The Mini Cooper gets a little bigger with the Countryman

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Just like how Porsche gave us the Cayenne SUV for enthusiast who love Porsche, but has out grown 911, Mini Cooper has given us the Countryman. Mini has taken every we love about the Mini Cooper and enlarged it. The Countryman is longer, wider, and taller. Enthusiasts finally have a vehicle they can take the kids to school in! Tall backseat passengers are now able to stretch out instead of curling into a ball, and with the seats down, you are now able use a Mini Cooper to buy furniture…. I bought a small conference cable for my office in it.

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The Countryman certainly fits the bill for being Mini’s biggest and most expensive vehicle. It priced at $26,000 for a base model, but the options ad up. My test vehicle cost nearly $40,000 to buy. But it was well worth the price for features such as premium leather seats, a Harmon Kardon sound system, and a large touch screen display. The only thing I didn’t like about the interior was the pseudo “heads up display.” I could never get the thing properly adjusted for my ride height and I am only 5’8″.

Don’t let the looks and plush amenities fool you, this is still a Mini Cooper. And rightfully so, it is fun to drive. Not a much fun as the smaller scale Mini Cooper, but this car boogies around town. Under the hood of the S and JCW models is a 2.0L turbocharged 4-cylinder that moves the car from 0 to 60 in 6.2 seconds. But even more important is the handling. Multiplying the size of the Mini Cooper made it loose its “go-kart” like handling, but with the optional adjustable damper system and 4-wheel drive system, it know-how to hug corners like a proper Mini Cooper.

For more information on the Mini Cooper Countryman, visit your local Mini dealer or click here to visit Mini’s website.

Dress up your Jeep Cherokee with the Overland edition.

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The world Jeep and luxury usually don’t go together. That is because when I think of Jeep, I think of rugged all-terrain vehicles. In the rare instance I think of Jeep in luxury, I usually gravitate towards the Grand Cherokee. Jeep enthusiast now have a new luxurious option when it comes to their sporty off-road vehicles and that is the Cherokee Overland. I have written about the Jeep Cherokee before, in the form of a Trailhawk, but this a new breed.

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The Jeep Cherokee Overland feels luxurious with its supple leather seats and wood trim on the steering wheel, but I would’t quite call it a luxury vehicle… there are still a lot of plastics and it doesn’t quite ride like you would expect a luxury vehicle to ride. The Overland edition simply dresses up the Jeep Cherokee. With that being said, I wouldn’t be surprised if you find one these cruising around in the swamp thanks to its optional 4X4 and select-terrain drive system. It is still a Jeep after all!

At 37,000 for the Jeep Cherokee Overland, personally, I would go for its bigger brother, the Grand Cherokee or opt for the Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk because of its off-road capabilities.

Visit your local Jeep dealer for more information on the 2017 Jeep Cherokee Overland or click here to visit the Jeep website.

The new Q7 is a big leap for Audi


I liked the old Audi Q7 because it was big and comfortable, but I never loved the styling. It looked too feminine with its soft lines and bubbly shape. As a guy, I could never see myself driving it as my own personal vehicle. I know I am being bias, but what you drive says a lot about your personality. With that being said, the old Q7 was one of my favorite “mom cars.”

Everything has changed with the new Audi Q7. It is now one of my favorite “dad cars.” It is masculine, it is aggressive, and it is modern. Audi has given us a wider stance with a big large grill in the front. We have a more modern design with sharper lines going from front to back. The led headlights and the directional tail lights remind me of a futuristic car from the movie Tron.

It has also got some power… Under the hood of my test vehicle is 3.0L turbocharged V6 that produces 333 horsepower and can tow 7,700 pounds. It will also get you from 0 to 60 in less than 6 seconds. If you are more interested in fuel economy than performance, the base engine is a 2.0L turbocharged 4-cylinder that is good for 252 horsepower and 25 mpg on the highway. I am begging for Audi to bring back their diesel engines to the United States. The old Q7 diesel was good for over 400 pounds of torque and got suburb fuel economy.

