The WRX you see pictured above is every kids fantasy – they are a car enthusiast. While some love the WRX STI and other hate it because of the “rice burner” image, gear heads around the world respect it because Subaru built one heck of a car. It come standard with a turbo-charged 4-cylinder boxer motor that is good for over 300 horsepower and symmetrical all-wheel-drive. But this isn’t Subuar’s standard all-wheel-drive system…
Using a toggle switch along the center console, you can control how much power is distrubed amongst the front and rear wheels. If you are trying to do donuts or get the maximum power; direct all of the power to the rear wheels. If you are driving in a rally cross race or in the rain, shift the power back to all four wheels. This level of control for an all-wheel-drive system is very impressive. I can’t think of another manufacture with this degree of control – not even Audi has it.
An additional benefit of Subaru’s advanced all-wheel-drive system is that on STI models, “true” Active Torque Vectoring is standard. I want to emphasis “true” torque vectoring because most modern sports cars only offer simulated torque vectoring. The concept of torque vectoring was pioneered by McLaren for Formula 1 racing. The idea is to force the outside wheels to spin faster than the inside wheels while going through a turn in order to make the car turn sharper. All-wheel-drive cars like the WRX STI (as well as the new Accura NSX, Lamborghini Huracan, and Audi R8) will shift power to the wheels from one side to the other, while cars like the Porsche 718 and 911 have to rely on using the brakes to slow the speed of the inside wheels. Obviously if you are using the brakes, you are scrubbing off speed and slowing down.
Ok, enough with all of the high performance racing talk. The Subaru WRX STI also has a mean bark and snarling approach. Even while sitting still, the car looks fast! It is hard to miss the gigantic rear wing of an STI. While I am guessing it is mainly for show, because the car tops out at around 155mph, but still looks really cool. That paired with large disc brakes and an enourmous hood scoop, the WRX STI looks like it a special vehicle – or one that spent a lot of time in a performance shop. Speaking of performance, check out that quad tip sport exhaust system that makes the car sound great and look bad ***.
P.S. Thank you Subaru for bring this to us in a manual transmission.
I read in an automotive publication years ago that the only people who buy Buicks are those who want a Cadillac, but can only afford a Chevy. This is certainly not the case with Buick in 2017. The brands new product lineup is something that everyone should take notice, especially with the LaCrosse. The vehicle does share a few components with its siblings, but the LaCrosse does the Buick name justice due to its styling and premium features.
I was impressed by its attractive exterior design. It is modern, but classy and timeless at the same time. It is the car for people who want to premium ride, but don’t have to show off.
When dressed with wood trim and saddle leather seats, the interior of the Buick LaCross is even more impressive than the exterior. It has a true luxury feeling from the moment you step inside. Passengers won’t believe that the car costs less than $50K fully equipped because the interior looks nice than many $50k+ vehicles currently on the market. Massaging seats are available on the Buick LaCrosse at the highest trim level.
The ride quality is good, and pickup is good too thanks to a 310 horsepower V6 and a 8-speed automatic. That is more power than most muscle cars had 10 years ago! Obviously Buicks flagship sedan is more luxury and sports car, but it is nice to know the car can move when you want it to. Even with all that power, the LaCrosse still gets 31 mpg on the highway.
Visit your local Buick dealer for more information on the Buick LaCrosse or click here to visit Buick’s website.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
There is a need in the USA for small fuel-efficient crossover vehicles and the new Buick Encore fits the bill nicely. It is a great option for young millennial who have an active lifestyle and need all 18 cubic feet of cargo space, as well as, baby boomers who no longer have kids to haul around, but want the ride height of an SUV and great fuel economy (34 mpg on the highway) for road trips.
With a starting price of $23,000, the Buick Encore is a great value in the premium small crossover segment. The vehicle comes in five trim levels and is offer with both front-wheel-drive and all-wheel-drive drivetrains. The interior of the car I test felt premium with leather seats and soft-touch plastics. The sticking on the dash was definitely an added touch that enhanced the premium feeling. The Buick Encore is no Cadillac, but it is definitely a step above a basic Chevrolet.
Safety features on the Buick Encore include 10 standard air bags and rear backup camera. Active safety features include rear cross traffic alert, blindspot detection, and forward collision alert. It won’t stop for you, but it will alert you if the car in front of our slams on their brakes.
Visit your local dealer to learn more about the Buick Encore or click here to visit Buick’s website.
No other American luxury sedan is as iconic as the Lincoln Continental. The vehicle’s legacy dates back to the late 1930’s. It was the ride of choice for Heads of State. Celebrities would be chauffeured in Continentals for premier parties and oscars. Its success continued on and off until since then, but the last great Continental (in my book) was 1969. President Kennedy was famous for driving around in one.
Fast forward to today… and the Continental is back! It has got classic styling with high-tech packaging. This is first time in a long time that I have been this excited about Lincoln’s flagship sedan. The vehicle has a nostalgic feeling to it, but it can easily compete with the features and comfort of a modern S-Class.
