Autobahn Indoor Speedway and Events: Race Ready Fun For the Kids

Experienced by Leon L. Brittain

Looking for an exciting karting encounter to feed your need for speed? Well, look no further than your neighborhood Autobahn Indoor Speedway and Events. With one session you will quickly discover the disparity between Autobahn and other go-kart facilities such as the professionally designed grand prix tracks with Formula 1 inspired and state-of-the-art karts. But, don’t let this caliber of amenities intimidate you since drivers of all levels from novice to professional are welcome. I had the pleasure of participating firsthand on both levels and was not disappointed. [Read more…]

2016 Hyundai Tucson Limited AWD: Sporty, Nimble Utility

Blue_2016_Hyundai_Tucson_Fit_Fathers...03Experienced by Leon Brittain

From its engaging facade complimented by a chrome grille and sporty LED wrap-around headlamps with seamlessly integrated turn signals to the curvy, sculpted rear tailgate, the 2016 Hyundai Tucson proves that compact doesn’t necessarily equate to minuscule and boring. In fact, our time with the Caribbean Blue 1.6-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder powered Korean SUV was anything but boring.

With a family of five I’m always challenged with deciphering between vehicles that can comfortably accommodate everyone while also handling the extracurricular school gear and cadre of equipment for the four sporting activities the kids participate in. Not a problem with “Baby Blue,” the nickname my household affectionately coined for the Fit Fathers evaluation unit. Although rear legroom leaves room to be desired when all three kids were in transport we found plenty of space for packages, groceries and gear with kids in tote (61.9 cu. ft. of cargo when seats are folded down and 31 cu. ft. when seats are up). With the fold-flat rear seating laid down a whole new world of cargo opens up for additional functionality. Along with the door-mounted cup holders, passengers in the back were treated to the toasty comfort of heated seats, an unexpected luxury typically found in vehicles of higher value. Needless to say this was an instant favorite for the kids on those chilly, O’Dark-30 winter mornings in route to school.

MY16 Hyundai Tucson

Other noteworthy Tucson interior amenities included the standard, user-friendly 8” touchscreen display which houses the navigation, audio, rear camera and Blue Link Telematics. Collectively the system is intuitive and simple to operate, even for my 7-year-old daughter Nia who easily shifted between the Disney Channel and Nav like clockworks. For gadget happy families you can stay connected and charged to your devices by way of two 12V 180W outlets, an auxiliary outlet and the convenience of a USB port found nestled within reach of both the driver and the passenger. To bring the outside within, a larger than life panoramic sunroof hovers overhead to the ambiance of the black leather laced interior in my vehicle. Suffice to say, our journeys to and from games, practices and classes where always comfortable and engaging.

As previously mentioned, powering Baby Blue is a 1.6 liter turbocharged 4-cylinder which cranks out a respectable 175-horsepower and produces 195 lb.-ft. of torque. This engine is matted to a 7-speed EcoShift Dual Clutch Transmission (DCT) for a smooth ride and optimal fuel savings. Admittedly, there were occasions where I felt supplemental power was needed at lower RPMs for better acceleration, but such performance would of course come at the cost of reduced fuel efficiency. Though the prices for gasoline are finally reasonable, I’d opt for the Tucson Limited’s 30 HWY MPG fuel economy (33 HWY MPG for Eco model) any day over an incremental performance increase which becomes a moot point once rolling and dashing through the concrete jungles and beltways of the nation’s capital where I reside. However, AWD and 19” sport alloy rims were perfect for the cold, snow-filled conditions here on the East Coast.

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Safety wise, Hyundai equips the Tucson with an abundance of tech features including Lane Change Assist, Blind Spot Detection and Lane Departure Warning, active front head restraints to help reduce whiplash injuries, Automatic Emergency Braking with Pedestrian Detection and Hillstart Assist Control and Downhill Brake Control which made my heart beam with joy when Noelle, my 12-year-old son, asked about the related icon and proceeded to explain its meaning rather successfully.

2016 Hyundai Tucson

With a MSRP of $22,700 for a 2016 Tucson SE, my Limited model equipped with AWD tipped the scale at $32,510 ($29,900 MSRP for FWD model) which is reasonable considering the bevy of standard features. Consumers can choose between SE, Eco, Sport or Limited variants of the new Tucson. I enjoyed my winter week with the 2016 Tucson Limited AWD since it provided all the essentials necessary for an active Fit Fathers lifestyle and wish it was around going into the spring sport season!

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Mountain Biking with the Crew: A Fit Fathers Social Workout

Mountain_Biking_Social_Workout...13

Words by Kimatni D. Rawlins / Vision by Henri Fisher

It was an amazing weekend with the Fit Fathers crew as we hit Schaeffer Farms Mountain Bike Park on hardtails in Gaithersburg, MD. Typically when a group of dudes get together to catch up it’s at a sports bar, club or a live game. Nothing is wrong with either if that’s your cup of tea. For me, I am happy to have broken free from habits that I no longer care for. In comparison to my old self I’d rather bike or hike within the natural mystic of life with my brothers and sisters while eating nuts and berries opposed to clubbing with baby ballers. Thus, it’s amazing how quickly enlightenment is ascertained when the path to purity is chosen. There are never any excuses for energizing your body incessantly.

