Sunday, September 24, 2017

Luxury Ride on a Shoestring Budget?

                                     Review: 2017 Nissan Qashqai

Nissan’s 2017 Qashqai may be the leader of the pack when it comes to the most ‘features on a budget’ — however… luxurious? It is not.

You can get into a base model Qashqai at about $20,00, but if you want all the bells and whistles that the SL offers, you’ll be looking at somewhere around $30,000. I consider the Mazda CX-5 to be a strong competitor with this vehicle, and if you go for the top model in that class (GT) it’ll set you back about $35,000. You do the math.

Even though I don’t consider the Qashqai to be luxurious — it’s just not pampering enough, and the quality lacks in the interior and exterior features — I also don’t consider it to be a basic vehicle. This small SUV has everything that you could possibly need for a comfortable ride. And it looks good!

My likes:
  • Great stereo, Sirius radio
  • Heated steering wheel
  • Can connect your phone apps with the entertainment system
  • USB outlets (front)
  • Eco option, excellent fuel efficiency
  • Side mirror collision alert
  • Navigation directions appear in front of the driver when a turn is near, speed limit is displayed on main navigation screen, finds the fastest route based on traffic
  • Looks good, similar to the Murano in style yet an inch smaller than the Rogue 
  • Fun name; fun, smooth ride
  • Nice, comfortable, leather seats; heated front seats

My dislikes:
  • You need to download their app to use extra entertainment features, can’t just bluetooth your phone
  • Manual seat adjuster for front passenger, no USB outlet for back passengers, no heated seats for back passengers
  • No massage option for driver and front passenger
  • 1/4 sunroof — not full length of the vehicle 
  • No quick release for the trunk, you have to press the button under the trunk and physically close it (unless I missed something) — this is so old school and inconvenient
  • It’s unquestionably a 4-cylinder, no pickup
  • The back-up camera isn’t the greatest, I touched another car’s bumper and it didn’t even beep (no vehicles were damaged!)

I realize I’m much more picky than most when it comes to determining the ‘luxuriousness’ of a vehicle — so I will share that my passengers were ‘adequately impressed’ with this SUV. If you’re looking for functionality and comfort — you may want to consider the Qashqai — first, maybe figure out how to say it.

Luxury, New Car Blogger
Amanda Risser

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Lincoln Is The New Jaguar

Lincoln is giving Jaguar a ‘real’ run for their money. They’ve begun ramping up their line of luxury vehicles and the 2017 Continental is a prime example.

Visually, the exterior is a close comparison to Jaguar’s XE. Even though it’s a full-sized 4-door sedan -- the sleek, modern design manages to remove all the bulk and tricks you into thinking it’s a compact car. In fact, I had to do a double take to make sure it did indeed have 4-doors. The sleek design doesn’t stop with the exterior, inside you’ll be surprised to see “no” door handles. They’ve replaced them with a simple button. It surprised my passengers! In fact, everything surprised my passengers about this vehicle -- including the ‘library’ of controls on the door panel to control the driver’s and all passenger’s seats. I’ve never seen so many controls for a seat before! You can literally customize ever single pressure point of the seat to mold to your body. It even squeezes you in when you put it in drive. Heated seats, cooling seats, massage seats -- front and back, they’ve covered it all. By the way, the leather seats aren’t your run of the mill leather seats. They’re quite stunning and have a race car feel to them. Very much like Jaguar.

Again, like other Lincoln models the drive shift is replaced with push buttons on the left side of the navigation system. There’s a full size moonroof that can be opened midway or full length, and there’s back shade to draw when it’s sunny. All of the buttons in this vehicle may seem a little overwhelming at first, but after a 10-minute quick run through you’ll be good to go and living the life of luxury in no time!

