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.

Chevrolet Traverse RS: From “Mom Car” To “Dad Car”

The RS badges on the front and rear of the Chevrolet Traverse RS is little deceiving. The RS stands for “Rally Sport,” which will make most people think that the Traverse RS is a sportier version of the regular Traverse. While the options package doesn’t add any additional horsepower or performance, it will transform your seven passenger family hauler from a “mom car” to a “dad car.”

With the RS package on the Chevrolet Traverse, you get a noticeably different look and feel – My four year old self would call it a cool SUV now. All of the polished chromed accents are blacked out to give this mid-size SUV a stealth look. This includes the exterior trim, the grill, and the Chevrolet bowtie. You also get upgraded 20″ wheels painted black to complete the package. You also get black plastic lower moldings to protect the body of the vehicle should you take the Traverse RS off-roading.

So while the Traverse RS doesn’t necessarily live up to the Rally Sport name, it is a worthy upgrade for those who want to feel sporty. I know that is I how I would order one!

If you want to learn more about Traverse, check out my full review here.

VW Atlas: German Engineering For The Whole Family

The VW Atlas is the brainchild of a group of insanely smart German engineers who were trying to make an SUV that American’s will love; and they got it right! In just over a year, Volkswagen has produced over 100,000 vehicles out of their Chattanooga, Tennessee production facility.  This is an important milestone considering their previous mid-size SUV, the Toureg, saw limited success in the US market. The Toureg was positioned as a luxury SUV and it was expensive. Whereas in contract the Atlas is positioned to be a great value. With a starting price of $30,750 and fully-loaded price of $49,735, the Atlas is able to cater to both economy and luxury buyers.

Family Friendly

When considering the entire VW Group family of SUVs, the VW Atlas is amongst the best for large families. VW sister companies Audi, Porsche, Bentley, and Lamborghini all offer large options (built on a different platform), but the Atlas arguably makes best use of the space with three-rows of full-size seats. That means all of your family members can sit comfortably on a long trip, plus have room for a couple suitcases.  Click Here To Continue Reading

Subaru Ascent: Room For The Whole Family

New for 2019, Subaru has given us a vehicle that seats the whole family. The Subaru Ascent is the brand’s first three-row SUV. It is a logical next step for the company as American’s are clamoring towards larger vehicles. Subaru’s line up now offers a something for every stage of your life: A Subaru BRZ or Impreza for when you are in your 20s. A Legacy or Crosstrek for your 30s. A Forester for when you have your first kid. The Subaru Ascent for when your family gets bigger. The Subaru WRX STI for when you and your wife become empty nesters. And then the Subaru Outback for when grandkids come into the picture.  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.