Archive for the ‘Automotive reviews’ Category
A recent drive in Manhattan in a Hyundai Sonata Hybrid with my buddy Sekou. At SimplyRides.com!
Another take on social media in the world of cars at JeanKnowsCars.com.
My first piece for Redbook! We give a list of the cars that fit your needs!
A drifting lesson in the new Jaguar XJ and XF on a snow track in Canada.
The woman behind the new Corvette’s interior!
This baby has bragging rights! 2014 Aston Martin Vanquish
By HOLLY REICH
Special to Bumper to Bumper
If you drive around in a 2013 Jeep Wrangler two-door with a canvas top you can expect to get a lot of second looks. The experts agree. For the third year in a row, the Wrangler was the ‘Hottest 4×4 SUV’ at the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) trade show in Las Vegas.
Our test vehicle was a glossy black Wrangler Moab Edition. On the outside, the Moab is super confident looking. Features like the iconic round headlamps, a bold seven-slot grille, removable doors, exposed hinges, a fold-down windshield and 17.5-inch black painted aluminum wheels and flat black fender flares, are what separates the Jeep Wrangler from any other auto on the road.
Style carries into the simple but eye-catching cabin of the Wrangler. Our Moab edition had cushy black leather seats and high-end additions including a chrome and leather wrapped shift knob. As for the back seat— it was totally do-able if you don’t mind hauling yourself up and in. Obviously, the two-door version Wrangler is not your ride if you have kids with car seats.
This is a vehicle to have fun in. The three-section canvas top offers a choice of open-air experiences. Peel off the front portion and have a sunroof, or heft the whole top back to make your Jeep into a convertible.
While you can’t expect the Jeep Wrangler to ride like a luxury SUV, you can expect it to cover all kinds of ground, from crowded city streets to uncharted off-road areas. The Wrangler is not your sedan-like cushy ride. It would not be my choice if I wanted a low mileage ride (mpg is 17-mpg city and 21-mpg highway) and I drove long distances on a daily basis. So, it’s not my choice for a vehicle that I would drive long distances on a daily basis.
However, if you crave adventure, want a vehicle that is easy to load up with groceries or gear, and you desire the joy of a convertible with the heft of a Jeep, the Wrangler rules.
Pricing starts at $22,195 for the Sport and goes up to $30,495 for the Rubicon.
By HOLLY REICH
Special to Bumper to Bumper
I have attended several of Volvo’s Midsommar Drives. They happen around the time of the summer solstice (in mid-July) in places that are as enchanting as Sweden. This year the Midsommar celebration and the launch of the 2013 Volvo S60 T5 AWD, was held in Park City, Utah. Our 209-mile round trip test drive took us to Evanston, Wyoming over varying terrains that included highway, open plains with wide turns and stretches of open road, high altitude passes and small towns. In other words—a virtual paradise for an automotive journalist.
We stayed at the majestic Stein Erikson Lodge, a 30-year-old Forbes Five Star resort located at Deer Valley Resort (altitude 8,200 feet). It is a few minutes from Park City, Utah, an eclectic and well-heeled enclave where you will find funky second-hand shops, an abundance of outdoor cafes and cowboy stores with engraved boots costing upwards of $1,000.
The area is known for year-round perfect weather outdoor sports and the acclaimed Sundance Film Festival. Park City also hosted the Winter Olympics in 2002, and the remaining Olympic Park is a training center for Olympic athletes as well as a play ground for visitors who want to experience a multi-tude of extreme sports including zip-lining, luge and trick skiing.
THE S60 T5 AWD
The Volvo S60 is the company’s volume leader, and this is the first time that the company is offering up their AWD on its lower priced model. The 2013 S60 small sedan is going into its third year, and the optional AWD is a feature that customers have been asking for. The 5th generation Haldex AWD is also smaller in size and lighter by five pounds, adding to better fuel economy at 29 mpg on the highway. Along with that, Volvo added in two more inches of rear seat legroom and made City Safety a standard. City Safety, which made its debut on the Volvo XC60, is a driver support system that helps prevent a collision with a vehicle ahead.
Proclaimed the “Volvo with an attitude,” the four-door coupe has a slim roofline and sculpted shoulders with LED lighting technology that creates distinctive light streams in the front and the rear.
At the heart of the S60 T5 is a 2.5-liter turbocharged five-cylinder engine. In addition to faster gear changes in sport mode, the acceleration from 0-60 mph has decreased from 6.8 seconds to 6.4 seconds. Other standards include: rain sensor windshield wipers, headlight washers, dual polished exhaust pipes and an abundance of safety features that are the hallmark of Volvo’s history.
Corner Traction Control by Torque Vectoring is a technology that helps improve handling by redistributing torque to the outer wheel to help steer the car around a turn. This feature operates on the front wheels for the S60 T5 and both the front and rear wheels for the S60 T6 AWD.
