(Editor’s note: Our staff recently did a series of brief drives — either around 30 miles on pavement or on a short but challenging off-road course — in several cars during the media day at the annual Active Lifestyle Vehicle awards program held in the Phoenix area. Here are Larry Edsall’s impressions of three of the cars he drove during that program.)
2017 Acura NSXLarry leaves the parking lot at the wheel of the NSX
Yes, indeed, the 2017 Acura NSX is a New Sports (car) Experience.
After all, the original NSX, introduced to the U.S. market in 1991, now qualifies as a classic vehicle. And while this new, just-launching version still has a V6 engine tucked between the cockpit and the trunk, the engine’s output is boosted by twin turbochargers and the car’s performance is enhanced by three electric motors, including one for each of the front wheels.
Thus this New Sports (car) Experience is an all-wheel driven and thoroughly modern supercar, as evidenced not only by its performance but by its $156,000 base price, a figure that grows quickly, as evidenced by the as-tested $195,200 figure for the car Acura brought to Phoenix for the weekend.
Options that boosted the price included carbon fiber bodywork and interior trim, carbon-ceramic brakes, power seats, ELS Studio audio and an Alcantara headliner.
With 573 horsepower available from its various power sources, a nine-speed twin-clutch automatic gearbox, and with the driver selecting among four dynamic modes — Quiet (no reason to irritate the neighbors when you head to track-day activities at o-dark-30), Sport, Sport+ and Track — the new NSX is a technological marvel we hope to explore in more detail sometime with a longer test drive and details on the scientific wonders of its spaceframe chassis, the juicy details of its hybrid all-wheel drive setup, and its aerodynamic and thermal management systems.
For now, we can report that that car is a sure-handling road rocket constructed around the driver and designed for daily driving as well as for the race track.
2017 Acura NSX
Vehicle type: 2-passenger sports car, all-wheel drive
Base price: $156,000 Price as tested: $195,000
Engine: 3.5-liter twin-turbocharged V6, 500 horsepower at $6,500 rpm, 406 pound-feet of torque @ 2,000 rpm plus three electric motors bringing power total to 573 hp and 476 pound-feet Transmission: 9-speed twin-clutch automatic
EPA mileage estimates: 21 city / 22 highway / 21 combined
2016 Chevrolet Colorado dieselWe take the diesel-driven Colorado on the off-road course
As the owner of a mid-size pickup truck, a 2013 Nissan Frontier, I was very curious about Chevrolet’s new entry in the category. Not only was this my first experience behind the newest Colorado’s steering wheel, it came with a bonus — the vehicle entered in the Extreme Off-Road category of the ALV awards was powered by a 2.8-liter four-cylinder Duramax turbo diesel.
Yes, the four-banger provides only 181 horsepower, but it also provides a whopping 369 pound-feet of torque. On a two-wheel drive Colorado, the fuel economy rating is 22 city, 31 highway, and the numbers are a very impressive 20/29 on a 4×4.
Yes, the diesel is an expensive ($3,730) option, but consider that you can drive around 650 miles between fill-ups and tow more than 7,600 pounds — and if you’re less than 5-foot-10 tall, you can reach over the side of the truck bed without a step-stool to fetch your stuff, which you can’t do with a taller, full-size pickup.
I drove the new Colorado on the off-road course, trying the automatic, 4 High and 4 Low settings and was very impressed with the way it crawled down the steep hill and then clawed its way back up the rough and rocky trail.
For many of us, this is the right-size truck, and it now is available with a fuel-sipping but powerful diesel.
2016 Chevrolet Colorado
Vehicle type: 5-passenger mid-size pickup truck 4-wheel drive
Base price: $34,640 Price as tested: $41,905
Engine: 2.8-liter four-cylinder Duramax diesel, 181 horsepower @ 3,400 rpm, 369 pound-feet of torque @ 2,000 rpm Transmission: 6-speed automatic
EPA mileage estimates: 20 city / 29 highway / 23 combined
2016 Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited 4×4 75th EditionGrand Cherokee does well on or off pavement
One of the most impressive things about the EcoDiesel-powered Jeep Grand Cherokee is that except for slight diesel chatter as you accelerate, you’d never know there was a diesel engine beneath the hood. Well, I should modify that statement slightly, since planting your right foot to the floor as you enter a freeway on-ramp results in a rush that comes only from a V6 with more than 400 pound-feet of torque.
But once you’re up to speed, whether cruising around the neighborhood or hustling down the highway, the big Jeep SUV runs quiet and strong, and can go more than 700 miles before you need to refill the fuel tank.
I did my drive in the 75th Edition Grand Cherokee on pavement, and the big SUV was quick in dealing with pesky commuter traffic. But equipped with the optional Off-Road Adventure II package, this same vehicle had been to Moab, where it took to the trails just as you’d expect any 4×4 Jeep product to succeed.
That fact that it’s also a family luxury wagon is a nice bonus.
2016 Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited 4×4 75th Edition
Vehicle type: 5-passenger sport utility vehicle, 4-wheel drive
Base price: $39,365 Price as tested: $51,315
Engine: 3.0-liter V6 EcoDiesel, 240 horsepower @ 3,600 rpm, 420 pound-feet of torque @ 2,000 rpm Transmission: 8-speed automatic
EPA mileage estimates: 21 city / 28 highway / 24 combined
Photography by Mark Elias Media Services