Tag: Luxury Travel

2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV: Batteries are included.

2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV: Batteries are included.

The 2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV is nearly the life-size representation of a childhood dream: to have what is essentially a full-size slot car that we can drive around on the street. Except that in this case we are not 3 inches tall, and there is no slot for the guide shoe. Oh, and it’s not as sleek as the slot cars of our youth.

The new Bolt EV is General Motor’s latest attempt to bypass the use of dead dinosaurs in order to make it go. Instead, the Bolt EV gets its motivation from lithium-ion batteries, which supply energy to the South Korean-built GM Electric Drive unit. The entire battery unit, by LG Electronics, weighs in at approximately 960-pounds, and accounts for slightly more than a quarter of the Bolt EV’s curb weight, which is located under the floor of the vehicle cabin. Active thermal conditioning, as used in the Chevrolet Volt, helps to keep the battery at an optimal temperature for maximum life, but in the off-chance it should fail, it’s covered by an 8-year / 100,000 mile warranty.

The batteries are replenished by an onboard 7.2 kW charger for regular charging from a 240-volt wall box. According to GM, power for a 50-mile commute can be acquired in less than two hours. Using a fast charger, the Bolt can receive up to 90-miles of range in 30 minutes. The Bolt EV is complete with an enclosed 120-volt charging cord.

This Coppertop-on-wheels offers innovative charging so that the car will know whether it is home or away. Once it is plugged in, using a GPS location signal, it will know to charge according to your preset schedule. For instance, if you have programmed it to charge during off-peak hours while at home, it will do so. But if it is sensed in a different location, it will know to start charging immediately.

Available in base LT and Premier trim levels; it competes directly against the Nissan Leaf, BMW i3, Ford Focus Electric, Kia Soul EV and Volkswagen eGolf.

Inside information.

Our Bolt EV Premier, although green, didn’t feature that same cheapish look found in other “green” vehicles that we have come across lately. Instead, we found a leather appointed interior that was comfortable enough for the long haul, even if that was a 200-mile jaunt across state from Miami to Fort Myers area. A two-toned Dashboard featuring dark soft touch material above over a white matrix design below offered just enough “real car feel” to the overall package. Speaking of package-ing (just work with us here), we were amazed at how big this “wagon” really was, once we were all in.

Chevrolet Bolt EV
Chevrolet Bolt EV

Although it doesn’t share any architecture with others built on the GM Gamma platform, the Bolt EV is built on the same assembly line as the Chevrolet Sonic compact car. It is offered for sale in Europe as the Opel Ampera-E. But this small station wagon, as the EPA calls it, is anything but small inside, with enough side-by-side seating in the front row for two adults, as well as plenty of legroom in the rear. There is 95 cubic feet of passenger volume inside, along with 16.9 cubic feet of cargo space behind the rear seats, and 56.6-cubic feet when the seats are folded forward.

Full driver information is available in various readouts from the gauge display screen, and from the center console’s 10.2-inch tablet-like display. Looking more android than Apple, it offered everything from battery consumption to audio, telephone, navigation and vehicle information. In regards to the connected car, the Bolt EV is all-in with OnStar’s WiFi hot spot, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity suites. A wireless charger is located at the base of the center console, and there is an under elbow storage bin large enough for most tablets. Software apps from ChargePoint display a list of types of chargers available in your general vicinity.

How It Drives.

Chevrolet Bolt EV
Chevrolet Bolt EV

Surprisingly well, thank you. The Chevrolet Bolt EV, although weighing half as much as a Bentley Continental GTC, still manages to produce enough torque to snap your head back into the headrest upon launching at the stop light dragstrip. Impressive in its might, the Bolt EV motor unit manages to produce up to 266 pound feet of torque, and 200 hp, for a 0 to 60 time of approximately 6.9 seconds.

We found the Bolt Regen system, which the General touts as providing one-pedal driving, managed to make us feel as though we were winding around a golf course in a Club Car or EZGO golf cart. Forward momentum was constant as you managed to push the accelerator; lift up, and it immediately caused you to lurch forward in just the same fashion you would while on the way to the 19th Hole. It’s just the thing to help give some power back to the battery, while in slower stop-and-go traffic.

