Category Archives: Automotive Industry

Drop in Colorado car sales brightened by electrics

The EV6 all-electric helped Kia to sales gain in 2022. (Bud Wells photos)

New-car sales in Colorado, like elsewhere in the country, took a hit in 2022 – all except the oncoming electrics.

“We’re seeing a substantial increase in registrations of battery electric (BEV) and hybrid vehicles in our state,” said Tim Jackson, president of the Colorado Automobile Dealers Association.

While total registrations declined from 223,985 in 2021 to 194,188, a drop of 13.3 percent, the electrics and hybrids jumped 25 percent to 34,416.

Led by Tesla, market share by the battery electric vehicles climbed to 8.1 percent on 15,818 registrations in 2022, an increase of 48 percent from the previous year.  Gas/electric hybrid vehicles claimed 7.2 percent of the market in ’22 and plug-in hybrid vehicles earned 2.4 percent. Tesla registrations climbed to 8,226 in Colorado, an increase of 1,695 units from 2021.

Toyota’s big seller was the Rav4 SUV crossover.

Kia was the lone brand to show significant increase last year over 2021, a gain of 695 units; Mitsubishi gained by 56 units and Mini Cooper by 34. Major losses were Honda by 6,719 units, Ford 3,121, Subaru 3,093, Ram 2,897, Chevrolet 2,695, Jeep 2,055 and Buick 1,028. 

Toyota, Ford and Subaru were top three brands in registrations for the year.

  1. Toyota led with 28,031 registrations;
  2. Ford had 21,960;
  3. Subaru 18,170;
  4. Chevrolet 12,515;
  5. Hyundai 10,944;
  6. Jeep 10,719;
  7. Honda 10,595;
  8. Kia 10,178;
  9. Tesla 8,226;
  10. GMC 7,790;
  11. Ram 7,735;
  12. Nissan 7,177;
  13. Volkswagen 6,389;
  14. Mazda 5,372;
  15. BMW 4,456;
  16. Mercedes 3,796;
  17. Audi 3,323;
  18. Lexus 3,222;
  19. Volvo 2,042;
  20. Dodge 1,116;
  21. Cadillac 1,109;
  22. Acura, 1,061;
  23. Buick 1,042;
  24. Porsche 1,010;
  25. Lincoln 944;
  26. Land Rover 865;
  27. Genesis 634;
  28. Mini Cooper 604;
  29. Mitsubishi 573;
  30. Infiniti 571;
  31. Chrysler 359;
  32. Jaguar 153;
  33. Alfa Romeo 110;
  34. Maserati 78.
Mitsubishi edged Infiniti for 29th place in sales (shown is Outlander).

Among individual models, the top five sellers in 2022 were the:

  • Ford F-series,
  • Toyota RAV4,
  • Ram pickup,
  • Subaru Crosstrek and
  • Chevy Silverado.

Interestingly, only 13.1 percent of sales in the U.S. last year were cars, the other 86.9 percent were pickups and SUVs.

Lyriq electric draws crowd to Elway Cadillac

The gleaming Lyriq all-electric SUV in showroom of John Elway Cadillac. (Jan Wells photos)

As snow fell outside the showroom windows, John Elway Cadillac staged a somewhat picturesque unveiling on a November Thursday evening with a huge crowd of customers and curious onlookers. With the new car covered from sight as the men and women streamed in, it was a look-back to when dealers took the wraps off the newest models on a special fall night.

This new product breaks tradition, though. It is Cadillac’s entry into the burgeoning world of all-electric automobiles – the 2023 Lyriq SUV. The sharply styled luxury sport ute was well-received by those in the Elway showroom. It will be offered in all-wheel and rear-wheel-drive configuration.

Partners Todd Maul, left, and John Elway following unveiling of the Cadillac Lyriq.

The occasion for showing the newest electric was the grand reopening of the remodeled dealership on East Parkway Drive near Park Meadows in Lone Tree.

“We are the No. 1 Cadillac dealer in the state of Colorado,” said Todd Maul, managing partner for the John Elway Dealership Group. Yes, Elway, the aging “quarterback,” was there with Maul, greeting all and very patiently posing for photos with any who asked.

Thanks to the weight of the liquid-cooled lithium-ion, 102kWh battery pack, the Cadillac Lyriq scales in at 5,600 pounds or more. It is 196.7 inches in overall length on a wheelbase of 121.8 inches. A single motor, 340 horsepower, drives the rear wheels. In AWD form, a second motor powers the front wheels, with combined 500 horsepower.

Cadillac claims the Lyriq, in rear-wheel form, will deliver a range of 312 miles between charges. Impressive inside the model is a 33-inch display screen spanning most of the dashboard.

Tim Jackson, president/CEO of the Colorado Automobile Dealers Association, was among those welcomed to the gathering by Maul.

It was good to run into Ron Goodman, sales manager at Elway Cadillac, and his wife, Rosie. My acquaintance with Goodman goes back a number of years when he was operating Goodman Buick GMC on South Broadway. Goodman drives a Cadillac CT4 sedan and Rosie an XT4 SUV.

I enjoyed visiting with Nancy McDonald, an account executive with Fox31, who told me her late father, Ernie, never missed reading a car column of mine. We also talked of the top quality of U.S. full-size pickups; her favorite is the GMC Sierra.

Michele Apodaca, publisher of Quality Connections South Metro magazines, reminded me that she, too, was involved in Denver newspapering some years back and her desk was very close to mine.

