Savage On Wheels

Mark Savage's auto review column, Savage On Wheels, looks at a new vehicle every week and tells consumers what’s good, what’s not so good, and how the vehicle fits into the marketplace. Value, simple functionality and good looks are always key components on Savage’s evaluation checklist. The Sunday column aims to give an honest account of a vehicle’s merits after a week’s test drive during which gas mileage is measured for a real-world report.

Mark Savage

Now that we’re driving less, doing something like purchasing a muscle or luxury car you’ve always wanted probably isn’t a high priority. In addition to consumer trends, many auto plants are closed, or their chain supply has been greatly impacted. 

But that doesn’t mean that our automotive contributor Mark Savage doesn’t get to test drive and enjoy some high-powered muscle cars. He says as powerful vehicles increase in price, they are losing their muscle but keeping the speed.

Mark Savage

For years those of us who dreamed of owning a sports car envisioned a British MG TF in British Racing Green with a tan interior.

MG’s TF was the epitome of what a sports car should be, and look like – cute, stylish and nimble. It also was a British car, so electronics were suspect.

You’ll notice I didn’t mention power, because sports cars are not muscle cars, they are quick, nimble and fun to drive. They don’t throb at a stoplight like a stereo’s bass speaker about to explode. They purr and chortle.

Mark Savage

Voltaire said, "It is not sufficient to see and to know the beauty of a work. We must feel and be affected by it."

Beauty, thy name is Lexus LC 500.

OK, the name isn’t beautiful, but Toyota’s luxury brand understands beauty and sure as heck knows how to affect us … mix beauty, power and luxury, then drop the top.

If you’ve seen the bodacious LC 500 coupe since its 2018 debut you know it’s a looker. Sleek lines, stylish corseted nose and sexy rear end. For 2021 Lexus creates a drop-top version that exudes even more beauty.

Mark Savage

Chevy’s new Corvette is kryptonite to the ever-growing bevy of Supercars.

For more than 65 years Chevrolet’s everyman’s dream car has put its throbbing V8 power in front of the driver, but with the eighth generation that all changes. Supercars beware!

Now the Vette’s 6.2-liter V8 moves behind the driver in a mid-engine arrangement that seems new and exciting even though supercar makers, plus Ford with its GT, have been milking this layout for years.

Mark Savage

Two questions: How much did you pay for your house? How much would you pay for a supercar, or near supercar?

The first may vary wildly depending on how long ago you bought your home, but if you’re thinking Ferrari, Lamborghini, Bugatti, or McLaren for the supercar, you’re likely imagining a price tag north of $1 million.

Relax, this new 2020 BMW M8 Competition Convertible is much cheaper. But at $180,245 it’s nearly double what we paid for the 1950s Savage ranch (home) about 30 years ago, and the darned M8 doesn’t even have a bathroom.

Mark Savage

I’ve discovered the perfect cure for pandemic boredom.

Slip into the camel brown suede and black leather interior of a muscle-bound hot rod, known to the Mopar brethren as a Dodge Challenger. But not the low-end V6-powered SXT, although I’m sure it has its party favors too. But lavish in the luxurious cow-threatening interior of the R/T Scat Pack Widebody.

Mark Savage

Seemingly forever Cadillac was THE American luxury car, its image built on being big, luxurious, powerful, pricey, and stylish, often to a gaudy extreme!

All that changed when Japan’s luxury makes invaded and when coupled with growing sales of German luxury makes, Cadillac’s slice of the U.S. luxury pie became much smaller. But Caddy got its act together more quickly than Lincoln, the other big U.S. luxury make since Packard ceased to exist after the late 1950s. So for the past 20 year or so Caddy has been making solid and fairly stylish luxury vehicles.

Mark Savage

Some cars (or crossovers) just make you feel good. VW’s Beetle was one, the Mini Cooper another. It may be their looks, their ease of driving, their usefulness or simply their price.

Sometimes it’s all of that, which brings me to this week’s drive, the Kia Seltos SX Turbo AWD. Again, that’s a lot to take in from a name standpoint, but simply put, this is a fine compact crossover that borders on cute. Mine was a retina-burning Starbright Yellow, which I initially nicknamed Electric Mustard, but Electric Dijon might be more accurate.

Mark Savage

I’d been looking forward to testing Nissan’s 2020 Frontier compact pickup since hearing about its upgrades at the Chicago Auto Show in February, just before the COVID lockdown.

READ: 2019 Ford Ranger XLT SuperCrew 4x4 Review

Mark Savage

Back in the day, less than 20 years ago, BMW was known for its 3 Series compact sport sedans and coupes. They were cute, taut, models that were meant to introduce enthusiast drivers to the Bavarian automaker’s wares.

The 3 Series was an entry-level sportster that with some budget stretching, maybe selling some of your favorite vinyl or the kid’s Cabbage Patch dolls (but not one of your kidneys), you could afford.

Mark Savage

Lincoln has been struggling for years like a one-armed barista fresh out of java. It’s no secret Lincoln has been looking for a new identity, a new look and hoping to regain its footing in the luxury car market.

Finally, it seems to have arrived, but not with cars, with sport-utility vehicles named Aviator and Corsair. I tested the Corsair earlier this year and found it a solid entry in the mid-size SUV market. Now comes the Aviator that soars to the upper reaches of SUV luxury, in looks, features and price.

Mark Savage

I’m not a bigger is better sort of guy. My parents used to tell me the best things come in small packages.

So I’m not one to automatically rave about Toyota’s new Highlander because it has grown dimensionally, about 2.5 inches of wheelbase and overall length. But if you’re a larger family looking for a super reliable mid-size sport-utility vehicle to haul seven or eight folks, that extra room is as welcome as a stimulus check.

It means more legroom in row two and a touch more in the always tight confines of row three and the cargo area.

Mark Savage

What vehicles catch folks’ attention these days? If you’re thinking big pickups or SUVs, you’d be way off base. That’s what folks buy, not what tickles their eyeballs.

Sporty wagons, now that’s a sensory surprise.

This week’s 2020 Volvo V60 T5 AWD Cross Country (that’s a lot of name) was as surprising to car watchers as a politician telling the truth. The Volvo is sleek, sexy and debonair. If James Bond drove a wagon, this is what he’d drive. The V60 looks as tailored as one of Bond’s tuxedoes.

Mark Savage

A few years back I declared hybrids the way to go until all-electrics gained more range and the infrastructure to remotely recharge electrics grew substantially. Nothing has changed my mind and if anything, the growth of quality hybrids makes my point all the stronger.

This week’s drive proves that point in electrons!

Only a few months back I tested Honda’s popular small SUV, the CR-V. It’s a top-seller and pretty much leads a closely contested market segment. I feel the hybrid version of its top-level Touring model should be its top-selling model.

Mark Savage

Determining if a vehicle is a hatchback or a crossover can sometimes cause consternation. Take the case of Lexus' small hatch/crossover, the UX.

That name provides no clue as to what this is, other than there’s an X in the name, so the vehicle designers probably considers it a crossover. Most of the time crossovers offer AWD or 4WD and again, the UX sort of splits the difference.

READ: 2020 Hyundai Venue SEL Review

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