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.

The Lincoln Navigator: Classy, Luxurious, and Practical

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The Navigator is Lincoln’s flagship vehicle. It represents old school luxury, something most other automotive manufacturers have lost.

The 2015 model year is a refresh of the third generation Navigator. The design isn’t overpowering, it’s not complex, and it’s not boastful; its elegant and refined.

The interior of the 2015 Lincoln Navigator is inviting. It is like walking into your living room. The center console isn’t over encumbered by a million buttons, each one is intelligently placed so you can enjoy the drive without distractions.
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The leather seats are supple and offer good backsupport. The driver and passangers are surrounded by real wood trim, which sets this vehicle apart from many of its other premium competitors.
Multiple entertainment options are available, including a premium audio infotainment system with Microsoft Sync. The system is absolutly incredible! Voice commands allow you to control nearly every fuction of the vehicle, including the radio, navigation and climate controls.

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This is a solidly built first class suite on wheels, but it is also flexible. The third row folds flat with the touch of a button. Now you are able to fit extra cargo, such as a couch from the furniture store. The versitility of the 2015 Lincoln Navigator make it a solid choice for drivers with a large family: it is roomy, luxurious, and reasonably priced at $61,000.

Contact your local Linoln dealer for more information on the 2015 Lincoln Navigator.

First Drive: The 2016 Hyundai Tucson

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The 2016 Hyundai Tucson has big shoes to fill… The 2015 Tucson was the “highest ranked small SUV by JB Power.

At first glance of the upcoming Hyundai Tucson, I thought that the styling resembled a german luxury compact SUV. Then, when I got behind the wheel, my impression changed to an American compact SUV. Turns out, both observations were correct…. The exterior of the 2016 Tucson was designed by Hyundai’s German design team, and the exterior was designed by the American design.

After a wonderful dinner with Hyundai’s product manager, I learned that this is common practice for Hyundai. The American, German, and Korean design teams faceoff to design each new vehicle concept.

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The 2016 Hyundai Tucson is a completely new compact SUV. In addition to a new exterior and interior, a new drivetrain is available. The 1.6L 4-cylinder turbo provides ample power and great fuel economy at 33 mpg on the highway.

I was impressed with Hyundai’s use of a dual-clutch transmission in the Tucson. Dual-clutch transmissions are more expensive to build, but they offer the performance and economy benefits of a manual transmission with the ease of use of a traditional automatic.

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The interior of the 2016 Hyundai Tucson feels solid. Long smooth arches gives the dash and center console an almost futuristic look. The design is consistent with most of Hyundai’s other vehicles. Premium options include ventilated leather seats, as well as, a panoramic sunroof.

I quite surprise with how spacious the cabin felt for a compact SUV. Both the front and backseat felt cozy. Most passangers will have plenty of leg room.

Hyundai was inovative with the cargo area on the 2016 Tucson. Suprisenly, it offers more cargo volumn than many mid-size or large SUVs – more than the Porsche Cayanne.

Technology wise, the new Hyundai Tucson is available with all of the usual bells and whistles: 8″ touchscreen display, Bluetooth, navigation, and a backup camera. There is only one USB port, which is a disappointment. Hyundai makes up for it with multiple power plugs in the vehicle.

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This compact SUV is a bargain with a starting price of $22,000. It feels solid, looks great, and practical.

For more information on the 2016 Hyundai Tucson, contact your local dealer or click here to visit Hyundai’s website.

Learning From The Best At The Land Rover Experience Driving School

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I recently took a 2,000+ mile road trip in my Porsche (You may have seen the photos on Twitter). From Ft Lauderdale to the Smokie Mountains, to the Biltmore Esate in Asheville, to Charleston, I enjoyed top down driving and scenic roads. The highlight of my adventure was visiting the Biltmore Estate. It is famous for being the largest home in the USA, but what most peole don’t know is that it is also the proving grounds for Land Rover’s world renowned off-road academy.

