Yearly Archives: 2022

Ford F-150 Lightning good electric pickup

The 2022 Ford F-150 Lightning electric finished in rapid red. (Bud Wells photo)

The 2022 Ford F-150 Lightning delivered more than I anticipated during the week it was in my possession.

It is very comfortable, easy to drive. The electric power generated great initial acceleration, and did it very smoothly, more so than a traditional V-8-powered pickup. It claims a 10,000-pound towing capacity.

Its 320-mile range was reassuring, and easily recharged. Four of us – Jan and me, Bill and Kathy Allen – were aboard for a drive into Denver from Greeley. After our return, the Lightning had covered 133.5 miles, and the range available had been depleted by only 122 miles.

The frunk (front-end trunk under the hood where the engine would have been in traditional truck) offers good storage space, easily accessed.

Interior of the Lightning Electric. (Ford)

A 15-inch touchscreen infotainment system is excellent, as is the BlueCruise hands-free driving assist.

The all-electric powertrain includes a 131-kWh battery pack and a pair of electric motors, one for driving each axle. The crew cab’s 5.5-foot bed houses a two-way charging system that can power an entire job site.

Due to unusually strong demand, the Lightning’s 2022 model was sold out earlier in 2022; orders for new model year will resume in late summer. And yet, we must mention a couple of drawbacks to all this.

The review model I drove is the high-end Platinum trim level, with the extended-range battery pack and sticker price of $94,004. An F-150 Lightning can be bought in the $45,000 to $60,000 range, but it is the standard version with range of only 230 miles, and its two electric motors combine for 452 horsepower, a lesser amount than the Platinum’s combined 580 horsepower.  

Regarding the extended-range power; sure, it is stout as can be and will haul or pull a load, 7,000 pounds, 8,000, 9,000 and more. A load to the farm or ranch, or nearby camping, not so noticeable. A long haul, though, and that 300-mile range, some say, may drop by half, maybe even more. And the lesser-powered standard-range trim has tow capacity of only 7,700 pounds.

The Lightning’s 48-foot turn circle seemed a bit wider than most traditional half-ton pickups and tended occasionally toward understeer.

Suspension is relatively soft for the Lightning, partly due to its utilization of a semi-trailing arm setup with progressive rate coil-over springs and a stabilizer bar. On their traditional gasoline and diesel-powered pickups, Ford, Chevy, GMC, Toyota and Nissan have used leaf springs for suspension of rear of their solid-axle pickups. Ram on its 1500 pickup suspends the live axle with five links and coil springs.

The Lightning Platinum is on a wheelbase of 145 inches, is 19 feet/3 inches in overall length, with curb weight of 6,350 pounds. Brake rotors are 14-inch in front and 13.8-inch at the rear. The truck’s GVWR is 8,250 pounds.

Beginning prices for the various Lightning trims are Pro $41,769; XLT $54,769; Lariat $69,269; XLT Extended Range $74,169; Lariat Extended Range $79,169; Platinum Extended Range $92,669.

Grand Cherokee adds 4-cyl.,/electric-boost

The redesigned Jeep Grand Cherokee as a plug-in hybrid. (Bud Wells photo)

When the Wrangler, toughest Jeep of them all, was tested successfully last fall with the 4xe plug-in hybrid system, it became a must that the much-more-refined Grand Cherokee would soon get its turn.

The occurrence, for me, came with arrival of the 2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland 4xe with a turbocharged 2.0-liter, 4-cylinder engine of 270 horsepower/295 lb.-ft. of torque with 8-speed automatic transmission. It is assisted by a belt-driven 44-hp motor and a 134-hp electric motor for combined horsepower of 375 and 470 torque. Electricity is stored in a 400-volt,17kWh lithium-ion battery pack which provides 25 miles of all-electric power. As long as there is charge in the battery pack, its 375/470 power rate exceeds that of the long-used 5.7-liter, Hemi V-8 internal-combustion engine.

