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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.



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.


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.








The Minivan: A Do or a HUGE Don’t?

2015 Dodge Grand Caravan.  Photo Credit Chrysler Media

2015 Dodge Grand Caravan. Photo Credit Chrysler Media

Growing up I remember desperately wanting my parents to get a minivan.  All my friends parents’ had them.  They seemed so cool.  As time went on however, I began to see just how uncool they were.  Nothing screams “parent” or “slow driver” more than the dreaded minivan.  I also remember having conversations with friends post-college, fervently vowing none of us would ever drive minivans.  We would pack our future children into SUVs and who cared if they were comfortable?  SUVs were much cooler and ambiguous.  After all, anyone can drive a SUV, not just those saddled with carpool duties, football practices and dance classes, right?

2015 Dodge Grand Caravan Interior.  Photo Credit Chrysler Media

2015 Dodge Grand Caravan Interior. Photo Credit Chrysler Media

I thought I was completely set in my ways.  Then I rented a minivan for a road trip to Vegas.  And that’s when it happened.  My inner third grader came rushing back and suddenly minivans were no longer so terrible.

My Vegas road trip consisted of 5 adults and 5 suitcases.  Now, theoretically, we could have all squeezed into my 328i and technically fit.  But who wants to “squeeze in” for the painful 4-9 hour (depending on traffic) Vegas drive from LA?  SUVs provide almost no added interior room other than additional cargo space in back for luggage.  That’s when we decided to go with a minivan.  And it must be said, it was the BEST decision ever.

2015 Toyota Sienna.  Photo Credit Toyota

2015 Toyota Sienna. Photo Credit Toyota

Here’s what I loved about the minivan experience:

1. The Room.  The minivan had so much space, each of us had ample room to keep snacks, drinks, luggage, magazines, you name it, all within close proximity.  Not only that, no one was sitting on top of one another.  The middle row had comfortable bucket seats and my sister-in-law got the entire back row to herself.  Brilliant.

2.  The Ride.  Minivans have definitely taken a step forward since I was in the third grade.  The ride was so smooth, I barely felt the road.  I mean, it’s no BMW, but for a vehicle that size, I was definitely impressed.  There are too many potholes to count on the road to Vegas and we barely felt one.

3. The Gadgets.  My husband and I took driving duty, while the rest of our passengers, dubbed “The Kids” for the trip, put on a DVD and the drive time passed quite quickly for them.  The van was also kitted out with several modern conveniences such as blue tooth, media streaming, navigation, and reverse camera.  All of the features we have all come to rely on.  I mean really, who can be bothered to drive without a reverse camera?  It’s too difficult once you’ve had one.

4. The Gas Mileage.  I would think a minivan would suck through fuel like a kid with a Slurpee.  Nope.  The Dodge Grand Caravan we rented got arguably better gas mileage than my Beemer.  Granted, the engine doesn’t quite have the same get up and go as the BMW, but it’s got enough power to accelerate at a decent rate without sounding like it’s going to explode. The Grand Caravan engine, the Pentastar V-6, boasts best-in-class 283 hp and 260lb.-ft. of torque.  It also provides 3,600-lbs. of towing. The fuel efficient engine also does an average of 25 mpg, or 500 miles per tank of gas.  Definitely a win for the pocketbook.

5. The Doors.  Being able to open the side doors and the lift gate with a simple push of a button is amazing.  We traveled with all adult passengers and it was amazing.  I can’t imagine how much easier it is for parents with three children in tow and the double-wide stroller to contend with.

All in all, the minivan was an excellent experience.  I’ve had a couple of friends over the years who have deviated from the college pact and have gotten minivans as family cars, and they all say the same thing.  They absolutely love them.  They can’t get over how easy it is to transport their families.  They use the push button remote to open the side doors and their kids easily climb in and sit in their booster seats.

To answer my initial question, is the minivan a do or a don’t?  I wouldn’t go out and buy a minivan at this stage in my blissfully childless life.  However, once we become a family of 4-5, I just might be found at the dealership picking up my new minivan, with all possible features, the biggest engine available and pimped out rims, of course.  No need to trade style and speed for functionality completely, no matter how many children you have.

