2011 Cadillac Escalade ESV Platinum Review

Monday August 8th, 2011 at 10:88 AM
Posted by: mtan

2011 Cadillac Escalade ESV

Pros:

  • Luxury look and feel – Platinum Edition Tehama Aniline and Nuance luxury leather seating treatment
  • Entertainment – four DVD screens accompany the three row interior making this a road tripper’s dream car
  • Sheer size – if you’re looking for a luxury utility vehicle that can carry the entire family and more, then the size of the Escalade ESV will work for you

Cons:

  • Underwhelming power – rated at 403hp and 417 foot pounds of torque, the motor still comes up short considering that this is a 7400 pound SUV
  • Dated interior feel – the interior was a major disappointment, especially given that this was the Platinum Edition, and the look and feel is more appropriate for a $45,000 Suburban
  • Dated styling – the Escalade suffers from a design that was more relevant five years ago, and just looks bland and inconsistent compared to more current automotive designs

“This SUV takes on big missions — Beautifully.”

There is always a certain amount of intrigue and excitement that comes along with testing an $88,000 vehicle. That price point puts this SUV in the company of some of the newest offerings from Porsche, BMW, and Audi. Granted, the sheer size of the Escalade puts it in its own category, but given the close to six figure price tag, the expectations were high.

No doubt about it, the Escalade is full on “bling”. A big motor, lots of chrome, lots of leather, and lots of video screens. It would also seem to be the ideal family vehicle, as it can carry 7 people comfortably, and has a Magnetic Ride Control suspension lending to a smooth ride that would make road trip miles fly by. The interior is built for comfort, but the third row is easily folded to increase the already roomy cargo area.

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2011 Volvo XC60 R-Design Review – It’s got the brawn, but who’s got the brains?

Tuesday August 2nd, 2011 at 4:88 PM
Posted by: bclark

2011 Volvo XC60
By Bill Clark

Pros:

  • Turbo V6 feels like a V8
  • Exterior and interior styling
  • Very comfortable
  • Versatile cargo capabilities

Cons:

  • Mind-baffling electronics
  • Useless proximity key
  • R-design rear bumper not compatible with receiver hitch

Having tested a number of small crossovers, I can say with certainty that the Volvo XC60 is almost the perfect family crossover and certainly one that provides enough ‘fun factor’ to entertain car enthusiasts. I never expected to say that about a Volvo crossover. If it wasn’t for the frustrating vehicle electronics menu systems, I’d call it perfect.

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2011 Audi Q7 Review

Wednesday July 27th, 2011 at 12:77 PM
Posted by: mash

2011 Audi Q7 S line Prestige
By Mary Ellen Ash

Yays:

  • Bang & Olufsen Advanced Sound System
  • Quattro permanent AWD
  • Adaptive Suspension
  • Smooth 8-speed Tiptronic automatic transmission
  • High quality parts and attractive styling
  • Power tailgate

Nays:

  • Complicated Audi MMI navigation system
  • Non-touchscreen capability for 7-inch LCD radio/navigation screen
  • No rear seat DVD entertainment system option
  • Luxury brand price-tag

The Audi Q7 was first released in 2005 and was Audi’s first entrance into the SUV market. Over the years, the German automaker has been tweaking its flagship luxury SUV and it hopes the 2011 model will not disappoint. High quality components and subtle luxurious features give buyers their desired pomp without being overtly gaudy. The top-notch engineering is noticeable throughout the vehicle, and the Q7 is filled with a vast amount of sophisticated luxury items and safety features.

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2011 Nissan Rogue SV FWD Review

Tuesday July 12th, 2011 at 11:77 AM
Posted by: the911guy

2011 Nissan Rogue
By Dan Tsuchiya

Pros:

  • Great mileage
  • Sporty Handling
  • Decent Value

Cons:

  • Lackluster acceleration
  • Suspension a little crude below 20 MPH
  • Seating not as comfortable as the competition

Sport utility vehicles, especially the front wheel drive kind, are essentially station wagons for those who don’t want to be seen in a station wagon.  Whether it’s the perceived ruggedness or the more sporty looks, small SUVs have been a hot market for young urbanites ever since the RAV-4 and CRV entered the scene many years back. With gas prices remaining high and car shoppers looking to downsize with the recession, this segment of SUV’s has continued to blossom over the past few years.

We recently received the slightly redesigned Nissan Rogue SV front wheel drive, which comes with new bumpers that give the sport utility a less egg-shaped profile and gets rid of the Pokemon face, a criticism of the earlier Rogue. Does the redesigned Rogue SV make the grade in the $25,000 and under field of cute-utes? Read on…..

