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.”  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.  Continue Reading →

Cadillac is back, with the CT6

I was a kid of the 80’s and 90’s. Back then, when you said the name Cadillac, people envisioned a big luxury car. The brand repositioned itself in the 2000s to become modern sports saloons. The transition was vital to keeping the brand alive and getting younger buyers to take notice in the brand, but Cadillac lost the lazyboy experience you got while driving a big beautiful Cadillac. Don’t get me wrong, I love sports cars and sports sedans, but Cadillac neglected a market segment of distinguished buyers who don’t care about sport. Continue Reading →

The Dodge Charger Daytona Is One Mean Machine!

In my book, there is really only one true American muscle car left on the market… and that is the Dodge Charger (4-door)/Challenger (2-door). Both the Mustang and Camaro are technically pony cars, and both are getting closer and closer to high-performance sport coupes. While the Charger still offers a true muscle car experience with a snarling V8 motor under the hood that makes you want to drag race one stop light to the next.

The vehicle comes in a number of different variants, but most of the trim levels deliver a HEMI engine under the hood. The Legendary engine dates back to the 1950s, but obviously it has been modernized over the years.

The Dodge Charger Daytona I had the pleasure of driving came with a naturally aspirated 5.7L V8 Hemi, which produces 370hp. You can get the same engine in the R/T trim level, but then you don’t get the performance exhaust or the cool Dayton graphics on the exterior or interior.

The Daytona seats feel extra special because the alcantara center inserts and the “Daytona” embroidery.

The contrast Daytona package graphics don’t actually make you go and any faster, but they do add about 50 “visual” horsepower. It makes to car go from cool to bad***.

Visit your local dealer for more information about the 2017 Dodge Charger Daytona or click here to visit Dodge’s website.

The new Hyundai Sonata is on whole new level!


I usually don’t get excited about cars that get a refresh. But the new Hyundai Sonata has peeked my interest. While it visually looks similar very similar, it is not. Hyundai has reworked almost every exterior element on the front of the car. It has new grill with sleeker lines that remind me of an unnamed luxury car. It’s stance is more aggressive, and it is complimented with a reworked rear end. It has got an all-new trunk, bumper and tail lights.

The interior although they say it is new, you can’t tell the difference unless you are comparing the two vehicles side by side. But what is noticeable different is the driving dynamics. The feel of the vehicle is enhanced by new steering and suspension systems that give the driver more feedback while also delivering a smoother ride. Another impressive item related to the car is a new transmission. Even though you will never (don’t quote me) see a Hyundai Sonata on the drag strip, you still want to have fun with it. The transmission has been reworked to deliver quicker shifts when you hit the gas pedal hard, but still offer smooth transitions between gears when cruising casually. I also noticed less lag between shifts while manually selecting a gear using the paddle shifters.


For those concerned about fuel economy, both models of the Hyundai Sonata I tested got over 30mpg. If you are interested in performance, you have your choice of a 1.6L twin-turbo 4-cylinder that produces 178hp, a 2.4L naturally aspirated 4-cylinder that produces 185hp, or a 2.0L twin-turbo that produces a respectiable 245hp.

Overall, Hyundai did a fantastic job of enhancing an already great product. Even though a well equipped Hyundai Sonata is priced at under $25,000, it still offers premium luxury features. A 7 inch touchscreen infotainment system, power and heated front seats, automatic headlights, and blind-spot detection are all standard features on the SEL trim. If you want to add the $1,000 Tech Package to your options list, the car can nearly drive itself… you get automatic emergency braking, lane-keep assist, and adaptive cruise control. 

For more information about the new Hyundai Sonata, visit your local dealer or click here to visit Hyundai’s website.

The Jaguar XFS, She Is A Fierce Cat!


My last review on this site was of the new Mercedes-Benz E-Class; a ultra high-tech luxury sedan that semi-autonomously drives itself on the highway. This week’s car is week also a luxury sedan, but with the Jaguar XFS, you will want to do all of the driving yourself! This mid-sized sedan was designed for the driving enthusiast – those who would choose to take the long way home as an excuse to get more time behind the wheel.


