SUV Spotlight: Range Rover Sport SVR

Range Rover SR 7

Range Rover Sport SVR ©Jaguar Land Rover Limited

While the Range Rover Sport SVR isn’t new for 2016, I felt as the fastest Land Rover ever produced, it deserved its turn in the Automobheels “SUV Spotlight”.   This baby did the infamous Nurburgring in a cool 8 minutes and 14 seconds, giving it one of the fastest times ever recorded by a SUV in standard production.

Range Rover SVR 7

Range Rover Sport SVR ©Jaguar Land Rover Limited

Many car consumers like to take a look at the inside of a vehicle. They are interested only in the creature comforts it can offer.  Does it have heated seats?  Does it have a sunroof?  Does it have navigation and streaming audio?  Does it have programmable seats and mirrors?  While I am a fan of all of these features, first and foremost, I want to know what lurks beneath the hood.  I don’t care how many features a car has, if it is gutless, I want no part of it.

Range Rover SVR 6

Range Rover Sport SVR ©Jaguar Land Rover Limited

The SVR delivers on everything.  Her contoured hood houses a beast of an engine, the range-topping 5.0-litre supercharge V8, producing 550PS and 680Nm.  The accompanying ZF 8HP70 8-speed automatic  transmission and four-wheel-drive chassis help keep the beast in line, no matter what the weather conditions.  She’ll do 0-60mhp in 4.5 seconds and maxes out at an electronically controlled top speed of 162mph.  Working in tandem with the powerful engine, the transmission shift strategy is constantly monitoring the acceleration, brake inputs, lateral cornering forces, kick down requests and gradient severity to choose one of the 25 pre-determined programs to ensure the SVR seamlessly adapts to the driver’s behind the wheel behavior and road conditions.  The transmission also allows for driver control by offering paddle shifters along with the standard gear lever.  Drivers can easily swap between automatic and manual mode.

Range Rover SVR Interior

Range Rover Sport SVR Interior ©Jaguar Land Rover Limited

Some would say given the amount of attention given to the engine, the refinement and luxury might have been slightly overlooked.  Not so, it delivers again on all fronts.  The SVR has received several enhancements to its exterior.  The front bumper has been fitted with beefy looking trapezoidal air intakes, while the hood receives Range Rover script, revised vents and a new grill.  Further contouring the vehicle, the side has been fitted with new, distinctive moldings, while the back has been given a high level spoiler and SVR-unique quad exhaust pipes.  At first glance one might think these revisions were for visual effect only.  However, Land Rover made no adjustments that do not serve a specific purpose.  The larger air intakes on the front allow for more airflow to the charge air coolers that channel air into the engine, the new front bumper’s NVH comb is fitted to ensure wind noise is reduced, along with front-end lift, allowing the front tires to retain a high level of grip, and the rear spoiler reduces lift and balances the new front bumper.

Range Rover SVR Interior2

Range Rover Sport SVR ©Jaguar Land Rover Limited

The SVR is available in seven colors, including the SVR exclusive Estoril Blue.  A contrasting Santorini black roof comes standard and works with the body-color side moldings, giving it an intimidating look and feel. Throw in the comfy, yet distinctive leather sport seats and the interior gives the driver the ultimate high-performance vehicle experience.  The interior is available in four rich colors with standard aluminum trim detail.  Carbon fibre trim for the door panels, center console, dashboard and steering wheel is optional.

Range Rover Sport SVR

Range Rover Sport SVR ©Jaguar Land Rover Limited

“The Range Rover Sport SVR is the ultimate in premium performance,” said Land Rover Design Director and Chief Creative Officer, Gerry McGovern. “Crafted by Land Rover’s ‘Special Vehicle Operations’, its performance-focused design revisions clearly differentiate the most powerful Land Rover ever produced from existing derivatives with its ground-hugging, assertive stance and additional road presence. This striking evolution retains the trademark DNA for which the Range Rover Sport is so widely acclaimed.”

With a base MSRP of $111,350, the price does limit the amount of consumers able to take advantage of the enviable performance, engineering and style this SUV delivers.  However, for those of you who do have over a hundred grand to drop on a mode of transportation, little else will get you where you want to go as quickly or as fiercely.  Happy Driving.

SUV Spotlight: 2016 Honda Pilot

2016 Honda Pilot 5

2016 Honda Pilot ©Honda Motor Company

The all-new 2016 Honda Pilot is the third generation to be designed and manufactured in America since the Pilot’s debut in 2003, as the first three-row mainstream SUV developed on a car-like unit-body platform.  Year over year the Pilot has set the industry standard for fuel efficiency, spacious interior, safety performance and dynamic handling performance within the mid-size SUV segment.  With the debut of this latest model, Honda is poised to set the bar even higher.

