Tag: Luxury

By on January 26, 2016

20160124_175208 (Custom)

Who has two thumbs and loves the ’79 Eldorado? This guy. I’ve spent more time writing about it than I’ve spent writing about Ferraris, Lamborghinis, and Maseratis … combined. What made the ’79 Eldorado great? Everything. It was styled with a crispness and strength of purpose never again seen on a Cadillac. It had a solid drivetrain as standard, although the optional engines and the later HT4100 tended to misbehave. The packaging was superb inside and out: trim yet spacious, small enough to be hassle-free in a parking lot but big enough to be recognizably Cadillac.

Most importantly, it was the last great coupe from a company that had a reputation for building brilliant luxury two-doors. (The CTS-V Coupe had pace but possessed neither space nor grace.) As a statement of personal wealth, taste, and maturity, no automobile truly satisfies like a full-sized luxury coo-pay. The man behind the wheel of an S-Class sedan or Cadillac XTS always risks being mistaken for a chauffeur, while the driver of a luxury SUV always risks being correctly identified as an imbecile. No, in order to convey the correct image to everyone from valets to unattached society ladies, it’s critical to drive a coupe.

Which leads me to this BMW 640i Convertible, rented by me this past weekend for the purpose of escaping Winter Catastrophe Jonas and relaxing in central Florida … but why am I talking about Eldorados in a review of what is intended to be a German sports coupe? And am I likely to quote Marcus Aurelius after the jump, seemingly to no purpose? You probably know the answer to both of these questions, dear reader.

(Read More…)

By on January 19, 2016

2016 Lexus IS 200t Exterior

Lexus has tended to prefer conservative design in almost every aspect of product development. Words like reliable and dependable usually spring to mind before sporty or exciting.

Yet, the brand has been trying to change that over the last few years with love-it-or-hate-it designs; in particular, Lexus’ new “Predator mouth.” The changes aren’t simply skin deep. The current-generation IS sedan also stepped outside the luxury brand’s comfort zone with sharp handling and a focus on dynamics. Of course, this is Lexus we’re talking about, so this change in a more aggressive direction is happening at, you guessed it, a conservative pace.

Now in its third year of production, the third-generation IS isn’t getting a refresh like we’d typically see in from ze Germans. Instead, Lexus has decided to focus its attention under the hood with a new turbocharged four-cylinder engine and a de-tuned V-6 for mid-level shoppers.

Can a refreshed drivetrain help the IS stand out in a crowded segment? Let’s find out.

(Read More…)

By on December 22, 2015

2016 Kia Optima SXL Exterior-012

It’s easy to see why some automakers resist putting premium features in mass market models. All you need to do is look at that luxury showroom to the right. In the quest to differentiate, say, the Ford Fusion from its Lincoln counterpart, or the Toyota Avalon from the Lexus ES, and so forth, manufacturers limit the options and luxuries available on the more pedestrian models.

On the surface, the Optima SXL’s mission could be confused with that of competitors from other non-luxury marques — Accord Touring and Fusion Titanium to name two — but Kia takes its top-trim game a couple steps further. You see, Kia is in a different position as the Optima has no luxury branded sistership and Kia has nothing to lose by creating an Optima trim that could arguably compete with the Acura TLX and Lincoln MKZ.

However, the Optima SXL’s existence does give rise to a very important question: Can a gussied-up family sedan be a value alternative to a near-luxury option, such as the TLX or MKZ? Or is this a case of “making a silk purse out of a sow’s ear?”

Let’s find out.

(Read More…)

By on December 18, 2015

2015_Toyota_Sienna_SE_001

So I’m driving along the other day, and I get up behind this Toyota Sienna that looks like it has a body kit. And not just a body kit, but powder coated wheels, too. This thing looked like your standard airport rental Sienna had been turned over to the people in charge of making Hyundais appealing in their last model year before a redesign.

It turns out that this vehicle is available for order from your local Toyota dealer. It’s called the SE Premium, and Toyota pitches it as a minivan that offers “extra swagger” for your whole family, as if your whole minivan-owning family already has enough swagger to go around, but some extra couldn’t hurt.

(Read More…)

By on December 4, 2015

2011_Hyundai_Equus_--_12-29-2011

I was driving along the other day and I cozied up behind a Hyundai Equus, which is the finest luxury sedan ever manufactured, assuming that you a) work for Hyundai, or b) are a Korean diplomat. I personally think it is merely OK.

