Press Preview: 2020 Toyota Highlander Platinum

Posted in PAPA, Vehicle Reviews on February 15, 2020 by tysonhugie

I sat inside a rolling concert hall this week.  It’s been a long time since I heard a stereo this good, and Mariah Carey came through in such crystal clarity that I ran the volume knob all the way to its max setting.

Toyota invited me and some of the other Phoenix-area journalists to a media event on Wednesday to showcase its latest in technology with its three-row Highlander crossover.  The segment in which the Highlander competes is massive in size, with 24 vehicles competing for the same pie.  Highlander comprises 9% of that pie with its annual 228,000 units sold, and with this new iteration, Toyota is hoping to grow that number.

We heard from product expert Dave Lee as he walked us through a series of slides about what’s new and exciting about the Highlander.  The biggest news is powertrain-related, with a hybrid system offered that provides best-in-class fuel economy (topping out at an impressive 36 mpg) and a massive range of 600 miles per tank.  Dave explained how the Highlander’s “PED” (Predictive Efficient Drive) system tracks driving habits and terrains to optimize efficiency of the hybrid + gas combination.

Inside the cabin, there’s more to be seen from a technology perspective, with a massive 12.3″ touch-screen monitor.  It seems all manufacturers today are of the “bigger is better” mindset, and Highlander fits right in.  The only problem I observed is the screen’s susceptibility to greasy fingerprints.  The Highlander comes with driver-assist tech like front & rear parking assist cameras and a digital rearview camera (which can be toggled to ‘regular’).  There are five USB ports and three zones of climate control.

Perhaps one of the most compelling things about the Highlander is its innovative color-naming convention.  This model has an exterior in “Ruby Flare Pearl” and an interior in “Glazed Caramel.”  Seriously.  Makes me hungry.

With a variety of trim levels available, the Highlander can be equipped with an MSRP from the $30s up to pushing $50k.  As a plush family hauler with the latest in modern tech, it’s going to give its 23 competing classmates a run for their money.  Thanks to Toyota for the preview & test drive!

Fountain Hills “Concours in the Hills,” Eric’s Visit, & SLX/GS-R Updates

Posted in Arizona, Car Show, Integra, SLX on February 13, 2020 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Legend):  572,470

My friend Eric sent me a photo of himself (with his Acura TL in the background) under a blanket of snow on the morning of his departure for a visit to Phoenix from Lexington, Kentucky last Friday.  Needless to say, he was ready and anxious to get some AZ sunshine.

Eric’s arrival was timely because we were able to check out some great events taking place in & around town.  One of them was the “Concours in the Hills,” an 1,000+ car show at Fountain Park in Fountain Hills.

The fountain there was the tallest in the world from 1970 through 1980, at 560 feet in height.  We took the opportunity to stroll through the automotive merchandise (“Look but don’t touch!”) and the scenery did not disappoint.  Among the cars on display was an unbelievably rare McLaren F1.  There were a total of only 106 of those built between 1992 and 1998 and they’re going for $20 million or more each.  I’ll take two.  But perhaps my favorite car was this DMC DeLorean in appropriate BTTF garb.

… and complete with a ‘Mr. Fusion’ fuel tank.  I didn’t have any banana peels to deposit at the time.

The Concours has accelerated quickly in growth over its seven years, and for good reason:  It’s one of the premier automotive events in the southwest and it promotes good causes.  This year, proceeds from the event raised over $250,000 for Phoenix Children’s Hospital.

The level of organization and planning that went into the staging was impressive:  Cars were grouped according to make & model.  There was a strong turnout of NSX owners, including my friend Greg with his lovely Formula Red 1995 with fewer than 10,000 original miles.

I also introduced Eric to a portion of our scenic drive that will take place as part of the 2020 NALM event.  It’s a nice 90-mile round trip loop that introduces visitors to the Tonto National Forest and Saguaro lake, capped off with a lakeside lunch at Shiprock Restaurant.

Our host hotel will be the Best Western Chandler Inn, pictured below.  When registration goes live on March 1, it will include a hyperlink for booking at the contracted group rate for October’s event.