The Jaguar XFS keeps the brands heritage of building high performance cars. Yes, the car has a 3.0L Supercharged V6 that rockets it from 0-60 in 5 seconds, and it uses a lightweight aluminum architecture. But… what really makes the car so great is the feeling you get while driving on a curvy road. The driving dynamics are performance bred. You are able to actually “feel” the road (in sport mode) as your tires start to slide while you are breetheing on the throttle in a turn. The level of engagement reminds me of what you would expect from a BMW 5-Series, but with a higher level of refinement. The seats are more plush, the dash is elegantly sophisticated, and materials used are fit for the royal family – yes the Queen of England has been spotted driving herself in a Jaguar XF wagon. 


So what’s not to love??? Finding a legitimate complaint about the Jaguar XFS is like finding a needle in a haystack, but I did find one… the lack of Apple Car Play and Android Auto. Jaguar has their “InControl” smartphone connectivity system, but the intergration is not as good as Apple’s or Google’s. So if you are tech geek, you might want to wait for Jaguar’s next update. Rumor has it, Apple Car Play is coming soon.

Visit you local Jaguar dealer for more information on the XSF or click to visit the Jaguar website.

The Best Or Nothing… The All-New Mercedes E-Class

To say that the all-new Mercedes Benz E-Class is the best E-Class ever made isn’t too far of stretch, because the model gets arguably better with each new generation. But I will go a step further and say that the all-new E-Class is also the best mid-sized luxury sedan on the market – The title was previously held (in my opinion) by the Audi A6.

When you step inside the new E-Class, it is easy to mistake that you are stepping into an S-Class because the interior of the E-Class mirrors the S-Class. It is just as stunning on fully optioned models, just slightly smaller. The first thing you will notice are two gigantic digital screens, one to show the vehicle’s instrument cluster and one to two the infotainment center. The screens at matched with either real wood trim or real aluminum. Then as you slip into the seats you will feel premium leather seats (if optioned) followed by a gentle massage on your back and bottom (after a activating it on the infortainment screen). I have to hand it to Mercedes, they are the only manufacturer with a “real” massage chair built into the seats. I have tried massaging seats from everything from Ford to Rolls-Royce, and Mercedes is the only manufacture where I would pay extra for the seats. 


The in-car technologies are a mirror of the flagship S-Class Mercedes as well. There is radar guided cruise control as well as an active lane-keep assist. These two options make the E-Class Mercedes “close to” a semi-autonomous vehicle. I say “close to” because you are still required to have your hands on the steering wheel, but you just barely need to touch it. During the week I tested it, I had a business trip from Ft Lauderdale to Orlando, FL. After getting on the Turnpike, I let the car drive itself on the 200+ mile journey. The car turned as the road turned, slowed down as the car in front of me braked, and speed up as the speed limit increased. You heard that right, the new Mercedes E-Class can read speed limit signs and dynamically adjust your speed accordingly. The car worked beautifully with one exception…. later that week I was on a two lane country road on my way to a charity event. I had a pickup truck in front of my and a semi-truck behind me. The E-Class was basically driving itself when the pickup truck decided to slow down and turn left into a convenience store. This shouldnt be a problem, but because the Mercedes couldn’t accurately detect the lines in the road, it started following the truck left. I quickly had to grab the wheel, as I was driving in the wrong lane with a school bus headed right for me. To top it off, the semi-truck started to pass me as the car drove it self into the other lane. Luckily I was an alert drive and abruptly slowed to get behind the semi-truck. So while the E-Class’ semi-autonomous driving functionality is great, please remember that they are an aid and not intended to allow the drive to take a backseat. Other than this one time nerve wrecking experience, the system was spot on.


So here is the big question… should you get a fully loaded E-Class for around $75,000 or upgrade to a base S-Class? Outside of size, they are very close products now. The E-Class fully-load is slightly smaller and easier to drive. The S-Class rides better and has a much larger backseat. So my pick is the E-Class for the city and the S-Class for the highway.

Visit your local Mercedes-Benz dealer or click here to go to the Mercedes-Benz website.

I am digging the new Buick LaCrosse

Screen Shot 2017-12-03 at 9.48.30 PM

I read in an automotive publication years ago that the only people who buy Buicks are those who want a Cadillac, but can only afford a Chevy. This is certainly not the case with Buick in 2017. The brands new product lineup is something that everyone should take notice, especially with the LaCrosse. The vehicle does share a few components with its siblings, but the LaCrosse does the Buick name justice due to its styling and premium features.

I was impressed by its attractive exterior design. It is modern, but classy and timeless at the same time. It is the car for people who want to premium ride, but don’t have to show off.