If you are an off-road enthusiast – by any means – then the Land Rover Experience Driving School should be on your bucket list. When I arived, I expected to meet a Land Rover representative who was going to try to sell me on why the new Range Rover is the “best off-road vehicle ever created.” Instead, I was introduced to a thrill seeking off-road proffessional intstructor. His terrain expereince included everything from rock deserts to arttic mountain climbs.

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The school doesn’t teach out to drive a Land Rover with sophisticated technology; it teaches you how to properly drive an off-road vehicle. The first thing my instructor did was to take me to an open field and show me the capability lines on the 2015 Range Rover – how steep of a hill can it climb or go over without bottoming out. By understanding the capability lines of our vehicle, you can determin the best route to take. Next we discussed how to properly steer the vehcile while off-roading. Normal steering positions are thrown out the window, because you never want to cross your arms. If the airbag goes off and your arms are crossed while making a sharp turn, then your hand will hit you in the face. Instead, you want to constantly reposition your hands towards the bottom of the steering wheel. We went on to discuss power managment and hill decent (without hill decent control active). These basis techniques should be applied no matter what type of vehicle you are driving, whether it be a $24,000 Jeep Wrangler or $150,000 Range Rover Autobiography.

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After a couple hours with all of the technology off, my instructor taught me how to drive with the technoogy on. “Technology doesn’t replace technique,” said my instructor. He was right. The techniques I learned with the technology off made me a better off-road driver. I know how to better control my vehicle over difficult terain, how to navigate a tight trail without scratching my vehicle, and how to judge my vehicles limmitations without testing them.

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Following an afternoon of intense training, my driving instructor gave me a graduation gift… A private tour of the US Land Rover Heritage Collection! While it may look like a garage full of old Land Rovers, this collection is unique. It contains one the first Land Rovers ever built, as well as, two Land Rovers that drove arround the world. All of the Land Rovers in the collection are in working order and (somewhat) regularly hit the trails, when they are not on display.

Visit the Land Rover Expereince Driving School website for more information or ask me a question about it on Twitter.

You have “arrived” in the 2015 Cadillac Escalade

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Cadillac is amongst the oldest automotive brands in the world. Over the past 113 years, Cadillac has established itself as the premier American luxury automobile manufacture. The 2015 Cadillac Escalade continues that tradition with a new modern design. More aggressive lines and a new front fascia give the new  Escalade a slick look.

I had the pleasure of driving the 2015 Cadillac Escalade for a week in South Florida. The SUV is a thing of beauty: its big, powerful, and ultra luxurious.

Despite its massive size, the 2015 Cadillac Escalade was easy to drive. The full-size SUV offers good visibility and a fairly tight turning radius. The ride quality it great and the steering is soft, so driving the Escalade isn’t fatiguing. A benefit of driving such a large vehicle is that most drivers are unusually polite – I can see why the driver of a Maita or small Toyota might be intimaded. The 2015 Escalade is a big and powerful vehicle.

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While the outside of the 2015 Cadillac Escalade might appear intimidating, the interior is inviting. The seats, doors, and dash are wrapped in ultra-smooth leather. You will find real wood trim throughout the cabin, as well as, a alcantara headliner. The high quality materials remind me of what you might find on a corporate jet.

The new Cadillac Escalade is loaded with electronics. OnStar and Cue offer a high quality infotainment system, complete with premium audio and a four screen BlueRay player.

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You can seat 7 people comfortably in the Escalade: two in front, two in the middle, and three in back. All seven passangers have plenty of legroom, AC vents, and are easily able to see the TV screens. It is perfect for the modern family – I tested is with my friend and his kids; everyone was happy (and quite) after an hour long car ride.

Because of the premium materials used and level of comfort, the 2015 Cadillac Escalade should get an award for best-in-class interior… It’s exquisite!

The 2015 Cadillac Escalade, with its sleek design and supple interior, make the perfect luxury SUV for large families and those who like to drive big cars.

For more information, visit your local Cadillac dealer or click here to visit Cadillac’s website.

