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Sierra Denali Pothole Crusher

2014 Sierra Denali 1500 4WD Crew Cab

by Mike Tucker


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


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.


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. 


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