2016 Honda Pilot 6

2016 Honda Pilot ©Honda Motor Company

Honda has completely redesigned the Pilot from the ground up for 2016.  It’s goal: to better accommodate the needs of it’s passengers by providing more family-friendly utility, advanced technology and a wealth of premium amenities unavailable until now.  Major upgrades have been made to the interior quality with more standard features available on each trim, along with the arrival of the new top end Elite version, offering many Honda-first features including 20 inch wheels, ventilated front seats, headed second-row seats, a heated steering wheel, and a panoramic glass moonroof.

2016 Honda Pilot 4

2016 Honda Pilot Interior ©Honda Motor Company

 

Honda has also equipped its new family-friendly SUV with many new tech features.  Each Pilot comes equipped with up to five USB ports, four of which provide enough power to charge iPads or smartphones while they are in use.  An auxiliary jack, HDMI port for game consoles, 2 headphone jacks and up to three 12-volt power outlets are also included.  While all of these features provide for keeping the kids entertained in the back seat, the upsized 8-inch touchscreen Display Audio interface with available Honda Satellite-Linked Navigation System™ will keep adults on the right path in the front.  The new system comes with updated graphics and capabilities including 3D renderings of your surroundings.

2016 Honda Pilot 9

2016 Honda Pilot Engine ©Honda Motor Company

Under the hood you’ll find an all-new engine from Honda’s EarthDreams Technology powertrain series.  The direct-injected 3.5 liter SOHC i-VTEC® V-6 engine, along with two all-new 6-speed and 9-speed transmissions, and intelligent variable torque management system (VTM4™), turns out 280 hp and 262 lb-ft of torque.  With a 19.5 gallon gas tank on each model, combined city and highway gas mileage ranges from 21-23 mpg.

2016 Honda Pilot 7

2016 Honda Pilot Interior ©Honda Motor Company

Finally, the new Pilot boasts additional cargo space in the form of 3.5 inches of added  length.  This allows for an inch more of tandem seating space and 1.3 additional inches in the cargo area.  Accessibility to the 3rd row has also been made easier with the inclusion of the one-touch second-row seat available on EX-L and above models.

2016 Honda Pilot 8

2016 Honda Pilot Cargo Space ©Honda Motor Company

From an exterior and interior perspective, the redesigned Pilot is a win for Honda.  The look of the vehicle is more streamlined and looks much sportier than the previous boxy models.  The interior looks much more comfortable and many more features are available.  The fact that there are so many trims available makes the Pilot a versatile choice for families looking at all price ranges in the mid-size SUV segment.  In truth I’ve never been a huge fan of Honda.  I’ve often found the engines sluggish and the finishes lacking.  However, my husband and I recently moved and borrowed a friend’s Pilot to help transport some of our larger items.  My husband found the engine to be quite exceptional, given the size of the vehicle.  He also said it felt roomy on the inside, but he didn’t feel he was driving a massive car.  He said it handled well, particularly given its size and the amount of cargo we loaded it with.  And when we went to the pump to refill the gas tank and return the car to our friend, we received no sticker shock.  It got great gas mileage, especially given its size.

I would have to drive the new 2016 to give the engine and handling a proper review, but based on our experience with a slightly older model, I would say I would be pleasantly surprised.  In a time when costs seem to be going up everywhere and quality seems to be going down, with the 2016 Pilot, Honda is delivering a quality product at a very competitive price. MSRP on the 2016 Pilot ranges from $30,145-$46,570.

SUV Spotlight: Mercedes GLS

The new Mercedes-Benz GLS

The new 2017 Mercedes-Benz GLS ©Mercedes-Benz

Mercedes has been busy redesigning its popular G-Class SUV into the new Mercedes GLS.  Like its predecessor, the GL, the GLS is poised to become the “S-Class among SUVs” according to the German automaker.  The only full seven-seater within the premium European SUV segment, the GLS has an ample interior which provides the magic combination of luxury, comfortability, and safety.

The new 2017 Mercedes-Benz GLS

The new 2017 Mercedes-Benz GLS ©Mercedes-Benz

Mercedes-Benz hasn’t missed a step in the GLS design.  Offering 4 trims, the GLS d 350 4M, GLS 450 4M, GLS 550 4M, and AMG GLS 63, there seems to be something for every Mercedes SUV consumer.  Each GLS boasts a new dynamic exterior and luxurious interior.  The designers have placed the focus on redesigning the front end of the car, while modernizing the rear.  Inside the car, consumers will find a brand new instrument panel which includes a media display, new 3-spoke steering wheel configuration and a center console complete with  touchpad.  This new generation also includes more efficiencies, an additional DYNAMIC SELECT transmission mode, an improved air suspension system, a nine-speed 9G-TRONIC auto transmission, state of the art assistance system and the most recent telematics, including internet access and remote start capability.

