Miscellaneous Ramblings

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This winter I’ve had to wash a number of test vehicles and our own cars. This is a terrible time of year to carry out this chore. On the plus side, the facility is never too busy that I can’t dry off most of a car or truck inside before heading back out. Frozen door handles are not a good situation. I’m very anal when comes to keeping my personal cars clean even during winter.

Allow me to pass along a suggestion, which may save you damaging the paint surface of your vehicle. During the winter wash process, I have used the foam brush provided by car washes. Would never use it on painted surfaces at risk of inflicting scratches on my 03 Mustang or 03 BMW. These cars, despite their age, still look shiny thanks to my efforts and I want to keep them that way. I only use the foam brush on the tires and very gently on the wheels. I cringe when I see people with new cars or trucks using the brush to wash down the entire vehicle. Did you wash out the grit trapped in the bristles? If not, fine pebbles imbedded in the brush will act like sandpaper on your vehicle’s paint. Someday I’m going to lose it and yell at someone in the next wash bay, “You’re scratching your paint you fool!” Keep your investment looking good, use a microfiber cloth or sponge when washing your vehicle. A separate cloth or sponge should be used for really grimy lower body surfaces or wheels.

Test vehicles have been coming into my hands on a regular basis right now. I want to pass along some brief comments on two cars this week. The 2016 Scion iM CVT is basically a tarted up Corolla because this model of Scion is based on the Corolla platform. Its styling is certainly more interesting than a Corolla and you know it will be reliable and economical to run. At a base price of $21,165, it’s well equipped. The Continuously Variable Transmission is an $825 option and will likely be the choice of many buyers. While the iM looks very much like a performance car, it’s not. The iM is a competent urban car and a nice highway cruiser. The 1.8 litre four-cylinder gives you enough power for everyday driving and comes with traction control and hill-start. My best fuel consumption at 120 km/h was 6.2L/100 km. That’s very impressive as the CVT transmission does nothing to make the iM peppy but certainly helps achieve really good fuel consumption.

The instrument panel is somewhat a mash up of soft curves and flat surfaces, not appealing to me. What’s important is the driver gets clear gauges for important information and controls that feel right and are well placed. The seats are comfortable, heated and just fine for a long highway drive. The passenger cabin is quiet with the exception of road noise, depending on the pavement surface. It is a pleasant car but as exciting as cold porridge.

Lincoln Motor Company will see the return of the Continental in the coming months. It will be the new flagship car for Lincoln. The luxury sedan’s unveiling late last year created quite a stir among motoring journalists. A revamped 2017 Lincoln MKZ, a mid-size sedan has already been introduced.

I’ve driven a 2016 hybrid MKZ and liked it very much with the exception of the sloping A pillar. The gently curving pillar will smack your head if you’re a tall person, so duck down as you climb in whether driver or front seat passenger.

The MKZ I had for a week came with a 2.0-litre EcoBoost engine. Good performance and fuel consumption. I averaged 10.5L/100 km in urban driving. Not bad for a mid-size sedan with a small four cylinder. The 2.0-litre four returns in the 2017 model along with a more powerful V6.

The interior of the current model MKZ is cozy, comfortable with a great stereo system. The panoramic sunroof is a cool option opening up the sky above to the passenger cabin. But as a $3,000 plus option, is it worth the cost? My test MKZ was well optioned pricing out at $52,125 before shipping and taxes. Not ordering the panoramic roof and in the inflatable rear seat belts will cut over three grand from the price. Buy a 2016 model now and you’ll save a few dollars and land yourself a very good luxury car.

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St. Albert Gazette

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