When comparing the Audi Q7 to it’s competition, such as Porsche, BMW, Lexus or Mercedes, they have been focused on making evolutionary minor changes to their vehicles. Yes the cars keep getting better year after year, but I feel like Audi is progressing forward at a much more rapid pace. If is refreshing to see an automotive manufacture take this big of a leap forward with exterior and interior design.

Contact your local dealer to get a look inside the all-new Audi Q7 or click here to visit Audi’s website.

The BMW X4 M40i is the family racer


Making an SUV handle well is an unsurprisingly difficult challenge. SUV are higher off the ground, which means a higher center of gravity. A higher center of gravity equals more body roll, which means less weight evenly distributed amongst the four tires while cornering.

But… BMW is surpassed the laws of physics. Thanks to a highly tuned sports suspension and heavy duty sway bars, the BMW X4 M40i glides across the road like it is a car – you feel well planted to the road with little body roll. In fact, this X4 handles better than the average sedan.

It has got some nice power under the hood too! A twin-Turocharged 3.0L V6 that produced 355 horsepower. That paired with all-wheel-drive and an 8-speed quick shifting automatic gearbox will get you from 0 to 60 in less than 5 seconds.

The interior of the X4 M40i was quite nice. Leather seats with wood trim gave this performance enthusiastic family SUV a touch of refinement. While the meet gas and brake pedals along with a sporty steering while highlighted the performance aspects.

Thanks to a seductive exhaust note and a high quality Harman Kardon sound system, blissful tunes fill your ears as hit he back roads or pick the kids up from day care.

Visit your local BMW dealer for more information on the X4 M40i or click here to visit BMW’s website.

The Lexus RX is no longer a “Mom Car”

  
The term “Mom Car” is a very indearing term for me, because I love my Mom. As guy born in the 1980’s, I have seen Mom Cars shift from station wagons, to mini vans, to SUVs, and now to crossovers. The RX line was introduced in 1998 and quickly saw widespread adoption – it is one of Lexus’ best selling vehicles. While I have seen many guys driving the RX, it appears to be dominated by females drivers; likely due to the fact that the previous three generations had a very feminen design…. Thus why I call it a Mom Car.
There is nothing wrong with driving a Mom Car, but as a single guy who is approaching 30 years old, I want something fun in my driveway, something that is stylish, and something that makes a statement. The new Lexus RX 350 F-Sport is just that!

  
The new design is masculine, aggressive and sleek. Details going all the way down to the headlights and mirrors examplify the new sporty appearance.

The Lexus RX 350 F-Sport also has a little bite to its bark, with a V6 engine that produces nearly 300 horsepower and a locking differential (for off-roading).

  
The cabin of my press vehicle was carefully wrapped in red leather with aluminum trim. The vehicle’s interior poster says performance with sporty bucket seats, paddle shifters and a heads-up-display on the windshield.

I can definitely see myself buying this car! So much so, that I choose the Lexus RX 350 F-Sport over my Porsche Boxster S (my personal car) to take a girl on a date last weekend. It ended up being a wise choice because she complimented me on how stylish the vehicle was… And she drives a Range Rover.

So if you ask me… The Lexus RX 350 F-Sport is a winner for both guys and girls!

The Land Rover Range Rover Autobiography Long Wheelbase Is Lady In The Streets And A Freak In The Sheets!

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What other vehicle would allow you to explore the swamp filled Florida everglades by day, and attend a black-tie charity gala by night? None other than the Land Rover Range Rover Autobiography Long Wheelbase. It is the ultra-luxury version of the iconic Range Rover. By iconic, I mean its ancestor was the only vehicle on display at Louvre Art Museum in Paris.

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By ultra-luxury I mean leather, wood, and aluminum from top to bottom. Of-course you have the usual luxury features of heated and cooled seats along with a heated steering wheel. But, with the autobiography trim level, you get 18-way power adjustable seats with massagers, Full semi-aniline leather seats, an alcantara headliner and a 1700 watt 29 speaker 3D sound system from Meridian. As with its other Range Rover siblings, you get an air suspension system that offers a ride quality on par with the Mercedes S-Class sedan.

