MASERATI GRANTURISMO CONVERTIBLE
ENGINE: 4.7 LITER, V-8, 433 HORSEPOWER
SPEED: 0-60: 5.3 SECONDS, 176 MPH TOP SPEED
BRAKES: 4-WHEEL VENTILATED BREMBO SYSTEM CROSS-DRILLED BRAKE DISCS
SOUND SYSTEM: BOSE SURROUND SOUND SYSTEM WITH 12 SPEAKERS
PRICES: BASE PRICE $138,600; AND AS EQUIPPED $143,000

Live in the fast lane with the 2013 Maserati GranTurismo Convertible.

Among the super exotics, Maserati tends to the more practical, but with plenty of pep. Witness the four-door quattroporte sedan for combining power with useful room and carrying capacity.

The newly redone GranTurismo Convertible follows in a similar vein. Power is plentiful and provided by a 4.7 liter V-8, generating 433 horsepower. Transmission of power goes through a six-speed full automatic with shifts being handled completely automatically or gear through gear with the gearshift lever or with huge carbon fiber paddles mounted behind the steering wheel. Zero to 60 time is 5.3 seconds with a top speed of 176 miles per hour. But the telling moment of this exotic is the engine start up with its deep, throaty sound.

As soon as the idle drops to normal, the sound is more muted unless the throttle is opened up to more than 3000 rpm.

Yet with all this performance, the rock solid body handles with sport car efficiency and cornering capability. For hyper performance, a press of the sports button tightens the suspension and holds gears longer for greater acceleration handling. In the normal mode, the all-independent suspension soaks up the worst of Honolulu pavement with ease.

Styling clearly speaks of classic Maserati with its large and distinctive open mouth grill and flowing clean lines. And, of course, one cannot forget the three “exhaust” openings on the front fenders, and the giant 20-inch wheels. All and all, a nice looking combo.

On the other side of the equation, accommodations are both luxurious and completely accommodating. Leather and wood are spread throughout. Multiple choices of real woods are available as well as many different colors of double-stitched leather for the other surfaces.

All the other well-appointed accessories are in play. An easy-to-use large video screen is found in the center of the dash. With a push of various buttons, everything from 3-D navigation to stereo functions can be easily controlled. In the dash pod, a smaller video screen provides hard data on mileage, trips, and graphs showing obstacles when moving in tight spaces. A dual automatic climate system handles temperature concerns. A Bose stereo system with 12 speakers provides a deep throbbing sound, if needed.

Unlike many sports cars, the rear seats of the GranTurismo are for real people. Pull a handle on the front seat, and it rolls forward out of the way permitting easy entrance to the rear quarters. Air vents and an armrest with cup holders add to the comfort level. Tougher, however, is handling luggage, since the trunk is on the very small side.

But the greatest fusion for this sports car in a practical world is the “fun in the sun” button. Th e three-layered convertible soft top is raised, or more importantly, lowered with a push of button. Within 20 seconds or so, the top goes completely into the body. Th en you have the glory of being in the Hawaiian sun with V-8 vroom exiting the four giant exhaust pipes. Life, as they say, is good…

In for the LONG HAUL

A little-known fact is that the bestselling vehicle in the United States is a truck. In fact, the first two best sellers are trucks, and not by a little. The top dog Ford F series sold more than 300,000 units than the first place car.

There are a couple of the reasons for this feat. First, trucks are no longer simply utilitarian vehicles, and secondly, there are so many variations of body sizes and powertrain combinations that any need can be filled.

Added to this is that all the big players have just introduced news models. Last year, Ford restyled their best-seller and added small V-6 engines and turbo-charged V-6s with the power of V-8s. For the 2014 model year, Chevy and GMC will be restyled will smaller powerplants and engines that turn off at stops and restart when the light changes. Finally, the Toyota Tundra will introduce its redone large pickup in 2014.

The days of a drab interior and lack of options in the pickup world are gone. Typical of this genre is the truck of the year, Ram 1500 Laramie Longhorn Crew Cab. Besides the big hemi 5.7 liter V-8 with a 6-speed automatic transmission, there is a huge rear cabin accessible from the rear doors. Add a few options like a trailer hitch, chrome steel bed rails, side steeps, a tri-fold bed cover or all-wheel drive, and the price tag hops to about $50,000.

Bottom line in the truck world … imagine any need from hauling old plumbing parts to pulling your ski boat, and there is a truck available.