NAMM 2016: She Rocks Awards celebrates women in music

Friday, January 22, The NAMM Show celebrated outstanding women in music with dynamic performances and an array of honorees at the 2016 She Rocks Awards. The She Rocks Awards is held by the Women’s International Music Network (WiMN); WiMN Founder Laura B. Whitmore and guitar shredder Nita Strauss hosted this year’s festivities.

The evening’s list of artists and award winners was a broad one that comprised established and rising celebrities, music biz veterans and a host of their colleagues, family and friends. The night’s highest honors went to living legends Jennifer Batten and Chaka Khan. Guitarist Batten, renowned  for her work with Michael Jackson and Jeff Beck, grabbed a guitar and regaled the crowd with a sampling of her formidable chops immediately after accepting her Icon Award. Eminent R&B vocalist Khan received the evening’s top acknowledgement, the Legend Award. She gave a charmingly brief acceptance speech after which several vocalists took the stage to deliver a spirited medley of her greatest hits.

The She Rocks Awards shone refreshing light on the depth and breadth of women making profound impacts across all facets of the music industry. An all-female house band laid down powerful grooves and the grrrl-power love in the room was palpable. There was no shortage of impressive stage presence and charisma during arresting performances delivered most notably by Amy Heidmann, who performed with her duo Karmin and Mona Tavakoli, who performed with Raining Jane.

Below is the complete list of 2016 She Rocks Awards Honorees:

Amy Heidemann of Karmin – Mad Skills Award
Jennifer Batten – Icon Award
Pamela Cole & Leigh Maples of Fanny’s House of Music – Motivator Award
Crystal Morris of Gator Cases – Enterprise Award
Cathy Carter Duncan of Seymour Duncan – Trailblazer Award
Mary Luehrsen of NAMM and the NAMM Foundation – Champion Award
Mindy Seegal Abovitz of Tom Tom Magazine – Dreaming Out Loud Award
Chalise Zolezzi of Taylor Guitars – Excellence Award
Mona Tavakoli and Becky Gebhardt of the Rock and Roll Camp for Girls L.A. and Raining Jane – Inspire Award
Sujata Murthy of Universal Music Enterprises – Vision Award
Leslie Ann Jones of Skywalker Sound – Powerhouse Award
Chaka Khan – Legend Award
Tom Gilbert – Real Deal Award

For more information on The She Rocks Awards and WiMN:
http://www.thewimn.com/events/she-rocks-awards/

NAMM 2016: 31st NAMM TEC Awards honors Don Was, Jeff “Skunk” Baxter

We so dig attending the TEC Awards each year at The NAMM Show. It never fails to thrill, to delight, to educate and to entertain–yes, even when we’re eagerly awaiting the excited winner for Best Signal Processing Software. Trust us, you have to be there. It’s a long show. There’s a lot of cheering.

This year was equally as satisfying. Saturday night, January 23, the 2016 31st NAMM TEC Awards kicked off with the welcom return of last year’s popular master of ceremonies, comedian Sinbad, who is there not just to provide levity to an event celebrating achievements that could easily seem dry to non-technophiles. The funnyman is himself both a gearhead and a musician with a bent toward all things guitar. He might have repeated a few jokes from last year but it’s cool. He’s a delight and is still just as funny.

The night’s honorees were Grammy-award winning artists Don Was, Jeff “Skunk Baxter and Record Plant founders Chris Stone and the late Gary Kellgren. Baxter, Stone and Kellgren were inducted to the TEC Awards Hall of Fame, which recognizes “those individuals whose careers have best exemplified the spirit of creative and technical excellence in professional recording and sound.” Stone and Kellgren were acknowledged for their work that “transformed the music studio into a new, creative and collaborative environment and, at the same time, introduced the newest multitrack, acoustical and mixing technologies.” Baxter is a founding member of the Doobie Brothers, a former member of Steely Dan and an accomplished studio musician and composer. He is also a defense consultant  and chair of a missile defense Congressional advisory board. After accepting his award Baxter performed a blazing set of Steely Dan tunes, including “My Old School” and “Rikki Don’t Lose That Number.”