The 25 miles of electric drive will, of course, lift the Jeep’s fuel mileage and can be controlled by switching among three modes – Hybrid, Electric and E-Save, which shuts off the electric use. And, yes, with a bit of forethought, a driver can use the mode-switches to attain relatively high mileage readings.

I saved 20 miles of the battery pack for a return drive in descent from the mountains; for 91 miles we averaged 37.9 miles per gallon. For 318 miles of varied roads and terrain during the week, the overall average was 27.3.

Transitioning from electric to hybrid can result in a rough shift. The Grand Cherokee rides on Goodyear Wrangler 265/60R18 tires.

The small battery pack can be charged overnight from a 120 outlet; with 220, it can be done in 2 hours.

As we drove into the little mountain village of Glen Haven and parked at the General Store, across the street sat two pristine-looking Chevy Corvettes (a 2007 and 2005). Right out front of the store were two couples at a picnic table enjoying the daily-baked cinnamon rolls of the business. Yes, the Vettes belonged to them; Daryl and Lorraine McCown, Tim and Ann Krall of Estes Park. They had read, the day previously, my column in The Post featuring the 2023 Corvette Z51 Coupe.

The dressed-up interior of the 2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee 4xe. (Jeep)

The Grand Cherokee was redesigned this year, boasts a luxurious interior and continues to offer a compliant ride. The review model’s only exterior indicators are front tow hooks in “electric blue” and blue “4xe” badges.

From a base just over $65,000, Jeep ran the sticker price to$75,303 with these options among others: Uconnect 5 Nav with 10.1-inch touchscreen display, Nappa leather seats, wireless charging pad, back massager for front seats, passenger-seat memory, 2nd-row window shade, four-zone temperature control, head-up display, surround-view camera, offroad group and rear backup camera washer.

Pleasant audio delivery comes from the 19-speaker McIntosh MX950 Entertainment System, including a 10-inch subwoofer for added bass quality and three small speakers atop the dash.

‘23 Acura Integra returns with 6-speed manual

The sleekly styled Acura Integra is on sale in the U.S. (Bud Wells photo)

Clutches and manual transmissions have slipped away rapidly in recent years; surprising it was, then, that with the return of the Acura Integra to the U.S. for the first time since 2001, its buyers are offered a choice of a 6-speed manual tranny or CVT.

The 2023 Integra A-Spec w/Tech brought my way in late July is a replacement for the ILX in the Acura lineup. It is a sleek, four-door hatchback with coupe styling. Revival of the Acura Integra name comes after a 22-year absence; Integra was part of Acura from its introduction in 1986 through the 2001 model year.

A combination of a 200-horsepower, turbocharged 1.5-liter, 4-cylinder engine and the manual shifter adds quickness to the Integra, creating a fun drive with good-handling, particularly when dealing with road twists and turns. It has plenty of power to get up the hills of Colorado.

The sporty sedan also fares well in fuel-efficiency, with an EPA estimate of 26 miles per gallon in town, 36 on the highway for a combined 30. Premium fuel is recommended. My overall average was 31.8 mpg.

Pricing of the base model for the new Integra AWD is $31,895; the review model I drove had sticker price of $36,895, a relatively low price for a luxury entry-level.

Interior highlights are an easy-to-use 9-inch touchscreen infotainment center and a roomy 24.3 cubic-feet cargo area at the back.

Among driver-assistance safety features are adaptive cruise control, rearview camera, forward automatic emergency braking, lane-keep assist, blind-spot monitor, rear cross-traffic alert, head-up display.

The Integra is 3 or 4 inches longer in both wheelbase and overall length than the ILX, the model which it has replaced. The Integra rides on wheelbase of 107.7 inches, is 185.8 inches in overall length, 72 inches in width, 55.5 in height and its curb weight is 3,075 pounds.

