|Partial line up of victims, oops test cars.|
I belong to an automotive writers' group, the Western Automotive Journalists (WAJ) and every year they hold a "Media Day". This year it was held at Quail Lodge, Carmel, CA.
I've been attending Media Day (or Days as it has been a two day event in the past) since 1997. Back in those days the event was held at and around what was then known as Sears Point Raceway (now Sonoma Raceway). There was a two-year period when it was held at Thunderhill Raceway Park in Willows, CA, and lastly at Laguna Seca Raceway when it was known as Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. But due to situations outside of my purview the track, now named WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca was not available.
Maybe it was for the best that WAJ with a mixture of driving talent did not end up on a race course. At one time I was probably fair to middling but those days are behind me. And even when I was at my best, especially in the latter years when some cars became gawd-awful powerful, I was often over my head.
And outside of those powerful cars there really isn't much reason to flog an SUV or family sedan around a race course. I know when my mom was looking for a new car she never asked, "How fast can it lap Lime Rock?" (We lived in Connecticut.)
So with all that being said through Herculean efforts Media Day was pulled together and it was a success. Now let me get to the cars that were available and what I drove (in alphabetical order by manufacturer; the cars I drove are bolded):
2020 Acura RDX
Acura - 2020 RDX SH-AWD A-Spec - The RDX is a SUV that's slightly larger than a Honda CR-V. It is powered by a 2.0-liter, turbocharged 4-cylinder that makes 272 hp and 280 lb-ft of torque. The 10-speed auto pushed that power to all four wheels (AWD). The SH means "Super Handling." I didn't try any super handing. I did get on the throttle a couple of times - The RDX accelerates well and the engine makes nice sounds. Price - $45,800 base RDX SH-AWD A-Spec.
2019 Silverado Trail Boss
Chevrolet - 2019 Silverado 4WD Custom Trail Boss Crew. I drove this on the "easy" off-road course. If you're going to take a Silverado off-road I'd opt for a shorter wheelbase and no running boards. Otherwise this was capable. Price - $44,890 base 4WD Custom Trail Boss Crew.
Jeep Gladiator (photo by Jeep)
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles - 2020 Jeep Gladiator. I'll admit it, I am not a Jeep guy. Mostly because I have no need for a vehicle that can climb Half Dome. But I have to admit Jeeps are fun. And the Gladiator can work - it can carry about 3/4 of a ton and tow up to 7,650 lbs. Right now the only engine is the 3.6-liter Pentastar V6; a 3.0-liter diesel is coming. I drove the Gladiator on the "difficult" off-road course, no problem. Price - starting at $33,545
2018 Alfa Romeo Stelvio
2018 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio AWD - I didn't drive it but I have driven them in the past. This not the Alfa of your youth, and that's a good thing.
2020 Explorer ST
Ford - 2020 Explorer ST 4WD, 400 hp and 415 lb-ft in the ever successful Explorer. 0-60 in 5.5 seconds. Need I say more? Price - $54,740 base ST.
Ford Ranger (Ford's picture)
2019 Ranger Supercrew 4X4 - I drove a similar Ranger earlier this year; see my article in the May 31, 2019, Tracy Press (http://www.goldenstatenewspapers.com/tracy_press/our_town/new-ford-ranger-is-fine-for-families/article_2a216eae-833d-11e9-bc98-fb87dd42b52c.html)
2019 Genesis G70 (Mike Hagerty getting the perfect shot)
Genesis - 2019 G70 RWD 3.3T Dynamic Edition. The G70 has won all kinds of awards. Deservedly so. This is a true touring sedan; fast, nimble, and with great Brembo brakes. Turbo 3.3-L V6, 365 hp, 0-60 in 4.5 seconds (according to Genesis). Gorgeous car, fit and finish is excellent. Price - $44,745 starting price for 3.3T.
2020 Hyundai Palisade
Hyundai - 2020 Palisade SEL AWD. I've driven the Palisade's cousin, the Kia Telluride. They are similar but have distinctive personalities. Right now I'd consider either one to be one of the best SUVs available. Price - $31,550 - $44,700 for base SE, SEL, & Limited.
