This is default featured slide 1 title

You can completely customize the featured slides from the theme theme options page. You can also easily hide the slider from certain part of your site like: categories, tags, archives etc. More »

This is default featured slide 2 title

You can completely customize the featured slides from the theme theme options page. You can also easily hide the slider from certain part of your site like: categories, tags, archives etc. More »

This is default featured slide 3 title

You can completely customize the featured slides from the theme theme options page. You can also easily hide the slider from certain part of your site like: categories, tags, archives etc. More »

This is default featured slide 4 title

You can completely customize the featured slides from the theme theme options page. You can also easily hide the slider from certain part of your site like: categories, tags, archives etc. More »

This is default featured slide 5 title

You can completely customize the featured slides from the theme theme options page. You can also easily hide the slider from certain part of your site like: categories, tags, archives etc. More »


Industry News

June 2018:

*General Motors Cadillac division recently announced it will be introducing a new sedan every six months!! This seems odd as to hear tell, the sedan as we know it, is on the way out?? Nevertheless, through 2021, GM is giving money to build two of them at the Lansing Grand River Assembly Plant in Michigan. GM will put $175 million into the next-generation Cadillac sedans.

*In other news from GM, the 2019 Chevrolet Blazer returns in a midsize crossover version. It looks great and will sell well, we predict.

*Out of Volvo, the news is the self-driving Volvo XC90 crossover SUV is planned for 2021. The Level 4 self-driving crossover SUV will be built at the So Carolina plant, and will be able to transport sleeping passengers toward their destination on limited roadways. The initial goal is provide a semi-automatic commuter vehicle. The technology is called Highway Assist, similar to Volvo’s already available Pilot Assist. In 2019, Volvo will debut its S60 vehicle.

*Volvo has confirmed that their new Care by Volvo Subscription Service is now available to deliver to automakers SC40 crossover Suv’s in most states. In 2019 the S60 Sedan will be unveiled at the So. Carolina factory, and is on track for subscriptions by the end of 2018.

*In 2019, Mazda’s infamous MX-5 Miata will get a 17 percent boost in horsepower over the 2018 model, to 181 hp. More power, higher redline. Can’t wait!

*At Volkswagen, the slow-selling dated Tiguan Ltd will be discontinued after the 2018 model year. The first five months of 2018 only saw 7,732 sales of the Limited crossover SUV. The Limited model was introduced in 2017 as a renamed, budget-priced ($23,150) version of VW’s Tiguan SUV. The design dates back to 2007, while its replacement redesigned model (2018) took over the straight Tiguan nameplate.

Drive-In Theatres Spell Summer and Nostalgia

Susan Frissell, Editor

June 6 is National Drive-In Movie Day, and believe it or not, there are still plenty of drive-in movie theaters in the U.S. Most recently, I read an article about several in Indiana and it motivated me to pass along some of the “do’s and don’ts” of Drive-In etiquette. Indiana, the most western state that is still in the Eastern time zone, is the state with the most miles of major highways in the country. It makes sense they would have the biggest number of Drive-Ins still in operation.

Fifty years ago, there were very few people who had not been to a Drive-In theatre. Obviously, times have changed, but for us baby-boomers and many millennials who grew up with cool parents, there are a few still operating to enjoy.

According to T.J. Jaeger (ARTS@NUVO.NET), after WWII, America had a ‘new’ generation of teenagers: One who had easy access to cars. The movie and the car boom were partly responsible for the invention of drive-in theaters across the country. Beginning on the east coast, drive-ins have change as have the movies and the film.

There are some 322 classic drive-in movie theaters open for business across America. In Nashville, TN, the opening soon August Moon Drive-In will be a 40,000-square-foot indoor space. Moviegoers will feel like they are watching a film outdoors with August Moon’s simulated starry sky and gigantic screen.

If the Drive-In is to survive, it’s competing today against the ready availability of movies, Netflix, and Hulu. Red Box and public libraries also offer access to feature films. But we don’t see that as competition. Going to a drive-in is, after all, so much more than watching a movie. A unique experience.

What’s better than sitting in the privacy of your own vehicle, watching a movie under the stars, and eating concession hotdogs and popcorn. Why, it is an ‘experience,’ after all. And for many baby-boomers, it brings back fond memories; nostalgia of days gone by.

According to the experts, there a few gems to keep in mind when frequenting a Drive-In:

*Although most movies start around 9:00 p.m., coming in plenty of time is expected. Arrive early-for several reasons: to get a good parking spot, allow time for mingling, bonding and getting the most out of the drive-in experience.
*Some people do bring their own food, but in all fairness to the proprietor, at least buy a coke or popcorn from the food stand. Concessions are the main source of income for Drive-ins, although often overpriced.
*Don’t forget the bug spray!
*Weather can be unpredictable. Bring a blanket, light jacket. Be prepared for the occasional summer storm.
*Drive-In masters give great thought to the Drive-In ‘vehicle of choice.’

A large vehicle with a reliable battery is strongly encouraged. If it’s a double-feature, start your car between the two movies. Don’t leave your car’s lights on or the battery on AC.

