Super Bowl 50 Car Commercials

If you aren’t a Denver Broncos or Carolina Panthers fan, then you’re probably a lot like me.  You watched the Super Bowl purely for the commercials because you didn’t give a crap about who actually won.  With so much pressure on advertisers to turn out great material, this year did not disappoint.  As usual, the car companies delivered quite a few entertaining spots during the best few hours of ad space for the year.

Numerous celebrities made appearances in this year’s car ads.  Hyundai knocked it out of the park with Ryan Reynolds.  Watching those girls cruise through Ryanville almost made me consider buying a Hyundai.  Kevin Hart’s performance as an overzealous dad relying on his Hyundai Genesis’ trusty Blue Link Car Finder app to protect his teenage daughter’s virtue was also genius, and has me hoping the Bavarians catch up with this tech by the time I have a teenage daughter roaming the streets.  Kia joined Hyundai in the celebrity endorsement ring, casting the always brilliant Christopher Walken as the “Walken Closet” who pushes a boring consumer to live a little in the all-new Optima.

Animals also got screen time this year.  Subaru tapped in to utter cuteness featuring two dogs out on a dinner date who become disgruntled when their Subi gets taken for a joyride by a clever feline.  And who could ignore a herd of sheep singing Queen?  Honda definitely came up with a creative and memorable way to showcase their new Ridgeline with stereo speakers in the truck bed.

Finally, auto makers turned to sentiment to drive home their messaging.  For the 2017 R8 V10, Audi featured a former space commander and his son in a tear-jerking storyline in which the commander gets to relive his youth at the helm of a rocket via a joyride in the R8 V10.  Automotive accessories company WeatherTech tugged at American heart strings by driving home an all-American made message.  And finally, Jeep took viewers on a journey spanning 75 years of the company’s history and reminded us all of its patriotic beginning.

I also found humor in the Toyota Prius “Heck on Wheels” and “The Longest Chase” ads.  Let’s be honest, a car chase in a Prius is highly unlikely, but the tongue and cheek way it’s portrayed in the ad is brilliant.  Toyota obviously knows their audience.  I also love the new #GoPriusGo.  Very clever.

For a look at all of this year’s Super Bowl car ads in one place, check out the link below to AutoWeek’s web page and read more about each ad.
http://autoweek.com/article/super-bowl-commercials/watch-best-car-commercials-super-bowl-50-here

 

Why Everyone Loves the SUV

2016 Jeep® Grand Cherokee SRT

2016 Jeep® Grand Cherokee SRT Photo Credit: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles

There is one type of vehicle I seem to see more frequently than any other on the road and that is the Sport Utility Vehicle.  Everywhere you go people are driving them.  Whether they are small, midsize or gigantic, consumers seem to be clamoring for this type of transportation.  So what makes the SUV such a desirable choice for consumers?

2016 CX-9

2016 Mazda CX-9 Interior Photo Credit: Mazda USA

The first reason that comes to mind is convenience.  Five doors, higher off the ground, and plenty of space all contribute to the convenience of driving a SUV.  These days even the more affordable models are packed with luxurious features including, but not limited to, leather seating, navigation, memory seats, heated seats, streaming bluetooth and music, and televisions neatly installed in the back of the front headrests.  Imagine being a kid now.  Those torturous road trips we suffered through in the 80’s and 90’s suddenly become quite bearable, if not fun in these new modern vehicles.

2016 Volve XC90

2016 Volvo XC90 Photo Credit: Volv0 Car Group

The second reason is versatility.  No matter what you’re looking for as a consumer, you can be assured at least one of the SUV models available will satisfy your needs.  Looking for something huge to transport your multiple kids and dogs?  Plenty of models come equipped with the sought after optional 3rd row, giving you choice as to how you would like your back seat and cargo area configured.  Is an environmentally responsible mode of transportation a must for you?  Several car companies make models with optional hybrid engines so you don’t have to feel as guilty about driving such a big, beasty car.

2016 Bentayga

Bentley Bentayga Photo Credit: Bentley Motors

The final obvious reason to own one of these is the cool factor.  Even if you have a ridiculously large family, you don’t have to sacrifice style and comfort to accommodate everyone.  You don’t even have to have a family to justify owning a SUV.  You can find purpose for your ride with rugged, outdoorsy activities or at least make it appear as if you enjoy that type of thing.  Once upon a time when I was in sales and had to schlep all over the greater Los Angeles area with sales materials and samples in my car, my SUV was my savior.  Yes it was bigger than it needed to be and got sub-par gas mileage, but it was so comfortable to drive, I didn’t mind stopping in to the gas station every two to three days.