Another driver assistance system that debuted on the S60 is the optional Pedestrian Detection with Full Auto Brake. Volvo’s radar- and camera-based system can detect pedestrians in front of the car, warn the driver if anyone walks out into its path and then automatically activate the S60′s full braking power if the driver fails to respond in time. The system can avoid a collision at speeds up to 22 mph. But overall, what we respect about the quintessentially Swedish Volvo is its refined simplicity. On the interior, there is a sense of airiness but not business. A floating center stack that houses the controls has a pass through behind it that holds everything from cell phones to purses. The seats, designed like Swedish furniture–functional yet beautifully simple–are molded to fit your back.
Midsommar is the Scandinavian festival held each summer as a celebration of life, passion, good fortune and the summer solstice.
The Swedish celebration of the summer solstice, the longest day of the year, is an event celebrated since pagan times. In a northern land where the sun barely rises during the dark snowy winter, summer is a season to celebrate the sun, sing and dance, eat local foods and knock back shots of aquavit (a distilled liquor flavored with spices such as dill, cardamom, fennel and caraway).
In Volvo tradition, we sat at a long table decorated with flowers and were served family-style with platters of herring with mustard sauce, strong cheeses, potatoes with butter and dill, shrimp salad, heaps of brown bread, strawberries with freshly whipped cream and bowlfuls of meatballs and fresh salmon.
One of our favorite ways to test a car a car is to drive it in variety of scenes. The S60 T5 took to high altitudes with gusto, maneuvered like butter in the city, was able to hold lots of gear in its ample trunk and was smooth and compliant on the highways. Truthfully, this new Volvo delivered more than we expected. We think that the addition of AWD will seduce potential buyers.
PRICING: All-Wheel Drive with Instant Traction can be added to any S60 T5 as a stand-alone $2,000 option.
Don’t fret age spots and frown lines. Instead of going under the knife, take that money and buy a new car. It’s less invasive and loads more fun!
Shiny New Wheels, Shiny New Outlook
In the book, “The Five Minute Facelift: A Daily Program for a Beautiful, Wrinkle-Free Face,” there are 21 exercises designed to strengthen the muscles around your throat, mouth, eyes, eyebrows and forehead. That’s one way to plump up your look.
Then again, one can always indulge in a pair of shoes like Carrie Bradshaw did on “Sex and the City.” Manolo’s worked miracles for her. But, when you’re talking facelift, it’s often something along the lines of tucks, lifts, injections, silicon, laser, dermabrasion or…whatever.
But honestly, as long as you’re going all out, why not buy a new car? Nothing can pump up your looks like a brand new shiny piece of metal or aluminum that fits the proportions of your personality.
We picked six new luxury vehicles that run the gamut from sedan to SUV. Driving these head turners made us feel younger, happier, more energetic and beautiful. We realize that not everybody can spin for the latest model but a girl can dream, right?
2013 LX570 5 DR SUV
First of all, this SUV has room for seven. In other words, it will go to Costco, tow your speedboat and heft your brood of kids…in fine style. Step up to the illuminated running board that leads into a leather and wood trimmed cabin with that calm Lexus interior that speaks good taste. For the back seat there’s dual-screen rear seat entertainment. For the driver—expect plenty of oomph behind the hefty V8 engine with 383-hp. and 403 lb.-ft. of torque. We’re talking big, brawny and beautiful.
Priced from $80,930
2013 Volvo S60 T6 AWD
Think Scandinavian—feminine, feisty and well designed. Volvo’s new generation sedan has AWD so that it holds up in any weather. Plus, it kicks it up mountains with a turbocharged engine that sips 18 mpg in the city and 25 on the highway. Yes, you are a competent Mom and value the safety that Volvo stand for. However, even the guys at Motor Trend say that that the Volvo S60 “looks damn sexy.” Of course we care about that. To note, this Volvo looks good coming and going. The back end sprouts dual polished exhaust pipes.
Priced from $42,950.
2012 Jaguar XJ Supersport
OMG, this sedan moves like silk and feels like money. A quiet cabin, lit with pools of phosphorescent blue light, has stitched leather seats, touches of carbon fiber and a vast glass roof. With the JaguarDriveSelector (a knob that rises up when you start the engine) one chooses the drive function by rotating the control with fingertips. (BTW, the inspiration for the rotating button was the grip on a Leica camera lens.) The 510 hp supercharged V8 kicks 0-60 in 4.7 seconds and tops out at 174 miles per hour. Our test model added in a luscious purple felt lined glove box and center console.
Priced from $111,200.
2013 Infiniti G37 Convertible
What a surprise! This is the vehicle that racecar enthusiasts buy for the fun of it. Talk about turning heads! This convertible is all about slim lines—even the three-piece retractable hard top is seamless. A Bose adaptive audio system automatically adjusts when the top is down so you can sing along to your favorites. The cabin is embellished with silk aluminum or maple trim. We liked the Pacific Sky Light Blue with a wheat leather and maple interior. Anchored by a V6 325 horsepower engine, this convertible kept us way ahead of the pack.
Priced from $47,200
2012 Range Rover Evoque
BAM! This is the smallest, lightest, most fuel efficient Range Rover ever produced and it comes in a coupe or five-door. All we can say is, whether you plan to ford wide streams or just tool around the city, the turbo-charged Evoque is adorable, quick on its feet and made us feel like a kid again. We loved the panoramic glass roof! The Evoque can be ordered up in standout colors including Colima Lime Metallic, Havana Metallic (brown) and Mauritius Metallic (Blue).
