The Jeep Grand Cherokee Goes Luxury

From the very beginning the Jeep Grand Cherokee was meant to be a bigger more luxurious version of the highly successful Jeep Cherokee. It served that purpose well, but myself, like most people never really considered the Grand Cherokee a luxury vehicle… until now. The 5th Generation Grand Cherokee and Grand Cherokee L are able to go toe to toe with its European rivals from Mercedes, BMW, Land Rover, and Audi.

The endless cheap plastic trim on previous generations of the Grand Cherokee has been replaced by real wood and leather. And in places were plastic is used, it is a high quality plastic with a nice finish. Along with better construction materials inside (and out), the 5th Generation Jeep Grand Cherokee received updated styling befitting of a luxury car. The lines throughout this 3-row vehicle have been sharpened to give a bolder presence. The beautiful wood trim on the doors, dash, and steering wheel is obviously a strong center piece, but the beautiful 10-inch infotainment display really steals the show.

The 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L rides and steers better than any Jeep before it. Bumps are mitigated and there is absolutely no sway at cruising speeds on the highway thanks to an independent multi-link air-suspension system.

My test car was the 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L Overland, and it was so good that my wife and I are considering buying one over a Range Rover Velar next year. The Jeep costs less and I think it is a nice car all around. The big question is if we should buy the 2-row or 3-row version.

Kia’s 2021 Sorento Looks Too Good For The Money

Product design, especially in the automotive world, is a tricky business. Drivers demand more features and better technology, but at the same time, they are price sensitive. KIA shines at delivering a great value proposition, and the 2021 Kia Sorento is no exception. This mid-size SUV delivers stunning looks, the latest technology, and 3-rows of seats for the entire family.

Visually, the interior makes you think you are in a first-class cabin. It is available with quilted stitching and faux wood trim. Plus large displays deliver that an air of high-tech. It is significantly bigger than the previous generation Sorento, with seemingly more headroom and legroom. Despite the spacious accommodations, I personally didn’t find the vehicle comfortable to drive long-distance. Maybe it was because I could never adjust the contour of the seat just right, but my back grew tires after about 30 minutes in the vehicle.

The 2021 Kia Sorento has a starting price point of $29,000 and tops out at around $42,000. No matter how you slice it, it is an incredible value. All this, backed by a 10 year, 100,000 mile warranty.

2021 Cadillac CT5-V

It is no CTS-V with a 650 horsepower super-charged 6.2L Corvette engine, but the 2021 Cadillac CT5-V was never meant to challenge it. The “V” does represent Cadillac’s performance / motorsport devision, however the V in this case really more of a performance package.

A 3.0L turbo-charged V6 engine is under the hood, pumping out 360 horsepower and 405 pounds of torque. It is a peppy machine, mated to a 10-speed automatic gearbox. When you smash on the accelerator is feels perfectly quick, almost as if the car was designed for this engine. Where as the base 2.0L 4-cylinder would feel slow and the CT5-V Blackwing’s turbo-charged V8 would be too much power.

Two other key differences between the standard CT5 and the CT5-V are magnetic ride control and an electronic limited-slip differential. These team enhancements improves driving dynamics at high speeds. Both will make a noticeable difference on the street, but you will feel significant different during track days. The CT5-V is balanced in the corners, with only slight natural understeer. You can easily get the rear end out in a controlled fashion with a blip of the throttle, however traction control and electronic stability are quick to catch you, even in sport mode.

The interior design language is a big step up from the old CTS. The look is polish and sporty, with ergonomic controls at your finger tips. The ultra-sensitive flat buttons have been replaced with tactile buttons and knobs, which are easily controlled without taking your eyes off the road. The fit and finish is better as well. Part gaps are kept to a minimum. All of the plastics are high-end, and the leather is soft to the touch. Key elements are dressed in real aluminum and carbon fiber.

With a price point starting at under $50,000, I am tempted to get one of these myself as a daily driver. It is a great value for a sporty luxury sedan.