On Sunday, my friend Vlad brought his 2000 model year Phoenix Yellow Integra Type R over to the house.  It only has 31,000 miles on it, and the engine bay looks absolutely brand new.

Joining for the pictures was my 1999 Integra which recently had some work done.  After about two and a half weeks at Hon-Man in Tempe, it was ready to retrieve once again.  The good news is that the erratic idle miss/stumble has been resolved with just an adjustment of the valves.  The bad news is that the inspection revealed some prior collision damage to the left rear corner, and a few other issues to resolve in future service visits.  Check out my upcoming YouTube uploads for info on that.

Here’s the video update:

The SLX hasn’t left town since SoCal “RADwood” in December, but it did go in for a visit to one of my local body shops to have some fog lights installed.  The skilled technicians at USA Collision in Phoenix took care of it in a matter of just 3 days.  And the work was not very easy – it required some custom work to get the brackets to properly mount since the corroded original hardware was basically crumbling away.

Eric’s too SLXY for his shirt, but not for his University of Kentucky sweater.  But those fog lights!

Capping off the weekend was a visit to the local U Pull & Pay junkyard on Buckeye Road in Phoenix.  The treasure of the day there was a 1993 Oldsmobile Silhouette minivan, more lovingly referred to as a “Dustbuster” thanks to its iconic wedge styling.  The icing on the cake was the fact that I found an actual Dustbuster in another van a couple of rows away.  This picture begged to be taken.

It was nice having a friend in town, and I always look forward to my guests!

Have a great rest of the week.

NALM 2020 Location Announcement, Visitors, and Integra/RL Updates

Posted in Blog, Integra, Maintenance, NALM, RL on February 7, 2020 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Legend):  572,466

Hear ye, hear ye.  This just in:

After 15 years of driving all around the country for the National Acura Legend Meet, to 13 different states, my trip to the 2020 annual event will require me driving…  guess how far?  Just 25 miles from my house to the host hotel!  That’s because NALM is finally coming to my own backyard, and I’ll be co-hosting the event here in Phoenix, Arizona along with a few other volunteers.

The dates will be October 7-11, and without getting into too many details – I’ll save those announcements for some future blog posts – there will be some great venues and some great times for all to enjoy.  Here is the announcement post on the forums.

Prior event locations are here:

Year City State
2005 Dallas Texas
2006 Tulsa Oklahoma
2007 Las Vegas Nevada
2008 Chattanooga Tennessee
2009 Branson Missouri
2010 Salt Lake City Utah
2011 Morristown New Jersey
2012 Milwaukee Wisconsin
2013 Asheville North Carolina
2014 Los Angeles California
2015 Houston Texas
2016 Atlanta Georgia
2017 Sacramento California
2018 Colorado Springs Colorado
2019 Daytona Beach Florida

I’ve created a NALM account on Instagram called @nationalacuralegendmeet where you can follow along for regular updates as we unveil some of the exciting aspects of the itinerary.  Maybe I’ll bring out a different car from the garage for each NALM day.  And one of the events – of course – is a behind the scenes visit at my house.  I might be crazy for opening my doors to an anticipated 25 cars and 50 people, but I’ve said it before:  These people are like family to me and I look forward to hosting them as best I can.

Speaking of hosting:  Occupancy rates at the house have been running high so far in 2020.  Ever since the festivities for Barrett-Jackson, I’ve had company every weekend and enjoyed playing host.  My friends Derek, Jay, Nick, and Chris all stopped by.  Here they are in that order.

Derek, before I took him to his brother’s place.

Jay, passing through town with his gorgeous new Sherwood Green Legend LS 6-speed.

Nick, at right, here from Key West for a weekend in the desert.

And Chris, visiting from CA and about to take the NSX for a spin with his buddy Tony.

I also managed to squeeze in a few automotive updates in video form, so if you get time, tune in for the recent videos on my YouTube channel.  The 1999 Integra is at Hon-Man in Tempe for a laundry list of issues, but I’ve replaced the front emblem, shift knob, license plate bumper plugs, and owner’s manual.  I also got those nasty exhaust tips shined up thanks to a product from Mother’s called Mag & Aluminum Polish.

Check that before & after!

And another before & after!  All about the details.