The new 2017 Mercedes-Benz GLS

The new 2017 Mercedes-Benz GLS ©Mercedes-Benz

If all of that isn’t enough to get you going, look no further than under the hood.  The AMG GLS 63 boasts a 577 hp 5.5 liter AMG V8 which delivers a whopping 561 lb.-ft. of torque, perfect for drag racing fellow suburbanites, or that urgent soccer mom grocery run.  The Sport+ mode will definitely help you feel the need for speed while the OFF-ROAD mode will help navigate the vacation wilds.

The new 2017 Mercedes-Benz GLS

The new 2017 Mercedes-Benz GLS Interior ©Mercedes-Benz

And how can one take advantage of all that power without accounting for proper safety?  Mercedes has taken care of that as well.  The standard driver assistance systems include COLLISION PREVENTION ASSIST PLUS, Crosswind Assist and ATTENTION ASSIST.  Also available, are the PRE-SAFE® Brake with pedestrian detection, BAS PLUS with Cross-Traffic Assist, Active Blind Spot Assist, Active Lane Keeping Assist and sadly, Speed Limit Assist.  This SUV will practically drive for you with all the safety features.  As a member of the Mercedes family you also have access to Standard Services including automatic emergency call, Accident Recovery and breakdown assistance.  There’s a reason you pay more to drive a Benz and features like these are it, but they are worth every penny in my opinion.

The new 2017 Mercedes-Benz GLS

The new 2017 Mercedes-Benz GLS Interior ©Mercedes-Benz

Finally, there is not a roomier SUV available in the European SUV class.  There is ample elbow and head room available in all three of the seat rows inside the vehicle.  With many adjustment options, the center row makes the interior configuration flexible by way of a cargo position for optimum use of space.

With all of its sporty and luxurious finishings, the 2017 Mercedes GLS is certainly a force to be reckoned with in the SUV class, but only for those with deep pockets.  While MSRP was not available at press time, one can only assume it will be quite high, which begs the question: How much is a sporty exterior, a luxurious, spacious interior, and a badass engine under the hood worth?  For some the answer would be it’s priceless.  For those, the Mercedes GLS is the perfect fit.

SUV Spotlight: Ford Explorer

2017 Ford E XLT Sport

2017 Ford Explorer XLT Sport Appearance Package ©Ford Motor Company

As promised, February is the month of SUVs on Automobheels.com.  I will be reviewing all types of SUVs. Everything from the practical and affordable to the super luxurious and pricey.

First up, Ford Explorer, the best selling SUV in the world over the past 25 years.  That’s quite a claim, and quite a bit of time in the world spotlight, however, with the new 2017 Explorer XLT Sport Appearance package, they prove why they deserve it.

2017 Ford E XLT Sport Rear

2017 Ford Explorer XLT Sport Appearance Package ©Ford Motor Company

With SUV sales expected to grow over the next decade, Ford is ramping up options for the 160 million boomers and millennials who will be lining up to buy this type of vehicle.  “As members of the 80-million-strong millennial age group enter their prime child-rearing years, a leading indicator of more SUV sales, nearly 80 million aging baby boomers continue to prefer their SUVs,” said Mark LaNeve, Ford Motor Company vice president of Marketing, Sales and Service. “It’s a demographic double whammy and it all points to one thing – more SUVs for the foreseeable future.”  Along with that growing demand, Ford has also tapped in to the fact that SUV consumers want unique and customized, which is why they are offering the new trim for 2017.  They want their consumers to have more choice and more options when buying their new vehicle.  “In the market right now, across all our SUVs, customers are looking for unique colors, wheels and interior appointments,” said Omar Odeh, Explorer brand marketing manager. “We’ve worked closely with Ford Design to deliver a unique look that will resonate with customers.”

2017 Ford E XLT Sport Interior

2017 Ford Explorer XLT Sport Appearance Package Interior ©Ford Motor Company

Enter the new Explorer XLT Sport Appearance, with multiple updates to the both the interior and exterior including:

  • 20-inch Magnetic Gray wheels
  • Magnetic Gray grille
  • Magnetic Gray mirror caps
  • Magnetic Gray rear appliqué
  • Ebony Black body side cladding
  • Black roof rack
  • Explorer hood badge
  • Dark Earth Gray leather for front seats, including outer bolsters by premium leather maker Salerno; Dark Earth Gray Miko® suede for seat back uppers and inserts with Umber scrim, and door trim inserts; Umber contrast stitching
  • Explorer logo floor mats

The new trim also comes equipped with the stellar standard features expected from Ford, including a 3.5L V6 engine, Intelligent Access with push-button start, 10-way power driver’s seat with lumbar support, Sync®3, LED fog lamps and more.

