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By NITISH S. RELE – motoringtampabay@gmail.com

2019 Lincoln NAUTILUS Remember the Lincoln MKX? Well, that one is history, at least in name, and has been replaced by the stylish and extravagant Nautilus.

Fear not though since this all-new midsize luxury SUV is as capable or even more so than its forerunner. Though length and wheelbase stay the same, the front-wheel or all-wheel-drive vehicle comes in two power trains: 2.0-liter turbo inline-4 cylinder developing 250 horsepower @ 5500 rpm and 280 pounds-feet of torque @ 3000 rpm; or the 2.7-liter twin-turbo V-6 engine blasting off 335 hp @ 5500 rpm and 380 pounds-feet of torque @ 3250 rpm. That is plenty of verve for the 4,142-pound vehicle to scoot from any speed. Out goes the ancient 6-speed auto gear box to be swapped with a fuel-efficient 8-speed transmission.

Making the Lincoln stand out in a crowd is the split-wing grille surrounded by LED headlights with a centered emblem while signature LED tail lamps take up the rear. But it is in the extravagant, classy and exquisitely-made cabin that the Nautilus shines. Passenger volume is a cool 108.3 cubic feet. Six-footers in the rear seat have substantial room to stretch legs, thanks to the recline feature. Standard amenities include heated/cooled and 10-way power front seats, dual-zone auto a/c, push-button gear shifter, remote start, Alcantara headliner, 19-speaker Reveal audio, panoramic vista roof, and a power lift gate and tilt/telescopic steering column to accommodate drivers of any size.

The standard Lincoln 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.

Priced at $41,335, our Black Label edition peaks at over $57,000. The Lincoln boasts nippy acceleration, excellent handling and balance and good body control. Plus, it’s gorgeous to the eye inside and out. These should help justify the high-ticket item.



2019 SUBARU WRXFor long, this Subaru vehicle has been overshadowed because of fierce competition in the segment. But it’s about time the full potential of the enjoyable 2019 WRX is fully recognized. Base-priced at under $30,000, there are few high-performance sport sedans you could find on the road. Standard all-wheel-drive system should be an impetus on top of it all.

A 2.0-liter horizontally-opposed 4-cylinder engine (intercooled and turbocharged) produces a healthy 268 horsepower @ 5600 rpm and 258 pounds-feet of torque @ 4200 rpm. Power routed through a flawless manual auto gear box contributes to a sporty and exciting performance. The WRX’s exceptional stopping power comes from robust 12.4-inch ventilated front and 11.3-inch solid rear discs.

Ensconced on the unitized body structure is a traditional hexagonal grille with centered Subaru star cluster insignia, which is flanked by C-shaped headlights. You cannot help but notice the bulging but functional scoop atop the aluminum hood. A twin cockpit with electroluminescent gauge displays for speedometer, tachometer, fuel and coolant temperature give the cabin a rich feel. The power-tilt moon roof is a nice touch too. As are the cloth seats with red stitches. The 7-inch touch screen for navigation, audio and phone along with circular climate control knobs is easy to use. Other standard niceties include auto a/c, power door locks, 60/40 fold rear seat, flat-bottomed leather steering column, aluminum alloy pedals and a rear seat armrest. We recommend the $3,100 option package, which will fetch you ultra-suede Recaro front seats, eight-way power driver’s seat, red-painted brake calipers, keyless access, LED headlights and fog lamps, alloy wheels, gloss black instrument panel trim, etc. That pushes the WRX value to a still-attractive $33,480.

Dual front and side airbags, side curtain airbag, driver knee airbag, four-wheel antilock brakes with electronic brake distribution and brake assist, vehicle dynamic control, active front seat head restraints, rearview camera, remote keyless entry, tire pressure monitoring system and daytime running lights are standard.

A compelling engine, plush cabin, reasonable price and best of all, all-wheel drive, makes the WRX a wise pick for any potential sport sedan buyer. It is just perfect for the everyday chore.



Nissan KicksA hasty glance at the all-new Nissan Kicks and the natural response would be, “Now, that’s a peculiar one!” But that’s OK. Indeed, the cheeky-styled crossover utility vehicle teases you with its coupe-like roofline and raked windshield meeting up to boomerang halogen headlights and the familiar V motion grille.

