Pinnacle: The 2019 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Sahara 4X4

Front view of 2019 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Sahara
The 2019 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Sahara.
At the very moment when the automotive industry is bracing for a future in which vehicles are autonomous and possibly anonymous, computer-driven bubbles in which we amuse ourselves while being whisked from point A to point B, the truest example of a basic you-drive-it motorized vehicle has now been perfected.  And it's the one that has the strongest brand identity in the history of the motor vehicle.  One word, no explanation needed:


Since 1940, when it was designed to get our troops anywhere they needed to go, Jeep has been a constant.  And part of that has been constant improvement. 


Timelessness: The 64th Annual Hillsborough Concours d'Elegance

1931 Chrysler Imperial LeBaron wins Best of Show at Hillsborough
Best of Show at the 64th Annual Hillsborough Concours d'Elegance.
Congratulations to Lorenzo and Susan Nannini of Colma, California, whose 1933 Chrysler Imperial LeBaron won Best of Show at this weekend's 64th Annual Hillsborough Concours d'Elegance.  The event raised proceeds for Autism Speaks, The Guardsmen, Gatepath and the Hillsborough Schools Foundation.

Making A Difference: American Trucks' Positive Payload 2019 Summer Winners

One of our happiest and proudest associations here at TireKicker is with the fine folks at American MuscleExtreme Terrain and American Trucks.  They have been loyal advertisers since 2012. 

Right now, American Trucks is doing something worth writing about (buying ad space at TireKicker doesn't guarantee editorial coverage). 

It's called the Positive Payload Program.  If you volunteer for or work with a charity that uses Ford F-150sChevy SilveradosGMC Sierras or Dodge Rams in its service to the community, you can apply for a $2,000 donation to that charity.

The summer 2019 winners are: 

Applachia Service Project, which provides home repair and home replacement to families in Central Appalachia.  The organization also assists in disaster recover for incidents such as floods and fires that occur in a five-state service area.  A variety of trucks in the fleet assist with transporting of all materials needed from one job site to the next.  American trucks enable ASP to complete repairs for families in need of warm, safe, healthy and dry places to live. ASP workers and trucks have provided home repairs to 433 families and gifted 28 new homes to families living in Central Appalachia.  

Operation Tiny Home, which is a 501(c)(3) national non-profit that assists people struggling with severe housing instability to maintain a life of dignity through custom high-quality tiny housing solutions and empowerment training programs.  Through "Building a Better Future for Veterans" and "Dignity Housing for Native Americans" programs, they teach carpentry and construction skills while participants build a high-quality custom tiny home to support someone in need in their community.   

Full details and a link to apply are here.

That Certain Something: The 2019 Honda Passport AWD Elite

Front 3/4 view of 2019 Honda Passport AWD Elite
The 2019 Honda Passport AWD Elite.
One of the things that I love about cars is their ability to start conversations.  Driving one or more shiny new cars every week for 22 years is not a job for introverts.  Fortunately, I'm not one.  The interesting thing is that you can never quite tell which car will cause total strangers to walk up to you and start asking questions, offering opinions and the like.

I would not have guessed the 2019 Honda Passport AWD Elite would be one of those cars, but it is.


A Night At The Museum/Three Days At The Auction

American Express, the credit card company, used to have an advertising campaign in the 1980s that said "Membership Has Its Privileges."  That's how I feel about Western Automotive Journalists.  I've been a member for nearly six years now and am Vice President of membership this year and next.  Beyond that privilege, though, are the experiences and events I enjoy because of WAJ.

Tomorrow, Mrs. TireKicker and I will be in Hillsborough on the San Francisco Peninsula for the 64th Annual Hillsborough Concours d'Elegance, the longest continually-running Concours in the world, a week from tomorrow we'll head for Monterey for the annual WAJ Media Day at the beautiful Quail Lodge, and this past week, we had a "regular" meeting in a very special place---the Academy of Art University Automobile Museum in San Francisco.

Good Companies Doing Good (Again): The Turn 5 Scholarship Winners For Fall 2019

One of the proudest associations we have here at TireKicker is with Turn5.  That name may not ring a bell, but Turn5 owns American Muscle and Extreme Terrain, which have been advertisers on TireKicker since 2012 and American Trucks, which joined the party at the beginning of last year.