With Jan as my passenger, I drove to the event in a turbocharged 2023 Mazda CX-5 compact SUV crossover. The return drive was on I-25 through the heart of Denver in falling snow, wet roads and all lanes filled with heavy traffic. The CX-5 handled well. It is popular and accounts for more than half the number of new Mazdas sold in the U.S.

A look back. . .‘Dad was test-driver for Hudson Hornet’

The 1951 Hudson Hornet was fast, handled very well

It all transpired from a mention in August (2022) that Dodge expects to resurrect the Hornet model name for its first plug-in hybrid, having acquired rights to the name from the Chrysler Corp. purchase of American Motors Corp. in 1987.

I wrote that I well-remember the original Hornet as a Hudson. An e-mail from a reader offered to share with me an even closer look back to the days of the Hudson Hornet in the early 1950s.

Caroline and Ted Seith during discussion of Hudson Hornet. (Jan Wells photo)

So on a September afternoon, the newest of the new all-electric autos, the 2023 Genesis GV60 Performance luxury compact crossover, carried Jan and me 50 miles south from our home to that of Ted and Carolyn Seith.

There the four of us, over tea and cakes, shared recollections of what some might say is an almost-forgotten part of U.S. automotive history – the Hudson Motor Car Co. of Detroit.

There’s no forgetting for Seith, whose father, Richard Seith, was a test-car driver for Hudson in the late 1940s and early 1950s. He often rode along with his dad in drives of the new models. In testing all sorts of quality/performance/durability for new Hudsons, Richard Seith worked alongside another test veteran, Marshall Teague, who became an outstanding NASCAR racer and died in a crash in 1959.

The Hudson company built cars in Detroit from 1909 to 1954, when it merged with Nash-Kelvinator to form American Motors. “Rather than a merger, it was a takeover by Nash,” said Seith. His point is well-taken, considering that, though the Hornet name was continued through 1957 after the formation of American Motors Corp., it was as a restyled Nash.

Hudson introduced its “step-down-into” structure in 1948; the low center of gravity improved its handling, an advantage in racing, and its lightweight unibody construction and very fast flathead inline-6-cylinder turned the Hornet into a stock-car champion.

Seith said his dad told him drivers from other manufacturers often tested their new products near the same roads as did he. “The Hornet in the early ‘50s was faster than the Chrysler V-8 and also beat an Oldsmobile 88 V-8,” the elder Seith told his son.

Hudson, until the AMC merger, was a strong sales competitor against Chrysler, DeSoto, Lincoln, Mercury and Oldsmobile, and was well-represented with local dealerships.

When automobile assembly lines began rolling again in 1946, following the end of World War II, there were 28 Hudson dealerships in operation in Colorado. Seven in Denver were Fred A. Ward Inc., Frank E. Brenner, Jack Brown Motors, Chambers Motor Co., Elwood Edwards Auto Sales, Harrison Motors and Vic Hebert; Owen Motors was in Englewood and Lookout Mountain Service in Golden.

Others around the state were Lesher Motor Co. in Akron, Holly Hudson Motors in Boulder, DeFries and McCaun in Colorado Springs, Ray’s Garage in Craig, Rice Service Station in Eagle, Allison Motors in Estes Park, Mountain Motor Co. in Fort Collins, Yates Motors in Fort Morgan, Fedderson Motors in Greeley, Petre Motor Co. in Haxtun, Fiedler Motor Co. in Holyoke, Davis Motor Co. in Idaho Springs, Huston Motor Co. in Julesburg, Bert Maich Garage in Leadville, Harris Motor Co. in Limon, Longmont Motor Co., Grace Motors in Sterling, Starr Motor Co. in Wray and Hansen Garage in Yuma.

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)

Lincoln marks 100 with Ford

The 1939 Lincoln Continental. (Ford)

Henry Ford, who bought the Lincoln car company 100 years ago from inventor and engineer Henry Leland, used it to create a luxury division of large, garish exteriors, lavish interiors, powerful engines, yet sales in many years failed to meet expectations.

Lincoln’s 87,929 sales in the 100th year in 2021 didn’t measure up to BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Lexus, Audi, Tesla, Acura or Cadillac. Even Land Rover outsold the Lincoln.

Florian Barth, Kumpf Motor Co

I was enjoying lunch on a warm fall day in 1995 at the Wellshire Inn on South Colorado Boulevard with Florian Barth, the classy owner and operator of longtime Lincoln dealership Kumpf Motor Co., when he uttered a brief, enlightening revelation on some former dark days for the luxury brand.

“Things were so slow in the first half of the ‘50s, the only time we sold a new Lincoln was when the guy across the street (Rickenbaugh) ran out of new Cadillacs.” Kumpf and Rickenbaugh operated on Broadway.

I scribbled that quote before leaving the restaurant, used it in the Colorado Car Book published the next year and have done so on several other occasions through the years.

Lincoln’s most noted model was the Continental, considered by some “the most beautiful car in the world” on its unveiling in 1939.

The first Lincoln I reviewed was the ’78 Continental Mark V, a $16,079 beauty with 460-cubic-inch V-8 and 13-miles-per-gallon fuel usage. Two years later, the Mark VI was powered by a 351 V-8 and in ’81 engine size had been reduced to 302 cubes. That was about the time Lincoln introduced its huge four-door Town Car, which stretched out to 221 inches in overall length.

One of the best drives I had behind the wheel of a Lincoln was the rear-drive 2002 LS sport sedan with manual transmission around the hills of Santa Fe and Taos with Jan, Dave and Norma Wagner as passengers.