The new Integra is built at Marysville, Ohio; also assembled there are Acura’s other models – the TLX sport sedan, the MDX and RDX sport-utility vehicles and the NSX Type S electric.

3-row Range Rover twists way to Glen Haven

The Range Rover rests along the North Fork Big Thompson River. (Bud Wells photos)

The fifth-generation Range Rover L460, a midyear redesign with an optional third row of seats for the first time in the big unit, carried Jan and me in late June west into Big Thompson Canyon, then northwest on the Devil’s Gulch Road to Glen Haven.

The Range Rover is 17 feet in overall length, with curb weight of 5,600 pounds and rides on 23-inch wheels, another first for the iconic 4X4 sport ute. The narrow, curve-dominated roadway to Glen Haven would be a good test for it.

We’ve driven to the little community at least once a summer for many years, stopping at the Glen Haven General Store for visiting with owner Steve Childs and partaking of the delicious cinnamon rolls baked daily by his wife, Becky.

Big news in town is the Childs’ sale, after 40 years of operating the store, to Tom and Amanda Hoskins, who with children Sarah and Callum and Amanda’s mother, Becky Sorensen, will not only run the store, but provide daily the homemade goodies for which it is widely known.

Glen Haven is a nice, brief stop enroute to Estes Park, 10 miles up the road.

The RRover has an impressively smooth ride, is very quiet, though its size leaves maneuvering marvels to lighter sport models.

When I recall the 2023 Nissan Z car I drove six weeks ago in Boulder, it would have zipped those twists and bends of the roadway near Glen Haven much more quickly than did the big Rover. All the while, though, downshifting the Range Rover with its paddleshifters was virtually seamless; the Z’s downshifts left a rougher edge into the driver’s hands.

I used the paddles more than half the time on the descending curves from Glen Haven to Drake, then on to the Dam Store and leaving the Big Thompson Canyon. Much of descent was in 3rd gear at 2500 to 3000 revs.

Responsive performance was delivered by the Range Rover’s 395-horsepower, 3.0-liter turbocharged inline-6-cylinder with a mild-hybrid assist, 8-speed automatic transmission and four-wheel drive. Aiding the Range Rover’s four-wheel-drive prowess are active locking rear differential and terrain response with drive modes of Snow, Mud, Sand, Eco, Rock Crawl and Wade. An electrically operated rear axle turns independently of the front wheels at low speeds, shrinking the turning circle to 36 feet, from 40.5 feet in the previous model.

The inline-6-cylinder with turbo and the 48-volt assist averaged 21.8 miles per gallon on the drive to Glen Haven and 27.6 on the descending return.

Two tough SUVs ‑1987 Land Rover Defender 110 and 2022 Range Rover.

A photo op of the new Range Rover with a 35-year-old Land Rover presented itself in Greeley. No sooner had I pulled into Autotailor in Greeley and parked out front than John Mitchell pulled up beside me in a 1987 Land Rover Defender 110, red, fully restored – what a grand sight, these two British motoring machines from Solihull, England, products of same assembly plant, though far-different eras. Mitchell, at his repair shop in Fort Collins, had done some work on the Defender and was test-driving it.

Base price on the three-row, seven-passenger Range Rover is $111,800. An all-electric Range Rover is expected in 2024.

’22 Audi Q3 visits ‘old-type’ Saguache Crescent

The 2022 Audi Q3 parked at Saguache Crescent newspaper shop. (Kim Parker photo)

Our destination was the little, historical town of Saguache, sitting between two mountain ranges in southern Colorado, as Jan and I, after stopping for daughter, Kim Parker, headed out in a 2022 Audi Q3 S line quattro on a long drive on a midsummer 2022 morning.

The great-handling Q3, the little brother to the popular Audi Q5, was equipped with active cruise assist and lane-guidance. It carried us in five hours through the twists and turns of U.S. 285 southwest of Denver, past Fairplay to Buena Vista, then some welcomed straightaway on the last leg to Saguache.

