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

Sunday, March 20, 2016

New Car Review: 2016 Ford Focus Titanium

I picked up the 2016 Ford Focus Titanium this week. Considering I review “luxury” new vehicles, I’m not sure why. The sale price for this vehicle starts at about $27,000, you’re looking at close to $30,000, at least, for all the bells and whistles.

I guess my point is, you can put all the bells and whistles in a starter vehicle that most luxury vehicles come with as standard these days, and you’re still left with an entrance level vehicle. It doesn’t make it feel any more luxurious. At least in this case.

The exterior of the Focus is very bland; nothing special, no great design, standard size sunroof, no wow factors. In fact, I’d go as far as saying “it’s just plain ugly.”

The center console is actually “ok”. I do like the large touch navigation screen and how neat and clean everything is. Not a whole lot of buttons in the way. Unlike most car navigation programs where you have to select the street number, address, city, etc. separately, with Ford’s system you just type it all on one line and then voila – a map and your vehicle appear in a split screen view. I actually quite like this. It still comes with the drive stick, no modern push-button dial like most luxury vehicles. The leather wrapped steering wheel isn’t very comfortable to handle, and the quality of the material is poor. Even the heated leather seats give off a repulsive cheap scent.

How does it drive? The engine is very sluggish, a lot of hesitation, absolutely no guts. It’s not a fun vehicle to drive. In fact, I barely drove it this week. Both the side mirror motion detector and back-up/front collision camera alert are terrible. The indicator on the side mirror would light up when a vehicle had passed me, not when I might side swipe it, and the collision alert goes off when you’re about 10 feet away from a vehicle in front of you, or behind, when backing up.

However, I can say it’s excellent when it comes to fuel consumption. The Eco Boost engine lives up to its name. According to Ford it gets 9.3 city and 6.72 hwy., L/100Km. I believe it.

Don’t get me wrong, I love Ford’s Mustang Convertible GT and enjoy drifting with Ken Block in a Fiesta, but the Focus? Come on now, Ford you can do better. Forget about not passing as a luxury vehicle, I wouldn’t recommend it as a starter – there are cheaper, better options out there, if that’s what you’re looking for.

Luxury, New Car Blogger – Amanda Risser

Monday, March 14, 2016

Behind the Wheel of the 2016 Lincoln MKC

One week the Lincoln MKX, the next the MKC… I can honestly say there really isn’t much of a difference between the two aside from the size. The MKC is the mini version of the MKX, and for about $50,000, it’s almost a steal!

Closely compared to the Mazda CX-5 in size, that you can get for about $40,000 fully loaded, you’d be crazy not to go with the Lincoln. Better performance, nicer interior, a hell of a lot more bells and whistles, and all the little luxuries for about $10,000 more. Yes please!

What really blew my mind about this vehicle was the interior. The model that I test drove came with cream coloured leather seats, cream coloured leather side trim/glove compartment, and black leather stitched dash and steering wheel. Top that all off with REAL wood side panel inserts. Wow, what a beautiful, classic look. It really took my breath away the first time I opened the door. There’s nothing that turns me off more than when a car manufacturer adds in the faux wood panel, you know what I’m talking about it. I hate it, it screams cheap and old! Lincoln really got this right, incorporating real wood into the look, combined with a cream coloured leather, it’s truly something to see.
You still get the full size panoramic moon roof, power lift gate, push-button shift panel next to the navigation system, etc. The only thing that I think may have been missing was the push-button to the right of the navigation to open the glove compartment. You have to open it the same way as most traditional vehicles.

Luxury, performance, affordability – this vehicle checked off all the boxes for me! It does look a little dinky next to the MKX, but if you don’t mind the compact size, I’d buy it!

Luxury, New Car Blogger – Amanda Risser

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Lincoln's 2016 MKX Appeals to a "Hipper", "Younger" Demographic

Lincoln is now “hip”, “cool”, and “young” – who knew?? Sure as heck not me! Maybe that’s why Matthew McConaughey was chosen as the perfect face for their overplayed commercials.

I must say, I was thoroughly impressed by the 2016 Lincoln MKX, from the moment I laid eyes on her.  The body is very sleek and aerodynamic, its compact size makes it more of a CUV than an SUV. If you like driving fast, you’ll LOVE this vehicle! Its 2.7L, V6 Eco-Boost engine puts out 335 HP – and let me tell you, it packs a mean punch! Put the pedal to the metal and watch what she can do! It’s also equipped with a 6-speed paddle shifter. No problems weaving through traffic at high speeds. Its Eco-Boost engine gives you 14.1 L/100 KM city and 9.7 L/100 KM hwy.

