Connect with us

Autos

Hot haulers

Forget minivans — crossovers are all the rage

Published

on

crossovers, gay news, Washington Blade, haulers
crossovers, gay news, Washington Blade, haulers

Lincoln MKC

Forget frumpy minivans. With record sales last month, crossovers and other haulers are as hot as Marvel’s Avengers. That’s due to super-low gas prices, some chiseled styling worthy of a sexy superhero and enough tech gadgetry to rival your smartphone.

 

LINCOLN MKC

$36,000

 

Mpg: 20 city/29 highway

 

0-to-60 mph: 8 seconds

 

MKC…MKS…MKT…MKX…MKZ. Really, could Lincoln think of a more confusing way to name its vehicles? Luckily, some re-badging—i.e., bringing back the Continental nameplate—is in sight. But for now, crossover shoppers who can overlook this minor kerfuffle will find the compact MKC a fine ride. Lincoln now offers new-age styling and some Tony Stark-like features: there are shift buttons on the dash instead of the usual gear-shift near the center console, and a MyKey system lets parents set maximum speed, radio volume and other parameters for teenagers. The MyLincoln app gives you remote start, parking-meter timer and status checks for fuel, tire pressure, etc. There’s also an automated parallel-parking system and a hands-free, power liftgate with foot sensor to easily load/unload cargo. Another plus: The swanky cabin has ambient mood lighting and a jammin’ 14-speaker stereo—perfect for road trips.

SUBARU FORESTER

crossovers, gay news, Washington Blade, haulers

Subaru Forester

 

$24,000

 

Mpg: 23 city/28 highway

 

0-to-60 mph: 9 seconds

 

The Subaru Forester has a robust turbo engine, rugged all-wheel drive and roomy stowage area big enough for bikes and other large items. The snappy styling (updated last year) is aerodynamic, and the elevated seating means great visibility for the driver. With the exception of a rearview camera (now standard on all models), the base Forester is fairly barebones. But trade up to any other trim level, and there are gizmos galore: power liftgate, one-touch folding rear seatback, panoramic sunroof, Harman Kardon audio and more. One downside: the touchscreen is subpar compared with more tech-savvy offerings from the competition. Along with a knee airbag (for the driver), lane-departure warning and a nifty collision-avoidance system that uses automatic braking, the Forester has high crash-test ratings.

VOLVO V60 T6 R-DESIGN

crossovers, gay news, Washington Blade, haulers

Volvo V60 T6 R-Design

$47,000

 

Mpg: 19 city/28 highway

 

0-to-60 mph: 4.9 seconds

 

From the land of Thor, the Volvo V60 wagon looks like a muscled crossover. The T6 R-Design—the high-performance model—is almost as fast a thunderbolt. There’s crisp steering, grippy tires and—hello, this is Volvo—tons of safety gear: active front head restraints, blind-spot monitoring (with rear cross-traffic alert), drowsy-driver warning and a front-end collision system that also can detect pedestrians and cyclists. To handle even the stormiest weather, there are heated front/rear seats, heated mirrors, heated steering wheel, heated windshield and heated windshield-washer nozzles. And because of the raised chassis, the V60 can handle a bit of off-roading.

VW TIGUAN SE 4MOTION

crossovers, gay news, Washington Blade, haulers

VW Tiguan SE 4Motion

$32,000

 

Mpg: 21 city/26 highway

 

0-to-60 mph: 7.5 seconds

 

Yes, the design is a bit dated, but why mess with success on a popular crossover? From the perky turbo and exciting Euro handling to the first-rate fit and finish, the Tiguan feels strong and solid. There are more standard features this year, including a rearview camera and VW’s CarNet app for emergency assistance, directions, verifying if your doors are locked, etc. And the leatherette (gussied-up vinyl) seating feels better than real leather. But VW needs to ditch the dinky five-inch touchscreen and replace it with a larger, user-friendly version. And stick-shift fans will mourn the loss of the optional manual transmission.

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Autos

Fun holiday gifts for car fans

Something for everyone, from Bentley trikes to a Mercedes tree topper

Published

on

For all those gear heads in your life, here are some fun holiday gifts to get their motors running. Many of these stocking stuffers are affordable. Others, well, not so much.

Bentley Trike for Tykes

Leave it to Bentley to create a fancy fuchsia trike ($500). With six modes, from stroller to tricycle, parents can adjust this three-wheeler as a toddler gets older. Along with the “Big B logo,” the Bentley name is emblazoned on the down tube. Yes, there are more subdued colors, but why bother?

Ford Sherpa Blanket

Cuddle up with a warm and fuzzy Sherpa blanket ($30), made of 100% polyester and the Ford logo embroidered in the corner.

MINI Travel Bag

For quick weekend getaways, MINI has a large soft-luggage travel bag ($190) with extendible handle, two wheels, large main compartment, outer pocket and removable zipped pockets.

