By on January 31, 2014

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“I could have had a V8!” was the tagline for a foul tonic of liquified vegetables and spices sold by Campbell’s, but also a metaphor for the deadly automotive sin of purchasing a V6 muscle car. In my own lifetime, I remember when anyone with a Y chromosome that willingly purchased a 6-cylinder pony car was derided as a skinflint at best, effete at worst. It wasn’t until the second decade of the 2000′s that things changed. The V6s on offer suddenly became legitimate options for ponycar buyers.

The V6 Mustang was no longer a secretary special, but a legitimate sports car, offering comparable straight line performance with the old Mod Motor Mustangs, and able to dispatch its import competition around a road course. The GM HFX V6 and Chrysler Pentastar V6s went a long way to raise the game of the rental-spec Camaros and LX/LY chassis cars respectively, making it hard for us to imagine that the old 2.7 Chrysler V6 and the GM 3.9L ever existed. That doesn’t mean that you should willingly opt for two less cylinders. Not in a pony car. But in a Range Rover Sport, it wouldn’t be the worst thing.

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By on January 20, 2014

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Recently, I spent some of my procrastinating time in Facebook discussion with a colleague, motoring journalist here in Czech Republic. He was driving a new Range Rover at the time, and he was raving about how great car it was. But there was one flaw, he said. The car came with the most common engine on our market – the TDV6 diesel. And while it didn’t really lack power and was reasonable refined, even for the luxury car it is, there was one thing it just lacked. A V8. Preferably, of the gasoline-burning kind.

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By on September 8, 2013

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In advance of its public debut at the upcoming Frankfurt show, Jaguar has dropped a front 3/4 beauty shot and other images of its new compact crossover. Since there’s no shortage of wailing and gnashing of teeth from those who see this as a Porsche Cayenne level brand heresy, and since I’m a contrarian non-comformist by nature, I’m going to swim against the stream and say that the CX-17 or whatever they end up calling it, makes sense, or at least it can in today’s market. Compact (and smaller) crossovers are the hot thing in the car biz these days. Lexus just released images of a LF-NX compact crossover concept that presumably will also be revealed at the Frankfurt show. GM is looking to shuffle production because GM Korea can’t build enough Buick Encores and Opel Mokkas. Land Rover is having record monthly sales, in part due to the success of the Evoque.

Which raises the question, why build a small Jaguar crossover when Jaguar Land Rover already builds the Evoque? (Read More…)

By on July 12, 2013

2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit Exterior, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes

I got a call from my folks a year ago. It went something like this: “your mom wants a new Grand Cherokee for her birthday, what do you think?” I called up Chrysler and snagged a 2013 Grand Cherokee Overland Summit, the last major Mercedes/Chrysler vehicle to launch before Fiat took the reins. I came to the conclusion the American Range Rover was all kinds of crazy, had drivetrain deficiencies and she should wait until the 2014 refresh. That refresh has landed, so should mom buy one?

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By on May 22, 2013

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How long has it been since the Range Rover was “the best 4x4xfar”? Since the original 2-door Spen King special went out of production? Since Toyota replaced Land Rover vehicles (including the Defender, Range Rover and the like) as the vehicle of choice for African off-roaders and UN peacekeepers? Since the Range Rover was catapulted from Anglophile obscurity to the must have vehicular fashion accessory of the wannabe Kardashian set?

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By on May 7, 2013

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As Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Audi rush to prepare new entry-level product to attract a younger crowd, Jaguar Land Rover is proudly calling “bollocks” on their efforts to attract younger buyers. Although much of the growth in the “near-luxury” segment is expected to come from vehicles with a transaction price in the $30,000-$40,000 range, JLR’s sole offering in that segment is the low-volume LR2. It’s the $50,000 Evoque that’s driving sales for the brand.  This interview from Automotive News with JLR’s North American CEO, Andy Goss, explains why: (Read More…)

By on March 22, 2013

Here in Colorado, retired members of the Land Rover family are lined up in large numbers in every self-service wrecking yard. Range Rovers and Discoveries were (and are) extremely popular here, most likely as a form of rebellion against the Subaru Outback-driving hordes whose maintenance expenses (even with all the blown head gaskets and nuked center diffs) come to a boring 0.004% of the total per-vehicle annual cost of Range Rover ownership. I’ve been ignoring these trucks when I see them in junkyards, but today we’re going to look at a typical example, chosen at random. (Read More…)

By on March 14, 2013

The Range Rover Sport is set to get a total redesign later this year, but pictures of the new car have leaked prior to its New York Auto Show debut. Just as we expected, it looks like a full-size Range Rover got shrunk in the wash.

