Hyundai Venue Is A Great Starter Car

In a world were folks are clamoring for crossovers and SUVs, the Hyundai Venue delivers a compact affordable option designed for young drivers. It’s bold two-tone paint option remind me of a Range Rover, yet you can get a well equipped new Venue for less than $20,000. With it for the price point, your kids will love the 8” touchscreen infotainment center with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. You will love the fact that it comes standards with the latest safety equipment, which includes lane-keep assist, automatic emergency braking, and a blind spot warning. With level of style, easy of drivability, and standard equipment, I challenge you to find a better used car for $20,000. Plus it comes with a 5-year 60,000 mile warranty.

2021 Jaguar F-Type: More Refined Than Ever

It is hard not to love the Jaguar F-Type, especially the 2021 F-Type convertible. It has everything you want in a daily driver grand touring car. And now, it is even better: The lines are more sculpted, interior offers large screens, it has better technology, and the car is seemingly more ferocious behind the wheel.

The Jaguar F-Type is in every possible way, a true gentleman’s car. Jaguar is known to be driven by bad boys, but I could just as easily see James Bond driving around in one.

Under the hood of my 2021 test car is a death defying 380 horsepower supercharged V6. However it is also available with a 575 5.0L V8 that will outpace even the most ruthless villains. And to help you drive like the hero of your own James Bond film, it comes with torque vectoring. This F1 derived piece of technology uses a computer to individually control braking at each wheel while going around a corner. The end result is improved control at high speeds.

The interior of the Jaguar F-Type is naturally dressed in leather and aluminum. Cockpit style gauges and controls beautifully wrap around the driver. It creates a very comfortable environment for the driver, no matter if you are cruising along on a country road or sitting in rush hour traffic. Two large displays, one on the dash and one on the center console, provide all of the details needed for a spirited or leisurely drive. Thanks to an even larger infotainment display than the previous generation, you can have two windows open on the screen. This comes in very handy while both navigating and changing the satellite radio station.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the Jaguar F-Type’s exhaust note. The roadster sounds as good as it looks. In fact, it sounds better than anything else in its price class, especially the V8. The snarling exhaust, combined with the ease of driving and its magnetic looks make the 2021 Jaguar F-Type one of the best daily driver roadsters that money can buy. Even at the $65,000 starting price tag. However, if you have the coin, the $85,000 V6 or the $105,000 V8 are the better buys.

The Ultimate Laborer’s Pickup Truck: RAM 1500 EcoDiesel

Happy Labor Day from the USA! Pickup trucks started life as common work vehicles, but they have more recently evolved into the preferred luxury vehicle for well-to-do blue collar workers, as well as white collar works who don’t mind getting themselves dirty.

One of my most recent test vehicles was the 2020 RAM 1500 Limited EcoDiesel. It is the most luxurious truck on the market; it is in a league of its own. So I am not quite sure if I should compare it to other trucks or a big luxury sedan designed for heads of state, like the Mercedes-Benz S-Class. To be fair, this is a $72,000 pickup truck.

Like you would expect on a luxury sedan or suv, the 2020 RAM 1500 Limited that I tested featured a cabin wrapped in leather: on the dash, doors, seats, steering wheel, and armrests. The seats are both heated and cooled. Wood trim is tastefully presented on the dash and doors. Additionally, fancy stitching in unique patterns brings an arguably new level of sophistication for a 4X4. I personally think the stitching is a little much, but I think buyers of this truck will like it.

The vehicle is enhanced with the latest technology: a gigantic touch screen infotainment display, 360 degree cameras for parking, automatic emergency braking. Oh and by the way, the truck can use computers to park itself.

Also like you would expect on a luxury sedan or SUV, the 2020 RAM 1500 Limited EcoDiesel has adjustable ride height and comfort settings. You can raise the entire truck for off-road use, you can raise the back for hauling a trailer, you can lower the truck to make it easier to get into, or soften the suspension for a comfortable ride. When at highway speeds the RAM 1500 Limited will automatically lower itself in order to improve fuel economy.

The $5,000 optional 3.0L EcoDiesel V6 powertrain on my test vehicle supplied me with nearly unlimited driving range, at 32 mpg with an unusually large gas tank. The engine only has 260 horsepower, but it delivers 480 pounds of torque.

