QX56 is spacious, comfortable Infiniti offering

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2013 Infiniti QX56

There are large luxury SUVs and then there’s the Infiniti QX56 which tips the scales on the gigantic side.

There’s probably bigger. Caddy’s Escalade comes in a Suburban length version but somehow this QX56 comes across more massive. You have to step up into this thing and it feels really wide.

Well, it is really wide. It’s also a very well appointed thing, too.

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Family grille adds class to Armada like body

The body is about the size of Nissan’s Armada, which came first. Infiniti added some curvy fenders and its familiar grille and came up with this beast.

Infiniti did a lot more than that. There’s plenty to differentiate the QX from the Armada and I’ll get to most of that.

The interior is one of the most comfortable places I’ve been. Luxury touches abound. The leather seats are butter soft and really gorgeous to look upon. The dash and the majority of the interior is covered, trimmed or touched with wood, leather and metal. Seven adults will find this seating comfortable and easy to access, even the third row.

The front seats are heated, have lumbar support and adjust in several different directions.The leather wrapped steering wheel is heated. The huge moonroof can be opened with a touch. The climate control unit has three independent zones.

Once you have buckled up, push the start button and listen to the faint rumble of a 5.6-liter direct injected V8. I say faint because the cabin is so well isolated you feel the engine more than you hear. Those 400 horses and 417 pounds feet of torque are more than enough to move this big boy with authority. The seven speed transmission can be engaged manually if you like. If not, the automatic mode works just fine. It matches revs with downshifts which makes things go a lot smoother.

Smooth is what you will call the ride, which is surprising considering this is a four wheel drive vehicle. Bumps and thumps are well isolated due in part to the hydraulic body motion control. It isolates the body from bad road surfaces as well as helping the vehicle stay level during cornering. True to the Infiniti hype, the truck does feel more like a sedan.

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Seven seating arrangement can be stretched to eight with bench option

You’ll always be reminded this is a truck. The commanding driving position, the towering step up entrance and the panoramic view of the road is not available in any sedan. This is an imposing truck that is relatively easy to drive.

This vehicle is also easy to love. My test vehicle included a theater package with video screens in the middle seat headrests and heated second row seats. The technology package featured blind spot warning, lane departure warning and prevention, forward collision warning, intelligent brake assist, distance control, intelligent cruise control and adaptive front lighting with auto leveling. The deluxe touring package included a 15-speaker digital Bose stereo system, hydraulic body motion control, climate controlled front seats, headlight washers and upgraded leather seats. The standard 20-inch wheel package was upgraded to 22-inch, 9-spoke alloy wheels with all-season tires.

With destination, my as-tested price came to $78,140. Costly, but luxury vehicles don’t come cheap these days. This vehicle is also aimed at the well-heeled crowd. They should like it a great deal.

 

cross@alldaytech.com

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LS 460 F-Sport good addition to Lexus stable

2013 Lexus LS 460 F-Sport
2013 Lexus LS 460 F-Sport

When Lexus introduced the LS in 1989 as a 1990, the rules of the automotive industry changed.

It was undeniably smooth, uncompromisingly crafted and an unqualified hit. Yes, the Japanese could go a step above Acura and purposely compete with the big dogs.

Twenty-four years later Lexus may have lost a little luster int he public’s eye, but it’s never lost it’s passion to craft fine automobiles. The 2013 LS seems to have reinvigorated that passion. This LS may not be as ground braking as the first, but it is a far better car.

The new design is still evolutionary, but I find the new lines striking. It’s sleek and slender with hits of muscle. Some have scoffed at the new corporate face but I like it very much, especially this F-Sport, new for LS. This face says I mean business. The unique wheels are also part of the package.

The interior makes greater strides toward perfection. There is a 12-inch screen in the center stack which provides touch screen selection for climate, entertainment and other functions. A centrally located mouse can be used if you don’t want to touch the screen.

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F-Sport gets black interior

The gauge cluster is the familiar electroluminescent gauges with the floating needles. The F-Sport has aluminum trim which accents the total black interior. The heated steering wheel is wood, wrapped in leather.