Screen Shot 2017-12-03 at 9.47.50 PM

When dressed with wood trim and saddle leather seats, the interior of the Buick LaCross is even more impressive than the exterior. It has a true luxury feeling from the moment you step inside. Passengers won’t believe that the car costs less than $50K fully equipped because the interior looks nice than many $50k+ vehicles currently on the market. Massaging seats are available on the Buick LaCrosse at the highest trim level.

The ride quality is good, and pickup is good too thanks to a 310 horsepower V6 and a 8-speed automatic. That is more power than most muscle cars had 10 years ago! Obviously Buicks flagship sedan is more luxury and sports car, but it is nice to know the car can move when you want it to. Even with all that power, the LaCrosse still gets 31 mpg on the highway.

Visit your local Buick dealer for more information on the Buick LaCrosse or click here to visit Buick’s website.

New Name, Same Great Car! The Genesis G80

IMG_5784

I wrote a First Drive review on the Genesis G80 a few years ago, back when it was called simply the Hyundai Genesis. The vehicle hasn’t changed much outside of the rebadging. It is still the same great car with german like styling, but it is more affordable and has double the warranty. When compared to the competition, for a little over $50,000 you can get a fully loaded G80 with ventilated leather seats and a 311 horsepower 3.8L V6 motor OR a base E-Class with vinyl seats and 240 horsepower 2.0L 4-Cylinder motor.

Obviously a lot of people are driven (punt intended) by the Mercedes badge, which is why the G80 is no longer technically Hyundai product. Genesis has spun off into its own manufacture. If you want to buy the car though, you will still be forced to visit a Hyundai dealer until Genesis starts building their own dealerships. You won’t have to visit the dealership for oil changes though because the marque has created “Genesis Service Valet.” The program offers owners the opportunity to have a service professional pickup your vehicle for service and deliver a loaner vehicle complimentary. You also get free scheduled maintenance for 3 years or 36,000 miles.

IMG_5786

Now on to the good stuff… The interior of the Genesis G80 is suburb. The seats are wrapped in Nappa leather and the dash featured genuine wood trim – Nappa leather is an expensive option on the German competition. The seats are also heated and cool, and the steering wheel is heated. Above the dash you will find a full-color heads up display so you no longer have to look at the speedometer to check your speed. The Genesis G80 is a fairly quite ride on the highway, until you crank up the 17-speaker Lexicon Surround Sound system. While Lexicon doesn’t have the brand name of Burmester or Bang & Olufsen, it does deliver a comparable sound – standard issues on the G80 of course. It seems that Hyundai executives told their engineers to buy a Mercedes-Benz E-Class, BMW 5-Series, and an Audi A6, then to make a car that is just as good, but cost less.

I could go on an on about the value Genesis gives you with the G80, but the best way to experience is to visit your local deal or click here to visit Hyundai’s (I mean Genesis’) website.

 

A lot of care was placed into the 2016 Nissan Sentra

IMG_3017

For whatever reason, I wasn’t a fan of the previous generation Nissan Sentra. I was a good car, but I felt like there wasn’t enough emotion in the car. Almost as if the previous generation was an after thought.

Nissan flew me out to California recently to get a first look at the 2016 Sentra, but what I got was more than a first look, it was also a crash course in automotive design by Nissan VP of Design, Taro Ueda. I was amazed by how much energy went into the engineering the vehicle to reduce drag, improve ride quality, and reduce noise. In the photo above, Taro used painters tape to show myself and fellow journalists how each line was symmetrically placed to improve both the styling and aerodynamics of the car.

IMG_3045 (1)

So lets get down to brass tax… is the 2016 Nissan Sentra worth the money? I say yes. Nissan redesigned the Sentra in order to give other vehicles in this segment a run for there money. The vehicle comes very well appointed with standard equipment and soft-touch materials throughout the cabin. The two biggest improves to the Sentra is ride quality and sounds damping. Nissan re-enginered the suspension to give you a smoother ride, while still allowing you stay in control of the vehicle with little body roll. They also dramatically increased the Nissan Sentra’s sound proofing, which makes this one of the quietest vehicles in its segment.

IMG_3063

The 2016 Nissan Sentra starts at a little over $16,000, but with a few options, such as a Bose Sound System, dual climate controls, and leather seats, it takes on a premium feel. I recommend buying the Nissan Sentra if you are looking for a low-cost compact car that offers great gas mileage (up to 40mpg) and enough room to stretch out (111 cubic feet of interior volume) with premium features.