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Fri, 25 May 2018 19:00:27 +0000
Mr. Toad’s Mild Ride

That year I lived alone. My life was changing in dramatic fashion, and among the many consequences was that I had to find a new place of my own. In need of something to smile about and inspired by the notion that “somebody in this glossy town must have a great guest house for rent,”...

The post Mr. Toad’s Mild Ride appeared first on Automobile Magazine.

KNYSNA, South Africa — Every good festival needs a good sideshow. For the 2018 Jaguar Simola Hillclimb, those duties fell on the shoulders of British stunt driver Terry Grant.

The stuntman has an impressive resume, including the world record for the longest barrel roll in a production vehicle, as well as the record for the largest loop-de-loop in a car. The former he set in a Jaguar E-Pace and the latter in an F-Pace, so he’s no stranger to doing silly things with Jaguar SUVs.

For this year’s Hillclimb, Grant chose to attempt to drive the entire course in an F-Pace, but with a catch: he was going to do it on two wheels, with a South African celebrity riding shotgun. Four runs were scheduled, two for each day of the Hillclimb’s King of the Hill competition. The first time he did it, I had no idea he planned on driving all 1.2-miles, so I was as wowed as the rest of the crowd.

Afterwards, I thought nothing more of it aside from getting some photos of the remaining runs until Jaguar South Africa PR man Jesse Adams walked up to me midday on Sunday, shortly after Terry went up the hill with pro rugby player Eben Etzebeth, a mountain of muscle measuring at 6’8” in height and 260 pounds in weight.

British stunt driver @terrygrant1 sent a Jaguar F-Pace onto two wheels and drove it that way for nearly four minutes, covering the entire 1.2-mile length of the Jaguar Simola Hillclimb course. Special mods? Only a locked rear differential and tires inflated to 90 psi. . . . . . #jagurshc #jaguarfpace #terrygrant #stuntdriving #knysna #southafrica

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“I’ve got good news and I’ve got bad news,” he said. “It’s the same news, actually,” he continued, “you’re going up with Terry.”

I’m not sure if he expected to get an objection, but he wasn’t about to get one. I’ve done far more ill-advised things in my life than get into a car with a professional driver, especially one that’s been professionally fitted with a full rollcage. Like riding motorcycles and racing a Daihatsu Charade.

Though the right-hand-drive F-Pace’s interior had been removed, a manual transmission was in place for the usual automatic, and a manual brake was fitted as well, the only modification Grant needed for the stunt were tires inflated to 90 psi and a locked rear differential, I was told.

To make things more interesting, Jesse threw in a transponder to track the time up the hill before Grant and I headed off. Presumably they waited to do that until the last run because a random American journalist is more expendable than a member of the national rugby team or one of the judges on the local version of “The Voice,” Bobby Van Jaarsveld. That, and crashing early cancels the remaining runs.

As we approached the starting line, the announcer informed the crowd that said American journalist was riding shotgun and that Terry was going to be giving him a scare. If he’d known that I’d once rolled a Daihatsu Charade, he’d have known that it would take more than that to put fear in my eyes.

After exiting to help set up the ram and to give a brief interview, Grant got back in the car and off we went. The F-Pace promptly went up on two wheels as we went up the ramp and stayed that way as grant intended. There was far less drama than I expected, frankly, and Grant made only the slightest of inputs to the steering wheel as we went up.

Things were slightly touch and go towards the end, but we crossed the finish line as planned, at which point Grant set the car back down on all four tires for the drive back down.

Once we made our way back down to the temporary paddock, the time was announced: 3:03. A far longer time than the 40-60 seconds needed by most competitors, but they were using all four wheels instead of only two.

Behind my balaclava, a smile graced my face the entire time. So much for scaring the Yankee scribe.

Follow Terry on Instagram and Twitter.

The post On Two Wheels in a Jaguar F-Pace appeared first on Automobile Magazine.


Fri, 25 May 2018 02:00:11 +0000
On Two Wheels in a Jaguar F-Pace

KNYSNA, South Africa — Every good festival needs a good sideshow. For the 2018 Jaguar Simola Hillclimb, those duties fell on the shoulders of British stunt driver Terry Grant. The stuntman has an impressive resume, including the world record for the longest barrel roll in a production vehicle, as well as the record for the...

The post On Two Wheels in a Jaguar F-Pace appeared first on Automobile Magazine.

MOAB, Utah — The splendor of Moab is evident from the air. I worked up the courage to peep out the window of my tiny plane as it jostled through the air on its way into the Grand Junction, Colorado airport . My eyes were met with snowy peaks, impressive buttes, and wide-open swathes of land.