The RL received some paintless dent removal, new tint, a new windshield, and some touch-up paint.

I finally got my library of car maintenance binders in order, thanks to some new cabinets my dad and stepmom installed in my laundry room recently.

The two biggest blue binders are BOTH for the Legend coupe.  Volumes 1 & 2.

We also installed a flat screen TV in the garage that is looping 148 Acura commercials from 1986 through 1999.  It’s 1 hour 47 minutes of runtime.  Seriously.  I turn it on when guests are visiting.

I’m writing weekly now for ClassicCars.com in the “Pick of the Day” section.  Basically, every Thursday I have an article about a vehicle of my choosing that is selected from the 40,000+ listed for sale on the site.  The write-ups are short and sweet, but maybe you’ll be interested in taking a look to see if any of the cars I spotlight interest you.

Some of my recent articles are these:

Thanks for coming along!

49 Years & Counting: 2020 Barrett-Jackson Collector Car Auction Breaks Records

Posted in Arizona, Car Show, Milestones on January 27, 2020 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Legend):  572,435

Meet Craig Jackson:

Craig is kind of a big deal.  He’s currently in the driver’s seat of one of the world’s largest collector car auctions – launched in 1971 by his father, Russ.  Russ first partnered with fellow enthusiast Tom Barrett to sell a handful of automobiles in Scottsdale, Arizona.  Tom eventually retired and Russ passed away, leaving the reins to Craig 25 years ago in 1995.

Craig has since taken the auction to new heights, building it into a mecca that attracts 325,000 automobile enthusiasts annually to its signature and largest event held in Arizona each January.  Jackson has also expanded into other cities around the nation, keeping his team busy throughout the year and facilitating the sale of thousands of vehicles.

Craig is the true definition of a ‘car guy,’ and he wholeheartedly enjoys being part of the industry.  “I like three-pedal cars,” he said at a media event I attended in the days leading up to this year’s program in Scottsdale.  Craig commented on the ever-present questions like, “What should people buy now that will be collectible in X years?”

And the answer to that, of course, is anyone’s best guess, but he suggested that modern internal combustion-powered automobiles as we know them – and especially those equipped with clutch pedals – are positioned well for future appreciation because their days are numbered.  He’s stockpiled a few of his own in his elaborate personal collection.  And speaking of collections, there were a few noteworthy celeb-owned cars up on the docket, including some BMWs formerly owned by Paul Walker.

This year’s auction was the event’s 49th.  I attended in 2012, 2014, 2016, 2017, 2018, and 2019.  And while I haven’t yet made a four-wheeled purchase, I’ve come away with a lot of souvenirs, memories, and friendships that have been 100% worth the price of admission.  My mom and I made the trek to the “Westworld” venue on Saturday, January 18th and feasted our eyes on the nearly 2,000 vehicles that were up for auction this year.

According to a post on Craig’s Instagram (below), a single gavel was used over the course of the 9-day event, but auctioneers went through six sound blocks.  The 2020 auction became the highest-grossing auction in Barrett-Jackson history, with over $141 million in no-reserve sales.  The intensity and energy in the venue is electrifying, with a vehicle being sold on average every two minutes.

The long-awaited mid-engine 2020 Chevy Corvette with VIN #001 brought $3 million for charity.  Other amazing cars that I enjoyed checking out were the 1963 Modena Spyder California from the movie Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, as well as a replica Ford LTD station wagon as seen as the “family truckster” in the Chevy Chase movie “Vacation.”

Lexus auctioned a special edition LC500 convertible, the first of its kind for model year 2021.  It brought $2 million.

Mom and I were a little disappointed after searching the show grounds for Tent 7.  We were hunting for the “Shaggin’ Wagon,” a converted 2003 Ford Econoline van modified to look like the “MUTT CUTTS” vehicle from Dumb & Dumber.  It wasn’t parked where it was supposed to be, so we asked some of the nearby security personnel.  Evidently the van had been vandalized earlier in the week.  “Someone broke the nose off it,” we were told.  Shame!

And now begins Barrett-Jackson’s “Road to 50,” as Craig and his team will spend the next 12 months building up to the 2021 event as its 50th anniversary.  You can bet I’ll be there once again to soak it all in!

