Posts from ‘Luxury Vehicles’
Bob Lutz has accomplished more in his golden years than most auto execs do in a lifetime. At age 69, Lutz became General Motors’ Vice Chairman of Product Development and helped create cars such as the Cadillac CTS, Cadillac SRX, Chevrolet Malibu, Buick Enclave, Buick LaCrosse, and Pontiac Solstice. He also championed the electric/gas Chevrolet Volt before withdrawing from an active roll at GM in 2009. Now at age 81, Lutz is launching a high-performance sedan, the VL Destino.
Gilbert Villarreal, a self-made millionaire in the auto components industry, decided that replacing the hybrid powertrain of a Fisker Karma with a Chevrolet Corvette engine was a great idea. Villareal turned to friend and business partner in VL (Villareal Lutz) watches, Bob Lutz, to make it happen. Lutz says he starts with a well-engineered car and adds a well-engineered drivetrain. The German engineering firm that helped bring about the Fisker Karma (as well as the Porsche Panamera) is engineering the changes needed for the engine transplant.
With new-car prices ever on the rise, the average new-car buyer might find it nigh on impossible to enter the luxury market. Hold on to that dream, dear readers, because here are five vehicles you can buy right now that allow you to have that premium feel without too much of a hit to your bank accounts.
While some examples in this list are from mainstream brands, their ambiance and driving experiences are decidedly more upscale. As such, we at Consumer Guide place them into our “Premium” categories. The only other “rule” is that these vehicles must carry a sticker price of less than $40,000, including destination fee. The figures listed here do not include options, but several of these vehicles can be equipped with extra-cost items and still come in under the above-mentioned threshold.
Acura TL Base
Its look remains polarizing, but under its skin is a premium-midsize sedan that’s powerful, has a solid ride/handling balance, and comes with a lot of features for the money. While I would have loved to use the sportier TL SH-AWD model, its price creeps just past our self-imposed $40,000 barrier. Still, the Base model is no slouch, thanks to its 280-horsepower 3.5-liter V6 engine and slick 6-speed automatic transmission. As a final bonus, TL benefits from parent company Honda’s reputation for reliability and strong resale value.
Lexus is rolling out a redesigned IS sedan for 2014, with new styling, new safety and infotainment features, and a slightly longer wheelbase. To illustrate the exterior design changes between the old and the new, we fired off some quick-and-dirty snapshots of a 2013 and a 2014 IS 250 F Sport at the 2014 IS press event.
After remaining idle for several auto shows, Volvo is announcing a major product offensive in New York. Most of its lineup will be significantly freshened for the 2014 model year. The company also plans to sell the station wagon version of its S60 sedan in the United States.
Though exact specifications were not announced, Volvo officials are confirming that the 2014 V60 Sports Wagon will be available in the U.S. The 2013 New York Auto Show marks the global debut of the sporty R-Design version of this car, and we have to believe Volvo will make it available both here and in its European home market. Keep checking back with us for more information as it becomes available.
The other news coming from the Swedish car maker is a near complete revamp of its product lines. The brand’s compact XC60 crossover, volume S60 midsize sedan, SUV-like XC70 wagon, and flagship S80 large sedan all receive major updates for 2014.
Though the vehicles look mostly familiar, they get fresher styling and some new performance, safety, and convenience features. While the drivetrains largely stand pat, revised transmission programming for the supercharged T6 models promises faster acceleration. Gains in the 0-60-mph acceleration run range from 0.2 to 0.4 seconds versus the outgoing 2013 models.
See Consumer Guide’s review of the 2013 Hyundai Equus.
Manhattan is a high-class place to be, and Hyundai is using it to show off its redesigned 2014 Equus premium sedan. The brand’s flagship vehicle boasts revised styling, retuned suspension, and additional safety, comfort, and convenience features.
Equus’ basic platform does not change. It’s Hyundai’s rear-wheel-drive architecture, which first bowed in the Genesis sedan and later in the Genesis Coupe. For 2014, though, the Equus gets new suspension tuning designed to offer sharper handling and a more compliant ride.
Power still comes from a 429-horsepower 5.0-liter V8 engine paired with an 8-speed automatic transmission. EPA-estimated fuel economy is 15 mpg city/23 mpg highway.
The car reprises base Signature and top-line Ultimate trim levels. Now, all models will have standard 5-passenger seating; previously, the Ultimate could seat only 4. The revamped interior also has a new instrument panel with either a 7- or 12.3-inch display, depending on model. The Ultimate’s rear entertainment system now sports two screens rather than one.
Rather than hold individual launches for each of its divisions at the 2013 New York Auto Show, General Motors rolled them together into a 1-2 combo from Buick followed by an uppercut from Cadillac.