The motor sends its power to the front wheels via Chevrolet’s electronic precision shift system. A shift-and park by wire arrangement, it sends electronic cues to the CPU, which in turn does their best to approximate what we would call a natural driving experience.

The ride quality was surprisingly supple, with the Bolt EV being able to maneuver from lane to lane in a split second. Surprised by the actual handling that this wagon exhibited, it was likely enhanced by having nearly 1,000 pounds of battery at one of the lowest points on the vehicle. Your mileage may vary, but we found the car surprisingly, er, car like in feel, response, and tractability.

2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV

Base MSRP: $40,905. As Tested: $43,510.

Includes: DC Fast Charger Connections, $750; Driver Confidence Package, $450; Infotainment Package, $485. Destination Fee, $875. Federal Government tax credits are available up to $7,500.

Key Specs

Type:                                                Rechargeable energy storage system

Mass:                                                960-pounds

Battery Type:                                 Lithium Ion

Power:                                             200 hp / 150 kW

Torque:                                           260 lb-ft / 360 Nm

Warranty:                                       8-years / 100,000 miles

Acceleration:                                  0-60mph in 6.9 seconds

Drive Type                                     Front Wheel Drive Single Motor and Gearset

Suspension:                                   Front: MacPherson Strut / Rear: Torsion Beam

Tire Size:                                        Michelin Energy Saver A/S 215/50R17

Unladen Weight:                          3,580-pounds

Length:                                           164-inches

Width:                                            69.5-inches

Height:                                           62.8-inches

Wheelbase:                                    102.4-inches

Cargo Volume:                              16.9 cubic feet

Cd:                                                   0.27

Range:                                            238 (EPA) up to 260+/- YMMV

City:                                                128

Highway:                                       110

Combined:                                    119 MPGe (MPG equivalent)

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2018 Genesis G80 Sport

2018 Genesis G80 Sport

Punching above its weight class is always a way to be noticed. Think of the slight schoolyard kid who packs a wallop when confronted by the playground bully. That’s a perfect analogy to the 2018 Genesis G80 Sport.

Now in its second year of production, you may have remembered a previous version known as the Hyundai Genesis. At the time, it was part of a high-zoot tag team partnership with the Hyundai Equus. Both were good, but with the breakneck speed of advancements the brand, and the industry seemingly make, they were quickly surpassed both on the outside and within. In that sense, this new luxury spinoff from Hyundai is punching above, and actually landing a few blows along the way.

Muscle-bound.

Exhibit A: The G80 Sport sedan. It’s a muscular four-door that admittedly shouldn’t show up for track days at your local racecar country club and day spa, but does manage to transport its occupants in luxury, while managing to not squeeze its owner’s bottom line. Oh, and did we mention its 10-year/100,000 mile powertrain warranty?

Genesis G80 Sport
Genesis G80 Sport

Clearly the best value in midsize luxury cars today, it competes against the Audi A6, Mercedes E-Class, and BMW 5-series. It is loaded with nearly everything a salaryman could hope for as he climbs the corporate ladder. The 3.3-liter twin turbocharged V6 is a direct injection powerhouse that makes 365 horsepower and a genuine 376 lb-ft of torque. It’s mated to Hyundai’s eight-speed automatic transmission that does everything asked of it, even if the steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters are a little on the smallish side. Zero-to-60 mph times come on in 5.3-seconds for this somewhat heavy (4,519-pounds) lead sled, but it still imparts a sense of power by way of the growl that comes on while added pressure is loaded on the skinny pedal. Quiet isolation is this sedan’s strong suit.

In the oft chance that you don’t speak turbo, the G80 can be equipped with either a 420 horsepower 5.0-liter V8 or a 311 horsepower 3.8-liter V6.

The 2018 Genesis G80 Sport includes nearly every item on the Genesis options list except for the available winter-oriented AWD system, which comes with a heated steering wheel and a $2,500 price tag. A huge standard panoramic sunroof lets enough UV light in to insure your dermatologist is able to send all four of his children to college. One thing we would love to see in the Genesis lineup is an alignment with a major watchmaker for an added sense of caché. Mercedes-Benz dances with IWC. Bentley rides with Breitling. Ferrari shuffles with Panerai. It goes a long way to help boost a car’s bonafides, especially in this luxury segment, where attention to detail is everything.

