Austin, Texas: Jeep’s update of its 2014 Grand Cherokee model makes it new; there are new drivetrains, more luxury and a bevy of options for off-road prowess define it and its sizzling sibling- the high-performance, lap-of-luxury 2014 Grand Cherokee SRT. One of the original mid-sized luxury SUVs to come to market in 1992, the newest version seats five and is an authentic competitor to VW, Land Rover, BMW, and other high-end sport utes. It’s priced from $28,795 to $50,995; the Grand Cherokee Limited with Jeep’s new EcoDiesel V6 is the lowest priced diesel SUV in the market at $40, 295, says Chrysler.
The exterior strikes a nice visual balance between refinement and ruggedness, with a grille that has been redesigned to give more luxo character overall, with distinguishing trim around each of the signature vertical slots. Slimmer headlamps and a shorter upper grille put a check in the “more refined” category, while 17-inch all-season tires (standard on base Laredo models) and a beefy lower grille have “rugged” cred – plus, depending on the trim level, tires get as big as 20 inches.
The rear has new, larger tail lamps with smart LED lighting, a larger, more aerodynamic rear spoiler, and a re-sculpted tailgate. Dual exhaust tips are standard on all Limited, Overland and Summit models. Front and rear LED lighting, including bi-xenon high-intensity discharge (HID) headlamps on higher end models, make Grand Cherokee grandly bright on the road.
Continue reading "2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee and Grand Cherokee SRT Take on the Texas Hills and the new Circuit of the Americas" »
For its fourth birthday as a unibody crossover SUV, the Kia Sorento is getting the equivalent of a pony, a piñata party and a wardrobe of amazing new clothes all at once. Among its gifts: a completely new chassis, a new V6 engine, a redesigned interior and some vamped-up, top-of-the-line features including an entirely new high-end trim line. Kia wants to be known for design, safety and value.
The Sorento’s facelift freshens its design, while inside you’ll find improved conveniences, upgraded materials and more amenities. A top IIHS safety pick, Sorento seats five or seven (there are 2-row and 3-row versions), and comes in front-wheel drive and all-wheel-drive models that start at $24,950, including destination charges.
In case you have not noticed, there are a lot of vehicles in the competitive compact and medium-sized utility vehicle (CUV) segment – and they start to all look alike after awhile. Although Sorento doesn’t look radically different from its contemporaries, it has a few distinctive features that help it stand apart. Among them: a beefy grille and deep front air dam with black hexagonal grille inset behind chrome trim. Vertically set rectangular fog lamps offset sleek, slanted headlamps.
The rear end sits high and is capped at the bottom by a kickplate with a sweet-looking oval tailpipe.
Continue reading "Kia Shows off Two Updated Models with More for Your Money" »
Auto shows have a personality and the Chicago Auto Show is described by automakers and autowriters as a “down-home” show—and they love it! There’s even an event sponsored by all the automakers for the press and other early attendees called “Sweet Home Chicago”! But, don’t let its slower pace and more comfortable setting make you think it’s small. In fact, the Chicago Auto Show is the largest auto show in North America and this year’s show marked the 105th annual event, which makes it the longest-running and one of the best-attended shows in the world. Sponsored by the Chicago Automobile Trade Association dealers, the show is held at the McCormick Place Convention Complex where the enormous amount of space on hand brings an ease for car makers to offer free concerts and set up experiential test tracks. There’s also a ‘social media day’ now held annually that draws a wide variety of presenters and consumers to come together to evaluate and promote this new landscape and its effect on the automotive industry. AskPatty.com was one of the presenters this year, helping to showcase the exciting and rapidly-growing arena of Marketing to Women.
