Archive for September, 2013

NHRDA World Finals: Diesel Racing in Ennis, Texas

Posted in Misc Travel on September 29, 2013 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Legend):  527,050


Odometer (ILX):  54,797


Consider these times that it takes a stock-equipment car to go from a standing stop to the finish line of a 1/4 mile dragstrip:

  • 1994 Acura Legend coupe:  15.7 seconds
  • 1992 Acura NSX:  13.9 seconds
  • 2013 Nissan GT-R:  10.8 seconds

This weekend, my brother raced a 1995 Ford Lightning pickup truck that achieved a 9.0 second run!  That’s enough to blow the doors off just about everything I’ve ever had the pleasure of driving.  I can’t imagine what those G-forces must feel like.


I’ve just returned from a trip to the Lone Star State where I attended the 2013 National Hot Rod Diesel Association (NHRDA) “World Finals.”  This long-awaited event was an opportunity for my brother Bentley to showcase the race truck that his company, H&S Performance, put together over the last several months.  H&S specializes in diesel powertrains and is at the cutting edge of development on ways to squeeze every last ounce of power out of diesel vehicles.  The H&S team ended up bringing home 3rd place at the event, and they’re motivated to bring home the gold next year.

Though my Acura ILX and Acura Legend got a break this weekend, I still had plenty of fun playing with cars & trucks.  The ILX spent a few days at The Parking Spot, an off-airport parking complex near Phoenix Sky Harbor.  I spotted an old Vineyard Gray Metallic Legend on the way in.


And I said adios to my silver chariot as my shuttle bus took me away.  Flight 551 awaited me from Phoenix to the Dallas-Ft Worth Int’l Airport.


My dad flew down from Utah and connected with me in the terminal to join for the Dallas leg.


Rental ride:  Red 2013 Kia Rio with 29,400 miles on the odometer.  It screamed “economy” loudly, but it did have satellite radio and power windows.  Notably missing from the option list?  Cruise control.  Ouch.


We were also missing an engine temperature gauge.


For $11 a day, I we couldn’t complain.  MPG averages were in the 35-36 range, so that was a welcome feature!  Right away, we met up with my friend Brad at Mi Cocina in Irving for some fine Mexican cuisine.  Brad’s local to the area and told us the best ways to get around in the construction-mania that abounds in the Dallas “Metroplex.”


Friday morning, we met up with the H&S crew who were headed to the Texas Motorplex racetrack.  Here, my youngest brother Payton was enjoying the view from atop the trailer that hauls the race truck around.


While the race team was making preparations for some qualifying runs, my dad and I took a couple of hours to explore Dallas.  The skyline ahead of us on I-35E included the “Reunion Tower.”  See the tower in the center of the frame with the round ball on top?  It stands 561 feet tall and has a restaurant inside that opened in 2009.  At night, the ball is illuminated by 259 LEDs and it’s quite a sight!  This fall, an observation deck will be opened.


We made our way back to the speedway and started feeling more and more puny in our Kia Rio.  Truck after truck came into the parking area to compete in the drag races.


Determination?  Just being cheesy here.


We got to work unloading the race truck.


Low clearance made this a challenging operation, but the truck came out unscathed.


Left to right:  Tyson, Payton (brother), Craig (dad), and Bentley (brother).  Motor oil runs through our veins.  We all love cars.


And perhaps the most important introduction of all:  This beast of a truck.


It started out as a white 1995 Ford Lightning, but morphed into a matte black meteor.  To name a few upgrades:

  • 4500 lbs Race Weight
  • 6.7-Liter Cummins Diesel Engine
  • Triple Turbos (capable of producing up to 130 PSI boost pressure)
  • 4R100 Transmission
  • Dynamite Diesel Performance (DDP) Injectors
  • Nitrous Oxide
  • Air Dog Lift Pump
  • H&S Motorsports Stroker Pump
  • Dual CP3 Injection Pumps
  • Mini Maxx Tuner custom tuned with MCC software

The truck pulls 1.8 – 1.9G on launch, does 0-60 in under 2 seconds, and is the quickest 6.7L Cummins powered vehicle in the world.  Here, Payton (who’s the designated race driver) rolled up to the staging lanes as a member of the “Pro Street” class.  The blue golf cart following the truck, though decently fast, was not competing in the event.


With each run, we had to quickly identify opportunities for improvement or solve problems as they arose.


Every race was logged on a computer with various data points.  Payton spent a great deal of time reviewing the results and identifying red flags so that the race team could make adjustments to the truck accordingly.


The fastest run that I got to see the Lightning make was a 9.188 second finish at 151.68 miles per hour.


Just seconds later, ominous looking storm clouds let loose and the track closed down for the remainder of the day.


Dad, Payton, and Bentley took a powwow and discussed next steps.


A race team from Thailand came over to admire the H&S truck.  These guys had air-freighted an Isuzu diesel pickup all the way from around the world to compete in the World Finals!  Their truck was powered by a 4-cylinder but ran the fastest time in the entire event – an unbelievable 8 seconds.


Sharing tech tips and stories, via an English-Thai interpreter.


We had to huddle inside the trailer or underneath the canopy while the rain continued coming down.


Dad somehow ended up barefoot after his shoes & socks got soaked.


Though the event was rained out that day, race finals were pushed to the following day.  Unfortunately, my dad and I were scheduled to fly out so we missed it.  Payton ended up in 3rd place at the event, with his 9.003 at 146 mph.


Congrats to Bentley, Payton, and the rest of the H&S crew on a great run! Here is a short video capturing some of the moments on film.  I’ll post a link to a much more professional/official clip as soon as it’s released.

Edit:  Here’s a better video by H&S.

Finally, here are the last few pictures I took over the course of the weekend.  I enjoyed seeing this blue Acura TSX parked next to me at the track.


And enjoyed a great evening with my local Dallas friends Scott and Lance.


Lance drives a 2014 Hyundai Equus that’s the ultimate ride.  He invited me to fire it up.  The instrument cluster screen came to life, and the car lifted up on its air suspension.