Below are a few more photos from my experience at Barrett-Jackson & overall weekend.

Red-carpet arrival at the house for mom’s visit

Brunch date in downtown Phoenix, in the red brick SUV.

Chris (visiting from Maryland) and I rolled around in the same vehicle.  Chris’ claim to fame, in fact, is that he’s driven every one of my vehicles, including the 1992 Integra sedan which sold just 2 days after he left town.

Bueller?  Bueller?  You might recognize this car from a certain movie.

Visitors from Utah feasting their eyes on the sights, sounds, smells, and tastes of the auction.

A celebrity to me – none other than Mr. Peter Cunningham, current President of the NSX Club of America.

And special thanks to my friend Jonathan Klinger who is a VP at Hagerty, who gave me these awesome socks.

They say:  Driving is good for the sole.

And also thanks to Aaron Cook from Barrett-Jackson’s public relations agency, TimePiece.

Mom and I didn’t score any purchases at the auction, but we each came home with a chunk of metal from the following morning’s rock & roll half-marathon in Tempe.

Finally, join me in congratulating my friend Matt on his 200,000th mile in his 2002 Nissan!  I captured the occasion on video from his back seat.

Thanks for reading & watching, as always!

Future Collector Car Show 2020 & 1992 Integra GS Sale

Posted in Arizona, Car Show, Integra on January 25, 2020 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Integra sedan):  75,604

Trip Distance:  2,155 Miles

I sold my 28-year-old Integra sedan on Tuesday, and the buyer drove it as many miles in his 3-day trip home to Tampa, Florida, as I drove the car over my nearly 2 years of ownership.  Needless to say, he’s enjoying it more than I did!  More in a little bit about who the lucky new owner is and how the exchange played out.

I was walking down High Street in north Phoenix a couple of weeks ago at a car show, glad to be wearing a fleece jacket because it was downright chilly (by Arizona standards) in the shade.

“I like your jacket,” a guy said as I passed by him.  I paused for a second and looked down because I couldn’t even remember what I was wearing.  I realized it was my Nissan GT-R jacket.  The guy then pulled up his shorts a little to show a brightly-colored GT-R tattoo on his thigh.  I said, “Awesome; I wish I had the car but I just have the sweater!”  I guess Nissan people are just as passionate about their cars as Honda people are.

The occasion for the day was the 5th annual Future Collector Car Show (FCCS), an event that started in 2016 as a small production sponsored by ClassicCars.com to recognize and embrace the movement of the ‘new’ definition of classic.  The show has grown and evolved over the years, attracting 150 vehicles for the 2020 program that were selected via an online application process that kicked off last fall.

I had the lone representing Integra, while there were a couple of RSXs on the roster.  Here are some links to prior years’ coverage of this event.  (I’ve been to all five!)

  • 2016 – Legend coupe
  • 2017 – Legend sedan
  • 2018 – Integra GS-R
  • 2019 – Integra GS-R (again)

Over the course of the day, I got the chance to reconnect with a lot of great friends and I enjoyed lunch at Mellow Mushroom while taking a break from the social scene.  The variety of vehicles on display was wide, and while most were modified, there were a few super clean ‘preserved’ original cars like this sweet 1980 Prelude.

One of my faves was this older Lexus SC sitting on new IS wheels.

Three “Bullitt” Mustangs in a row!  One had the license plate “CHSECAR” (chase car)

Wandering High Street

And bumping into friends

Meanwhile, my 1992 Integra sedan was on display, and I’d left a For Sale sign sitting on the dash in case anyone had interest in sending me a message to inquire.

At the end of the day, I received just 1 text message.  It was from a high-school-age kid who came to test-drive the car 2 days later.  Except, he couldn’t drive a stick.  So I drove him around.  He didn’t end up making an offer.  I actually discovered how frustrating it can be to deal with car buyers.  A few of the things I observed or heard:

  • “What’s the lowest you’ll take?”
  • “Does the car need anything now or in the future?”  <Hello, it’s nearly 30 years old, the answer is YES>
  • “Will you take $XX plus 10 monthly payments of $XX?”
  • “If only you were in X location.”
  • “Can I trade you my XX vehicle?”
  • “Why are you asking so little?”  <This one surprised me>
  • “You know Blue Book on this car is only XXX.”  <Facepalm.  I hate ‘Blue Book’ when it comes to vintage cars>
  • “You’ll regret selling it.”
  • “I wish I had the money, but I have XX kids.”
  • “I like the 2 door better.”