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The luxury amenities don’t stop with the front seats on the long wheelbase version of this machine, rear passengers will enjoy an unusually large amount of legroom, dual screen entertainment, massaging seats, and sunscreens on the side windows for privacy. Rear passengers can either listen to music and video through the Land Rover Range Rover Autobiography Long Wheelbase’s built in sound system, or with wireless headphones.

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Under the hood of the Land Rover Range Rover Autobiography Long Wheelbase (LRRRALWB) is a 5.0L supercharged V8 engine with 510 horsepower and 461 pounds of torque. It jets the SUV from 0-60 mph in 5.1 seconds; thats faster than the current generation Porsche Cayman! To exemplify the “Freak In The Sheets” analogy, the Land Rover Range Rover Autobiography Long Wheelbase is equipped with a Terrain 2 Response system, a low-speed transfer case, and two locking differentials. While some may be concerned that the Long Wheelbase version of the Range Rover reduces your off-road capability, fear not… the Land Rover Range Rover Autobiography Long Wheelbase offers 34.7 degree approach, 26.1 degree ramp, and 29.1 degree departure angles.

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In addition to being able to climb over nearly any obstacle, the Land Rover Range Rover Autobiography Long Wheelbase is able to wade in up to 35.4 inches of water. I got to test that number with the help of a tour guide; while exploring the lost city of Golden Gates Estate Subdivision. In the 1960s real estate developers set out to create the largest residential subdivision in the United States. The property was set on 41,000 areas in/near the Florida Everglades and hosted nearly 300 miles of paved roads. The only problem is that the Florida Everglades floods during certain times of the year. Thus, it was the perfect place to test the Land Rover Range Rover Autobiography Long Wheelbase water crossing abilities. Even though beautifully paved roads were underneath the water, it was surreal to think I was driving a $150,000 ultra-luxury vehicle through 2 feet of water… and it handled it like a pro. The cabin remained water tight as we waded past fish and birds through the flooded subdivision.

I look at the Land Rover Range Rover Autobiography Long Wheelbase and think, “what are the odds of someone buying this vehicle and actually taking it off roading?” Unless you live Miami Beach (where a number of my friends lost their cars to flooding), on a ranch, or in the mountains, the odds are very slim… But, it is a great feeling to know that you can… It is just like buying a Porsche or a Ferrari; 90% of their owners will never take it to the track, but they know it would be an incredible experience. At least with a Range Rover, you will have private jet class accommodations.

 

I am in love with the 2016 Volvo XC90

There are few cars that I fall in love with after driving them for only a week. They usually tend to be small little sports cars that are meant to be driven on Sunday afternoons when the weather is nice.

So I was a little surprised when I started missing the 2016 Volvo XC90 when it left my garage after testing it for a week. It is the perfect luxury SUV! The exterior and interior design make it stick out from the crowd at the country club, while offering a conservative approach when offering a ride to clients, co-workers, and employees. Plus with the advanced safety features, it is a strong choice for hauling the family to soccer practice.

  

  
The interior of the Volvo XC90 is inviting. It’s Swedish design is elegantly simple. Open pore wood and real aluminum accents the doors, center consol and dash. The seats look futuristicly modern, but they were extremely comfortable. The contour of the seats do a great job of supporting your back. I took a day trip from Ft Lauderdale to Naples and back, and enjoyed every minute of it.

 
 The Volvo XC90 features an innovative iPad like infotainment system. The driver (or front passanger) can tab icons to control the car’s navigation system, make calls via Bluetooth, and control media options. A familiar home button rests at the bottom of the screen. To get even more Apple-like, the XC90 I tested featured Apple CarPlay. CarPlay allows iPhone users to plug their phone into the car (via USB) and control core iPhone functions though the car’s display – such as calling, music, and Apple Maps navigation. My only real complaint about CarPlay is that you have to plug the phone directly into the car versus using Bluetooth technology.

 It is no wonder why Volvo has a reputation for safety; the XC90 is packed with safety technology that actually works. The lane keep assist is spot on, the dynamic cruise control smoothly controls the car’s throttle, and the blind spot monitors are very senesitive. I didn’t get to try it, but the Volvo XC90 also offers emergency breaking. So, if the vehicle in front of you slams on the breaks, the XC90 will do the same while coming to a complete stop. Another nifty safety technology feature that I got to try out is pilot assist. The system allows the car to steer it self while applying the gas or break during heavy traffic – this was priceless while sitting in rush hour Miami traffic.

