Archive for the ‘SUVs’ Category

2009 Range Rover Retools Luxury

Posted in: General, Land Rover, SUVs

2009-rangerover.JPGWith its 2009 Range Rover, Land Rover continues blurring the line between “sport” and “luxury.” While Land Rover has announced new options and appointments for all of its sport utility vehicles, the flagship Range Rover remains particularly attractive, thanks to its sleek blend of form and function.

For ’09, Land Rover will roll out its Autobiography Package, which is available only in new “Supercharged” editions of the Range Rover. Adding more touches of leather – on everything from the console side surfaces to the door casings to the instrument panel – the Autobiography Package is a beautiful and luxurious complement to the upgraded leather trim already coming standard in all 2009 Range Rovers.

range-rover-interior.JPGAlso unique to the Autobiography Package are soft, semi-aniline leather seats, wood trim and a four-zone automatic climate control system. If that’s not enough to sell you – check out the rear-seat entertainment system, which will keep the kids busy for hours on those road trips!

If you’re thinking environmentally, of course, the only way to make your Range Rover green is to select one in that color; even though Land Rover has lowered emissions on all of its vehicles for 2009, the Range Rover is only going to get you 11 mpg in the city and 17 on the highway.

Initial pricing shows the standard ’09 Range Rover at an MSRP of $77,675, and the Supercharged edition rings up at just over $93,325.

Mercedes, Gimme an “A,” A-Class That Is

mercedes-a-class-2008.jpgA few months ago while in Vancouver, I climbed inside a small, sporty crossover that had all the comfort and markings of a Mercedes, but lacked the familiar interior I’m accustomed to.

Feeling a lot like an upgraded Honda CRV, the compact MPV (or multi-purpose vehicle) boasted a deceptively roomy interior and, the driver told me, was perfect for taking her large Portugese Water Dog on adventures. It was my first introduction to Mercedes’ B-Class, and upon returning home I set out to learn more about it.

The B-Class Tourer is best described as a cross between the R-Class, which is sold in the U.S., and the subcompact A-Class, which is not. Yet.

After finding success in Germany, the A-Class, which was first rolled out in 1997, was slated for American production. Plans to bring the small family car to the U.S. were scrapped because of weak dollar, but the A-Class and its spinoff, the B-Class, which was introduced in 2005, both enjoyed healthy sales in Europe and Canada.

Now it seems that we might be able to get in on the subcompact luxury. Automotive News is reporting that Mercedes-Benz chairman Dieter Zetsche has announced plans to bring the A-Class and B-Class to American soil. The reason? High fuel costs are making even luxury drivers re-think the merits of their gas-guzzling daily drivers. Suddenly, those subcompacts are looking rather attractive – and let’s face it, when you slap a Mercedes emblem on the front of it, it’s just bound to look good!

With sales taking a nosedive, Mercedes apparently thought it seemed like a good time to re-think their previous plan – and they’ve also announced plans for an electric version.

Current plans call for the new models to arrive in the U.S. in 2011, and we’ll get both a coupe and a small crossover. All of a sudden, downsizing looks a whole lot better…

Less Pain at the Pump

It’s almost impossible to remember the last time I watched a newscast that didn’t include2009 Ford Escape Hybrid a report on the rising price of gas. As the numbers break the $4 a gallon mark, even those who can afford the $100 tank of gas are rethinking their choices.

The one-two punch of environmental awareness and soaring gas prices has led GM to shun its behemouth Hummer and has made the used SUV market a bargain for anyone who doesn’t mind making up for it at the gas pump.

So now, some good news: GM has turned its attention to the Volt, its plug-in hybrid, with production set for 2010. For those who don’t want to wait, CarandDriver.com has released its list of the 10 most fuel-efficient vehicles in the U.S.

It’s no surprise to find the Toyota Prius at the top of that list. The highly praised Prius has become a celebrity in its own right and the symbol for all things green. With 48 mpg/highway and 45 mpg in the city, no other car can touch this one. Yet.

