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2015 Washington Auto Show: Innovation Meets Sustainability

Check out the latest vehicles and advanced technologies that will be showcased at the 2015 Washington Auto Show January 23 to February 1 at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center.  We at Daddyscool has the inside scoop.   In the video below cool dad Kimatni Rawlins of Automotive Rhythms talks to manufacturers during the LA Auto Show regarding the innovative products you must see in Washington, D.C. including the latest SUV trends, exotics, crossovers, concept cars and luxury vehicles, as well as find out what’s next in alternative fuel products and connectivity for 2015 and beyond. It’s green energy mobility at its highest level.

 

LA Dads Meet the New Lincoln Navigator

Automotive enthusiasts and cool dads based in the Los Angeles area, Daddys Cool has the inside scoop on an event you do not want to miss. Come out and drive the all-new 2015 Lincoln Navigator at an “Afternoon of Indulgence.”  Visit www.LincolnJourney.com for details on an intimate  experience in Santa Monica on November 22nd, which kicks off the LA Auto Show produced by Automotive Rhythms.

Everyone who test drives the new ?Navigator? with Automotive Rhythms will also receive a ticket to the auto show. Afternoon of Indulgence is hosted by celebrity blogger KarenCivil with a performance by Grammy nominated recording artist Raheem Devaughn with art by Demont Pinder, fashion from House of Kas and music from DJ BHen. RSVP

2015 Lincoln Navigator

Sierra Denali Pothole Crusher

2014 Sierra Denali 1500 4WD Crew Cab

by Mike Tucker

 sierra5

First Impression

I confess I am not really a truck guy. I don’t do a lot of manual labor, actually I avoid it like traffic jams. When I think trucks, I think hauling and construction sites, so I tend to get less excited about them.

When I got a glimpse of the huge black, chrome-accented machine, part of me thought, “This will be fun.” I think the integration of bigsierra 2 SUVs in popular culture like Escalades and Tahoes have made pick up trucks more palatable.  The exterior was just the beginning, as this truck hater quickly found the GMC Sierra Denali 1500 more than acceptable and rather exceptional.

One thing I also learned immediately was the Sierra Denali is more than a mild-mannered luxury truck, it’s a pothole crusher! The vehicle was great on the worst roads in the Nation’s Capital, which happens to be most of the streets in my city. GMC tested the Sierra at a secret obstacle course of potholes to help build the truck to withstand harsh road conditions.

The Ride

Okay, the “Pothole Crusher” is practically in a monster truck, but how does it drive? It drives like a car. I know it is hard to believe with its size and weight, but this isn’t a clumsy waddling road hog. The ride is balanced and smooth. The steering is responsive and the ease of control of the driver will allow a novice trucker or smaller driver to feel comfortable at the helm.

Another thing that increases the comfort level in the truck is the quiet cabin. Whether bouncing over potholes or at a high speed, wind-whistling drive down the highway all remains calm and quiet inside. Well, all but the kids, of course.

One slight drawback is finding a big enough space to park but parking it is relatively easy with front and rear park assist. Also parking the vehicle is simpler as its shape essentially a rectangle void of all the curves and angles of cars and SUVs.

 

Kids Say 

My three kids really go a kick out of the truck. Here is what they had to say:

“I love the way it sits so much higher than other cars, it’s fun.” – Michal Zoe (10)

“It’s big and cool!” – Arin Tucker (8)

“I like trucks more than cars. I like how the back window opens.” – Nya Tucker (8)

 

The Cool

What really sweetens the deal is what comes with the truck. The Sierra Denali 1500 comes standard with a premium Bose audio system, heated and cooled plush leather front seats, a heated steering wheel for those cold mornings, park assist, a power sliding rear window sierra 3with defogger and all that icy chrome and girth.

General Motor’s IntelliLink connects to business and family via an eight-inch HD color touch screen with a Pandora app, Bluetooth phone features, and navigation with all-new map displays. There are multiple USB and multiple 110-volt AC outlets to allow you to power all you need on the go.

I know its a lot of features but no worries most of them can be controlled by the sound of your voice to lessen distractions. Also for another $450 the Driver Alert Package, which we tested, warns the driver of potential forward collisions and alerts driver when drifting out of his/her your lane.

Still one of the coolest features for this dad was the 420 horsepower V-8 engine, which is the most powerful in its class but still runs with the leaders in fuel economy among full size pick-up trucks.