Back to the comparison to Jaguar, the 2017 Lincoln Continental accelerates quite quickly and smoothly. It even has a bit of a growl (just a bit). I have to admit, the sound of the Jaguar really draws me in, the Continental doesn’t compare in that regard. Alright, so head-to-head here’s what you’re looking at:

2017 Lincoln Continental
  • Starting Price: $53,551
  • HP: V6, 2.7L GTDI, 335 hp  
  • Fuel Economy: 14.0L/100km city and 9.5L/100km hwy
  • 0-100km in 6.2 sec

2017 Jaguar XE Premium
  • Starting Price: $43,900
  • HP: 4-cylinder, turbocharged gas, 247 hp
  • Fuel Economy: TBD
  • 0-100km in 6.2 sec

You can easily increase Jaguar’s base price by $20,000 by adding in all the bells and whistles or upgrading to another model. It’s a tough call for me, but I’m really liking Lincoln these days and could be swayed to choose the Continental over the XE. Another plus… it may look and drive like a luxury vehicle -- but it won’t cost you a luxury price to fill it. It takes regular.

Amanda Risser
Luxury, New Car Blogger

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Road-tripping In Luxury: 2017 Lincoln MKC

I was overcome with a feeling of deja-vu when I recently got behind the wheel of the 2017 Lincoln MKC. And that’s not a bad thing, in fact, it was a great feeling! A feeling of familiarity and satisfaction. I mean, what did Lincoln need to change about the 2016 model anyway? They got it right the first time.

So here’s what’s new: standard power liftgate, standard start-stop on the front-wheel-drive, 2.0-liter EcoBoost, optional stop-start on the all-wheel-drive model, standard “auto hold”, Sync 3 with AppleCar Play and Android Auto. I always test drive the fully-loaded models, so I really didn’t notice a difference between the 2016 and 2017 - just more of what I liked the first go around including the cool setting for the front seats, heated front and back seats, parallel park assist, back-up camera and 2 USB ports.

I put the 2.3 litre EcoBoost engine to the test by taking it on a 2.5 hour summer day road trip from Toronto to Port Stanley. Haven’t been? Go! But that’s a story for another blog, let’s stay focused on the MKC. A tank of gas will get you there and back with a quarter to spare. It checks in at a healthy 285 horsepower. You really have to watch your speed, it accelerates quickly and smoothly. I love this feature - it displays the posted speed limit next to the speedometer - to keep you in check. Pair your phone with the vehicle’s SYNC system - texting and calling hands-free, problem-free. The navigation system is great even off-the-beaten path. Open up the over-sized moon roof and let the sun shine in! Everything about the Lincoln MKC is luxurious - except when it’s time to fill up, it takes regular. #winning

Starting at just under $40,000, competing in the same class as the BMW X1, Audi Q5 and Cadillac XT5 - you can’t go wrong with this CUV. It looks classy, drives smooth, has great pick-up and all the luxuries of home at your finger tips. I’m also a huge fan of the ‘Lincoln Drive Control’ - the park, drive, neutral, and start push buttons are perfectly aligned on the left side of the navigation system. Slick and organized. What’s not to love about this vehicle?!

Amanda Risser
Luxury, new car blogger

Saturday, August 13, 2016

GM’s 2016 Camaro Turbo: Four-Cylinder Engine With V8 Power

GM’s 2016 Camaro is the most impressive 4-cylinder muscle car that I’ve ever seen or driven. In fact, I had to double-check that it was indeed a 4-cylinder, because it has the power of a V6 or V8, but without the gas guzzling engine. I’d say you’re going to see a lot more sports vehicles built this way in the future, especially if gas prices remain as high as they are. It just makes sense.

This lighter, better balanced engine allows you to hug corners, without dropping your speed. It drives like a race car on a track… and it sounds like one too! I read on that the 2016 Camaro 2.0L Turbo’s 275 horsepower rating matches the output of the 1993-1995 Camaro Z28’s 5.7L V-8 AND offers comparable acceleration performance. Yup! And you can feel it!

Have you seen this vehicle on the road? You may not have, I have yet to see another tearing down the streets of Toronto, however, if you do see one you may first mistaken it for the Corvette! That’s right, it reminded me a lot of a sawed off Corvette, without the emblem on the front of course. It’s a pretty sharp looking sports/muscle car. And I say sports/muscle car, because it really is a hybrid. It’s not too much of a muscle car… just the right amount, making it a great vehicle for just about anyone.