The LS has always been comfortable and still is. The F-Sports seats are more tuned for sports than comfort but still provide pleasurable seating. Leg, hip and headroom is plentiful and appreciated. It’s more quiet, better built and, well, just better than the car it replaces. That’s saying a great deal.

The F-Sport package also includes aluminum pedals, Brembo brakes, unique scuff plates, paddle shifters and a sport-tuned air suspension.

It does not, however, add engine upgrades. One has to be satisfied with the 4.6-liter 32-valve V8 engine which makes 386 horsepower and 367 lb.-ft. of torque. That’s enough to propel this 4,233 pound sedan to 60 miles per hour in 5.4 seconds. Certainly not slow, but maybe down the road Lexus with add a bit more under the hood.

Driving this F-Sport is a rewarding experience. May not be any faster than a regular LS, but it will bite into a corner more and it seems much more planted to the road. There’s some feedback to the driver which makes you think this car may think it’s an actual sports car. Click the suspension into sport + and you may think you are driving a sport car. The eight speed finds its gears faster and the suspension tightens up. Well.

The luxury touches are here as well. The LS has a good ride and is as quiet as any large sedan on the market. My test car was loaded with a ton of options. My favorite is the 450 watt Mark Levinson Reference Surround Audio with 19 speakers. It has less than 0.1 of total harmonic distortion. That’s better than many home theatre systems.

The LS 460 F-Sport can run with higher priced cars. Its price. With almost every option available you are looking at $86,000 and well worth the money.

This may be the LS some have been waiting to see.

 

cross@alldaytech.com

 

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Hyundai Veloster gets more velocity for 2013

Hyundai’s Veloster created a huge buzz in 2012. Was there finally a snazzy coupe that delivered that elusive sporty feeling at a really good price?

Yes and no. Yes, the price was right and the looks were good. No, the four-cylinder didn’t deliver the punch for some so it was a base hit instead of a home run.

2013 Hyundai Veloster
2013 Hyundai Veloster

For 2013, Hyundai’s added a turbo option that turns this single into a triple.

Let’s talk about the looks. Hyundai is bold in its styling adventures and the Veloster is as bold as they go. It’s a hatchback with three other doors. One is hidden on the passenger’s side to make back seat entry easier. Other cars have tried this with about as much success. It works but it appears more of a  gimmick. That said, the overall look is eye-catching, especially the widemouth grill for the turbo. It makes the car look menacing.

The interior is youth oriented. The gauge cluster looks like a pair of goggles. No need to worry, everything is easy to see. The rest of the dash looks like most other Hyundai cars – clean and well organized. The buttons fell good to the touch and seems sturdy.

The front seats are snug and are embroidered with the word turbo. The backseat is a bit cramped and lacks headroom. Typical for sports and sporty cars.

The addition of the turbo gives the Veloster a 63 boast in horsepower and a noticeable 77 pounds-feet of torque increase.

Thats sounds massive until you see the 1.6-liter turbo makes 201 horsepower and 195 pounds-feet of torque. Still better than the base engine but maybe not as much as I’d like.

Driving impressions for me are skewed toward good. I say that because I expect a harsh ride from a sporty car. Some may find the Veloster too harsh but I point you toward the car’s real target market – young folk. Retired Floridians may like the base care for its great gas mileage but it’s the youth that will appreciate the turbo’s added oomph and sticky handling.

Well, it’s sticky for a sporty car. You can have a bit a fun in the corners and smile as you scamper down an open stretch of highway at decent speed. Sports car? No. Entry level sporty car is more accurate.

My only real gripe is the car’s gas mileage. I didn’t get close to the car’s 29 combined mileage. It only holds 13.2 gallons of fuel so stops seem for frequent.

Interior aimed at youth market
Interior aimed at youth

The Veloster turbo comes with much standard equipment: traction control, stability control, air, power package, ABS with brake-force distribution, four wheel discs, Hyundai Blue-link telematics, seven-inch touch screen, six-speed automatic with paddle shifters, leather wrapped steering wheel, leather seats and push button start. That’s at the $22,950 base price.