Jeep brought us to Moab not just to drive its Easter Safari concepts, but also to showcase the full capability of its factory stock vehicles on one of off-roading’s most hallowed grounds.

Moab as we know it today exists because uranium miners carved out trails to form the recreational park that surrounds the tiny town of just over 5,000 people. Our group’s guides planned to take us to Moab’s Behind the Rocks trails for a healthy mix of dirt trails, slick rocks, and obstacle climbing. To take on the landscape, I chose a two-door 2018 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon with the new turbocharged 2.0-liter mild hybrid system.

The first thing I noticed is how much more upscale the interior is over the previous generation. Quality plastic, rubber, and leather abound inside. Elegant metallic red accents with a satin finish line the dash. A piece of B-pillar trim rattled loose, but the car was otherwise flawless during my half-day behind the wheel.

We started the day on the road as we hauled out to the trail from the Moab-famous Gonzo Inn. Little noise made it inside the cabin, allowing for pleasant indoors-volume conversation. Even once we got on the dirt and small rocks, NHV remained at a minimum, allowing us to enjoy satellite radio through the premium sound system.

I hadn’t done much off-roading up to this point save a closed course with General Tire in previous-generation JK Jeeps and some trail driving in a Mercedes-Benz G550 4×42 and used this two-day trip with Jeep as an opportunity to learn all I could about off-pavement adventuring.

The first feature I learned to use in the Wrangler Rubicon was the electronically disconnecting anti-roll bars. Pushing the button at the bottom of the center console allows the Jeep to allow for the full suspension articulation necessary for more serious rock crawling. It also helped with medium-pace driving on rocky trails–the suspension doesn’t try to keep the vehicle level, resulting in a ride quality that plies across the bumpy terrain with an uncanny grace. You bet we kept this feature active as often as we could.

When we got to the full-sized boulders, we set the Cherokee Trailhawks in low-range mode and switched on the locking differentials. The buttons that control these functions have moved from left of the steering column, as they were on the JK, to the center stack next to the anti-roll bar disconnect.

Jeep’s electronically controlled tools operate with a shocking degree of predictive intelligence. By this I mean that the anti-roll bars automatically disconnect and reconnect when the vehicle begins moving too quickly and the diffs wait to lock or unlock until the car is stopped and in neutral. This ease of use helped  me keep my eyes on the trail and the expansive scenery of the high desert.

 

The ultimate test of our Jeeping skills—and of the stock Wrangler Rubicon’s ability—was ascending and descending Hummer Hill, so named for an off-roader who drove his Hummer H1 laterally across the 41-degree incline.

Jeep’s guides suggested we use a four-door Wrangler Unlimited to make the climb since the longer wheelbase allows for more stability on a steep grade. With fully locked differentials and disconnected anti-roll bars, I crept forward onto the stone mound. Within moments, all I could see was the clear blue sky above. I maintained a steady throttle input and the open-top Wrangler clawed its way up the rock face.

I couldn’t celebrate yet—it was already time to turn the Wrangler around and creep back down to the ground. I used left-foot braking and low gears as instructed to maintain control as I eased down the rock. This time, only the ground was visible through the windshield.

It felt incredible to make it up and down Hummer Hill, and in that moment Moab clicked for me. FCA West Region Manager Scott Brown repeated throughout the trip that off-roading is “the most fun you’ll have going 2 mph,” and that sentiment rang true in the sense of achievement and accomplishment I felt from conquering that obstacle.

After a morning of testing the best of Jeep’s off-roading lineup, it was time to swap our Wranglers for Cherokee Trailhawks. I opted for a two-liter turbocharged variant. The Trailhawk trim bestows the Cherokee with better all-terrain tires, a lift, and Jeep’s Active Drive II four-wheel drive system.

Active Drive II offers hill descent, Selec Speed Control, a rear-locking differential, and traction modes for different types of surfaces. We started on sandy roads and did some higher speed driving over these trails. This is the area the Trailhawk felt most comfortable, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t capable when it came to the obstacles lying ahead.

We did some serious climbing in the Cherokees as well, using a combination of settings to scale steep rocky inclines. For the really serious stuff, we switched into low-range 4WD, locked the rear differential, and set Active Drive II to “rock.” Without the disconnecting anti-roll bars, obstacles felt hairier but the Trailhawk successfully faced the challenge.

Our climb culminated at the top of Kane Springs Creek Canyon, which offered a breathtaking vista. It gave some perspective to the Cherokee Trailhawk’s abilities as well. Even though it doesn’t offer the full off-roading suite of the Wrangler Rubicon there’s still plenty of kit in the factory-stock models to tackle an intermediate-level trail.