This was one classy ride!


It was great to get home to Phoenix this morning and have a chance to unwind.


… and also a relief to see that we’ve dipped below 3-digit temperatures for the first time since May.


Reunited with my ILX.


It sure felt nice rowing through my own gears after having that Kia for several days.


Thanks for coming along on the trip!


ILX Drive: Pima Air & Space Museum in Tucson

Posted in Arizona, ILX, Road Trip on September 23, 2013 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Legend):  527,023


Odometer (ILX):  54,672


Trip Distance:  257 Miles


Time to ditch the roadways and head for the skies!  This past weekend, some friends and I set out for the Pima Air & Space Museum near Tucson, Arizona.

Pima Air & Space Museum, where history takes flight, is one of the largest air and space museums in the world, and the largest non-government funded aviation museum. You’ll see more than 300 aircraft and spacecraft including many of the most historically significant and technically advanced craft ever produced, both from the United States and throughout the world.

We left a few vehicles parked at my house for the day:  Paul’s TL, Jake’s Wrangler, Matt’s 370Z (not pictured), and Ian’s Lancer (not pictured).  Instead, we took the ILX, an RS5, and an IS300.


It was a parking lot in my driveway as we were preparing for departure.


“RS Robigus” (Brad’s RS5) led the way to Starbucks so we could get some breakfast before heading out of town.  At 450 horsepower, I’m lucky the RS5 didn’t leave me in its dust.


From there, we made our way to the south end of Phoenix where Interstate 10 would take us the 110 miles or so to Tucson.


Our only pit stop along the way was for a bathroom break at Picacho Peak.


The RS5 looked menacing in my rearview mirror with its LED daytime running lights.


Approaching the PASM entrance on Valencia Road just south of Tucson, we could already see the tails of some of the aircraft on display.  The museum covers 127 acres.   It started out as a storage location for about 30 aircraft and has continued to grow ever since.  It first opened up in 1976 with 48 aircraft on display.


I’d passed by here a few times in the past, but never taken the time to check it out.


When we arrived, we were greeted by 3 other friends who were local to the Tucson area:  Nick, Kurt, and Mike had driven over to meet us.


Kurt recently picked up this gorgeous 1993 Nissan 300ZX Twin Turbo convertible.  The Nissan “Z32” bodystyle ran from 1990 through 1996 and I feel still looks great today.


We gathered around to check it out.  This car is rare in its configuration as a convertible, but even more rare when you consider the odometer:  there were only 50,257 miles on it!  That’s just 2,500 miles per year.


My ILX is 20 model years newer, yet already has 4,000 more miles on it than Kurt’s car.


The later model Nissan wheels will soon be traded out for some aftermarket wheels that Kurt has already picked out.


The leather interior looks amazing for its age.  It’s easy to tell that this Z has been garage-kept.


Meanwhile, Nick’s heavily modified 300ZX (GODZIRRA!) joined the party as well.  Nick’s car was featured on Drive to Five back in March.


First stop in the museum was a gift shop where we paid our admission fees.  The rate was $15.   From there, we were on our own to explore the 4 hangars and many acres of grounds outsides.  I’ll highlight a few of the exhibits that caught my eye during our self-guided walking tour.


This silver & red North American F-107A first flew in September 1956.  It’s capable of a top speed of 1,295 miles per hour and has a “service ceiling” of 53,200 feet.  Notice the overhead jet air intake, making this a unique design.


Undersea aircraft wreckage has always fascinated me, and the museum had a display featuring remains of a “Martin PBM Mariner” It sank in Lake Washington near Seattle on May 6, 1949.  It wasn’t brought up from the bottom of the lake until 1996, and by then it was so weakened that when they went to grab it by the tail section, the aircraft ripped apart!  There are still pieces of this plane sitting at the bottom of Lake Washington.


Here I’m standing in front of a Fairchild A-10A Thunderbolt II.  This one was referred to as the “Warthog” by its pilots and crew.  It was used in the 1990-1991 Persian Gulf War and is basically a flying tank.  It has a rotary cannon capable of firing up to 4200 rounds per minute!  Don’t get in its way.


Many of the aircraft were “manned” with mannequins to show how occupants would have been seated inside them.


There were plenty of attractions at PASM besides planes.


My favorite plane on display was this McDonnell Douglas F-4E Phantom II.  This has an internally mounted gun for air-to-air combat and it was in service from 1967 to 1992.  It’s capable of 1,485 miles per hour!



This little Beechcraft Model S18D had capacity for 8 people and was capable of being flown from skis or floats as well as conventional landing gear.


Some interactive displays taught us some fundamentals about flying.


Next, we headed outside to where dozens of other aircraft awaited us.  For $6, we could have taken a tram tour but we opted to take advantage of the opportunity for some exercise instead.


Below is a B-52G Stratofortress from 1958.  This one weighs in at nearly half a million pounds.  Most of the planes outside were sitting on flat tires.  It made me wonder how long it’s been since they’ve been used.


Most of the aircraft being displayed were on loan from the US Air Force.


Jake’s favorite feature was this old army Jeep.  It was a 5-speed manual and had only a 4-digit odometer.  As I recall, it showed mileage in the 6,000’s.  It was actually manufactured by Ford.


This was my favorite exhibit overall:  The “Hoppi-Copter.”  It’s a one-man helicopter with a 20-horsepower motor that powers two counter-rotating sets of blades, strapped to the back of the pilot.


Can you imagine coming in for a hard landing with this thing?  Here’s a little more info from the display:

The greatest weakness of this design was its use of the pilot’s legs as landing gear.  If he stumbled during landing or take-off, the blades would quickly turn into thousands of potentially lethal splinters as they pounded themselves to bits into the ground.  The idea was quickly abandoned, but not before the Hoppicopter made about 20 flights.

Yikes.  I’ll pass on taking that one for a spin.  Don’t even try pronouncing this sign.  Fluegelschwenkbereich!