Dean Coombs at the Saguache Crescent’s 100-year-old Linotype. (Jan Wells photo)

There, inside the front door of the clutter-filled Saguache Crescent, sat Dean Coombs, at the keyboard of a 100-year-old Linotype, creating metal slugs for the next week’s paper. The Crescent is the last newspaper in the country still using a Linotype to set those lines which will be transferred to the printed pages.

As I stood beside him and the machine (there was nowhere to sit), he continued to plink away with his index fingers. He knew I was coming, so I said, “I’m Bud.” He lifted his right hand toward me, with the left still on the keys, and as I shook it, he said, “Dean.”

The Saguache Crescent printing press. (Kim Wells photo)

This is what he does every day, except between 9 and 10:30 a.m., when he enjoys coffee time. It is the same daily grind established by his grandfather, then his father and mother before him; the family has owned the newspaper since 1917.

Saguache claims 550 residents; the Crescent’s circulation is 360 and Coombs prints an extra 40 copies each week. The current edition was four broadsheet pages. His press is an 1898 model which prints two pages at a time.

The newspaper is his life; he doesn’t hunt or fish or ski or travel. “I’ve not spent a night away from Saguache in the past 33 years,” he said. He is not married; has a girlfriend, though, he said.

Did he ever consider giving up the long-outdated “hot metal” style of newspapering and turning to offset printing, as has every other paper in Colorado. “No, this is what we’ve always done, and I’ll continue till I retire or expire and the paper will cease to exist.” He’s 70 years old.

Essentials of last of “hot-type” newspaper shops at Saguache. (Jan Wells photo)

Is the paper profitable? “Yes, it turns a profit every year, due to tax lists and legal notices required from the county, which bring in around $10,000.”

“No,” he said when I asked him if he was a car guy. What does he drive? “An ’89 Chevy Astrovan and the same year Toyota pickup.” During a bit more discussion, he offered this: “I actually have 10 other cars, all of them older and some don’t run.” They range from a ’45 Willys Jeep to a ’72 Saab. To own 12 cars, no matter of what era, I’d say makes him a “car guy.”

Publisher Coombs enjoys looks of new Audi Q3. (Jan Wells photo)

Then, before we left, I walked him out front of the old newspaper building in order to give a look at the modern world in the form of the 2022 Audi. The Germans build quality automobiles, I told him. “Yes, I know,” he said.

When we parked the Audi Q3 in our garage late that night, its trip odometer registered exactly 500.0 miles driven to Saguache and back. Not 499.9 or 500.1; 500.0 it was, and that is remarkable to me, somewhat of a numbers guy.

The Q3, a luxury compact SUV crossover, treated us well on the drive, with plenty of rear-seat legroom. For 2022, the Audi model gained several safety features, including blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert and front and rear parking sensors.

It provided good economy and produced excellent passing strength from its 228-horsepower, 2.0-liter turbocharged, 4-cylinder engine and 8-speed automatic transmission with quattro all-wheel drive. Torque rating is 258 lb.-ft. In 600 miles of driving, 500 of which were the Saguache run, the Q3 averaged 29.2 miles per gallon. Its EPA estimate is below that – 21/28.

The 3,900-pounder was very composed in cornering and the Bridgestone Potenza 255/40R20 summer performance tires offered good grip. The Audi cruise control system will set speeds at half-mile-per-hour (61.5 mph), as well as the normal full-mile (62 mph).

Though styled somewhat like the larger Audi Q models, the Q3 at 176.6 inches is 8 inches shorter in overall length than the Q5.

The mountain drive, even with its highway irregularities and slowdowns, was a good one. Saguache is home to some of the largest and most beautiful hollyhock plants and flowers in Colorado and celebrated its annual Hollyhock Festival in late July. In our return, we stopped at the busy downtown Buena Vista and had difficulty finding an eating establishment due to a number of closures for lack of workers.

