Hyundai has no secrets in its intentions. Since 2009, this company has managed to make itself look leagues better than almost everyone. When one company screws up in the news, Hyundai has a positive headline on the same page of the local newspaper. Somehow, they can make the entry-level Accent and Elantra and sell them in the same dealers as the high-end Genesis sedan, as well as the subject of this review, the flagship Equus. No other car company can sell a range as diverse as this under the same franchise roof. Hyundai bills the big Equus as a car to fight the S-Class for a much lower price. On paper, that’s quite a clear truth, but I had to drive it to see if that advertising line lives up to its billing.
The 335d was a bit of an oddball on the American market. It was the highest performing diesel version of the E90 3 Series, and BMW sought to see how Americans would receive a top range diesel car. Diesels are huge in Europe, but have a much smaller market share here in the States. Considering that, along with the fact that the 335d was a higher-end model 3 Series, it comes as no surprise that they were not BMW’s biggest seller. That means that today, here in 2013, 335ds are rather uncommon on the used market. It also means that we have to change the way we look at the car now that it is only available pre owned.
Those people who did buy 335ds will absolutely swear by them. To most uneducated Americans the notion of diesel power evokes thoughts of black smoke and the loud rattle of a dump truck. Anyone with actual experience in a modern diesel car will tell an entirely different story. They will tell you about the solid performance, and incredible fuel economy, about a car that both runs clean, and is great fun to drive. Diesels like the 335d are sort of a insider secret in America, those who know, know, and those who don’t know waste their money on (mostly) gutless hybrid cars.
I had driven a 335d once before, but only very briefly. I decided to go out and try another one for two reasons: First, to see how it fairs in the context of the used market. Second, to compare it to the new F30 3 Series that I reviewed recently. Lets face it, BMWs are very overpriced brand new, with all kinds of options that nickel-and-dime you to death. A smart car buyer knows that BMWs should be purchased secondhand, with low mileage and some remainder on the factory warranty. By doing this, you save yourself the vast depreciation that comes from spending so much on all of those fancy options, as well as the BMW brand mark up. I will go into the specifics of this for the 335d later on All you need to know for now is that 335ds are currently right in the sweet spot of the secondhand BMW market.
BMW has always held a special place in my list of carmakers. After the end of WWII, they were in tatters, like the other German car companies. But, in the 1960s and 1970s, their commitment to making cars that could make the driver grin endlessly (for a price) gave them a reputation of being a bit of an upper middle class car guy’s hero, in that for the price of a Cadillac or a Mercedes sedan, you could get a car that was capable of brightening your melancholy day with just a squeeze of the gas pedal and a turn of the wheel. But that was nearly 40 years ago, and based on what I’m seeing in the news (and what I’ve driven in the past year or two), I’m skeptical of their old motto. Read the rest of this entry »
The term “luxury” is very profound in the automotive world, one single phrase that evokes so much about a car’s nature. It is something that goes far beyond the face value of leather seats, and some fine wood veneer. Luxury implies a balance of heritage and modern sophistication, being up with the times, but staying true to one’s self. There is also a sense of great power, but with the wisdom to use it tastefully, and intelligently. Class is everything for luxury cars, but identity is most important when choosing between them. After all, if you are going to spend six figures on a mode of transportation, you don’t want it to be something “typical”. And with that I give you the Jaguar XJL Supersport, one such luxury car that I had the pleasure of sampling this past fall.
Cadillac’s changed. What was once a lineup filled with “luxury” cars more numerous than the “talent” in the Jets’ current roster has now become a brand obsessed with success. I’m not complaining, because at this point in the brand’s history, it has to evolve or die (the latter of which Lincoln, its immortal rival, seems obsessed with at this point). The Seville and the Deville formed the staple products of Cadillac’s offerings for more than 30 years when in 2011, Cadillac finally stopped building both of them. No, don’t light a candle for them. I asked myself this question after taking the wheel: Did Cadillac build a stopgap car, or a car with staying power that can carry the Wreath and Crest into the next few years with pride? I took the wheel of this bright red Premium AWD to find out the answer.
Back in the 1970s, Cadillac and Lincoln were facing an onslaught of luxury imports. Mercedes-Benz, BMW, and Jaguar were all moving in on their sales and they needed to adapt to the newbies, which were just as luxurious (if not more) for a decent price, with better economy and reliability. Both brands went to the drawing board, and within two years of each other debuted a new, smaller model which was designed to give an owner the same experience as the bigger cars, but with a nod to better economy and practicality. Read the rest of this entry »
BMW has always been one to beat for sports sedans. They pretty much invented the segment back in the late 1970s when the first E21 3-Series rolled off the production line. Since then, the lineup has expanded to include more body styles, more engines (including diesels and now the first-ever hybrid model), and along with that, more features and a higher price. Competitors have stepped up their game, including Lexus, Infiniti, and Cadillac, all of whom tried to unseat the E46 and E90 series 3er’s, but never really succeeded. This year, the 3-series got a big makeover, and I decided this spring, not long after they hit the streets of NJ, to try one out for myself.
This is a big moment for American auto industry, one that can mark a turning point toward success or a continued trend of let downs in the luxury market. Obviously the big comparison is with the BMW 3 series, and I have been very unimpressed with the comparisons done by large publications so far (favoritism and bias run rampant over objectivism and sense). So, I went out and drove the ATS and BMW 3 series back to back to see what I thought from the driver seat. I’m not going to string you along, I liked the Cadillac better, and I will explain why in the paragraphs that follow. Read the rest of this entry »
It may have been a few months ago, but the Greenwich Concours of 2012 was a big change over 2011, with a rain delay in the second day. That said, it did not stop people from enjoying themselves for the entire day. The caliber of the cars at the show this year was nothing short of spectacular, with a great showing of American iron on Saturday, and a true show of European flair on Sunday. This gallery is simply Day 1, with Day 2 coming at the end of this week. A special set of photos may follow for Best of Show.
Cadillac hasn’t really been the “Cadillac of cars” since the mid 1960s. Even though their tag line is “The Standard Of The World”, anyone who’s been paying attention knows that they are really going through a renaissance after around 30 years of terrible products. The triumphant V16 cruisers, which made Cadillac’s name, are distant memories of the past, and even the classic finned cars are now over half a century old. The 2013 XTS is Cadillac’s new flagship model, replacing both the STS and DTS in the lineup. There has obviously been lots of talk about Cadillac’s CUE infotainment system because the XTS is the first to feature it, but my purposes going into this drive were focused on one thing: has Cadillac made a world-class luxury car, or is the XTS more of the same?
This is my Mom’s Volvo S80, and it seems very boring. It is beige, one of a few selectable shades of beige, and it looks just like every other Volvo on the road. Volvos are known for very solid build quality as well as their huge emphasis on safety; they are great cars but they generally aren’t synonymous with the term “exciting”. Looking at this S80 you can see the design is very conservative, and while it does have clean lines it is still basically the same exact car Volvo has been making for years. It would seem then that this S80 is just a continuation of mundane motoring from Volvo, and hardly worth a second look. However, after 9 years with this car, I can tell you that is definitely worth a second look because this beige Volvo has some extra tricks up its sleeve. Read the rest of this entry »