P.S. Badge snobs will love the car, because it looks and sounds like a “V” car.

A 710 Horsepower SUV? Because Why Not? 2021 Dodge Durango SRT Hellcat

I applaud Dodge for putting their 6.2L supercharged Hellcat engine into a 3-row SUV. By doing so, the SRT division turn an average family vehicle into a super SUV capable of 180 mph. It is a halo car for Durango Moms and Dads everywhere! While the standard issue Dodge Durango will go 0 to 60 mph in 7.4 seconds, the Durango SRT Hellcat will do it in 3.5 seconds. That is faster than most Porsche sports cars.

This blistering performance is thanks to the world famous SRT Hellcat motor. 710 horsepower makes this the most powerful SUV on the planet, beating out the V8 Lamborghini Urus and the W12 Bentley Bentega. To back it up, the Durango SRT Hellcat uses beefy brakes and a sports tuned suspension. I was pleasantly surprised by how well this largo SUV handles, and how composed it feels at high speeds.

Unfortunately this is a limited production car with only 2000 units being built. This exclusivity means that the Durango SRT Hellcat will be the first Durango to reach both cult-like status and collector car status. During my week with the vehicle, I got countless thumbs up and teenagers in muscle cars wanting to race me. It was crazy to see people get excited for a 6 passenger family SUV.

Thank you Dodge for doing the insane! You have proven that American moms and dads can have their cake and eat it too.

A​BOUT THE AUTHOR

Jonathan Brownfield is an automotive journalist, motorsports enthusiast, and sponsored endurance racing driver. He has road tested over 300 cars from brands such as Ferrari, Lamborghini, Rolls-Royce, Bentley, and Porsche. Click here to follow him on Instagram.

2021 Chevrolet Traverse

This is the vehicle to get when your family is growing, but you don’t want something quite as expensive as a $50k+ Tahoe. The 2021 Chevrolet Traverse deliverers a large presence and 3 rows of seating at a price tag starting at $29,000. This means that little Timmy and his 6 friends will get to soccer practice and get pizza afterwards. Also, 27mpg means that road trips to grandma’s house in the 2021 Chevrolet Traverse won’t brake the bank either. The Traverse drives nicely and is comfortable for its class of vehicle.

2021 Chevrolet Colorado

I have driven this truck a few times over the years, and it has consistently remained by favorite pickup truck. That is because the 2021 Chevrolet Colorado offers the utility of a full-size pickup truck with the packaging of a small truck. It is easy to park in the city, while also being able to tow 5,000 pounds with a gasoline V6 or turbocharged diesel engine. It’s sporty size also means that hitting the trials are a lot of fun, especially with the Z71 or ZR2 off road packages.

Compared to its similar sized competition, I like the 2021 Chevrolet Colorado better. It feels more solid and expensively built; it doesn’t feel like a budget truck, even with a starting price of $25,000.

The 2021 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid Is The Best Mini-Van I Have Ever Driven

The title of this review is factual, but also deceptive, because I have only ever driven Pacifica mini-vans. The hybrid variant, in my opinion, is the best, because it is the most fuel efficient: 82 combined mpge. The added “e” to the mpg is because the Chrysler Pacific Hybrid can function as a fully-electric vehicle for up to 32 miles.

I must also omit that I have no kids or grandkids, so I am not the target audience for this vehicle. Thus the fancy 3rd-row seating, built in vacuum cleaner, and rear entertainment options made no difference to me.

While I had the car however, I did do a small home improvement project. The gigantic rear hatch and folding rear seats were awesome for transporting building supplies from the hardware store to my home. The lower access height for picking up heavy materials is a one up against typical SUVs.

Driving the Chrysler Pacific Hybrid around town and on the highway was easy. It has great visibility and offers a smooth ride. I wouldn’t call the experience exciting, but the vehicle has plenty of pickup.

I plan to keep my sports cars for now, but I can’t absolutely understand why mini-vans remain the king of family vehicles. They are comfortable, practical, and can take the place of a truck for house projects.

