Category: Luxury

By on February 18, 2017

2017 GMC Sierra Denali 2500HD

In the dark days of the recession, as General Motors was frantically attempting to save itself from the abyss, many thought it odd that the automaker’s GMC division was saved while a storied brand like Pontiac met its executioner. As for Saturn and Hummer, well, let’s just say far fewer tears were spilled over those deaths.

Clearly, GM saw long-term profitability in its carless brand — a prediction that has since panned out. From a low point in 2009, GMC sales doubled to 558,697 units by 2015. However, it isn’t the number of vehicles sold that’s the sweet spot for the automaker — it’s the number of GMCs sold in top-end Denali trim.

At GM’s utility brand, luxury versions of non-luxury vehicles are proving increasingly popular. Read More >

By on February 8, 2017

Volvo V90 Location 7/8 Rear, Image: Volvo

Volvo has officially revealed pricing for its newest wagon, the V90.

Available in two trims, the V90 R-Design will start at $49,950, while Inscription will start at $51,950.

Both come standard with Volvo’s T5 turbocharged four-cylinder, which sends 250 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque to the front wheels. A more powerful T6 four-cylinder, fed with turbocharged and supercharged air, will be available as a $6,000 option. Those models send 316 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque to all four wheels as standard.

Read More >

By on January 27, 2017

Aston Martin Vanquish Volante S

Even though the DB11 highlights a marked transformation for Aston Martin, there are still a few sexy dinosaurs milling around its factory floors. The Vanquish is one of those dinosaurs and, last November, Aston debuted a 580 horsepower S coupe to keep it from supplicating for its own extinction. This month, the British automaker hacked off its roof to bestow unto us the Vanquish Volante S.

Unless your supercar is completely ridiculous-looking — and Aston’s tasteful examples typically are not — converting one into a droptop is a straightforward way to ruin its grandeur. Fortunately, Aston Martin has a decent track record with convertibles, thanks in no small part to bulging rear fenders and abundance of inoffensive style.  Read More >

By on January 21, 2017

Just as geese fly south in the winter, metal conducts electricity, and tides rise and fall at the will of the moon, a luxury-laden SUV that rivals yachts for sticker price is guaranteed by all of science to become a premium brand’s best-seller.

After seeing the stunning success of the once-unthinkable Bentley Bentayga, what other conclusion could the folks at Mercedes-Benz draw? Carving out a stratospheric utility vehicle niche well above a brand’s high water mark means money falling from the sky. Period.

Naturally, Stuttgart wants in on the action. Like any rational competitor, the company now plans to tart up an existing SUV, slap on a Mercedes-Maybach badge, and sit back to await the arrival of the money train. Read More >

By on January 16, 2017

2018 Lexus LS

The next-generation Lexus LS flagship’s top-to-bottom revamp took some fans by surprise when it was revealed ahead of the Detroit auto show. Not only did it do away with a formal roofline, a V8 engine — which has powered the model since its inception — was no where to be found, replaced by a twin-turbocharged 3.5-liter V6.

It appeared as if convention wasn’t the only thing Lexus planned to ditch, as a hybrid model was neither announced, nor teased. As it turns out, Lexus did tease an upcoming hybrid variant — we just needed to look closer. Read More >

By on January 9, 2017

2018 Lexus LS at NAIAS Front 3/4, Image: © 2017 Mark Stevenson/The Truth About Cars

It wasn’t long ago that Lexus could reliably sell 20,000-plus LS sedans in the U.S. each year. Certainly, the model’s pre-recession sales performance fell under the heading of “reliable,” with over 35,000 sold in 2007.

Ever since great economic upheaval sent American buyers fleeing in increasing numbers into the arms of crossovers and SUV, the Lexus sedan that created tsunami-like ripples through the luxury car field in 1990 has seen its customer base erode. Just 5,514 U.S. buyers saw fit to take an LS home in 2016.

Could a redesign bordering on the radical be the medicine the LS so desperately needs? Read More >

By on January 6, 2017

Cadillac ATS-V.

If you’ve ever found yourself buying someone a $10,000 handbag or worrying that not enough of your clothing is made from cashmere or silk, you’ll want to know that Cadillac will let you “subscribe” to its cars for a tidy monthly sum of $1,500.

“Book” by Cadillac is a $500 app that lets you select the most premium offerings from the brand and have it delivered to your door. However, you’re not leasing or purchasing a vehicle from General Motors’ flagship brand — you’re just borrowing one. Cadillac is touting this as some sort of transformative, fancy-free way to own a car. Still, it doesn’t actually alleviate most of the problems associated with car ownership, especially not in the urban markets it plans to test the service in.  Read More >

By on December 29, 2016

2016 Land Rover Range Rover Sport

Guam, besides having the highest per-capita Spam consumption in the world (16 tins per person, on average), is also home to a recently uncovered fraud scheme that placed high-end vehicles in the driveways of island residents.