Expect residual values of the current model to take a serious dive once the new car goes on sale. God forbid anybody should be seen driving the previous generation. An easy giveaway will be the sagging air suspensions, which the new owners will not be able to afford to fix, due to the exorbitant shop rates charged by JLR dealers.

By on February 28, 2013

ZF’s 9-speed transmission seems to be gaining popularity with storied off-road name plates that are now marketing unibody vehicles better meant for the urban jungle. The Range Rover Evoque is the next recipient of the ZF 9-speed, which should help squeeze some more efficiency out of the Evoque’s boosted four-cylinder engine.

By on February 26, 2013

Some things never change. Lying politicians, for example. And racist YouTube commenters. But also the JD Power Long-Term Vehicle Dependability Study, which was just released for 2013. Like always, Lexus and Lincoln were near the top, proving that old people can’t figure out in-car computer systems well enough to give them low ratings. Porsche was also near the top, proving that at least one German brand still has some idea what it’s doing.

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By on February 15, 2013

The 2013 Range Rover may be sold out, but anyone ordering the base model or the HSE may regret getting their order in. The 5.0L naturally aspirated V8 will be replaced by the more efficient and nearly-as-powerful 3.0L supercharged V6.

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By on January 20, 2013

Yesterday, we witnessed Sandy being picked up by Mental Ward. Today, we follow both on the roadtrip through America. Will they make it?

Just east of Philly, it had started snowing pretty well. During the first (of many) fuel stops, I pulled the light covers. At speed, the lights off the snowflakes resembled the cockpit view of the Millennium Falcon making the jump to light speed. It was simply awesome. Snow? HA! Disco Sandy positively yawned at the attempt and sped through the Pennsylvania night.

Comfortably perched in the high leather seat, I began to grasp the concept of “command seating” outside of marketing buzzwords. Sorry, you don’t have it. In fact nothing else outside of the starship Enterprise has command seating. The window frame is just above my hipbone with miles of headroom. The dash is low and the gauges succinct but informative. The seat is as comfortable as you expect British leather to be. There is an armrest, cup holders, dual sunroofs, suspension adjustments, and my favorite; a curry hook. 4,500 pounds of steel and three locking differentials certainly ads to your swagger. Exit the vehicle and hear air pumping the suspension level. You drive a sedan, you pilot a race car, but you command a Land Rover. (Read More…)

By on January 19, 2013

It’s Sandy

Murilee Martin and his merry band of adventurers have already weaved a fascinating tale of a harrowing escape from the vile Super storm Sandy after the Lemons Halloween Hooptiefest in New Hampshire. I have a much less exciting tale, but along the same ilk.
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By on December 14, 2012

With the introduction of the new Range Rover already underway, next on the agenda is the smaller Range Rover Sport.

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By on November 27, 2012

When he make it drip drip, kiss him on the lip, lip. Picture courtesy the author.

Halfway across the stream, there was a crunch and a GRRRRRRIND and my little Freelander came to a halt, steering wheel frozen in place by a log or a rut or the Kraken or something. Immediately I heard advice from both sides of the water. “Go forward! Harder!”

“No, wait! Backwards!”

“We’ll strap you up, hold on!”

“No time for that! You’ll stall the motor! Just DO SOMETHING!” The water in the passenger compartment was three inches high and rising. I was more than ten miles from the nearest trailhead in any direction and more than two hundred miles from home. The recovery would be long, difficult, and expensive. I chose to briefly slam the transmission into reverse and give the miniature V-6 a brief moment of full-throttle before selecting low gear and driving forward into whatever had stopped me before with twice the momentum I’d had previously. Thankfully, this time the obstacle gave way and moments later I was four-wheel-scrabbling for grip up the streambank. A narrow escape. Who’s stupid enough to take a unibody CUV hardcore off-roading? This guy.

(Read More…)

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