We had a great time at the museum, and we were ready for a break from all that walking.  No group drive would be complete without some delicious food to top it off, so for that we headed to Sushi Garden on Broadway Rd.


Parking in color sequence, because that’s just the way it worked out!


The $9 lunch buffet hit the spot!  Oddly, though, the buffet featured potato salad and Jell-O.  At a sushi restaurant?


Meanwhile, we picked up a straggler.  My friend Josh arrived in his silver 2008 BMW 328i 6-speed.  He’s been featured on the blog before with his turbo white Acura Integra.


We had one more stop to make before leaving town.  Our group headed up to one of Tucson’s well known landmarks, Sentinel Peak.  I had last visited this area in May.  Sentinel Peak is home to a giant painted “A” on the side of a hill in reference to the University of Arizona which is located in Tucson.


Toward the top of the peak, the road becomes a twisty one-laner with no guardrail.


The view was great from up top!  Our vehicles ranged in model year from 1990 through 2013.


The ILX is still performing well!  It accommodated me and two passengers for each leg of the trip.  Ian (former Civic Si 6-speed owner) noted that the ILX was quite a bit quieter than his Civic had been.  We enjoyed the 7-speaker sound system and XM radio.  Now, if only we could get the 90’s on 9 station to stop repeating the song “Waterfalls” by TLC so frequently.



Kurt showed us a few landmarks from around the Tucson valley.  Somebody remarked, “Tucson looks a lot nicer from up here than it does at ground level.”


Paul was contemplating something very deeply here.





We took a group shot before a fuel stop and heading home our respective directions.  Left to right:  Ian, Jack, Tyson, Nick, Kurt, Paul, Brad, Jake, Matt, and Josh.  Not pictured:  Mike, who was off hiking up a nearby hill.


Thanks to those who joined in for the fun!

The Legend got work commute duty today and I rolled 527,000 miles on the way home.


Drive to Five Review: Mitsubishi Outlander “GT” S-AWC

Posted in Vehicle Reviews on September 21, 2013 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Legend):  526,963


Odometer (ILX):  54,376


If my hands aren’t firmly planted at 10 & 2 on a steering wheel, they’re firmly planted on a keyboard.  My love for cars and of writing has led me to meet lots of folks who share those passions.  Earlier this year, I became a member of the Phoenix Automotive Press Association (PAPA).  As a jury panel member for a vehicle-of-the-year program called Active Lifestyle Vehicle of the Year (ALV), I will get the opportunity to evaluate cars based on how well they perform for ‘active’ people.

In the future, I will occasionally bring you new car reviews (including, of course, for new Acuras).

First up:  the 2014 Mitsubishi Outlander GT crossover.


I’ve always had a special place in my heart for Mitsubishi.

When I was 16, I detailed cars for friends & neighbors.  One of those cars was this Galaxy White Pearl 1992 Diamante.  I especially loved the front end, the dash dash design, and the exhaust note — not to mention those great frameless windows that mimicked a ‘convertible’ feel when you opened the doors.


In later years, I was obsessing over my friend’s red 3000GT VR-4, pictured below.  Twin turbo, full-time all-wheel-drive, 6-speed transmission, and 320 horsepower.  The 3000GT became one of my favorite sportscars.


But where is Mitsubishi today?  My friend Ian knows the answer.  He’s been driving a 2012 Lancer that he absolutely loves.  As for me, the last decade has been filled with Hondas so I haven’t paid enough attention to what’s going on at Mitsubishi.  As I’ve learned this past week, the company is still very much alive and well.  I bring you the company’s latest creation:  Outlander.


This vehicle is now in its 3rd generation with an all-new redesigned model for the 2014 model year.   I had the opportunity this week to put some miles on a GT S-AWC model finished in Mercury Gray with black leather interior.


S-AWC stands for “Super All-Wheel Control,” and it’s Mitsubishi’s way of saying 4×4.  The system is activated full-time.  My test vehicle was equipped with the top-of-the-line $6,100 “GT” (Touring) Package which centers around the 7″ touch-screen as well as several other safety & comfort features:

  • Lane Departure Warning
  • Forward Collision Mitigation
  • Adaptive Cruise Control
  • Power Glass Sunroof
  • Leather Seating
  • 710-Watt, 9-Speaker Rockford Fosgate Sound System
  • Power Driver’s Seat
  • Power Remote Tailgate

I wonder what the neighbors thought when they saw a non-Acura vehicle in my driveway.  They were probably relieved to think that my obsession with Acura had subsided.


One of the first things I noticed about the vehicle was the prominent V6 badge on the front fender.  Outlander ES and SE come equipped with a 166-horsepower 2.4 liter 4-cylinder and Continuously Variable Transmission, while my GT model had the 3.0 liter V6 engine and a 6-speed automatic transmission.  This powertrain is rated at 224 horsepower.  Overseas, the Outlander can be equipped with a manual transmission.  Design wise, in my opinion this crossover is most handsome from the rear 3/4 angle.


The front end features Mitsubishi’s “super wide” High Intensity Discharge (HID) headlights, and foglights integrated into the lower bumper area.  The new-for-2014 chrome mustache grille is eye-catching, and not in a good way.


Right away, I found a huge win for the Outlander:  UTILITY.  As a “car person,” I’m not accustomed to having such plentiful space, versatility, and go-anywhere capability.  Outlander has space for everything.  Twice this past weekend, I had the chance to put the Outlander’s people-hauling capability to the true test.  Six of us hopped in to run an errand to AutoZone on Saturday, and then 5 of us went to dinner on Sunday.


Third row seating allows the vehicle to accommodate a total of 7 passengers, and when not in use, the third row folds flat for maximum cargo area capacity.  Brian and Tom took the two seats in the far rear.


Paul and Jack took the second row.  Ian and I were in the front.  As I put the vehicle into reverse, I said out loud, “Is everyone in here?  I feel like a soccer mom.”