My time behind the wheel of Jeep’s newest offerings helped me make sense of why Moab is the Mecca of off-roading. The trails and spectacular views lend themselves to a sense of scale that I’ve never encountered anywhere else in the United States. But the land and sky weren’t the only things that impressed in Moab. The 2018 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon and Cherokee Trailhawk demonstrated that Jeep offers products that are simultaneously livable and capable – properties that make these vehicles a solid choice for the driver who wants to be secure in the knowledge that they can get away at a moment’s notice.

2018 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon Specifications

ON SALENow
PRICE$39,495 (base)
ENGINES2.0L DOHC 16-valve turbo I-4/270 hp @ 5,200 rpm, 295 lb-ft @ 3,000 rpm
TRANSMISSIONS8-speed automatic
LAYOUT2-door, 5-passenger, front-engine, 4WD SUV
EPA MILEAGE18/23 mpg (city/hwy)
L x W x H166.8 x 73.8 x 73.6 in
WHEELBASE96.8 in
WEIGHT4,010
0-60 MPH7.5 sec (est)
TOP SPEED115 mph (est)

 

2018 Jeep Cherokee Specifications

ON SALENow
PRICE$25,190-$38,970
ENGINE2.0 turbo DOHC 16-valve I-4/270 hp @ 5,250 rpm, 295 lb-ft @ 3,000 rpm;
TRANSMISSION9-speed automatic
LAYOUT4-door, 5-passenger, front-engine, 4WD SUV
EPA MILEAGEN/A
L x W x H182 x 73.2 x 66.2 in
WHEELBASE107.1 in
WEIGHT3,655-4,108 lb
0-60 MPH7.5 (est)
TOP SPEED115 mph (est)

The post Off-Roading in Moab With the 2018 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon and Cherokee Trailhawk appeared first on Automobile Magazine.


Fri, 25 May 2018 01:00:03 +0000
Off-Roading in Moab With the 2018 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon and Cherokee Trailhawk

MOAB, Utah — The splendor of Moab is evident from the air. I worked up the courage to peep out the window of my tiny plane as it jostled through the air on its way into the Grand Junction, Colorado airport . My eyes were met with snowy peaks, impressive buttes, and wide-open swathes of...

The post Off-Roading in Moab With the 2018 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon and Cherokee Trailhawk appeared first on Automobile Magazine.

The updates made to the 2019 Ford F-150 build on an already impressive array of off-road performance features and technology. The truck now features electronically controlled Fox Racing Shox, Trail Control, a Recaro seat package with real carbon-fiber interior trim, and real beadlock 17-inch wheels, and here are seven reasons why it’s still the best truck for crossing Baja at 120 mph.

The post WATCH: Seven Reasons Why the Updated 2019 Ford F-150 Raptor Will Stay King of the Desert appeared first on Automobile Magazine.


Thu, 24 May 2018 23:00:05 +0000
WATCH: Seven Reasons Why the Updated 2019 Ford F-150 Raptor Will Stay King of the Desert

The updates made to the 2019 Ford F-150 build on an already impressive array of off-road performance features and technology. The truck now features electronically controlled Fox Racing Shox, Trail Control, a Recaro seat package with real carbon-fiber interior trim, and real beadlock 17-inch wheels, and here are seven reasons why it’s still the best truck...

The post WATCH: Seven Reasons Why the Updated 2019 Ford F-150 Raptor Will Stay King of the Desert appeared first on Automobile Magazine.

Whatever your automotive proclivities, we’re here to help inspire your next grand outing. Apart from our own travel adventures covered in this issue, here are four more of our favorite offerings worth checking out.

Cruisin’ Hawaii

It can be tough to steal away for some me time on a family vacation—and even tougher if you want to use that time to satisfy your gearhead cravings. Sure, it’s easy to find a golf course, pool, or beach, especially in Maui or similar retreats, but Hawaii isn’t a place you likely think of as a driver’s destination. As a recent outing to The Valley Isle revealed, though, paradise can provide a surprise.

David Gentry, who runs his operation via peer-to-peer car rental services DriveShare and Turo, and his partners, Moonstar Greene and Yuri Soledade—proprietors of the Paia Fish Market restaurants—are the kind of people who find a way to do what they love regardless of locale.

Gentry is a scrappy dude in his early 40s who, when not waxing rhapsodically on the virtues of short-throw gearboxes, works as a commercial contractor. He talks mostly about the objects of his passions: his fleet of cars. It isn’t big, but it includes a 1974 Alfa Romeo GTV 2000, a 2012 Porsche Cayman R, a 2002 Lotus Elise, and a slew of late-model and vintage Minis.

