Latina Style Inc

High-Performance Cars for Latinas to Drive

By Sue Mead

You can think of LATINA Style’s car, truck and SUV picks in this issue as Grammy or Academy Award nominations. With hundreds of models to choose from, we try to illuminate an interesting and important selection of vehicles that we have tested and find worthy of note. You’ll find a cross-section of top contenders that range from a compact crossover and mid-sized pickup to a sportback sports sedan and a large four-door flagship that touts everyday-driving elements and limousine traits to two full-sized sport utility vehicles, one of which struts high-performance as one of its attributes. Which appeal to you? After all, that’s what really matters!

2018 Lexus LS 500.

Lexus’s new 5-passenger flagship comes in base LS, earth-friendly hybrid 500h, and high-performance F-Sport, starting at approximately $75,000. It debuts a strikingly-sleek and bold design with a coupe-like silhouette and a well-appointed cabin; elegant finishes include laser-cut natural wood, origami-like hand-pleated fabrics, and beautiful “Kiriko”-style cut-glass patterns and nine interior color schemes.

Seating includes 28-way power-adjustable heated/cooled front seats featuring pneumatic shiatsu-style massage; options for heating, recline, and massage bring rear-seaters a concierge-level environment. Active Noise Control quiets the cabin and next-generation Remote Touch Interface (RTI) mimics smartphone operation with handwritten input. A 12.3-in. navigation display can be upgraded with a 24-in. color heads-up display that projects driving information on the windshield.

High-powered performance and excellent fuel efficiency combine with new 3.5-liter turbocharged engine (416 hp. and 442 lb.-ft. of torque) mated to a new 10-speed auto with paddles. Available in both rear and AWD, it boasts acceleration from 0 to 60 mph of 4.6 seconds and a top speed of 136 mph. The hybrid has a 295-hp. V6 paired with two electric motor generators boosting output to 354 hp. and running to 60 mph in 5.1 seconds with more than 600-mile range. In addition to advanced safety technologies, an Executive Package has heated rear seats with Shiatsu massage, a raised Ottoman and an increased recline feature.

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2018 Kia Stinger

This all-new 5-passenger sportback starts at just over $30,000 and combines Gran Turismo performance with a fastback silhouette and meticulous interior craftsmanship. Available in both rear-and all-wheel drive, it comes in five trims: Stinger, Premium, GT, GT1, and GT2. A 2.0-liter turbocharged engine produces 255 hp. and 260 lb.-ft. of torque; the available 3.3-liter has 365 hp./ 376 lb.-ft. of torque and accelerates to 60 mph in 4.7 seconds; both engines get an 8-speed auto transmission with shift paddles.

Of note is its elegance and athleticism, rather than boy-racer aggression, as it can be driven quietly or with potent power and tantalizing sound. Premium materials include a leather-wrapped multi-function steering wheel, circular spoked air vents, metallic accents, and hand-stitched ergonomic, contoured bucket seats wrapped in lush Nappa leather and multi-colored LED ambient lighting on some trims. Safety and technology includes a new driver attention warning system to combat distracted or drowsy driving; forward collision avoidance with pedestrian detection; smart cruise control; lane keeping; and blind spot collision warning with rear cross-traffic collision warning and an available height-adjustable color head-up display projects multiple aspects of driving information on the windshield. Bluetooth hands-free integration is standard.

Available is a premium 15-speaker Harman/Kardon surround sound system. A generous cargo area holds full-sized luggage or golf bags and power liftgate has Smart Trunk functionality.

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2018 Nissan Murano

This 5-passenger cute ute jump-started the premium crossover segment for mainstream non-luxury brands and gained star power for its curvaceous and windswept profile. Named for the celebrated Italian city that produces the famed, beautifully-colored glass, the Nissan Murano gets new standard features and revised package content for 2018 and is priced starting at $31,780.

Due to its four-wheel independent suspension, it has been heralded as a driving darling, with class-leading ride and handling and smartly-crafted cargo-carrying ability but is also praised for its uplevel interior. Automatic Emergency Braking and Forward Collision Warning are now standard as is a new center console design with easier access to storage and an 8.0-inch NissanConnect touchscreen system with Navigation, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility.