A couple of minor complaints, and not even from me… a 6’2” passenger found it a bit too low inside, and difficult to see out the narrow windows. I, on the other hand, felt it was built for someone my height of 5’6”. This vehicle fit me like a glove, one that I did not want to take off! It’s so much fun to drive this car! I found it a bit dark inside, especially during a sunny, summer day. At first I thought it needed a panoramic sunroof, but that would change it from a sports/muscle car to a sports car… and really that’s not what the Camaro is meant to be.

Coming in at just under $43,000 fully loaded, the 2016 Camaro Turbo-4 is great luxurious sports/muscle car for anyone. Beautiful leather interior, keyless entry, push button start, heated and ventilated front seats, and Bose stereo are just a few of the fine luxuries that you’ll get to enjoy with this fast and fun ride! Don’t forget to pick me up!

Amanda Risser - Luxury, New Car Blogger

Saturday, August 6, 2016

GM's Cadillac XT5 Makes Any Road Trip Luxurious!

For my August long weekend road trip along the south coast of Nova Scotia I test drove the 2017 Cadillac XT5 Luxury AWD SUV. If you’re going on a ‘Canadian’ road trip, why not drive a vehicle made by a domestic automaker-right?

What a beautiful vehicle! A quick one-over and you know this is an SUV built for comfort and luxury. Keyless entry, push-button start, tilt full panoramic sunroof with a power shade, rear reclining seats, power liftgate, rear cargo shade, black trim leather with white stitching on the upper half of the dash and door panels, combined with cream leather and white stitching on the bottom half and seats. Absolutely stunning interior!

When you hit the gas pedal you have plenty of power with this V6 8-speed automatic transmission. No hesitation at any point, and quick pick-up for passing vehicles on the highway or along short one-lane passing stretches in the country. Be prepared for lots of looks and conversations with locals about this SUV, it’s a show stopper!

By no means is the XT5 a tiny vehicle, but it’s not a tank either. I drove plenty, and long distance for five days and still had just under half a tank of gas left before dropping it at the airport. The posted fuel economy is 11.1 L/100km combined. I was pleasantly surprised with how good it was on gas. And, if you do need to fill up, even though it has a luxurious look and feel, it still takes regular fuel.

One of the first things I noticed about this vehicle, or I should say felt, was a vibration from my seat when a vehicle approached from behind. It’s quite startling, almost electrifying! It also vibrates when a vehicle is near in front. A great feature for long drives when you may not be as alert. Other safety features include side blind zone alert, lane departure warning, and a rear vision camera.

You’re fully connected in this vehicle: OnStar, wifi, navigation, Apple Carplay, Sirius. It’s an office on wheels!

So how much for this luxurious, safe ride? Fully equipped it’ll set you back about $58,500. It’s worth every penny, if you ask me!

My only complaint… the drive stick. For one, I prefer the new modern dial, second – it’s really tricky to maneuver, you need to push the button on the left and move it around to put it into drive or reverse. To get into park you just press the ‘p’ button on top. You get used to it, but it’s still a bit awkward.

So, if you’re looking for a great road trip vehicle that is good on gas, fast, luxurious, safe, lots of storage room and fits five adults comfortably, the 2017 Cadillac XT5 is a winner! 

Amanda Risser
Luxury, New Vehicle Blogger

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Ford Balances Luxury and Performance with the 2016 Ford Explorer Sport - For Less

Love the 2016 Range Rover Supercharged, but hate the price that’s attached to it? I can’t believe I’m saying this… “Ford” has answered your prayers.

The 2016 Ford Explorer Sport may have a lot in common with the Range Rover, but it’ll cost you about $60,000 less to get in it.  Let’s start with the exterior. Ford has strategically placed the “Explorer” badge across the engine bonnet (yes I say engine bonnet, I’m from N.S.), quite similar to how “Range Rover” is displayed. Coincidence? I think not. The exterior shape of the Explorer is quite similar to the Range, only a little more classic, less curves. It’s quite nice, very appealing to the eye. It has sex appeal.