Jaeger lists 18 drive-in movies in our neighboring state of Indiana. If you’re up for a road trip, here is a list of those drive-ins still operating:

*49er Drive-In, Valparaiso (open every night), serves Orville Redenbacher’s popcorn!
*Lake Shore Drive-In, Monticello (open every night). Built in 1948.
*M.E.L.S. at the Starlite Drive-In, Thorntown (open Friday, Saturday).
*Tibbs Drive-In, Indianapolis (closed Tuesdays). Last remaining drive-in in Indy.
*Centerbrook Drive-In Martinsville (closed Monday, Tuesday).
*Cinema 67, Spencer (open Friday-Sunday). Concession stand has varied menu.
*Starlite Drive-In, Bloomington (open Friday-Sunday). Uses original screen, stand since 1955.
*Holiday Drive-In, Mitchell (open Thursday-Sunday). Occasional camping nights.
*Holiday Drive-In, Rockport (open every night). Six screens.
*Auburn-Garrett, Garrett (open every night). Renovated in the 1970s.
*Huntington Twin Drive-In, Huntington (open Thursday-Sunday).
*19-24 Drive-In, Wabash (open Thursday-Saturday). Can accommodate 500 cars!
*Skyline Drive-In, Shelbyville (open Thursday-Sunday). Hosts Drive-In Sanity where they screen a third retro film late Saturday nights on 35 mm film.
*Bel-Air Drive-In, Versailles (open Friday-Sunday). Sundays are $30 carload nights.
*Georgetown Drive-In, Georgetown (open every night).
Drive-In Fun Facts:
*Film reels were massive, totaling about 15,000 feet on average
*Films used to be shown on projectors, with thousands of individual still images speeding past a reflector, light bulb and lens. They are now digital.

*Benefits of going digital include: A cleaner, crisper image, easier operation, film is stored on hard drive which takes up less space (cheaper for smaller theaters)-drive-ins can afford digital versions rather than film versions.

At the highlight of the Drive-In boom, Illinois boasted more than 120 facilities; unofficially, only about12 remain. While just a few are still standing, it’s uncertain whether/not they will be revived.

*Hi-Lite, Aurora on Montgomery & Hill Rd. (April-Oct., Weekends, Spring/Fall, 7nites, summer. The oldest remaining Drive-in in Illinois include:
*Skyview, Belleville

*Skyview, Litchfield (April-Oct.), 1950
*Galva AutoVue Drive-In, Galva. 5.3-acre site, twin screen. Holds up to 250 cars.
*Harvest Moon, Gibson City (April-Sept-weekends.; June-July 6 nites). Twin screens.
*Route 66 Drive-In, Springfield
*Clark 54 Twin Pike, Summer Hill
*Cascade Drive-In, West Chicago (Apr.-Oct.)
*Cicero Twin Drive-In, Monee. Two screens, double feature
*Fairview, Newton, 220 miles south of Chicago (April-Sept.), double feature.
*Midway Drive-In, Dixon, 10 min. north of 88.
*34 Drive-In, Earlville

2018 Genesis G80 AWD 3.8

Susan Frissell, publisher

Debuting as it’s ‘own brand’ in the 2017 model year, Genesis was previously part of the Hyundai stable. Introduced in March 2007 as the “Concept Genesis,” the sedan was designed by Hyundai as a “progressive interpretation of the modern rear-wheel drive sports sedan.” Then in 2003, Hyundai conceived the idea for the “Genesis,” part of the Hyundai lineup.

A favorite of this writer, the Genesis epitomizes luxury and comfort, and in 2016 when looking to replace my beloved 2003 Infiniti G35 (and couldn’t swing the replacement Q’s pricing), I tried to negotiate a deal on a 2016 Genesis. No luck. Dealers didn’t seem to be willing to move the pre-driven Genesis,’ even though a new brand and dealerships were coming.

Enter 2017, and the debut of the ‘new’ Genesis G80, and its stablemate, the G90. Features that had been optional became standard in this new rendition, which didn’t make it any more affordable for the masses, but more desirable for those driving higher-end sedans. In 2018, Hyundai introduced a new trim level: the 3.3T sport, with a new twin-turbo V6 engine, and top-of-the-line G80 features.

The powerplant in the new Genesis G80 is Hyundai’s V6 engine, with 311 horsepower, mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission. One can also opt for the optional twin-turbo V6 (365 horse), or the V8 (420 horse). All are enough power for the average driver, providing a smooth, capable ride.

As expected, the G80 comes equipped with a long list of features, however, we found it odd that our 2018 G80 test vehicle was without a standard sunroof. Climbing into the cabin of the new G80, you’ll feel the difference in trim materials: high quality. Hyundai’s 3.8-liter, V6 engine is plenty powerful, smooth and agile. Horsepower at 311, mated to the eight-speed automatic transmission makes for ease in driving, and plenty get-up-and-go when you need it.

Buyers can opt for three trim levels, starting at a $41,750 price point. Still less than the average luxury midsize car price, the G80 offers most of what these drivers want. The Sport trim level ($55,250), is new and one can add all-wheel-drive for $2,500, with two packages available. If you spend another $5,000, you’ll move into the Premium trim level, adding such features as wireless charging, and that panoramic sunroof.

The Ultimate package ($5,100) adds such amenities as a larger touch screen, multi-angle camera and heads-up display. Expect to be up against the big players such as the Mercedes-Benz E-Class ($52,150), and the ever-popular Lexus GS ($46,310). It’s hard to beat the Lexus brand, but Hyundai is gaining on them.