  
Sadly, all things must come to an end. But fortunately with a starting price of around $50,000, the 2016 Volvo XC90 has the potential to be sitting in my driveway.

Exploring Arizona in the new Range Rover and Range Rover Sport Diesel

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Land Rover is one of my all-time favorite automotive manufactures for one reason, their vehicles are built to go anywhere. They are suited for the heat of the Sahara desert, the frigid cold of Alaska, and the wetness of the Amazon Rainforest. Land Rover’s Range Rover line adds sophistication to your great adventure, without sacraficing capability. A Land Rover driving instructor once described the Range Rover line as a mountain goat wearing a tuxedo.

A few weeks ago, Land Rover flew me to Sedona Arizona to test Range Rover and Rover Rover Sport’s newest engine configuration, a 3.0L Td6 Turbocharged Diesel. Previous drivetrain options were limited to a Supercharged 3.0L V6 or a Supercharged 5.0L V8. This new drivetrain option packs a punch! The Td6 offers 32% greater fuel economy than Land Rover’s Supercharged V6, and almost as much torque as Land Rover’s Supercharged V8 engine. That translates into 22 mpg city, 29 mpg highway, and 440 pounds of torque (21 pounds of torque shy of the Supercharged V8).

If you are reading this and saying to yourself: (1) diesel’s are noisy, diesel’s are dirty, (2) diesel fuel costs more, and (3) what about the VW diesel scandal? Then you have a lot to learn! While clean diesel technology is relativity new in the United States, European markets have been perfecting the diesel engine for decades. (1) Land Rover’s Td6 diesel engine is almost as quite as a traditional gasoline engine. Most people wouldn’t know that it is a diesel unless you are able to recognize the pitter patter sound of a diesel engine versus a gasoline engine. (2) Diesel fuel generally costs more than regular gasoline, but it is almost always cheaper than premium gasoline, which most high performance engines require. (3) VW gave diesel engines a bad rap. I have spoken with several automotive engineers who specialize in clean diesel technology, and all of them basically said the same thing: “VW took shortcuts in order to save money.” The more powerful the engine, the larger the emissions filters on diesel engines, the more they cost.

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So how does that translate to off-roading? You get the same off-road capabilities as the V6 and V8 Range Rover and Range Rover Sport, which is second to none. The Range Rover offers two locking differentials, nearly a foot of ground clearance, and an advanced terrain response system. The Range Rover comes standard with a twin speed transfer box (low and high gear range), but it is an extra on the Range Rover Sport.

The new diesel motor drivetrain on 2016 Range Rover and Range Rover Sport turn one of the most capable and refined vehicles in the world into an SUV that will go anywhere and get great fuel economy.

Contact your local Land Rover dealer or click here to visit the Land Rover website for more information on the 2016 Range Rover and Range Rover Sport.

Note: I did not receive compensation for this article, but Land Rover did pay for my trip to Sedona.

The Range Rover SVR is the super car of SUVs.

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Few vehicles can hold the title of super car; an ultra high performance car that is exclusive and often times barely street legal. If there was such a title, The Land Rover Range Rover SVR would deserve the title of “Super SUV.” The Range Rover SVR’s impressive performance stems from its massive 5.0L supercharged V8 engine that produces 550 horsepower and 502 ib-ft of torque. From there, the performance enhancements extend to the wheels with 20″ Brembo brakes and 21″ alloy wheels. It also features a super quick 8-speed automatic transmission, that shifts almost as fast as a dual-clutch transmission. Now can you guess the top speed of this “Super SUV?” Try 162 mph!

The Land Rover Range Rover SVR even sounds like a super car! The engine roars when you step on the gas pedal. The exhaust note reminds me of the Jaguar F-Type, which in my opinion sounds better than a Ferrari 488 GTB.