My test car added a $2,300 Ultimate package with a panoramic sunroof navigation system and backup camera. Hyundai also added summer tires at $1,200. Not a big deal in most of North Carolina, but anywhere there’s snow or ice you’ll have rotate these with all-season tires.

My as-tested price came in at $27,520. There are many cars in that price range, not just sporty cars, either.

Still, I can say easily that none of those vehicles look like this. There’s always something to be said about being different. This Hyundai says a great deal.

 

cross@alldaytech.com

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Warner Bros. and DC Comics Paradox movie a hit

Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox
Starring: Kevin McKidd, Justin Chambers, Michael B. Jordan, Cary Elwes, Dana Delany, C. Thomas Howell and Nathan Fillion
Warner Bros. Animation Blu-ray

Warner Bros. finally got a DC super hero film other than Batman right with the success of Man Of Steel this summer. The company has never had that problem with its DC animated releases. It’s yet to miss on one.

It certainly doesn’t miss with Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox. It proves the Flash is interesting enough to get his own live-action film, which he will, according to an announcement at a recent Comic-Com.

This story really isn’t for those who have a God complex. There’s a prayer near the beginning which sums up the morale of this story: accept the things you cannot change, have the courage to change the things you can, have the wisdom to know the difference.

In Paradox, Barry Allen’s Flash learns the hard way about having the wisdom to know the difference. He gets sucked into an alternate universe in which his powers are gone and the Justice League doesn’t exist, at least not as a group. Stranger still, some of the criminals are the good guys and at least two league members – Wonder Woman and Aquaman – are bent on destroying the world because their kingdoms are at war.

Batman, yeah, he’s around but not quite the same. He uses pistols and will kill. Cyborg’s working with the government and Superman crashed into Metropolis, not Smallville.

The Flash and Batman from Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox
The Flash and Batman from Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox

The Flash’s twenty-fifth century nemesis Dr. Zoom seems to be behind this version of reality but the Flash learns it’s someone much closer who has committed “a supreme act of selfishness” that’s gotten the world out of kilter. The Flash must regain his speed to stop this reality from being destroyed to save his own.

There’s much action. The battle between Aquaman’s and Wonder Woman’s forces is massive.The bodies start piling up early – including league members. This version of Batman is violently cynical. Barry Allen’s attempts to get his speed back are painful. Wonder Woman has no problem with killing, either. She beheads one person while strangling another.

Did I say this cartoon is not for children? It’s not for children.

The animation is great, while the voice characterizations are wonderful. Andrea Romano has picked great voice talent as usual. Grey’s Anatomy stars Justin Chambers and Kevin McKidd play the Flash and Batman respectively. Dana Delany reprises her role as Lois Lane. Michael B. Jordan is Cyborg. Nathan Fillion is Hal Jordan/Green Lantern. C. Thomas Howell is Eobard Thawne/Dr. Zoom. Vanessa Marshall is Wonder Woman and Carey Elwes is Aquaman.

Jay Oliva directs this gripping tale with much action and character-driven scenes. James Tucker is doing a marvelous job as executive producer since the departure of Bruce Timm. Tucker is picking the right stuff to make into movies and letting writers tweak the product to be different from the original work. It’s working.

Next up will be Justice League: War, a story which brings back Darkseid. Look for that this winter.

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XF is Jaguar’s entry into sports sedan fray

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2013 Jaguar XF

The sport sedan segment is crowded with good looking cars that look alike and perform nearly identically. That’s not such a bad thing if you like being like everyone else.

Aren’t you glad there’s a Jaguar and it builds the XF?

The XF is certainly a sports sedan that doesn’t look like anything else on the road except maybe another Jaguar. The car’s stunning exterior is certainly better looking than most of its competitors. Kia seems to think so, borrowing heavily from the XF’s looks for the Optima.

The XF’s interior is just as striking. Leather, wood and metal are everywhere and used with great care. Some of the same touches found in the XJ are here, but this interior leans more toward sport, The interior is much more cozy with carbon fiber-looking trim, sportier seats and, um, a much tighter back seat.