So drive we did, along with Gentry, Soledade, and Greene. Up and down and around the island, we switched between the Porsche, the Lotus, and the Alfa. Even among weapons like the Cayman and Elise, it was the aged and finicky Italian classic that spoke volumes. Coming down the dormant volcano Haleakala in a cold, sideways rain, shifting through the gears, it finally felt like this was the vacation we’ve always sought.

For more information:

Cars: DriveShare.com and Turo.com, prices vary

Hotels on Maui: Andaz Maui at Wailea Resort; Maui.Andaz.Hyatt.com

Hotels on Lanai: Four Seasons Resort; Fourseasons.com/Lanai

Top tips for planning a similar experience:

Rule 1: Book a hotel you know the family will love even when you’re not there. We went for the Andaz Maui at Wailea Resort, knowing the family would be happy enjoying the mahalo beach vibes.

Rule 2: Do a lot of research. Gentry offered to take us on a guided tour of the island, but usually he’ll simply tell you where to go and how long it will take. The internet is your pal and kept us away from the torturously slow Road to Hana. For the right wheels, book early. The prices on Turo and DriveShare vary, but expect to pay a few hundred dollars per day for a whip like the Lotus and up to a thousand-plus for an exotic, insurance included.

Rule 3: When all else fails, ask the hotel concierge, as they can set up almost anything and everything for you, including guided tours. That’s what we did at the Four Seasons Resort Lanai; an hour later and a few hundred dollars lighter, we were bombing red-dirt back roads in a Polaris RZR side-by-side.

Ultimate Driving Tours

UltimateDrivingTours.com; Prices start around $8,000

Forget your local supercar rental lot; Ultimate Driving Tours is the real deal. The Australia-based tour company offers an incredible assortment of driving packages stretching across three continents. Each program is meticulously planned with overnight stays at specialty resorts, meals at top-tier restaurants, and an occasional visit from a racing legend like Jackie Stewart. Its fleet of available cars is impressive, ranging from workaday favorites like the Ford Focus RS to grand tourers like the Mercedes-AMG GT to supercar royalty like the Ferrari 458 Speciale. Prepackaged road, racetrack, winter, and motorsports tours are available in Europe, Australia, and the U.S. If you want something more personal, Bring Your Own Car (BYOC) and bespoke packages are available.

Grand Prix Tours

GPTours.com; Prices dependent on event and options

Before stressing over the itinerary of your next motorsports getaway, give Grand Prix Tours a call. The travel experts at GPT offer all-inclusive packages for most major global motorsports events, stretching from the Azerbaijan Grand Prix to the Indianapolis 500. GPT is especially known for its Formula 1 hospitality bundles, covering the majority of the annual F1 schedule. Each package is mostly a la carte, offering different levels of admission, amenities, and hotels. And if you already had a blast at one of its four-wheeled adventures, make sure you check back in for one of GPT’s MotoGP or golf trips.

Safari Drive

Safaridrive.com; Prices start around $3,000

Not every petrol-powered vacation has to be turbo-charged and Michelin-starred. If you’re of a more adventurous disposition, check out self-driven tours through Africa via Safari Drive. For more than 20 years, these overland experts have put drivers behind the wheel of Land Rover Defenders and Toyota Land Cruisers on fabulous curated tours through some of the wildest country in the world. Interested parties can pick from seven African countries (or Argentina) and enjoy multiweek 4×4 excursions that span from cushy, coddled resort relaxing to rooftop camping in the wilderness.

The post Choose Your Own Driving Adventure appeared first on Automobile Magazine.


Thu, 24 May 2018 01:00:31 +0000
Choose Your Own Driving Adventure

Whatever your automotive proclivities, we’re here to help inspire your next grand outing. Apart from our own travel adventures covered in this issue, here are four more of our favorite offerings worth checking out. Cruisin’ Hawaii It can be tough to steal away for some me time on a family vacation—and even tougher if you...

The post Choose Your Own Driving Adventure appeared first on Automobile Magazine.

If a premium Korean sedan drives through the California desert, does anyone hear it? The question circles my mind as I spin our Four Seasons Genesis G90’s Nappa-wrapped wheel away from Los Angeles and into the vastness of the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, a fitting move since I can barely hear any outside noises within the hushed cabin.

