2017 SUBARU LEGACY [Driver’s Talk Radio Review][

Best in Class?

Face it. Subaru Legacy owners are just a bit different. They like what they like and, especially with regards to vehicle, they are extremely devout in their choices. Remember the Subaru Brat? Those that had them, loved them. They just like bucking the mainstream and are not shy in their convictions.

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With all the excitement about Toyota CamryFord Fusion and the like, it would be easy for potential Subaru owners to fall in line and park one of these popular vehicles in their driveway. But they don’t because they don’t want what their neighbor has. That’s a good thing because the newest Subaru Legacy is a very surprising vehicle.

Our test Legacy was outfitted with the boxer 2.5-liter, four-cylinder engine rated at 175 HP. That alone speaks volumes about the vehicle and its breaking-from-the-pack attitude. In addition, it comes with fulltime all-wheel drive, meaning those runs up the rain soaked mountain road will be completed without issue. Now in its sixth generation, the Legacy has been carefully refined and while the base engine won’t snap any necks from torque output, the vehicle is packed with the stuff that segment owners are looking for. Priced lower than the competition, it is an amazing value.

Power Up

While the 2.5-liter engine is just fine for most, a 3.6-liter flat six cylinder may be a good choice if you are going to take on that mountain road with any regularity.  Both engines work efficiently and MPG for our four-cylinder test vehicle came in around 35 mph highway and 27 city – both of these figures BETTER than the MPG rating. Subaru credits the Lineartronic CVTsystem with aiding its impressive, non-hybrid mileage figures. In terms of handling and braking, the Legacy is right where you would expect it and on highway feel was quite good. Equipped with Active Torque Vectoring – as Subaru calls it – there is no torque steer issue and steering is light with decent feedback.

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But where the Legacy lights up the field is with content. Our “premium level” test vehicle had a sticker price of $28,430 all in. For that you get the four-cylinder engine backed with a 6-speed automatic and the previously mentioned all-wheel drive. As is becoming more standard, the Legacy also has blind spot detection and rear cross traffic alert – the latter tied nicely to the Reverse Automatic braking that keeps you out of harm’s way. All good stuff – but wait there’s more

Our test vehicle also featured Eyesight Driver’s Assist that registers traffic movement “optimizing” cruise control and alerting you when you stray from your lane. To phrase it another way, the adaptive cruise control system recognizes crash situations and will apply the brakes at maximum force to avoid interaction with other vehicles. In addition, the symmetrical all-wheel drive system works with the anti-lock braking and the driver stability controls to keep things on track.

Inside and Out

If there is an overwhelming first impression to the Legacy interior, it’s the huge number of buttons that surround the driver. Our premium level Legacy includes a very easy to use and accurate navigation, fully-automated climate split control panel and instrument panel that can be tuned to the driver’s preferred gauges and information readouts. But what is really impressive are the unique features such as REAR heated seating, keyless entry with auto door unlock and 10-way power seat with 2-position memory – so you and your spouse can quickly find just the right seat position.

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In terms of comfort features, the interior is spacious (119 cubic feet – biggest in class) and smart. The Harmon-Kardon Premium audio system in our Legacy includes a 12-speak system with 576-watts of power all controlled by a 7-inch high resolution touch screen.  The StarLink Multimedia system is state of the state and quickly links to just about everything electronic currently known to man. Case in point is the Siri Eyes Free system that when linked to an Apple phone will allow you to control the system through voice commands.

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So . . . the Legacy is amazing. While a hybrid version might be a nice touch, for the lion’s share of buyers in this category, the Legacy is a more than able candidate to consider. If you live where the weather is iffy, especially with regards to rain, the all-wheel drive system is a game changer – especially when you consider the price of the vehicle. Good looking and brilliantly assembled, the Legacy is truly best in its class.