When I first opened the driver side door my eyes were immediately drawn to the black leather perforated seats, lined with red stitching. Very racy, classy and again, sexy. The over-the-top luxurious interior trim of the Range Rover was lacking – no leather detailed dash or side door panel, complete with perfect stitching – it’s all plastic here, except the door panels, there’s a bit of the red stitched leather continued throughout, but for the most part it still looks really good! Definitely didn’t have the cheaper North American feel.

You get the push start engine, paddle shifters, heated seats in the front and back, but the drive stick is still there, it hasn’t yet been replaced by a more modern dial. Beautiful full size, panoramic moon roof, intelligent 4WD with terrain management system, reverse sensing system and a universal garage door opener.

Here’s where Ford REALLY blew me away. There are two sets of back seats. At first glance you think there is only one. That’s because Ford has created a flawless design that tucks the second rear seating away, making it flush with the rest of the trunk space. And guess what? There’s no pulling or pushing to do this. A series of buttons in the trunk allows you to lay down, tuck away and upright the seats with ease. I’ve yet to see this system in any other vehicle. Love it!

Ford also is known for their foot activated tail gate. Another smart, useful invention. Hands full from shopping? No problem, wave your foot under the tail gate and the trunk “magically” opens. Well, not really magic, but you get the point.

I continue to have a beef with Ford’s side and front collision alerts. They’re just not consistent. Sometimes they worked, but not always. I’ve never seen this happen in any other manufacturer’s vehicles, but it’s been consistent with Ford… Lincoln being the exception.

You may not get 510 HP like you would with the Range Rover, but do you really need it in an SUV? Or a car for that matter… last I checked we didn’t have an Autobahn. The Explorer gives you 365 HP, I found that was plenty of pick up. It’s a V6 with an Eco-boost engine, the posted is 14.9 city and 10.7 hwy; it was excellent on gas.

I didn’t look into it, but I’d say Ford knew what they were doing by creating a cheaper version of the highly sought after Range Rover. In my opinion, they nailed it! I’d buy it. Nothing wrong with a lot of luxury on a moderate budget. (2016 Ford Explorer Sport sells for about $56,000)

Luxury, New Car Blogger - Amanda Risser

Monday, April 11, 2016

Nissan's Full-Size Sports Car

I’ve just dropped off the 2016 Nissan Maxima Platinum after a week of pure joy riding, and I think I left my jaw behind in the parking lot.
From the moment I laid eyes on this vehicle I was in love. The exterior is quite attractive, very curvy, very sexy. It really draws you in; it’s not what you’d expect to see from Nissan. Jaguar-yes, Nissan-no way.

The Maxima is a full-sized (4 door), luxurious sports car. I’ve never felt so much pick up from 300 hp. When you press the gas pedal this vehicle goes from 0 to fast, FAST! I find Jaguars purr when you accelerate hard, well the Maxima-it growls! This car sounds mean, but it handles so nice, like a coupe, in the city and on the highway. Switch from normal to sport mode to tighten up the steering, and weaving your way through vehicles is not a problem. Don’t let its V6 engine trick you into thinking it’s a gas guzzler, far from it. According to Nissan it gets 10.9 city and 7.8 highway; I found it was bang on.

Of course, much of what I write about is the luxuriousness of a vehicle, which for me, mostly comes from the interior. So let’s get to it. Again, when I first opened the door of the 2016 Nissan Maximum Platinum I was all smiles, enamored if you will. I thought to myself, “well done Nissan!” The front seats sit low, the driver and passenger sink into this vehicle like the cockpit of a racecar. High quality, black stitched leather quilted seats, leather stitched side paneling and dashboard, push start engine, sporty leather wrapped steering wheel, and a full-size panorama moonroof, that retreats from both sides simultaneously. Pure luxury. Sure, they used their signature faux wood trim that I despise, BUT they used less of it and changed the look to a more matte finish-I approve! I was disappointed to see the traditional drive stick, as opposed to the more modern dial in most new vehicles, but for this vehicle it made sense. It added to its sporty feel and look. 

If you’re in the market for a sports car take the 2016 Nissan Maxima Platinum for a test drive. It has all the same safety features and technology as most high-end vehicles. For around $45,000 all-in you can’t go wrong; treat yourself, you deserve a little luxury in life!

Luxury, New Car Blogger - Amanda Risser