Between the murdered-out G-Wagens and chrome-wrapped i8s, L.A. car culture can be an oppressive place for reflection. So for better or worse, I’m settled into a 22-way adjustable driver’s seat for a 2,000-mile quest to unravel the riddle of a certain $71,575 Genesis G90 3.3T AWD. Departing the city’s automotive battle royal is the most efficient way to strip away those twisted metrics and evaluate a vehicle for its merit, not its pretense. Context is vital. When viewed against the better-than-ever Mercedes-Benz S-Classes, BMW 7 Series, and Lexus LS 500s of the world, the oh-so-gray G90’s derivative styling wields all the visual impact of a gently lobbed down pillow. My plan is to spend two solid days of quality one-on-one time in the desert, then load up the family for a road trip beyond L.A.’s status-conscious hullabaloo into Napa Valley.

As incongruous as it might seem to start a weeklong road trip solo, the me time allows your narrator to absorb the G90’s curiously quiet cabin while framed by the gloriously expansive California desert. Credit goes to its double-paned acoustic glass and triple-sealed doors, which shut with a gentle tug. Ancillary sound is also reduced thanks to resonance chambers within the wheels, helping form a tomblike absence of road noise. The efforts are particularly impressive on Interstate 10, the soulless superslab that runs alongside the highway previously known as Route 66. In contrast to Route 66’s rose-colored history, the Genesis cabin feels pleasantly anodyne, its Nappa leather, gloss walnut wood, and unprovocative lines offering a by-the-book impersonation of what a conventional luxury sedan ought to look like. It’s not that it doesn’t work; it’s just that it doesn’t sparkle or introduce anything unexpected to the experience, like a job interviewee who’s too concerned with giving the “right” answer to let his or her personality shine through.

But as the offenses of the G90’s inoffensive cabin fade away, my wandering mind remembers my hopelessly optimistic buddy, who we’ll call Alton. “Do you think I could drive an S-Class ironically?” Alton mused once, imagining himself some sort of unlikely single hipster in a honking car. The image was preposterous because Alton, like me, is on the cusp of middle age. Helming a late-model land yacht, no matter how young at heart you might be, will always make you look more Wall Street jerk than cheeky enthusiast to some observers. But interestingly enough, those suppositions start to fall away as the city recedes, replaced by a letterboxed horizon and rustic roadside attractions like the Warner Springs Gliderport, which has dotted the sky with quaint, unpowered aircraft since 1939.

Now I’m just a dude driving a car, noticing how the adaptive air suspension soaks up bumps quite nicely in straight lines, even bouncing a bit like a Cadillac Fleetwood Brougham d’Elegance circa 1984. But when I hit the winding roads that skirt the ragged edges of the Cleveland National Forest, the 4,784-pound sedan feels like it weighs, well, right around 5,000 pounds. I’ve got plenty of time on my hands, so I delve into the multimedia system’s menu options via a palm-sized wheel that somewhat resembles a less expensively executed version of Mercedes-Benz’s COMAND system. It takes more fiddling than I would like, but I eventually manage to switch it to Sport mode, which still leaves a bit to be desired in terms of body control in high-speed corners.

Every stretch of highway here seems endless, and the G90 consumes the open road with such voraciousness that I hit Slab City, some 75 miles away, in what feels like no time.

But when you’re driving somewhat briskly yet not in a terrible hurry, it just takes a bit of stepping back and trimming of speed to find a comfortably quick pace in the G90, its honeyed engine playing remarkably nice with the smooth-shifting transmission. Press the drive-mode button near the shifter (which is different from the suspension/AWD/steering adjustability via the multimedia system),and that Sport mode squeezes quite a bit more respon-siveness and power from the 3.3-liter twin-turbo V-6, utilizing its full 365 hp and 376 lb-ft of torque. There’s a surprising amount of thrust available when you wring this quiet puppy out, capable of shooting the sedan to 60 mph in a scant 5.4 seconds. Try that in an ’84 Caddy. The ass-whoopingly quick acceleration feels breezy and easy enough to make me seriously wonder why anyone would spring the extra $3,500 for the thirstier 420-hp V-8.

No irony here. Just a man and a (somewhat anonymous) car getting lost in Southern California’s Anza-Borrego Desert State Park.

Montezuma Valley Road wiggles its way through a rugged mountain range replete with herds of bighorn sheep before it crests, offering a stunning 2,500-foot vista of the 600,000-acre Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. If the G90 didn’t disappear enough in L.A., nearby Borrego Springs is quite possibly the perfect place to slip into sweet anonymity. The town, population 3,429, was the second place in the world to be declared a Dark Sky Community by the International Dark-Sky Association, an organization that fights light pollution and seeks to keep night skies clear, natural, and unobstructed by the tomfoolery of humanity.