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2011 Infiniti QX56 AWD First Impressions Review

Wednesday June 22nd, 2011 at 10:66 AM
Posted by: D.Colman

2011 Infiniti QX56
By contributing editor David Colman

Hits:

  • Feels invulnerable
  • Tour bus front seats
  • Swallows bikes

Misses:

  • Mismatched door-to-dash trim
  • Hard rear seats
  • Middling fuel mileage
  • Rearview mirror adjustment button inaccessible when seated

The QX56 comes alive when the sun sets. With its brilliant directional headlights scanning the countryside, its 3/4 overhead navigation tableau reeling off street names as you pass them, and the dual movie screens of the optional ($2,450) rear “Theater Package” blasting pixels into the dark, this Infiniti is the wonder of the digital age. While it’s not much to look at from outside, this boxy, heavy SUV gains all its momentum inside, where a palatial interior cocoons up to 8 occupants with Air Force One attention to detail. The BarcaLounger-sized front seats allow you to survey a jungle-like swath of Mocha Burl trim covering the outer rim of the steering wheel, the center stack of the dash, and the front quarters of all 4 doors. The driver’s seat adjusts in 8 ways, the passenger’s in 6.

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2011 Lincoln MKT AWD Review – Singing Along in the Family Wagon

Friday June 10th, 2011 at 11:66 AM
Posted by: peter

2011 Lincoln MKT distinctive split-wing grille
By Peter N.

Pros:

  • V6 engine that performs like a V8
  • All-wheel drive delivers acceleration and confidence
  • Advanced technology for the latest bells and whistles

Cons:

  • Restricted visibility
  • Some advanced technology was awkward and/or confusing

For this review, I had the unusual pleasure of testing a 2011 Lincoln MKT AWD on a snowy weekend trip up to Tahoe. What better way to test the cruising capabilities, the all-wheel drive for stability, and hauling capacity to pack a family for a ski vacation?

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2011 Toyota Highlander Review

Tuesday May 24th, 2011 at 12:55 PM
Posted by: D.Colman

2011_toyota_highlander_02_med
By contributing editor David Colman

Likes:

  • Spacious and airy
  • Flat storage area
  • 5,000 lb. tow rating

Dislikes:

  • Hit-or-miss remote tailgate release
  • Bug-eye styling
  • 270 hp not enough

The Toyota stylists who freshened the look of the Highlander for 2011 did not do its front fascia any favors. New headlight modules stand nearly 4 inches proud of the fender surface, imparting a frog-like visage to the SUV. The rear makeover is more successful than the front, but the revamped Highlander is never going to win any beauty contests. Inside, the redo is more beneficial. Three rows of seats are now standard in all models. The second and third rows flips flat by releasing seatback-mounted detents. The resultant flat load floor is a boon if you need to stow bulky items. Liftover height at the tailgate threshold is low enough to make insertion of ungainly objects like a bike easy. However, the tailgate key fob release only worked sporadically.

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2011 BMW X3 xDrive35i Review – The new X3 is bigger, more comfortable, and a moving performer

Tuesday May 17th, 2011 at 8:55 AM
Posted by: berrichondanny

2011_bmw_x3_20
By Danny Chang

Pros:

  • Tight & confident handling
  • Decent acceleration
  • Refined interior & build quality

Cons:

  • Styling is a step back in time
  • 8-speed automatic is too shift-happy
  • Lacks personality

The second generation BMW X3 is almost the size of the first generation X5. BMW has added to the overall length, width and height, as well as a tiny bit to the wheelbase. The benefits are rear passenger legroom, headroom for all passengers and cargo room. Despite its bigger size, the second generation X3 still reminds you of the original, smaller X3, at least from the front. From the back, the new X3 resembles the new designs of the X5 and X6.

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2011 Land Rover LR4 Review – Range Rover's competent little brother

Wednesday May 4th, 2011 at 8:55 AM
Posted by: D.Colman

2011 Land Rover LR4
By contributing editor David Colman

Hits:

  • Classic rugged styling
  • Foot in the country club door
  • Half the cost of a Range Rover, but not half the car

Misses:

  • Niggling annoyances from horn button to tailgate to seat latch
  • Thirsty for premium fuel
  • Third row seats more appropriate for monkeys and other agile creatures

In terms of the country club pecking order, the LR4 will get you onto the same putting green as the Range Rover, but you’ll be further from the cup than you might like. At close to a hundred grand, the Range Rover is a hole-in-one for the horsey set. The half-as-costly LR4 may be a two-put for par, but shares enough virtues with big brother to make it worthy of the family name. Both enjoy the same 375hp, all aluminum V8, the same two-speed electronic transfer gearbox for sublimely competent off road abilities, and similarly airy cabin space. The difference lies in price and attention to detail. If you can make do with simplified leather, lack of wood trim, and tighter packaging, than the all new LR4, base priced at $47,850, is a bonus bargain worthy of Costco.

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2011 Volkswagen Touareg VR6 Sport Review

Wednesday March 23rd, 2011 at 10:33 AM
Posted by: mash

By Mary Ellen Ash

Yays:

  • Well laid-out, high quality interior
  • Clean and uncluttered console area
  • Quiet and refined ride with sporty handling
  • Permanent All-Wheel Drive

Nays:

  • Very few and relatively minor
  • A little pricey compared with other top brand models

It happened on a dark and very stormy night. I was driving through the puddle infested, super windy freeway much faster than I should have, because it felt no different than if the conditions had been ideal. While most drivers decided to stay off the roads that night, my Touareg assured me with its warm bear-like hug that everything would be okay. And isn’t that why we all want an SUV?

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