On paper, anyway. The unsuspecting residents — over 50 of them, authorities say — had no idea their names were placed next to luxury SUV registrations in the Department of Motor Vehicles database. Read More >

By on December 22, 2016

2016 Cadillac CT6

Owning a range-topping Cadillac is supposed to be a trouble-free affair, and — barring gremlins — it still can be, so long as your sharp-edged, oddly light CT6 remains unbent and unbroken.

Cadillac’s liberal use of high-strength aluminum in the sedan’s body structure won accolades when the CT6 debuted for the 2016 model year. Body stiffness, curb weight, and fuel economy all benefit from this mingling of metals. However, trouble arises when those carefully bonded metals come apart.

As it turns out, fixing a damaged CT6 could prove difficult for many of the model’s 7,876-plus owners. Read More >

By on December 8, 2016

1978-jeep-wagoneer

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has high hopes for the upcoming Jeep Grand Wagoneer and its ability to challenge Range Rover and Mercedes-Benz for premium SUV buyers. The proposed model’s $140,000 price ceiling keeps FCA execs up at night in giddy anticipation.

However, there’s a problem: Before FCA hoists that sparkling and lucrative cherry atop its Jeep sundae, it first needs to build the damn thing, and that’s easier said than done.

Which is why the Grand Wagoneer — the three-row ultra-lux SUV that Lee Iacocca could only dream of — is on hold. Read More >

By on November 29, 2016

2018 Kia GT

A photo of what looks like a pre-production Kia GT was leaked to the interwebs today, revealing the upcoming premium midsize tapped to carry the brand’s performance torch.

Bowing next year as a 2018 model, Kia’s rear-wheel-drive sports sedan faces an uphill battle against a well-established competition, changing consumer preferences, and itself. Read More >

By on November 28, 2016

Bentley Continental GT V8 S

Rising insurance premiums are a plump grape in the cornucopia of adult annoyances, but they grow into a ripe apple when forces outside of your control cause them to skyrocket.

Now, imagine that there’s only one insurance provider, and you already pay taxes towards it. That’s the reality in several provinces north of the border, but one jurisdiction just crashed head-on into an unforeseen problem: new money, and the skyrocketing increase in six-figure vehicle ownership that came with it.

To save the owners of Malibus and Journeys from a major jump in premiums caused by ultra-pricey supercar repairs, one Canadian province has taken drastic steps. Read More >

By on November 23, 2016

2016 Mercedes-Benz C-Class coupe interior

Gather round, gather round.

You probably know of a friend who’s just tickled pink over their recent vehicle purchase, someone who likely spends too much time describing in awed tones just how nifty, neat-o and awesome their luxury crossover’s standard equipment is. It does this, and this, and they’ll never accidentally back over a neighbor’s kid again, or spend all day shoulder checking before a lane change.

Meanwhile, you’re gently nodding, wondering where squirrels sleep or how birds turn in unison, because you’ve got the same tech in your midsize domestic car. You could have dropped even less cash on a compact with the same convenience and safety aids.

Technology once reserved for high-end models has trickled down into plebeian rides, making it commonplace, affordable, and thus mundane. So, does “luxury” really matter anymore? Read More >

By on November 22, 2016

2016 Volkswagen CC, Image: Volkswagen Group of America

The slow-selling Volkswagen CC premium sedan — a model you’d be forgiven for forgetting — has reportedly ended production in Germany.

In happier times, the model added a dash of upscale panache to the squeaky-clean brand. Now, Volkswagen has cast off the aging, underperforming model as it seeks to reclaim lost market share and revenue with the CC’s shadowy replacement. Read More >

By on October 27, 2016

Infiniti four-cylinder turbocharged gasoline VC-T engine, Image: Infiniti

It was 1998 and my friend Tom had just picked up a 1991 Eagle Talon TSI AWD.

“Ok, go ahead and floor it, but don’t rev it past 5,000 rpm,” Tom said.

I mashed the throttle and … nothing happened.

We were moving, but it was at the pace of a Toyota Corolla and nowhere near the rate of acceleration promised by the 2.0-liter turbo’s claimed 195 horsepower.

Disappointed, I left my foot on the throttle for a few seconds. Suddenly, I heard the whistle of the spooling turbo and a sudden shove of boost kicked in.

Four-cylinder turbo engines from the ‘90s were all similar to this. While they generated relatively big power at the top end, they also suffered from massive turbo lag and had fuel economy similar to a much larger V8.

Nissan’s new Variable Compression Turbo engine promises big power, minimal turbo lag, and decent fuel economy using some new trickery.

Is this the holy grail of turbocharged motors?
Read More >

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