Driver’s Talk Radio Blog – Frameless Future

By: Rick Titus
At a time when automotive manufacturers are using every method known to man to lower the static weight of their vehicles in the interests of improving gas mileage, it may strike some as odd that several new full-size and mid-size SUV and Crossovers are still being built on steel frames. With lighter alloys and stronger plastics, like those used in many cars and even Ford’s full-size pickups, the idea of a heavy, often nosey and poor handling steel frame on which to build a new vehicle appears like a step back.
Odd perhaps, and with some ill-effect to MPG, but using an already developed platform, or frame, can be a major cost savings to the launch of a new vehicle. With fuel prices currently down, for now, it’s still a winner to not have to develop a suspension and platform supporting unibody and deal rather improving MPG and performance wherever they can. That said, should gas prices jump back up, watch for a new wave of “frameless” SUVs and Crossovers.

Driver’s Talk Radio Powers into its 18th Season

Drivers Talk Radio is now halfway into its 18th season and our listener/viewer numbers have reached the big time. Funny though, how with a bigger audience the pressure to continue to improve the show and to have content that will appeal to a broader scope of interests increases – a lot.

Our review of industry news items, new product trends/introductions and then, of course, how much racing we should cover before we bore thousands of non-racing fans, all add a surprising amount of new found challenges. We test a lot of subjects (yes, some tank big-time) and try to react to emails with questions and suggestions, but in the end, we always follow the same passion we started the show with.

All this is a long way to say THANK YOU for listening/watching and please feel free to email us your thoughts and suggestions – we truly believe it’s your show as much as it is ours.

RT

ABOUT US

Drivers Talk Radio is a broad-reaching program that discusses the automotive industry in an informative and entertaining fashion. Rick is joined in studio by co-host Jay Dalton, BJ Killeen on Road Tests and Spencer Krick as Production Engineer as Drivers Talk Radio presents:

  • Interviews with the industry’s top movers
    and shakers
  • Discussions of the most controversial
    automotive topics
  • Current reviews of vehicles and products
  • Consumer tips

Currently in its 17th year of production, Drivers Talk Radio has already won 20 prestigious International Automotive Media conference (IAMC) awards and has reviewed over 400 vehicles.

Curious about owning an Original 1965 Ford Mustang Shelby R Model?

Here’s a taste of what’s on Autowerkz.TV

Quick notes: designer Pete Brock and the original Venice crew could have had a Shelby GT 350-R with an independant rear suspension… honestly.

Check out this teaser!

 

What the whole story? Head over to Autowerkz.TV now!

Driver’s Talk Blog – ACCELERATED CHANGE: PASSENGERS

Istanbul, long after midnight. Still warm and sticky. We are gliding smoothly along a wide body of water, the Bosphorus Strait between Asia and Europe. This inky passage is framed by palace lights, mosques and the sounds of traffic as we approach the well-worn terminal. It might be late but Istanbul is just getting started.

2012 / August. Back then, tourists are everywhere and the mood is carefree. Rooftops are full and there is plenty of cold beer. Taxis are not hard to find, but our group requires three.

This somehow naturally provides a competition between the crew.
We have a start. We have a finish. We have many ways to get to the same spot.
And we have an unexpected taxi race through the heart of Istanbul that we should have been filming. Let the games begin.

Exhausted, marginal, dirty-yellow taxi/racers full of people. Two taxis take the highway around the back, but our driver plunges straight through town. Mirror-hung prayer beads, loosely, indicate the lateral G-forces.

About 10 mph over the traffic speed so smiles are still showing on all the party faces. Late-night traffic is moving and lane changes are frequent. We seem to be flying right along until the sirens.

Overseas, cultures tend to have a different approach to sirens, depending on the mood and the density of the traffic. Laws are different and without police presence…let’s just say the rules are “open for interpretation.”

There is an ambulance behind us. White with red stripes, blue lights flashing and the common two-tone, high-low siren blaring. Blues and Twos might be the cliché. So our taxi nudges over at speed to let him slip by. All seems OK, Party smiles continue.
Aren’t we having fun?