The Jeep Renegade Latitude Was Built For the Urban Explorer

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15 minutes behind the wheel and you will clearly see that this isn’t your average Jeep… The Renegade was built for the urban explorer. This is the perfect car for getting around town. It easy to drive and easy to park, plus you look cool driving it! The signature Jeep grill along with other key design elements are striking. There is no questioning that this is built on tradition.

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Even the inside is very Jeep-esque: the dash features rugged looking controls, the speakers are in the shape of the front grill and giant handle bar is in arms reach of the front passenger. While the seats may look simple, they were actually quite comfortable for a compact SUV in this segment.

The Jeep Renegade Latitude I was driving featured a 1.4L i4 Turbo engine, paired with a 6-speed manual transmission. At 31mpg, this powertrain combo creates a nice balance between fuel economy and fun. The clutch was really soft and the gearbox was easy to shift, so driving around downtown Ft Lauderdale – even in moderate traffic – was a lot of fun.

In addition to being easy to drive and offering great gas mileage, this urban explorer offers best-in-class interior volume. It comfortably seats five people, or you can lower the backseats and put a couple bikes or a surfboard in back.

If you are looking for a great around town vehicle that looks cool and is easy on the pocket book, defiantly checkout the 2015 Jeep Renegade Latitude. For more information, visit your local Jeep dealer or click here to visit Jeep’s website. 

Introducing the new Ford Edge

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Ford invited me to experience the all new Ford Edge in Pheonix, Arizona. The 2015 EDGE boasts an all new platform, exterior and interior.

With increase performance and handling on the Sport model, it answers a calling for a performance oriented mid-sized SUV under 50k. The vehicle corners like a sedan and offers less body roll than you would expect for a vehicle in this segment.

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I was extremely impressed with the 2015 Ford EDGE’s ride quality and noise damping. The new body and platform streamlines the vehicle in order to reduce wind resistance.

Inside the all new Ford EDGE is a premium interior with richer leathers and lots of technology. The improved craftsmanship and higher quality materials makes the EDGE feel more like a junior Lincoln than a traditional Ford.

If you are a looking for a sporty SUV with lots of technology and a premium feel, you should definitely check out the 2015 Ford EDGE.

Does The Land Rover LR4 Holds True To Its Roots?

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The Land Rover brand has served as the crown jewel for off-road enthusiasts since 1948. But, over the past couple of decades, their vehicles have transitioned from a rugged barebones 4X4s into a luxury SUVs with premium leather seats and TV screens throughout the cabin.

How do the new Land Rovers compare to their historic counterparts? Are the new Land Rovers more than just a grocery carrier for uper middle class soccer moms? I set out to push the limits of the Land Rover LR4 in this review. I wanted to see if this beautifully crafted English made SUV lived up to it’s 4X4 heritage. 

Its proving grounds are Big Cypress Nation Park, located in the Florida Everglades. I went there to test the Land Rover LR4 on three key elements: 1) Traction control 2) Ground clearance 3) Fun.

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Big Cypress National Park has over 22 miles of off-road trails. The venue hosts a variety of terrains, so it was the perfect spot to host the Land Rover LR4. The vehicle I tested offer large wheels with low profile Pirelli tires – so it is not the ideal tire for off-roading – but thanks to the Land Rovers active terrain response system, I felt in control the entire time.

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When driving through mud, the Land Rover L4R locked all four wheels and kept the 8-speed automatic transmission in a low gear. When navigating through ruts or rocky terain, the Land Rover LR4 was able to conquer the toughest obstacles thanks to its low gear set and its 360hp supercharged V6 engine.

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One of the most important features of any off-road vehicle is ground clearance. The Land Rover LR4’s adjustable air suspension allows you raise the height of the LR4 to over 10inches.

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The height increase comes in handy when conquering large objects, deep ruts or when you have to cross a shallow creek.

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Driving the Land Rover LR4 for a week gave me a new sense of freedom – The feeling reminds me of when I turned 16 and my Dad loaned me the keys to his Audi A6 station wagon – I could go anywhere!

