Category Archives: Auto Reviews

A glance back 100 years, forward to Volvo V90 mild hybrid

The Volvo V90 Cross Country B6 near Erie. (Bud Wells photo)

Let’s take a look back – long ago – in contrast with review of the sleek 2024 Volvo V90 Cross Country Mild Hybrid Wagon.

Advertisement in early1939, a few months before Dale Wells added Ford/Mercury.

One hundred years ago, late May 1924, my dad, Dale Wells, graduated from Burlington High School and in the same week began employment as a mechanic at the town’s Ford garage, operated by Cecil Reed.

Dad’s older brother, Albert Wells, was already working as a salesman at the Reed Ford dealership. Dad and Albert would become Ford dealers themselves down the road a few years – Albert at Cozad, Neb., and dad at Wray.

These happenings merit mention after all these years, in that it marks 100 years that my family has been associated with the automobile business.

Advertisement for 1942 Ford from Wray Gazette in fall of ’41.  

As U.S. auto builders entering year 1942 shifted gears and cleared production lines of new automobiles, they prepared their manufacturing capabilities for the Allied efforts in World War II.

Dad at the time had not only the Ford/Mercury franchises for Wray, but also Chrysler/Plymouth, and bought the last 1942 Chrysler sent his way before the shutdown; he and my mother drove the Chrysler Windsor sedan, with blue body and cream-colored roof, through the war years.

It performed with a 142-horsepower, straight-8-cylinder engine and Chrysler’s relatively new Fluid Drive transmission. General Motors was in the early stages of its Hydra-matic transmission. We all know which prevailed in that competition.

Two chapters, “The Garage at Wray” and “The Chrysler at 100,” add discussion in much more detail in my book. “2,600 Cars and a Dog Sled, Bud Wells’ 67 Years in Newspapering and Automobiles” is offered in soft-cover ($28.50 including shipping) or hard-cover ($38.50 including shipping) and can be ordered through Budwellsbooks.com or [email protected], or by phone or text 303-549-4464.

Dale Wells Sr. in the early 1940s.

2024 Volvo V90 mild hybrid

The anticipated transition to electric automobiles has assembly lines in a state of flux for most manufacturers heading into summer 2024, such as “scrap the Malibu, electrify the Hummer, toss the Hemi, Mach-e or no Mach-e, Tesla this and Tesla that, charging points, etc., etc.”

Volvo, builder of wonderful internal-combustion-engine-powered wagons for 50 years, was one of the first manufacturers to commit to electrifying its fleet.

The sleekly styled and comfortably seated V90 exists yet due to installation of a 48-volt mild hybrid system with regenerative braking. The Cross Country B6 version is powered by a 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine and 8-speed automatic transmission with all-wheel drive. The regen braking is a product of the mild hybrid, which also is used to start the engine and boost the engine in acceleration, all of which help the wagon’s EPA estimate of 23 city and 29 highway miles per gallon. My overall average was 24.2.

The Ultimate trim level lends Bowers & Wilkins premium sound, Nappa leather, massaging front seats, head-up display, lifted suspension with rear air and a crystal shifter that adds assurance the wagon is of luxury rank.

The V90, built in Torslanda, Sweden, carries sticker price of $73,380.

Large, practical EV9 joins sleek EV6 for Kia

The new Kia EV9 wended its way through the busy Buc-ees parking lots. (Jan Wells photos)

Based on a relatively brief, one-day drive, the country’s newest fully electric automobile is one of the finest. It’s the 2024 Kia EV9, a seven-passenger SUV crossover.

Kia is a busy automaker with electrification in its product line. In addition to the new EV9, the EV6 is a compact electric crossover. The small Niro is offered in electric, plug-in hybrid and gas/electric hybrid. The Sportage and Sorento are available as plug-in or regular hybrid.

Traditional gas-only versions include Telluride, Seltos, Carnival, Forte, K5 and Soul.

The key pod for driving the new EV9 was handed to me by Dustin Pew, general manager of Fowler Kia on U.S. 34 between Greeley and Loveland. The Kia’s 99.8 kWh lithium ion high-voltage battery was fully charged, offering 263 miles of range. Jan and I headed on over to I-25, then in to Denver for a short visit with friends Ted and Shirley King.

Accessing I-25 was a snap with the instant torque and quick acceleration of the EV9; its lane correction system is firm and very effective. It is moved by a 379-horsepower, dual-motor powertrain, with tow capacity up to 5,000 pounds. Its MPGe rating is 88 city/72 highway; its energy rating in kilowatt-hours to travel 100 miles is 42.