Then our taxi driver tucks in behind the screaming ambulance, 25 feet off the rear bumper. We are now drafting the bone wagon all the way to the hospital, and I am not making up a word.

Straight through red lights. Wrong way up roads. Wiggle through crowded intersections. Seems to be working. Illumination through the small rear windows offer profiles of the paramedics who have seen this all before. Yeah, Yeah. Another Turkish Lewis Hamilton ready for the big time. We are locked on that ambulance bumper.

This isn’t a one-minute ride of fun. This is 15 minutes of mild panic with an air of madness. We were nothing but passengers with no control. Just along for the ride. Trusting the taxi driver had applied this trick many, many times before.

Which brings me to semi-autonomously operated vehicles.
Driver? Or passenger?

There comes a moment when each of us has to make the call. Do you trust the new system? How much do you trust the new system? Is your new driver-aided, semi-autonomous, fully connected vehicle gonna do the right thing? Or, like many of us…will you keep your foot hovering over the brake pedal waiting for the glitch?

While testing and filming new trucks in Arizona in 2016, I had my autonomous moment. 6,500 pounds of early prototype truck, hauling 12,000 pounds of trailer and it’s all pointed down a long steep grade. Real world boys and girls, in real time, with a FedEx tractor-trailer unknowingly providing the moving target.

Three keystrokes of the steering wheel pad and we are locked on. Forward-looking cruise control is downshifting, braking, and resetting the throttle to maintain the same 30-foot gap for miles. My truck and trailer is locked onto the box trailer of the semi in front and this entire multi-ton carnival is plunging down to the desert floor on automatic. My feet are nowhere near the pedals. Awesome. Thrilling. I’m just the passenger while the truck is processing the data. How do we film this?

The overwhelming question is how long do we remain DRIVERS or are we all destined to become only PASSENGERS? Data pilots.

Oh yeah. We won the taxi race.

The Blue Mosque
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Driver’s Talk Blog – ACCELERATED CHANGE: WINCE

By: Driver’s Talk Radio

You can access their website (here)

Experts are…you know…supposed to know their stuff. So here I stand before a pile of experts assembled on stage at the new Automobility LA (formerly the L.A. Auto Show).

Any questions?
The microphone is hot and five guys on stage are about to squirm in their seats. But first, let me tell you what is going on.

Future is kinda my thing. Mix substance and reality from the past, throw in a dash of human nature, now let’s compare ideas about how life is gonna be.

Example?
It’s easy to describe spot-less transportation pods that I summon with my cell phone. That’s nice, but I’m going to remind every one of the fact that someone will still have to clean those pods after the drunks and the dogs. That’s life.

During the Automobility Show there were numerous seminars on artificial intelligence, augmented reality, autonomous vehicles, navigation overlays, electric vehicle recharging, and the modern cityscape. Oh, and one more subject…chat bots.
(I did not make this up…auto dealership CHAT BOTS).

Usually, a panel contains three or four very smart people. Most are very confident and interested in sharing what they know. Slide shows and little films and promoting ideas now under development. Many of the ideas are well known in the world of tech. So there are not many surprises.

We already know you can make a 3D car with a computer. We understand our navigation units (or phones) will soon tell us there is a tree in the road around the next corner. The blending of a Fitbit and the infotainment system can warn if the driver is sleepy. These are all good, but not really new ideas. So I waited. Thinking. And here comes the next panel.

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“Realizing the EV Dream”
Four experts on stage joined by a clean-energy specialist…a guy from Bloomberg New Energy Finance. This is how electric powered BEV’s will be taking over our cityscapes with the new EV Ecosystems.

Yes, yes…sounds great! Clean cars…here they come!

Hot Mic. Any questions?
Sure, why not. I can’t control myself. I mean, these people are experts.

Ready. Aim. Fire.
“40 cents of every gallon of gas sold in California goes to road tax. How and when will EV’s be participating in road tax?”