 

Last Words 

The Sierra Denali 1500 doesn’t play cool; it is cool. It   Unlike some trucks I have driven in the past like the Cadillac EXT or the Lincoln Blackwood, this truck doesn’t try to be something it’s not, or try to force luxury or cool. The Sierra Denali is a naturally large, powerful, good looking  and refined for sure, but completely unafraid to get its hands dirty. We had fun with it.

 

 

2014-GMC-Sierra-Denali-CrewCab–AustinTX-062-medium2014 Sierra Denali 1500 4WD Crew Cab

Price Tag: $49,965base ($54,730 tested)

Power: 6.2L V8 420 horsepower

Transmission: 6-speed Automatic

Drivetrain: Four-Wheel Drive

Fuel Economy (mpg): 14-city/ 20-hwy

2014 Acura MDX – Daddy’s Coolest Ride

The 2014 Acura MDX happens to be my three children’s favorite vehicle.  My kids attend the DC Auto Show every year and have ridden in over one hundred vehicles with their daddy being an automotive journalist, so this is really saying something.

 

2014 Acura MDX

2014 Acura MDX AWD Adv Ent

First Impression

To be honest I wasn’t expecting the earth to shift in the 2014 Acura MDX.  For years, I have been underwhelmed by Acura, and it had not been too long since I was cruising the town in an unimpressive 2013 Acura RDX.  A change would soon come.

When I caught a glimpse of the MDX parked in my driveway, I immediately took note of its new styling. It seemed larger, more curvaceous and more appealing to the eye.

 

What’s Inside That Counts 

The interior is warm and inviting. Everything is within arms reach and the interface, although high-tech, is user-friendly.2014 MDX Interior

The seats are comfy and yet provide the support needed for long rides.  Long rides are a pleasure in so many ways, from the driver’s experience to each of the passenger’s.

The driver seatbelt can get a little touchy feely, though.  Literally.  Sudden movement or change in driving conditions trigger the seatbelt to compress to your body.  The seatbelt’s automatic tension mechanism gently pushes the driver against the seat like a dad would hug his child during an intense moment on a roller coaster.  It’s subtle, while confidently reassuring that you are protected.

 

The Ride

photo 1

Arin and “A” for Acura

The steering in the MDX is very smooth and reactive. It drives like a car and for my young three passengers it feels like a movie theater on wheels.  Acceleration impressed me. Multiple modes, including Sport mode, made the 325 horsepower speed very accessible and the change in mode also altered suspension and feel for the road.  The MDX has a good feel for the road, it was treat zipping in and out of traffic.

 

Kids Say

This was the best vehicle you have had.  This is my favorite, because it had a TV, it was fast and it had a lot of room.   It had cool sign (emblem) on the front and Acura starts with the first letter of my name. – Arin T. (8)

It was really fun to ride in. The different, longer TV was nice! And I can sit in the back. I love the three rows.  – Nya T. (8)

 

The Cool

photo 3

Michal letting herself out of third row.

The MDX is great for a family of multiples.  Three rows of seating and a push button motorized release helps third row passengers let themselves out. I am trying to teach independence around here, so the kids that sat in the back were on their own and fine with that.

Things unique to the MDX experience, include a Widescreen panel TV in the ceiling with HDMI and 115-Volt outlet to allow high-definition quality for the rear passengers with enough juice to power a laptop or gaming system.

Everything came standard with no additional cost to the buyer with the Advance Entertainment package I tested. This is how purchasing a luxury vehicle should be; start at one price and get everything you want and more, without having to pay more.

Other features included blind spot monitoring to voice recognition navigation and ventilated seats to remote engine start.

photo 4

Widescreen movie showing XMEN

Multi-view rear camera is a plus.  It allows three different angle you would otherwise miss using your mirrors. This is useful parallel parking, noticing approaching vehicles and the occasional oblivious child or their many accessories close by.

 

Last Words

Acura started the luxury SUV with third row seating when it introduced the MDX years ago.  In 2014, the MDX’s competition is much stiffer with sexier offerings by Infiniti, BMW and others, but Acura ignores competitors for its own path. The 2014 Acura MDX is a stylish family road warrior with luxury appeal that never feels stuffy.  The MDX is comfortable, approachable and all-in-all more fun to be around.