As for its future, Lincoln president Joy Falocito said, “The timing of our 100th anniversary couldn’t be more ideal as we shift to an electrified future. We plan to have a full portfolio of electrified vehicles globally by 2030.”

F-Series, Camry, RAV4 top sales in ‘21

The Ford F150 PowerBoost is a V-6 hybrid. (Bud Wells photos)

By Bud Wells

Ford F-Series, Toyota Camry and RAV4 maintained their customary positions atop the sales charts for U.S. light-vehicle trucks, cars and SUV/crossovers for the year 2021.

A serious computer chip shortage, added to the Covid-19 pandemic’s second year, slowed production and resulted in sales total of 15 million; a rise from the 14.5-million count the previous year, but painfully short of the normal 17-plus-million per year.

The 2022 Toyota RAV4 Limited Hybrid offers excellent acceleration.

Ford has led truck sales for more than 40 years, Camry has led car sales every year but one over the past 25 years and the RAV4 has been tops among SUVs/crossovers for five years. Behind the Ford F-Series total of 726,004 was the Ram 1500 with 569,388 and Chevrolet Silverado 519,774. Toyota Camry’s 313,795 sales topped the Honda Civic’s 263,787 and Toyota Corolla’s 248,993. Toyota RAV4 sold 407,739 crossovers, followed by Honda CR-V with 361,271 and Nissan Rogue 285,602.

Against the pandemic/chip production shortage, three in the long SUV list of models – Nissan Rogue, Jeep Grand Cherokee and Honda HR-V – increased sales by 50,000-plus during the year.

The Toyota Sienna, after converting to gas/electric hybrid-only, edged the Chrysler Pacifica, 107,990 to 98,323 for sales-best among minivans.

Tesla, with its 10-year lead in all-electric production, far outdistanced that field, reporting sales of 172,700 Model Y, 128,600 Model 3, followed by Ford Mustang Mach-E 27,164 Chevrolet Bolt 24,828, Volkswagen ID.4 16,742 and Nissan Leaf 14,239.

Following are sales by model category for 2021:


  1. Toyota Camry 313,795;
  2. Honda Civic 263,787;
  3. Toyota Corolla 248,993;
  4. Honda Accord 202,676;
  5. Nissan Sentra 127,861;
  6. Hyundai Elantra 124,422;
  7. Kia Forte 115,929;
  8. Nissan Altima 103,777;
  9. Kia K5/Optima 92,342;
  10. Dodge Charger 78,389;
  11. Kia Soul 75,126;
  12. Volkswagen Jetta 61,967;
  13. Nissan Versa 60,913;
  14. Toyota Prius 59,010;
  15. Dodge Challenger 54,314;
  16. Ford Mustang 52,414;
  17. BMW 3 series 49,461;
  18. Lexus ES 45,406;
  19. Chevrolet Malibu 39,376;
  20. Mazda3 37,653;
  21. Subaru Impreza 34,791;
  22. Chevrolet Corvette 33,041;
  23. Kia Rio 31,362;
  24. Mercedes C-Class 30,815;
  25. Subaru WRX 27,141;
  26. Acura TLX 26,100;
  27. BMW 5 series 24,523;
  28. Chevrolet Spark 24,459;
  29. Volkswagen Passat 24,396;
  30. BMW 4 series 22,937;
  31. Subaru Legacy 22,766;
  32. Mitsubishi Mirage 22,741;
  33. Lexus IS 21,998;
  34. Chevrolet Camaro 21,893;
  35. Mercedes E-Class 20,947;
  36. Hyundai Ioniq 19,885;
  37. Hyundai Accent 19,614;
  38. Mini Cooper S 19,490;
  39. Toyota Avalon 19,460;
  40. Honda Insight 19,431;
  41. Audi A5/S5 17,408;  
  42. Chrysler 300 16,662;
  43. Nissan Maxima 16,386;
  44. Audi A4/S4 16,263;
  45. Mazda6 16,214;
  46. BMW 2 series 15,683;
  47. Mercedes S-Class 14,282.