A Solar Powered Car? The 2020 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid

To say the 2020 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid is a solar powered car is a bit of a stretch, but I am not too far off. Instead of a traditional sun roof, the production vehicle that I drove for a week featured a large solar panel on the roof. This allows the car to re-charge its batteries while sitting in the hot sun. Effectively allowing you to drive an electric vehicle up to 2-miles per day on solar alone. Hyundai did a great job with this; not only from an engineering side, but from an understated design perspective. It look like a sleek Hyundai sedan from a distance, which I like. Solar powered roof only gets noticed when you closely look at the roof. Click Here To Continue Reading

2021 Kia K5: Luxury car styling for an economy car pricing

My 2021 Kia K5 press car is the best value sedan I have driven in a long time. You can get one for about $23,000 ,and if you hide the Kia badges, you would almost think you are driving a small Audi. On the exterior, you have well sculpted lines reminiscent of a fastback sedan.

Under the hood is a turbocharged 1.6L 4-cylinder engine mated to an 8-speed automatic. Acceleration is adequate for everyday driving with 180 horsepower and 195 pounds of torque. However, if you feel the need for speed, a “GT” version of the K5 is coming next month with a 290 horsepower 2.5L Turbo-charged 4-cylinder engine. This is promising to out run most European entry-level luxury vehicles.

The interior of the K5 offers a driver centric cockpit, with faux wood trim and aluminum. My press car also had faux leather on the seats and steering wheel, but the material felt convincingly real. The K5 is also available with both heated and ventilated front seats, as well as a panoramic sunroof to keep you at the optimal temperature at all times.

The Kia K5 is available with the near standard issue drive safety technology, such as auto emergency braking technology, lane keep assist, blind spot collision avoidance and electronic stability control. As a driving enthusiast, most of these items are annoying when you want to fully control the vehicle, however these options should significantly reduce your insurance premium.

The only true fault I could find with the car is its infotainment center. It was very beautiful to look at, especially the radio app, but the interface was terrible to use. With a price tag of less than 30,000 for a fully equipped model, I can’t complain too much. Anything else this good looking overall would cost you $5,000 to $10,000 more.

2020 Alfa Romeo Giulia

It is the forgotten hero. It is one of the best kept secrets in the automotive industry, which makes it even cooler. Its drivers are performance enthusiasts, stylish, and daring to standout from the crowd. I am talking about the Alfa Romeo Giulia.

For the life of me, I can’t figure out why I don’t see more Alfa Romeo Giulias on the road. You get authentic Italian design for less than $40,000. And with the optional Quadrifoglio trim level, you get a Ferrari derived engine with 505 horsepower for less than $75,000. It is the bargain of the century when it comes to a taste of Italian automotive excellence.

My test vehicle for a week was the Giulia TI. The all-wheel-drive version, which enhances grip while cornering and offers improved 0 to 60 mph times. Although, I suspect the rear-wheel-drive version would be more fun. Out of the box, the TI trim level has a 280 horsepower turbo-charged 4-cylinder engine. The car feels peppy, with the torque peaking at low RPMs.

Alfa Romeo’s motorsports pedigree, dating back to the 1920s, shines through on the Giulia. It is available with column-mounted paddle shifters controlling the 8-speed gearbox, you get a four leaf clover badge with the Quadrifoglio trim level, and all vehicles offer near-perfect 50/50 weight distribution. Also standard on all vehicles is a carbon fiber driveshaft. This is something you would expect to find on a car 10 times the price.

The interior is pretty nice too! It comes in an assortment of color choices and trim options. The controls are intuitively placed, with the ignition button cinematically placed on the steering wheel – very cool! There is quite a bit of plastic pieces for a car at this price point, but the Giulia makes up for it with carefully placed aluminum details.

But the best thing about this car is that no one else has one. Its exotic and rare appearance means that you will be the talk of the office water cooler crowd. Did he get a raise? Or in today’s world, the Monday morning Zoom meeting.