We call them “Social Workouts” whereas a group of dads, moms, kids or friends of the family get together for an exercise-focused activity in an environment conducive for life enhancing socializing. Prior examples include running and hiking meet-ups at national parks and local high school tracks. This past Saturday seven Fit Fathers went out on what is to be the first of a cadre of planned mountain bike outings.  And for those who didn’t own a cycle we made a call to Race Pace in Columbia, MD and reserved a few of their rentals for $45 a day. Again, “no excuses” is our daily mantra. “This experience provided a great alternative to the regular routine of weekly gym workouts. Both physically and mentally challenging, the scenic path allowed us to truly appreciate both the power and beauty of nature,’ said Shawn Ciers. “Enjoying this time with fellow brothers that wanted to spend a Saturday morning greeting mother nature opposed to snoring in bed or playing video games made this outing and the conversations magnificent!” [Read more…]

Making Moves the 2015 Nissan Murano: A Fit Fathers Getaway

LeonNoel-11By Leon Brittain

Raising three kids certainly has its challenges. On one hand there is the never-ending shuttling to practices, competitions and tournaments to simply communing as a family including the often, overlooked one-on-one sequence. Though, I’m not referring to those illusive occasions with your significant other, heaven knows those fleeting moments are few and far between. In this instance I’m talking about the authentic one-on-one time with each child independently.

As my oldest enters his teenage years we of course allow him more freedom than his two younger siblings. Unintentionally however, this has led to emotions equating to being less important since Noel’s brother and sister still require more attention and direction. To help remedy this potentially slippery slope, a well-needed father and son getaway was in order. Our destination was set to Ski Liberty in Fairfield, Pennsylvania which is a mere 90 minutes from the DC metro area. Adding to the anticipation of our escape was the pleasures of a sporty, yet sophisticated 2015 all-wheel-drive Nissan Murano Platinum Edition in Pearl White to serve as our winter sled. The Japanese CUV was ideal given the snowy forecast for the return trip. My particular vehicle had a MSRP of $41,000 which is pretty modest considering all the mechanical and technical features.

LeonNoel-08The trek provided an excellent opportunity to talk and reminisce within the luxurious cashmere leather cabin infused with brushed silver and Jasper pearlescent accents. To make the most of this moment Noel and I didn’t rush, even pit stopping by one of his previous soccer tournament locations at Mount St. Mary’s University PNC Sports Complex. The high temperature for the afternoon reached 23 degrees so the climate controlled seats were set to toasty warm for the day. He was naturally drawn to the 8” color touchscreen NissanConnect multi-media system and quickly found the available USB ports for his devices. With an interface as intuitive as today’s mobile devices, NissanConnect is intelligent and user-friendly. Drivers are additionally treated to the Advanced Drive Assist Display concentrating vehicle stats, navigation and entertainment settings within a 7” color gauge cluster for optimal driver viewing. Yet, being somewhat of a visual-flow-neat-freak it was disappointing that the console housing the driver/passenger USB port wasn’t designed to close flush, forcing that area to remain open while in use. I also wish the steering wheel mounted switches with the volume and station controls were a bit more ergonomic.

The Murano’s ride was nimble and handling and performance were dreamy. The 260-horsepower 3.5-liter V6 mated to the Xtronic Continuously Variable transmission was strong, smooth and efficient and collectively produced an estimated 28 hwy mpg. Punching the throttle provided the power on demand when needed and easily transcended the back roads of Western Maryland into PA.

2015 Nissan MuranoOnce we arrived the day was spent enjoying all that Ski Liberty had to offer while primarily sticking with their Green and Blue slopes and stunt park well into evening hours. As Noel and I were finishing the day with one last romp, heavy winds and snow began to set in. Accordingly, we decided to take the unfamiliar Green trail given the conditions. Big mistake! The fresh snow had us grinding to miserable halts on what could have been an engaging, leisurely quest down. Given this trail was new territory we somehow ended up on the wrong side of the mountain. Back up the ski lift! Now we were faced with another Green trail or the advanced Black Diamond. Since I’m an avid snowboarder I ventured on Black Diamond earlier while my son was taking a quick break. Well, determined not to endure another painfully slow experience and trusting his dad, he convinced me that he was also ready to avoid that sluggish experience with one final and resounding “Dad, I got this!” Taking the Black Diamond cautiously, I’m proud to say he made it down like a champ.

LeonNoel-07Our return trip home was spent navigating moments of blinding white-outs and icy road conditions, all of which were handled well thanks in part to the Murano’s AWD, Vehicle Dynamic Control, traction control and anti-lock braking which were cautiously tested when conditions allowed. Also helping to get us home safely was the subtle, but very visually effective Blind Spot Warning system.