  1. Toyota RAV4 407,739;
  2. Honda CR-V 361,271;
  3. Nissan Rogue 285,602;
  4. Jeep Grand Cherokee 264,444;
  5. Toyota Highlander 264,128;
  6. Ford Explorer 219,871;
  7. Jeep Wrangler 204,609;
  8. Mazda CX-5 168,383;
  9. Chevrolet Equinox 165,323;
  10. Subaru Forester 154,723;
  11. Subaru Outback 154,623;
  12. Hyundai Tucson 150,949;
  13. Ford Escape 145,415;
  14. Toyota 4Runner 144,696;
  15. Honda Pilot 143,062;
  16. Honda HR-V 137,090;
  17. Subaru Crosstrek 127,466;
  18. Chevrolet Traverse 116,250;
  19. Volkswagen Atlas 115,687;
  20. Lexus RX 115,320;
  21. Hyundai Santa Fe 112,071;
  22. Volkswagen Tiguan 109,747;
  23. Ford Bronco Sport 108,169;
  24. Chevrolet Tahoe 106,030;
  25. Kia Sportage 94,601;
  26. Kia Telluride 93,705;
  27. Chevrolet Trailblazer 90,161;
  28. Hyundai Kona 90,069;
  29. Jeep Cherokee 89,126;
  30. Hyundai Palisade 86,539;
  31. Ford Edge 85,225;
  32. GMC Yukon/Yukon XL 84,242;
  33. Nissan Kicks 82,960;
  34. Ford Expedition 81,988;
  35. Kia Sorento 81,785;
  36. BMW X3 75,858;
  37. Jeep Compass 75,642;
  38. Buick Encore GX 71,247;
  39. Chevrolet Blazer 70,325;
  40. Dodge Durango 65,935;
  41. Mercedes GLE 65,074;
  42. Toyota Venza 61,988;
  43. BMW X5 60,725;
  44. Audi Q5 60,301;
  45. Mazda CX-30 60,185;
  46. Acura MDX 60,057;
  47. Subaru Ascent 59,980;
  48. GMC Acadia 59,913;
  49. Lexus NX 58,514;
  50. Acura RDX 57,013;
  51. Honda Passport 53,133;
  52. Mercedes GLC/GLK 51,805;
  53. Kia Seltos 51,368;
  54. Chevrolet Suburban 48,214;
  55. GMC Terrain 47,488;
  56. Jeep Renegade 47,137;
  57. Buick Envision 46,450;
  58. Nissan Murano 46,117; Chevrolet Trax 42,590;
  59. Buick Enclave 41,962;
  60. Volvo XC60 41,582;
  61. Nissan Pathfinder 41,324;
  62. Ford EcoSport 40,659;
  63. Cadillac Escalade 40,505;
  64. Volvo XC90 38,657;
  65. Mitsubishi Outlander 36,133;
  66. Toyota C-HR 35,707;
  67. Mazda CX-9 34,493;
  68. Audi Q3 34,462;
  69. Mitsubishi Outlander Sport 34,216;
  70. Lexus GX 32,509;
  71. Volkswagen Taos 31,682;
  72. Hyundai Venue 28,653;
  73. Cadillac XT5 28,380;
  74. Ford Mustang Mach-E 27,140;
  75. Volvo XC40 26,844;
  76. Mercedes GLB 26,677;
  77. Kia Niro 26,192;
  78. Audi Q7 25,362;
  79. Ford Bronco 25,023;
  80. Porsche Macan 214,716;
  81. Mercedes GLS 24,482;
  82. Lincoln Nautilus/MKX 24,443;
  83. BMW X7 23,046;
  84. Nissan Armada 22,814;
  85. Lincoln Corsair/MKC 22,790;
  86. Range Rover Sport 22,090;
  87. Lincoln Aviator 20,924; Cadillac XT6 20,662;
  88. Genesis GV80 20,316;
  89. Buick Encore 20,072;
  90. Land Rover Defender 19,413;
  91. Infiniti QX50 19,195;
  92. Range Rover 18,615;
  93. BMW X1 18,253;
  94. Lexus UX 17,581;
  95. Porsche Cayenne 17,299;
  96. Lincoln Navigator 15,631;


  1. Ford F-Series 726,004;
  2. Ram 1500 569,388;
  3. Chevrolet Silverado 519,774;
  4. Toyota Tacoma 252,520;
  5. GMC Sierra 248,924;
  6. Ford Ranger 94,755;
  7. Jeep Gladiator 89,712;
  8. Toyota Tundra 81,959;
  9. Chevrolet Colorado 73,008;
  10. Nissan Frontier 60,693;
  11. Honda Ridgeline 41,355;
  12. Nissan Titan 27,406;
  13. GMC Canyon 24,125.


  1. Toyota Sienna 107,990;
  2. Chrysler Pacifica 98,323;
  3. Honda Odyssey 76,125;
  4. Kia Carnival/Sedona 25,155.


  1. Tesla Model Y 172,700;
  2. Tesla Model 3 128,600;
  3. Ford Mustang Mach-E 27,164;
  4. Chevrolet Bolt 24,828;
  5. Volkswagen ID.4 16,742;
  6. Nissan Leaf 14,239;
  7. Audi e-tron 10,921.

Bud’s 2,500th review – ‘Merry Christmas’

The 2022 Grand Wagoneer moves Jeep into the luxury field. (Bud Wells photos)

“Merry Christmas” I shout out from the open window of the 2022 Jeep Grand Wagoneer.

It is a special time for me, as the Grand Wagoneer is the 2,500th car or truck I’ve reviewed over the past 44 years – since Christmas Eve 1977.

The 1995 Chevy Corvette at Georgetown.

Of those 2,500 models I’ve driven, 162 were Fords, the most for any of the 70 brand names, followed by Chevrolet, Toyota, Nissan, Volkswagen and BMW.

It started Dec. 24, 1977, when I walked out of The Denver Post building at 15th and California downtown and rode north to Griffith Chrysler Plymouth in Northglenn and was handed keys to a ’78 Chrysler Cordoba.

The next four drives were in an AMC Pacer Wagon, Mercury Zephyr Z-7, Volkswagen Rabbit Diesel and Pontiac Trans Am. Cheapest I drove were a ’78 Mazda GLC at $4,030 and ’78 Chevrolet Monza at $4,085. Highest-priced was the 2021 Rolls-Royce Cullinan at $394,275 last summer.

Saab was one of the greatest of handlers in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s. (Bud Wells)

Majority of my reviews were in The Post, though diversions earned me columns in the Rocky Mountain News, Pueblo Chieftain, Villager, Greeley Tribune.

For the 2,500th, it is the big, new Grand Wagoneer, Jeep’s pricey step up into the luxury SUV field to compete with Cadillac and Lincoln, even Range Rover and Mercedes.

The Grand Wagoneer, with overall length of 214.7 inches and curb weight of 6,340 pounds, performs impressively with a 471-horsepower, 455 lb.-ft. torque, 6.4-liter Hemi V-8, 8-speed automatic transmission and four-wheel drive.