OOOOH. Quiet room.
Five guys on stage all WINCED at once. Everyone shifted in their chair. Every face said don’t ask that question. It’s like I just took away their ball from the playground.

Reason?
EVs are using the roads and not paying to maintain them. This would also be true if you used agricultural fuel in your personal truck, driven off the farm. Or, if you made your own fuel from old French fry cooking oil. If you make your own fuel, you owe the State of California $600 every year as your share of road tax. If you recharge an EV and use it in California, right now, you pay no road taxes. Zippo. A very quiet tax loophole. Same with compressed Natural Gas or Hydrogen used as a road fuel.

Today we have companies designing battery, and/or hydrogen, powered class 8 semi-tractor trucks. One of them is TOYOTA. Another is NIKOLA, the young startup from Salt Lake City. Highly likely that taxation is going to come up when big cargo trucks side step road taxes.

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Regardless of how the road tax is collected, it will soon be coming due, and this expense will be factored into the cost of ownership because electric-powered cars and trucks are the future. Right? Right?

Driver’s Talk Blog – ACCELERATED CHANGE: PAYLOADS

By: Jay Dalton

Payload is all guesswork. Nobody has a scale in the building center parking lot, or in the rock quarry, or on their way to the city dump. Loading anything is guesswork…and the vehicle engineers know this.

Our team has been testing vehicles for advertising content for the last 15 years. Over that time we have constantly been reminded by engineering and legal of the “maximum payload” a vehicle is allowed to carry. Don’t you dare show one ounce more — and you better have the documentation to prove it.

Carefully calculated and tested, a vehicle’s payload capacity value comes with piles of evidence, usually based on well-proven internal guidelines.

These overall capacities may change with the many options in building a pickup truck…for instance. Between engine options, cab sizes, axle ratios, and two or four-wheel drive. Primarily due to power, extra weight and math.

More power helps the payload number climb…a larger cab or 4WD begins to erode the weight-carrying capacity down. With the manufacturer’s warranty comes the promise that you can carry the maximum payload every day you own the car, truck or SUV. In all weather and on all kinds of roads.

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But a factory payload number means absolutely nothing when your mission is to get the building materials to the job site or the rubble to the dump. Lumber, block, sand, drywall…everyone is playing the same “Guess The Weight” game in the parking lot.

There are some very creative, black magic calculations going on when a pallet or two, of drywall, goes into the back of a common, well-worn half-ton pickup. It’s safe to say we are well beyond every computer-engineered model ever reviewed during the design process and durability testing cycles. The overly zealous driver is the new crash test dummy.

Except for cement. The weight is printed on every bag.

Cement mortar comes in 94-pound bags. Premixed concrete, 90. So the math is not hard…10 bags = 900 pounds. And your payload capacity? Sometimes it’s found printed on a white sticker inside the driver’s door jam. Sometimes not.

And then occasionally you see what I call “cars out of context.”

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Meet Nick the Builder.
That is 3,290 pounds of cement mortar, 35 bags, being loaded into his Porsche Cayenne. If you look closely the brake calipers are painted in the optional performance yellow…and the Midnight Black is very well kept. Those are low-profile speed-rated Pirelli tires.

That pallet of cement is DOUBLE his payload weight capacity.

This is not a one-time event for Nick. He prefers his Cayenne over any other form of supply truck and has told me of the largest loads he has carried.

“70 of the 60-pound bags (total 4200 pounds)…and for lumber…70 sticks inside and tied on the roof. I like the car more than a pick-up.” Nick is not interested in any other way. He has built a total of 13,000 square feet of housing using this Cayenne and has no plans to change. Just a normal day for Nick.

Brakes? Every 15,000 miles. Tires? 24,000. And don’t try this with the air bag suspension. Nick is perfectly happy. He has become an unpaid, unknown, Porsche durability tester on the city streets.

Overloading is common in other parts of the world, where fewer well-built trucks are found. Examples?

