Tag Archives: SUVs and Crossovers

Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio at Concorso Ferrari

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The Alfa Stelvio QV is the SUV to have if you really wanted a high-performance sports sedan, but needed AWD and some extra practicality. This red one was at Concorso Ferrari, and I fell even more in love with it there.

-Nick

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What I Learned Driving the Alfa Romeo Stelvio back-to-back with the Giulia

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Regular drivers in regular cars doing regular things in their regular lives. If you ask most people, they don’t aspire to be just regular, yet, overall, most of us wind up doing regular shit day in and day out. Life defaults to being excruciatingly routine if you let it. The “good enough” mindset sets in, and one day you wake up just another average Joe or Jill. It’s a fact of life. We all make sacrifices in the name of convenience and practicality because to do otherwise usually causes more struggle than necessary. That makes everything work smoothly, but it also totally dulls your life experience, and frankly, it’s depressing.

Compromise is the reality, though. The fact is, most genuinely remarkable things in life are exceedingly impractical and don’t really fit into the lives of most people. In our minds, we’d all love to be that stylish and interesting person who’s always going on adventures, seemingly without a care in the world… or a budget, for that matter. That idealistic perception can never really be fulfilled, but what we all can do is make our compromises intelligent. Okay, maybe you can’t really be the guy who daily drives a sexy classic Italian sports car. Even if you can afford one, if you have a family it doesn’t really work out that well, and that’s not even counting the car’s functional lack of reliability. The dream doesn’t have to die with a boring minivan or nameless sedan, though. There is a very real middle ground that can give you most of the experiences you’re yearning for while also satisfying your practical needs.

Car enthusiasts, like myself, are well aware of this, but the average consumer may not be as turned on to it. I’ve seen a lot of more casual car people go from driving something genuinely fun to something awful like a Minivan or a mundane SUV. It’s sad, and it’s not necessary. Meet Alfa Romeo, a company that makes sports cars of different sizes and shapes.

Continue reading What I Learned Driving the Alfa Romeo Stelvio back-to-back with the Giulia

Test Driven: BMW X3 xDrive M40i (Grade: B)

BMW X3 XDrive M40i Cargo Area

Compact crossovers have taken the American market by storm in epic proportions. Sales of sedans are declining, and sales of luxury crossovers from brands like Mercedes, Audi, Lexus, and the like have gone through the stratosphere. Cadillac’s best selling vehicle is the XT-5, the replacement for the SRX. Meanwhile, BMW started working this segment with the first X5 way back in the Bush Administration. Two Presidents and eighteen years later, we face the new X3, a car that I mocked often when it launched in 2004. Now in its third generation, I took the keys to this blue M Sport (as ridiculous as it sounds) and found it to be quite an eye-opener. Continue reading Test Driven: BMW X3 xDrive M40i (Grade: B)

Range Rover Velar P380 SE Review: Taking a Different Approach

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Sometimes style is everything. In the age of Instagram, appearances are more important than ever and brands are having to make the appeal of their products more and more bold.

Land Rovers of old were boxy functional things, meant to go places other vehicles couldn’t. If you bought a Range Rover, that just meant you wanted to bring the comfort of your living room along with you to such remote locations.

My oh my, how the game has changed.

Continue reading Range Rover Velar P380 SE Review: Taking a Different Approach

Can Cadillac Connect with Millennials via their new XT4?

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Cadillac is not a brand known for being popular with Millennials who are looking at luxury transportation. No matter how good their cars are (and for the most part, they’re far better than they were when I was in high school), people of my generation, for the most part, have stayed away–preferring either Buicks (shockingly enough), Audis, and Lexuses. I’ve also seen an increasing number of well-heeled fellow twenty-somethings and thirty-somethings chasing after the usual BMW and Mercedes suspects. Well, I think Cadillac might have a winner with their new XT4. Continue reading Can Cadillac Connect with Millennials via their new XT4?

The All-New Lincoln Navigator at the 2017 NYIAS

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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

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