester (standard AWD) and Kia Sorento. It’s hard to make headway in the Honda or Subaru market these days; both the CR-V and Forester and Outback are widely popular.

The Nissan Rogue also offers a third-row in the same price range.

The ES comes standard with 18-inch alloy wheels, LED running lights and taillights, heated mirrors, rear privacy glass, full power accessories, cruise control, automatic climate control, tilt-and-telescoping leather-wrapped steering wheel, height-adjustable driver seat, 60/40-split folding second-row seat that slides and reclines, 50/50-split third-row seat, Mitsubishi’s “Fuse” voice-command system (for phone and audio controls), Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity and a six-speaker sound system with CD player (becoming more rare), and USB port.

The SE adds foglights, body-color side mirrors with integrated turn signals, keyless ignition and entry, a color trip computer, dual-zone automatic climate control, heated front seats, a rearview camera and an upgraded audio system with a 6.1-inch touchscreen display and HD radio.

Added to the SEL are black roof rails, gloss-black interior trim, leather upholstery and a power driver seat. Many options are also available. Power folding mirrors are also included in two different packages, and our GT test vehicle came equipped with them. This is a great feature and another peace-of-mind invention.
When opting for the SEL Touring package, one gets a 7-inch touchscreen with nav., upgraded. Pricing for the Outlander ranges from $22,95-$30,995.

The GT comes standard with most options except the touchscreen navigation system and the advanced safety technologies (adaptive cruise control, forward collision mitigation and lane-departure warning), all of which are included in the optional GT Touring package. Exclusive standard features on the GT include LED headlights, silver roof rails, chrome exterior beltline accents, shift paddles and an auto-dimming rearview mirror.

The 2016 Mitsubishi Outlander is offered with two available engines. The ES, SE and SEL get a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine that generates 166 horsepower and 162 pound-feet of torque that is paired with a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT). ES models are front-wheel-drive only, while the SE and SEL can be had with either front- or all-wheel drive. In Edmunds performance testing, an all-wheel-drive SEL accelerated to 60 mph in 9.2 seconds, a slower time than many rivals.

Not sure why our test GT vehicle came equipped with the standard 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine and not the 3.0-liter V6. As said earlier, the six would be a big improvement. Our test vehicle was the six-speed automatic with shift paddles, and standard AWD.

2016 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport Interior

2016 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport Interior

Standard safety features on the 2016 Mitsubishi Outlander are comparable to other vehicles in this price range and include antilock disc brakes, traction/stability control, hill-start assist, driver knee airbag, side curtain airbags-first/second row, and front-seat side airbags. Consumers can opt for electronic safety features including lane-departure warning and forward collision mitigation.

The Outlander is in general an agreeable crossover. Where there isn’t anything to really dislike about it, there isn’t anything that makes it special. But then, that goes with the territory. How can any manufacturer compete in today’s over-crowded SUV category.


MSRP: $27,395; total vehicle price $28,345; options: Wheel locks, $55; destination $895
Engine: 2.4-liter MIVEC DOHC 16-valve, 4-cylinder, 166 hp., 162 lb.-ft. torque
Transmission: Six-speed automatic with O/D, AWC, Sportronic steering wheel paddle shifters
Wheelbase: 105 in.
Length: 184.8 in.
Width: 71.3 in.
Height: 66.1 in.
Fuel tank capacity: 16.6 gal.
Wheels: 18-inch two-tone alloy
Tires: 22/555R18 all-season
EPA fuel economy: 24/29 mpg.
Towing capacity: 1,500 lbs.
Warranty: 10 yr/100,000-mile powertrain; 7 yr/100,000-mile corrosive perforation; 5 yr/60,000-mile new vehicle limited; 5 yr/unlimited roadside assistance.