The most progressive in technology such as smartphone integration can be had by both Lexus and Hyundai, and one can get it for a little less with the G80. In terms of power, the Lexus GS offers a 4-cylinder as base engine, while the G80, of course, the V6. We preferred the G80s large touch screen, in comparison to the GS’ infotainment center. However, if you’re counting MPG, you’ll opt for the Lexus GS; the base gets 22/32 mpg, the G80: 19/27 mpg. But then, we highly doubt these buyers are counting pennies. Of course, one can opt for the larger V6 engine in the Lexus GS (compromising fuel economy, 20/28 mpg).

As expected, the Genesis G80 has many standard safety features, including standard rearview camera. In addition, it is equipped with lane departure warning, lane keep assist, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, adaptive cruise control, lane change assist, and automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection. Also available are safety features such as a multi-angle camera, front and rear park assist, and adaptive LED headlights.

The G80 is a midsize sedan with a large interior and seating for at least five. Heated front seats, leather, 16-way adjustable driver’s sport front seat and sport steering wheel-heated-is standard, as well as ventilated front seats. The ample seats are comfortable, and legroom abounds in the rear seating area. Head room could be a little more plentiful in the rear, but the G80 feels like a big car.

Interior quality feels luxurious and high-end. We liked the wood trim, and if were purchasing this vehicle, would probably opt for the new Sport model with its classy carbon-fiber trim. The contrast stiching is a new look we think ads sportiness and class.

Above average in cargo space, the G80’s trunk measures 15.3 cubic feet, but the rear seats aren’t the fold-down kind, so that’s limiting. A power trunk lid is optional, as the G80’s trunk is hands-free, opened by standing behind it (with the keys on you).

As far as technology for those who must have it, the G80 is equipped with two USB ports, Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, 8-inch touch screen, 4.3-inch driver indo display and push-button start. For those who want to move up, you can add the panoramic sunroof, multi-angle camera, heads-up display and 7-inch driver-information display.


Engine: 3.8-liter V6, 311 horsepower, 293 lb.-ft.torque
Transmission: Electronic 8-speed automatic with SHIFTRONIC, Paddle Shifters, HTRAC AWD, intelligent drive mode
Wheelbase: 118.5 in.
Height: 58.3 in.
Width: 74.4 in.
Length: 196.5 in.
Curb weight: 4,350 lbs.
Tires: P245/45VR18
Wheels: aluminum 18×8
Warranty: five-year/60,000-mile basic warranty and a 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty. This is better than Mercedes-Benz’s warranty of four years or 50,000 miles for the E-Class.
Crash test results: perfect five-star overall rating.
The top-of-the-line 5.0 model starts at $57,000 and comes with a 5.0-liter V8 engine and lower trim features. It adds 19-inch alloy wheels, front LED fog lights, and wood and suede trim.

Boo Hoo Beetle

Like many out there, we were sad to learn, that yet again, Volkswagen claims they will be discontinuing the infamous Beetle. After a long-and storied history dating back eight decades, says VW, they are finally going to discontinue the Bug. Speaking from the Geneva motor show last this week, Frank Welsch, head of VW’s research and design, told the audience that the production version of the company’s ID Buzz electric concept (Microbus) will “wave the retro flag.” A production version of the ID Buzz will be salted for the 2022 model year.

According to Welsch, VW says two or three generations of the Bug have been enough. The car was “made with history in mind but you cannot do it five times and have a new, new Beetle,” said Welsch.

In 1979, VW stopped selling the Beetle in the U.S. after it failed to comply with safety and emission standards. It was, though, still built for global markets for another 25 years. VW rode the retro-inspired wave in 1998 with a modern interpretation it named the “New Beetle.” A third-generation arrived in 2012, with a little change in look-sportier, but sales did not meet VW’s expectations.

It will be sad not to see the Bug on the streets. But we imagine many will grab one up, or keep the one they have, for generations to come.

2018 Toyota Prius c 5-door HB Four

Susan Frissell

The 2018 Toyota Pruis c is the most affordable hybrid, and this year brings a new, more hip design, standard black roof rail and colorful rear spoiler. We like it, and much more than its predecessor. We were surprised at the somewhat noisy hybrid engine and transmission, but the 48/43/46 mpg. is pleasing.

This versatile little compact car is equipped with Toyota’s Entune audio system, and if you opt for the trim level offering the most goodies (Four), you’ll be able to play all genres of music. The standard Entune Audio system includes the Entune Multimedia Bundle, a 6.1-inch touch screen display, six speakers for the AM/FM/CD player (with MP3/WMA playback capability).

And for those who are always connected, an auxiliary audio jack, USB 2.0-port with iPod connectivity and control, advanced voice recognition and Bluetooth are standard. Phonebook access and music streaming are also available. If you’re an Apple user, you use Siri Eyes Free for requests.

We thought the speakers left a little to be desired, and the control knobs not easily operated. It may seem odd today to say for $26,000, you get a lot of car. But when the average price of an automobile today is $36,495, it is reasonable to get something under $30,000.

Our Prius c came equipped with just two options, including Body Side Moldings ($209), and Carpet Floor Mats/Cargo Mat ($224). The Prius c is available in four models: One: $20,630; Two: $21,430; Three: $22,855 and Four: $24,965.

The test car came in “eye-popping” Absolutely Red color that stood out and seemed to fit this small crossover design. The sporty details make it more appealing to all, and the seating for five, although a tad cramped, allows for passengers and gear. Toyota Prius c adds two new colors to the color palette for 2018: Sandstorm and, new for Toyota, Tide Pool Pearl.All new colors make the car easier to spot on the back roads at night.