On the return trip, I pulled off I-25 into a long line of cars entering Buc-ees, in its first week of open-for-business on Colo. 60, west of Johnstown. Cars were nearly bumper-to-bumper all over the place, in all directions. After fully circling the filled parking lots and passing by the 116 gas pumps, also nearly all occupied, Jan hopped out of the EV9 and took a couple quick photos while drivers of cars behind ours waited patiently.

Voted Electric Vehicle of the Year is the Genesis GV60. (Bud Wells photo)

Back to the dealership, I had driven 90 miles, with the battery pack reduced by 88 miles of range.

It was a warm day. Cold weather probably would have impacted the range usage to a wider degree, though Recurrent, a used-EV research firm, found in a study that the smaller 2022 Kia EV6 maintained 93 percent of its EPA range while operating at 32 degrees Fahrenheit. This level of range retainment for the Kia was considerably higher than that of a direct competitor in the same study, Recurrent observers reported.

There is comfort aplenty aboard the EV9; its bolstered seatback was perfect for me. Its blunt front end brightens with new lighting technique for nighttime cruising. It has less distinguishing appeal up front during daylight hours.

At 197.2 inches in overall length, the EV9 is a bit more than a foot longer than the EV6.

The EV9 with GT-Line all-wheel-drive trim was sticker priced at $75,735, including head-up display, self-leveling rear suspension, Meridian premium audio, dual 12.3-inch screen panoramic display with navigation, forward-collision avoidance and rear cross-traffic avoidance.

2024 Car Show: 6 added to hall of fame, compact Chevy voted best truck

Ed Bozarth receives his award at Hall of Fame Gala. (Tim Jackson photo)

Denver was once called a “cow town.” It’s not. It’s a “car town,” and that tag was emphasized in the heart of the city during the first week of April with the 2024 Denver Auto Show at the Colorado Convention Center.

For a third year in a row, a compact pickup – this time the Chevy Colorado – edged out the more popular full-sized models (F-150, Silverado, Ram, Tundra) for Truck of the Year in voting by the Rocky Mountain Automotive Press at the auto show.

Taking top honors in the previous two years was the new Ford Maverick compact pickup. The last full-sizer to win the award was the Ram 1500 TRX Crew Cab in 2021 The Colorado, introduced in 2004 to replace the Chevrolet S-10, has gotten a bit larger and much stronger with each of its two previous generational upgrades. It is built at Wentzville, Mo.

Car of the Year honors went to the Acura Integra Type S, a sleek, four-door hatchback with coupe styling. It is one of the few models still offered with a manual transmission. Toyota’s three-row Grand Highlander, 4 inches longer in wheelbase than the standard Highlander and 6 inches longer overall, received most votes for Crossover of the Year. It is noted for its smoothness of acceleration, handling and braking.

Voted Electric Vehicle of the Year is the Genesis GV60. (Bud Wells photo)

The Genesis GV60, based on the Hyundai Ioniq 5 and Kia EV6, was named Electric Vehicle of the Year. It features all-wheel drive, electronically controlled suspension, a Boost button on the steering wheel for extra horsepower and Bang & Olufsen premium sound.

Inducted into the Colorado Automotive Hall of Fame for 2024 are six auto stalwarts:

John Bowell

John Bowell, who at age 18 got his start in the car business under tutelage of Anne Goodro at Goodro Ford, became a best-selling dealer with Volvo and Mazda and in 2007 joined Don Hicks as co-owner of Shortline Automotive Group.

Ed Bozarth (Pic above), got his start in the 1960s in Topeka, Kan., and eventually owned five Chevrolet dealerships, including Ed Bozarth Chevrolet in Aurora, played pivotal role with CADA in shaping Colorado franchise law.

Steve Taylor

Steve Taylor, Peak Automotive Group, started as a salesman in 1970 for Sports Car Sales, was the first general manager of Stevinson Lexus dealership in 1990, teamed with Mitch Pierce to purchase a Nissan store, recently sold Peak Kia of Windsor.

Mike Feeley

Mike Feeley, attorney, Brownstein, Hyatt, Farber, Schreck LLP, and former Colorado senator, was CADA’s lobbyist for nearly two decades, tirelessly championing the cause of new car dealers.

Thomas Botterill

Thomas Botterill (posthumously), assumed manager role at Pierce Arrow store in Denver in 1901, was first president of the Denver Automobile Dealers Association and a leading Hudson dealer in the 1930s.