Genesis G80 Sport
Genesis G80 Sport

The 2018 Genesis G80 Sport is a real charmer, but it’s not without a few minor quibbles. We found at various times the volume on the stellar Lexicon (by Harman) audio system with Clari-Fi would creep up prompting us to reach towards the centerstack for a quick readjustment. Soon we discovered we were riding along with the air conditioning blowing a balmy 85-degrees. That’s’ a result of Genesis designers placing the climate control dials where the volume and tuning knobs of the audio system are traditionally located.

Genesis G80 Sport
Genesis G80 Sport

Secondly, and this might be a bit more subjective, and perhaps a result of not being gifted with an adequately padded gluteus, but to our bottoms, the Genesis interior designers apparently received their degrees from the Major League Baseball College of Seating Design. The seat cushions in the Genesis are as hard as a bench in the dugouts of Chicago’s Wrigley Field (Home of the World Series Champion Chicago Cubs).

But does it go?
Power from the 3.3T spooled up rather quickly, putting out almost V8 power with the mileage of something you would expect in a Hyundai Accent. Not really, but you get our drift. While the Comfort settings did the job for the most part, we found the Sport gate to be much more engaging on backroads where we had a chance to see this Genesis unwind. When you hit the Drive Dynamics button to go from Eco to Comfort to Sport, things firm up in the steering and throttle departments. The suspension, whether it actually does or not, felt like it firmed up, too.

Critics commented how audacious it was that a South Korean econo-car company felt like it was time to compete with the big boys. Along the way, there have been fits and starts but they seemed to get fixed quickly as the Genesis brand does not seem content to work things out over the long term.

We find their rate of progress to be part of a plan that includes punching above that weight class, and making a name for themselves in relatively short order. With the 2018 Genesis G80 Sport, they are on a fast track.

Story and photos by Mark Elias

2018 Genesis G80 Sport
Base MSRP: $55,250 As tested: $56,225.
Includes: Destination fee, $975.

Key Specs
Cylinders: V6
Displacement: 3.3-liters
Power: 365 hp @ 6,000rpm
Torque: 376 lb-ft @ 1,300-4,500 rpm
Fuel System: Direct Injection
Fuel: Premium
Acceleration: 0-60mph in 5.3 seconds
Drive Type Rear Wheel Drive
Gearbox: 8-Speed Shiftronic Automatic Transmission
Tire Size: 245/40R19 F 275/35/19 R
Unladen Weight: 4,519-pounds
Length: 196.5-inches
Width: 74.4-inches
Height: 58.3-inches
Wheelbase: 118.5-inches
Cargo Volume: 15.3 cubic feet
Cd: 0.27
City: 17
Highway: 24
Combined: 20

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2017 Genesis G90 RWD Ultimate

2017 Genesis G90 RWD Ultimate

Even though the 2017 Genesis G90 5.0 Ultimate is a totally new vehicle- and Genesis is now a stand-alone brand, parent company Hyundai has had a few years to get it right. As far as luxury goes, the South Korean company introduced the Equus, in 1999. We didn’t see it until its second-generation sibling appeared in North America, which was an okay first effort for these shores. Still, it suffered from some cost-cutting measures that rendered that horse a little lame from the start.

What a difference a name change and a total re-imaging of Hyundai’s prestige brand can accomplish. We are just thankful they have re-imagined their current ad campaign (“Respect is the ultimate Luxury.” Huh?) Hop in as we test the new 2017 Genesis G90 5.0 Ultimate.

Choices: You get two.

Available in two trim levels, the 3.3T Premium, and as our tester, the 5.0 V8 Ultimate, the G90 is the large flagship of the Genesis premium line. A five-passenger unibody design, it is adaptable for family or executive transportation duties nearly anywhere in the world.

2017 Genesis G90 5.0-liter V8

Our tester received motivation from a 5.0-liter V8 direct-injection engine making 420-horsepower and 383 lb-ft of torque. It is mated to an eight-speed electronic automatic transmission with Shiftronic manual shift mode using the steering wheel-mounted paddle shift levers.

This sled rides on a Nürburgring-developed multilink front and rear suspension with Genesis Adaptive Damper Control, allowing the driver to adjust ride characteristics according to road conditions and driver’s mood. They can be set for Eco, Smart, Sport and Individual drive modes that set specific calibrations for throttle and road conditions.