But, at the end of the day, an auto show is really about new sheet metal and the introductions of new models soon to hit the streets along with the unveiling of concept vehicles that are experiments in design and technology and are meant to take the temperature of the audience, plus help automakers make decisions about whether to move forward with a particular model or technology. There were a number of both-new models that will be in dealerships soon and a few hot concepts. My personal favorites were the 2014 Toyota Tundra, the 2014 Ram Promaster, the 2014 Nissan Juke NISMO and Nissan NV200, and the Kia Crossover CUT Concept.
Continue reading "The 2013 Chicago Auto Show: The Windy City’s Annual Show is Top for Consumers" »
The Nation's longest running auto show in Chicago opened it's doors for a media preview of this year's latest and upcoming redesigned and brand new models. Here is a sneak peek at what we saw at this years show:
Jaguar introduced their latest XJ and XF models which will feature AWD 3.0 Liter V6 engines. The XF will also be available in RWD and XFR-S. The XFR-S is 550 hp and, "is one serious motorcar," said Jaguar and Land Rover President, Andy Goss. Meanwhile the manufacturer also introduced their fourth generation Range Rover which will feature an all aluminum body. "Everything about this Range Rover is new except the engine," Goss added. They will also be releasing a two seater F-type sports car, "which is our most important new car we have released in many years."
Also in the new car mix is Kia who introduced a very svelte concept crossover and their new Superhero, DC Comics inspired line. Michael Sprague Executive VP of Kia's Marketing and Communications gave a glimpse of models with superhero paint, logos, and trims. The Optima Hybrid and Sorento will be available in this line and Kia's 'hero' theme ties in with their Builtforjustice.com program which helps those located in the Horn of Africa. Kia will also have, "seven all new significantly redesigned vehicles to go on
sale this year," Sprague said. The Kia Forte is one of those redesigns which will be available in March. The Forte will offer two trims and
will be a turbo charged compact which features 201 hp.
Nissan's VP Joe Castelli introduced the manufacturer's expansion of their Nismo option which now includes a Juke Nismo and 370 Z Nismo. There will also be a Nissan GTR track edition which will sell 150 units. This highly anticipated GTR track edition will feature an even greater level of high performance components.
Continue reading "Chicago Auto Show Brings the Bling" »
Quebec, Canada, December of 2012: We were invited to Quebec to drive a trio of 2013 vehicles from Jaguar and Land Rover: the company’s flagship Jaguar XJ, the smaller XF and the compact SUV Land Rover LR2. The driving conditions were perfect—snow, ice, rain and wind. Just the kind of weather we wanted to test the goods!
The news: With the addition of all-wheel drive, the XJ and XF are making themselves available to a new market, one that wants to be prepared for all types of weather conditions.
The drive: Our route started off in Mont Tremblant and took us over snowy back roads to Mecaglisse, a driving school and racetrack in the belly of the Laurentian Mountains and a 90 minute drive from Montreal.
I am one of those people who loves to drive on snow and ice. I got my wings after spending a couple of wild winters in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. But in those days, I had an aging four-wheel drive Jeep. How my life has changed! This time, I was driving luxury sedans with AWD and feeling very confident! At the track, an instructor coached us in the art of dancing through cones, making quick stops and starts on the ice and drifting in circles around a track. One word: SUPERB.
But a real life test had me totally convinced. On the drive back, a huge snow machine veered into our path, spewing ice and mud. The lake was on our right, the truck on our left. When we lunged right and slipped minimally, the AWD system kicked in. The magic of this technology is what kept us from a potentially serious accident.
Continue reading "2013 Jaguar XJ & XF Buff Up with AWD" »
General Motors says that today’s pickup truck buyers don’t just use their trucks from 9-5, but also from 5-9, too! They want trucks that have the DNA or core technology of toughness for work, carrying payload, and hauling trailers, but also comfort and room for taking their kids to ball games and ferrying their family around town, as well as connectivity and good gas mileage. Listening to their customers, who are also buying more extended cab models, GM has just taken the wraps off of its next generation Chevy Silverado and GMC Sierra 1500 that have been updated and renovated for 2014.