Rambling along these hyper-rural roads otherwise populated by Silverados and Explorers, the Genesis seems like a mysterious emissary from another continent, a stealthy luxo-cruiser of inscrutable origin.

Every stretch of highway here seems endless, and the G90 consumes the open road with such voraciousness that I hit Slab City, some 75 miles away, in what feels like no time. This sunbaked desert commune attracts a motley array of bohemian itinerants living out of RVs, trailers, and abandoned vehicles, choosing to otherwise shun the way conventionally structured society operates. There’s a prolifically spray-painted shell of a burned-out bus near a gentleman, emerging from his wheeled domicile, who makes a lavatory of out of a trash heap. Suddenly my South Korean sedan isn’t the underdog in an uphill luxury battle. It’s the establishment. The powers that be. The man. Context once again being key, I pay a visit to Salvation Mountain, the garishly effusive sculptural ode to the love of a higher being that was featured in the film “Into the Wild,” which portrayed the life of a starry-eyed (and ill-fated) nomad named Christopher McCandless.

Against Palm Springs’ tableau of midcentury sparseness, the Genesis G90’s styling feels mishmashy and derivative.

Onward I drive to the Salton Sea, but not without stopping first to set the GPS because the G90 can’t trust occupants to operate the navigation system while in motion. These strange dances with personal responsibility take on a certain irony when I pull up to Bombay Beach, a once-sprawling resort town that now more closely resembles a post-apocalyptic wasteland. These dystopic shores are lapped by polluted waters where fish carcasses wash up by the thousands, their decaying flesh producing a rancid hydrogen sulfide odor. Society’s abandonment has left decrepit structures plastered in graffiti and overrun by pigeons, a vacuum of humanity where nature seems to have taken over. Here my four-door steed takes on an even more strangely futuristic appearance; it’s like an alternate reality where Stuttgart, Munich, Modena, and Detroit fell off the planet and Seoul just kept churning out aspirational luxury cars.

Just an hour north of the Salton Sea’s decay is the midcentury oasis of Palm Springs, where tidy architecture and the insinuation of distant Rat Pack nostalgia draws more than its share of Range Rover-driving residents and rental Mustang convertible-wielding visitors. Although the G90’s cooled seats, still not showing any signs of inducing fatigue, assuage me against the escalating blaze of the midday sun, my nondescript sedan once again fails to make an impression among the label-loving locals. No bother; by midafternoon it’s time to loop back to L.A. and scoop up my wife, mother-in-law, and 6-year-old son for the drive up north.

It’s a butt-numbing 422 miles from Pasadena to Napa Valley but also an excellent opportunity to hear other opinions on the car’s qualities, namely the rear seats, which seem to be designed for marathon road trips. Another unexpected test: the car’s radar-based adaptive cruise control system, which comes into play during an inexplicable slowdown along a hopelessly tedious stretch of California Interstate 5. The excellent sound insulation once again comes in handy when my wife decides to drill the bambino with flash cards for spelling; nary a voice needs to be raised in order to be heard, even when I’m taking advantage of wide-open stretches of nothing where the absence of traffic means elevated cruising speeds.

I’m not one for semi-autonomous driving unless the car can take an equally skillful stab at piloting, and the G90’s lane keeping assist system manages to reinforce my skepticism. Although it keeps the car centered at slower speeds along straight stretches of road, when the road bends, the system has a tendency to pinball within the lane and time out every 15 seconds with an annoyingly loud chime. At least the radar-based cruise control works smoothly, reducing stress during much of the interstate slog.

My 6-year-old son declared the G90 “the best car ever.” The kid has ridden along in Lamborghinis, McLarens, and Rolls-Royces.

Northern California’s history, like the timelessness of the Anza-Borrego desert, has a way of introducing an element of perspective that can get lost in frenetic, celebrity-obsessed cities like L.A. Want to feel small? Drive your big, fancy sedan to a place like Armstrong Redwoods State Natural Reserve, where you can drive right up to Colonel Armstrong, a 308-foot-tall, 1,400-year-old tree; suddenly, your complaints about how your Genesis lacks valet cache seem lame. A day trip to Silver Oak, the newest winery in Healdsburg, shines yet another kind of perspective on your plight. The just-opened facility features a series of sleek black buildings with 2,595 solar panels and a dedicated membrane bioreactor that enables the LEED Platinum-certified complex to reclaim most of its water and generate more energy than it consumes, making our observed fuel economy of 21.4 mpg seem piddling.