Both 3.3T and 5.0 versions are available with optional all-wheel-drive.

Looks.

While not exactly following the design ethos of its Mercedes S-Class, BMW 7-series or Lexus LS competition to the “T,” the G90 is still as large and imposing. Accented with just the right amount of chrome brightwork, the exterior of the new G90 also features the trademarked Genesis grille as seen through most of the lineup. Expressive LEDs illuminate the G’s path and include self-leveling and steerable lighting to brighten up the darkest corners of the night.

The swept-back roofline finishes with a short rear overhang that is elegant and functional at the same time. The rear fascia includes a pair of chromed finishing pipes that exit just under the rear bumper.

Interior fitment.

The part where driver and passengers interact shows that Hyundai / Genesis have been paying close attention to the cabins of their competition. Well-made, the G90 interior breaks no new ground but, with a few exceptions, does offer all the features you would expect from highline rides costing thousands more.

2017 Genesis G90’s 14-way adjustable front seats.

Workmanship in the car is beautiful, and a huge improvement in quality over the Equus. Gone is the polished leather feel found in that dearly departed, replaced with a higher-quality, more heavily-gauged Nappa hide that actually feels like it belongs here. The buttons are all over the place–lots of them. But their arrangement is much better sorted than the outgoing model. Still there is room for improvement.

Seating in the G90 is found at the intersection of elegant and comfortable. A 14-way driver’s seat offers a multitude of adjustments including bolsters that widen or narrow as needed. Heating and ventilation occur in the outboard seats, which also include reclining front and rear seatbacks. We were only wishing they included a massage function.

On the dashboard sits an analog clock that is a nice touch, but we think it is definitely in need of a specialty watchmaker brand, to boost the caché of this car. IWC, Bulova, and other brands could be leveraged in this spot.

While a factory rear seat DVD system does not currently exist, we were thoroughly entertained by the Lexicon 900-watt audio system with Clari-fi technology, which helped to restore sound quality lost in digital audio tracks. It goes a long way to enhance the musical quality coming from the 17-speaker 7.1 Surround-Sound system.

Safety

The Genesis G90 is loaded with all the safety features typically found in this class of vehicle including a forward collision warning system with automatic braking, driver drowsiness sensing, blind-spot monitoring with cross-traffic sensing, full front, rear and side air curtain airbags, and of course, lane departure warning and prevention.

Behind the wheel

Intensely quiet, the Genesis G90 sits alongside such segment luminaries as the BMW 7-Series, Mercedes-Benz S-Class, Audi’s A8, Lexus’s LS460, and even the Cadillac CT6. Except for the engine raising its voice under pressure, it manages to proceed with little more than a purr from the pavement. Credit to the ContiProContact tires and the gobs of underbody insulation to keep the road noise at bay.

Power from the 5.0-liter V8 is immense. While not absolutely necessary for most people, it will still be the choice for those who equate luxury with power. Steering from the motor-assisted power steering system offered a competent feel that is perfectly at home in a luxo-barge like this Genesis. If the standard Smart setting is not to your liking, a quick flick of the switch will place you in either Eco, Sport or customizable Individual settings, that while not appreciably firming up the suspension to any major degree, still offer a slight throttle and suspension remap. Either way, it results in a satisfying ride quality.

The wrap-up.

Despite the fact the Genesis G90 will feel to some as the next-generation Equus, it is all new from the ground up. While the G90 may not attract the conquest buyer the brand is hoping for, it is priced right. Going for the fences, this Genesis hits solidly. While it may not be a grand slam, this one is out of the park.

2017 Genesis G90 RWD 5.0 Ultimate

Story and photos by Mark Elias

MSRP: $69,700. Price as tested: $70,650.

Includes: $950 Destination fee.

 

Key Specs

Cylinders:                                            V8

Displacement:                                    5.0-liter

Power:                                                420 hp @ 6,000 rpm

Torque:                                              383 lb-ft @ 5,000 rpm

Fuel System:                                     Direct Injection

Fuel:                                                   Gasoline

Acceleration:                                    0-60mph in 5.3 seconds

Drive Type                                        4WD

Gearbox:                                           8-speed automatic with Shiftronic

Tire Size:                                          245/45R19F front — 275/40/R19 rear

Unladen Weight:                            4,905-pounds

Length:                                             204.9-inches

Width:                                              75.4-inches

Height:                                             58.9-inches

Wheelbase:                                      124.4

Cargo Volume:                                15.7 cubic feet

Cd:                                                      0.27

City:                                                    15

Highway:                                           23

Combined:                                        18

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Nissan USA’s Nashville Skyline Revisited.