It comes in four trim levels – Series I at $87,845, Series II $95,440, Series Obsidian $100,400 and Series III $104,845.

The Series I model I drove was finished in velvet red with a painted black cap and seven-bar grille out front. One of the first I showed it to, said, “I thought it might be a bit sleeker,” to which I replied, “Jeep hasn’t used the word ‘sleek’ in 80 years.”

Today’s automotive luxury field is low volume in sales, but very high in profit. The Grand Wagoneer, based on body-on-frame underpinnings derived from the Ram 1500, features independent rear suspension rather than solid rear axle, for smoother ride.

The popular Quadra Lift air suspension, which automatically adjusts between efficiency on the highway and greater ground clearance in offroading, is standard on the Grand Wagoneer. Twenty-inch wheels are standard on Grand Wagoneer Series I, while the upper trim levels get 22-inchers.

As the Hemi roars with high levels of power, the EPA estimate remains low in fuel mileage – 13 in town, 18 on the highway, my driving averaged 15.4 mpg.

A beautiful, plush interior is a highlight of the new offering and includes a Mcintosh sound system, newly refined for the automotive field. McIntosh designed the special audio for the 100th anniversary Ford GT in 2003.

One late afternoon in the Jeep, there I was at the busy postal depository for my handful of Christmas cards, window down and several more cars pulling in line behind me. In order to reach the small slot in the postal chute, I unhooked my seatbelt, stretched my arm to its length and tipped the cards in. Half a dozen cars waiting behind me now, I twisted the dial shifter to D, pressed lightly on the throttle, got nothing, no forward movement. Tried again, moved shifter back to P, then past R and N to D, deeper into throttle, got noise, nothing else. Another 20 seconds, Jan offered some words of advice, I noticed my seat belt light flashing, buckled the belt, moved shifter to D, accelerated and pulled away from the post office.

Following are the numbers of each make I’ve driven through the years:

The rear-drive Crown Vic, last of the big Fords, in the Rockies.
An S4 Cabriolet is one of 85 Audis driven and reviewed by Bud Wells. (Bud Wells photo)

List of 2500 Vehicles Driven

  1. Ford 162,
  2. Chevrolet 145,
  3. Toyota 126,
  4. Nissan 124,
  5. Volkswagen 104,
  6. BMW 103,
  7. Dodge 101,
  8. Mercedes-Benz 99,
  9. Subaru 92,
  10. Mazda 87,
  11. Audi 85,
  12. Jeep 73,
  13. Volvo 71,
  14. Infiniti 69,
  15. Chrysler 65,
  16. Honda 65,
  17. Lexus 61,
  18. Cadillac 57,
  19. Kia 56,
  20. Hyundai 53,
  21. Land Rover/Range Rover 49,
  22. GMC 47,
  23. Jaguar 47,
  24. Mitsubishi 47,
  25. Acura 44,
  26. Pontiac 44,
  27. Buick 40,
  28. Suzuki 36,
  29. Lincoln 33,
  30. Mercury 31,
  31. Ram 28,
  32. Saab 28,
  33. Oldsmobile 24,
  34. Saturn 21,
  35. Mini 19,
  36. Fiat 17,
  37. Porsche 17,
  38. Isuzu 16,
  39. Plymouth 15,
  40. AMC 10,
  41. Hummer 9,
  42. Alfa Romeo 7,
  43. Geo 7,
  44. Scion 7,
  45. Datsun 6,
  46. Bentley 5,
  47. Lancia 4,
  48. Triumph 4,
  49. Aston Martin 3,
  50. Eagle 3,
  51. Genesis 3,
  52. MGB 3,
  53. Rolls-Royce 3,
  54. Daewoo 2,
  55. Ferrari 2,
  56. Imperial 2,
  57. Lamborghini 2,
  58. Lectric Leopard 2,
  59. Maserati 2,
  60. McLaren 2,
  61. Sprinter 2,
  62. Electrek 1,
  63. Excalibur 1,
  64. Fisker 1,
  65. Lotus 1,
  66. Marathon 1,
  67. Maybach 1,
  68. Peugeot 1,
  69. Renault 1,
  70. Stryker 1.

Colo. Auto Hall of Fame induction

Lisa Schomp, Colorado Time Dealer in 2007, is on stage with CADA officials Steve Zeder, left, and Anthony Brownlee. (CADA photos)

More than 600 persons gathered beneath a large tent on an evening in mid-September 2021 on the grounds of the Elitch Gardens to celebrate the induction of the inaugural class for the Colorado Automotive Hall of Fame.

The 12th annual Gala, sponsored by the Colorado Automobile Dealers Association (CADA), featured 50 former Time Dealer Award winners from Colorado as inductees, and many family members were in attendance. I, too, was included in the Hall of Fame honors for my many years of automotive coverage.

At the dinner’s conclusion, the gates into Elitch from its parking areas were opened for an early look at the 2021 Denver Auto Show.

“Dealers consistently and generously contribute to the lives of their communities,” said Tim Jackson, president and CEO of CADA, at the awards dinner, “and we’re very proud to honor these wonderful individuals who have made this industry a driving force in our state.”

Emcees were Ed Greene and Claudia Garofalo, of KUSA9, and presenting the awards were Steve Zeder, CADA chair, of Glenwood Springs, and Anthony Brownlee, auto show chair for the CADA.