LA Auto Show 2014

Los Angeles is a hot market for cars.  Ever heard the song “Walkin’ in LA”?  Nobody walks in LA, and nobody takes the non-existant public transportation either.  Pretty much everyone needs a car to exist in this hectic city.  Not only do us So Cal natives love to drive, we also love to make a statement.  Combine these attributes with our stellar weather, and LA is quite easily the best market in the US, if not the world, to debut the latest and greatest car companies have to offer. This past week I got a sneak peak of what consumers will see when the LA Auto show opens to the public.

Here’s a quick look at some of this year’s show highlights.


Bentley Grand Convertible Concept Car: Signature Mulsanne Grill

Bentley Grand Convertible Concept Car: Signature Mulsanne Grill

The Bentley Grand Convertible was easily one of this year’s best in show.  With it’s sleek, muscular styling, classic Mulsanne-inspired good looks, and standard beefy Bentley engine, this car is in a class of its own.  With the Grand Convertible, Bentley hopes to redefine the standard of luxury, open-air driving and they succeed.  The bonnet of this impressive vehicle is covered in a silver, liquid metal, while the rest of the car is painted a lovely Sequin Blue, a color created from the sequin of a customer’s couture gown.  Everything about the Grand Convertible from it’s elegantly designed exterior, to its rich, luxurious interior, makes me want to put the top down and get this bad boy out on the open road.  I can already feel the wind in my hair.


The all-new Mercedes Maybach

The all-new Mercedes Maybach

The big buzz at the Mercedes booth this year was the all-new 2016 Mercedes-Maybach S600.  The new Maybach combines the style of the extremely popular S Class with the luxury of the Maybach. Launching stateside in April 2015, the car is touted to be the world’s quietest production sedan.

The exterior holds true to characteristic S Class design while featuring a bold new side line.  While the wheel base is 8.1 inches longer than the standard S, the rear door has been shortened 2.6 inches, allowing the door to effortlessly blend into the side line of the car.  The rear triangle window has been eliminated and moved to the C-Pillar, which places the rear seat solidly behind the window, allowing the occupants ultimate privacy from the road outside.  Although if I were in the back seat of this ride, I would want everyone to see.  But that’s just me.

The V-12 biturbo engine cranks out 523hp, hitting the maximum 612 lb.-ft of torque at 1900 rpm.  The Mayback will hit 0-62 in 5 seconds flat.  Sadly all that power has an electronic limit of 155 mph.  While most people wouldn’t really need to go that fast, I would be curious to see what the actual top speed is.

According to  Ola Källenius, member of the Divisional Board of Mercedes-Benz Cars responsible for sales, “As an addition to the portfolio of S-Class sedans, the Mercedes-Maybach S-Class sets new standards in the luxury segment. The vehicle satisfies the very highest requirements in terms of exclusivity appointments and comfort.”

Mercedes has obviously set the bar high for this new Maybach incarnation, and next April, we will see if consumers agree.


Audi's latest concept: prologue

Audi’s latest concept: prologue Photo credit: Audi USA

Audi's latest concept: prologue

Audi’s latest concept: prologue Photo credit: Audi USA

Audi debuted its new large concept coupe, the Audi prologue.  Audi Head Designer Marc Lichte was on hand for the big reveal.  Lichte had this to say about the new concept: “Audi stands for sportiness, lightweight design and the quattro permanent all-wheel drive. In the Audi prologue, we are expressing this know-how in a new form – we have put the sportiest car in the luxury segment on wheels. Our team took new approaches in both exterior and interior design.”

Audi prologue interior

Audi prologue interior Photo credit: Audi USA

Audi prologue interior

Audi prologue interior Photo Credit: Audi USA

The prologue body shape combines elegance and tight, sporty lines.  While I found the exterior to be quite modern and beautiful, the interior unfortunately took me back in time to my grandmother’s Oldsmobile, and not in a good way.   To me, the dash configuration is a throwback to the Buicks and Cadillacs of the 1980’s and simply put, looks dated.  The only thing modern about the interior are the digital displays.  Even the gear shift and steering wheel look “vintage”.  I expect Audi to provide more luxury and innovation in a dash configuration than the prologue offers.  The seats do look quite comfortable and I love the bucket-seat styling in the back seat.