My back seat passengers did express the fact that they did not have any A/C vents in the rear.  Since it was 100-degree day and the Outlander had been parked outside, it was toasty inside and the front vents couldn’t keep up with the need to keep the entire cabin cooled.

Then, when they resorted to rolling the windows down instead of waiting for the A/C to cool things down, they were disappointed that the windows don’t roll all the way down (the glass stays above the door panel slightly so you can’t rest your arm on the panel and dangle it outside.  Safety feature?).


For the rest of my feedback on the Outlander, I thought it best to summarize in list form.

Dislikes, in random order:

  • Auto- up/down power window is on the driver’s window only.
  • No rear air vents – for a 3-row SUV, this is behind the times.
  • iPod USB access awkward;  removable upper tray in the center console could get lost
  • XM reception is poor.  Audio cuts out occasionally, even without a bridge or obstruction overhead.
  • Fuel range on a full tank was still fewer than 400 miles
  • Volume knob is small.  Something so frequently needed should have a larger presence on the dashboard.
  • Center console is hard plastic and the cup holders are too far forward.  The should be moved back toward the driver, and the S-AWC button could be repositioned elsewhere since it isn’t likely to be used very often.
  • Styling of the front end isn’t my favorite; it would be better without the chrome whiskers.
  • The ECO gauge in the cluster isn’t really helpful.  The green bar dances around erratically and makes it tough to tell what it’s actually trying to tell me.
  • Can’t scroll to change “MODE” on radio while the vehicle is in movement (i.e. XM to AM to FM).
  • My left leg got bored.  I know this vehicle is offered as automatic-only (as are others in its class), but I just can’t enjoy a vehicle quite as much when I’m not kicking at a clutch pedal.


  • Power on tap.  Plenty of low-end torque.  I’d love to see this thing crawl up some red rocks in Moab, Utah.
  • Transmission gearing.  I’m glad this one doesn’t have a CVT.  Manual gear changes with the steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters were quick and responsive.
  • Turning radius.  For a larger vehicle, the Outlander can U-Turn well.
  • Adaptive cruise.   This would’ve been really handy on my cross-country trip to North Carolina a few weeks ago.  You can set the preferred distance between the Outlander and the vehicle it’s following.
  • Stereo.  I enjoyed the Rockford Fosgate system.  The built-in subwoofer packs plenty of punch.  In fact, I had to turn it down a bit.
  • Tech.  Navigation system is decent, but not totally intuitive.  Lane Departure Warning is handy, too, though I turned it off because the audible warnings became bothersome.  The two 12-volt accessory outlets are nice.
  • Visibility.  Nice all-around view of the road from the driver’s seat.
  • Ride height.  I like the step-in height and the “presence” of having a higher-up vehicle.
  • Ride quality.  Even when fully loaded, the Outlander was composed on rougher roads.  Also, it didn’t feel like it had a ton of body roll, which is impressive for a higher profile vehicle.
  • Safety.  In all, there are 7 airbags in the vehicle, including one for the driver’s knee.
  • Leather look & feel was very nice, and I liked the glossy ‘piano finish” of the instrument panel trim.  Even the steering wheel feels refined.  Nice fit & finish.


Nice back-up camera here on the 7″ screen, with trajectory lines for ease of parking!


Overall, the Outlander delivers where needs to.  From a utility, power, and technology perspective, it hits the mark dead-on.  With a few small improvements, this would be the perfect crossover for someone who needs a nice ride on the pavement and the capability for an occasional off-road adventure.  For anyone looking for a nice value SUV in the low $30’s, this is worth taking a peek at.  Many thanks to Mitsubishi for the vehicle loan!

The ILX got some junkyard duty today as I went seeking some Legend parts.


I’ve got a fun drive planned with the ILX tomorrow with friends to the Pima Air & Space Museum near Tucson, Arizona.  Stay tuned for a write-up on that in the coming days.  Meanwhile, enjoy these new videos of my younger brother Bentley’s 527-horsepower BMW M3 Turbo 6-speed.  I won’t be challenging him to a race in any of my Acuras any time soon.

Dyno video:

Drag racing, this morning in St. George, Utah.  Fastest run was a 12.80 second quarter mile at 120 miles per hour.

Makes me wonder what he could do with the ILX if I turned him loose with it (and had an unlimited budget for upgrades, of course).


Throwback Thursday: 1986 Legend Restoration

Posted in Legend, Throwback on September 19, 2013 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Legend):  526,959


Odometer (ILX):  54,228


Seeing a neglected Acura for me is like seeing a neglected stray dog or cat.  I have this compulsive reaction to want to bring them all home and nurse them back to health.  That’s why, in November 2003, I approached the owners of this Florence Blue Metallic 1986 Acura Legend sedan in St. George, Utah and asked them if they wanted to sell it.

A $200 purchase later, and my brother Payton and I drove away (in a puff of blue smoke) in this 210,000 mile 5-speed.


It surely needed a lot.  Aside from the obvious cosmetic issues, it needed some mechanical TLC.


Replacement CV axles were the first to go in.  A Saturday detail brought new life to the paint.


Then the real fun began.  I found a set of junkyard 1989-1990 Legend sedan wheels for it.


Over a 3-month period, this tired old Legend got a new stereo system, indiglo gauges (hey, they were all the rage in 2004!), fresh window tint, and JDM clear corner lenses up front. It hardly looked like the same car.


Oh yeah, I found that half-bra for the hood, too.  And we touched up the bumpers and added chrome to the grille.


It was a fancy ride for my brother during his sophomore year of high school.  When he upgraded to a 1996 Maxima, I took over the old Legend and drove it to northern Utah where I was then attending college.  I already had my 1994 Legend coupe, and parking was difficult to come by, so I found a new owner for the ’86.  It was sold in the fall of 2004 to this college student named Amy.  Here was the key hand-off.


As I recall, the car had about 225,000 miles on it by then.  I haven’t checked in on that old Legend in nearly 10 years now.  It could very well still be on the road, but I’m guessing it’s gone to that Acura graveyard in the sky.

