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

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

Alfa Romeo delivers on a track worthy SUV

Outside of hauling a race car to the track, SUVs typically don’t deserve a spot in the paddock. There are a few exceptions, and the 2020 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio is one of them.

It is a true performance machine, capable out pacing many sports cars. To start, under the hood is a comparatively small 2.9L twin-turbo V6 that pumps out an outstanding 505 horsepower. This paired with an 8-speed transmission and all-wheel-drive. The 2020 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio is quicker off the line than the new Porsche 911, yet it can hold four full-grown adults with their luggage in the rear. It also handles surprisingly well with super sticky wide Pirelli tires. Click Here To Continue Reading

The 2020 Jeep Wrangler Sahara EcoDiesel Is The Best Jeep Ever Built

I was surprised and delighted when I got the call that a Jeep Wrangler was heading to office. That is because I am a bit of a Jeep fanboy. My wife has a Jeep Grand Cherokee parked in the driveway of our home in Florida, and there is a Jeep Wrangler parked in the garage of our family home in Missouri.

The Wrangler has always been a go-anywhere rough and tumble vehicle. It is designed for climbing sand dunes and in Sahara desert, traversing jungles in South America, and rock crawling in Arizona. Its roots tie back to its military days, serving as a light duty transport on the frontlines. The Wrangler has always preferences utility over comfort… until now.

Modern versions of the Wrangler feature new chassis and suspension components in order to give the vehicle a more pleasant ride. Gone are the extreme vibrations at highway speed. It is still a brick driving down the road, but a lower drag coefficient also reduces swaying. The Wrangler also steers better than ever before.

But the best part of the 2020 Jeep Wrangler, in my opinion, is that premium trim levels are available with a powered convertible top. With the press of a button, the top slides back, exposing the majority of the cabin. It delivers a truly open air feeling, without having to remove any panels or unzip any pieces of canvas. And with the top closed, you get a hardtop feel, with very minimum cabin noise. I personally loved, small bursts of sunshine while running errands or coming home from work.

And the reason why the Sahara is the best trim level for the 2020 Jeep Wrangler is because it is posh. Gone are the use of cheap plastics and cloth. Instead, Jeep enthusiasts can enjoy leather seats, aluminum trim, a premium Alpine Sound System, and an 8.4inch touch screen display. The interior quality is better than a $100,000 Mercedes G-Wagen from a couple years ago. The Jeep Wrangler Sahara I described can be had for around $40,000.

One new item for the 2020 model year is that you can now get a Jeep with a 3.0L Diesel motor. This delivers more torque and better fuel economy. With us to 29 miles per gallon, you can take a Wrangler on a road trip and not break the bank. The towing capacity is rated for 3,500 pounds, which means that the 2020 Jeep Wrangler Sahara EcoDiesel can easily tow a boat, a car, or most RVs.

Don’t let the sound of these creature comforts fool you, the latest Wrangler (with the right off road options) is fully capable of outlasting any Overland trail. A two-speed 4X4 transfer case will allow you to get out of any sticky situation with easy. The vehicle also has excellent approach and departure angles.

If you have been itching to get into a new Jeep or thinking about buying your first one, now is the time. It is going to be a long time before Jeep can top the 4th generation JL Wrangler.

The BMW X3 has grown up!

The 2020 BMW X3 versus 2000 BMW X5

I will admit from the start, it has been a while since I have driven a BMW X3. I haven’t seen one in the press fleet down here in Florida in a long time. However, I was recently in Michigan for a week to escape the Florida summer heat and get some seat time in the X3… aka the baby X5.

The third generation feels much more substantial than previous generations. This time around the X3 felt more like the original X5, in terms of size, performance, and creature comforts…

Size & Weight

The 2000 BMW X5 weighed in at 4,800 pounds, and was 184″ long and 74″ wide. It was a trend setter in the SUV arena, because it was one of the first performance oriented SUVs – it could actually hug corners. In comparison, the 2020 BMW X3 weighs in at 3,900 pounds, and it is 2 inches larger and 1/2 an inch wider than the 1st generation X5. The increased size translates into a similar cabin space for occupants and more cargo room. The X3’s weight savings despite its proportion is thank to 20 years of BMW R&D into aluminum and other modern materials.

Performance & Driving Experience

Although the latest generation X3 is bigger than the first generation X5, the base X3 engine is less than 1/2 the size of the top-of-the-line X5 of the era. The original BMW X5 optionally packed a 4.4L V8 producing 282 horsepower and 324 torque. Where as the 2020 BMW X3 comes standard with a 2L twin-turbo inline 4-cylinder that pumps out 248 horsepower and 258 torque. The 2020 X3 doesn’t have a mighty V8, but it accelerates blistering fast in comparison due to the X3’s 8-speed automatic gearbox and weight savings: X3 0-60mph in 6.0 seconds, versus X5 0-60mph in 7.4 seconds. In terms of hugging corners though Click Here To Continue Reading

Battle of the Lightweights: Porsche Macan versus Range Rover Evoque R-Dynamic

Both of these vehicles are the baby of the family. With the Porsche Macan being the little brother to the Cayenne, and the Range Rover Evoque being the little brother to the Range Rover Sport (plus Velar and the full-size Range Rover). I recently deemed that a showdown of Macan versus Evoque was in order since both of the vehicles are in the same compact sporty crossover segment.

Performance

While neither the Macan nor the Evoque are true sports cars, both vehicles are designed to outpace sports cars of yesteryear.

The Porsche Macan with its 7-speed dual-clutch transmission and 248 horsepower inline 4-cylinder has been known to ring in quicker lap times than Porsche sports cars from the 1980s. I found the Macan to be well balanced and extremely nimble for a crossover. The steering was also very precise, especially for turn-ins on a tight course.