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So, when it comes to payload, everyone seems to get very creative. In the end, you must choose exactly how you plan to use your truck or car or SUV. Many guys order extra capacity at time of purchase.

Some owners find the need to add some extra capacity after purchase. Here is one of the more clever ideas I have seen for quickly doubling your pickup truckload capacity.

Now, where did I put that extra rope?

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Driver’s Talk Radio Blog – ACCELERATED CHANGE: STEVE

By: Jay Dalton

The Land Rover is full of beer, food, music and a drone. Headed out of town, en route to a custom made compound in a private game reserve. But, our friend Keith has one more thing to show us in the West Rand. We have driven up and down this street three times and can’t find the house. Northwest suburbs of Johannesburg, South Africa. Well-cared-for houses and a pleasant looking, wide street. Pride without pretension. Low key. We feel right at home.

My only advanced briefing is we are dropping in on a private auto collection, inside a private house. And, within 10 seconds I’m being sized up by a man who is carefully picking his words. Steve has screened his guests before, and if you come to his house with a bad attitude or the wrong intentions, he turns you around in his driveway. Steve is the gate-keeper.

In through the side door, through the kitchen, we get a seat at a long wooden bar with racing photos, helmets, trophies and memorabilia everywhere.

“Nice bar..! Steve, I know some of the people on your wall. Paddy DriverEddie Keizan, Ian Schecter…and oh my gosh…there is Desire WilsonPicture1

Desire Wilson is the first women to ever drive and win a Grand Prix in Formula One competition. Desire’ was on the Saleen Mustang Endurance Racing team with Rick Titus, and myself, for a couple of seasons. Her husband Alan Wilson has designed more than 20 racing circuits around the world including Miller Motorsports, Barber, and the Gingerman Raceway in Michigan.
Yes! I know these faces.

Steve asks more test questions and then slowly leads us to more rooms in the house. No one lives in this house. Every room has been turned into a museum to embrace the 100 years of South African motorsport. Pictures, posters, flags, trophies, uniforms, shoes, helmets, and bits of race cars. WOW. The entire house is full, perfectly displayed, illuminated, labeled, and arranged in order.

We are shocked by the care and attention to detail. Steve is happy. Smiling. So he opens another door leading into the back yard–where there are about six more buildings, including the neighbor’s house. Large buildings with 20-foot high free-span construction. Packed to the roofline with perfectly displayed collections, posters, signs, complete cars, motorcycles, and racing literature.

An entire building is just model cars. Labeled, categorized by make and model and year.
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“Let’s find a 1965 Lotus Cortina…the one raced by Jimmy Clark against those big Galaxies.
” Yep.
“How about a 6-wheeled Tyrell F1 car?” Make it harder.
“Steve McQueen’s Ferrari?” That’s the brown one over here. 10,000 models maybe. If I am wrong, it will be 10,000 model cars very soon.

Steve likes to collect things and put on a show. He has his own, very exclusive car club with his best friends as members. Don’t care what car you have. Doesn’t matter. VW bug, Alfa, Ferrari, Corvette or Hillman Imp. If you have a passion for cars and add life to the party…what would you like to drink?

This effort is all about the preservation of racing history, at the bottom of the African continent. Road racing in Angola? Right over here. Malcolm Smith (from California) running the Roof of Africa Rally in the 1980’s…which year? Steve will not let this history go unnoticed. But for him it’s really more about the people. A party at Steve’s is one of the highlights of the racing year in Africa.

A humble, sincere and generous man who has found success in South Africa and a pile of friends with a shared passion. Laughter and fun and stories. Steve is not happy until you are happy, and we could have stayed all day and night.  You got the feeling a party could start spontaneously with the slightest spark. And without question, you would soon be joined by the all-time greats, right at the bar, either in person or in lavishly told stories.

This is a national racing museum, without a sign, without an imposing entrance, without a gift shop. Donations unnecessary…just speak to Steve.