Nissan USA’s Nashville Skyline Revisited.

Whenever we receive an invitation to see Nissan USA’s headquarters, it’s rare the invite is refused. That’s because the company HQ just happens to be near one of the most exciting cities in America, Nashville, Tennessee. That it was to test-drive the 2017 Nissan Rogue Sport is just icing on the cake. Nashville is the home of Country music, which despite the current fascination with the “Bro-Country” genre, is definitely not lost on me, so naturally, there was just no way I was going to miss this excursion.

Sure, I own a pair of Justin boots that don’t get nearly as much wear, as they should. I also own a Stetson hat but don’t even go there. Hats, and my diabolically shaped head don’t play well together. So, while the Stetson cooled itself in my closet back home, my Justin’s made it through the TSA checkpoint just fine.

The 2017 Nissan Rogue Sport at Nissan Headquarters in Franklin, TN.

The 2017 Rogue Sport is the newest family member of the best-selling model in the Nissan lineup, and this continuation looks to be right in line to continue the CUV’s good fortune. With seating for five, it should be just the thing for urban-dwelling millennials to haul around close friends and their stuff.

Landing at Nashville International Airport was a familiar beginning to an adventure that started with a troubadour playing classic country right outside Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge airport outlet. Shortly thereafter, a greeter from Nissan and Prestige Auto Specialists was whisking us away to our hotel in Nashville’s “Gulch” that was formerly a Louisville & Nashville Railroad freight yard in another life. Now a hipster haven, it is home to artist’s lofts, galleries, excellent restaurants, whiskey tasting rooms, music venues and even a few progressive recording studios.

But the one thing we did notice was a considerable downturn in the boot-wearing population. Normal kicks seem to be the order of the day, and despite the image of a rhinestone cowboy dancing around in your head, there was no hint of a Nudie suit to be seen anywhere.

Roy Rogers and Dale Evans with the Sons of the Pioneers in their Nudie Suits.

With those thoughts in mind, Nissan took us on a deep dive, which included visits to microbreweries, visual art museums, artist workshops, artisan chocolatiers, and recording studios that favor new alternative artists including one actually owned by one of the most prolific alt-rockers of this age. Although we missed seeing him in person, we spent several evenings at Jack White’s Third Man Records studio, checking out new era vinyl and one very old do-it-yourself recording booth as used by Neil Young on the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon.

Venture over to East Nashville for a taste of the up and coming, which will satiate the eyes and the stomach. They include incredible street art curated by the Nashville Walls project. Co-founder Éva Boros described a life of eating Ramen in the rain, before finding her calling in Nashville’s art world. The result is now some of the most incredible mural designs on earth by artists such as Banksy and Nathan Brown.

Third Man is a crossroads where classic country, alt-rock, shredding and other styles of music intersect and the result couldn’t be any better. Founded by the leader of the White Stripes and Raconteurs, not to mention numerous other music projects, it has been the scene of groundbreaking recordings such as Loretta Lynn’s Van Lear Rose album as well as the studios where chanteuse Margo Price cut her latest. The gift shop is well stocked with vinyl from the Third Man catalog as well as anything else a JW fan could want.

Jack White’s Third Man Records.

Owners of Nashville’s Native Magazine told of the city’s burgeoning art, food, and fashion scenes, which show no signs of letting up. With upwards of 85 new residents moving to the Music City each day, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, it is clear why there is a building boom going on downtown, as evidenced by the abundance of towering construction cranes along downtown’s skyline.

Inside the studio’s Blue Room which does double and triple duty as a dining room, soundstage or photo studio, performers like the Paul McDonald Band showed how being second or third place on American Idol can actually make you a winner everywhere else. Alternative rockers The Roosevelts showed great songwriting skills, not to mention some righteous beards during their set.

Nashville has been through more than a few changes since the Grand Ole Opry was founded in 1925. Opry show runner George D. Hay has more than likely turned a few RPMs in his grave as a result.

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