The Audi Q3 models seem fairly moderately priced for entry-level luxury compacts with quattro drive. The base Q3 trim is the Premium, starting at $37,600.

The review model, the Q3 S line Premium, carried base price of $38,700, which reached $48,740 with the addition of top-view camera system, auto-dimming interior and power-folding exterior mirrors, Audi MMI touchscreen and navigation and traffic-sign recognition, sport front seats with S embossing and contrast stitching.

The Q3, assembled in an Audi factory in Gyor, Hungary, competes with the Mercedes-Benz GLA, BMW X1 and X2, Volvo XC40, Cadillac XT4, Lexus UX, Jaguar E-Pace and others.

Hemi V-8, near end, sounds off in Challenger

The ’22 Dodge Challenger Scat Pack Widebody Hemi edition. (Bud Wells)

The rumble on startup from the Dodge Challenger Hemi 6.4 is a wonderful sound, one which just might soothe the unrest in a car guy’s mind these summer days.

I enjoyed the resonance of the pipes over and over again while driving the 2022 Challenger R/T Scat Pack Widebody Hemi 392 V-8 with orange stripe.

The Hemi delivers an excess of performance – 485 horsepower/475 lb.-ft. of torque – while mated to an 8-speed ZF automatic transmission, rear-wheel drive, 20-inch-by-11-inch wheels with Pirelli 305/35ZR20 P Zero tires, Brembo performance brakes with orange calipers.

Instant high-rev paddle-shifts in sport mode and a standard launch control are added drive highlights.

The unrest factor, generally speaking, is the current rush toward electric automobiles, and, specifically, to the realization that the famed Hemi engine will make its final run in 2023.

Stellantis officials, including Dodge CEO Tim Kuniskis, have indicated that by 2024 the company’s only combustion engine, transitional into the electric era, will be a turbocharged 3.0-liter, inline-6-cylinder with possibility of 400 to 500 horsepower.

Discontinuance of the Hemi V-8 will allow a rise in the Stellantis’ fleet fuel economy, which presently is lowest among U.S. automakers.

The Dodge Challenger Scat Pack Hemi 392 EPA estimate is 15 city, 24 highway, 18 combined mpg; my overall average was 19.6.

The Challenger, with wheelbase of 116.2 inches and overall length of 197.9 inches, shares the same platform as Dodge Charger and Chrysler 300, and scales in at curb weight of 4,275 pounds. That is around 500 pounds heavier than Mustang and Camaro, which leaves the Ford and Chevy more nimble in handling.

A sales edge for the Challenger, though, is the fact it offers a V-6-powered model with all-wheel drive, a popular option in areas of severe winters, such as Colorado. Neither the Mustang or Camaro offer AWD. The Challenger outsold both Mustang and Camaro in 2021.

Very comfortable, bolstered front bucket seats lend the Challenger a decent ride; legroom is tight in the rear seat, though the trunk is a spacious 16 cubic feet.

Dodge’s first Hemi V-8 was the Red Ram in 1953. (Chrysler)

The Challenger, built at Brampton, Ontario, Canada, carried a sticker price of $63,500. The R/T Scat Pack Widebody enhancements added $5,995 to the base price of $44,155. The automatic transmission cost another $1,595 and Uconnect navigation and Harman Kardon surround tacked on $2,790. Fender flares, adaptive damping and competition suspension are part of the Widebody package.

The Chrysler Corp.’s initial Hemi engine was a 331-cubic-inch Chrysler Firepower V-8 in 1951, and the Hemi was a feature for the launch of the Chrysler 300 in 1955. Race driver Richard Petty in 1964 won his first Daytona 500 in Hemi-powered Plymouth and later earned his first grand national championship.

Kia visits Nebraska in all-new ‘23 Sportage Hybrid

The 2023 Kia Sportage Hybrid on Roger Wahlgren property at Jeffrey Lake near Brady, Neb. (Bud Wells photo)

An all-new hybrid model, the 2023 Kia Sportage, was provided for our drive to North Platte, Neb., and back.