Also updated for 2018 are the black side rocker and wheel arch moldings which seem to frame the 15-inc, 8-spoke wheels well. We’re beginning to prefer these darker wheels; gray in the c’s case, but often seen in black these days, on other manufacturer’s models.

In addition to the usual Toyota warranty (see SPECS), the Toyota Prius c comes standard with ToyotaCare, a complimentary plan covering normal factory-scheduled maintenance and 24-hour roadside assistance for two years or 25,000 miles, whichever comes first.

Of course, the Prius c has a standard integrated backup camera for 2018. Along with the latest in safety technology, this is a safe car despite its small stature. Standard safety features include Toyota Safety Sense C (TSS-C) driver-assist technologies, Pre-Collision System (PCS), Lane Departure Alert (LDA), and Automatic High Beams.

TSS-C is designed to take care of key areas of driver assistance, including preventing or mitigating front collisions, helping to enhance nightime driving/road safety and to help drivers stay in their lane. As expected, Toyota is ahead of other manufacturers in safety items, including automatic emergency braking systems.

In case you were wondering what the “c” in the Prius c stands for, we’ll tune you in. The ‘c’ stands for ‘city.’ The ‘c’ philosophy means that although the car itself may ‘seem’ small, it’s not small inside. The cabin is bigger than expected (often the case these days with small vehicles), as the design maximizes interior space well. The rear-seat provides 35-inches of space for stretching out, and the cargo volume measures 17.1-cu.ft. Of course, to add space the rear seats are a 60/40-split.

Because of its size, the Prius c is easy to drive and maneuver. Great to park, and easy to drive around town due to its agility. The hybrid battery is located beneath the rear seats, and the gas tank is easily accessible on the rear of the driver’s side.

Adding a slight ‘luxury’ feel, the Prius c Four adds LED fog lights, a power tilt/slide moonroof (which we inadvertently began to open in rain!), sliding sunshade, heated front seats and outside mirrors, and SofTex-trimmed seats. The interior seats were a light cream, which went nicely with the Absolutely Red exterior.

As hybrid systems go, they are relatively trouble-free and provide years of service. In the case of the Prius c, its hybrid system works with a gasoline engine, incorporating a electric motor within a continuously variable transaxle, a nickel-metal hydride battery, a power control unit (inverter), a DC-DC converter, and a step-up converter.

A hybrid control computer manages the application of gasoline engine and electric power, which depends on the drive mode and driving demands. As with many vehicles today, the driver has a choice of driving modes, that generally include ECO, Normal and Sport modes. Depending on terrain and circumstances, the ECO is a favorite and provides good mileage. We would guess most drivers change modes less often than imagined.

EV mode allows for driving just by electric power for up to one mile. Most often used when driving around town.

Occupant safety in the 2018 Prius c is Toyota’s number one concern. Anyone driving this vehicle can be assured of that, with nine airbags, standard Star Safety System (Vehicle Stability Control, Traction Control, ABS, Electronic Force Distribution, Smart Stop Technology). As mentioned above, Toyota is ahead of most with its Safety Sense-C (TSS-C), featuring Automatic Emergency Braking.

Toyota’s Pre-collision System (PCS) operates at vehicle speeds of about 7 to 85 mph, uses a camera and laser beam to detect the vehicle ahead. PCS may provide additional braking force using Brake Assist, if needed. Speed is reduced so that if a collision occurs, damage is a lot less. Lane Departure Alert (which we find annoying) also uses a camera to detect visible lane markings and reminds drivers to get back in their lane.

Also helpful, especially on back roads is the Automatic High Beam system which detects the headlights of oncoming vehicles and taillights of vehicles traveling ahead, then automatically switches between high and low beams to provide better visibility and the road ahead.

Each of the four Prius c models offers a little more, with a small hike in base price. Depending on driver’s needs and pocketbook, there is something here for everyone.


MSRP: $24,965, total vehicle price $26,293, delivery $895
Engine: Hybrid Synergy Drive System, SULEV, 1.5-liter DOHC, 16V, VVT-1, 4-cylinder, 72 hp., 83 lb.ft. torque
Transmission: EV/ECO Modes, FWD, Choose Drive Mode
Wheelbase: 100.4 in.
Length: 162.4 in.
Width: 68.6 in.
Height: 59.6 in.
Gas tank capacity: 9.5 gal.
Curb weight: 2,530 lbs.
MPG: 48/43/46
Tires: P175/65R15
Wheels: 15-inch alloy
Warranty: 36-month/36,000-mile basic new-vehicle; powertrain: 60,000-miles; corrosionno mileage limit; hybrid-related components (battery, battery control module, hybrid control module,inverter with converter): 8 year/100,000-miles

2018 Toyota C-HR XLE

Susan Frissell,Publisher

Some may find the new Toyota C-HR compact SUV quirky and without a market, but we thought it handled well, provided a quiet, smooth ride and offers something a tad different from the business-as-usual SUV’s out there today. We enjoyed our week in the all-new Toyota product.

Competing with several more vehicles than we expected, the C-HR will win points for being a Toyota-in many shoppers minds, that is. Competitors include the obvious Nissan Juke, and Kia Soul. Perhaps the not so obvious include the Chevrolet Trax and Fiat 500X. Jeep Renegade, Mazda CX3 and Nissan Rogue Sport, are also on the list, as well as the Honda HR-V.