Payton, btw, is now driving a Lexus IS300 turbo.  It’s a little faster than the 2.5 liter 1986 Legend.



In high mileage news, most of you probably saw by now that the 3-million-mile mark finally came and went for NY native Irv Gordon who bought his 1966 Volvo P1800 new.  Since that day, he’s driven the car through 49 states.  He completed his milestone on Alaska Highway 1 a couple of days ago.  Check out the article on Yahoo.  Congrats, Irv!

Acura ILX 2.4: Review by Tom Annino

Posted in ILX, Vehicle Reviews on September 18, 2013 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Legend):  526,959


Odometer (ILX):  54,148


This week, it’s been my pleasure to spend some time with a fellow Acura enthusiast and good friend of mine who’s visiting from Branford, Connecticut.  Tom came to the Phoenix area for some training with his employer.  I let him have some seat-time in the 2013 Acura ILX to find out his feedback on the car that I’ve been driving since June 2012.

Tom is a long-time Acura owner, having owned this 1992 Legend 5-speed coupe in the past.


He currently drives a 2006 TL 6-speed.


Below is his write-up.


My first extended drive in an ILX actually came as a completely unplanned event. I had some doubts about how much I would actually like driving the ILX at first, but those were quickly silenced after the first 100 feet or so of driving.

I should have never let myself discriminate against the newest entry level vehicle Acura offered so quickly without good reason to do so, what I got as a result was a “slap in the face” of sorts from the car itself for being so close minded and judgmental towards the newest “baby Acura.”

The ILX delivers on the one single most important quality that is shared by all Acuras:  “as soon as you step foot in one and depart on your way (regardless if you have never driven the car before or you have driven the same car for over a decade) you instantly become right at home and totally one with the vehicle. Unlike other cars, you do not just get into an Acura and operate it like you would any other mechanical device (like your lawn mower for instance); Acuras have always had a strange way of feeling like you wear them as an extension of your own body or your favorite suit. They just feel “right” instantly when you drive them, and it makes for a far more connected driving experience.


Due to the almost instant acclimation into the ILX, I was able to quickly get a good gauge on how well the actual powertrain functioned as a whole as well as its driving dynamics.  I have always been a fan of the K- series Honda/ Acura engines.  They offer a powerband that pulls well from low rpm until redline and at the same time execute it without the slightest hint of high rpm rasp or harshness that would lead one to believe that you might throw a rod or have the valves jump out of the head if you got too close to redline.  Fact: the K-series loves to rev, and the sound it makes doing so is also one of the best engine notes that you can get on the market from any 4-cyl manufacturer.

The icing on the cake is the addition of a slick shifting 6 speed manual gearbox that is buttery smooth and direct just like what one would come to expect from any Honda/Acura product.  The gearing is perfectly matched to always keep the motor in the powerband under hard acceleration, and around town in stop and go traffic the clutch is light with great feedback, making it easy to master quickly for even the most novice stick-shift drivers.


Now down to the bread and butter of what the most important feature of a vehicle is for me: the handling.  A car can have 2,000 horsepower and accelerate from 0-60 in something that would take about as long as it takes one to hit a preset button on the stereo, but if it can’t take a corner at speed without ending up wrapped around some stationary object on the side of the road then all that power and speed is just pointless.  Again, my pre-opinionated mindset was quickly silenced after the first “higher” speed sweeping bend.  The steering is not light, but perfectly weighted and offers excellent feedback from the front end.  The suspension setup is slightly firm, but never was harsh or jarring over rough surfaces as the current trend of modern cars tends to be heading. In addition, body roll is kept to a minimum, which can be an absolute buzzkill.  Finding out a car has a proper suspension that allows for a sporty feel without unneeded harshness, BUT as a result has such bad body roll that it feels like you’re in a canoe after someone in a power boat wakes you to see if you will fall over is one of the worst dampeners on a driving experience one will ever experience.  Luckily the ILX gets good marks for keeping body roll to a controlled minimum, in addition the quick steering ratio becomes the cherry on top making low speed cornering and parking maneuvers an enjoyable experience on themselves.


However, no car is without its faults, and while the ILX didn’t have too many blemishes to report, it did still have a few that left me disappointed.  The single biggest flaw in the ILX’s overall package is the complete LACK of ability to get a navigation, tech package, or fully equipped trim spec on the 2.4L 6-speed manual version.  I mean seriously, who had the bright idea to make a fun and affordable entry level luxury vehicle and not allow the manual transmission buyers to get an optional navigation system.  That is borderline automotive discrimination if I say so myself.  The reason this was such a big flaw for me was due to the fact that without a tech pack or navigation option on the manual trans ILXs, it went from being a possible next vehicle purchase to just another eliminated vehicle on a long list of possible choices.  My current vehicle (a 2006 Acura TL 6-speed with navigation) would only be replaced by a new car if it has the ability to be optioned out with the most powerful engine option, a manual gearbox, and the highest trim level (WITH NAVIGATION) available in all versions of the same vehicle.  Sadly, navigation is only available on the auto ILX, which I would never consider purchasing.  The only other major issue I found with the ILX was the loudness of the in-cabin exhaust note.  Now, don’t get me wrong, I love a nice healthy exhaust note from a car, and the ILX offers a great throaty sounding one from its 2.4 liter engine. HOWEVER, in an entry level luxury car I would expect the actual level of noise to be much less than what the ILX actually produces.  This makes conversation between front and back seat passengers a bit of a challenge on highway trips due to the slight exhaust drone.

Overall, I really liked what the ILX had to offer and fully enjoyed the driving experience.  I’m happy the newest baby Acura proved me wrong and ended up putting a nice smile on my face after a very tiring (and physically draining) morning of hiking a mountain… or 2.  After driving back to my hotel to get cleaned up after the nice morning workout, I quickly found out that the drive in the ILX had actually recharged my batteries and I felt surprisingly energized, almost like I had about 3 cups of morning coffee.  It’s definitely something I could get used to on a day to day basis; well done Acura, well done.


