2019 Mercedes CLS: It can’t come soon enough!

While visiting Chicago on vacation earlier this month, Mercedes gave me a pre-production version of their upcoming CLS four-door sports coupe to drive around town. The good news is that it is an absolutely stunning example of Mercedes design and a worthy update to the Mercedes CLS nameplate. The bad news is that you likely won’t be able to get one until next year… and I want one in my garage now!

A Design To Excite

For Dad’s (or Mom’s) who need the utility of a four-door vehicle but don’t want to give up the emotion of driving sports coupe, the Mercedes CLS (and this segment) was born for you. Mercedes paratactically invented the “four door sports coupe” segment with CLS back in the early 2000’s. They were amongst the first to offer a luxury four-door sedan with a fastback like roof line and a limited b-pillar. Since then, brands like Audi and BMW have copied the style on their most sportiest family friendly models.

The CLS’ design language is meant to evoke excitement from the minute you look at the car – I even found myself taking a second look at the vehicle every time I parked it. The silhouette with its frameless b-pillar makes you think for a monument that you are driving a traditional two sports coupe. Whether you are going through a mid-life crisis with kids or you just haven’t grown up yet, the style will evoke a sense of pride in ownership that you likely haven’t felt since you were 16 years old.  Click Here To Continue Reading

The BMW 330e makes being green fun again!

Bavarian Motor Works’ sportiest sedan series dates back to 1975, with the BMW 3-series. Back then you were limited to a carbureted inline 4-cylinder motor producing 74 horsepower or an inline 6-cylinder producing 141 horsepower. They were not rocket ships, even for 70’s standards, but fans quickly adored the 3-series’ suburb weight distribution and excellent handling.

Today’s BMW range varies between a 180 horsepower turbocharged inline 4-cylinder (320i) and up to a 425 horsepower inline 6-cylinder (M3). You can’t go wrong across the line up though, because they all have near perfect 50/50 weight distribution for improved handling. This paired with a sporty design will turn a boring commute into an exhilarating adventure; one where you must ace every apex on your way to the office.  Click Here To Continue Reading

The 2019 Jaguar E Pace Is Leading The Pack

This is not a statement to be taken lightly: The 2019 Jaguar E Pace R-Dynamic is the best compact performance SUV (or crossover) on the market. And using the next few paragraphs, I am going to tell you why…

Performance – Let’s face it, no one is going to (regularly) take their performance SUV or CUV on the race track. Most of the time it will be spent in rush hour traffic or if you are lucky, on mountain roads. So, performance specs are important, but they don’t tell the whole story. If they did, this article would be about the Porsche Macan Turbo with 400 horsepower. The Jaguar E-Pace R-Dynamic only has 296 horsepower in comparison, but it comes in a smaller and lighter package. This makes the car feel much nimbler and infinitely more fun to drive. The Jaguar’s steering is feels extremely precise and delivers excellent throttle response when in dynamic mode. Dynamic mode also allows the vehicle’s differential to deliver 100% of the power to the rear wheels and then gradually shift power to the front should the computer detect any slippage. The 2019 Jaguar E-Pace has an old-fashioned automatic transmission (the Porsche Macan has a dual-clutch), but the E-Pace has 9 gears to deliver optimum power.

Luxury – Every touchpoint in the Jaguar E-Pace feels ultra-premium. This is especially noticed in the cabin, where high-quality aluminum, leather and plastic materials are used. Jaguar paid close attention to details, to ensure even simple items like the turn signal lever exudes excellence. My test vehicle embraced a particularly sporty style, with red and black leather scattered throughout the cabin. The interior was clearly styled after Jaguar’s F-Type sports car. You know it means business because it is the only other vehicle to have those design cues. This is stark contrast to come of its competitors. The Alfa Romeo Stelvio for instance delivers incredible performance, but the interior feels cheap in comparison the Jaguar E-Pace. The backseats of the Jaguar E-Pace are cramped, but not sports car cramped. Adults are able to fit comfortably for short trips, but this isn’t the performance crossover SUV to get if you plan to have adult sized backseat company on a regular basis. Headroom was fine, but the legroom is marginal. This should be expected though because of the E-Pace’s short wheelbase… it is a blessing (performance) and a curse (luxury).