The Range Rover Evoque R-Dynamic tackles performance with brute force in comparison. The nearly 300 horsepower turbocharged 4-cylinder presses your head back when you smash the gas pedal. Not rocket ship fast, but it is noticeably more cinematic than the Macan thanks to over 20 pounds of additional torque. Around corners, the Evoque didn’t feel as precise as the Macan and I seemingly experienced more body roll.  Click Here To Continue Reading

Mopar Takes The Jeep Wrangler Rubicon To The Next Level!

While most new (and used) car buyers are content with driving their beautifully equipped factory spec vehicle, there is a rare breed of automotive enthusiasts who love to personalize their car. Myself included. These individuals span from those who like to make minor upgrades that almost seem factory like, to individuals who fully trick out their vehicles so the model is barely recognizable.

The king of aftermarket parts and accessories (at least in the FCA world) is Mopar. Their heritage dates back to the 1930s; this makes them one of the oldest automotive accessories companies in the world. While the parts sold for Jeep, Chrysler, and Dodge vehicles are technically OEM, Mopar offers enhancements with the enthusiasm of an aftermarket performance company. Essentially taking great vehicles and helping their customers turn the volume up to 100. The kicker is that because these are OEM parts, I was told that it does not void your vehicles original bumper to bumper warranty. So if you drive a late model FCA vehicle, it is really the only way to go.

To showcase how extreme Mopar can go, on rare occasions they will team up with their brother and sister companies to make a truly unique creation – a Halo Car if you will. That is the case with the vehicle I am reviewing today, dubbed the Jeep Wrangler Rubicon Mopar Edition.

The two-door Jeep Wrangler Rubicon was already the best off road vehicle you can buy. It comes from the factory with heavy duty front and rear axles for rock crawling, front and rear locking differentials for mudding, a two-speed transfer case (high and low gear ranges), and 33 inch tires with thick treads. It also seemingly more rugged than its base model siblings. By the way, the latest Jeep Wrangler, the JL series, is also the best Wrangler to drive on the street. The ride quality is better and it feels more stable at high speeds. Click Here To Continue Reading

“Get A Nissan Rouge Sport”

I was sitting in the barbershop last week when my barber asked me: I am thinking about getting a new SUV. What do you think I should get, a Kia or a Honda? My response: Get a Nissan Rouge Sport, Anthony.

This wasn’t the answer he was looking for, but it is the correct answer in my opinion. See my barber, like many Americans leases his vehicle. So Kia’s incredible 100k mike warranty and Honda’s amazing reputation for reliability doesn’t offer any real benefit.

The 2019 Nissan Rouge Sport on the other hand, is a better value and an arguably a more fun vehicle to drive than the Kia Sportage or Honda CR-V. Plus the 2019 Rouge Sport offers three big improvements over the previous model year:

Starting with Nissan’s “Safety Shield 360” technologies which combine front automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, lane departure warning, blind spot detection, and rear automatic braking with rear cross traffic alert. The system mitigates the likelihood of you running into someone, whether they are in front of you, to the side of you, or behind you. Anthony has a young daughter, so safety is paramount.

For those long trips to Disney World, the SL trim level (which includes leather seats) on the 2019 Rouge Sport comes standard now with ProPilot Assist, which allows the car to nearly drive itself on the highway. You can’t take your hands off of the wheel or take a nap, but sensors will keep the car centered in your lane and at the appropriate speed for cruising. Should the car in front of you slowdown, the Rouge Sport will also slow down.  Click Here To Continue Reading

2019 Nissan Kicks: An Affordable Urban Explorer

For young singles and couples looking for a versatile crossover on a budget, look no further. The 2019 Nissan Kicks should be on the top of your considerations list. When it comes to style, the Kick’s two-tone paint scheme got me more compliments than half of the sports cars I have driven this year. My test vehicle featured a blue body and white roof, which really makes it standout from the crowd. Alternative two-tone choices include orange + black, red + black, white + black, and silver + orange.

When it comes to safety features, the 2019 Nissan Kicks has got you covered. Automatic Emergency Braking is standard; in fact, it is the only vehicle at ~$18,000 in its segment to offer this safety feature standard. Essentially, if the vehicle in front of you slams on its brakes, your Kick will help you come to a complete stop if you don’t apply the brakes quick enough.  Click Here To Continue Reading

2019 Jeep Cherokee Overland: Quick Look

New for 2019 is the Overland trim level for the Jeep Cherokee. This unique set of options has been magically transforming the Jeep Grand Cherokee from a standard mid-size SUV to a luxury SUV for over 10 years, but now its baby brother has got the fancy pants.

Upon approaching the vehicle, you will immediately notice a premium look. Gone are the plastic brush guard moldings in favor of body color paint to make the vehicle appear bigger. You will also notice large 19″ polished aluminum wheels.

Inside the Jeep Cherokee Overland, you will find an interior fit for a small luxury SUV/crossover. In some cases, it is nicer than comparable Mercedes and BMW models. The Jeep Cherokee Overland is fitted with premium heated and cooled leather seats along with a full-leather dash; something you typically only find on vehicles with a $100k price tag. This type of luxury accentuates the oddity of not having leather on the doors though, instead you get hard plastic.

I guess beggars can’t be choosers though, because the 2019 Jeep Cherokee Overland is priced incredibly well. My test vehicle came fully equipped at a hair over $40k. That may seem like a lot for Jeep, but when you consider that the Mercedes GLC starts at $40,700 without leather seats, a leather dash, or 4-wheel drive.