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By NITISH S. RELE – motoringtampabay@gmail.com

2019 Ford Edge The midsize crossover segment is packed with tough rivals. Take the solid Toyota Highlander, Nissan Murano and Chevy Equinox, to name a few. Standing its ground among the worthy challengers is the alluring five-passenger Edge. To make it even more tempting, Ford has introduced Edge ST, the first utility from Ford Performance.

That, of course, means more power in the Edge than even before. A 2.7-liter V-6 EcoBoost engine blasts off 335 horsepower @ 5500 rpm and 380 pounds-feet of torque @ 3000 rpm. EcoBoost is essentially twin turbochargers and a smaller-displacement engine working in tandem with gasoline direct injection to produce a powerful but fuel-efficient engine. Coupled to the power train is an 8-speed automatic gear box with steering-wheel paddle shifters. All-wheel drive is standard in the ST trim. Guiding the sprightly SUV is an electric power-assist steering while the specially tuned suspension is handled up front by a MacPherson strut and an integral-link with coil springs in the rear.

Conveying a revamped, brawny appearance, and understandably so, is a black wide-mesh grille with LED signature headlights, body-color door handles and dual exhaust tips. Take a seat behind the firm steering wheel and you find yourself staring at a speedometer flanked by two LCD screens. ST badging on the steering wheel and seatbacks (as well as on the exterior) is an instant giveaway that this is a performance-oriented ride. Sync3, which accesses audio, telephone, navigation controls via a voice command, 8-inch touchscreen tap or button click, is simple to use. The redesigned center console features an all-new rotary gear shift dial. Other amenities at no cost are dual auto a/c, 10-way power front seats, 60/40 easy-fold rear bench, overhead sun glass holder and push-button start.

The standard Ford CoPilot360 bundles together driver-assist safety features such as blind spot monitor, cross-traffic alert, pre-collision and lane-keep aid with auto emergency brake, auto high beams and rearview camera. Also included are dual front and side airbags, front knee airbags, side curtain airbag, four-wheel antilock brakes with electronic stability and traction control, front and rear three-point seatbelts, tire pressure monitor and daytime running lights.

As noted, the midsize crossovers are battling hard in a crowded field. But this Ford with its liveliness, thanks to a robust engine, sharp looks, fun-to-drive character and roominess, has an ‘Edge’ over its competition. With performance, to boot!



2019 Dodge RamSix years ago, the Ram 1500 won North American Truck of the Year award. And in 2019, the full-size pickup has once again picked for the honor by U.S. and Canadian automotive journalists at the recently concluded North American International Auto Show in Detroit. As they say, history repeats itself.

It’s a totally redesigned, almost all-new Ram, which was launched as a stand-alone truck brand in 2009. And what a pickup this one is, whew! With wheelbase up by 4, width by .5 and bed (5’ 7”) height by 1.5 inches, and a 225-pound weight reduction, this overhauled pickup delivers an exceptional ride with a precise steering feel. Turning ability for the 5,302-pound Ram is outstanding at a curb-to-curb radius of 46.2 feet. Before we forget, it is ensconced on 98 percent high-strength steel and a 100-pound fewer frame weight.

The 5.7-liter V-8 Hemi engine cranks out 395 horsepower at 5600 rpm and 4010 pounds-feet of torque at 3950 rpm. A standard 8-speed auto gearbox shifts gently and effortlessly. A welcome change in this year’s Ram is the use of a five-link coil spring suspension in the rear and an upper, lower A arms/coil springs up front. With the hydraulic pump nixed, the new electric power steering is lighter by 6 pounds. Further fuel savings are seen when the eight cylinders deactivate while cruising or at slower speeds.

‘Get out of the way’ screams the colossal chrome-slathered grille hosting the chiseled Ram’s head logo, bi-functional projector headlights, fog and tail lamps, and elevated aluminum hood. The 20-inch aluminum chrome-clad wheels draw attention too. Take a seat up front and your eyes will fall first on the mammoth 12-inch UConnect 4C touchscreen (make it split screen!) for navigation, audio (hello Apple CarPlay and Android Auto) and phone controls. The cabin offers a stowing place under the rear seat as well as in-floor bins, dual glove boxes, and several USB ports. Best of all is the innovative center console area, which has room in its smartly hidden compartments for a smartphone along with wireless charging, a 15-inch laptop, full-size file holder, cup holders, and a tablet holder. Other amenities are auto dual-zone a/c, 8-way power heated/cooled front seats, tilt/telescopic wood/leather steering column, 9-speaker sound system, overhead sunglass holder and a 40/20/40 rear fold seat.

Dual front and side airbags, side curtain airbag for both rows, rearview camera, four-wheel antilock brakes with brake assist, blind spot monitor with cross-path detection, front/rear park assist, remote start, tire pressure monitoring system and daytime running lights are standard. However, numerous safety options are available, which will fetch you an off-road package or such features as lane departure and forward collision warnings.

The revamped pickup packs tons of power while boasting abundant creature/tech comforts and praiseworthy towing figures. If you would like to ‘head down, ready to charge’ on the road, we suggest going for the 2019 Ram 1500. It’s one decision you won’t regret as the awards continue to pile on.



2019 Chevy ColoradoEver since its return in 2015 after a 7-year hiatus, the Chevy Colorado has taken on such tough contenders as the Toyota Tacoma and Nissan Frontier. For 2019, this midsize pickup continues to break new ground, drawing in a loyal following as well as several new owners.

Available in at least three varying power trains (2.5 and 2.8), our Z71 trim was equipped with a 3.6-liter V-6 engine putting out 308 horsepower @ 6800 rpm and 275 pounds-feet of torque @ 4000 rpm. It is mated to an 8-speed auto transmission. An independent coil-over-shock front and solid axle rear suspension soaks hurdles with skill, sure-footedness and confidence. The electric power-assist rack-and-pinion steering is direct and precise. Tow capacity is a remarkable 7,000 pounds though the crew cab we drove had a 5’ 2” short bed with 13 tie-downs.

A massive body-colored grille with the familiar bowtie, though black, is surrounded by projector-beam headlights and LED daytime running lights and fog lamps. Mammoth vertical tail lights with a chrome bumper greet the onlooker. Step inside the lap of luxury to be impressed by aluminum trim on the instrument panel of speedometer and tachometer along with tilt/telescopic steering column, 8-inch color touchscreen for audio, navigation and Intellilink readings, auto a/c, 6-way power driver and 4-way front-passenger heated seats, folding second-row bench, sliding rear window and a leather steering wheel. We wish the innovative lift-and-lower locking tailgate using an internal torsion bar (effortless to raise and even better, lowers slowly) was incorporated into all other pickups.

Standard safety features include dual front and side airbags, side curtain airbag, four-wheel antilock brakes, stability and traction control, rearview camera, remote keyless entry and vehicle start, driver selectable 2WD, Auto, 4WD Hi and 4WD Lo modes, rear-park assist, hill descent control, daytime running lights and tire pressure monitoring system.

So, why should you buy the Colorado? Well, it’s not a full-size pickup but serves the purpose of one with notable cargo and towing capability, creditable fuel efficiency while delivering a sophisticated and decent ride.


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