Scheduled to go on sale later this year, the stablemates have a refreshed exterior, a completely redesigned interior and upgraded powertrains for more power—but also improved fuel economy. We took a ‘first look’ at the new models recently in Detroit; pricing has not been announced.
While General Motors played it safe with this model year update, and kept some familiar exterior design cues and, in some areas made modest changes, there are also some significant improvements, particularly with some technology features – the improvements offer a welcome change and are clearly a sign of many new and good things to come from The General.
Continue reading "2014 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 and GMC Sierra 1500: The General’s Next-Generation Pickups" »
Although southern California is celebrated as a sports car mecca, sport utility vehicles of every size and type were among the biggest hits at the
2012 Los Angeles International Auto Show. More than 40 different brands parked their new models and concept renditions on the ‘red carpet’ at the Los Angeles Convention Center, as 50 new vehicles made their premier entrance or global debut. The LAIAS is among the most significant shows in annual big-city show season in the U.S. and the home of the Greater Los Angeles Auto Dealers Association (GLANCDA), the umbrella organization for local and regional dealers. The LAIAS is followed by 2013 auto shows in Detroit (January), Chicago (February), New York (April) and other cities across the nation.
Continue reading "The 2012 Los Angeles International Auto Show: Automakers Keep the Sport in Sport Utes" »
Quebec: winter of 2012
The news: The Land Rover LR2, a premium compact SUV, has been totally renovated for 2013.
A short history: In the 1990’s, the Rover Group tried to partner with Honda to build a compact SUV. But the companies had their differences, and Honda left to pursue building the CR-V. When BMW acquired the Rover Group in 1994, they infused cash into the SUV project. As a result, the original Freelander debuted in 1997 to directly compete with Honda’s effort. In comparison to the first generation, the second generation Freelander had a remodeled engine set on a different frame with more off-road capability.
Flash forward to 2006, when the first LR2 (replacing the Freelander in the US) launched in London to great applause. This complete redesign of the original Freelander 4 X 4 was a new direction for Land Rover into the small luxury SUV market. The LR2 didn’t compromise form for function—it still contained all of the off-road capabilities that were part of its DNA combined with on-road dynamics.
Continue reading "2013 Land Rover LR2: Brawn and Beauty" »
People need to move—and carry things. Adding some all-new and updated game-changing, people-and-cargo-movers to its line-up, Ford has recently expanded its truck brand in the U.S., with new models that go on sale later this year. The Blue Oval is already the best-selling truck maker in North America and now adds two new vehicles for 2014-an updated Transit Connect Van and an all-new Transit Connect Wagon.
We recently took a look and climbed aboard the two new vehicles in Detroit, with Ford’s designers, engineers and marketers on hand to educate us about the new models. First, let’s take a closer look at the van, which came to the U.S. in 2010 as a creative solution for small business owners and others that had the need or desire to own a somewhat utilitarian, compact panel van.
If you’re not familiar with the first-generation version that came stateside from its popular run in Europe for close to a decade, you might think of a bulky, rectangular box with four wheels and the “Airport Shuttle” image, or the name of your electrician painted on the side of a van. You might even think back to the velour swivel seats and dastardly fuel economy of vans in the 1970s and 1980s.
Continue reading "First Drive: The 2014 Ford Transit Connect Van and Wagon" »
It was a cornucopia of cars that glistened and twirled
at this year’s 2012 Los Angeles International Auto Show (stay
tuned for our “trucks’ piece that follows soon!). Hundreds of models from 42
brands were parked under the bright lights of the Los Angeles Convention Center,
50 of which took the runway and shed their nighties to make a global debut,
kicking off the annual big-city-auto-show season in the U.S. Upcoming are auto
shows in Detroit, Chicago, New York and other cities across the nation.
Continue reading "The 2012 Los Angeles International Auto Show: RACY CARS ARE THE STARS in The City of Angels " »