Colorado’s 50 Time Dealer Award winners who were inducted into the Hall of Fame are:

Russel Lyons of Boulder,

Gene Markley of Fort Collins,

Richard Deane of Denver,

Vern Hagestad of Lakewood,

Charlie Williams of Colorado Springs,

Al O’Meara of Denver,

Ralph Schomp of Littleton,

Gene Wilcoxson of Pueblo, George McCaddon of Boulder,

Tony Fortino of Pueblo,

Dwight Ghent of Fort Collins,

Nate Burt of Denver,

Jack Maffeo of Arvada,

Don Doenges of Colorado Springs,

Florian Barth of Denver,

Hugh Tighe Jr. of Denver,

Richard Dellenbach of Fort Collins,

Joe Luby of Denver,

Harry Dowson of Denver,

Bob Fisher of Boulder,

Robert Markley of Greeley,

Doug McDonald of Denver,

Jim Suss Sr. of Denver,

Roland Purifoy of Fort Lupton,

Herrick Garnsey of Greeley,

Jim Reilly Sr. of  Colorado Springs,

Lloyd Chavez of Denver,

Fred Emich III of Denver,

Kent Stevinson of Lakewood,

Dean Dowson of Lakewood,

John Schenden of Northglenn,

Lee Payne of Golden,

Jim Morehart of Durango,

Jeff Carlson of Glenwood Springs,

Barbara Vidmar of Pueblo,

Lisa Schomp of Littleton,

Don Hicks of Aurora,

John Medved of Golden,

Jack TerHar of Broomfield,

Doug Moreland of Denver,

Mike Shaw of Denver,

Jay Cimino of Colorado Springs,

Bob Ghent of Greeley,

Scott Ehrlich of Greeley,

Bob Penkhus of Colorado Springs,

Bill Hellman of Delta,

Todd Maul of Denver,

Mary Pacifico-Valley of Denver,

Fletcher Flower of Montrose,

Christina Dawkins of Loveland.

John Medved, left, who has sold his Colorado dealerships, was Colorado Time Dealer in 2009; he received HOF congrats from Brownlee.
Bob Markley of Greeley, Colorado Time Dealer in 1990, is applauded by his son, Dave, Claudia Garofalo at left, Zeder and Brownlee, right.

Notes from Elitch: A short visit with Jay Cimino was enjoyable before the beginning of the awards ceremonies; he is president and CEO of Phil Long dealerships, and one of the oldest execs heading automotive groups. . . . . The younger generation is active, too. When Lisa Schomp complimented her son, Aaron Wallace, on his aggressive expansion of holdings by the Schomp group, I asked, “Is he 40 yet?” “No, he’s 38,” she said. . . . .A couple other notables among the successful auto dealers at the dinner were John Elway, Denver’s football favorite, and Jason Stein, who recently resigned as publisher of Automotive News  in Detroit in order to accept a position as president of global venture consultancy Motormindz and host his own SiriusXM show. . . . . Sharing a table with Jan and me at the dinner were Kim Parker, Kurt and Tammy Wells, Dale and Sandy Wells, Kathy and Bill Allen, Brent and Tina Wells. . . . .When Fred Brown gave me a wave from across a wide table at the Hall of Fame dinner, he was close enough that I could read the Garnsey & Wheeler script above a pocket. Brown, about 15 years ago, was general manager of longtime Garnsey & Wheeler Ford at Greeley; the dealership was purchased a short time later by Spradley Barr of Pueblo. . . . .A note of congratulations from a former classmate of mine at Wray, ended with: “I don’t even really do cars, but I do read your articles.”

From the CADA:

Bud began work at The Denver Post in 1968, after 11 years at the Sterling Journal-Advocate and a year at the Rocky Mountain News. At the Post, he attained the position of Page One Editor, then in the mid-1970s oversaw the creation of an automotive news section for the Post and soon became the paper’s auto columnist.

He is a native of Wray, where his father, Dale Wells, opened a Chrysler/Plymouth dealership in 1935 and added the Ford/Mercury franchise in 1939.

The Wells family at HOF dinner included, from left, Bill and Kathy Allen, Brent and Tina Wells, Sandy Wells, Kim Parker, Dale Wells, Bud and Jan Wells, Kurt and Tammy Wells. (Cheryl Burnside photo)

Bud in the 1980s operated a car sales business in Sterling, served as publications director for Curtis Publishing Co. history book division in Dallas, and was with the Pueblo Chieftain for 1½ years.

He rejoined the Rocky Mountain News in 1991, became editor of the Advertorial Department and wrote about cars. In 1996, Bud authored “The Colorado Car Book,” a look at the 100-year history of the automobile in this state. He returned to The Denver Post in 2000 and continued to write weekly automotive columns.

Bud retired from the paper in 2003, though continued his car columns and in 2021 is still writing about cars for The Post. Living in Greeley since 2005, Bud wrote weekly auto columns for The Greeley Tribune, in addition to The Post.

In 2009, Bud was honored when the Colorado Automobile Dealers Association named its board room after him for his “extensive commitment of time, energy and passionate reporting on all aspects of Colorado’s automotive industry.”

Bud has driven and reviewed nearly 2,500 new cars and trucks, including the Porsche Cayenne on the frozen lakes of Whitehorse in the Canadian Yukon. In 2012, he was presented the Lee Iacocca Award “for dedication to excellence in perpetuating an American automotive tradition.” In 2014, he worked with CADA President and CEO Tim Jackson in overseeing “The 100-Year Deal,” an automotive history including a reprint of The Colorado Car Book.

He is a member of the Denver Press Club, Rocky Mountain Automotive Press and United Methodist Church.

A close advisor and confidant has been his lovely wife of 65 years, Jan. They have five children, 13 grandchildren and 18 great-grandchildren.