JLR (Jaguar/Land Rover) - Range Rover Td6. It's been a long time since I've driven a Land Rover and I've never driven a diesel. The V6 diesel is the same basic engine as that used by Ford in the F-150. I drove the Range Rover on the "difficult" off-road course. It showcased the Range Rover's capabilities which are impressive. I'd estimate that close to no Range Rover owner would ever subject their vehicle to such terrain but if they do the vehicle is up to the job. Price - from $54,950
2019 Discovery HSE Luxury
Discovery HSE Luxury. This is probably the car Queen Elizabeth drives around her country estate. If you want the utmost in British luxury AND the ability to tour the remotest corners of earth, this is for you. Price - from $67,200
Range Rover HSE P400e. I'm kicking myself that I didn't try this. A plug in hybrid Range Rover! Price - from $95,950.
2019 Kia Stinger
Kia - 2019 Stinger. I reviewed a 2018 Stinger in the Tracy Press (http://www.goldenstatenewspapers.com/tracy_press/our_town/kia-stinger-stands-alone/article_21c0869a-a1c1-11e8-b4b0-4f41b78b1bef.html).
2020 Telluride. Look for my review in an upcoming Tracy Press edition.
UX (photo by Lexus)
Lexus - 2019 UX250h F Sport Premium. This is Lexus' smallest SUV. It may be the most exciting. The "h" means it is a hybrid (there are non-hybrid models). It is a very well equipped car and may be the perfect choice for those with a good income who don't need or want a big SUV. Plenty of power with very good economy. Price - starting at $37,770 (w/Premium package).
AMG E 53 (photo by MB)
Mercedes-Benz - 2019 AMG E 53 Cabriolet. I didn't drive the AMG. Too many others were driving it. Two points - It's a MB, and it's an AMG. 'Nuff said. Price - $80,350.
2019 Nissan Altima
Nissan - 2019 Altima 2.5 SL AWD. Everybody knows someone that owns an Altima. In my opinion Altima is one of the most under-rated sedans you can buy. Roomy, reliable, and affordable. Altimas run from $24,100 to over $35,000, and go from plain jane to really, really nice. With the sedan field shrinking Altima stands firm.
2020 Outback (photo by Subaru)
Subaru - 2020 Outback Onyx XT. The Outback is the counter-culture SUV. I should have driven this, I'm kicking myself today. The 2020 Outback is all new even though it looks similar. It was driven on the off-road course. Price - starting at $34,895.
Toyota RAV4 (left), Corolla (right)
Toyota - 2020 Corolla XSE. My first new car was a Corolla, a 1974 SR5. Corollas are passed down from parent to child. I have no doubt that in 2040 some kid will come into a auto parts store looking for brake pads for his 2020 Corolla, maybe this exact car. There is even a manual transmission model! Price - $19,500-$25,450.
2019 RAV4 Adventure AWD. Do you remember the original RAV4? I do. This isn't it. RAV has grown up. It's still relatively small but not tiny. The Adventure will go off-road; I drove it on the road. I'd say that although it is capable it is best suited for getting off the beaten path but not the Rubicon. Price - starting at $33,050.
Arteon (photo by VW)
Volkswagen - 2019 Arteon 2.0 SEL Premium R-Line 4Motion. The Arteon is the best looking VW right now. Do you crave a sleek 4-door sedan that is also a hatchback? That would be the Arteon. I'm pretty sure VW under-reports the power of their 2.0 turbo four; it feels like more than 268 hp. In a way the Arteon seems like the VW CC that grew up - a little larger and even more beautiful. Price - starting at $34,845; the model driven was $46,210.
We had a lunch time presentation by Byton. Byton is a Chinese electric vehicle co-founded by BMW and Nissan folks. Their proposed SUV looks promising.
Those are the vehicles. I have no favorites. They all were great. Now to the people that made the day possible.
First is WAJ Past President Brian Douglas. I'm not privy to the machinations that went into pulling this together but we were told Brian was the force. Maybe I'll just start calling him Brian the Force.
The whole WAJ Board - Charlie Vogelheim, Michael Coates, Anton Wahlman, Alex Dykes, Mike Hagerty, Gary Lieber, and Emme Hall.
A huge thank you to all the folks at Page One Automotive and DriveShop who made this work including all those behind the scenes who got the vehicles to Carmel and kept them looking brand new. You all worked so we could play. We are in your debt.
I can't forget the Baja Cantina for a great Mexican buffet. And the Quail Lodge & Golf Club for the beautiful setting. Thank you Genesis for breakfast, and for lunch thank you Alfa Romeo and Jeep.
And of course to the car companies that made their products available to us. You trusted your children to us and you sent spokespeople to answer our questions. I appreciate it. Thank you.
See you all next year!