With all this in mind, I will be dedicating the month of February on the blog to SUVs.  I will provide in-depth coverage of several different models and putting them to the test. Everything from the dream SUV (did someone say Bentley?!) to the more affordable models for those of us regular folk and everything in between.  Be sure to check back regularly for new posts, especially if you’re contemplating making the leap to SUV ownership.

2015 LA Auto Show Highlights

It’s that time again.  All things new and exciting in the automotive world have descended on the LA Convention Center for 10 glorious days.  Since today is the first day doors will open to the public, I thought it fitting to share some of this year’s not-to-be-missed highlights.  Also, be sure to check the blog in the coming days, as I cover these vehicle debuts in more depth.

IMG_5706

Volvo Concept 26

#1: Volvo’s Concept 26
As someone who has spent way too many hours of my life in traffic, this was by far the most mind-blowing thing I saw at the auto show.  While I am a driving enthusiast, I have to say, the thought of being able to literally kick back and catch up on my Netflix while being squired around the stand-still streets of Los Angeles by my autonomous car had me practically turning cartwheels in front of the exhibit.

IMG_5717

Mercedes SL Roadster

#2: Mercedes SL Roadster
Mercedes is hoping the latest generation of the SL series will bring the luxury roadster segment back to life.  With its sleek lines and powerful performance specs, there is no doubt it will be a desirable option for those in the market for a two-seat roadster.  While launching this beauty in the fun-loving California market is a stroke of genius, it remains to be seen whether the $100,000 roadsters can make a comeback in light of our new economic realities.  If they do, the 2017 SL550 will most certainly be leading the charge.

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Audi E-Tron Quattro Concept

#3: Audi E-Tron Quattro Concept
After months of teasing, Audi finally revealed its beautiful, all-electric, luxury class sport SUV.  During the big reveal, Audi not only issued a mea culpa for the TDI debacle, but vowed to take the brand to the forefront of the electric mobility platform.  Boasting three electric motors and a 0-60 time of 4.6 seconds, if the E-Tron Quattro Concept delivers what is promises when it hits the market in 2018, it’s will not be hard to take Audi at their word.  This concept is definitely worth stopping by the Audi booth to see in person.

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Jaguar F-Pace

#4: Jaguar F-Pace
Five years ago I met with a Jaguar representative at the LA Auto Show and asked if they had any plans to make a Jaguar SUV.  He laughed and pointed to the multiple Land Rovers and Range Rovers on display and said, “There are our SUVs…right there”.  Well turns out he was wrong, because on press day, Jaguar revealed their brand new luxury sports utility vehicle, the F-Pace.  Taking inspiration from it’s sports car brother, the F-Type, the F-Pace is the total looks and performance package for the soccer mom wanting to make a statement.

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Mazda CX-9

#5: Mazda CX-9
Mazda has finally finished its complete fleet overhaul with the unveiling of the all-new CX-9.  The last in its fleet to get a facelift, the new body style is all class.  It’s a bigger, roomier and higher performing version of the CX-5.  Packed with style and fun, this one is sure to be a hit with the family circuit.  While not as sexy as the F-Pace parked a few stalls away, it provides quite enough style for the practical price tag that comes with it.

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If you have some extra time, be sure to stop by the Toyota booth to check out the Back to the Future display featuring Marty McFly’s 1985 Toyota Tacoma, as well as a DeLorean-inspired Toyota Mirai, complete with gull wing doors and a Mr. Fusion.

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I also recommend trying your hand at the Dodge Viper Challenge.  Climb inside an actual Dodge Viper and race around a simulated track at top speeds.  Ask for the manual mode and you’ll feel like you’re actually flying around the racetrack.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

FCA Partners with The Hunger Games: Mockingjay- Part 2

This past week Fiat Chrysler Automobiles announced that on Sunday November 1, they would release four custom television spots featuring Chrysler, Dodge and Ram brands in partnership with Lionsgate and the latest installment of The Hunger Games, The Hunger Games: Mockingly-Part 2.  The new commercials will span television, radio, digital and social media platforms.