Don Was received the event’s highest honor, the Les Paul TEC Award for innovation and technological achievements in music. Bass player Was is president of Blue Note Records. He has won Grammy awards for his work over three decades as a producer for renowned artists ranging from The Rolling Stones to Ziggy Marley. He is also the founding member of the successful group Was (Not Was), which produced several hit singles in the ’80s and ’90s. Was was celebrated for being “one of music’s most significant artists and executives, excelling in multiple roles and serving as one of the industry’s beacons for integrity and forward-thinking. During this period of disruption and rapid evolution in the worldwide music business, Was remains committed to music as an art form and its importance to contemporary culture.” Was closed the show with a rousing performance that included his 1987 hit “Walk the Dinosaur.”

Below is a complete list of the night’s winners:

TECHNICAL ACHIEVEMENT
AMPLIFICATION HARDWARE – STUDIO & SOUND REINFORCEMENT
Antelope Audio / Satori Monitoring Controller

ANCILLARY EQUIPMENT
Rupert Neve Designs / RNDI: Active Transformer Direct Interface

AUDIO APPS FOR SMARTPHONES & TABLETS
PreSonus / Notion 2 for iOS

COMPUTER AUDIO HARDWARE
Universal Audio / Apollo 8p Thunderbolt 2 Audio Interface

HARDWARE / PERIPHERALS FOR SMARTPHONES & TABLETS
Shure / MOTIV MV88 iOS Digital Stereo Condenser Mic

HEADPHONE / EARPIECE TECHNOLOGY
Audio-Technica Corporation / ATH-R70x Pro

LARGE FORMAT CONSOLE TECHNOLOGY
Solid State Logic / XL DESK

MICROPHONE PREAMPLIFIERS
Manley Labs / Manley FORCE

MICROPHONES – RECORDING
Neumann / U47 FET

MICROPHONES – SOUND REINFORCEMENT
Shure / 5575LE Unidyne 75th Anniversary Vocal Microphone MUSICAL INSTRUMENT AMPLIFICATION & EFFECTS
Eventide / H9 MAX

MUSICAL INSTRUMENT HARDWARE
Moog Music / Modular Recreation

MUSICAL INSTRUMENT SOFTWARE
iZotope / Iris 2

RECORDING DEVICES
Zoom/F8 MultiTrack Field Recorder

SIGNAL PROCESSING HARDWARE
Tube-Tech / HLT 2A Equalizer

SIGNAL PROCESSING HARDWARE (500 SERIES MODULES)
Solid State Logic / 500-Format LMC+

SIGNAL PROCESSING SOFTWARE (DYNAMICS/EQ/UTILITIES)
iZotope / RX 4 Complete Audio Repair & Enhancement

SIGNAL PROCESSING SOFTWARE (EFFECTS)
AMS Neve / AMS RMX16 Digital Reverb Plug-In For UAD-2 Platform

SMALL FORMAT CONSOLE TECHNOLOGY
Avid / Pro Tools I S3

SOUND REINFORCEMENT LOUDSPEAKERS
Meyer Sound / LEOPARD

STUDIO MONITORS
Genelec / 8351A SAM

WIRELESS TECHNOLOGY
Sennheiser / Evolution Wireless D1

WORKSTATION TECHNOLOGY
Avid / Pro Tools 12

CREATIVE ACHIEVEMENT
FILM SOUND PRODUCTION
Birdman

INTERACTIVE ENTERTAINMENT SOUND PRODUCTION
Batman: Arkham Knight

RECORD PRODUCTION / ALBUM
Before This World by James Taylor

RECORD PRODUCTION / SINGLE OR TRACK
Dreams by Beck

REMOTE PRODUCTION / RECORDING OR BROADCAST
Foo Fighters Sonic Highways

STUDIO DESIGN PROJECT
Paul Epworth’s The Church Studios, London, UK

TELEVISION SOUND PRODUCTION
Game of Thrones

TOUR / EVENT SOUND PRODUCTION
Sonic Highways World Tour, Foo Fighters

Winners in more than 31 categories were selected from 180 nominees by voters from major pro audio publications including Mix, Pro Sound News, Pro Audio Review, Sound & Video Contractor and Electronic Musician magazines, as well as members of the Producers & Engineers Wing of the Recording Academy, Game Audio Network Guild and select NAMM members.