Other new features, safety and technology comes with each trim. Murano is motivated by a 3.5-liter V-6 making 260 hp. and 240 lb.-ft of torque mated to an Xtronic CVT. AWD is a $1,600 option on all trims and a new $1,420 SL Moonroof package brightens the cabin. An elegant Midnight Edition package for SL models adds $1,395, and includes more content for 2018. Some Murano functions such as remote start, locking and unlocking doors, and honking the horn can be performed via an Alexa skill on the Amazon Echo.

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2018 Ford Expedition

Ford’s updated full-sizer gets a load of enhanced capabilities to carry seven-to-eight passengers in a safer, more fuel-efficient manner. Available in XLT, Limited and Platinum trims and 2WD and 4WD powertrains, the 2018 Ford Expedition starts at $51,695 and can tow up to 9,300 lbs.

New features include wireless charging; dual-headrest rear seat entertainment; SYNC 3 with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and SYNC Connect for remote start, lock, unlock and vehicle location/diagnostics. Power at each row brings four 12-volt power points, six USB chargers, 110-volt outlet and Wi-Fi hotspot for up to 10 devices at once — up to 50-ft. from the vehicle; 40 features and driver-assist technologies bring class-exclusive enhanced active park assist, 360-degree camera, lane-keeping, adaptive cruise control collision avoidance, and Blind Spot Information. A 3.5-liter engine hooks to new 10-speed automatic transmission, with standard Auto Start-Stop and best-in-class fuel economy and top-in-class towing; new is Pro Trailer Backup Assist.

A first-in-class sliding second-row seat with tip-and-slide feature gives easy access to the third row without having to remove a child safety seat; the third row has more room and reclining seats. With second- and third-row seats folded flat, the cargo area can accommodate 4×8 ft. sheets of plywood. A new ‘cargo manager’ creates a storage space that can be customized and a Panoramic Vista Roof spans two rows – another unique feature in its class.

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2018 GMC Canyon

General Motor’s midsized pickup became a game-changer when it came to the market in 2015. It benefits from rugged and refined styling in extended cab and crew cabs with 5-ft. and 6-ft. beds, in three trims, in 2WD and 4WD, with class-leading and segment-first features, it starts at just over $22,000.

For 2018, leather-appointed front seating is available on the All Terrain model, that brings sporty Jet Black with Cobalt Red stitching. Canyon stands out with a bold, chromed-out grill, standard projector headlights and LED running lights and 17 tie-downs and a CornerStep rear bumper for an easy in-and-out in back.

Inside the premium cabin are cup holders and deep storage bins that are useful for non-work tasks and the stowage of work tools. Uplevel trims bring more features and classy adornment, USB charging ports, Bose audio, navigation, Siri Eyes Free Mode for iPhone, and OnStar 4G LTE with Wi-Fi hotspot. Safety includes electronic traction control, Stabilitrak, rear vision camera forward collision alert and lane-departure warning as well as a Teen Driver feature for safety.

Three engine options are 4-cylinder and V6 gasoline trucks. The extended cab has the option of a 6-speed manual transmission. The available 2.8L Duramax diesel engine offers the segment’s best fuel economy: 30 mpg highway (2WD).

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2018 Chevrolet Tahoe RST

This special-edition high-performance “Rally Sport Truck” is for everyday buyers that want “More Power”. The 2018 Chevrolet Tahoe RST adds body-color grille surround/door handles, gloss-black grille/ mirror caps, plus black roof rails, window trim, special badging, and 22-inch wheels. The Premier’s Performance Package pulses with a 420-horsepower, 6.2-liter V-8 engine that makes 420 horsepower/460 lb.-ft. of torque; Magnetic Ride Control, and all-new 10-speed automatic for a 0-to-60-mph in under six seconds!

Accommodations seat eight, with heated front buckets and leather-appointed seating for front and second-row. An overhead console conversation mirror gives a panoramic view of the rear. Fold-flat second- and third-row seats –- including a power-folding feature and available hands-free power liftgate — enhance access for up to 94 cubic feet of cargo capacity.

Onboard are seven USB ports and six power outlets, plus a 110-volt three-prong outlet and available wireless charging; 4G LTE connectivity with Wi-Fi hotspot, while available rear-seat entertainment upgrades include an HDMI/MHL connector; additional USB port, digital headphones and device projection; a new video voiceover feature benefits visually and hearing-impaired passengers. Standard safety equipment includes GM’s Teen Driver safety system — which allows parents to set certain vehicle controls and review an in-vehicle report card to encourage better driving habits. It comes in 2WD LT model with 5.4-liter V-8 and a Premier with Performance Package; pricing with 4WD adds $3,000.

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