“At FCA, we do not like to go traditional. We challenge the status quo, so we also questioned the well-established tradition of the end-of-the-year Tier 2 commercial. Tier 2 communication nearly plays on the ‘why buys,’ the most rational part of the purchase process. It is almost never relevant and rarely branded,” said Olivier Francois, Chief Marketing Officer – FCA Global. “Our collaboration with ‘The Hunger Games’ and Lionsgate is a great example of what can be done that’s unexpected. The association with such an anticipated and popular movie provides an exceptional relevance to our message. And the values shared with our three brands – the ‘rebellious’ Dodge, the ‘hard working’ Ram and the resilience of Chrysler – bring the branding element.”

Check out the first spot to air, the Chrysler brand ad, above.  The three remaining spots, “Whistle”, “Playing With Fire”, and “The Official Truck of Heroes” are all available for viewing on YouTube.

FCA will also be one of the presenting sponsors of the film’s red carpet premiere in Los Angeles on November 16th.  The Hunger Games: Mockingly-Part 2 hits theatres on Friday November 20th.

“May the odds ever be in your favor.”

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*

Say Hello to the New BMW M2

M2 sketch drawing Photo courtesy of BMW GROUP ©BMW GROUP

M2 sketch drawing
Photo courtesy of BMW GROUP ©BMW GROUP

The highly anticipated, all-new BMW M2 has finally made it’s debut and it’s looking to be an impressive one.  This compact high-performance model joins the rest of BMW’s elite line-up of M Sport vehicles boasting a high-performance six cylinder in-line engine, an agile rear-wheel-drive, lightweight aluminum suspension, and of course, impeccable styling.

M2 Photo Courtesy of BMW GROUP ©BMW GROUP

M2
Photo Courtesy of BMW GROUP ©BMW GROUP

The M2 clearly takes inspiration from its predecessors, the original E30 BMW M3 and the classic BMW 2002 turbo.  With a single glance, enthusiasts will recognize the signature M finishes, such as the low front apron with large air intakes, the large, muscular flanks sporting classic M gills, the 19 inch aluminum wheels with standard M double-spoke design and an M specific twin-tailpipe exhaust system.

M2 Photo Courtesy of BMW GROUP ©BMW GROUP

M2
Photo Courtesy of BMW GROUP ©BMW GROUP

M2 Twin Tailpipe Photo Courtesy of BMW GROUP ©BMW GROUP

M2 Twin Tailpipe
Photo Courtesy of BMW GROUP ©BMW GROUP

Also shouting classic M Sport is the interior design of the car.  We find the Alcantara of the door cards meeting the carbon fibre of the center console, along with the blue contrast stitching and M embossed details.  Throw in the sports seats, M sports steering wheel and the M gearshift lever and you’ve got a sexy, sporty interior providing the perfect ambience for the M driving experience.

M2 Interior Photo Courtesy of BMW GROUP ©BMW GROUP

M2 Interior
Photo Courtesy of BMW GROUP ©BMW GROUP

M Embossed Gear Shift Photo Courtesy BMW GROUP ©BMW GROUP

M Embossed Gear Shift
Photo Courtesy BMW GROUP ©BMW GROUP

Where this car shines, like most BMWs, is under the hood.  There you will find an engine that is truly the benchmark for the high-performance compact sports car segment.  The newly designed three-liter six-cylinder engine utilizes cutting edge M TwinPower Turbo technology to deliver 370hp and 343 lb-ft of torque, all while being extremely fuel efficient.  The engine gets 33.2 mpg with an incredibly low CO2 emission, 199 g/km.  The M2 will do 0-60 in 4.3 seconds and has a current governed top speed of 155 mph.  Both a six-speed manual and optional seven-speed automatic M Double Clutch Transmission are available. The M DCT technology delivers gear changes at extraordinary speed with no interruption to the flow of power.

M2 Engine Photo Courtesy of BMW GROUP ©BMW GROUP

M2 Engine
Photo Courtesy of BMW GROUP ©BMW GROUP

The car also comes equipped with plenty of standard equipment to keep pace with its performance-focused engineering.  A large selection of driver assistance systems and mobility series is available from BMW ConnectedDrive.  ConnectedDrive Services enables the use of innovative apps, integrating them into the car seamlessly.  The GoPro app, for example, allows the driver to record laps done at the track with an action camera mounted to the dash using the iDrive Controller and Control Display.  The M Laptimer app will analyze the driver’s individual style behind the wheel while running track laps and allows for easy sharing of the information captured via email or Facebook.