A lot of choices in the friendly-size category these days, although this writer isn’t just sure how anyone opting for this style SUV would do so when opting for more space. True, one does sit up higher, which is a big appeal for shoppers, women especially.

Seating for five makes the C-HR, a subcompact crossover, plausable, and may attract plenty of would-be RAV4 buyers. The price is right (starting at $22,500), and no doubt, one can easily drive and park this smaller SUV with much ease. The C-HR came to be when Scion was still imagining desirable vehicles, and thought they needed to contribute a compact SUV. Now badged a Toyota, the new C-HR has become the manufacturer’s most affordable SUV.

Although some may think the new C-HR doesn’t offer as much as some of its competition, we disagree. We believe it offers just enough. Not one who appreciates all the high-tech features in today’s automobiles, we’re happy to have just some basics. And that is not to say the C-HR only offers the ‘basics.’

The C-HR’s powertrain, with a 2.-0-liter, 4-cylinder, 144 horsepower and 139 lb. ft. torque, seems just right, unless you’re expecting more. We found it adequate for most driving. Matched with Toyota’s CVT transmission, the ride is sure and steady, with just enough acceleration to power this compact SUV. Noise and vibration levels, we found, weren’t near as noticeable as expected they might be. This was a surprise, and when it happens, almost always a surprise since today’s cars are so quiet.

The moment we climbed into the C-HR, we found it comfortable, quieter-than-expected and easy to maneuver. My sister owns two Kia Soul’s and the C-HR feels similar. Rear seat room for passengers is adequate with plenty of legroom. Unless someone is hovering over six feet tall, most can be accommodated in the backseat. Rear-seat legroom is commendable and we kind of like that high-placed rear door handle!

Some criticism has been thrown at the ‘weird’ shape of the C-HR. We liked it right out of the box. We didn’t receive any negative comments from riders or spectators, but other writers have reported some. Actually, it’s kind of refreshing to have a vehicle available that doesn’t resemble every other car on the block. Ok, for some, it may look disproportioned with its big rear-end and bulging fenders. Perhaps like some designs, it takes time to become acclimated to it, but personally, I would rather drive something that’s different. We think of it as “distinctive.”

By comparison, the C-HR’s tech offerings seem inadequate, but as mentioned above, for us Baby Boomers, not having so much to keep track of is refreshing. The C-HR’s seven-inch screen is standard, devoid of Satellite radio, Android Auto or Apple CarPlay, or any kind of navigation. The radio is very small, placed high, and when going back/forth locating radio stations, one has to use an awkward button, seeking available channels.

The backup camera is located on the rearview mirror, smaller than most, and even though this vehicle seems to be directed at young drivers, there is only one USB charging port. Not that one can’t update a sound system, but drivers today have come to expect these kind of amenities.

Safety features on the C-HR are the standard faire, and include adaptive cruise, lane-keep assist, pre-collision braking, Dynamic Radar Cruise Control, and automatic high beams. No blind-spot monitor or AWD offering. Fuel economy isn’t stellar, but acceptable at 27/31 mpg. We didn’t test mileage on the highway, but averaged around 29 mpg. around town. Rivals like the Mazda3 (34 mpg. highway) or Honda HR-V (33 mpg.) do offer a little better efficiency, but the C-HR weighs somewhat more, as well; around 3.300 lbs.

Helping out with a slanted rear-end window is a rear wiper blade, handy during inclement weather. The C-HR is available in two trim levels: XLE ($22,500) and XLE Premium ($24,350).

Our test Toyota C-HR carried a MSRP of $22,500 (total vehicle price $24,318, delivery $995) and included three options, including carpeted floormats and cargo mat ($194), mudguards ($129) and R-Code Color Keyed Body w/White Roof and Mirrors ($500). We liked the two-tone color arrangement, although the body called “Radiant Green” is really turquoise!


Engine: 2.0-liter, 4-cylinder DOHC, 16-valve, 144 hp., 139 lb.ft. torque
Transmission: CVT w/OD, intelligence and Shift Mode, 8-speed, FWD
Wheelbase: 103.9 in.
Length: 171.2 in.
Width: 70.7 in.
Height: 61.6 in.
Tires: P225/50VR18
Wheels: Aluminum 18×7
Gas Tank capacity: 13.2 gal.
Curb weight: 3,300 lbs.
Warranty: Basic: 3 yrs/36,000-miles; Drivetrain: 5 yrs/60,000-miles; Maintenance: 2 yrs/25,000-miles; Corrosion: 5 yrs/unlimited mileage; Roadside Assistance: 2 yrs/25,000-miles

The 2018 Toyota Camry XSE: Rethinking the Sedan

Susan Frissell

I suppose like any sedan today, Toyota’s new-and smart-Camry strives to offer something a little different. As with the ever-popular (at least before the days of SUV’s), Honda Accord, these tride and true sedans have brought much to their brand.

Our week in the redesigned 2018 Toyota Camry XSE afforded some challenges as we navigated the snowy streets of Chicago. Having recently relocated to Indianapolis, I was back for the preview days of the Chicago Auto Show. Having arrived before the ‘big snow,’ I was fortunate to be settled and able to attend Thursday’s preview.