Wheelbase and overall length have been stretched in the Sportage for ’23; noticeable improvements are the vast amount of legroom in the rear-seating area and the ample cargo space, which has increased from 30 cubic feet to almost 40.

Though the Sportage has been around since 1995, the ’23 Kia Sportage Hybrid EX All-Wheel Drive is its first gas/electric offering.

Performance comes from a 227-horsepower, turbocharged 1.6-liter, 4-cylinder engine, an electric motor and 6-speed automatic transmission. Drive modes of Eco (Normal), Sport, Smart and Snow are provided. Off-the-line acceleration is about average and passing power is enough for comfortable highway travel.

A son, Brent Wells and wife Tina, of Windsor, joined Jan and me for the drive to North Platte for Larry P. Smith funeral services on Wednesday, June 29, at First United Methodist Church. For 36 years Smith taught math and physics at Mid Plains Community College in North Platte. The eulogy was delivered by another son, Kurt Wells, who is married to Smith’s daughter, Tammy. Patsy, Smith’s wife of 66 years, survives, along with son Steve and his wife, Lori, and Tammy and Kurt. At Grand Island, Neb., High School in 1953, Smith played on an undefeated state championship football team, which several years ago was inducted into the Nebraska Sports Hall of Fame.

The Kia’s expanded cargo space very capably handled all our luggage and other traveling items. A compact SUV, the Sportage’s overall length is 183.5 inches, an increase of 7 inches. Wheelbase is up to 108.5 inches from 105.1.

Ample rear-seat legroom is a plus for the 2023 Kia Sportage Hybrid model. (Kia)

In 555 miles of travel to North Platte and back, the Sportage Hybrid averaged 29.4 miles per gallon, somewhat below the EPA estimate of 38 in town and 38 on the highway. Affecting the mpg was the fact much of the trip was on Interstate highways, with average speed of 75 to 80 miles per hour, and windy conditions were encountered off and on. Following the return from Nebraska, about 60 miles of in-town drives averaged 36 mpg.

Base price for the sporty-looking Sportage Hybrid EX is just over $32,000, including synthetic leather upholstery, heated front seats and steering wheel, a 12.3-inch touchscreen for navigation, remote start, lane-keeping assist, forward-collision-avoidance assist, blind-spot collision-avoidance assist. A $1,500 optional package of panoramic sunroof, hands-free liftgate and LED interior lighting raised sticker price to $33,860.

A cheaper trim level is the Sportage Hybrid LX, more expensive is the SX Prestige. The Sportage Hybrid is built in Gwangju, Korea. Some competitive models of the Kia are hybrid versions of Hyundai Tucson, Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV4. Legroom in the rear-seating area and the large cargo space with a low liftover height for ease of loading and unloading.

BMW sticks to some tried-and-true for i4 electric

Dual motors energize the power side of 2022 BMW i4 M50. (Bud Wells photos)

The third all-electric vehicle in six weeks came my way in April in the form of the BMW i4 M50 all-wheel drive, a coupe-styled four-door hatchback. It is the first electric car developed by BMW’s M performance division.

The i4 M50 is a synchronous dual-motor “gran coupe,” with a motor at each axle with combined 536 horsepower and 586 lb.-ft. of torque. A liquid-cooled lithium-ion battery pack of 81.5 kWh provides a projected driving range of 200 to 225 miles. Transmission is single-speed, direct-drive.

Two other recent electric tests were with the Ford Mustang Mach-e GT and the Mercedes-Benz EQS450.

On a Sunday, after church, Jan and I drove the BMW west into the mountains and enjoyed four hours of highway straightaways, narrow rural roadways, hill climbs and descents, short sprints, corners and bumper-to-bumper slowdowns at Estes Park.