 

 

photo 2

2014 Acura MDX AWD Adv Ent

Price Tag: $56,505 base ($57,400 tested)

Power: 3.5L Direct Injection V6 Cylinder 325 horsepower

Transmission: 6-speed Automatic with Sequential SportShift

Drivetrain: All-Wheel Drive

Fuel Economy (mpg): 18-city/ 27-hwy

Mercedes Benz CLA: The Gateway Drive

benzo

Recently, Mercedes came to my hometown and I was invited out to an night’s stay in at The Graham Hotel in Georgetown, Washington, DC and the opportunity to drive the CLA250 and CLA45 the whole day through Virginia.  I did a piece geared towards Generation Y on the site Behind the Hustle for Complex Magazine. SEE BELOW

Mercedes Benz moves to stay relevant by aiming at Generation-Y with a bullet in the all-new CLA250.  It is built like a Mercedes, drives like a Mercedes but costs as much as a high-end Ford Fusion. Sincerely.

So I pose the question, “Is Mercedes a brand that you aspire to purchase right now?”  Maybe it hits the top of your list when your hair starts to thin or gray a bit. Or maybe when you get that six-figure salary you are hustling for.

Well, Mercedes would like to welcome you to the party early.

READ MORE …

Above was to Generation Y but to those older and wiser see what I feel below …

I like the CLA250 for the younger generation, because of the safety features and some of the whistles and luxury cues, I would recommend it for my daughter if she was 20+ years old and in market for a car.  I know the car is not aiming at me so it did not surprise me that it missed the mark.

When I sit in the lap of luxury it has to really feel like it and on top of that a front wheel drive 4-cylinder car just won’t meet my demands as a driver, although it does have a nice kick to it. I have driven quite a few Mercedes over the years, so this just feels less than but the good thing is that it doesn’t feel contrived or forced like the other luxury brand that are scrambling to put out vehicles to compete. 

 

Cadillac All Americans

 

XTS

XTS

I recently had the pleasure of wining and dining two of Cadillac’s top prospects, the 2013 XTS and ATS.  These two blue chippers are can’t miss players from team Cadillac with handcrafted cut and sewn leather inside and money door handles on the exterior that glow at night.  Cadillac is running it’s brand in a new direction and it’s a direction the cool kids can cheer.caddy 2

Both in design and features, Cadillac sidesteps its pocket-passer boring image and steps into a pistol offense style that will confuse competitors. These are versatile vehicles that can do it all. They look great on the street and perform wonderfully on the road. They can handle hostile environments such as choppy road, changing weather conditions and jealous haters all while providing the driver a smile of satisfaction.

The ATS cockpit is a comfy and snug fit.  It’s like a sliding into fresh pair of retro Jordan 3s; it just feels right.  It’s a bold move forward as I noticed nods to the Mercedes-Benz interior as well.

The XTS, on the other hand, has the X-factor inside, which is space.  More interior space for the driver to lean the seat back in luxury and still have room for his or her team and  all their luggage.

ATS

ATS

Across the board the heart of these vehicles’ coolness is the Cadillac User Experience, which is Caddy’s infotainment system better known as CUE.  Cadillac has devised its own way of calling plays in big game situations.  The 8-inch touch screen that provides access to the CUE stretches the imagination of the user experience. Literally, you can stretch, pinch and scroll like you do on an iPhone. When you are on the road you need to be able to interface with all your devices and all the things your car can do for you.

Cadillac’s new direction is based around technology and the user experience.  All digital, everything!  Check your speed in the digital display on the driver’s window and never take your eyes off the road.  And if you must look at the dash the gages appear like magic, digitally as well.  On it you can toggle through your music, radio stations and other features from your heated steering wheel before you even have to call on the CUE system.  When you do call on the Cue, your voice allows you to leave your hands on the wheel and continue the drive.

caddy 1Still there is more than meets the eye.  Tap the center console touch screen in the right place and it flips open to reveal a single disc CD slot and an area to plug in your smart phone. Touch in another place and it closes to hide your smart phone from plain view.

The driver experience is also not what one might expect in a Caddy. Each vehicle is quite fluid, quick, smooth and much more responsive. Even in the larger XTS, it’s sporty feel remains in tact.  Less cumbersome, and less stiff, these vehicles don’t float on the road, they stick to it.

The sound system is a touchdown in the ATS and XTS, which both have a premium Bose surround sound that is front row Jay-Z concert worthy.  While the cockpit is so quiet you catch every quotable line.

Cadillac can now more competitively take the field with its foreign rivals. Cadillac may even surprise them and leap to the top of the division.  The ATS and XTS are poised to be perrenial All-Stars once consumers take the time to see what these All-Americans have to offer.