M2 Photo Courtesy of BMW GROUP ©BMW GROUP

M2
Photo Courtesy of BMW GROUP ©BMW GROUP

Judging from the press release, the new M2 has everything you could want and more from the compact high-performance sports car segment: a stylish interior and exterior, plenty of gadgets to keep the tech savvy happy, and a beasty, yet efficient, engine under the hood.  I’m counting the days until I can check out this beauty in person at the LA Auto Show.

M2 12

M2 Information Courtesy of BMW GROUP

The Wrong Side of the Road

©Thomas Van de Weerd

©Thomas Van de Weerd

Last month while visiting the UK, my husband and I rented a Peugeot 308, and did some exploring of the English countryside.  This meant I once again got the chance to tackle driving on the left side of the road.  If you haven’t had this experience before, let me tell you, it’s pretty strange.  You wouldn’t think at first that it would feel so different, but it certainly does.  My husband is from Australia so he’s used to this weird set up.  After a few minutes back on the right side of the car, he was set.  I, however, took some time to adjust.

2015 Peugeot 308  Photo Courtesy of Peugeotpress.co.uk

2015 Peugeot 308
Photo Courtesy of Peugeotpress.co.uk

I’m typically what some would call an aggressive driver.  I make quick decisions, am confident in my driving ability, and also tend to have a lead foot.  That all goes out the window when switching sides.  I feel like I’m an eight year old trying to drive my grandfather’s truck on the farm again.  Not only is it a constant challenge to know which direction to yield or which way to look, the instruments are also reversed, which means you flick the turn signal and your windshield wipers start going.

©Chris Downer

©Chris Downer

After about 20 minutes behind the wheel, I do start to get a bit of my confidence back.  I try to follow the car directly in front of me and hug the right side of my lane to keep from drifting left, which is what inevitably happens to us Yanks.  What really challenges me though are the roundabouts.  My husband thinks they’re the best, because they are the intersection method of choice in Australia, and he’s used to them.  I find them to be terrifying death traps.  People fly around them entering and exiting at perilous speeds.  Add in the fact that you’re giving way to the right instead of the left, and they become my personal hell.  I’m fairly confident I lost at least 5 years of my life at the roundabouts in England.

©Gerald England

©Gerald England

Then there’s the speed at which people drive once you leave the city and get out into the country.  At one point I was doing a solid 90 mph (MILES, not kilometers mind you) and people were running me off the road.  Literally.  In England, the fast lane is truly the fast lane.  If you’re not going with the flow of traffic, you’d best be getting over to the left.  However, that was annoying for me because once you change lanes to the left, the speed dramatically decreases.  People go from doing 100 mph to 60 mph, which even for my cautious driving was too slow.  There doesn’t seem to be a happy medium.

Peugeot 308 Interior  Photo Courtesy of Peugeotpress.co.uk

Peugeot 308 Interior
Photo Courtesy of Peugeotpress.co.uk

All of this driving left me with one burning question.  Why did the Brits decide to go against the grain and drive on the wrong side of the road?  Pretty much everywhere else in the world drives on the right.  Why be different?  I did some research on this topic and what I found out surprised me.  It turns out the Brits didn’t go against the grain, everyone else did.  When roads first popped up, people were encouraged to stay to the left in two-way traffic situations.  This was due to the fact that back in the day, the likelihood of getting robbed or killed while out on the road was high.  Since most people are right-handed, this meant they could easily whip out their sword and defend themselves against attackers on the opposite side of the road.  This gives road rage a whole new meaning in my opinion.  So where did the change occur?  With the French of course.  Pre-revolutionary France kept to the left side of the road.  However, after the revolution, as a form of protest, they moved all transportation to the right.  Some say this was because Napolean was left-handed. Soon after, the rest of Europe followed suit.

What happened here in the States?  Since America was colonized by both British and French, the road systems were split.  However, in the late 1700’s, with freight wagons gaining popularity, America finally went all in on the right side of the road.  This was due to the fact that it was much easier to control the horses from the left rather than on the right.  Thus, our fate was sealed.

I did read in my research that driving on the right side of the car is the safer way to go.  As stated above, most people are right handed which means driving with your left hand on the left side of the car should be awkward, so I guess the joke is on us.  We are actually on the wrong side of the road.

Overall there are a lot of things the Brits get right with their behind the wheel system.  The traffic lights turn yellow before turning green, which makes it easier to honk at people on their cell phones who are oblivious to the fresh green.  People actually adhere to the rules of the fast lane and move out of the way if they want to go slowly.  LA drivers could definitely learn something there.  But there is one thing they have in common with the rest of us.  Once you get anywhere near the city, traffic grinds to a halt.