Thanks, Tom, for sharing your thoughts on the ILX with Drive to Five!

Anyone out there looking for an awesome road trip opportunity?  Try doing what the Martin family from Delaware did.  They took a 405-day, 67,000-mile journey in their RV to visit all 50 US states.  They journey concluded in July, but I just learned of it.  I loved checking out their write-ups & pictures, and I think you will too.  Check out this video on Yahoo.


And here’s a link to their website.

ILX Drive: Pinnacle Peak Hike

Posted in Arizona, Hikes, ILX on September 15, 2013 by tysonhugie

Odometer (ILX):  53,959


STILL 105?  Let’s get past summer, already!

It’s a relatively low mileage weekend, but I’m making up for the fact that August was an 8,000 mile month.  I feel like it’s okay for me to put the breaks on my hyper-mileage tendencies once in awhile.

This week, my friend Tom is in town from Branford, Connecticut for some training for his work.  It’s been fun to show him around the desert a little bit.  This morning, we headed out at 6:30 in the morning (when it was “only” 83 degrees) for a hiking trail in northeast Scottsdale, Arizona called Pinnacle Peak (red marker in the below map):



My other friends Paul and Brad came along for the ride, and we met up with my coworker (another Paul) for the 4-mile round-trip hike up this scenic mountain.


The parking lot at the trailhead was on the east side of the peak, and as we got closer to the mountain, we saw hikers zig-zagging up the face of the mountain.


It didn’t take long for us to start working up a sweat.  Paul J led the way at a pace that pretty aggressive!


We passed a lot of other hikers, some who were even running up the mountain.


At the highest point in the trail (2,889 feet), we paused for a group picture.


Look at that enthusiasm!  Paul J is up top, and the bottom row is (L to R):  Tyson, Paul W, Brad, and Tom.


From here, the trail dipped down a thousand feet or so, then started climbing back up again as we circled the peak and started up another one.  All the while, we were surrounded by gigantic saguaro cacti like the one pictured here.


Brad feeling victorious as we neared the end of the hike.  In all, it only took us about an hour and a half.


And finally, after having finished the hike, we were glad to get back into the ILX and rest our legs.  Brad is 6 foot 3 and commented that he still had ample head room in the back seat.  Way to go, engineers!


We took Brad’s car to breakfast at US Egg.  This is a 2013 Audi RS5.  It’s a 450-horsepower beast, powered by a 4.2 liter V8 engine.  I took my place in the back seat (which was snug, but not uncomfortable).


The exhaust note on this car is simply awesome.


My other friend Brian came over this weekend to show us his “new” 2008 G37 coupe 6-speed.  It’s just about the cleanest vehicle I’ve ever seen with 100,000 miles on it.


My Legend sedan came out to play for a little bit yesterday.


Out & about on Saturday night.


Tom took the wheel for a little while.  He is very accustomed to the Legend, having spent a great deal of time driving one back home.  He just recently got out of the Legend game and moved into a 2006 Acura TL 6-speed which he loves.


Stay tuned for a full review this week on the ILX that Tom has written up and submitted to Drive to Five.

Josh’s Blog: “TSX Travels”

Posted in Reader's Ride on September 11, 2013 by tysonhugie

Odometer (ILX):  53,786


Odometer (Legend):  526,888


Last month, you met an Acura driver who’s trying to steal the high-mileage crown from me – and in a much newer car than my 1994 Legend.  Josh from Boise was featured as a Reader’s Ride with his Diamond White Pearl 2005 Acura TSX.


Now, Josh has taken his Acura ownership to the next level by launching his own blog.  “TSX Travels” (follow the hyperlink) will capture Josh’s adventures in his high-mileage TSX as he travels all over the state of Idaho for work.

Make special note of his Maintenance Logs section where he’s posted in detail all the records on his car.  This should serve as an invaluable resource for others who have an Acura TSX and who are looking to achieve similar mileage.


Josh also plans to share pictures & stories about driving destinations within the great state of Idaho, since he spends so much time exploring the state’s scenic backroads.  You might even see a photo occasionally of the new 2013 Acura RDX that he just added to his family’s garage.

Stop on by TSX Travels to have a look at what Josh has been up to in his now-375,000-mile TSX!


ILX Drive: Colossal Cave in Vail, Arizona

Posted in Arizona, ILX, Road Trip on September 9, 2013 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Legend):  526,888


Odometer (ILX):  53,722


Trip Distance:  287 Miles


Let’s go underground!  This tagline from Roadside America best describes my Acura ILX destination this past weekend:

Shelter for Indians, possible site of lost bank robbery gold, and a name that perhaps raises expectations too high.

That’s about the gist of this offbeat landmark cave about 22 miles from Tucson, Arizona near the teeny town of Vail.  On a rainy Sunday morning, a few friends showed up with this wide assortment of luxury vehicles.

  • Jack’s 2002 Lexus IS300
  • Michael’s 1997 BMW 740iL
  • Ryan’s 2006 Acura TL
  • David’s 2000 Volkswagen Jetta (not pictured)


The rain didn’t keep us from undertaking a freeway drive to Tucson on Interstate 10 eastbound from the Phoenix area.  I was glad to have my new Michelin Pilots installed on the ILX.  Traction was good and I had plenty of control.  Ryan rode with me, Jack and David took the IS300, and Michael and Alex took the 740.


About halfway to Tucson, the rain finally let up a little and we made a fuel stop at Picacho Peak.  Michael’s 7-series is in phenomenal shape for being 16 years old and having over 1/4 million miles on it.  He takes a lot of pride in his BMW and it shows.


The ILX only took about 10 gallons of fuel to fill it up, and we were on our way yet again.


Soon, we knew we were getting close when we saw signs announcing our arrival near Exit 279.


We made it!


The attendant at the ‘ranger station’ collected $5 per vehicle for our entry into Colossal Cave Mountain Park.


We were welcomed with a fun, twisty one-lane road as we made our way toward the parking area.