Because this is in fact a pickup truck designed for work, RAM made sure the 1500 Limited can get the job done. It can be optioned to have full off-road capabilities, complete with a low-speed four-wheel-drive system. You can also two up to 12,750 pounds.

And in case you missed geometry class, there is a job site cheat sheet hidden underweight the center console’s storage compartment.

So whether you are a blue collar laborer building homes, or a white collar worker who needs to haul his boat to the lake, you can get the job done in luxury and style.

Unsolicited Bonus: As a thank you to all of the laborers who build this country’s homes, office buildings, and infrastructure, RAM Trucks is offering a sales event of up to $4,500 off the price of a 2020 RAM 1500.

Genesis G70, G80, and G90 Comparison

This year, I have been lucky enough to try all three Genesis sedans. The G70, G80, and G90. Each one was put through their respective paces, based upon performance, luxury, and value.

GENESIS G70

This car has its sights set on performance. Its closest competitor is the BMW 3-Series, however the regular 3-Series has grown soft. Whereas Genesis has gone full-throttle with delivering an engaging driver experience. You get actual feel through the steering wheel and drivetrain to create a symbiotic relationship between the drive and vehicle.

There isn’t an M offering for the G70, but 365 horsepower with the 3.3L twin-turbo V6 is more than adequate for the average sports sedan enthusiast. And for quicker lap times, plus stability on road, the G70’s all-wheel-drive system is available with F1 derived torque vectoring. The system dynamically transfers power independently between each wheel to help you turn faster. My test car was peppy and fun to drive.

This is the Genesis to get if you want a sporty, but semi-luxurious ride on your daily commute.

GENESIS G90

With an interior that is equally attractive from the front as it is the rear, the Genesis G90 is the car to get for a true luxury experience. Front occupants will be able to drive the vehicle effortlessly, while rear occupants will be able lounge in style. It is a car that I would almost rather be chaffered in than drive. The Genesis G90 makes a great alternative to the Mercedes S-Class sedan, particularly if you want a car this size without having to spend $100,000. The G90 starts fully equipped at $72,950 with a V6 engine. Or you can get 5.0L V8 engine for just $79,200. The engine size if your only paid option, everything else is standard equipment options.

My test vehicle offered a ride supple enough that I could drive across the English channel, and still be refreshed enough to take the Queen out to lunch.

This is the car to get if you will be driven often or you will be driving clients around town. It is a status symbol without the status symbol price tag.

GENESIS G80

If I were to spend my cold hard cash on a Genesis, it would be this one. With a recently updated exterior and interior for the 2021 model year, the Genesis’ G80 charismatic good looks will be sticking around for a while. Future model years will likely have minimal updates. My test vehicle was the 2020 model, which carried a near identical style since 2013. That previous 7 year run should also mean that the new 2021 Genesis G80 will hold its value well over time.

The 2020 G80 that I tested was the perfect size car. Not too big, where it feels like you are driving a boat. And not too small, where you can’t stretch your legs. It is kind of the perfect blend of sportiness and comfort. It seems like Genesis took the best from both the G70 and G90 in this case. But in actuality, the G80 was on the market long before the G70 or the G90.

In my mind, the Genesis G80 securely squares off with the Audi A6. But at a starting price of around $47,000, the Genesis G80 is priced at nearly $10,000 less for similar equipment. And you arguably get a better looking car with the G80.

The entire line up can be explored here – https://www.genesis.com/us/en/genesis.html

The Bolt… It’s Electric!

2018 Chevrolet Bolt EV

There is no doubt that electric cars are taking over. Tesla started the modern day electric war, but GM was the first to give us an everyday affordable EV – one that you could theoretically use as one an only car.

I want to stress affordable and only car in previous statement, because yes the Nissan Leaf is affordable, but its range is poor. The Leaf will go only go 124 miles per charge. BMW’s and Smart’s options are not any better. The Chevy Bolt on the other hand will go 238 miles per charge. Tesla’s model S will go 335 miles on a charge, but the Tesla costs over twice as much the Bolt: $82,000 versus $36,000.