2017 Ford E XLT Sport Rim

2017 Ford Explorer XLT Sport Appearance Package 20-inch Magnetic Gray Wheels ©Ford Motor Company

“Our Sport Appearance philosophy is rooted in the fact that we know exterior appearance is the No. 1 consideration in SUV purchase decisions,” said Odeh. “The XLT Sport Appearance Package is a dramatic offering that gives customers another attractive option.”  Add to the sporty appearance the EcoBoost® engine available in every nameplate at Ford, and consumers not only decrease fuel emissions, but look good while doing it.

With the introduction of the XLT Sport Appearance Package option, Ford has positioned itself well to capture the growing SUV market in the next year.  They are actively taking into consideration consumer trends and demands and making it available to their customers.  The new XLT Sport Appearance Package model looks to have it all: a stylish and sporty interior, some decent power under the hood, and one mean looking exterior.  I can’t wait to take this baby for spin when it’s available.

 

 

 

2016 Chevy Camaro is on Its Way

The 2016 Camaro SS © General Motors

The 2016 Camaro SS
© General Motors

This past Monday, Chevrolet made an announcement that is sure to bring a tear of joy to Camaro enthusiasts’ eyes.  They will begin shipments of the all-new 2016 Camaro to dealerships later this week, and the new models should arrive for customer delivery by mid-November, just in time for the holidays.  “It is an exciting day for everyone involved in bringing the new Camaro from a concept to the assembly line,” said Mike Trevorrow, Lansing regional plant manager.  “As the transporters head out to dealerships across the country, the hard work and pride of everyone at Lansing Grand River Assembly goes with them.”  Understandably so.  The assembly facility in Lansing recently received a $175 million upgrade in tooling and equipment to support this model’s production.

The 2015 Camaro SS © General Motors

The 2016 Camaro SS
© General Motors

Just what can consumers expect from the all new Camaro?  For starters, higher levels of performance, technology and refinement. The 2016 Camaro offers six all-new powertrain combinations including a standard 2.0L Turbo, an available 3.6L V-6 in LT models, and a 455-hp LT1 6.2L V-8 in the SS, making it the most powerful SS ever made.  Each engine is available in a six-speed manual or eight-speed auto.

The 2016 Camaro SS © General Motors

The 2016 Camaro SS
© General Motors

The Gen Six also provides a faster, more nimble driving experience due to its lighter frame and larger range of powertrain options.  The vehicle mass has been reduced by 200 pounds or more, depending on the model, providing not only better handling, but better efficiency as well.  The new 2.0L Turbo will get more than 30mpg on the highway, while still delivering a 0-60 mph that comes in well under six seconds.   Magnetic Ride Control active suspension is also available for the first time on the SS.

© General Motors

© General Motors

Under the hood isn’t the only place this model has gotten an upgrade.  Chevy also took great care with the exterior and interior design details.  The exterior was given a more athletic, sculptured look, complimenting the leaner architecture.  More emphasis was also put on customer personalization including 10 exterior colors, five interior color combinations, new lighting options and many dealer available accessories, including wheels and striping packages.

2016 Camaro Interior © General Motors

2016 Camaro Interior
© General Motors

The interior receives an upgrade with a new shifter-focused center console, intuitive controls, flat-bottom steering wheel and the use of higher quality materials in general throughout.  Also missing are the conventional temperature and fan speed controls.  In their place, unique control rings around the air vents, giving it a cool futuristic vibe.  The tech gets an upgrade with standard connectivity features including Chevrolet MyLink with Apple CarPlay capability and an OnStar 4G LTE wifi hotspot.

2016 Camaro Interior © General Motors

2016 Camaro Interior
© General Motors

After checking out photos online, I have to say I wholeheartedly approve of the changes that have been made to the body and interior.  Add into the mix the six all-new powertrain combinations, and 2016 is looking like a sweet year for the Camaro consumer.  This new Gen Six looks to be best we’ve seen since the original burst onto the scene on September 29th, 1966.   It is also still heavily tied to its American roots, which I find refreshing.  “There has been a lot of excitement and anticipation around our community and throughout the world for the next-generation Camaro,” said UAW Local 652 President Mike Green. “We have received great products here because of the quality of work always performed by the Lansing autoworker, active and retired.”

If you’re looking to buy, the SS and LT models with the 3.6L V-6 will be the first to arrive at dealers, followed by the convertible and the 2.0L Turbo, which will begin shipping in early 2016.

Happy Driving.

*Information courtesy of the Chevrolet Pressroom*