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It is important to remember that wherever the path takes you, you will get there in style… You are driving a modern day Land Rover after all. The Land Rover LR4 I was driving was equiped with premium leather seats, a Mark Levinson sound system and a five camera system provides a near 360-degree view of your surroundings. A standard third row of seats means that you and six friends can enjoy the adventure together in style.

So to answer your question… Yes, the Land Rover LR4 holds true to its roots.

Contact your local Land Rover dealer for more information on the LR4 or click here to visit the Land Rover website.

You can have your cake and eat it too with the Lexus GX460.

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The 2015 Lexus GX460 is an example of what all SUVs should be: It is versatile, stylish, comfortable and powerful.

The exterior design of the GX460 is very masculine. This is in contrast to Lexus’ lower and mid-level SUVs, which have a more feminine design.

The GX460 means business. Under the hood is V8 motor that can pull a trailer up to 6,500 pounds. The engine produces 310hp and 329 pounds of torque – but the key ingredient is that this torque comes at a low RPM. 

If you are looking for an adventure, you will be happy to find a downhill traction control system and an advanced four wheel drive system with a torque-sensing limited-slip differential. It also features adjustable damping suspension. This ensures that you have a smooth ride in comfort mode and improved stability in normal and sport modes.

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The Lexus GX460 offers a beautifully trimmed leather and wood interior. You will also find plenty of luxury technologies, such as heated and cooled seats, the Lexus Enform app suite, and a 17 speaker Mark Levinson surround sound system.

Because the Lexus GX460 is a large SUV, most people would assume it is difficult to drive and park. This isn’t the case with the GX460. The advanced safety features, such as lane departure alert and blind spot detection, keep you aware of your surroundings.

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The Lexus GX460 is one of the most versatile mid-sized SUVs I have ever driven. Most SUVs in this segment only offer two rows of seating, but the GX460 gives you the option of turning the rear cargo area into a third row. This is perfect for families who have two kids, but will occasionally invite their kid’s friends.

Another great feature of the Lexus GX460 is the rear door. Instead of a hatchback door like most SUVs and crossovers, the GX460 swings open like a car door. This makes it really easy open and close.

If you are looking for a luxury SUV that can easily tow the boat and seat the entire family, the Lexus GX460 should be on the top of your list!

The Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk represents freedom

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Jeep is one of my favorite automotive brands. Its heritage dates back to 1941. The US Government needed a light-duty 4×4 reconnaissance vehicle for World War II and Willy’s Jeep was the answer. Since then, the Jeep brand has turned into one of the best selling SUV manufactures and they produce some of the very best off-road vehicles in the world.

I drove a Jeep Wrangler Sport in high school, so I naturally have a soft spot for the brand. It was one of the most dependable and durable vehicles I have ever driven. I drove it through the mud, the snow, and everywhere in between with ease. The car started in the dead of winter, when it was 20 below freezing, on the first try.

The new Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk takes the durability and capability of the Wrangler, and combines it with the luxury accommodations of a standard SUV. But the overall design is rugged and tough. It makes you feel as if you can take this SUV anywhere! With large off-road tires, a powerful engine and tow hooks… you can. I love the grill of the new Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk, it reminds me of a shark. It is a very modern take on the Jeep brand, especially when compared to the old Jeep Cherokees from the 1990s.

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The new Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk is the perfect car for camping or exploring the everglades. It seats seven, has plenty of cargo space, it is full capable. The active drive lock 4×4 and locking rear axle help you maintain control through the toughest situations. The vehicle is powered by a 3.2L Pentastar V6 that produces 271 horsepower and 239 pounds of torque. This a departure from the original straight sixes that offered lots of power at low RPM. Both engines have their merit.

Inside the Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk is an assortment of premium features: An 8.4 inch touch screen display, a high quality audio system, a personalized dashboard display and comfortable seats. I could easily see myself driving the Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk on a road trip or to the office everyday.

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One of the best things about having a Jeep is the community. I have never seen a more passionate and friendly group of people. 9 times out of 10, when you pass by another Jeep owner, they will wave to you. Their passion stems from their ability to go anywhere and explore – the freedom to choose your own path.