Audi prologue

I would be willing to live with the interior for what’s under the hood.  The 4.0 TFSI has 605 hp and 553.2 lb.-ft of torque.  All that power gets the prologue from 0-62 in 3.7 seconds.  The all-wheel steering allows each wheel to turn up to 5 degrees, providing a stable and responsive ride.  With all that giddy-up, you can get past the weird interior pretty quickly and enjoy the quick, graceful Audi handling.  Should this car make it to production, I seriously hope the interior gets a major overhaul.


2016 Toyota Mirai

2016 Toyota Mirai

Once again Toyota finds itself at the forefront of automotive ingenuity.  With the launch of the 2016 Mirai, the car company will be able to offer consumers a four-door, mid-size sedan that uses no gasoline and has zero emissions except for water vapor.  This fuel cell electric vehicle gets its power from hydrogen, refuels itself every five minutes, and will drive a whopping 300 miles on a full tank.  Instead of using a large battery to power the car, the fuel cell combines hydrogen from tanks with oxygen to generate electricity.  The car also has one of the world’s highest power outputs at 3.1 kW/L, providing 153hp and a 0-60 time of 9 seconds.

If it’s unique options you’re going for, look no further.  Some Mirai models will come equipped with a power take off (PTO) device that allows the vehicle to act as a mobile generator in case of emergency.  This means the Mirai is able to successfully power home essentials to the average house for up to a week during an emergency, all while emitting only water vapors. That’s a great feature for those of us in So Cal waiting for the “Big One” to hit.

Consumers looking to own the vehicle will find the technology incredibly wallet friendly.  When it hits dealerships in 2015, Toyota will be offering an initial $499/month/36 month lease option.  Add to the price the free hydrogren refills for up to three years from Toyota, and this could be a very competitive option for those looking for cutting edge technology at a more budget friendly price point.  Toyota will also offer a 24/7 concierge service by a dedicated fuel cell representative, 24/7 roadside assistance, 3 year maintenance up to 12k annual miles and complimentary hydrogen fuel for up to three years.  Saving the environment just got a little more exciting.


2016 Kia Sorento Photo Credit: Kia Motors

2016 Kia Sorento Photo Credit: Kia Motors

2016 Kia Sorento Photo Credit: Kia Motors

2016 Kia Sorento Photo Credit: Kia Motors

The big headline was California Adventure at the Kia booth this year as the all-new 2016 Sorento made it’s North American debut in LA.  The redesigned model is now made with premium materials, comes equipped with many amenities, more head and leg room in all three rows, and three engine options, including the new 2.0 liter turbo charged, the 3.3 liter V-6, and an improved 2.4 liter normally aspirated engine.

2016 Kia Sorento Interior Photo credit: Kia Motors

2016 Kia Sorento Interior Photo credit: Kia Motors

Inspiration for the new design came primarily from the 2013 concept Cross GT and incorporates a much stronger body structure, providing CUV drivers the stability and confidence they demand in a vehicle.

“The core principles in the development of the all-new 2016 Sorento were simple:  Deliver class-up premium materials and features in a capable, confidence-inspiring CUV,” said Orth Hedrick, Vice President, Product Planning, KMA.  “During the development process, engineers started from the ground up by reinforcing an already stiff body structure.  This added rigidity pays dividends when conditions are less than perfect and helps deliver a premium driving experience.  By painstakingly crafting a vehicle with significant reductions in NVH and substantial gains in overall driving comfort and dynamics, the 2016 Sorento sets a new standard for Kia in the highly competitive mid-size CUV segment.”

Kia booth at the LA Auto Show 2014

Kia booth at the LA Auto Show 2014

Kia also delivered an all-encompassing experience to the press this year, focused on the California lifestyle.  Amongst the plethora of new Sorentos on display, Kia had California wine and cheese bars, professional rope climbers and a virtual ski experience press could try.

I continue to be impressed by Kia’s climb out of the average runaround car category. Year after year they step up not only their technology and design, but the quality of their cars.  With this step up comes a higher price tag, but should Kia establish themselves as a more aspirational brand, it’s a price tag consumers may be more willing to consider.  At the very least, I give them style points for their booth, which was by far the most interactive and interesting at the show.