The drive was virtually silent. Not due to the weather or lack of conversational topics. It’s because Noel was knocked out with exhaustion. I’ll take that as a sign of a momentous day of exercise and fun. Taking part in your child’s practices and tournaments is always important, but making time for quality entertainment is priceless.

2014 Jeep Cherokee Latitude: The Concrete Jungle Conqueror

2014-Jeep-Cherokee-Latitude-BlueLeon Brittain

Last year I attended the launch of the all-new 2014 Jeep Cherokee. Although automotive press trips are well planned and attended, they only provide a glimpse into the real-world application of the given test vehicle. This being the case, I was happy to pick up that half day drive experience with Fit Fathers 2014 Cherokee Latitude 4×4 at home in Maryland for a couple days of city running and kid shuffling fun.

Around town the True Blue Pearl Latitude easily handled the tough terrain of the city streets thanks to new front and rear independent suspensions. Powering our concrete jungle conqueror is a 3.2-liter V6 engine and fluid 9-speed automatic transmission with an EPA of 27 highway mpg. Unfortunately, my combination of rough city and speedy highway galloping didn’t yield the positive mpg results I had hoped for. This could’ve been directly correlated to the spirited acceleration and handling I became addicted to. [Read more…]

2015 Lincoln Navigator: Retuned, Restyled & Re-Engineered

2015-Lincoln-Navigator-RearLeon Brittain

When you think of a thoroughbred the words power, elegance, style and heritage come to mind. So it was fitting for Lincoln to introduce the 2015 Lincoln Navigator in Louisville, Kentucky, home of one of the grandest sporting events in the country, the Kentucky Derby. With enough seating for a small VIP party and opulent accouterments to entertain their needs, showgoers of esteemed and elaborate spectacles like the Derby will truly appreciate the alignment of a luxury SUV that satisfies all needs and expectations. [Read more…]

Jeep Wrangler Family Life

Jeep-Wrangler-FamiliesBack in 2007 I had the privilege of attending the 4-door Wrangler “Unlimited” launch along the Rubicon Trail in Sierra Nevada with Automotive Rhythms‬.

As the owner of a ’98 Sahara Wrangler (my second Wrangler) during that trip, I thought a 4-door model was an interesting attempt, but took away from the sturdy essence of a Jeep. Furthermore, the ’07 model lacked the creature comforts and refinements befitting an adventurous family. In 2012 while on another Wrangler trip in the Pacific Northeast I, however, became a believer in the 4-door Wrangler as it was a significantly enhanced with the same trail related abilities of the 2-door model with improved “on-road” and interior comfort.

I am now that consumer Jeep talked about during the “Unlimited” intro presentation back in 2007 and love bringing the family along for our Jeep adventures. ‪#‎JeepLife‬ ‪#‎DadLife‬ #AutomotiveRhythms ‪#‎FitFathers‬ ‪#‎RockMonster‬

Fit fathers, Strong sons!

Dad-Life-Fit-Fathers-Leon-BrittainWe love our Fit Fathers even when they’re rocking Jimi Hendrix wigs during 5ks with their kids. Looks like the 2nd Annual “Race for every Child” brought out the best of both Leon and his son Noah who was a patient at Children’s National and has made a miraculous recovery. His heart is now stronger than ever. Run free little Noah!

2014 Dodge Durango R/T: Ready to Rumble

2014_Dodge_Durango...3Leon Brittain

In 2011, Automotive Rhythms had the opportunity to spend several days with the then new Dodge Durango Citadel in Miami for the Winter Music Conference. From industry pro DJs to pro athletes, all were impressed with the new styling. Fast forward a couple of years and Dodge delivers again with a new 2014 Durango available in five flavors: SXT, Rallye, Limited (new for 2014), R/T and the top-of-the-line, luxury-laden Citadel.

This time around, we appointed the R/T as our coach of choice through the canyons of southern California and the scenic Pacific Coast Highway. As with our time evaluating the 2014 Jeep Cherokee in southern California, surely another setting other than a tight twisty canyon would be more suitable. Perhaps Cali’s deceptively cunning Willow Springs Raceway to show off the Durango R/T’s brawny 360 horsepower 5.7-liter HEMI V8 muscle with 390 pound-feet of torque would’ve been more fitting. Okay, maybe that’s wishful thinking. However, given the R/T’s power and aggressive smooth looks, I can picture this muscular athlete as Willow Springs’ track boss. This is saying quite a bit considering the steely SUV is a 7-passenger SUV with a tow rating of 7,400 pounds. [Read more…]

Chevy Previews the 2015 Tahoe and Suburban

20130912_134841Chevrolet today introduced the 2015 Tahoe and Suburban – all-new versions of the industry’s best-selling duo of full-size SUVs. They offer more functionality, greater refinement, new safety features and an increased range of advanced technologies to appeal to two distinct customer groups who want the unique combination of features only Tahoe and Suburban provide. [Read more…]