Unlike several of my colleagues who-we heard later-had made the decision to hop a plane, or take to the highways BEFORE the snow landed, my colleague George and I kept remarking how sparse the show floor seemed. Void of many of our fellow journalists, bloggers and writers, it seemed too that automotive execs and product specialists, usually in abundance, were also missing.

It made, however, for a great walk-around as we leisurely snapped photos, climbed in and out of vehicles and chatted with the few manufacturer reps in attendance.

As do most large cities that are familiar and well-prepared for what nature casts upon them, getting around Chicago wasn’t anymore difficult than usual; just somewhat slower. The 2018 Camry handled the streets well, and there were never any moments that I didn’t feel safe.

The redesigned Camry XSE we drove is available in several trim levels, including the L, 2.5 LE, automatic ($23,495), 2.5 SE, automatic ($25,200), 2.5 LE Hybrid, automatic ($27,800) and the 2.5 XLE, automatic ($28,450). Our test Camry carried a total vehicle price of $37,813. Right around today’s average price for a vehicle ($36,495). Considerable.
The L trim comes standard with remote keyless entry, Bluetooth hands-free calling, and a USB port. Add 17-inch alloy wheels, power driver’s seat, anti-theft system, and 60/40 split-fold rear seat, and you’ve got what most drivers need.

Moving up to the SE version with its different front-end design, one can get 18-inch black-finished wheels, rear spoiler, SofTex sport front seats, and dual zone automatic climate control. Three USB ports, heads-up display, panoramic roof and 7-inch color display are all standard.

As expected, there are more goodies on the XLE version, including full LED headlights, a bright metallic front grille, 18-inch chrome-finished alloy wheels, leather-trimmed steering wheel, and upgraded Tiger Eye wood or textured metal interior trim.

The XLE V6 and XSE come with a larger 8-inch touchscreen, featuring easy-to-read fonts and icons and pinch-to-zoom for maps, as well as buttons on the side of the screen to help navigate. This larger touchscreen also comes with a 9-speaker JBL premium audio system and RemoteConnect with Wi-Fi connectivity.

The grills vary among trim level: The LE and XLE sharing a look, and the SE and XSE, the same but different grille. We prefer the SE and XSE grille; although, like its cousin the Lexus, it takes a little getting used to.

The vents are large, and the upper grille seems as thoaugh it’s separate and apart from the rest of the front end. As you distance yourself, the look makes more sense and grows on you, after a while. The look is contemporary and sets the 2018 version apart from its predecessor.

We especially like the two-tone paint version of the Camry. Displayed on the auto show floor in black/white, it will easily catch a passerby’s eye with its roof and top half of the C-pillar in black. Resembling, on purpose, a sports car, this trim is something different to offer; especially in a sedan, resembling a coupe.

The Camry’s cabin gets a needed update, placing it more in the ‘luxury’ category. It is quiet and comfy, with upgraded materials. As with many vehicles today, though, there is a lot going on up front. A well-lit dash and all kinds of high-tech features, these new vehicles can intimidate the average driver.

This writer needed tech help to figure out the GPS offering. Unless you want to pay extra for the usual GPS system, the standard offering if a system that once your phone is synced. This is something I hadn’t realized, as I’m far from up-to-date on all things technical. My ‘teacher’ was in disbelief that I don’t carry my phone everywhere, nor do I find it necessary to connect it to the car’s system. I know….I know….

The standard infotainment system is Bluetooth connectivity, Siri EyesFree and Google voice controls for Android users, but does not offer Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. My daily driver runs with Android Auto, so I’m a tad more familiar with it. I had to download the App Scout GPS and Entune to get the Camry’s GPS system working. Not a difficult maneuver, or so I found.

The Camry comes standard with a 7-inch touchscreen infotainment system. It’s part of Entune 3.0, which comes with a host of apps, including iHeartRadio, Pandora, Yelp, NPR One, and Slacker radio. Also available are real-time traffic, weather, fuel prices, and sports scores, and stock updates.

In terms of performance, the 2018 Camry’s base engine is the 2.5-liter 4-cylinder, with 203 horse. Opting for the XSE version ups the engine horsepower to 206. The XSE and XLE come standard with the I4 engine, but are available with a 301-horsepower 3.5-liter V6; the engine in our test XSE. Power is there for the taking; no need to fear when navigating the ramp on 94. The 8-speed transmission shifts right into place without any fanfare.

As mentioned, the dash and controls seem somewhat confusing at first, but do maintain a Toyota pattern. The stereo works with volume and tuning knobs, and climate control is easily determined. There is plenty of legroom in the rear seating area and passengers can expect to be comfortable on longer trips.

Front seating is spacious, and seats are supportive and comfortable. Although several sedans have added a few inches to their trunk space, the 2018 Camry trunk is at 15.1-cublic-feet, about average.

As with all new vehicles today, safety equipment abounds. The 2018 Camry has a tire pressure monitoring system, and Toyota Safety Sense P, a suite of high-tech safety features provided as standard, including forward-collision avoidance, lane-departure warning, and adaptive cruise. The LATCH child-seat anchoring system is also standard. All these features are part of why Toyota, and Camry, stand out.

Camry also comes with a blind-spot monitor with rear cross-traffic alert and intelligent clearance sonar for detecting objects while parking at low speeds. The sonar engages the available 360-degree camera. The camera turns on as your moving into a parking space, allowing you to determine how close you are to the vehicle in front of you. We felt there were enough beepers going off: Waiting in line at McDonalds, coming too close to the vehicle in front, etc. We chose to turn some of them off.