70 car reviews, from $19k to $394k

Rolls-Royce’s first-ever SUV, the Cullinan, came in at almost $400,000. (Bud Wells photos)

Two extraordinary, ultraluxury automobiles skewed my compilation of average price for all cars I drove and tested in the year 2020.

Those two – Rolls-Royce’s first-ever SUV at $394,275 and the super-sport McLaren 570 Spider at $233,780 – lifted the average per car to $63,558. Without those two, average for the other 68 I drove was $56,191, a decline from 2019’s average of $57,460.

The super-fine sports car McLaren 570S Spider was priced at $233,000.

Automotive manufacturers, in providing the new models for review, most often select those equipped with the latest in technology and safety advancements, i.e. those with relatively high sticker prices.

In addition to the Rolls and McLaren, high-priced rides for me were the

  • Mercedes AMG GLS63 at $149,740,
  • Mercedes AMG GLE63 $131,880 and
  • Lexus LC500 convertible $111,325;

A $19,705 sticker on the little Toyota Yaris was cheapest of any in 2020. These others fell in the $20s, the

  • Nissan Sentra SR at $25,825;
  • Toyota C-HR $28,435,
  • Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross $28,595 and
  • Subaru Crosstrek Sport $29,145.
At the low end in pricing was the little Toyota Yaris, less than $20,000.

Following, listed alphabetically, are the 70 I reviewed in 2020:

  • Acura MDX $56,295;
  • Acura RDX $47,625;
  • Acura TLX sport sedan $47,275;
  • BMW 228i Gran Coupe $47,845;
  • BMW X3 plug-in hybrid $65,020;
  • BMW X6 $72,020;
  • Buick Encore GX $33,645;
  • Cadillac CT4 $49,640;
  • Cadillac CT5-V $57,680;
  • Chevy Bolt Electric $43,735;
  • Chevy Corvette Stingray $85,330;
  • Chevy Silverado RST V-8 $51,435;
  • Chevy Silverado Trail Boss $44,510;
  • Chevy Silverado 2500 LTZ $61,220;
  • Chevy Trailblazer $30,580;
  • Chrysler Pacifica Plug-in $50,825;
  • Dodge Challenger Hellcat Redeye $92,445;
  • Dodge Charger AWD $46,385;
  • Dodge Durango Hellcat $93,150;
  • Dodge Durango R/T AWD $66,650;
  • Ford Expedition Limited $71,865;
  • Ford F250 Super Duty Crew Cab $70,110;
  • Ford Ranger Lariat SuperCrew $46,910;
  • GMC Canyon AT4 $42,585;
  • GMC Sierra 1500 AT4 $64,180;
  • GMC Yukon AT4 $75,455;
  • Honda Civic Type R Touring $37,950;
  • Honda CR-V $35,845;
  • Honda CR-V Hybrid $35,590;
  • Honda Odyssey $49,335;
  • Honda Ridgeline $43,140;
  • Infiniti QX80 $79,490;
  • Land Rover Discovery $60,725;
  • Lexus ES300 Hybrid $53,810;
  • Lexus LC500 convertible $111,325;
  • Mazda CX-5 $39,025;
  • Mazda CX-9 Signature $46,605;
  • Mazda CX-30 $31,370;
  • McLaren 570S Spider $233,780;  
  • Mercedes A220 $48,295;
  • Mercedes AMG GLC43 $77,640;
  • Mercedes AMG GLE53 Coupe $93,195;
  • Mercedes AMG GLE63 $131,880;
  • Mercedes AMG GLS63 $149,740;
  • Mini Cooper SE Electric $37,750;
  • Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross $28,595;
  • Nissan Armada Midnight Edition $62,105;
  • Nissan Frontier Pro-4X $40,100;
  • Nissan Pathfinder Rock Creek Edition $40,280;
  • Nissan Rogue SV $31,500;
  • Nissan Sentra SR $25,825;
  • Ram 1500 Rebel $70,880;
  • Ram 1500 TRX $87,370;
  • Ram 2500 Laramie Crew $70,980;
  • Rolls-Royce Cullinan SUV $394,275;
  • Subaru Crosstrek Sport $29,145;
  • Toyota Avalon TRD $46,147;
  • Toyota Camry TRD $32,920;
  • Toyota C-HR $28,435;
  • Toyota 4Runner $52,147;
  • Toyota Highlander Platinum $51,112;
  • Toyota RAV4 Prime plug-in $48,461;
  • Toyota Sequoia $67,029;
  • Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro $49,599;
  • Toyota Venza Hybrid $43,100;
  • Toyota Yaris $19,705;
  • Volkswagen Atlas $50,015;
  • Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport $49,350;
  • Volkswagen Golf GTI $37,415;
  • Volvo XC90 T8 Recharge $81,690

Camry, RAV4, F-series 2020 sales winners

Toyota Camry longtime winner among cars. (Bud Wells photos)

Toyota Camry and RAV4 and the Ford F-series continued their ride atop new light-vehicle sales in the U.S. in 2020, a year in which slowdowns and shutdowns for the coronavirus pandemic reduced totals by 15 percent.

Consumers continued the switch from cars to light trucks and SUV/crossovers even in the slowed economy. Trucks and SUVs accounted for almost 78 percent of total sales last year.

Ford has led sales of pickups in the U.S. for more than 40 consecutive years, Camry has led car sales every year but one since 1996 and RAV4 has been SUV/crossover leader the past four years. The only change was in the minivan segment, where Chrysler Pacifica was tops after its parent company Fiat Chrysler Automotive (FCA) ended production of alltime minivan leader Dodge Grand Caravan.