For more information:
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NAMM 2016: Strumstick design ensures no wrong notes

Sometimes progress is achieved through reverse engineering, by the stripping down of the burliest thing to its leanest bones. The good folks at McNally Instruments’ Strumstick have done just that with their innovative, three-stringed instrument of the same name. Strumstick ensures that, fumble as you may across its fretboard, you simply cannot produce a wrong note. Daunted by the challenge of learning to play a traditional guitar? Wish there was an easy way to make cool-sounding music even if you have no particular musical ability? Enter Strumstick.

We stopped by their booth at the 2016 NAMM show this month out of curiosity. The streamlining of multi-stringed instruments into lean, reedy minimalist and easily digestible musical models geared to first-timers and novices is a musical movement that seems to be trending. Slaperoo, we passed you on our way and yes–we are looking at you, too.

We play traditional 6-string guitar here at ADT, which we learned through years of good ole’ practice. Why would one interested in guitar not want to start with the real thing? The friendly booth representative walked us skeptics through all our burning questions.

Strumstick comprises a slight wood body that supports three strings: The top and bottom strings are tuned an octave apart; the middle string is tuned to the fifth step in between. Don’t worry if you don’t know a thing about music: If you can press a guitar string you can play Strumstick. Its tonal alignment ensures you’ll always strike the right musical chord–literally–no matter where you place your fingers on the frets. You can clunk your way all over the fretboard and never not create a pleasantly straightforward melody.

Strumsticks are available in two tunings, D and G. A variety of models and species of wood tops are available. The lineup includes a three-string ukelele and a smaller children’s model. Prices range from $169 for the base model to $259 for the top-of-the-line. An instruction book and companion CD are available to aid learning.

Our conclusion, in short: If you thought you could never play guitar but always wanted to, if you want to ease yourself or a child into the world of music starting with something simple and always rewarding, this could be a good place to start. If you have more lofty aspirations, we recommend you skip this and start with the traditional stringed instrument of your dreams. Wrong notes and overcoming challenges are critical to productive musical development. We also took note of Strumstick’s price points: A decent student guitar can be had at similar prices; something to consider.

But we won’t deny the Strumstick is a nifty idea for the right audience.sex toy pour luiсниму комнатуcar cover for mazda miata

Land Rover LR4 handles any terrain

2016_land-rover_lr4_4dr-suv_hse-lux_f_oem_1_717
2016 Land Rover LR4

I am fond of Land Rovers. The British really know how to build a luxury SUV.
But why would I buy a $100,000 vehicle to take it bashing through the woods? A dent in something this good looking would be a pity.
Yeah, I know, you can say the same about almost any other SUV of today. Heck, even pickup trucks cost a lot and look good as well.
OK, so do not buy the Range Rover. You can always step down to the Land Rover LR4. It’s more truck looking and it doesn’t cost a hundred grand.
Nope, the LR4 starts at a more modest $50,400 base.
Ummm, yeah, right.
Still, It’s a fine truck that is designed to go where only angels dare to walk. It’s also designed to take you through this treacherous territory in style.
I’ve always liked the look of the LR4 (which is called Discovery in the rest of the world). It’s tall, which gives it tremendous headroom. It also looks like something that can handle the outback with no problem.
The interior isn’t as spectacular as the Range Rover. It doesn’t have nearly the switchgear as its big sister, but I don’t think you will be left wanting. The materials feel good and solid – as should be so in a vehicle in this price range. Your gear selector is a round knob that rises from a flat position when you start the car. I think all Jags and Land Rovers have this feature.

The view is panoramic and the interior has been tweaked.
The view is panoramic and the interior has been tweaked.

There is plenty of room for seven adults. Yes, the third seat is comfy. Fold it and you have 42 cubic feet of storage. There is also a roof rack for more stuff.
The 2016 LR4 comes with a very potent supercharged V6 which replaces an even more potent V8. That engine was heavy and dated so the lighter V6 saved some weight and added some fuel efficiency. Not a whole lot of economy is gained, however. The LR4 still weighs about 3 tons. Once you pack on all that four-wheel drive stuff it’s hard to get the weight off. The V6 makes 340 horsepower with 322 pounds-feet of torque. It will move the LR4 sufficiently quick, but a weight loss would probably give this thing some sweet moves.
The transmission is an eight-speed unit that works well with the engine. It never lagged and it shifted crisply.
On the highway I don’t find fault in the LR4’s ride. Yeah, you can tell it’s more of a truck but a well sorted out truck. Its standard air suspension helps absorb bumps as well as offering adjustable ground clearance. This is a tall vehicle but I never noticed a lot of swaying about.
If I wanted, I could have taken the LR4 rock climbing. The adjustable suspension has a crawl setting that can take you just about anywhere. If you want that kind of ability, it’s available in the heavy duty package with includes a two-speed transfer case, locking rear differential and a full-size spare tire on an alloy wheel.
My test vehicle was an HSE LUX version. That alone adds $10,200 to the bottom line. It also adds a plethora of equipment that includes climate control system, navigation system, adaptive cruise control, 360 degree backup camera, blind-spot detection system, 17-speaker system and upgraded leather seats. A Black Design package includes 20-inch black wheel, grille, door handles, mirrors and other trim.A suite of Apps and a two package round out the options.
The as-tested price of my HSE LUV was $68,270 which included destination.
Yes, I like this vehicle a lot. If I owned it I might even take it through some rough terrain. Maybe. That Fuji White paint job looks awfully good.

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Murano gets bolder styling, better ride and handling

2015 Nissan Murano
2015 Nissan Murano

Nissan continues to make its SUV and crossover lineup interesting. It isn’t afraid to push the styling envelope which is seen on the restyled 2015 Murano. A little bigger, bolder and more fuel efficient than the model it replaces, this new Murano may be all the SUV you need.
I say SUV but I think the proper term is crossover since this is more car than truck. Oh, it will handle the truck stuff you throw at it, but the comfort and creature features this thing comes with tells you it does double duty.
The 260 horsepower V6 and continuously variable transmission are virtually unchanged from last year. Yet, this vehicle gets better gas milage than the old one. It’s also a tad bigger for people and cargo.

Stylish, spacious interior
Stylish, spacious interior

What’s new is the look of the Murano. The lines are bolder and the grille is far more aggressive. The roofline drops off dramatically in the back, but doesn’t effect the rear passenger headroom much. There are sharp, crisp lines near the waist and bulges around the fenders. It is mean but not menacing, powerful, but still pretty.
The interior of the Murano is striking. The materials feel high quality and look the part. Front and rear outboard passengers get the company’s Zero Gravity seats. They are quite comfortable and offer support on long trips. The driver and passenger sets are power operated. Leather covers all seats. The rear bench is a 60/40 split design in case you need to carry a little more cargo than people. There is plenty of room for five people and a lot of their stuff.
There is a lot of standard equipment. Kudos to Nissan for keeping the CD player despite the vehicle’s ability to steam music through apps and Bluetooth. We old-timers still enjoy still enjoy a good CD every now and then. The Bose unit has two subwoofers but does not sacrifice the highs. I’m liking HD radio the more I listen. There is also Sirius/XM.
Nissan also includes cruise control, heated front seats, voice recognition for hands-free operation of navigation and radio, ABS, blindspot detection, lane departure, traction control and dual zone climate controls. This SL model has about all you need.
Optional equipment includes a technology package with a huge sunroof, intelligent cruise control and predictive forward collision warning.
You could forget to drive this thing because of all the gadgets to play with. You would miss a treat. The Murano handles very well under a variety of circumstances. It’s not as sporty as it was but you won’t pine for last year’s model. If you want to get a little aggressive you can and the vehicle will not loose composure. Steering feels nicely weighted and braking is good for the class.
Without question it is comfortable. The ride is smooth and quiet. If your purpose is to carry your passengers in a very pleasing and relaxing manner, you’ve found the vehicle you need. The Murano doesn’t pitch around or float. It’s a firm but comfortable ride that will please nearly everyone that rides.
The base price of the Murano SL is $36,950. With options and destination the as-tested price was $40,095.
You can keep going if you want the platinum edition and all-wheel drive, but the SL will be enough for most – even without the tech package. There’s stiff competition from the big three and all the other Asian brands, but the Murano will hold its own. This needs a serious look.

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2016 Chevy Camaro SS is job well done

2016 Camaro SS
2016 Camaro SS

Chevy and Ford would like you to think there is a war going on between the Camaro and Mustang. I say there isn’t.
I say that because people who like Mustangs like Mustangs. The same with Camaro fans. Yes, one may outsell the other for a while but then the other takes over and, well, you know the rest.
I’m sure Chevy will experience a big sales surge with this 2016 Camaro. This car is good to look at, a blast to drive and built better than any other Camaro ever.
Let’s look at it’s looks, shall we? The 2016 SS has been hammered, chiseled, shortened and to a point crushed a bit. It has a lower profile and is wider and meaner looking. There’s a tad bit of Corvette in the grille but I see more Lexus spindle than anything. Not a bad thing for me, but a bunch of auto journalist don’t like that look. This is actually smaller than the 2015 because they wanted something lighter and more nimble.
Chevy, mission accomplished.
Does that mean you have less interior space? Yes, but who buy’s a sport’s car for space? It’s tight for dumpy builds like mine and not forgiving for someone six foot four like my friend who complained but his head didn’t touch the headliner. It was close, however. Let’s call the interior cozy. It’s also nicely finished. Chevy has used high quality materials and an ergonomic design to make the interior inviting. The large touch screen is good and one of the options is Apple’s Car Play. It essentially turns the screen into your iPhone. It worked well, but it’s a bit intrusive at times. Apple likes being the center of attention and it shuts off bluetooth and a few other things while engaged. More on Car Play in a separate article to follow.

Interior is nicely finished
Interior is nicely finished

The backseat is for children or cargo. The trunk holds enough stuff but if its non essential stuff you can throw it in the back seat. At the back of the center armrest console is a wireless phone charger which is optional.
My test vehicle was a 2SS model. That comes with ambient LED lighting to set a mood or just look cool – whichever you desire. A lot of cars are doing this now because it’s cool and LED lighting is inexpensive to use.
There is also a premium Bose stereo with satellite radio. If you like, you can turn your Camaro into a rolling hotspot for the plethora of devices we can’t live without. Actually, you can only connect seven but that’s plenty considering you can’t get seven people in this vehicle.
OK, so it looks good and seems to be built well but how does this thing drive?
Glad you asked. If speed is your thing you will be satisfied, amazed, wowed, pleased and every other positive adjective I can think of. The SS comes with a 6.2-liter V8 that makes 455 horsepower and 455 pounds-feet of torque. With the standard short throw six-speed you can hit 60 miles per hour in 4.0 seconds. You may ask why a Corvette, then? Answer: have you seen a Corvette lately? That car is a sexy beast.
When you hit the Camaro’s accelerator, it will press you deep into the seats. A fury of energy is released and that dual exhaust sings a mighty tune. The handling is superb. Throw it around a cure with force and ti digs in and stays planted. You can adjust the suspension to a track setting and you really get to know just how capable a car you have. This Camaro simple devours pavement without sweating. Steering, braking and handling were top priority in development and I’d say Chevy got it right.
I do quibble about the gear box, though. It has that 1-4 shift thing. Sometimes it forces you to engage fourth gear immediately after first. It can be annoying if you really don’t need to be in that gear and you have to downshift. However, the more time I spent with the car the less that happened.
Any other gripes? Well, the greenhouse is kinda squinty. I can’t say the car is hard to see out of, but it can feel a tad

claustrophobic. Just a tad. There is that gas mileage thing. I’m glad fuel is cheap because this thing likes premium fuel a good deal. Highway driving isn’t so bad. You may get close to 30. I averaged about 16 miles per gallon in the city, which isn’t terrible for the monster of an engine you get, but be warned.
Anything else? No. I found the 2016 Camaro SS to be very enjoyable. You could always move up to the Corvette if this isn’t enough power or style, but I think you may have to open up your wallet a lot wider if you make that choice.
How much is this beast? I didn’t get a window sticker. I went to Chevy’s website to build one and came up with $43,840. I don’t know if I added all the options or if there were packages so that’s a rough estimate.
If there is a real war between the Mustang and Camaro Chevy just loaded up some heavy artillery to take into battle. I’m a Mustang guy but I’s consider this Camaro SS. It’s got a lot going for itself for the money, if you want to spend that kind of money. Bravo, Chevy, bravo.

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An iPhone with no home button?

Could we be seeing a new iPhone one day that has no Home button?iphone 6 and 6 plus, alldaytech.comAccording to a report today from DigiTimes, Apple is working on some technology that would allow users to do everything they do now on via the Home button on the touchscreen, including using Touch ID.

Theoretically, this could allow Apple to narrow or eliminate the bezels at the top and bottom of the phone and drastically reduce the size of iPhones and iPhone Pluses while keeping screen sizes as they are today — or even increase screen size a bit.

Under such a scenario, users would use gestures to replicate functions now that are handled by the Home button, and our guess is the volume buttons might replace the reset function that the Home button currently plays a part in.

Be interesting, but don’t expect it before iPhone 7 in September 2016.

Apple iPhone via alldaytech.com

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Janet Jackson’s new music, new tour and new direction

It’s been five years since we’ve heard any new music from Janet Jackson and seven years since she’s released a new album.

That all changed in the past few weeks, as Janet has been cryptically hinting on Twitter that when she’s ready to drop new material to not believe any rumors and that you would hear it from her lips.

Meanwhile, her fans have been urging her to return. Jackson has married a billionaire and been living overseas, but that hasn’t stopped loyal fans from literally begging her to return.

Monday morning at 9 a.m., Jackson delivered a new single, “No Sleep,” that has got the type of slinky beat and catchy hooks that have been components of some of her biggest hits. Back with her are hit making producers Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, who were largely absent from her recent work. “No Sleep,” given the radio support that Jackson has largely lacked since the infamous Super Bowl Wardrobe Malfunction fallout, should be a huge hit this summer.

Jackson is backing up the new single, with an album, expected to be called “Unbreakable” that is due late summer and a world tour that kicks off Aug. 31 in Vancouver, Canada.

Jackson is also expected to perform at the BET Awards Sunday after receiving an honor.

All signs point to a successful return of one of pop music’s biggest superstars. The new song rocks and judging by social media and the Internet, the music world at large seems to be thirsty again for Janet. Could be a big summer and fall for Miss Jackson.

Here is the new single, “No Sleep”

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Ford’s Expedition still good option for SUV buyers

Shopping for an SUV can be a problem. Do you get a crossover that will give you car-like ride and handling or do you get a real truck that can haul a lot of people and a bunch of stuff?2015_ford_expedition_4dr-suv_el-xlt_dps_evox_1_300
That depends on the amount of people and the amount of stuff. It also depends on what you want to pay, fuel economy, yada yada yada. I said it could be a problem.
Remember the Ford Expedition? Yeah, I know, a big blast from the past. It’s actually still around and has been upgraded for 2015. It’s a true truck that can haul a lot of people and a lot of stuff.
The Expedition is a traditional body on frame truck that comes in two flavors, standard and extended EL. The EL is 15 inches longer than the regular vehicle. Considering the standard wheelbase is a beast, the EL is an absolute monster that can be configured to hold nine people. That means you lose the captain’s chairs and even get a bench seat up front. Otherwise, go for the captains chairs and easy fold third row seats.
Need storage? There’s 18 cubic feet with the seats up. Lower the middle and rear seats and you have 108.3 cubic feet of space.
The 2015 upgrades include a much nicer interior and a nip and tuck done to the exterior. Some may find the greatest change the most troubling. Ford has dropped the V8 engine and replaced it with a turbo charged V6.
There is no need to worry, however. The V6 makes 365 horsepower and 420 pounds-feet of torque. Those are better numbers than the outgoing V8. It can achieve 22 miles per gallon on the highway and 16 mpg in the city. There are smaller V8 vehicles that can’t do that.
Here’s a fun fact: the Ford Expedition with a turbo V6 can sprint to 60 miles per hour in 6.5 seconds making it one of the quickest big trucks on he market. That’s outstanding for a vehicle that can tow 9,200 pounds. The transmission is a slick, six-speed automatic that works very well.
Nearly as outstanding is this big beast’s ride quality. You would expect a couple of tons vehicle to be smooth and comfortable. The Expedition lives up to those expectations. This Platinum model was equipped with an adjustable suspension that had comfort, normal and sport modes. The four-wheel independent suspension makes great use of those modes.
Does this truck have a downside? Yep, its sheer size. Yes, its agile for its size, but its size is pushing the limits. This is a very large vehicle that has a lot of blind spots. Thankfully, the Platinum edition is equipped with blindspot detection and a backup camera. Once you get adjusted to the size, you should be fine.
The Platinum designation means this thing is loaded to the gills. Let me say what it didn’t have, first: a kitchen sink, fridge and a microwave. At the moment none of those items are options. Not yet, anyway.
You do get Ford’s improved Sync system that allows you to do nearly everything by voice command. I favorite is being able to ask for a specific song or artist on my iPhone and it starts to play. Sometimes the simplest things are your greatest pleasures. You also get automatic climate control, power seats, massive sunroof, three rows of seats, lane departure warning, abs, traction and stability control, enhanced towing, satellite radio, leather seats and keyless entry.
Throw in delivery charges and the as-tested price was well north of $68,000. Some of you are thinking luxury brands but most would be smaller. There are Yukons, Escalades and even Land Cruisers to be considered but think higher price. The Expedition is still a viable option.

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Audi offers smaller Q3 with full size luxury benefits

2015 Q3 interior
2015 Q3 interior

Audi has been at the top of its game for the past decade, offering some of the finest automobiles on the planet. The company’s interiors are nearly unmatched and the exterior styling always turns heads.
Audi’s dip into the crossover and SUV pool has been as spectacular, so much so it’s now offering a smaller version of the successful Q5, the Q3. It is certainly handsome and well crafted but some may find it a bit pricey and lacking in amenities.
If you compare this to the Q5, it’s a bargain coming in at thousands less. It’s also a lot smaller. It’s three inches shorter in height and 10 inches shorter in length. It comes with a long list of standard equipment that includes a panoramic sunroof, 18-inch wheels, xeon headlights, roof rails, 60/40 split rear bench, leather seats, dual climate zones, Bluetooth connectivity and cruise control. Optionally you can get the MMI Navigation system and a sports package.
Moving up the Prestige Package gives you a lot more standard stuff and enhanced equipment.
My vehicle was a premium with the navi package. What you don’t get are glaring omissions to some, such as touch screen. You get the screen, just not touch enhanced. There is also no home link, which allows you to tie in to your remote garage door system or automated security lights if you have them. I saw some complaints on the web about this but I have neither so no home link isn’t a deal breaker.
What could be an obstacle is the Q3’s compact size. It’s about the same size as a Volkswagen Tiguan (which I think this is based on0. Lexus has the bigger NX200 and there are some other offerings from Mercedes, Infiniti and BMW that fall into this category. Some cost more or about the same for this size.
That’s not to say the Q3 does not offer a great deal. The 2.0-liter turbo four-cylinder engine gives it enough pep for everyday use. It’s not particularly quick, but the engine delivers its power smoothly and effortlessly. There were times when I thought it sounded a bit strained under hard acceleration, but for the most part the noise level is very low, from tires, engine or wind.
It’s handling is good, not great. The ride is certainly comfortable. After spending a week in Charlotte traffic, hitting ever pothole on I-77 this works very well in urban settings.
Like all Audi’s, the Q3 can be had in quattro guise, giving it the ultimate in traction during foul weather.
The most impressive points about this vehicle is the build quality. Few companies are designing and building stuff that looks this good or works this well. The interior is classic Audi. It’s only flaw is the MMI control isn’t in the center console. Its mounted in the center stack. Once you get used to this it’s OK, but why make it different from the other vehicles? There’s wood, metal and leather, the same you would find in the bigger Q5 – albeit in smaller amounts. As usual, Audi has done a great job.
The Q3 can range in price from $35,875 to nearly $50,000 depending on how equipped. My front wheel drive Premium was in the low $40,000s. There is a lot to pick from in that price range from a lot of manufacturers. I think the Q3 is certainly to be considered, especially if you are a fan of Audi.

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