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Interior is clean, sporty.

There is a bevy of standard equipment such as traction control, stability control, ABS, automatic climate control, leather interior trimmed with wood and metal; RDS radio, 250 watt stereo, cruise, glass sunroof and bluetooth. Options include upgraded stereo, adaptive cruise control, 20-inch dark wheels, carbon fiber veneer and a various other comfort features. My beautiful test car was a little over $72,000.

The XF’s beauty is much more than skin deep. This car is built to run and run, well, fast. Three engines are available a 2.0-liter turbo four, V6, and supercharged V6. The big V8 is gone but the supercharged six is nearly as potent and it makes it clear that it’s looks are far more than skin deep. Clearly, this car likes living on the edge of the road, hugging it with all its might as it slings you around a curve. Ride quality? Good, but who gives a damn with you handle like this. Yes, this is a sports sedan that looks and plays the part.

The engine and transmission are matched well. You can shift from steering wheel paddles or let it do the shifting. Both are accomplished with a smoothness not usually found in sports cars.

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Looks as good going or coming

If I wanted to nitpick about some shortcomings I could point out that the touch screen is slow to respond and a bit behind the times compared to other devices in similar cars. I could say that by adding a four-cylinder turbo to the engine offerings (now the base engine) may make a few folks question if this is still a sports sedan. I could also say that a five speed manual not being offered is, well, an awful thing.

Those things left unsaid don’t spoil my opinion of the XF.  It exudes personality, posses masculine beauty and gives the soul a rush once fully engaged.

If you haven’t gotten how much I like this car so far you never will.

I. Love. This. Car.

 

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Chevy Tahoe still useful in crossover world

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2013 Chevrolet Tahoe

For those who love Cadillac’s blinged-out Escalade but hate the steep price may I turn your attention to the Chevrolet Tahoe, the basis for Caddy’s beast.

The Tahoe is the same size as the Escalade with the same towing capacity but loses many of the Caddy’s amenities. That’s not totally bad because you can equip the Tahoe much like the Escalade but not pay as high a price penalty. You will also be able to burn regular gas.

You’ll still burn much regular gas. The Tahoe gets 15 miles per gallon in the city and 21 on the highway. That’s an average of 17 mpg which isn’t bad considering this thing weighs two tons.

People who buy full size SUVs don’t really worry about gas mileage. If you have a boat, horse trailer, small house or any number of other heavy things to tow, smaller, crossover vehicles don’t make the grade. A pickup could, but that may limit your ability to haul people in comfort. So, as rare as full size SUVs are, there is still a need.

The Tahoe is nicely finished and is still handsome after all these years. The big, wide body isn’t fancy but it has clean lines. The body colored bumpers and side molding make the behemoth look smaller.

The interior is like most GM products these days – upscale. The dash is familiar in a good way. Buttons feel good and are laid out logically. I think the wood trim is fake but it’s at least realistic.

The front seats are big and comfy as are the second row seats. Five folks will be very happy with the room. Third row passengers will not complain much, but the space is tighter and the seat does not fold flat into the floor making storage a little awkward.

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Tahoe has clean, handsome lines

The Tahoe’s best feature is the silky 5.3-liter V8. It makes its power effortlessly. The 320 horsepower and 335 pounds-feet of torque allow the Tahoe to tow nearly anything you can throw at it. You can take it out in the woods if you opt for the Z71 package and four wheel drive.

You can also use this, as most people will, a station wagon. This is a cool people hauler that’s also safe. It has government crash rating ranging from three to five stars.

When I said the Tahoe is less expensive than a Escalade it is, but it is not cheap. My LTZ (top model) started at $53,295. Optional packages included sun and entertainment, heavy duty tow, trailer brake controller and crystal red paint which totaled $3,260.

Add destination charges and the as-tested price was $57,100. That’s right in the ballpark with other big SUVs. If you don’t need all this equipment you can select another trim line. Whichever you choose, you will get a good deal.

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