Our XSE came equipped with Toyota’s V6 engine, but its biggest competition-the Honda Accord-no longer offers a six-cylinder, choosing instead to put turbo 4-cylinder’s under the hood. Not sure why Toyota stayed with the six; perhaps to be one of the few to still offer it.
With highway driving, the V-6 engine averaged around 28.7 mpg. Some have reported as high as 30 mpg., perhaps depending on what mode you choose. 22/32 mpg. are predicted.

The Camry allows for a change of modes, including Normal, Sport, and Eco. Most of our driving happened in Eco, although we like Sport for around town driving. The 2018 drives very sporty, a surprise to us, but a good surprise. Solid acceleration, responsive steering and good solid tires on the ground make this new, redesigned Camry a much better car. It’s clearly come out of sleeping mode!

We liked the Panormaic Roof, covering both front and back areas. This is a luxury, as many buyers, we guess, would forego it.

Performance tires don’t hurt, and we’re becoming fond of those black-finished rims. For those who seek the more comfortable ride, opting for the LE and XLE trim levels might appeal better. We like a car to hug the road and provide feedback. Of course, not every driver does, and might actually regard same as negative.

The only real complaints we might have had include a noise coming from the back seat area, sounding like it might be the door. Also, the raising/lowering of the front driver’s window is louder than we’d like. In all fairness, it may have had something to do with the weather: Days of ice around the casing.

Options on our XSE included Driver Assist Package, Bird’s Eye View Camera ($1,050), special color: Ruby Flair Pearl ($395), Carpet, Trunk Mat Set ($224), Illuminated Door Sill and Enhancements ($299). The Driver Assist Package includes a 360-degree camera, parking sensors, JBL Premium audio system, etc. Our back-up camera was foggy most of our test drive, due, of course, to inclement weather and ice.

Toyota seems to be competing in the BMW 3-Series range with this sporty trim level, although not sure any BMW enthusiasts would consider a Toyota product. Nevertheless, this Camry looks sporty, sexy and sculpted. We love the lines-Lexus-like, and the 19-inch wheels paried with black-finished wheels. The curvy hood and flared fenders are head turners, along with the XSE’s rear diffuser and quad exhaust tips.
A much more desirable car than in years past, this new Camry competes better with the Nissan Maxima, we think. Also a sports sedan, we favor the Maxima. But then, we’re partial to Nissan products.

Our test 2018 Camry XSE total vehicle price came in at $37,813; MSRP of $34,950. The other stats look like this:

Engine: 3.5-liter V6, DOHC 24VDirect Injection w/Dual VVT-i, 301 hp., 267 lb. ft. torque
Transmission: 8-speed Automatic-inc., Paddle Shifters, Direct Shift and Speed, Sequential Shift Mode, Sport Tuned Suspension
Drivetrain: Front Wheel Drive
Wheels: 19-inch, machined finished alloy
Tires: P235/40VR19
Wheelbase: 111.2 in.
Length: 192.7 in.
Height: 56.9 in.
Curb Weight:
Width: 62.2 in.
Warranty: Basic: 36,000-miles/3 yrs.; Corrosion: 5 yrs./unlimited; Drivetrain: 5 yr/60,000-miles; Maintenance: 2 yrs/25,000-miles; Roadside Assistance: 2 yrs/unlimited

Danica Goes Out in GoDaddy Green

Dani Ben-Ari

Danica Patrick 35, will seek to go out in style as she one again dons her familiar GoDaddy green at the Daytona 500 on February 18, at Daytona International Speedway.

This time, however, the car which will compete for Premieum Motorsports will sport #7 instead of the notable #10 she drove for Stewart Haas in NASCAR. In addition, the new car’s first half has been christened the “Danica Double,” and will have a white ‘7’ painted on the door and “Go Daddy” in black letters on the hood.

The “Danica Double” logo commemorates her 2018 schedule of crown-jewel races — the Daytona 500 and the Indianapolis 500 on May 27. This will mark Patrick’s 7th Daytona 500 start. She won the pole for the 2013 Daytona 500, finishing a career best of 8th that year.

Patrick announced her retirement from full-time racing during a press conference last November at Homestead Miami Speedway after losing her seat with Stewart-Haas. The team let her go following the loss of her sponsorship by Nature’s Bakery, and has already announced that they have replaced her with Aric Almirola for the 2019 season.

Danica Patrick originally shot to fame first on the IndyCar circuit where she was named the 2005 Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Year and the circuit’s most popular driver from 2005-2010. She also won the 2008 Indy Japan 300 in 2008.

Later, Danica transitioned to NASCAR, where she achieved 7 Top Ten finishes (the most by a woman in the Cup Series), during her five years in the sport. Her best year in NASCAR however, came last year when she finished 24th overall. Still, despite having competed in more than 365 races in all competitions, and earning 14 Top 10 finishes, seven podium finishes and five pole-position wins over the years, winning has been elusive.

As a result, her novelty has worn off with both sponsors and fans. We will be glad to see her return, though. She’s one of the best drivers the sport has seen.

The Time of Auto Shows

Susan Frissell

As the auto show season kicks off for 2018, there will be lots of shows to attend. Wherever you reside and whichever show you partake of, be on the look out for several new models on the horizon.