I often lean on my passengers for feedback on vehicles I’m testing. The G90 elicited near-universal praise from the adults aboard, who appreciated the comfortable and spacious rear seating area and details like the built-in sunshades and smooth ride quality. My 6-year-old son, however, pricked my ears when he declared the G90 “the best car ever.” The kid has ridden along in Lamborghinis, McLarens, and Rolls-Royces, sampling some of the meanest, plushest, and most unapologetically status-savvy vehicles on the planet.

What did he love so much about the Genesis G90? “All of the buttons!” he exclaimed, referring to the seat, climate control, and multimedia controls that heavily clad the rear fold-down armrest. Sometimes it takes the honesty of a child to put that pesky brand snobbery into perspective once and for all.

OUR 2017 Genesis G90 AWD 3.3T Premium

MILES TO DATE11,957
GALLONS OF FUEL632.9 gallons
OBSERVED MPG 20.4 mpg
FUEL COST TO DATE$2,225.32
AVERAGE COST/GALLON$3.54

MAINTENANCE

7,500 mi: Oil change$0
Vehicle inspection$0

RECALLS

None

OUT OF POCKET

None

SPECIFICATIONS

AS-TESTED PRICE$71,575
ENGINE3.3L twin-turbo DOHC 24-valve V-6/365 hp @ 6,000 rpm, 376 lb-ft @ 1,300-4,500 rpm
TRANSMISSION8-speed automatic
LAYOUT4-door, 5-passenger, front-engine, AWD sedan
EPA MILEAGE17/24 mpg (city/hwy)
L x W x H204.9 x 75.4 x 58.9 in
WHEELBASE124.4 in
WEIGHT4,784 lb
0-60 MPH5.4 sec
TOP SPEED155 mph

OUR OPTIONS

None

The post A Trip Through the California Desert in Our 2017 Genesis G90 appeared first on Automobile Magazine.


Wed, 23 May 2018 15:41:29 +0000
A Trip Through the California Desert in Our 2017 Genesis G90

If a premium Korean sedan drives through the California desert, does anyone hear it? The question circles my mind as I spin our Four Seasons Genesis G90’s Nappa-wrapped wheel away from Los Angeles and into the vastness of the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, a fitting move since I can barely hear any outside noises within...

The post A Trip Through the California Desert in Our 2017 Genesis G90 appeared first on Automobile Magazine.

One of our favorite concepts from the 2018 Easter Jeep Safari is the Jeep Sandstorm. It’s a JL Wrangler powered by a 392 HEMI V-8 mated with a 6-speed manual transmission and chopped down into a short-bed pickup.

After spending some time behind the wheel, social media editor Billy Rehbock said that “Driving the Sandstorm is an experience that delivers. The cabin’s open in the back so the driven can take in the sound of the V-8 and the dirty pops and burbles on the overrun. The clutch engages early, perfect for maintaining control of speed on an incline or descent. The bright-orange rig takes off like a proper HEMI-powered vehicle under full-throttle too.

Here are ten things to love about this off-road concept Jeep.

The post WATCH: Ten Things to Love About the Jeep Sandstorm Concept appeared first on Automobile Magazine.


Wed, 23 May 2018 13:00:05 +0000
WATCH: Ten Things to Love About the Jeep Sandstorm Concept

One of our favorite concepts from the 2018 Easter Jeep Safari is the Jeep Sandstorm. It’s a JL Wrangler powered by a 392 HEMI V-8 mated with a 6-speed manual transmission and chopped down into a short-bed pickup. After spending some time behind the wheel, social media editor Billy Rehbock said that “Driving the Sandstorm...

The post WATCH: Ten Things to Love About the Jeep Sandstorm Concept appeared first on Automobile Magazine.

Louisville, Kentucky, native Laura Schwab had no idea she would launch herself into a successful career in the automotive industry when she quit working as a lawyer to join a startup in Southern California focused on car-configuration technology, but life has a funny way of working itself out. From that experience, she landed a job with Jaguar Land Rover, where she learned the business and took on numerous roles as she rose through the ranks. The wealth and depth of experience she gained along the way led Aston Martin to tap her for its top role here in America, a responsibility she assumed in 2015.

Automobile Magazine: You’ve come on with Aston Martin at a pretty fortuitous time given its rebirth of sorts, framed by its history …

Laura Schwab: I think the timing for me couldn’t have been better. To join the organization at this time in our history with the trajectory and what we’re doing, and now two years in, to really watch the plan unfold and to be in this role and to have this influence—I’m probably enjoying it more than any other point in my career.

AM: How much of Aston’s recent growth is fueled by the Americas, and does it come with increased expectations?