Advertising on TireKicker doesn't buy a company editorial coverage, but Turn5 does a lot of good.  We've told you about their Positive Payload Program, which gives money to charities that use American pickups in their service to the community twice a year.  And, back in November, we covered their bi-annual scholarship program.  The winners have been announced for Fall 2019:

American Muscle's scholarship is an essay-based program.  Entrants write about how they plan to use their automotive education to drive change in the custom car industry.  Four winners are selected, two per semester. The scholarship is $2,000 each.  It's been going on since 2013, with 22 winners so far---the two newest just this month---Hailee Paul of Southern Illinois University and Alec Jobbins of the University of California at Berkeley.

American Trucks started its own scholarship program in 2018, focusing on students striving to contribute to the construction and building trades.  Each year, four winners were awarded $2,000 each and this semester's winners are Ifeyinwa Ibeabuchi of Northern Arizona University and Ryan Hess of Ohio State University.

Extreme Terrain's program awards $3,000 once per semester.  This semester's winner is Megan Koonce of Grand Canyon University. 

All told, Turn5 has awarded $99,000 in scholarships to deserving students in the past five years, beginning the year the company was founded---giving back right out of the gate.  That's not only newsworthy, it's noteworthy and admirable.  Again, we're proud of our association with Turn 5.


Sharpening The Edge: The 2019 Lincoln Nautilus Black Label

Front view of 2019 Lincoln Nautilus Black Label
The 2019 Lincoln Nautilus Black Label.
The renaissance at Lincoln is under way.  The new Navigator is a hit and the best in its class (two things it's been a long time Lincoln could say about any of its vehicles) and anticipation is high for the new 2020 Lincoln Aviator, which is now arriving on dealer lots.  And Lincoln is making sure its next rung down on the luxury ladder doesn't stick out like a sore thumb.


Grand Tourer: The 2019 Lexus RC 350

Front 3/4 view of 2019 Lexus RC 350
The 2019 Lexus RC 350.
There's a time and a place for everything, and I'm one of those guys who can't quite see a brute-force beast as a daily driver.  Regular readers will recall that about a year and a half ago,  Mrs. TireKicker and I took the 467-horsepower Lexus RC-F to Yosemite and had a blast hammering the winding, twisting roads of California's Gold Country that lie between that beautiful national park and TireKicker World Headquarters in Folsom (suburban Sacramento).

Day in, day out, the styling of the RC-F with a less-frantic personality sounds just right.  Which brings us to the 2019 Lexus RC 350.  I likened the RC-F to the Batmobile.  This is Bruce Wayne's tux.


The Rabbit Lives: The 2019 Volkswagen Golf GTI 2.0T Rabbit Edition

Front 3/4 view of the 2019 Volkswagen GTI 2.0T Rabbit Edition
The 2019 Volkswagen GTI 2.0 T Rabbit Edition.
We've sung the praises of the Volkswagen GTI here at TireKicker before---in fact, just last year, when we drove the fully loaded 2018 Volkswagen GTI Autobahn and were not the least bit deterred from our admiration by the sticker price which read $37,020 as tested.

So imagine how we feel about the same usefulness, a shade more performance and very nearly the same fuel economy for about six grand less.


All Grown Up: The 2019 Toyota RAV4 Adventure AWD

Front 3/4 view of 2019 Toyota RAV4 Adventure AWD
The 2019 Toyota RAV4 Adventure AWD.
When Toyota's first RAV4 hit the market, it (and subsequent small SUVs such as the Honda CR-V) were called "Cute Utes".  Well, 23 years of changing markets, tastes and priorities have rendered that nickname pretty well useless.  And the all-new 2019 Toyota RAV4 arrives with a much more truckish look.


Sunday, July 21: The 64th Annual Hillsborough Concours d'Elegance

Say "Northern California", "summer" and "classic car", and most people's minds turn to Pebble Beach and the classics in August.  But---there's an earlier, more intimate and longer-running Concours d'Elegance one month before, 102 miles north on the gorgeous San Francisco Peninsula.

The Hillsborough Concours d'Elegance is actually the longest continually-running Concours in the world---every year since 1956.  It's a wonderful event, benefiting several Bay Area charities, held at the stunningly beautiful Crystal Springs Golf Course.

The video above will give you an overview, along with some glimpses of last years event, but for what's coming this year, including some photos of cars confirmed for this year, keep reading.