The Bolt’s range is key to me for being a one car household. The 200+ mile range means that you can drive all over town or to the next town over without having to worry about mobile charging stations. With the Leaf and BMW electric vehicles I tested, I felt range anxiety. Versus with the Bolt, I was able to drive it all week on one charge – and I drive a lot!

Screen Shot 2017-12-03 at 10.27.56 PM

Some may argue the Bolt looks too sci-fi for their tastes, even more so than a Tesla, but shouldn’t a car from the future look high tech. I enjoyed the minimalist design and the use of recycled plastics – it made me feel as if I was doing my part to help the environment. It has that Silicon Valley California vibe, which is a good thing. I could get use to the look…

The only thing I couldn’t get use to was ultra power saving mode. In this mode, you use the accelerator pedal (the gas pedal) to speed up the car by pressing it down as well as slow down the car significantly by lifting off the pedal. In this mode, the regenerative brakes are applied to charge the battery whenever possible – ie when you are not adding accelerating. Luckily you can turn this feature off and drive the Bolt like a normal car with the use both an accelerator pedal and brake pedal.

Visit your local Chevrolet dealer to test a Bolt out yourself or learn more about this all electric vehicle on Chevy’s website.

The Cadillac CT4 V is a grownup’s Camaro

Despite what most of my automotive journalist colleagues say about the 2020 Cadillac CT4 V, the car delivers exact what we need from a Cadillac. On and off-the-record, they have critiqued its performance, styling, and choice of materials. It is easy to say that the Mercedes C43 AMG has a nicer interior or that the BMW M340i has more horsepower, but both of these vehicles’ has a starting price of $10k+ more than the CT4 V. As journalists who are lucky enough to drive a new car every week, we often forget price points… The CT4 V is crazy good for $45,000.

I will be amongst the first to admit that the 2020 CT4 V doesn’t deserve the “V” badge. The legendary ATS V and CTS V were “bad ass” cars. The ATS V produced 464 hp, as much horsepower as a Corvette. The CTS V had a Corvette Z06 motor under the hood pumping out 640 hp. In comparison, the CT4 V only has a wimpy 325 hp 4-cylinder engine. But to redeem your street cred, you can tell your friends that your CT4 V has more horsepower than a Porsche Cayman. And in sport mode, you can just as easily get the rear wheels to loose traction and create a nice little drift. Performance options are enhanced with the Brembo Brake package and Magnetic Ride to control the dampers.

Yes, the interior of the Cadillac CT4 V seems a little simplistic. And yes, the materials used don’t seem quite as luxurious as other cars in its segment. But a fully loaded CT4 V cost less than the base price of its competition. I also thought the infotainment controls are more intuitive than most of its competitors. For instance, there are four different ways to change the radio station – so take your pick between two knobs, touch screen display, or switches. Another plus is that the Cadillac CT4 V comes standard with leather seats, where as it is an upgrade on most Mercedes and BMW vehicles.

Americans want a small sporty sedan for running errands. We want something fuel efficient for sitting in rush-hour traffic. We want a status symbol that lets everyone in the office parking lot know we are a part of the management team. And we don’t want to take out a second mortgage. On all of these fronts, the Cadillac CT4 V delivers. It is a grownup‘s Camaro.

2020 BMW X1 versus Mercedes GLB

I was lucky enough to get a back-to-back sampling of the BMW X1 and the Mercedes-Benz GLB 250, each for a one week test. Both crossovers represent their respective German luxury automakers’ most affordable SUV offering. Both offer admission to the marque, while also delivering the full brand experience.

For the record: Technically Mercedes’ cheapest SUV offering is the GLA, however the GLA is more of a small station wagon on stilts. Akin to the Audi A4 Allroad. So the GLB is what you want if you want an SUV feel.

Luxury & Style

Both of my test vehicles exuded entry-level luxury, with leather seats and real wood or aluminum trim. However, the fit and finish on the Mercedes GLB was better. The design language felt brand new, and resembled styling from a modern S-Class Mercedes. The exterior felt sculpted. Whereas the BMW, while nice, the design language felt typical of a BMW from 10 years ago. It looks and feels very traditional, which isn’t a bad thing. Winner: Mercedes  Click Here To Continue Reading

Mini Cooper Electric

Finally, an exciting and affordable electric vehicle! The Mini Cooper Electric. Most EVs are slow and boring (Nissan Leaf, Chevy Bolt), or they are super expensive (Porsche Taycan, Tesla Model S). This little car in neither. You get 181 horsepower and 110 miles of range for less than $30,000. Plus it looks like a cool car!