What REALLY impressed me about the MKX that I haven’t seen on any other vehicle, is how you move it from park to drive, or reverse. Older, and some new vehicles, have a joy stick to do this, but most new vehicles now have a dial in its place. Lincoln, on the other hand, has created a push-button transmission. I believe it is exclusive to this model. What do I mean by “push-button”? After you push start the engine, you’re going to then push “D” to put it in drive, which is located on the left hand side of the navigation screen. Yup, way up there! So to go from drive to park, to reverse, etc., you will need to push a button with the letter “P” or “R” or “D”, etc. Pretty cool, huh? I thought so! By the way, the navigation screen is touchscreen only. To open the glove compartment you also press another button on the right side of the navigation screen.

I do have one bone to pick with this vehicle. The 360 camera and parking aid alert reminded me a bit of “The Boy Who Cried Wolf.” Any time I was an arm’s length away from another vehicle or object, it would start beeping like crazy as though I was about to hit it. It happened when I was parking and even while driving on a 4-lane highway. Very annoying and misleading. It’s not a difficult vehicle to park in tight spaces, there’s great visibility and it’s not all that large in size.

In terms of luxury, it has pretty much everything to satisfy any driver and its passengers. Heated seats (front and back), beautiful perforated leather seats with the most comfortable head rests ever, all interior surfaces are padded with premium stitched leather, full length moon roof, lit exterior door handles, fob controlled power liftgate, posted speed limit on the speedometer, and both driver and passenger side mirrors fold in when you lock the vehicle.

What’s it lacking? Heated steering wheel and massage seats. What??! The Evoque has both and more! Back seat is a 40/60 split, there’s a button in the trunk you can push to lay each side down, but you have to bring them back up again manually, and they’re quite heavy.

The 2016 Lincoln MKX has a lot of really cool features and a high quality interior. For about $67,000 it’s a strong contender in the luxury CUV class.

Luxury, New Car Blogger - Amanda Risser


Sunday, February 28, 2016

Rolling Through Toronto in the 2016 Land Rover L4

Do you have pets or kids? Live an active lifestyle? If you answered yes to one, or all three, AND have about $81,000 to shell out on a new vehicle, I highly recommend the Land Rover L4 HSE.

The 2016 Land Rover L4 is the most rugged, luxurious SUV that I know of. You have to slam the doors to get them to shut properly, the center console contains a lot of plastic and stiff buttons, the steering wheel is a mix of leather and plastic, and the leather seats/interior trim are of a lesser quality than your typical Range Rover – in fact, I questioned whether they were real leather at first – but, drive it for a week and I guarantee this vehicle will win you over.

Of all the SUVs I have driven this year, the Land Rover burned through the most gas. It has an Eco Mode, but I still found the gas gauge tumbled quickly with city driving. One thing you need to be aware of at all times, is that this vehicle is quite tall. However, it does have a button to bring down the height, which you will need to do before entering many parking garages in Toronto. In fact, in my building, at its lowest height, the antenna scraped the beam in my spot. I had to be mindful of how close I parked to the wall.

Why is it great for kids and pets? The easy-clean leather seats, the plastic trims, the ample storage space, and of course the fact that it seats 7-passengers comfortably. Everywhere you look there’s a place to stash stuff! Above the glove compartment there is a second pull down drawer that contains a USB and headphone jack, the mid partition between the driver and passenger has two storage spaces, the immediate backseat includes built in plastic bins on each side, and the two back rows fold down for ample trunk room.

It’s comfortable to drive, and because you are propped up so high, you can see everything. The 3.0L, V6 engine, gives you all the guts you need, and then some, with 340 HP. There’s tons of features to meet your comfort needs; including heated seats (front row and immediate back row), heated steering wheel, and a heat/fan control for the second row passengers. And, of course, all the latest tech and safety options.

I was most impressed to discover that the 2016 Land Rover L4 comes with not one, not two, but THREE sunroofs! Each row gets their own, complete with a manual shade. Sadly, the sunroof above the driver is the only one that opens.

This vehicle is definitely a different level of luxury, after all, it is a Land Rover… Range Rover’s roughed up brother.

Luxury, New Car Blogger - Amanda Risser