One day, I hope to be invited back. The real joy would be adding something of importance to his collection. Come to think of it, we made a little history ourselves, some time back.

Maybe some photos from the Saleen crew. Here is Rick Titus next to his father’s championship winning 1967 Trans Am Shelby Mustang and the championship winning 1987 Saleen Mustang. Desire’ Wilson from South Africa co-drove on the team.

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Or I might send some pictures of the three American Jet dragsters we ran at Tarlton Raceway, Krugersdorp, South Africa in November 1986.

Maybe Steve has a spot for those pictures on his walls. I would be honored.

If we can ever find that house again.

Driver’s Talk Radio Blog – ACCELERATED CHANGE: PREDICTIONS

By: Jay Dalton

For at least 15 years we have begun our first show of the new year with our staff predictions. It is our time to show off how well we understand the American vehicle industry and explain what will happen in the automotive market.

What makes this show unique is that everyone must first answer for LAST YEAR’S predictions and suffer the humiliation of how wrong they can be.

The trick to winning this game is to offer three very bold predictions that can be factually proven to have come true before December 31st. A statement like “Gray will be the most popular car color” is not bold enough, even when correct. That will earn about one-half point if proven true. “Orange will become the best selling color in 2017” would earn 2 points if true (and negative 2 if false). The statement is very bold, insightful and represents a completely new market direction that nobody else saw coming…or planned for. Risky call.

No one in the history of Drivers Talk has recorded three bold predictions that came perfectly true during one year. Rick has come the closest, with a total score of 5.5 out of 6 for last year (2016). No one else has ever come this close. Good, but not exactly perfect. You can hear how he won the game on our Show #866, “Drivers Talk Prediction Show,” aired Jan 6.

Here is one more round of Predictions for the year 2017:

Rick Titus, Host/Originator of Drivers Talk
1. There will be more “Raptor” style off-road trucks, including midsized.
2. Tesla will be divested; they don’t really want to be in the car business.
3. 2 or 3 auto makers will sell frameless, unibody pickup trucks in the US.

Jay Dalton, Co-Host/Producer
1. Dec 31, 2017 Oil will not exceed $60/barrel (NYMEX WTI, Jan futures).
2. Amazon Echo and Google Home will be offered for the automobile.
3. Next HP war will be fought with Compact SUV’s; more over 500 HP.

Spencer Krick, Engineer and Editor of Drivers Talk
1.Toyota’s new performance YARIS will be disappointing; poor sales.
(Cover art from Gazoo Racing)
2. Pass
3. Pass

Micah Muzio
1. Toyota will finally adopt Apple Car Play into their infotainment system.
2. Big incentives will continue; maybe “buy one and get one free.”
3. We are at Peak Startup now. Look for startup failures in 2017.

BJ Killeen, Road Test Editor
1. Annual car sales for 2017 will be above 18 million vehicles.
2. Some car company will introduce the 12-speed automatic transmission.
3. An autonomous, driverless car will be involved in a fatal accident.

Cam Benty, Road Test ContributorPicture11
1. Alfa will decline and discontinue business in America before year end. (Photo: 505-hp Alfa Stelvio)
2. The Pony car HP wars will continue to grow: Mustang GT500 @ 740.
3. The Chevy BOLT – EV will be a success in the American market.

Our Predictions this year were recorded on Monday Dec 19, 2016 to allow us a week off over the holidays. Since that recording date, there has been a rumor about the possible sale of Alfa and the announcement of Amazon Echo coming to the dashboard of Ford products. Also, the BOLT-EV was named North American Car of the Year at the Detroit Auto Show. In itself, a stunning achievement, considering this is the first all-electric vehicle (without an internal combustion engine) ever to be voted Best Car. Previously the Volt, Prius, and the Fusion Hybrid have won this award.

Throughout the year we keep track of these predictions. As they come true we tick them off. Every Staff member must face the jury on the day of reckoning…the first week of January, 2018. See you then!