Tag Archives: SUVs and Crossovers

The All-New Lincoln Navigator at the 2017 NYIAS

Lincoln Navigator Concept Front

It’s kind of a shame that no one pays much attention to the big Navigator. What was once the baddest, most blinged-out SUV on the road was quickly overtaken by the Escalade, and rather than keep up, Lincoln merely turned the Navigator into a Ford Expedition wearing a cheap Mens’ Warehouse tuxedo (that was at least a size too small and smelled funny). Luckily, it looks like Ford has decided to make a change to this. As we see here, the new Navigator takes a much more imposing face to do battle in the always-hot luxury SUV market against the new Infiniti QX80, Cadillac Escalade, and Lexus LX-570. Ford has junked the old 5.4L V8 in favor of the well-regarded EcoBoost twin-turbo 3.5L V6, added much larger wheels, and supplied a sumptuous interior. Continue reading The All-New Lincoln Navigator at the 2017 NYIAS

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Am I the only one who likes the idea of a Jeep Renegade-like Toyota FJ?

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This is the Toyota FT-4X Concept, and it’s a clear hint that Toyota may be developing a small FJ SUV to take on the funky Jeep Renegade. A lot of people are hating on it, but I’m digging the idea a lot. I, for one, like a lot of things about the Jeep Renegade, and I think Toyota has a real opportunity to take a lot of that market. All they have to do is make a dependable small off-roader with some funky FJ style, and they will eat Jeep’s lunch.

I hope the FT-4X does make it into production, donning the FJ name when it does.

Call me the island in a sea of haters.

-Nick

Mercedes just dropped my dream SUV, the GLC63 AMG

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Yesterday I reviewed the impressive, but massive, BMW X6 M. In that article I talked about how the performance of large SUVs will always be held back by their hefty physical size and weight. While the X6 M was mighty impressive for what it was, I still found myself wanting one of the options one size smaller. As it so happened, the same day my review went live, Mercedes-Benz decided to drop their trump card. Meet the GLC63 AMG.

How did we get to this point, where there is now a 503hp twin turbo V8 engine in a medium-size crossover. Less than a decade ago, a crossover like this was a sign that a car enthusiast had given up on fun, that family life had beaten them into submission. But you can fit a car seat, or two, in this AMG just the same as you can a basic Subaru Forester. It’s still a fully functional crossover, but now with some brutally serious high performance credentials. This is a family car I’ll be more than happy to consider whenever that time comes (If I can afford one by then, of course).

Performance wise, the thing we most need to consider when comparing the GLC63 to the likes of a BMW X6 M is weight. The 4.0L twin turbo V8 only adds around 100lbs to the weight of the Mercedes C-Class, comparing the C43 and C63. Apply that same difference onto the GLC43, at 4,150lbs, and the GLC63 should weigh around 4,250lbs. That’s 1,000lbs less than the BMW X6 M, and the GLC63 S still has over 500hp. So it’s a LOT lighter and will handle much better as a result, and it’s also not much less powerful at all. In short, this new Merc will be better than any of the bigger options, BMW, Mercedes, Porsche the like.

I already loved the Mercedes GLC43 AMG, the Porsche Macan S/GTS/Turbo, and the Jaguar F-Pace S, and they only have 350-400hp. The GLC63 AMG S is upping the bar to 500hp, and as of now it’s only real rival will be the Alfa Romeo Stelvio QV.

I love that we’re actually at a time where I can be genuinely excited about SUVs. These medium size high performance models drive like luxurious rally cars, and they’re a phenomenal package for the real world.

It would appear that BMW and Porsche need to catch up…

-Nick Walker

BMW X6 M Driven: The best and worst of BMW

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The big teal thing you see here is a BMW X6 M, and it’s everything that’s right and everything that’s wrong with BMW sitting on the same four wheels. Think of it as a BMW M5 with AWD and more ground clearance. Being an X6, and not an X5, it’s also a “Coupe SUV,” which I still find very odd.

On a totally subjective level, I’m not a fan of the BMW X6. I’d even say it’s the flagship of everything I don’t like about the modern BMW brand. They’ve been over-segmenting like crazy, trying to carve the market into thinner and thinner slices, and the X6 is largely where it began.

It all started when Mercedes made the CLS, a beautiful sedan with the sleek design and style of a coupe. BMW saw how well it was received, and decided to try and do the same thing, but with a big SUV. The problem is SUVs aren’t sleek by nature, so the sloped roofline makes the X6 look bulbous and awkward from most angles. With such a large chunky profile, I just think the full roofline of the X5 looks a lot better. People seem to like the X6 because it’s different, but different isn’t always a good thing.

So, in my eyes, BMW was shooting for style, and they missed by a mile. Why, then, would anyone buy an X6 over an X5? Apparently I just don’t “get it.”

In an effort to try and understand the X6, I figured I’d take a spin in the ultimate BMW X6 M. It’s everything the X6 can be with an extra serving of horsepower and handling. If there were any way to make me come around to the BMW X6, driving this beast would surely be it.