 

 

2013-Cadillac-ATS-003-medium

Cadillac ATS AWD Premium

Price Tag: $46,695 base ($50,035 tested)

Power: 3.6L Turbo V6 321 horsepower

Transmission: 6-speed Geartronic Automatic Sport-Mode

Drivetrain: All-Wheel Drive

Fuel Economy (mpg): 19-city/ 28-hwy

 

2013-Cadillac-ATS-002-medium

2013 Cadillac XTS AWD Premium

Price Tag: $55,810 base ($59,625 tested)

Power: 3.6L V6 304 horsepower

Transmission: 6-speed Automatic

Drivetrain: All-Wheel Drive

Fuel Economy (mpg): 17-city/ 26-hwy

Volvo S60 Outside the Box

2013 Volvo S60 T6 R-Design

By Mike Tucker

When the Volvo S60 T6 R-Design arrived at my home I was struck most by its’ clear Caribbean Sea hue before I noticed the shape the color enveloped. The boxy s60.2Volvo of the past is history, a moment of silence please, for the Baby Boomer Volvo fans.  Volvo’s grab at a younger audience went hip on design, technology and at a feverish pace.

Volvo’s new design aggressively grabs your attention.  From the 18-inch Alloy wheels, to the aluminum accented mirrors and exhaust pipes, the new S60 R -Design caused double takes and begged the rhetorical question, “Is that a Volvo?”  It is distinctly unique, but distinctly Volvo at the same time.  Yes, it’s a Volvo.

Instead of staying in its own lane, Volvo is entering the arena to go tire to tire with the competition.  Competitors like the Volkswagen CC, BMW328i, Acura TL and Audi A4, assure the Volvo S60 doesn’t have an easy road ahead.  Still, the vehicle is up to the task and likely to entice a few new converts while giving traditional Volvo owners something for show and tell.

 

What’s Good?

Safety is the pillar of Volvo’s brand. Although the new design is risqué, the product underneath remains safe quarters. Based on the federal government’s 5-star safety ratings the S60 received 5 stars for frontal crash for driver and passenger, side crash for front and rear seat and an overall vehicle safety score of 5-stars.

Volvo’s Whiplash Protection system and a total of five headrests make sure everyone in the car is covered.  There is also a seatbelt reminder for all positions which shows on the gage display informing the driver when all seatbelts are fastened.  A great feature which clues in the parent when all your passengers are secured or if any child is left unbuckled.

Now that everyone is safe, let’s ride.  The vehicle handling can seem a bit stiff and controlled but that can be a good thing with what’s under the hood.  Once you open it up the mix of comfort, speed and all-wheel drive makes almost every cruise, a day in the fast lane with no cops in sight

 

The Sound

The sound is premium pumping 4 x 40 watts out of an amplified eight-speaker audio system.  The sound quality is good, but not earth-shattering.  But do you really need your ears ringing?

Volvo Sensus infotainment center appears in 7-inch color LCD screen and is interactive through using the steering and voice commands.  Connect through Bluetooth audio streaming or MP3 auxiliary and USB jacks. The dash is basic devoid of the many normally installed distractions and flashing lights.

There is a number pad like old school phones, that can be used to dial the numbers to some ancient ruin, I supposed or to save your preset radio stations, as I did.

 

The Fury

Although safety is Volvos mantra, the next priority in the R-Design had to be speed.  The S60 T6 employs a 3.0 Liter turbo charged 6-cylinder Alloy engine thats60.int pumps 325 horses.  In layman’s terms, speed is at your beckoning call.  This baby flies.  It is easy to underestimate, but once you put your foot down; there is no denying what it can do.

It feels quick and not heavy.  Being light on its feet is not always a good thing, as it doesn’t handle the brutal potholes of the city with grace. Even so, the extremely comfortable seats help the driver and passengers dismiss the vibrations.

 

The Pump

The S60 gets 21 miles per gallon in the city, which falls short of a few competitors that use less gas. On top of that, the R-Design is such a joy to drive fast you might lose track of the fact that “eating up the road” means eating a hole in your pocket at the gas station.

 

The Verdict

The Volvo S60 R-Design is restricted for those who can appreciate some of the finer things in life. If you are looking for arm candy or a brand that validates your status, this is not for you. If you are looking for all the bells and whistles, many of which you don’t need or will never use, this is not for you.

But, if you are satisfied with what you need and your need does not include impressing the masses.  If you can do without having it all but enough to quench your thirst for speed, technology and luxury; step into the Volvo S60 T6 R-Design, I promise gratification.

 

2013 Volvo S60 T6 AWD

Price Tag: $43,900 base ($48,195 tested)

Power: 3.0L Turbo Charged 6 Cylinder 325 horsepower

Transmission: 6-speed Geartronic Automatic Sport-Mode

Drivetrain: All-Wheel Drive

Fuel Economy (mpg): 18-city/ 25-hwy

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