Heading the major auto show circuit was the Los Angeles show, which took palace in early December. The Los Angeles show has grown in the last 20 years to a respectable, place-to-be and be-seen auto show. Followed by the now famous North American International Auto Show, out of the Motor City, Detroit in early January.

And, if you’re in or around Chicago, be sure to take in the other ‘biggie,’ the Chicago Auto Show-the nation’s largest consumer show-beginning February 10-19.

Some of the new offerings you’ll see include the following:

*2018 Jeep Wrangler-a new redesign, the Wrangler will be available with three engine choices, including a hybrid and diesel version, and far updated technology. In two-and-four-door versions, the Wrangler’s new look has been a long time coming, making this ever-popular jeep feel more like a daily driver.

*2019 BMW i8 Roadster-This plug-in, hybrid sports coupe will get a soft top, offer a 18-mile range, and a 369-hp. powertrain.

*2019 Mercedes-Benz CLS-A four-door sport coupe, the CLS gets a redesign, new inline six-cylinder engine and hybrid system.

*2019 Subaru Ascent-yet, another crossover on the market! This three-row family SUV is the largest offered by Subaru. Standard AWD, all new 2.4-liter turbo-charged Boxer engine, CVT transmission, and 260-hp. Expect to be able to tow your boat, too, with capacity up to 5,000 pounds.

2019 Subaru Ascent

*2019 Lincoln Nautillus-a funny name for this crossover; formerly known as the MKX. This new Lincoln will have semi-autonomous technology, enabling drivers to stop-and-go”non-driving.” Making it more high tech, the Nautillus will have precollision braking (“evasive steer assist”).

2019 Lincoln Nautillus

*2019 Infiniti QX50-The brand’s successful midsize crossover will be the first to show off Infiniti’s new platform, and include the new variable-compression-ratio engine (2-liter, 4-cylinder VC Turbo). This AWD SUV offers 268 hp. and fuel economy of 26 mpg.

*2019 Porsche Panamera Turbo SE-Hybrid Sport Turismo-one of our favorites, the Panamera adds a ‘wagon’ model complete with 680-hp. twin-turbo V8, 0-60 mph in 3.2 seconds. Different than other Panamera offerings, this new beauty is not only practical, but handsome, and starts at $188,400.

*2019 Chevrolet Corvette ZR1 Convertible-long awaited, the Vette ZR1 gets a drop-top (additional $4,000). At 755-hp., this baby will fly topless and no doubt, be much sought-after. Adding about 60 pounds to the ZR1’s weight, this version will still hit 0-60 in under three seconds, and reach speeds of over 210 mph. At $123,995, you can bet owners will be sleeping in the garge with this monster.

2019 Chevrolet Corvette ZR1 Convertible

*2018 Hyundai Kona-Again, another Hyundai crossover vehicle added to the fleet, fulfilling their promise of adding many new crossovers. As an entry-level, the Kona is available with AWD and a turbo 4-cylinder, 175 hp. engine.

*2018 Nissan Kicks-Funny name for this entry-level crossover. Following in Nissan’s successful Rogue series footsteps, the Kicks uses the same engine (1.6-liter 4-cylinder borrowed from Versa, and estimated 33 mpg.).

2018 Nissan Kicks SUV

*2018 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross-Now with three models to offer, Mitsubishi introduces a new crossover with an old name. Complete with tech offerings for the
Millenials, this crossover offers an available turbo 4-cylinder, 152 hp. engine.

If you can believe what you read, rumors suggest some other possible models appearing in 2018-19-20, which although remain to be seen have certainly been explored. Among those possible up-and-comers are the 2019 Toyota Supra, 2019 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500, the 2018 Ford Mustang GT460, the 2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Demon, 2019 Mercedes-Benz G-Class, and the 2019 Ford Ranger Truck and 2020 Ford Bronco.

If you missed any of the above auto shows, perhaps you can make it to New York in April for the ever-popular New York Auto Show.

The 104th Indianapolis Auto Show

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — Whether or not you are in the market for a new car, or like us, you’re a car lover, you’ve got the annual Indianapolis Auto Show right in town. Beginning the day after Christmas, December 26 and running through January 1, this should be on your to-do list.

The 104th annual Indianapolis Auto Show returns to the Indiana Convention Center on Tuesday and thousand of lookers are expected to attend. Twenty-one automotive manufactureres from around the globe will be there to introduce their new and improved 2018-19 models. Expect to see 400-some cars and trucks on display at Indy’s Convention Center on Capitol St.

This year’s show highlights include specialty cars, auto product specialists, as well as interactive games. Bring the kids as there is plenty to see and do.

Also on hand will be the Indiana Blood Center, taking donations through their blood mobile.
Show hours:
Tuesday, Dec. 26, 2017 – 10 a.m. – 8 p.m.
Wednesday, Dec. 27, 2017 – 10 a.m. – 8 p.m.
Thursday, Dec. 28, 2017 – 10 a.m. – 8 p.m.
Friday, Dec. 29, 2017 – 10 a.m. – 8 p.m.
Saturday, Dec. 30, 2017 – 10 a.m. – 8 p.m.
Sunday, Dec. 31, 2017 – 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Monday, Jan. 1, 2018 – 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.

Adults: $7.00
Children: 12 and under are free when accompanied by an adult
Active Duty Police and Fire personnel, Military, active guard and reserve, all free

For more information about the 2018 Indianapolis Auto Show, visit the website at

What better place to spend the day during these frigid cold temps?

Hope to see you there!