First, come along for the ride…

Continue reading BMW X6 M Driven: The best and worst of BMW

So, Alfa Romeo Is Making an SUV

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This is the Alfa Romeo Stelvio SUV, more specifically the Stelvio Quadrifoglio, a.k.a the fast one you really want. That’s right, Alfa is getting into the SUV/Crossover market, which is the most obvious and expected move for them. I must say, though, the Stelvio looks pretty damn good.

The Stelvio Quadrifoglio definitely seems like a serious contender with its 505hp 2.9L twin turbo V6, shared with its Guilia sedan sibling. The difference in the Stelvio is that you get all wheel drive to help put all that horsepower to the ground. I see it likely being the most fun one can have in a crossover, but with the usual Italian car frustrations.

Look, I trust Alfa Romeo to deliver an emotionally riveting driving experience in any vehicle they make. They could make a pogo stick, and I’m sure it’d get me all hot and bothered. I’m also someone who genuinely enjoys the current crop of fast SUVs, so I see no reason why the Stelvio won’t be phenomenal from a driving perspective.

The question here for me will be more the in the Utility end. Obviously it’s going to be practical in terms of space, but can the Italians really pull the functional details together enough to satisfy the daily user? SUVs are daily drivers, and everything needs to work, and stay working, day in, and day out. Fiat-Chrysler hasn’t had the best track record for that lately, and Italian cars haven’t had a great track record for that in… um… ever.

A few technical flaws in a weekend sports car come off as endearing because driving a car like that is solely for enjoyment. However, with a daily commuter, every flaw is going to annoy the owner, and that frustration will add up over time. I really hope Alfa Romeo has put in the work to make the Stelvio as reliable as can be. It doesn’t need to rival Lexus, but it does need to be on par with Audi, Jaguar and BMW.

The Stelvio’s first impressions are great as far as I’m concerned, though I don’t see any reason why it won’t be the same old Italian car story, only this time as a crossover.

-Nick Walker

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Porsche Macan Turbo Review: Like a Fancy WRX for Rich People!

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The Porsche Macan is basically a luxury rally car for the financially well-endowed, and the Turbo is the Mac-daddy of the lineup. It’s remarkable just how good Porsche has been able to make this car considering it shares its underpinnings with the very vanilla VW Tiguan. It took a while for fun to find its way into the crossover segment, but after driving this Macan Turbo, I can vouch that it definitely has.

It was one of those things I had to experience to believe. I figured the Macan might just be nothing more than a faster Tiguan with a Porsche body and a nice interior; that would’ve been just fine for most Macan buyers, and a mediocre Macan would’ve still been a solid revenue car for Porsche. Thankfully, they went over and above to preserve the integrity of their speed-synonymous brand. The Macan Turbo is a real Porsche, a new type of Porsche to be sure, but a real Porsche within its mold.

Continue reading Porsche Macan Turbo Review: Like a Fancy WRX for Rich People!

Jaguar F-Pace S: Enthusiast Approved

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Damn, everyone is jumping on the crossover bandwagon. Clearly following Porsche’s success, Maserati, Bentley, and now Jaguar have now all made high-riding vehicles for people who want a station wagon that isn’t a “station wagon.” I haven’t been much of a fan of crossovers until pretty recently, when some of them have stepped into the ring of high performance. Yes, there is now a full segment of fast crossovers that handle pretty darn well, and they’re sort of like big, comfy rally cars.

I’d heard a lot of praise being thrown at the Jaguar F-Pace, so when I was able to try on out for myself, I jumped on the opportunity. The car I drove was the top-of-the-line F-Pace S, so if this one didn’t impress me, none of them would. And you know what? In many respects, it may be the best fast crossover I’ve driven to date.

Continue reading Jaguar F-Pace S: Enthusiast Approved

Toyota RAV4 XLE 2WD Review: More Ground Clearance With Less Compromise

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Last weekend my girlfriend, Gabrielle, and I travelled deep into the lake country of Minnesota for a family gathering of sorts. I don’t get up there as often as I’d like to, and I always feel like the visit is too short when I do. This trip was different in a few ways, though. My Grandma Ann’s health had been declining, to the point where I knew we needed to get out to try and see her. I wanted her, and the rest of the family, to meet Gab, and I knew time was becoming a factor. Unfortunately, as it happened, our visit came a few weeks too late.

Our trip to Minnesota became about finding solace as as a family, and showing support for my Grandpa Don in this most trying time in life. On the lighter side, Gab got to meet everyone, many of whom had been anxiously waiting to see if she was real for some time. We really had a great time, and it was beautiful just being together with everyone as a family. It was a short trip, but it was extremely valuable.

Now, me being me, I don’t like to rent a car without doing an article on it. Gab likes crossovers and she loves bright blue, so this particular Toyota RAV4 seemed to check all of the right boxes in the car park. It’s not the sort of car I usually review either, so I figured it might add some relevancy for this site in areas other than expensive sports cars.

A few years back, my parents and I had a RAV4 in Sedona, Arizona, and we were thrilled with how well it did with some rather intense surprise off-roading. That one was 4WD, though, and this one was 2WD, so I guess it’s more of a “RAV2”. Even still, rural Minnesota has some off road areas, so I figured the ground clearance may come in handy, along with that legendary Toyota dependability.

Continue reading Toyota RAV4 XLE 2WD Review: More Ground Clearance With Less Compromise