LS: The role of this region is crucial for our business as a collective and as a global company. So we’re really proud of that, and we’re proud of the growth for 2017. So it brings a bit of pressure, but it wasn’t any pressure that didn’t already exist. Again, that’s why I joined the company; I knew that this is what we’re on the path to do. And with that success comes a desire for more success. That’s a good thing.

AM: How did getting NFL superstar Tom Brady as an Aston brand ambassador come about?

LS: It really started with him. He loved the brand; that wasn’t something we knew. We knew a couple of the people on his team, and he came to us. He actually also got in touch with Marek Reichman, our chief creative officer. He’s someone that we consider one of, if not the greatest athlete of all time. A real gentleman who really epitomizes so much of what we stand for. It actually felt like the perfect match.

AM: Aston is back in Formula 1, as title sponsor and partner with Red Bull Racing. How do you leverage that in America?

LS: I think the opportunity is really the relationship and the connection we’ve made with Red Bull and having Aston Martin and Red Bull Racing paired together. For us, we’ve got [F1 races in] Montreal, we’ve got Austin, and then we have Mexico. So we have three races [in North America] that we’re really focused on. But I think for us, again, that partnership with Red Bull—it says something about the brand and that there’s a real cool factor to it.

AM: In Geneva you showed the Lagonda Vision concept. Do you think the time is right for ultra-luxury customers to embrace EVs and autonomy?

LS: I think right now’s a perfect time, and I think they’re already doing it. And the response so far to Geneva, I wouldn’t say that, oh we’re overwhelmed, we didn’t expect it. We did expect it. But just to sort of draw the curtain back and just see what our vision looks like for electric vehicles, I think it really surprised people, but in a really positive way.

AM: The V8 Vantage is shaping up to be fantastic car. How has the response been so far?

LS: When we first got a vehicle here, we had an event for our VIP customers. We have the car under the silk, we do the whole build-up to it, and we unveil it. And literally screams, squeals, jumping up and down. That’s the beauty of what cars can do, and certainly an Aston Martin. They generate an emotion, and they make you feel something in your heart and your soul, and we think especially all these new vehicles we’re introducing and the new Vantage do that. Seeing customers respond that way just … that makes all the hard work worth it, right?

AM: How has your personal relationship with cars evolved over the years?

LS: Even though I grew up in love with sports, once I got in the car business, it was very easy to fall in love with cars. Because cars make you feel something. They generate emotions in people. I think since I’ve joined Aston, it’s changed a bit because it’s even more emotional for me. I’ll never forget the first time I saw a DB11, and that’s the car I drive. But the first time I saw it, the first time I’d really looked at a car and felt like, this is overwhelming, I was like, do I have chill bumps? What is this feeling? Because I’d never seen cars that looked so beautiful to me.

AM: How well are women represented in the automotive industry?

LS: I think it’s something that, getting more women to desire and want a career in automotive, I feel like I have a personal opportunity to help encourage women, whether it’s automotive or any other field that they feel like has historically been dominated by men. I do feel like I have a role to play to encourage them, you know, anything you want, any career. I’ve been really lucky because I’ve had a lot of people mentor me and look out for me, and I’ve kind of worked my ass off to get here. But I do think that I have a role to play as a role model for young girls and for other women in this space. If I can encourage one person to break through a barrier that they think exists, then I hope I’m that person that helps them.

The post Catching Up With: Laura Schwab, President of Aston Martin Americas appeared first on Automobile Magazine.


Tue, 22 May 2018 15:00:01 +0000
Catching Up With: Laura Schwab, President of Aston Martin Americas

Louisville, Kentucky, native Laura Schwab had no idea she would launch herself into a successful career in the automotive industry when she quit working as a lawyer to join a startup in Southern California focused on car-configuration technology, but life has a funny way of working itself out. From that experience, she landed a job...

The post Catching Up With: Laura Schwab, President of Aston Martin Americas appeared first on Automobile Magazine.

Wagons are a tough sell. SUVs aren’t dynamic enough. The 2019 Audi RS 5 Sportback‘s liftback packaging offers the utility of those two classes plus the dynamics of a car.

The post WATCH: Seven Reasons Why the 2019 Audi RS 5 Sportback Rocks appeared first on Automobile Magazine.


Tue, 22 May 2018 00:00:00 +0000
WATCH: Seven Reasons Why the 2019 Audi RS 5 Sportback Rocks

Wagons are a tough sell. SUVs aren’t dynamic enough. The 2019 Audi RS 5 Sportback‘s liftback packaging offers the utility of those two classes plus the dynamics of a car.

The post WATCH: Seven Reasons Why the 2019 Audi RS 5 Sportback Rocks appeared first on Automobile Magazine.

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