Based on a unibody structure, the front-wheel-drive-only compact crossover is equipped with a 1.6-liter inline-4 cylinder engine developing 125 horsepower @ 5800 rpm and 115 pounds-feet of torque @ 4000 rpm with Xtronic continuously variable transmission. An independent strut front and multilink rear work well to absorb rough road bumps while the electric power steering returns a direct response to the driver’s input.

Five people can sit comfortably in this well-designed, roomy and functional cabin boasting 119.2 cubic feet of space. The SR model, which we test drove, comes with an array of standard features such as a D-shaped leather tilt/telescopic steering column, auto a/c, 7-inch touch screen for audio and phone controls, driver information system, six-way manual driver and four-way front-passenger cloth seats, cruise control, three USB ports, remote keyless entry, six speakers, push-button start and power windows/door locks.

Standard safety features include dual front and side airbags, side curtain airbag, driver knee airbag, four-wheel antilock brakes with electronic brake distribution and brake assist, vehicle dynamic control, front seat active head restraints, front/rear crumple zones, three-point seat belts, energy-absorbing steering column, rearview camera, blind spot warning and rear cross traffic alert, hill start assist and tire pressure monitoring system.

Sure, the Kicks appears quirky but it also is an economical, nimble and sporty alternative to some insipid crossovers in the market. And you are assured of garnering plenty of attention while strolling down the streets.



2019 GMC SIERRATHE RIDE: Four-door, up to six-passenger 2019 GMC Sierra Denali 1500 4WD Crew Cab full-size pickup.

DOWN THE ROAD: Hardcore pickup owners, your poised ride is here. This solidly built pickup ensures reasonably quick acceleration from any speed, ample passing ability and accurate handling/balance.

TECH & PERFORMANCE: A 6.2-liter V-8 engine, mated to a 10-speed auto transmission, generates 420 horsepower @ 5600 rpm and 460 pounds-feet of torque @ 4100 rpm. Handling the suspension is an independent coil-over shock front and a solid axle rear. The power rack-and-pinion electric power steering has an unswerving and communicative feel, making the truck easy to place at sharp curves. GM’s Dynamic Fuel Management system deactivates up to four of the eight cylinders for fuel savings. Tow capacity is an amazing 9,100 pounds. And 12 fixed tie-downs each have a capacity of withstanding 500 pounds of weight.

LOOK & FEEL: Redesigned in and out for 2019, the stout Sierra gets a mammoth bright and multi-dimensional grille surrounded by LED headlights with C-shaped elements. The rear also acquires C-shaped LED features within the tail lamps and integrated dual exhaust tips. Our 5’ 8”-foot box offers 63 cubic feet for stowage. Climb into the cabin and you won’t find a reason to complain about room, which is plentiful now thanks to a longer wheelbase (but 360-pound lighter Sierra), and 3 inches of more rear leg room than its predecessor. The six-gauge analog instrument cluster is well-lit and crystal clear. The huge center console can swallow a laptop. Other notable features include dual-zone auto a/c, tilt/telescopic steering column, dual glove box, heated/cooled front seats, and an 8-inch color screen for audio, navigation and phone readings.

SAFETY FIRST: Standard are dual front and side airbags, side curtain airbag for second row, stability/traction and trailer sway control with hill start assist, lane-change and rear-cross traffic alerts, front/rear park assist, four-wheel antilock brakes, rearview camera, tire pressure monitoring system and daytime running lights.

OUT THE DOOR: Based at $58,000, plus tax, tag, delivery and destination charges.

BY THE NUMBERS: Tires, P275/60R20; wheelbase, 147.4 inches; length, 231.7 inches; width, 81.2 inches; height, 75.5 inches; weight, 5,443 pounds; fuel capacity, 24 gallons; city, 15 mpg; highway, 20 mpg; Web site, www.gmc.com

WHY DIG IT: It’s a utilitarian workhorse! The overhauled Sierra boasts not just generous cargo and tow capacity but also outstanding performance, marvelous ride and an upscale, gargantuan interior.

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