The park offered a lot of amenities that we didn’t explore, including a museum, picnic areas, horseback trail rides, and a butterfly garden.  Ryan admired the ILX design and said that his favorite features were the steering wheel design & the seat comfort.


Nice looking lineup here.  The BMW and Lexus are chrome-free, while the front end of the ILX has plenty of “bling,” especially thanks to those new grille inserts I added to the front bumper with a chrome strip on them.


We walked directly to the gift shop to pick up our tour tickets for $13 per person.  This was the view that surrounded us in the parking lot:  Beautiful desert landscape dotted with saguaro cacti.  It made me wonder what it would’ve been like to be the first person to discover a cave in this area.  That’s what happened in 1879 to a man named Solomon Lick.  He was searching for stray cattle and discovered the opening to the cave.


We used this map to orientate ourselves with the various attractions.


As it turns out, there are various tours that can be taken of Colossal Cave.  The blue line was our ‘basic’ tour which lasted about 45 minutes.  There are other tours offered that are much more involved, including one that requires scaling a ladder and wearing a hard hat.  We didn’t feel quite that ambitious.


Michael and Alex looked exceptionally excited to be there.  The opening to the cave was once much smaller than it is today; it required crawling on hands and knees when it was originally discovered.


We climbed up and down various sets of steep stairs while we were inside the cave.  During the early 1930’s, the Civilian Conservation Corps created a pathway through the key areas of the cave and installed a handrail wherever necessary.  Lights have been placed in various places to illuminate the way.


Colossal is a “dry/dead” cave, which means that it’s no longer growing new stalactites (growing from the ceiling) or stalagmites (growing from the floor).  We weren’t allowed to touch the formations with our hands.  Those formations had took thousands of years to form, and the oils from human skin can cause permanent damage.


This formation was called the “silent waterfall.”  It’s easy to tell that this used to flow heavily with water that deposited calcium which over time created permanent rock icicles.


The cave was used between 900 and 1450 AD by the native Indian tribes of the area.  They left many remnants of their existence, including tools, weaponry, and other artifacts.  Parts of the ceiling show smoke stains, so we also know that they built fires inside.


Our total hike was about a mile and it was pretty easy to navigate with the help of our guide.  We had to duck our heads and watch our step several times.  The cave temperature averages 70 degrees year-round so it was comfortable, albeit humid.  Jack looked happy to be there.  “Go Detroit Lions!” he says.


The below landmark within the cave is called the “witch.”  The long, pointed rock resembles a nose, while the head clearly shows an eye socket and open mouth.  It is said that early cave adventurers used this formation to identify their location.


This device was measuring various conditions within the cave including temperature & humidity.


Within the cave also lies a mine shaft.  This was used to extract bat guano during the late 1800’s and also later used by the CCC to haul in the flagstone rocks that were assembled to make the floor that we walked on.


Here, I was standing in the “balcony.”  There was a 40-50 foot drop off behind me.  Early spelunkers had to lower themselves down into that area using ropes, but later a more developed trail was created that goes to those deeper levels of the cave.  The lowest point of our tour was about 70 feet below ground level.


When we exited the cave, our eyes were blinded by the sunlight.  They were blinded even further when my friend Will pulled up in his absolutely stunning pearl white 2011 Cadillac CTS-V Coupe.  I had to get my sunglasses out of the ILX before I could even open my eyes fully to look at it.


Will’s recent acquisition replaces his former “Red Jewel” Camaro SS.  The CTS-V is powered by a monster 6.2 liter Eaton-supercharged V8 engine delivering 556 horsepower.  Yes, you read that right.  This Cadillac has over double as many horses as my Acura ILX does.  Can you say “giddy up”?  I won’t challenge him to a car tug-of-war anytime soon.


Starting at $65k, the pricetag on one of these is also high enough to buy two Acura ILXs.


Pictured here are the car’s glossy obsidian black center console and “glide up” touch-screen navigation system.  In here, Will has access to a 10 GB hard drive for music storage, iPod connectivity, pause-and-play live radio, integrated rear vision camera and Bose surround sound system.  Entertainment galore.


This car even has a G-meter to measure and remember lateral acceleration!



Without even planning it, we had lined up the cars in descending order by horsepower.

  • Cadillac CTS-V:  6.2L V8 – 556 horsepower
  • BMW 740iL:  4.4L V8 – 282 horsepower
  • Lexus IS300:  3.0L I6 – 215 horsepower
  • Acura ILX:  2.4L I4 – 201 horsepower

We’d worked up an appetite after our underground adventure.  Lunch was at a place on Oracle Road in Tucson called Guero Canelo.  It’s famous for hot dogs, but the “caramelo” (basically a quesadilla w/ meat in it) was absolutely delicious.


Headed back to the Phoenix area, Ryan and I had a Legend sedan sighting at Tangerine Road.  This is a 1991 Golden Glow Pearl LS.  It’s a rare one-year-only color.


Michael’s BMW turned over 280,000 miles just east of Tucson on Interstate 10.


By the time we got back to Scottsdale, the blue skies were back.  Ryan’s 2006 Acura TL was looking fantastic and he takes great pride in keeping it that way.


Thanks to all who joined for the road trip, either in person or via the blog!


Posted in Legend on September 8, 2013 by tysonhugie

Odometer (ILX):  53,722


I love dumpster diving.  For car parts, that is.  For some reason, the idea of scavenging through hundreds of junked cars is fun to me.  Maybe it’s because I see it as a sort of treasure hunt.  You never know what you’re going to find hidden in a glove box, a trunk, or an engine bay.

I hit up a local junkyard with some friends yesterday and spotted over 40 Acura Legends at “Ecology” in Phoenix, located near 35th Avenue & Broadway Road.  It costs $2 for entry, and you have to provide your own tools.  Talk about a Legend gold mine!  Joe was looking for some parts for his Cashmere Silver Metallic 1995 Legend LS coupe, so Paul and I picked him up in the ILX and headed that way.


En route to find some goods!