Now 181 horsepower might not seem like a lot of power, it actually isn’t this day and age. But remember, this is a small and agile vehicle. So you don’t need a lot of power to scoot this fun, little car around town. Also since this Mini Cooper is electric, you have instant torque, which makes it feel quicker than it is. In terms of weight, it is one of the heaviest Minis ever built. Lithium batteries weight a lot. However, you don’t feel the weight. The Mini Cooper Electric feels surprisingly well balanced when going around a corner. The handling characteristics are on par with its siblings, which are know for world-class handling. Even F1 World Champion James Hunt drove one for fun.

I had the Mini Cooper Electric for one week, and range anxiety was my only cause for concern with the vehicle. 110 miles is very respectable, however I don’t have a Level 2 or Level 3 charging station at my home or office. This means it took 4 days to fully charge the vehicle. For comparison, a Level 3 charging station would have charged the Mini Cooper Electric to 80% in 36 minutes. I would have this problem with any electric vehicle, so it isn’t Mini’s fault. It is just something you have to keep in mind if you purchase an electric Mini over a gasoline powered Mini.

One thing I loved about the Mini Cooper Electric is that it looks inside and out like a proper car. It isn’t a science experiment. In fact, the interior is identically to that of its gasoline sibling.

My advice is to get the Mini Cooper Electric if you have fast home charger and don’t take a lot of road trips. Otherwise, get the John Cooper Works Edition of the Mini Hardtop 2 door for $32,900.

2020 Chrysler Pacifica

I am a mid 30s married man with no kids on the way (yet), so mini vans are still uncool for me. Even this one, with its blacked-out grill and wheels. However, after a week with the 2020 Chrysler Pacifica, I can understand why Moms and Dads across America love them. My test vehicle was the ultimate utility vehicle:

  1. It superb gas milage, at 82 MPGe. That is with a fully charged battery and a full tank of gas.
  2. I could easily fit 7 of my friends
  3. The Pacifica is surprisingly comfortable to drive. I could easily sit all day behind the wheel. It is also relaxing to drive. The suspension mitigates bumps quite well. The steering feedback is minimal, but enough to give you a sense of control at highway speeds.
  4. The rear seats fold into the floor. This is a feature you may never need, but it is extremely valuable if you have to haul furniture or lumber. And it is better than a pickup, because your cargo is covered in case of rain or snow.
  5. The rear doors slide backwards. This makes getting in and out of the car while parked in a tight space super easy.

If I was a Dad with one or two kids, I would probably stick with a sedan, station wagon, or SUV. But 3 or more kids, and a Chrysler Pacific would be golden!

The 2020 Range Rover Velar Delivers Even More: Now With Supercharged V8 Goodness

Look out Range Rover Sport, your little sister is getting an upgrade. The Velar is arguably the beauty queen of the Land Rover family. Its perfect proportions and minimalistic styling, make it worthy of a museum piece. Even the door handles pop in and out in order to not detract from its sleek lines. While the Range Rover Velar is a very capable off-road, its fun is better suited to wet or dry tarmacs. Leave it to the regular Range Rover or the Range Rover Sport if you really want to go rock crawling with their locking differentials and low-speed transfer cases.

My test vehicle for this review is the model range topping Range Rover Velar SVAutobiography Dynamic Edition. It is a brand new trim for the 2020 model year. The biggest standard equipment enhancement is the 5.0 L supercharged V8, which pumps out 550 horsepower and 502 pounds of torque. The engine transforms the Velar from a beautiful SUV, into a beautiful machine that eats sports cars for breakfast. That, combined with lighter wheels and a calibrated 8-speed gearbox, mean that the Range Rover Velar SVAutobiography Dynamic Edition sprints from 0 to 60 mph in 4.3 seconds. It sounds absolutely incredible when you smash the gas pedal thanks to a sports-tuned quad exhaust. Click Here To Continue Reading