Porsche Table-top Clock

The alarm tone on this tabletop clock ($250) sounds just like a throaty Porsche 911 engine. Includes Martini Racing design, as well as a countdown function and analog/digital display.

Rolls-Royce Portable “Pursuit Seat”

Rolls-Royce, known for its relentless pursuit of perfection, now has a portable “Pursuit Seat” ($8,800) — perfect for any derriere. The adjustable seat is anything but old school, made of carbon fiber, polished aluminum and cushy leather (tastefully embossed with the Spirit of Ecstasy insignia, of course).

Mercedes Tree Topper

What better tree topper than a Mercedes three-pointed metal star ($52), which measures 8 inches across. Post on social, and dare anyone to top that!

Aston Martin Wrestwatch

Just in time for the holidays, there’s the Laureato Chronograph Aston Martin Edition ($18,000). Made by Girard-Perregaux), this ritzy wristwatch has a high-grade stainless-steel case, finely polished edges on the bezel, sapphire-crystal pane on the back, and racing-green paint applied to the dial 21 times.

Jaguar Suitcase

Simple but elegant, Jaguar’s compact suitcase ($282) has a polycarbonate shell, aluminum frame and multidirectional wheels that look like real alloy car wheels. Two larger suitcases also available.

Subaru Holiday Sweater

Just shy of being an entrant at some ugly-sweater contest, this festive Subaru holiday sweater ($70) is 100% acrylic and incredibly comfortable.

Front End of a 1962 Ferrari 268 SP

Only one 1962 Ferrari 268 SP race car was ever built, and now there’s a full-scale replica of the front end ($22,000). A pedestal is available, or enthusiasts can mount this work of art on the wall.

Ferrari Vintage Steering Wheel

For more frugal fare (kinda sorta) Ferrari offers a vintage three-spoke steering wheel ($4,010). Such steering wheels were used in Ferraris between 1959 and 1965, and this full-scale repro—made of mahogany and polished aluminum—features the iconic prancing horse in the center.

Bentley Heritage Bear

Many automakers offer cuddly teddy bears, and Bentley is no exception. The limited-edition Heritage Bear ($57) is decked out in snazzy fleece jacket, suede-like helmet and racing goggles. There’s even a dust bag with drawstring for safekeeping.

Continue Reading

Autos

One lean, mean green machine

New Ford Mustang Mach-E is electrifying

Published

on

(Photo courtesy of Ford)

Here’s a shocker: Electric vehicles have been around for over 180 years. By the time of the first Hershey bar in 1900, EVs had hit their own sweet spot—surging to almost 30 percent of all vehicles sold in the U.S. But when Henry Ford began to produce cars on his moving assembly line in 1913, the popularity of the gas-powered Model T soon short-circuited EV sales. Cue to a century later, when the debut of the all-electric Nissan Leaf in 2010 sent a jolt through the auto industry. Yet it would take another decade to get drivers charged up about anything other than gas-powered rides. Today, it’s hard to keep track of all the EVs out there, along with other green machines like hybrids. While the current microchip shortage has slowed or stopped production on many cars for now, I was lucky enough to drive the all-new, all-electric Ford Mustang Mach-E. The experience was, well, truly electrifying.

Ford Mustang Mach-E
$47,000
Range: up to 305 miles
0 to 60 mph: 4.2 seconds

When the Ford Mustang Mach-E was first announced, many auto aficionados were left scratching their heads. After all, a Mustang is one of the most iconic muscle cars ever created, and the Mach-E designation sounds suspiciously like the “Mach-1” branding used on flashy high-performance Stangs. Yet this new Mustang is a crossover SUV—and an electric one to boot. While the initial designs were captivating, plenty of skeptics remained. Luckily, they needn’t have worried. I was mesmerized the moment the Mach-E arrived, eager to run my hand along its sinewy side panels and strapping rear end. To keep the design as aerodynamic as possible, there are no traditional door handles. Instead, you use the key fob, your smartphone or a push button on the window frame to pop open the door. 

On the inside, there’s a small latch in the armrest versus the typical door handle. Such design elements are not only aesthetically pleasing, they also save space and reduce weight. Other novelties: This is the first Ford vehicle to use recycled animal-free fabrics, as well as a vegan steering wheel that’s as durable as leather. On the space-age dashboard, the premium Bang & Olufsen speakers are concealed beneath fabric covers that mimic the look of pricey home-theater speakers. And the unique design of the quiet cabin allows for a subwoofer that is 50 percent lighter than usual, yet still retains a deep rich clarity. As for the gigantic 15.5-inch vertical touchscreen in the center of the dash, it resembles a sort of funky oversized iPad from “The Orville.” Along with large climate controls for easier viewing, the touchscreen has interactive maps to locate the nearest charging stations. Those maps came in handy during two weekend trips, as did the heavily bolstered seats that helped prevent driver fatigue but also were easy on the tush. In total, there are five Mach-E trim levels, each with differing configurations for power and range (the distance you can travel on a full charge). 