I survived all of that, and a legitimate offer did come, however, from a nice gentleman named David in Tampa, Florida who is a dedicated Honda-fan who’s restoring a 1989 Prelude “S” model.  We corresponded a little by email and then text, and arranged his visit for Tuesday January 21st.

Below are a few photos from the transaction as well as photos he sent me from his drive home.

Gift I made up for David of his digital car rending from Darren at I Drew Your Car.

About to leave the garage for the last time.

Key handoff on a rainy Phoenix morning.

Arrival in Florida – that sign looks familiar.  I was just there in October.

Final odometer reading after a successful journey to the other side of the country.

Congrats, David!  Here’s a 1-minute video memorializing the occasion.

PS – If you haven’t already done so, check out the YT Channel “Out Motorsports.” My friend Jake and his crew of skilled journalists are going to publish regular updates on car reviews, performance/track events, and more.

Happy 2020 – Blog Stats, Mileage Updates, & Visitors

Posted in Blog, Milestones on January 9, 2020 by tysonhugie

Let’s get this year started off right with some proper automotive updates!

Some data on the blog you’re reading:  Launched in spring 2011, Drive to Five saw its all-time highest traffic in 2014, presumably because I put a lot more effort into it back then than I do today.  I was also on a crusade to get max miles out of my then-new Acura ILX as I accumulated miles in a variety of weekend excursions to share with my readers.  I posted 128 blog entries that year.

This blog saw 60,957 views in 2019 from 26,535 unique visitors.  I posted 52 times, so on average once every week.  There are 78 of you who receive an email every time I publish a new post.  You must be out of your minds.

Sometimes I wonder if “reading” is a forgotten pastime.  Consider the fact that my YouTube channel over the last few months has seen unprecedented subscriber traffic.  A video that I uploaded about my new-to-me 1999 Acura Integra surpassed 50,000 views and 600 comments in its first 12 days.  In those 12 days, the same video made me $250 in ad revenue.  That’s gas money if nothing else (but I won’t quit my day job any time soon).

This blog nets me $3 a month by delivering ads to you all.  That doesn’t even offset what it costs me to pay for the domain name rental and the 3.6 gigabytes of storage it takes to archive the 19,000 images I’ve blogged over about 9 years.  But I’m not into blogging for the money.  I’m a writer.  This is my travel journal, and even if one person reads it, or for that matter, if nobody at all reads it, I’ll still keep publishing with some sort of regularity.

A lot more people are interested in just clicking a “Play” button on their YouTube browser than actually reading a blog, but if you’re still reading this, then to you I say, “Thanks!”  Your loyalty means a lot.

While we’re on a ‘stats’ kick, this grid is a tradition I’ve kept up for 4 years now.

I drove (or my cars drove, rather, because I’ve loaned them out plenty of times) 30,403 miles in 2019.  That was down from 36,053 in 2018.  My most expensive car to maintain last year (shocker) was the rust-bucket SLX which cost me over $2,600 in maintenance.  But I got an Acura video feature out of it, and I still love driving that stupid thing around town just for the reactions.

The ILX saw 10,000 miles and the Legend coupe 7,500.  But remember that 5,600 of those Legend miles were in one single trip:  Driving to southern Florida & back in October for the National Acura Legend Meet.  If NALM stays close to home in 2020 (I’m dropping a major hint here prematurely) it might not see that many this year.

I’ll let the below pics tell the rest of the recent updates.  I’ve had so many cool guests over the last couple of weeks, including a friend named Shaun from all the way in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada.  We connected via social media – isn’t it crazy how that works?  He’s a “garage” enthusiast.  Check out his Instagram:  @gullys_garage.  I also received visits from my Legend friend Jimmy, from Gearbox Magazine’s Brian Driggs for a Podcast, from author and friend Steve Lynch, and from a California based friend named Dani who just recently moved to Phoenix.