Art Stapp

Art Stapp (posthumously), a three-sport star at Lakewood High School and Colorado College, with his father, Robert, founded in 1973 Longmont Toyota, now known as Stapp Interstate Toyota at Frederick.

CEO and president of the Colorado Automobile Dealers Association is Matthew Groves; Eric Beutz is auto show chair and Todd Maul is automotive hall of fame chair.

From Volvo to Geely to China to Luqiao – it’s Polestar

The Polestar 2 is built in Luqiao, China. (Polestar)

When I drive a Polestar electric, I think of Volvo, for Polestar was founded and is owned by that Swedish car company, yet it is built in China, for Volvo is owned by Geely Manufacturing, a Chinese firm.

I’ve driven the 2024 Polestar 2 Dual-Motor Performance Plus model. It is reasonably quick, not to the burst-like-level of EQS or XM, but enough to please this internal-combustion-engine user. It has an excellent regenerative braking system.

Following haircuts in Eaton on a Friday afternoon of last week, Jan and I drove north on U.S. 85 into Wyoming, sped via I-25 through Cheyenne a few more miles and took a right off the highway and a left over the highway, winding up on Horse Creek Road. Some twists and turns highlighted the Polestar’s tight steering, while magnifying the bumpiness of the liftback’s stiff suspension.

Tim Coy designed the cover for the book, “2,600 Cars and a Dog Sled.” (Jan Wells)

With all that behind us, we rolled merrily into the driveway of the new home for Tim Coy and Cynthia Rutledge; they recently relocated from Louisville. I was delivering to Coy a hardbound copy of my book, “2,600 Cars and a Dog Sled, Bud Wells’ 67 Years of Newspapering and Automobiles,” for which he designed the colorful cover and back cover. It can be ordered ($28.50 for soft-cover, $38.50 for hard-cover) through budwellsbooks.com or by contacting me at [email protected].

The 78kWh battery in the Polestar Dual-Motor electric was easily charged to 270 miles of range for the all-wheel-drive hatchback. The Eaton/Cheyenne drive of 124 miles consumed 125 miles from the range capacity. Earlier in the week, a drive of 210 miles reduced the range by 245 miles; much of that distance was on 75-miles-per-hour interstate highway. The faster speeds tend to reduce range excessively.

While in Eaton, Jan and I enjoyed a visit with Sara Martin, mother of Walker Martin, the 20-year-old Eaton baseball star who signed last summer with the San Francisco Giants.

Regarding the Polestar, an extended range of 320 miles is available by foregoing AWD and opting for a rear-wheel-drive version with a single motor at the rear axle.

The dual motors offer 455 horsepower, 325 kW and 546 lb.-ft. of torque; its MPGe rating is 112 mpg in the city and 100 highway.

While yellow/orange seatbelts appear to be, perhaps, too bright inside the car, when seen from outside they match the brake calipers and are aesthetic.  Harman Kardon premium sound and a large infotainment system are highlights.

Comfortably ventilated nappa leather seats ($4,000) boosted sticker price to $69,650 for the dual-motor Polestar 2. A large panorama roof adds pleasantness to travels, front vision is excellent, though somewhat limited at the rear from a reduced-size liftgate window. The cargo area offers 14.4 cubic feet of room behind the rear seats; a front trunk or “frunk” adds a small stow space of about a cubic foot.

Among some competitors of the Polestar are Tesla Model 3, BMW i4, Mercedes EQE, Ford Mustang Mach-e and Hyundai Ioniq 6.

Memory of Jay Cimino

Jay Cimino

Jay Cimino, 87, retired president and CEO of Phil Long Dealerships, died February 24, 2024, at his home in Colorado Springs.

My lasting remembrance of Jay was the evening of Sept. 17, 2021, when more than 600 persons gathered beneath a large tent on the grounds of the Elitch Gardens to celebrate the inaugural class for the Colorado Automotive Hall of Fame. Jay walked over to our table and visited with my family and me, before he and I were inducted into the HOF.

1936 Ford Roadster was among private auto collection of Jay Cimino.

He once sent to me a photo of his 1936 Ford Roadster, one of many beautiful models in a large, private collection of his. I assumed the roadster probably was his favorite; others, though, said he favored a custom 1957 Chevy Corvette. Cimino declined to select a favorite.

Cimino was born and raised in Trinidad; he has given back to his hometown bigtime through the years. His philanthropy has boosted the community. He established the Trinidad Community Foundation, the Jay Cimino Champion Scholarship Fund for Holy Trinity Academy students and a visitor center. Perhaps most meaningful is the establishment of the Mt. Carmel Health, Wellness and Community Center.