I could’ve wandered around Ecology for hours.  We found some really neat color combinations of Legends.  One of them was this rare (1995-only) Garnet Red Metallic.  In person, it looks more purple than anything else.


Check out the racing stripes on this 1st generation Legend coupe!


And this Legend sedan in custom blue would be pretty tough to miss!


My favorite part was the blue flame seat cover.  That adds a few horsepower, right?


The highest mileage Legend in the yard had 307,000 miles.


That odometer belonged to this 1992 L Sedan automatic:


Every Legend we saw, in fact, was an automatic.  Joe did end up finding the parts he was looking for.  He pulled a fender off this Phoenix Red 1991 L coupe.  I loved how the door panel was holding up the hood.


Then, he pulled a passenger side headlight out of this Milano Red 1993 L coupe.  A 10 mm socket is just about all you need to really have a heyday pulling parts off a Legend, we learned.


Success!  As Joe holds up his prizes for the day.


I posted pictures of the rest of the Legends we saw that day in the Legends in Junkyards thread.

This weekend I checked on the rooftop durability test fleet, my set of 6 diecast 1:18 scale model cars that have been sitting near my chimney at home for a couple of years.

The Maserati 3200GT, as it looked 2.5 years ago in April 2011.


Maserati 3200GT now.


The ’57 Nomad has seen better days, too.  Here is the car 2.5 years ago.


And today.


That Phoenix sun really is brutal on auto finishes!

Tomorrow’s feature will include a fun weekend drive in the ILX to a place near Tucson, Arizona called “Colossal Cave.”  The name invokes high expectations, but did the attraction deliver?  Find out next time.


Until then, check out this gorgeous “A-Spec” ILX rendering by Dillon.  The wheels, exhaust system, and taillights are stunning.  If only Acura would build such an option package!


Guest Article: Canyon de Chelly National Monument

Posted in Arizona on September 5, 2013 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Legend):  526,847


Odometer (ILX):  53,191


A colleague author, Eve Pearce, reached out to me about submitting some content for Drive to Five.  Eve did a great job capturing the highlights of one of Arizona’s top travel destinations in a write-up that she put together.

Canyon de Chelly (pronounced “de-SHAY”) National Monument is located 300 miles northeast of the Phoenix area in rural Arizona.  I haven’t yet made it out to Canyon de Chelly, but I did get pretty close on my trip home from Durango in the ILX in May.

Enjoy Eve’s write-up and stay tuned because now I’m itching to make it out to this place soon!  Photos are courtesy of Google Images.


Road Tripping to Canyon de Chelly National Monument

Of all of the beautiful places to road trip and travel to around Arizona, one of the most scenic is Canyon de Chelly. Within these canyons, the Navajo have lived here for almost 5,000 years surrounded by four distinct sacred mountains. The unique part about this area is that it is made up of Navajo Tribal Trust Land. However, the US National Park Service works closely with the Navajo Nation in order to keep Canyon de Chelly sustainable for both the established community and visitors.


The Scenic Landscape

Canyon de Chelly National Monument is made up of nearly 84,000 acres and consists of three distinct canyons total. Monument Canyon and Canyon Del Muerto come together with Canyon de Chelly. Along with temperatures reaching well over 100 degrees during the summertime, the floors of the canyons remain flat with walls towering a massive 1,000 feet.

With the sharp changes in elevation, both weather and temperatures can change rapidly while visiting. For instance, during the winter time, temperatures within the canyon can range between 40 and 60 degrees with the possibility of snow showing up in the wintertime and sudden rainstorms in the summer. Because of this, it’s always important to be prepared for any type of weather when visiting.

Arizona-Canyon De Chelly-02

The Gorgeous Drives

Road trip to Canyon de Chelly for is an exciting adventure that is unlike anything else you may have experience before. You can do so by traveling off of US Route 191. It is located slightly over an hour north of the town of Chambers and is a 5 hour drive Northeast of Flagstaff. There are both a North and South Rim Drive, which offer majestic views of Puebloan ruins and jaw-dropping canyons. Driving on South Rim Drive leads to views of Spider Rock, two 750 foot spires that are very important to the Navajo people. According to Navajo legend, the taller of the two spires are said to be home to the Spider Woman.


The Dine’ Tah Scenic Road is also available to drive along and is just over 100 miles long. This road will take around 3 hours to drive one way. The phrase “Dine’ Tah” means “Among the People.” This road gives visitors a much better idea of what life was like in this area many centuries ago. Along with views of art and former dwellings, visitors can check out St. Michael’s Mission, which was one of the first schools in the area for the Navajo. As it stands now, it has a museum with ancient artifacts on display for viewing.


White House Trail

While visitors do not have to pay to visit the park, most areas are restricted for exploring unless accompanied by a Navajo guide and permit. However, the overlooking views along the rim and White House Trail are free to explore unsupervised. Along this trail, visitors can see amazing ruins that date back to 1200 A.D. Known as the White House Ruins, these are some of the oldest throughout the entire park.

While White House Trail is only a 2 and a half miles long, it is somewhat steep and typically takes visitors between 30 and 60 minutes to make their way down. Despite this difficulty, there is no doubt that the scenery is quite beautiful on the way to the ruins. You will pass an orchard, a farm, cross a stream, and see plenty of cacti and lizards as you descend to the canyon floor.


Camping at Canyon de Chelly

For visitors looking to extend their stay and camp overnight, there are two options available: Cottonwood Campground and Spider Rock Campground. Although there are two chain hotels located within Chinle, there is nothing quite like going to sleep with the sounds of nature and waking up to the gorgeous sunrise while overlooking the canyon floor down below.

Keep in mind that both campsites vary in terms of what is and is not allowed. For instance, while Cottonwood only features a group area for campfires, Spider Rock has open fire pits at each campsite. The next time you’re looking to road trip around Arizona, it is highly recommended that you travel northeast and visit Canyon de Chelly National Monument. Not only are the views spectacular, but there is plenty of history to be learned and it is a great area to meet and talk to the Navajo people.

– By Eve Pearce