While even the base-model Mach-E is fast and lively, it’s the high-test GT version that strikes like a thunder bolt. Rocketing from 0 to 60 seconds in just 3.8 seconds, the Mach-E GT is quicker than a Toyota Supra super coupe. And thanks to lower-than-expected ground clearance and a superb suspension, the Mach-E is just as agile. Those grippy regenerative brakes help, of course, allowing you to speed up or slow down using only the accelerator pedal. 

It’s worth noting there are other EVs in the Ford stable, including the electric F-150 Lightning full-size pickup, the E-Transit commercial van and various green machines on the way. By 2030, Ford is aiming for 40 percent of its global sales to be EVs. That’s a great goal for a company that once helped pull the plug on the “electric horseless carriage” but today is leading the charge with its own cutting-edge EVs.

Continue Reading

Autos

A car fit for a queen

New $342,000 Rolls-Royce SUV will leave you speechless

Published

on

Rolls-Royce Cullinan

Last month, I was invited to test drive the ultimate SUV: a Rolls-Royce Cullinan. My partner Robert and I—nerdy fans of all things BritBox—decided to take this swanky ride on a two-day outing to Charlottesville. After all, meandering along Virginia’s bucolic backroads was the closest we were going to get to an English countryside. While we were trying to summon forth our inner Mr. Darcy, we discovered quite a few fun surprises in this regal SUV along the way.  

Rolls-Royce Cullinan
$342,000
Mpg: 12 city/20 highway
0 to 60 mph: 4.5 seconds

The Cullinan has a noble pedigree, named after the largest diamond ever found—a hefty 1.33-pound gem that is now part of the British Crown Jewels. There are other royal connections to Rolls-Royce, of course. Queen Elizabeth—who was trained as a World War II mechanic and, at age 95, still drives herself sometimes—has a vast car collection with many a Rolls. And both Kate Middleton and Meghan Markle arrived at their weddings in a 1950 Phantom IV, made specially for the queen back when she was a mere princess. Yet despite its 114-year lineage, the luxury automaker has worked hard to keep pace with modern tastes and technology. 

Hence the Cullinan, the first-ever SUV in the Rolls-Royce stable. This tony horseless carriage has a $342,000 base price that quickly skyrockets with natty options. My test vehicle, for example, was $450,000—including $20,000 for a trendy detailing package. Other notable extras: lambswool floormats, contrast seat piping, black stained ash wood trim, and an embossed “RR” monogram on the doors and headrests. You also can opt for a cooling bin large enough for two Champagne flutes and a whiskey decanter. The best add-on, though, was the starlight headliner. To create the faux nighttime sky, it takes two craftspeople up to 17 hours to perforate 1,900 holes. Then fiberoptic lights are inset at various angles so that each “star” actually twinkles. And—crikey!—there’s even a shooting star feature. 

Exterior niceties are just as impressive, such as the anti-spin device to ensure the “RR” logo remains upright on each wheel cap at all times. Depending on customization, those fancy wheels can easily cost $4,000—each. The famous Spirit of Ecstasy hood ornament is available in silver, gold-plated or illuminated polycarbonate. To prevent theft, the statuette automatically disappears beneath the hood when the engine is off. But perhaps the most impressive feature is also the least obvious, at least until you slip behind the wheel and fire up this high-class colossus. That’s when the finely tuned, twin-turbo V-12 engine roars to life and effortlessly glides you down the road. 

Driving such a sophisticated land yacht—which weighs almost three tons—feels like riding on a cloud. Surprisingly, there’s little body roll when cornering and no shuddering during quick stops. Think sleek Cutty Sark versus lumbering cruise ship. There were several major storms during our time in this vehicle, causing other drivers to pull off the road or frantically try and outrun the rain. But the Cullinan stayed steady, holding the road as we battered our way through heavy winds and torrential downpours. Another nice touch: Hidden in each of the rear coach doors was a full-size umbrella, which popped out at the push of a button. When we put the wet umbrellas back into their secret compartments, air vents quickly dried them out. Mary Poppins should have been so lucky.

The skies cleared the final day of my test ride, so I sped around the Beltway for one last hurrah. Perhaps because a Rolls-Royce is more refined and understated than any in-your-face Ferrari or Lamborghini, no one tried to race me down the road. Instead, there were lots of approving smiles and a big thumbs up or two. No, I didn’t respond with a royal wave. But I doubt anyone would have blamed me if I did. After all, driving a Cullinan makes you feel like queen for a day. 

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Advertisement

Follow Us @washblade

Sign Up for Blade eBlasts

Popular