The oldest product in Buick’s lineup is the LaCrosse, which bowed in its current form for the 2010 model year. For 2014, GM is giving the car a substantial freshening. A new front fascia brings LaCrosse’s appearance up to date with more recent Buicks, including the compact Verano sedan and midsize Enclave SUV. Powertrains are unchanged and include GM’s eAssist gas/electric 4-cylinder and conventional 3.6-liter V6 engines, each mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission. Newly available safety features include lane-departure warning, forward-collision alert, and pre-collision braking. Most models will also include the latest generation of Buick’s IntelliLink infotainment system. The 2014 Buick LaCrosse goes on sale this summer.
Similarly updated for 2014 is the smaller Buick Regal. Like its bigger brother, Regal gets Verano/Enclave-inspired styling cues. The eAssist 4-cylinder engine remains standard. Sporty versions, including the top-line Regal GS, get a new 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine with 259 horsepower. From 2014 onward, the GS will be the only Regal model to offer a manual transmission. All others will come only with a 6-speed automatic. For the first time, Regal will be available with the choice of front- or all-wheel drive.
Cadillac today unveiled the redesigned 2014 CTS, a car it describes as “longer, lower, and leaner” than its predecessor. The previous-generation CTS is tinier than its German midsize competitors. But the 2014 version is 5 inches longer, allowing it to goes head-to-head with such stalwarts as the BMW 5-Series and Mercedes-Benz E-Class.
The 2014 CTS adds a dose of excitement with the new Vsport model, which is powered by Cadillac’s new twin-turbocharged 3.6-liter V6, which GM says produces 420 horsepower. For more details, check out Consumer Guide Automotive’s detailed review of the 2014 Cadillac CTS.
At some point in your life, you likely will have to make the decision: Cloth or leather. What’s it going to be?
On some lower-priced vehicles, such as the Nissan Versa and Toyota Corolla, you’re stuck with cloth, since leather is not available even as an option. Drivers of certain automobiles, such as those in the Mercedes-Benz SLK-Class, are not even offered cloth upholstery. Their only options are leather and upgraded leather.
But for the majority of vehicles, you get to choose—actually, you have to choose—between cloth and leather. On most cars and trucks, cloth comes standard while leather is available as a standalone option or part of an upgrade package.
Many car buyers consider leather seats to be nothing more than a pricey perk. But so much more goes into it. This article includes 12 rounds of decisions—a dozen factors you should consider when choosing between cloth and leather. They include everything from cold cash and hot buns to slippage, staining, stinking, and sneezing.
Round 1: Price
Leather will always cost you more—it’s just a matter of how much more. That depends largely on the quality of the leather, which can range from “faux” to brushed to top-grain—or in some high-end vehicles, the luxuriously soft Nappa leather.
At the 2013 Detroit Auto Show, Bentley showed off its 2014 Continental GTC Speed, the high-performance version of its popular Continental GTC exotic convertible.
The GT Speed Convertible is powered by a turbocharged 616-horsepower W12 hooked to an 8-speed automatic transmission. (Non-Speed Continentals with the W12 engine have 567 horsepower). The Speed treatment includes a lowered suspension, a unique black intake manifold, retuned steering, 21-inch wheels (available in silver or dark-tinted), dark-chrome front grilles, and the “Mulliner Driving Specification,” which includes drilled accelerator and brake pedals, diamond-quilted upholstery on the seats and door panels, a knurled gear lever, and optional embroidered emblems in the seat backs. Options include carbon-fiber or wood interior trim, dark-colored machine-turned aluminum panels on the dashboard, and a high-end “Naim for Bentley” audio system.
The transmission shifter is equipped with a Sport mode gate, and it conjures up quicker throttle response, higher-rpm shifts, and faster kick-down shifts. Just like all other Bentley Continentals, the 2014 GT Speed Convertible is all-wheel drive.
All told, this droptop reaches 60 mph from a stop in 4.1 seconds and peaks at 202 mph. Not that Bentley buyers typically care, but the 2014 Bentley Continental GT Speed Convertible is rated to get 12 mpg city/20 mpg highway.
Would they or wouldn’t they? That was the question regarding whether or not General Motors would give the green light to producing a car based on the seductive Cadillac Converj concept. As you can probably guess, that answer is a resounding “Yes.”
Enter the 2014 Cadillac ELR. The production-ready model you see here doesn’t actually look that much different than the Converj show car, which debuted at the 2009 Detroit Auto Show. Even what’s under the sloping hood isn’t changed much.
Its underpinnings are basically those of a Chevrolet Volt. It has the same 1.4-liter 4-cylinder internal-combustion engine that serves as a generator for the 16.5 kWh lithium-ion battery pack. Power gets to the ground via the Volt’s single-speed transmission. GM projects the ELR will offer 35 miles of all-electric driving range and more than 300 miles of total range when you factor in the gas engine. Owners can charge the battery from a standard household outlet or a 240-volt charging station. Using the latter, Cadillac claims a charging time of about 4.5 hours for a fully depleted battery. The included OnStar RemoteLink app for smartphones allows owners near-complete control over the charging process.