He opened Phil Long Toyota of Trinidad in 2010. The Phil Long dealerships are the largest privately held automotive group in Colorado. A celebration of Cimino’s life ceremony was in Colorado Springs.

Subaru Ascent covers Palm Desert

The 2024 Subaru Ascent at Palm Desert, Calif. (Jan Wells photo)

A roomy, three-row crossover added flashes of “crimson red pearl” to a four-day relaxation in California earlier in February.

The crimson-finished 2024 Subaru Ascent was waiting when four of us – Jan and I, daughter Kim and granddaughter Missy – landed at Palm Springs, then carried us the few miles to Palm Desert, where we joined Dale and Sandy Wells, who were vacationing from their home in Johnstown.

The Ascent, which competes with the Chevy Traverse, Hyundai Santa Fe, Jeep Grand Cherokee L, Volkswagen Atlas and others, is large enough for six adults, though in row-by-row comparison, of course, the third row was third-rate.

Awaiting lunch at Riverside, Calif., are, from left, Kim Parker, Dale Wells, Kent Wells, Jan and Bud Wells

We drove 70 miles along Calif. 74 to Riverside, where we enjoyed lunch with younger brother, James Kent Wells, who resides in Seal Beach. The Ascent was also smooth and good-handling on a drive to LaQuinta and the PGA West Jack Nicklaus Tournament Course.

Performance was very adequate from the Subaru’s 2.4-liter boxer engine; the continuous variable transmission’s 8-speed manual-shift mode worked well, droning occasionally on acceleration demand, of course. The overall fuel-mileage average was 20.2 (EPA rating is 19-25).

The all-wheel-drive Ascent, built in Lafayette, Ind., was introduced for the 2019 model year. For 2024, it starts at $34,195. The Touring model I drove carried a sticker price of $49,931, featuring Cabin Connect, Surround View Monitor, Harman Kardon surround sound, Eyesight Driver Assist, panoramic moonroof.

Botterill was leader among Denver’s early car dealers

Tom Botterill at his desk as a Hudson dealer in Denver many years ago.

I enjoyed a visit in late February with Adam Botterill, who owns and operates Botterill Excavation in Johnstown.

It wasn’t that I needed excavation work done, my interest was digging back three generations to Adam’s great-grandfather, Thomas Botterill.

Tom Botterill was among Denver’s earliest automotive dealers and one of the most prominent of the first half of the 20th century. Botterill in 1901 was named manager of the Pierce Arrow automobile store in Denver; by 1903 he became agent for the company. When he sold 40 new cars that year, he couldn’t imagine ever selling that many again. By the time he retired in the 1940s, though, it was estimated he had sold 25,000 autos.

It was from this building in 1921 that Botterill loaned his ace salesman, Thomas D. Braden, for doing the legwork, not for selling cars, but for selling charter memberships into the newly formed Denver Automobile Dealers Association.

Botterill was elected president of the group, and Braden served as its secretary for that year and 40 more. First-year directors for the association included D.W. James, Finlay L. MacFarland, Arthur Kumpf, O.L. Davis Jr., Fred Green and Myron L. Smith.

Botterill Hudson Essex sign sat high above dealership in Denver in the 1930s.

Dodge Brothers was sold to Chrysler Corporation later in the 1920s, at which time Botterill exchanged his Dodge business allegiance for a Hudson franchise, and moved his dealership a block away into the big building on the corner of Broadway and 13th Avenue. It was noted through the 1930s for a huge neon sign, “Botterill Hudson Essex,” rising high above the building top. The Buick line was also added to Botterill’s business for a few years.

By 1940, Tom and his family – wife Elizabeth and sons Thomas, 31, and William, 20 – resided in a nice home just east of City Park in the 4000 block of East 19th Avenue. When new car production in the U.S. shut down in 1942 for World War II, Botterill continued to sell a few used cars before retiring.

In addition to his year as president of the Denver dealers association, Botterill was a director of the National Auto Dealers Association, served office terms with the national Hudson dealers association, chairman of the state Highway Transport Committee, served on the State Council of Defense, president of the Lakewood Country Club, member of Denver Country Club, Denver Athletic Club, Rotary, Chamber of Commerce and Episcopalian church.

Botterill died on Oct. 15, 1964, at age 91. About that time, Jack Botterill, a third son of Thomas, moved his family to Berthoud in northern Colorado, and other relatives have resided in Loveland and Johnstown. Jack’s son, George, who passed away nine years ago, was the father of Adam. Adam’s son Zavier Thomas Botterill, 23, is active in the excavation business with his father.