New Year’s Eve 2020 at ‘Flannel Ball’ in downtown Phoenix with friends

A friend sent me a Chilton’s manual for the GS-R

Library is coming along.  (And the GS-R will get a blog update in due time)

I’ve been picking up some cool magazines, including a coupe comparo where the 5th gen Honda Prelude reigned supreme against 6 other cars back in the day.

This was another interesting find.  December 1993.

A full 3 model years before the SLX debuted, Automobile nailed it.  They had an article discussing the potential for Honda to market a Trooper-based SUV.

Jimmy’s visit in his pristine Legend GS 6-speed

Received a 2020 calendar from my friend Pavel in the Czech Republic

Pulled out the Integra sedan for some photos since I’m selling it

Steve from Tucson stopped by.  He spent time working for American Honda back in the early 1990s and was fortunate enough to get the keys to a then-new NSX for a cruise to the hills.  A 4×6 photo from that occasion was given to me for feature in the display case.

Ken from SFO paid me a visit too.  We went out to dinner.

And while I had the sedan out, I commuted in it today.  Nice sunrise.

My sights are on this now.  Looks like you can guess what my next 2 cars are going to be.

Here’s to another year!

SOLD: 1992 Integra GS Sedan 5-Speed with 73,400 Miles

Posted in Integra on January 8, 2020 by tysonhugie

** Update 1/21/2020 **

This car was picked up today and is going to a great home in Florida.  Thanks for all the interest!

Hello friends!  I’ll have more updates in an upcoming post, but this one’s an ad.  It’s time to clear 1 of my 10 cars out.  Do any of my readers have interest?  I had a local offer that fell through so it’s up for grabs.

Detailed info below.

Maintenance snapshot.  I’ve spent $3,000 on maintenance and only driven it 2,000 miles in 2 years.

1992 Acura Integra GS Sedan 5-Speed

Torino Red Pearl on Black Interior

VIN:  JH4DB1562NS001367

  • Factory 1.8 liter 4-cylinder motor with 140 horsepower
  • “DB1” chassis with post-midcycle refresh to front bumper & rear trunklid / taillamps (1992-93 specific only).
  • 73,400 Miles
  • All original WA & UT car (Seattle area until 2000, then southern Utah until 2018

Link to Google Drive with about 80 Photos

4-Minute Video Walkaround:

I am the second owner, purchased May 2018 from original owner named Maxine (Steckler) Cook. She is 74 today.  She was 46 years old when she bought the car.  Maxine lives in Ivins, Utah currently and travels via RV with her husband Jim.  She was so proud of the car that she had pulled it onto the front lawn for photos for her classified ad, and she had a tear in her eye when I drove the car away.

Clean Carfax and title.  No known accidents or paint work.  Passed Arizona emissions.

Maintenance spreadsheet in Excel:   Includes recent timing belt, water pump, tires, fuel pump, radiator, upper and lower hoses, spark plugs, battery, and valve adjustment by Stephen Wade Honda and by Hon-Man Automotive.  New (aftermarket but custom fit) high quality carpeted floor mats.

RADwood car show participant in December 2018 Los Angeles at the Petersen Museum.

Includes window sticker (car had a $2k markup when new), all available records, owner’s manual w/ radio code, photos, and documentation.  I’ll include the Arizona copper “Historic” plate as well as the original Utah plates the car came with.  I even have screen shots of when I was FaceTiming with a friend who was checking out the car for me before I flew to Utah to purchase it.  The car is all original as Maxine had it, right down to the Utah Sheriff’s Association 1999 sticker in rear window.  I did remove the pinstripe, the Jesus fish from the trunk lid, and the gold license plate frames.

Noted:  Vibration at idle, especially with A/C on.  My 1992 Integra LS sedan had the same.  Defrost turns on by itself randomly sometimes.  There is a small, hard spot on passenger seat like glue that I haven’t tried removing yet. The check engine light came on once during (800-mile) Dec 2018 trip to LA but not since.   There is a small scuff on the left rear bumper.  Windshield wipers don’t work on the middle (intermittent setting).  Everything else is showroom fresh, and works.

Additional Videos: