Turbo diesel Beetle is great hybrid option

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2013 Volkswagen Beetle Convertible

Volkswagen’s Beetle was in need of a makeover, a style update. The “new” Beetle was getting long in the tooth and sales were beginning to fade. How could the company keep the car’s originality and give it an update that, well, updated the car?

Easily, apparently. The current new Beetle is more handsome, more practical and just more better.

Bad grammar aside, the Beetle has been lengthened and widened. The fenders have been sliced off somewhat to give the car a more masculine look. The front bumper has been notched and the longer roofline has shades of a Porsche 911. This reworking is working.

The Beetle’s interior get’s a huge upgrade as well. There is a little more room than before. The comfortable front seats are more comfy and more supportive. Rear seat room is better, but it’s only good for four people. I’m sure some adventurous college students can cram many bodies in this, but that’s another story.

The dash has been reworked and it’s a job well done. Volkswagen used expensive looking stuff to dress this Beetle convertible. Every button, switch and knob looks and feels good. I really like he big touch screen which gives the car an even more upscale look.

My favorite part of this Beetle is the engine. The two-liter, turbo diesel engine cranks out 140 horsepower with 236 pounds-feet of torque. This gives the car a lot, and I mean much low-end grunt. There’s a throaty sound to the engine that gives a sporty sensation.

The best attribute of the engine is the gas milage. This is a diesel and it gets that glorious diesel extended range. Being a bit larger and heavier than the last model, this Beetle convertible gets 41 miles to the gallon on the highway and 28 in city.

That’s 32 miles overall. Who needs a hybrid? Well, there is this thing about zero emission, but there’s no battery to worry about and the fuel is more available than ever. I think this is the technology we should be thinking about. Chevy has a diesel Cruise coming shortly, which is big for an American car company. Will others follow? They should.

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Clean, uncluttered interior

As a convertible the Beetle has always worked fine. This car works better. The longer wider look makes this much more handsome and masculine without alienating women, which are a huge part of the convertible market. The top drops in about 9.5 seconds and can retract safely at speeds up to 31 miles per hour. The new top folds flatter and is less noisy.

This is a fun car to drive, top up or down. Acceleration is good while handling, braking and steering all have benefited from the makeover.You can get a sportier feel if you go for the gasoline turbo but you may feel the guilt of not getting 41 miles per gallon.

The six-speed manual starts at $27,895. Add the great Fender stereo, navigation and a few more bits and you go to $29,195.

Volkswagen had me at turbo diesel. I find little fault with this car. More rear seat room would be good and 40 or more horses under the hood would be great. Yet, I’m totally sold on this package the way it sits. Job well done Volkswagen.

cross@alldaytech

 

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2013 Escalade offers luxury; new model prepped

I didn’t know Cadillac still made an Escalade so imagine my delight when rolled up for review at alldaytech.com.

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2013 Cadillac Escalade

Yes, the Escalade was once the luxury item to have. Athletes, actors, rappers and anyone who wanted to be seen as chic drove an Escalade. It wasn’t the first, but it eventually snatched the premium SUV title from Lincoln’s Navigator (it’s still around).

You can also argue that the Escalade is the vehicle that put Caddy on its current path. It was now hip to drive a Cadillac, which inspired the company to turn out more hip vehicles.

It’s not that the current Escalade is a dinosaur, there’s so much more competition. Every   luxury brand has a big, comfy premium SUV. The Caddy is unchanged from last year while others have been updated or radically changed.

There are still many reasons to buy an Escalade. It’s certainly still iconic. Nothing looks like an Escalade. That big shield of a grille put the b in bling. The body has a few of the character lines of the some of Caddy’s current lineup but it essentially a Chevy Tahoe and GMC Yukon.

The interior is certainly more high end that its sister trucks. Leather, wood and premium knobs and switches help make this upscale. The gauge cluster is a bit dated, but still tasteful. The leather is soft and the wood is real.

There’s a huge amount of room for driver and second row passengers. The big seats are comfortable on long trips, offering the kind of comfort you expect. The third row of seats is cramped even for kids. If you need the space for storage, the seats have to come out.

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Interior a little dated but still elegant.

Performance specs for the Escalade are not bad. The 6.2-liter V8 makes 403 horsepower and 417 pounds-feet of torque. Zero to sixty is in the high six-second range but you pay a price with poor fuel economy. The Escalade gets 14 mil city and 18 mpg highway.