The elder Tom Botterill is destined for inclusion into the Colorado Automotive Hall of Fame.               

Alfa Romeo carries Bud to Sterling book-signing

A snowy background for the Alfa Romeo Stelvio. (Bud Wells photo)

A wonderful Monday evening in Sterling was a mid-February 2024 highlight for Jan and me.

Driving the 2024 Alfa Romeo Stelvio with its familiar trefoil grille of cross and snake out front, I fairly quickly drove the 100 miles to the Christ United Methodist Church in downtown Sterling for a gathering of the Logan County Historical Society. We were accompanied by daughter Kathy Allen.

A portion of crowd at historical society gathering in Sterling. (Tim Jackson photo)

I was there to talk of my book, “2,600 Cars and a Dog Sled, Bud Wells’ 67 Years of Newspapering and Automobiles,” responding to an invitation from Don Carey, a director of the society. Very favorable reviews of my presentation appeared in the Sterling Journal-Advocate and South Platte Sentinel, written by Bill Benson, president of the historical group, .

With the drive completed in the Italian-built SUV crossover, my 2,600-car list has now grown to 2,630. The Alfa Romeo builders of the Stelvio hope to eventually challenge the superior German luxury compacts – Audi Q5, BMW X3 and Mercedes GLC; sales are far short of those, though the Alfa model did outsell the Jaguar F-Pace in 2023.

The audience at the Sterling meeting seemed receptive to my informal chat, much of which was memory of my career’s first 11 years spent at the Sterling Journal-Advocate, beginning in the fall of 1956: Late calls Friday nights from coaches, such as Dwayne Pilkington at Crook; adding obituaries, courthouse news, church page to my duties, as editor Bob Petteys realized my interests spread beyond sports; moving over to full-time news when Don Miles returned from service in 1959 to resume his sportswriting duties; and my being named editor of the J-A in 1965 by Petteys.

My drive in to Denver on a cold morning in December 1967 to visit with Bill Hornby, editor of The Post, led to my many years with both the Post and Rocky Mountain News and an assortment of odysseys, though my driving and reviewing of new cars and trucks remained the focus through most years.

The Stelvio is the Competizione all-wheel-drive trim level, with 280-horsepower, 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine and 8-speed automatic transmission. The Alfa’s midrange performance is very much up to par after a bit of turbo lag at lower speeds. I prefer short paddleshifters which turn with the steering wheel and with the driver’s hands, but I understand reason for the lengthier paddles on the Stelvio, since they’re stationary to the steering post and are more accessible in the longer length.

A thick-based A pillar, with a large sideview mirror blocks vision at intersections and on 90-degree turns.

The interior is of noisy turn signals and almost offensive-sounding lane departure warnings.

A pricey, $6,100 optional package of leather sport seats with red stitching, vulcano gloss black body kit, active suspension, 14-speaker Harman Kardon premium audio, 21-inch aluminum wheels and red brake calipers raised sticker price to $59,870. The Stelvio is built at Cassino, Italy.

Back then (1999). . . . .TDI-powered Beetle breaks 50-mpg

TDI engine boosted power, economy for ’99 VW Beetle. (Bud Wells photos)

(Twenty-five years ago, in 1999, I drove and reviewed a Volkswagen Beetle with a turbo-direct-injected diesel engine. A list in the recently released book, “2,600 Cars and a Dog Sled,” shows I drove 105 VWs in my career, sixth most of the 72 brands driven. Following are excerpts from the 1999 column:)

The red Volkswagen Beetle delivered in early February 1999 wasn’t discernible from the one I had driven the previous year. A definite lookalike, except color; inside, it was the same friendly interior, with a big yellow daisy smiling up from the bud vase.

Fire it up, though, and a cackling or light clattering sound from the engine gave away it secret – it’s a diesel.

This one is no ordinary diesel. It’s Volkswagen’s TDI diesel (turbo-direct-injected diesel). The injection system forces the fuel-air mixture directly into the cylinders, resulting in less unburned fuel and increased engine efficiency. With a turbocharger, a smart brain and high-tech combustion chamber, the engine swirls fuel rather than guzzling.

Before the week ended, the Beetle produced the second-best fuel mileage reading I had attained to that point. From southwest Denver, we drove north on U.S. 85 to Greeley, then several stops throughout the city, before heading home via I-25. For the 140 miles, the VW averaged 50.7 miles per gallon. Its EPA rating was 42-49.