Price – My test vehicle was priced close to $60,000 fully loaded. While this may seem expensive, competition from BMW, Maserati, and Mercedes can top out at a much higher price point. But they don’t deliver nearly as many smiles on the road. With that being said, typically the larger the vehicle the more it costs, and the E-Pace is on the smaller side.

So, if you are in the market for high-performance compact SUV and interior space isn’t a concern, the Jaguar E-Pace should be on the top of your list. The driving dynamics are second to none, it comes in a refined package, and its price point is well deserved.

The CT6 Hybrid Is The Cadillac Of Cadillacs

The introduction of the CT6 in 2015 marked Cadillac’s return to the full-size luxury segment. Historically driving Cadillac represented that you have “arrived.” I am sure you have heard of the phrase: “This is the Cadillac of [Insert Product Category Here.]” For decades, showing up in a big luxury vehicle was a status symbol, but the brand needed a new image in the mid 2,000s as consumer’s tastes had changed. The transformation resulted in the company focusing on smaller and sportier versions of their sedans, as well as, their growing SUV/CUV lineup. Their top of line luxury vehicles were forgotten.  Click Here To Continue Reading

Infiniti QX80: Still a modern-day Land Yacht

When I first drove the Infiniti QX80 in 2014, I was impressed by the sheer magnitude of the vehicle’s size and the plushness of the Infiniti QX80’s interior. Its size and available creature comforts remind me of the gigantic boats from the 50s and 60s. But now you have 4-wheel-drive and heated seats. Infiniti has made a number of updates to this vehicle in the past four years, most notably to the exterior. The 2018 Infiniti QX80 has a more athletic body with sharper lines and a new front facia. The overall shape has been sculpted, but its design language remains congruent with the evolution of the vehicle. As like the QX80 from yesteryear, it is a big, beautiful and sexy machine.

They say that it is what is on the inside that counts. Under the hood is 400hp 5.6L V8 that makes this 5,600-pound car feel peppy (when compared to other vehicles in the full-size SUV segment). The motor also gives the QX80 the ability to tow 8,500 pounds; so, the land yacht is well suited to haul your water yacht to the lake every weekend. Behind the scenes, Infiniti added a few nifty safety features to the vehicle. My favorite is the hydraulic body motion control system, which uses an adjustable hydraulic suspension to minimize body roll. The system magically works by quickly adding pressure to either side of the vehicle based upon which way you are turning. Thus, improving the vehicle’s handling characteristics and decreasing the likelihood of this heavy SUV rolling over should you abruptly have to swerve in order to avoid an accident. My second favorite safety feature is the Infiniti QX80’s predictive forward collision warning. The computer is able to monitor the relative distance of both the car in front of you as well as the vehicle directly in front of it. Based upon the distance between all three vehicles, the QX80 will warn you in advance of a possible forward collision. This is an unnecessary technology for the QX80 because you tower over almost every vehicle on the road, effectively giving you a bird’s eye view of your surroundings… but it is a really cool technology and more vehicles should have it.

The interior of the 2018 Infiniti QX80 is strikingly similar to the QX80 I drove four years ago. The only change I could spot was a new gear lever. Some may argue that an update is due, but to be honest, I love the interior design! It is beautiful with a leather wrapped dash, doors, and seats. The wood trim appears to be carefully carved to shape. Special detail was given to the steering wheel – wood outlines the exterior rim, while leather dresses the inside of the wheel for enhanced grip. The wheel feels reminiscent of a classic British steering wheel due to this configuration. The optional saddle brown leather seats paired with diamond quilted stitching on my test car enhanced the European flavor when siting behind the wheel. Like the previous QX80, the seats on the 2018 model are oversized; giving you the notion that you have a football field of space to stretch out and enjoy the ride. This applies to primarily the front and second rows of seats, but the third-row seats are also quite comfortable. I wouldn’t mind hanging out back there for a family road trip. Should your little ones grow tired on the journey, my test vehicle featured two screens on the back of the front headrests and wireless Bose headphones to deliver a cinematic experience.