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Of course, a Land Rover wouldn’t be a Land Rover without its off-road prowess. The Range Rover SVR is fully equipped to take on extreme off-road conditions: Mud, Rocky Terrain, Ice, and Water. The vehicle offers two locking differentials, a low and high gear box, as well as, independent suspension for all four wheels and adjustable ride height. It is one of the most capable SUV’s on the market – arguably second to only the full size Range Rover.

Rarely, can a tall, off-road equipped vehicle out perform the average sports car.

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The inside of the Range Rover SVR is even more special looking than the outside… Your eyes are immediately drawn to competition seats. While traditional seatbelt are still in place, the competition seats (both front and rear) off slots for a racing harness. While they are not functional, that look awesome! The rest of cabin is lined with carbon fiber trim. It adds to performance appearing of this one of a kind “Super SUV.”

The usual luxury features are available with Range Rover SVR: A full leather dash and doors, a large touch screen infotainment display, a panoramic sunroof, and a mini-fridge underneath the center console armrest. The only thing missing was the ventilated seats – sadly those are not available with competition seats.

All in all, the Range Rover SVR is a truly amazing vehicle. It has got style, off-road capability, and performance. It certainly gives the Porsche Cayenne Turbo and the Mercedes G63 AMG a run for the hills.

Contact your local Land Rover dealer for more information on the 2015 Range Rover SVR or click here to visit the Land Rover website.

 

 

The Mercedes G63 AMG Stands The Test Of Time

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From the late 1970s till now, how many vehicles have maintained their original body style? Some may argue that the 2015 Porsche 911 resembles its 1979 sibling, but lets face it, they are both very different cars.

The Mercedes-Benz G63 AMG (aka G-Wagen or G-Class) is almost identical to its siblings from 30 years ago. It is vehicle that is sought after as both a status symbol and means of reliable transportation in the harshest climates. Why fix something that isn’t broken?

The G-Wagen was originally developed as a military vehicle in 1972, with a civilian version made available in 1979. Many variants of the G-Wagen have been created, but it’s basic shape and style has remained the same. For example, the Pope had a custom G-Wagen created with a bullet-proof glass compartment for parades and events.

Now days, you will find the G-Wagen driven on the streets of Beverly Hills, Dallas, and Palm Beach by gorgeous soccer moms and NBA basketball players; few realizing the G-Wagon’s true potential. The G-Wagon is the ultimate off-road vehicle. Its three locking differentials, independent suspension, and low transfer 4X4 gearbox is why you will just as likely find the G-Wagon in the middle of the Article Circle. Very few vehicles offer three locking differentials – this allows both the front wheels and both of the rear wheels to spin with even power… You won’t find that on a Land Rover! The Land Rover Range Rover for instance has two locking differentials. Meaning that even though it has four wheel drive, not all of the wheels will have even power.

The G-Wagen that I tested was powered by AMG, Mercedes’s high-performance division. It featured a hand built 536 horsepower biturbo V8 engine. The motor is paired with a 7-speed AMG transmission, which helps launch the G-Wagen from zero to sixty in 5.3 seconds. It also has a sport exhaust, which produces a hearty rumble. So why does an off road vehicle need so much power and a loud exhaust? Because it is awesome!

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I am normally a big fan of Mercedes-Benz’s interiors. The manufactures does an impressive job of combining old-world luxury with modern design and technology. I wasn’t very impressed with the G-Wagen. Don’t get me wrong, the interior is well crafted and uses high quality materials, such as premium leather and real wood trim, but it is too boxy for my tastes. Also, I hate the infotainment screen in the center, it looks like an after thought.

While it may not be a traditional “US” Mercedes-Benz in terms of style, it upholds Mercedes’ standards in terms of comfort. The seats were incredible; they offered a multitude of adjustments and were very comfortable for my 2 hour day trip from Ft Lauderdale to Naples, Florida. The vehicle also offered a massive amounts of headroom. I am 5’8″ and I had nearly a foot of room above my head – if you are a tall guy, this could seal the deal by itself.

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The Mercedes G63 AMG is the second longest production vehicle to carry the Mercedes-Benz name plate, and I hope it stays that way. It has truly stood the test of time with great engineering, great build quality, and loyal fanbase.