The Honda Civic VX hit 61 mpg in 1994.

The only higher mpg reading I had recorded by ’99 was five years previous to that when a ’94 Honda Civic VX showed an astounding 61.2 mark. Other top averages I had achieved by 1999 were:

  • a ’78 VW Rabbit Diesel 47.9;
  • ’96 Geo Metro 47.6;
  • ’91 Geo Metro 47.0;
  • ’97 VW Passat TDI Diesel 46.9;
  • ’81 Isuzu I-Mark Diesel 45.6;
  • ’79 Renault LeCar 45.1;
  • ’94 Suzuki Swift 43.6’;
  • ’91 Nissan Sentra 43.3;
  • ’95 Hyundai Accent 42.0;
  • ’81 Toyota Starlet 41.6;
  • ’81 VW Dasher Diesel 41.3;
  • ’81 Plymouth Champ 40.8 and
  • ’95 Geo Metro 40.0.

The VW Beetle is very roomy inside; enough room for a Stetson. Its deep side windows create a problem from too much heat on a sunny day. The sun visor is too small to help by pulling it around the side.

Turning circle of the front-drive Beetle is only 32.8 feet, one of the shortest circles of all cars. Seats, as has long been the standard for VW products, are adjusted with knobs and rollers. Front-seat height is adjusted with a ratcheting pump handle.

The TDI engine added $1,275 to the cost of the Beetle, boosting its sticker price to $18,425. It was equipped with air conditioning, cruise control, power windows and locks, AM/FM/CD stereo, 16-inch alloy wheels and fog lamps.

Long-awaited 4th-gen Tacoma retains ‘iconic look’

The offroad-ready 2024 Toyota Tacoma. (Bud Wells photos)

As I stepped out of the 2024 Toyota Tacoma in the parking area at a Greeley Post Office, the man exiting his pickup beside me said, “Oh, that’s the new generation Taco; I’ve been driving this one (pointing to his 1999 Tacoma) for years, but I’m planning to give in and purchase the new ’24 model.”

The ‘new one’ is the 4th generation Tacoma, which many midsize pickup owners have been awaiting anxiously.

Delivered to me was a preproduction model of the Tacoma Limited Double Cab four-door; it is also available as a two-door XtraCab, a two-seater with extended storage behind the front seats.

The 2007 Toyota Tacoma.

The Tacoma has been around for almost 30 years, introduced in the spring of 1995 as a compact, replacing the small Toyota Pickup (known as the Hi-Lux in Japan). Since arrival of the second generation in 2005, it has been classified as midsize. Production of the third generation began in ’15.

Improved ride and handling, attained through a redesigned multilink, coil-spring rear suspension, are noticeable with the new-gen ’24. It is built on the TNGA-F global platform shared with the brand’s other body-on-frame units – the Tundra, Sequoia and Land Cruiser.

It’s got “the iconic Tacoma look,” said Toyota on the truck’s introduction, “with a high lift, big tires, slim body and a powerful athletic stance as inspired by prior Toyota Baja racing models.” Its supersonic red exterior finish is a $425 option.

With a 5-foot bed (a 6-foot bed is available), the Tacoma review model is 213 inches in overall length, about an inch longer than the ’23 pickup. A bed feature, in addition to being lighted and with a deeper box, is the aluminum tailgate power opening and closing functions.

The Tacoma’s retractable running boards deploy into position for relatively easy, comfortable access into the updated cabin.

A new turbocharged 4-cylinder engine matches the power of last year’s 3.5-liter V-6 and exceeds its torque rating. The 2.4-liter, mated to an 8-speed automatic transmission, delivers 278 horsepower and 317 lb.-ft. of torque. When properly equipped, the truck’s tow capacity is up to 6,500 pounds.

It carries a 20-23 EPA fuel-mileage rating; we managed an average of 22.6, helped by a 110-mile highway run to meet Kurt and Tammy Wells for an early lunch at Panera off I-25 at 144th Ave.

Sticker price on the Double Cab Limited 4WD is $54,595. The Tacoma is available in seven other trim levels. All Tacomas are standard with Toyota’s Safety Sense 3.0 driver-assistance package, including adaptive cruise control and proactive driving assist.

Following its introduction in 1995, Tacoma sales in the U.S. averaged about 150,000 per year for 20 years, and for each of the six years since 2018 have been beyond 200,000, totaling 252,490 in 2021, 237,323 in 2022 and 234,768 last year.