Center of gravity for the low-slung, relatively heavy i4 is 1.3 inches lower than for the 3 series sedan. It’s a road-hugger with agility. Handling has been the long-term forte for the Bimmers, dating back to the “oh two” models of the ‘60s and ‘70s.

And the power, oh, my gosh, off the line is near the quickest and twisting those uphill switchbacks is done in full-bore low, and beautifully loud, yes, characteristic engine roar in sport mode has been added with guidance of German film score composer/Academy Award winner Hans Zimmer (hired by BMW in 1919 to create sounds for electric concepts). Those 16-inch brake discs inside the 20-inch wheels lend some feeling of security.

Predicted range in the BMW’s battery had topped out at 202 miles as we began our Sunday drive. On return to our garage at home, we’d driven 100 miles and the battery pack had 50 percent of its energy remaining, a favorable performance for the i4. Though it used excess in the climb-dominated first couple of hours of the trip, the return was filled with descent which moved energy use into the frugal column. Most of drive was split between comfort and sport plus use, though on return I occasionally enabled Eco Pro for more regeneration of energy and controlled speed.

The i4’s handles are flush with the door sheet metal and easily slip off fingertips as they’re lifted upward for opening. Legroom in the four-door hatchback is tight in the rear-seating area. An audio upgrade for the BMW electric is the 16-speaker Harman Kardon surround sound system.

The BMW i4 electric competes against Tesla Model 3, Ford Mustang Mach-e GT and other midsizer EVs. While the Tesla is slightly longer in wheelbase, 113.2 inches to 112.4, the BMW is almost 4 inches longer in overall length, 188.5 to 184.8.

Price of the BMW i4 M50 climbed from a base of $65,900 to $77,070 sticker with the following options:

High-performance M tech $2,500, driver assistance $1,700, HUD curved display $1,000, adaptive LED with laserlight $1,000, heated seats/steering wheel/lumbar support $950, parking assistant and active park-distance control $700, mineral white metallic paint $550.

BMW also offers a single-motor i4 eDrive40 of lesser power and more range.

Nissan lends early drive in 400-hp Z car

Bud Wells with the 2023 Nissan Z at Boulder. (Paul Shippey photo)

Nissan communications executive Steve Parrett handed me the keys to “the new Z” only a few minutes after I had seated myself very comfortably inside the old Boulderado Hotel one morning in May.

A quick exit got me into the driver’s seat of the beautiful passion red 2023 Nissan Z Performance sport coupe, where the comfort level also was pleasurable, though one look at the instrumentation, shifter and pedals and, considering its rear-wheel-drive configuration, promised some side antics.

The 400-horsepower, twin-turbo 3.0-liter V-6 engine and 9-speed automatic transmission got me very quickly out of Boulder for photo op, then back into town and over to Canyon Boulevard and some miles up and back in Boulder Canyon. The canyon drive from Boulder to Nederland is 17 miles of twists and turns and downshift-inducing rises in the narrow roadway.

The Z was smooth and powerful and quick-shifting, though a bit rough on downshifts in manual mode.

Accompanying me on the test-drives about the Boulder area was Paul Shippey, owner and president of Automotive Media Solutions (AMS). Under direction of Shippey and his general manager, David Polley, AMS distributes new models to journalists such as me from 22 manufacturers, everything from an A-Class Mercedes to the Z car from Nissan.

You can’t yet buy a new Z; its release date has been delayed to sometime this summer. When you can make the purchase, here is what you’ll pay:

$41,015 is base price for the cheaper Nissan Z Coupe Sport; $51,015 is beginning price for the Z Coupe Performance model, the one I drove, and $54,015 for a special Z Coupe Proto Spec edition. All three trim levels are available with 6-speed manual or 9-speed automatic transmission to go with the twin-turbo V-6.

Adding illuminated kick plates, two-tone paint and floor mats to the Z that I drove raised its sticker price to $53,610. Included among its standard items are 9-inch touchscreen with navigation and voice recognition, Bose audio, SiriusXM satellite radio, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity.