Priced from $43,995
2013 Cadillac XTS
This new sedan looks like it just came off the drawing board of the future. Cadillac’s newest incarnation breathes seduction with satin chrome exterior appointments, 20-inch aluminum wheels, illuminated door handles and sharp lines. The cabin has a choice of interior colors that range from caramel to light platinum with wood trim and leather seats. Sound comes from a 14-speaker Bose surround system and a heads-up display appears in color on the windshield. When you order an XTS, you get an iPad to learn about how to use CUE. That’s Cadillac’s touch-screen entertainment/navigation system that has all kinds of whizz technology.
Priced from $44,075
~ Holly Reich
As seen in VroomGirls.com
By HOLLY REICH
For the launch of five 2013 Audi vehicles in Colorado this past June, journalists received iPads before the event. This wasn’t a gift for the sake of turning our heads. The iPads were loaded with the visual presentation and the press kits for the Audi A4, S4, A5, S5 and allroad.
Considering that these days communication is all about technology, this was in par with Audi’s progressive initiative. As one of the team members explained to me, information for future launches could be sent to our iPads instead of loading us down with huge press kits or miniature thumb drives.
These days, it’s almost a blemish on an auto company if they don’t incorporate iPad or iPhone technology into their cars. For example, the Mercedes-Benz M-Class offers a backseat iPad dock that rotates 90 degrees and tilts for optimal screen viewing. The 2013 Cadillac XTS is giving away an iPad with each purchase that explains the technology of their CUE interactive system. Most new cars can have seamless iPhone interaction.
We were interested to know about Audi’s “Story of Progress” (the name of the event), so we asked Loren Angelo, General Manager of Marketing Strategies to elaborate.
What’s Audi’s connection with the iPad?
“Advanced technology has always been at the heart of the Audi DNA. As a tech-forward brand, we’re constantly in pursuit of new, more efficient solutions both on and off the road. We know that potential buyers own smartphones, and as such, we’re taking advantage of the opportunity to reach those potential customers where they are by making mobile a priority, ensuring that Web sites are compatible with mobile, designing apps and incorporating ads within existing platforms. We have integrated iPads into our showrooms and industry events and have several interactive iPad applications – available for download in the iTunes App Store – designed to help customers easily find rich content in a convenient and entertaining way. For us, the iPad is the most relevant and fresh way to deliver information currently.”
Any new marketing initiatives for 2012/2013?
(Audi has offered up some remarkable advertising initiatives in the last couple of years. For the 2011 Super Bowl, Audi featured the A8 sedan in the spot, ‘Release the Hounds,’ which followed two inmates as they attempted to break out of a luxury prison with background music by sax man Kenny G.)
“We just launched a new ad campaign, A4 ‘Chirp.’ With the momentum of the Audi brand and the selection by A4 owners as top in initial quality, it’s a testament to the success of the brand and a reference to the all new lineup of B-segment vehicles coming to the market. With the introduction of the new RS 5 and S6, S7 and S8 coming in these next few weeks, Audi will be establishing a strong marketing campaign to announce the progressive performance solutions that are engineered for the driver. The new S Models will be a brand priority for the remainder of 2012 and 2013. Be sure to be on the lookout for new marketing initiatives.”
Any interesting partnerships?
Ducati brings some charisma and pizzazz to the company. North America is Ducati’s largest market. At the beginning of July 2012, Ducati set a new record for North American sales, with 10,094 units sold over the past 12 months and reported a 26-percent Q2 gain over the same period in 2011.
Any styling changes that you think will appeal to a younger audience?
“For 2013, Audi has refreshed its B Segment models, including the A4/S4, A5/S5 and allroad. Several changes to the exteriors and interiors give the vehicles a more sporty, aggressive and youthful look (for a younger and more affluent buyer). These changes include: sharper lines along the sides and down the hoods, wider front air intakes and shoulder lines, more prominent grilles and wheels and reshaped LED headlights that glow with more shine and intensity.”
The 2013 Audi has updated interior appointments using stainless steel mesh inlays with Piano Black finishes, new touches of chrome, and revised seat and steering wheel shapes. And a trend that’s way overdue: Audi cabins are merging color concepts. For example, Audi is pairing a beige seat with a brown dash and employing more luxurious appointments like layered oak finishes. Audi Connect, the third infotainment update, has direct access to a Google map database and viewing abilities that make it possible to navigate around the vehicle and down side streets.
The company is planning strategies for growth by keeping a high loyalty and premium image with consistent marketing, expanding its portfolio, stabalizing incentives and focusing on customer experience.
Audi’s strategy is working. In a recent J.D. Power and Associates APEAL study, the 2012 Audi A8 received the award for the Most Appealing Larger Premium Car and the overall best performing model. The 2012 Audi A6 received the Most Appealing Midsize Premium Car.
With the allroad returning for the first time since 2005, Audi is going to be gaining some new footage in the crossover market. I won’t say to stay tuned. Audi knows how to keep its audience involved. However, I will say this: watch where Audi goes next.
~ Focus Daily News