Twenty-five years ago (1995),

  • the Ford Taurus was the best-selling car in the country with 366,266, followed by the Honda Accord with 341,384 and Toyota Camry 328,602.
  • The Ford F-series was top seller among pickups, ahead of the Chevy C/K and the Ford Ranger.
  • The SUV list was led by the Ford Explorer, Jeep Grand Cherokee and Chevy Blazer.
  • The Dodge Caravan sold 264,937 minivans that year, followed by Ford Windstar 222,147 and Plymouth Voyager 178,327.

Following are U.S. sales of new cars, SUVs, trucks and minivans for 2020:


Toyota Camry 294,438; Honda Civic 261,225; Toyota Corolla 237,178 Honda Accord 199,458; Tesla Model 3 171,000;  Nissan Altima 137,988; Ford Fusion 110,665; Hyundai Elantra 105,475; Chevrolet Malibu 102,651; Nissan Sentra  94,646; Kia Forte 84,997; VW Jetta 82,662; Dodge Charger 77,425; Hyundai Sonata 76,997; Kia Soul;  71,862; Ford Mustang;  61,090; Dodge Challenger; 52,955; Kia Optima;  48,484; Nissan Versa   48,273; Subaru Impreza 43,625; Toyota Prius 43,525; Lexus ES 43,292; BMW 3 series  41,442; Mazda3 33,608; Chevrolet Spark 33,478; Honda Fit 32,488; Kia K5 31,656; Chevrolet Camaro 29,775; Subaru Legacy 27,240; Mercedes E-Class 27,102; BMW 5 series 26,785; Mercedes C-Class 26.294; VW Golf  25,858; Kia Rio 23,927; VW Passat 22,964; Acura TLX 21,785; Chevrolet Corvette 21,626; Subaru WRX 21,178; Chevrolet Bolt 20,754; Tesla Model S 20,700.

Toyota RAV4 was repeat winner among SUVs and crossovers.


Toyota RAV4 430,387; Honda CR-V 333,502; Chevrolet Equinox 270,994; Nissan Rogue  227,935; Ford Explorer 226,217; Toyota Highlander 212,276; Jeep Grand Cherokee 209,786; Jeep Wrangler  201,311; Ford Escape 178,406; Subaru Forester 176,996; Subaru Outback 153,294; Mazda CX-5 146,420; Jeep Cherokee  135,855; Toyota 4Runner  129,052; Chevrolet Traverse 125,546; Honda Pilot 123,813; Hyundai Tucson 123,657; Subaru Crosstrek 119,716; Ford Edge  108,886; Jeep Compass;  107,969; Chevrolet Trax 106,299; Lexus RX 101,059; Hyundai Santa Fe 100,757; Volkswagen Tiguan 100,705; Chevrolet Blazer 94,599; Chevrolet Tahoe 88,238; Volkswagen Atlas 87,362; GMC Terrain 86,020; Kia Sportage  84,343; Honda HR-V 84,027; Hyundai Palisade 82,661; Ford Expedition  77,838; Hyundai Kona;  76,253; Kia Telluride;  75,129; Kia Sorento;  74,677; GMC Acadia 72,537; Subaru Ascent 67,623; GMC Yukon/XL 63,440; Jeep Renegade  62,847; Ford EcoSport 60,545; BMW X3;  59,941; Nissan Kicks;  58,858; Nissan Murano;  58,255; Dodge Durango;  57,828; Lexus NX;  55,784; Acura RDX 52,785; Mercedes GLC 52,626; BMW X5 50,642; Audi Q5 50,435; Nissan Pathfinder 48,579; Mercedes GLE   48,154; Acura MDX  47,816; Kia Seltos  46,280; Buick Encore GX 44,841; Toyota C-HR 42,936; Buick Encore  41,752; Dodge Journey 40,342; Honda Passport  39,567; Buick Enclave 38,480; Mazda CX-30 38,064; Chevrolet Suburban 37,636; Tesla Model X37,000; Cadillac XT5 35,223; Buick Envision  34,942; Chev Trailblazer 34,292; Volvo XC90  34,251; Volvo XC60  32,078; Mitsubishi Outlander 29,096; Mitsu Outlander Sport 28,836; Lexus GX  28,519; Mazda CX-9 27,636; Audi Q3  27,251; Lincoln Corsair/MKC 26,227; Audi Q7 25,371; Mercedes GLA 25,348; Cadillac Escalade 24,547; Volvo XC40 23,778; Mercedes GLB 23,183; Lincoln Aviator 23,080; Infiniti QX60 22,880; Lincoln Nautilus/MKX 22,742; Cadillac XT6 22,609; Cadillac XT4 22,473; Mercedes GLS 22,172; Infiniti QX50 20,885; BMW X7 20,579; Range Rover Sport 20,054.

Ford F-series has dominated truck sales for more than 40 years.


Ford F-Series 787,422; Chevrolet Silverado 586,675; Ram 1500 563,676; GMC Sierra 253,016; Toyota Tacoma 238,806; Toyota Tundra 109,203; Ford Ranger 101,486; Chevrolet Colorado 96,238; Jeep Gladiator 77,542; Nissan Frontier 36,845; Honda Ridgeline 32,168; GMC Canyon 25,190


Chrysler Pacifica 93,802; Honda Odyssey 83,409; Toyota Sienna 42,885; Dodge Grand Caravan 38,767; Kia Sedona 13,190.