I remember those “kind of loose, spindly shifters” in the early 240Zs from the ‘70s. Nissan (known as Datsun at the start) continued use of alphanumeric names through the 370Z until its end in 2020. The new one will be simply called “Z.” Its 9-speed automatic replaces a 7-speed of the 370Z.

The Toyota Supra will be a strong competitor of the Z car. (Bud Wells photo)

The 370Z competed against the Mazda Miata and Toyota 86; the new Z will challenge the Toyota Supra head-on. The Supra uses a BMW-built, inline-6-cylinder of 382 horsepower with an 8-speed automatic.

At 172.4 inches, the Z is 5 inches longer than its predecessor, though its wheelbase remains the same at 100.4 inches. Trunk volume is only 7 cubic feet. Curb weight is 3,550 pounds.

Jag visits Broadmoor as 7 gain auto fame

Bonnie O’Meara congratulated A.J. Guanella at Hall of Fame dinner. (Jan Wells photos)

The 120-mile drive for Jan and me in the Jaguar F-Pace S, the one with Caraway Windsor leather seats and powered by both turbo and supercharging, was fairly impressive, yet only a prelude to the wonderful late-May event at the Broadmoor in Colorado Springs – the second induction of members to the Colorado Automotive Hall of Fame.

The new Hall of Famers are Bill Barrow, Bill Crouch, A.J. Guanella, Larry H. and Gail Miller, Alfred O’Meara Sr., Leo Payne and Phil Winslow.

Brian O’Meara accepted honor for grandfather, Alfred O’Meara Sr., who founded O’Meara Ford in 1913. (Josh Gold)

The emotion of Brian O’Meara in accepting the honor for his grandfather, I thought, summed up the esteem being spread by the Colorado Automobile Dealers Association. Alfred O’Meara Sr. came from Detroit to open a Denver Ford dealership in 1913.

With the Broadmoor setting, Winslow was “the hometown boy,” a Colorado Springs auto dealer for 60 years, first with Volkswagen, today with BMW. The family love for Leo Payne, who was Denver’s mega dealer before the days of mega dealers, was something to see – kids, grandkids and great-grandkids filled three tables at the dinner.

Gail Miller visits with friends prior to Hall of Fame dinner. (Jan Wells)

I’m in awe of the working lifetime devoted to Burt and Elway by my friend, A.J. Guanella, 89, and I’d not be surprised to hear he sold someone a Chevy before leaving the Broadmoor’s International Hall; Jan and I visited with Gail Miller, whose keen business acumen came to the forefront following death of Larry H. Miller; he started his auto career with Stevinson in Golden before bigtime success in Utah.

O’Meara, Miller, Barrow and Crouch were inducted posthumously. Representing Barrow, former head of the dealer association, was his wife, Merilee. Accepting for Crouch, a former Chrysler dealer in Englewood, was son Scott.

Making presentations on stage were Tim Jackson, president and CEO of the Colorado Automobile Dealers Association; Todd Maul, auto hall of fame chair for CADA: Brent Wood, board chair for the dealer association, and emcee Claudia Garofalo of 9News.

Jaguar F-Pace at the Broadmoor in Colorado Springs. (Jan Wells)

The eight honorees bring to 59 the number of inductees into the auto hall of fame. Fifty were honored in 2021 as the inaugural class; among them was this humble writer, who has observed his 85th birthday.

As for the drive in the Jag, its 3.0-liter inline-6 and 8-speed automatic transmission were smooth and responsive, averaging 27.5 miles per gallon for the highway run; its fault fell with a difficult infotainment system.

For $73,420 out of Solihull, United Kingdom, it offered 16-way massage/heated/cooled/memory front seats, adaptive cruise, Meridian surround sound, all the normal safety and security items and rolled on 21-inch, 10-spoke dark gray wheels.

Leo Payne in center of family members attending hall of fame dinner. (Josh Gold)