Following on its heels are the 2008 Honda Civic Hybrid (45/highway, 40/city); the tiny Smart Fortwo (41/highway, 33/city); the 2008 Nissan Altima Hybrid (35/highway, 33/city); and the 2008 Toyota Camry Hybrid (34/highway, 33/city).

Rounding out the top 10 list are the 2009 Volkswagen Jetta TDI, the 2009 Ford Escape Hybrid, the ’08 Toyota Yaris, the ’08 Mini Cooper and the 2008 Honda Fit. See the whole story here.

Study: New Cars Are Losing Their Luster

Is that new car smell losing its thrill? Could be, according to a new survey released by J.D Power and Associates.

The 2008 APEAL (Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout) Study shows that drivers are less thrilled with their new car purchases than they were a year ago. But it isn’t necessarily the cars themselves that are to blame. Instead, drivers point to prices at the pump, which have gone up 27 percent since last year’s survey.

“The increased cost of filling their vehicles … leads to a greater level of dissatisfaction with fuel economy than in the past,” notes David Sargent, vice president of automotive research at J.D. Power and Associates. “Manufacturers that deliver more fuel-efficient vehicles…stand a better chance of delighting their customers.”

And there definitely were some delights to be found. Although Honda fared the best, capturing the highest level of satisfaction in three categories, luxury marque Porsche held its own with top ratings in two categories. It took home the APEAL award for its Cayman in the “Compact Premium Sporty Car” category and for the Cayenne in the “Compact Multi-Activity Vehicle (MAV)” division.

Jaguar also fared well, earning a perfect score in “Overall Performance and Design.”

Luxury models that got the thumbs-up from satisfied drivers were the Lexus IS 250/IS 350/IS-F (Entry Premium Car); the BMW 5 Series (Midsize Premium Car) and the Mercedes-Benz S-Class (Large Premium Car).

Joining the Porsche Cayenne in the Premium MAV category was Land Rover‘s Range Rover, which topped the list for Large Premium MAVs.

The survey goes hand-in-hand with J.D. Powers and Associates’ Initial Quality Study, which was released about three weeks ago and focuses on problems experienced by new owners during the first 90 days of ownership. To see how your favorite auto manufacturer fared, click here.

 

 

 

 

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Land Rover’s New Concept a Winner

Land Rover’s latest brainchild hasn’t hit the production line yet – but it’s already a hit.

The South East Automotive Media Organization named Land Rover’s LRX Concept the 2008 North American Concept Truck of the Year on Tuesday, citing its great looks and new technology as major factors. The award is based on design, style, materials, technology, market viability and market responsiveness.

Although it’s still technically an SUV, the sleekly designed Land Rover LRX Concept incorporates some rather innovative options into its design. It’s a turbo diesel hybrid vehicle – the first of its kind – which means it can get over 50 miles to the gallon and can run on bio-diesel. With just three doors, it is smaller and lighter than the Land Rovers on the road tody, and it also has an “ECO” mode to optimize fuel economy.

Inside, the interiors are as luxurious as ever, but it’s designed to not only look good, but to reduce the weight of the LRX as well. Instead of glass in the roof and side windows, designers used polycarbonate – which is 40 percent lighter than glass and blocks virtually all UV light. At the same time, Land Rover used special nanotechnology within the polycarbonate to reduce infra-red transmission, which helps the interior keep its cool.

With an eye toward sustainability, the LRX uses vegetable-tanned leather, aluminum (good both for reducing weight and for recycling) and carpeting made from sustainable sources. The fine suede on the door inserts and headliners is actually made from recycled plastic bottles and fibers. And the creature comforts aim to please, with touches like an iPod docking station, a cool box (no more bulky coolers in the car!) and even a bottle chiller.

So, finally, there’s a Land Rover that is as good for the environment as it is good-looking. In fact, the only problem I could see with this vehicle is that it’s not on the road yet. Here’s hoping that Land Rover will make that happen long before the LRX’s previously anticipated 2011-ish debut…

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