The seats made a lasting impression on me, even after recently having driven a Mercedes S Class. I love the way you can independently contour the top and lower back supports to offer a customized seat shape. You would also independently adjust the seat length and height between the left and right sides. No other car on the market offers this degree of control.
The rest of the interior stood out as well. The combination of blue leather and aluminum trim gave the Lincoln a unique look, one that was special in this segment of vehicles. The infotainment system felt a little generic when compared to other Ford and Lincoln vehicles in the lineup, but it is tried and true.
My final compliment to Lincoln for the recreation of the Continental is in regards to the attention to exterior details. I love chrome trim door handles that blend seemlessly into the the body design. Well done, Lincoln!
Visit your local dealer for more information on the 2017 Lincoln Continental or click here to visit the Lincoln Motor Company website.
The term “Duece Coupe” originally referenced a 1932 Hot Rod Ford, because of the model year. But I think it is more befitting of Lexus’ newest RC model, the 2.0L RC Turbo, because it has a 2.0L motor, plus I got to test it in the heart of Ford territory, Michigan.
All of the characteristics and styling of the more powerful RC 300/350/F are here, but now the RC features a fuel efficient rear-wheel drive option. At 32 MPG, I was able to drive the car across the entire state of Michigan and back (~350 miles) on a single tank of gas – and it doesn’t have a big tank. While the RC Turbo has half of cylinders and almost half the horsepower (241hp) as the RC F (467hp), it still has pep to its step. Plus since it is performance inspired, you can keep the momentum going as you hug a twisty road – enhanced by the adaptive variable suspension. It brakes well too with 11″ ventilated discs. Another item to note is that 18″ wheels are standard.
Because of the Lexus RC Tubro’s plush interior, it makes a well suited grand tourer. The heated and ventalited seats were perfect for my long trek across the state. I would almost describe them as “unusually comfortable” for its segment because the contour of the seats fit my back well. Being a Lexus, of course they were made from high quality leather. I point this out because most the German competition (excluding Audi) have leatherette seats.
The infotainment center is easy to use. It is controlled using voice commands or a touch pad on the center armrest. The touch pad isn’t as intuiative as you would think, but once you get use to it, you will love it! Sound wise, beats are pumped out from an optional 17 speaker Mark Levinson sound system. The vehicle I tested this time didn’t have the upgraded sound system, but I heard it play on other RCs before.
Value always come into play when I look at sporty cars, and the RC Turbo is amongst the best! At a starting price of $40k, you will be hard pressed to find a more stylish luxury sports coupe that offers this many standard features. Also it is comforting to know you are driving a machine backed by Toyota (parent company of Lexus) so the car will last FOREVER.
Visit your local Lexus dealer for more information on the 2017 Lexus RC Turbo or click here to visit the Lexus website.
No other sedan is more iconic for German engineering and luxury than the Mercedes Benz S-Class. It has ruled the road for generations powered by gas and diesel drivetrains. But in more recent years, Mercedes has equipped the S Class as an optional plugin electric gasoline hybrid. And now it gets even better, because the 2017 Mercedes S-Class Sedan is available as what I consider to be an extended range plugin electric gasoline hybrid. That means you drive the S Class fully on electric at 70+ mph for over 20 miles – I got 27 miles on electric while driving on i95 to be exact. Of course driving fully electric on the highway on long commutes is kind of silly, because the engine eventually kicks and has to work overtime in order to recharge the batteries.
The value of making the Mercedes Benz S Class a plugin hybrid is for your short daily commutes. If your daily commute involves driving short distances (12 miles) around town, then theoretically you would never had to turn the gasoline engine on. And because it is a plugin hybrid, you can charge the vehicle at a low cost or for free at hundreds of charging stations. It gives Tesla a run for their money!
Driving around town in fully electric mode was sublime. The entire S-Class range features an array noise insolation techniques, such as double pain windows, in order to create a nearly silent experience. But the Mercedes Benz S-Class Plugin Hybrid is completely silent in electric mode. This enhances the already posh ambience of sitting in a vehicle where nearly every surface is covered in leather and the seats massage you as you drive. This level of craftsmanship and attention to detail are what has made the S-Class benchmark car.
It is not just all fancy drivetrains and luxury interiors Mercedes Benz S-Class Plugin Hybrid is high-tech. Infotainment wise, you have standard features like a navigation system and satellite radio, but you also have access to internet radio stations. Your beats are pumped through a 24-speaker Burmester surround sound system. Everything is controlled using touch pads and dual 12 inch screens. This includes the vehicle’s semiautonomous features, which will keep the car in-between the lines on the highway and accelerate or decelerate based on traffic conditions.
No other hybrid vehicle offers this level of luxury and prestige, which is why the Mercedes Benz S-Class Plugin Hybrid is “King” of hybrid and electric vehicles. Learn more by visiting your local dealer or by visiting the Mercedes Benz website.
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.