And here’s why I think it’s merely OK: the damn thing starts at $62,500 with shipping. Although I realize that’s a discount compared to a Lexus LS or a BMW 7 Series or a Mercedes S-Class, that’s still an enormous amount of money to pay for a Hyundai. I don’t care if the thing has a Baroque-era fountain in the middle of the back seat and a trunk full of precious metals: sixty-two grand is a lot of cash for a subtle design from an unproven luxury car company.

Most people apparently tend to agree with my point of view, because from what I’ve seen, the Equus sells about as well as tangerine-flavored dog food. Sure, there are a few buyers, but there are always a few buyers for anything, like the Suzuki X-90.

(Read More…)

By on November 4, 2015

VC Euisun Chung_Genesis Brand

Hyundai officially announced late Tuesday night the launch of the Genesis luxury sub-brand and outlined what’s to come from the new marque.

The announcement comes after the possible launch was reported by Reuters on Tuesday.

According to Hyundai, the new brand will eventually sell six distinct models, starting with the Hyundai Genesis sedan and Equus which will be renamed Genesis G80 and G90, respectively, going into the 2017 model year. Those models will debut in Korea in December and in North America next spring, reported Automotive News.

(Read More…)

By on November 3, 2015

MY16 Hyundai Tucson

Reuters reported Tuesday that Hyundai will spin off Genesis as a global premium brand to compete with German automakers such as BMW, Mercedes and Audi. The news agency quoted sources “close” to the company and said an announcement could come as early as Tuesday.

Hyundai didn’t comment on the report.

According to Reuters, Hyundai would launch Genesis with the Genesis sedan — and possibly coupe — and the Equus sedan. Genesis would add a mid-size SUV around 2019.

(Read More…)

By on October 21, 2015

Tokyo_Motor_Show_Teaser_light_4B9ED65A9D945DFCF2BDAD40A99AC39CCB303041

Lexus released Wednesday a hint of what’s to come from the automaker’s 2015 Tokyo Motor Show display. According to the automaker, Lexus will be showing their “vision of progressive luxury” — which is vague-booking at its finest.

Although many believe the concept will be the automaker’s next-generation LS — which is certainly plausible considering Mercedes-Benz S Class, BMW 7 Series, Audi A8, et al. — it could be something different; Lexus has the Mirai and new Prius (aka CT) to play with from Toyota.

(Read More…)

By on October 13, 2015

2013-volvo-v40. Photo courtesy Volvo

Automotive News Europe reported that Volvo will offer a new compact crossover, based on a new architecture, in 2018 that will likely be called the XC40.

The crossover will be built in Ghent, Belgium and possibly in China, using the same platform being developed for compact cars in Europe.

The crossover will get Volvo power plants that include a hybrid variant. It would also likely get some sort of semi-autonomous driving feature as the Swedish automaker further develops its technology.

(Read More…)

By on September 16, 2015

2016_Cadillac_ATS_Sedan_(1_of_11)

2016 Cadillac ATS Sedan

3.6-liter LGX DOHC V-6, variable valve timing, active fuel management and cylinder deactivation (333 horsepower @ 6,800 rpm; 285 pounds-feet @ 4,800 rpm)

8-speed 8L45 automatic transmission

20 city/30 highway/24 combined (EPA Rating, MPG)

24.5 mpg combined in 60/40 city/highway, downtown traffic nightmare combined cycle (Observed MPG)

Tested Options: Driver Assist Package — $2,885 (Adaptive cruise control, automatic braking, seat belt tightening, electronic parking brake); Kona brown semi-aniline leather seating — $1,295; Power sunroof — $1,050; Cold weather package — $600 (heated seats, heated steering wheel); Dark Adriatic Blue Metallic Paint — $495.

Base Price:
$49,105*
As Tested Price:
$55,430*

* All prices include $995 destination fee (U.S.)

It’s easy to get caught up in the BMW-Mercedes-Audi hyperbole. Those automakers swap spec superlatives in generational battles for supremacy that, in all reality, won’t matter when it comes time for most of those buyers to pull the proverbial trigger.

In many ways, the Cadillac ATS gets left out in the cold. It doesn’t have the history, drama or marketing machine that the 3 Series and C-Class beat us over the head with everyday.

In fact, when Cadillac announced that it would take head-on those vaunted cars, most people laughed as long as it took for them to drive one. Then it became very real. Although the ATS competes with the Germans on price, it also competes in capability. The underpinnings are rock solid. The engine lineup is comparable. And the performance ATS-V is really damn good.

For 2016, little has changed with the ATS, but incremental improvements in interior tech and its top-of-the-range engine bring the car ever closer to being on par with — or in some cases better than — its German counterparts.

And for a lot of people, it’ll be an awkward, angular shaped pill to swallow for the future. (Read More…)

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