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

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Behind the Wheel of Jaguar's Full Size Sedan - XJL

In terms of size and luxury, Jaguar’s 2016 XJL IS A BEAST; “big as a boat”, but “pimp like a jet.” Think Rolls Royce big, limo like… A FULL SIZE SEDAN! I found myself wondering… who was this vehicle built for? Not the city dweller, that’s for sure. Parking was pretty much impossible in downtown Toronto. In fact, one night I had to back out of my friend’s condo parking garage to hunt down a larger spot on the street.  It pains me to say this, because it is a Jaguar, but I was happy to return it after a week!

In my last review I mentioned how Jaguar’s are a real head turner. This vehicle held up to the test! Everywhere I drove I got nods, thumbs ups, stares and big smiles! It’s nice to see the artistic beauty of this vehicle admired. They should be appreciated, a lot of detail is put into the exterior and interior design of each model. So what all do you get for a starting price of $99,000?

The XJL comes with a 3.0-litre supercharged engine, V6, 340hp, with all-wheel drive. It can go from 0-100km/h in 6.4 seconds. This car has guts! An all-aluminum body makes this full size sedan one of the lightest vehicles on the road in its class. You definitely don’t feel weighed down when driving. It handles well, a very smooth and comfortable ride. However, I found the brakes a bit weak, they weren’t as responsive as I’d like. I really had to step on the pedal to come to a complete stop. For a larger vehicle, t’s really good on gas! The Eco Mode cuts off the engine when you’re idling after a few seconds. I drove it around the city non-stop for a week and it barely used more than a quarter of a tank of gas.

So, why did I say it was “pimp like a jet”? Oh boy… let’s start with the back passengers this time. Plenty of leg room for even the tallest of your friends to stretch out comfortably, quilted high-quality leather heated seats, pop down lit mirrors to check yourself (that’s right, not just for the driver and co-pilot!), the middle partition pulls down and opens up to become a drink holder and additional compartment to hold all sorts of things, but here’s the big one… the back base of the front seats is lit, just like the floor lighting in an airplane! The chrome detailed air vents (4 in the front, 2 in the back), combined with cream coloured suede roof and side panels, beautifully crafted leather stitched dash, sun visor blinds for the back passengers and back window… little extras that spell out pure luxury! Every detail thought out meticulously to pamper you and make you feel like a million bucks! And of course, the driver and co-pilot both have heated and cooling seats, with the massage option. Heated steering wheel, touch-open glove compartment, paddle shifters, and fob controlled trunk. Unfortunately, the 360 view camera wasn’t much use to me when parking. I found it beeps far too soon, especially when you are in downtown Toronto and have to maneuver your way into a tight spot.

After driving around in the Jaguar XJL for a week, I guess I’d say this vehicle was built for someone who LOVES luxury and comfort, and wants to spoil their friends/family. It’s definitely not for someone living in a condo in downtown, with a small parking spot. I picture it parked outside an equally large and beautiful home, with plenty of room to park! There aren’t many out there, I only saw one other on the road. If you want to make a statement without saying a word – pick up an XJL… and then swing by and pick me up!

Luxury, New Car Blogger - Amanda Risser

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Luxury, New Car Review: 2016 Range Rover Evoque

After spending the past month, or so, behind the wheel of Nissan’s and GM’s finest SUVs, I was thrilled to hop in the driver’s seat of the 2016 Range Rover Evoque.

Truth be told, it’s because of the products that Jaguar Land Rover puts out that I decided to blog about luxury, new vehicles. To me, this car manufacturer really gets it. It doesn’t just pump out a pretty product with a mean engine, although both are true, it truly creates art pieces for drivers. I dare you to drive one in downtown Toronto, or any other large city, and not have one person comment on it when you get out.  It happens to me every time. Moreso in the warmer weather - lol!

I didn’t always feel this way about the brand. It used to have more of a rich, old man air to it, but since Design Director Ian Callum took over in 1999 I’ve been nothing but impressed by the products that they continue to bring to the market. I have no problem saying Jaguar is my number one pick for luxury vehicles.

Take the Evoque for example. This all-terrain vehicle cuts out all the bulk with its compact, aerodynamic, space look. Careful not to become too “out there” in design, they manage to keep the traditional, classic look in check. This keeps it from looking cheap and copied.

Every little detail, inside and outside, is perfectly thought out. The Evoque that I drove this week was black, with a cream and black combined interior. The perfectly stitched cream coloured, perforated leather seats (including electric and memory feature for driver and front passenger) were beyond comfortable, but basic comfort isn’t enough for this car maker. They need to take it to the next level. Both front passenger and driver have a control to choose the perfect level of heating on their backside and bottom, AND a massage option… why not, right?! Back passengers are also equipped with a heated seat control.

Leather seats, leather dash, leather side door panels, leather center console… complete leather interior, at the highest quality! This is where I have a problem jumping in most other automaker’s vehicles after being in a Jaguar Land Rover product. They don’t cheap out on anything. It’s all carefully crafted to be unique and classy, with beautiful stitching.

The driver instrument panel has your usual standard features, as well as navigation directions AND the speed limit! Your current speed and the posted limit is also projected on the windshield in front of you.  Push start engine… but would you expect anything else?! If you turn off the engine and forget to put it in park – no worries, it will do it for you! Full panoramic moon roof, pretty much the entire length of the entire top of the vehicle, no partition separating the front from the back.

The backseat of the Evoque is a 40/60 split, unfortunately there is no button in the trunk to lay down or pop up the seats. What?! The seats include a child seat anchor latch system, a nice touch for young families. The trunk is a bit small for an SUV, but not tiny. There’s a full size spare that sits lower in the trunk. If the engine isn’t running you can open the trunk with your main fob, but you have to press the button on the trunk itself to close it. Again, say what?!

Press the gas and go… literally! I was surprised to see that it’s only 240 HP, but the turbocharged engine makes its presence felt. Its posted fuel economy is 9.7 L/100Km, I found it a little hard on gas. Overall, it drives like a dream! You won’t want to stop… ever! Do I have to give it back?! The brakes were a bit squeaky, maybe it sat around for a bit, and braking wasn’t as smooth as I like.
I’m pretty sure every one of their vehicles comes with paddle shifters – I’ve yet to master how to do this – Canada’s Worst Driver host Andrew Younghusband has offered to teach me to drive a standard, and I think I may at least take him up on the offer for a lesson in paddle shifting! Careful when turning on the heated steering wheel, the button is directly below the paddle shifter. Yes… sadly, I made that mistake!

It’s a perfect city, highway, or off-road SUV. Parking in tight spots is not a problem, it comes equipped with a back-up camera and park assist. It even includes hitching guidance.

Most importantly, the Evoque is luxury at its best! If you can afford it, spoil yourself. You will feel like a million bucks behind the wheel and it never really goes out of style. You can get in one for around $50,000, but once you add all the bells and whistles you’ll be looking at more like $64,000 plus. I’m not going to touch the topic of repair costs and depreciation, if that’s your concern you probably know the answer, and of course luxury isn’t your top priority. 

Luxury, New Car Blogger - Amanda Risser