Like I said previously, not much has changed for this big and beautiful land yacht in the past four years. But it is still one of the best full-size SUVs that money could buy, and now it is even better. The only sting is that a well-equipped version of the Infiniti QX80 will cost you over $80k.

The BMW M550i Takes The Cake!

I am sure you have heard of the phrase “you can’t have your cake and eat it too.” This proverb has been accurate for most of BMW’s recent history. This is especially true for their current lineup because their vehicles tend to be polar opposites. The latest generation of Bimmers offer either Mercedes level luxury or Porsche level performance. You are either riding in comfort and style in their series models (IE 3-series,5-series,etc) or being bounced around like ping pong ball while you are grinning from ear to ear in their M cars (IE M3,M5,etc). If you haven’t noticed, BMW’s latest trend is to offer “M Sport” packages for their series models; Allowing a 180 horsepower 320i sedan to pose as a 425 horsepower M3. This is like allowing a sheep to dress in wolf’s clothing. The “M Sport” packages in most cases don’t offer any performance benefits while making the vehicle look like an M car. Thus the packages are a waste of money in my opinion.

So now we turn to this week’s vehicle… the BMW M550i. It is not an M5, but it is also not, not an M5. And don’t confuse it as a BMW 5-Series with an M-Sport package. The most accurate statement I can come up with is that the BMW M550i is an M5 with a “touring package.”  Click Here To Continue Reading

The Infiniti Q50 Red Sport 400 Will Liven Up Your Daily Commute

Life is too short to drive boring cars. So lucky for us, there are handful of sports sedans on the market that gets the kids to school, is a pleasure to drive, and quick off the line. These include the Alfa Romeo Giulia, Audi S4, BMW M3, Cadillac ATS-V, Mercedes AMG C43/C63, and of course the Infiniti Q50 Red Sport 400. They each have their merits. The Infiniti Q50 Red Sport 400 is in the middle of the pack in terms of performance, but it is at the top of the charts for value and fun. Click Here To Continue Reading

The Range Rover Velar is the best everyday Land Rover

Raise your hand if you are reading this and you live in an Amazon Jungle or Alaska. If you are raising your hand right now, skip to the next article. If you are NOT raising your hand right now, keep reading… You likely don’t need the full off-road capability of a traditional Range Rover. I am guessing that your daily commute involves beautifully paved roads and well manicured lawns to go beside them. And that is why Land Rover gave birth to their newest creation, the Velar. Click Here To Continue Reading

Ultra Luxury meets Super Car performance with the Mercedes S63 AMG Cabriolet

Life doesn’t get much better than cruising around in an S-Class… or does it? Well it does because the S63 AMG Cabriolet makes the ultimate daily driver, and here is why:

Mercedes has breathed new life into there flagship sedan by reducing the number of doors, increasing the horsepower, and giving it a ragtop. The S63 AMG is still every bit as comfortable (for the driver) as an S-Class sedan, but now the vehicle excites the driver. All of your senses begin to tingle as you lower the top and smash the gas pedal. Your head begins to stick like glue to the headrest as all 603 horses shift there brute power though a 9-speed automatic gearbox. Then when you least expect it, a curve in the road approaches you vehicle. As you begin to take it, the S63 AMG Cabriolet’s adjustable air suspension tightens in order to reduce body roll on your 4,800 pound rolling lazy boy sofa. Click Here To Continue Reading

It doesn’t get any better than the Mercedes-Maybach S650

Since the 1970’s, the Mercedes-Benz S-Class (Special Class) has been considered the gold standard in the full-size luxury car segment. Manufactures such as BMW and Audi regularly compare their finest vehicles with the S-Class because it is a benchmark vehicle in terms of engineering, technology and luxury. This segment is where advanced comfort and safety technologies are often times introduced to the public, such as massaging seats, lane keep assist, and pretension seatbelts.

But what do you if you want a luxury car that is better than “the best?” What if money is no object? Celebrities and flashy elites usually turn to a Rolls Royce, and more modest gentlemen will often times admire a Bentley…. but they are forgetting a brand that dates back to 1909, Maybach. The brand was once a stand alone marque, but Mercedes has resurrected the name for their ultra-luxury flagship sedan.  Click Here To Continue Reading