The ride is smooth and controlled. The standard magnetic ride control really soaks up bumps but balances that with solid cornering and handling, It’s no sport’s sedan but this big truck is no slouch.

My test model was a premium, one step up from the luxury model. There is a long list of standard equipment but the premium distinguishes itself from the luxury model by making rear seat entertainment, retractable running boards and body colored trim, painted wheels and dual exhaust tips.

At $72,670, this SUV offers a lot. Lexus, Mercedes, Infinity and Porsche offer more modern beasts, but Caddy isn’t worried. There will be no 2014 Escalade but a new one debuts in 2015 sometime next year. That’s going to be a very interesting year for big trucks.

 

cross@alldaytech.com

 

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Jaguar’s XJ is world class luxury sedan

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2013 Jaguar XJ sedan

You’ve probably heard that owing certain cars puts you in the lap of luxury. I believe you can successfully make the argument that the Jaguar XJ is luxury’s lap itself.

It’s not a hard argument. Jaguar has always known how to make exquisite cars and this is one of the world’s best. Seriously. The design, execution and presentation of this comely beast is near perfect.

The exterior is really something. It scores a 9.8 on the gawk meter. Everywhere I stopped (and a few times in bumper to bumper traffic) I got asked “is that the new Jag?” Yes, it certainly is, I replied as I grinned ear to ear.

The sleek exterior is athletic, muscular and downright sexy.The most prominent feature is the chrome, mess grille. Jaguar has gotten rid of the leaping cat from the hood, which I miss, but it may not fit in with this new look. As a finishing touch, power vents have been added to each fender and they are nearly works of art. Each displays your car’s trim level if you have a supercharged, supersport or ultimate model.

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Leather adorns dash, seats and doors

The XJ’s interior is simply stunning. Leather, wood and bits and pieces of metal adorn the cabin. Leather is applied to the dash as well as the seats, door panels and steering wheel (which is heated). The dash houses virtual gauges which are on a Thin Film Transistor display. It’s full color and exceptionally sharp. The readout can be switched to several different options which include kilometers and fuel economy.

The leather is ridiculously soft and is available in softgrain, semi-aniline and semi-aniline tipped. The interiors are available in 24 different themes, 12 leather colors and 10 different veneers. My car had walnut and a creme colored leather which was soothing as well as handsome. The seats were oooooh so comfortable but supportive. I believe they could be adjusted in 20 different ways and offered messages. At night, phosphorus blue halo lighting gives you the feeling you are sitting in your living room watching a movie. Yes, the Meridian stereo includes DVD playback and exceptionally spatial stereo sound.

This thing could look good all day but if the driving dynamics are worth a darn then what do you have? Not to worry. This Jaguar has it. If you want this to be a luxury cruiser then yes, it can be that – not like an old Buick – but a finely crafted automobile that kinda wafts over bumps and lumps with composure and control.

For more oomph, the eight-speed transmission has a dynamic setting which changes the shift points. Set the traction control to Trac and it allows the wheels to spin more freely. The virtual gauges turn red to remind you of the sport mode.

With all those buttons pushed and switches flip, push the start/stop button, select drive on the gear selector which has rises from the console and you off on a spirited ride. Paddle shifters on the steering wheel add more fun to the party. This ZF transmission can shift very quickly. It takes 5.7 seconds for the 3.0-liter naturally aspirated engine to yank this car to 60 miles per hour. Not bad for what is essentially a family sedan.

In sport mode this car is quite delicious. The rear shocks continuously adjust to your type of driving. It digs into corners and sweeps around curves with attitude. If you want more sport there is a new XJR coming this fall or you can drop down a size to the XF (which will be in another post shortly).

The car’s amenities are a laundry list of what every luxury car should have: killer stereo by Meridian, sumptuous leather seats, full-roof moon roof, smart key, dual, or quad zone climate control, adaptive cruise control, burled walnut inlays, 12-inch color touch screen, rear camera, heated steering wheel, satellite radio, elegant analog clock, navigation and Bluetooth connectivity.2013_jaguar_xj_sedan_supercharged_rbdg_oem_1_500

The intro price to he XJ is $73,200. There are several packages and options that can take this car past $100,000. I’d say my test car was near the mid $80’s. Worth it? If I could stand at the top of Mt. Everest and yell yes I would. Since I can’t, I’ll simply type it – yes.

This is certainly one of the best affordable (very relative term) cars to buy. It’s handsome, built to perfection and drives like a dream. Now, where is that $100,000 bill?

 

cross@alldaytech

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