2018 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Ti Lusso: Itiliano Sports Performance

Experienced by Kimatni Rawlins

The media team at Automotive Rhythms had a great week test-driving the sports performing 2018 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Ti Lusso Italian SUV. Rightfully named after the 12-mile, 48-bend Stelvio Pass in the northern Italian Alps the vehicle excited in every fashion including agility, and acceleration from its 280-horsepower direct-injected 2-liter GME T4 Turbo 4-cylinder engine. With invigorating performance traits, a pompous front fascia, an Integrated Brake System, Q4 AWD, and 19” Dark 5-hole aluminum rims, our Vulcano Black Metallic Stelvio is a refreshing take on the premium midsize utility market. [Read more…]

2017 Kia Sportage: Innovation and Reinvention

2017 Kia Sportage SX SX Turbo 2WD

Experienced by Kimatni D. Rawlins

Since my lifestyle is as active as a herd of wildebeest traversing African lands I’ve evolved to a penchant for SUVs and CUVs that replicate the exact or similar pillars in my world. I run, hike, bike, kick and shoot balls and train others seeking to take control of their health. That means storage, utility, AWD, music based technology and a bit of power are essential attributes in the vehicles I choose to drive. Well, Kia is no stranger to this recipe and just recently strengthened their position with the launch of the 4th generation 2017 Sportage, which is also their longest running model in the lineup.

To get a taste of the new bells and whistles of the edgy, little CUV the Fit Fathers team headed to the Gas Lamp District of San Diego where we would spend a few days touring the region’s wandering roads, mountainous panoramas and county landmarks. Offered in three models — LX, EX and SX Turbo – the all-new Sportage sets the tone with a $22,900 price point for a FWD LX loaded with a litany of standard functionality such as a rear spoiler, 5” touchscreen with Rear Camera Display, a Drive Mode Select with Normal, Eco and Sport modes and LED daytime running lights. It’s powered by a 2.4-liter Gas Direct Injection (GDI) 4-cylinder with 181-horsepower (also on the EX) and paired with Kia’s 6-speed automatic transmission.

2017 Kia Sportage SX  SX Turbo 2WD

“In 2015, the final year of production for the outgoing Sportage model, sales were up 25 percent, which speaks to the appeal and staying power of that vehicle, and with our aggressive pricing strategy for the all-new 2017 model, we’re looking to continue that momentum,” said Michael Sprague, chief operating officer and EVP, KMA.

For the road experience my drive partner Holly Reich and I chose a Pacific Blue Sportage SX AWD with a black, stylish interior trim (one of five interior hues), which was far from inferior in comparison to some of its competitors. From the knobs to the technologically laden center stack to the wide sunroof, everything felt superior. It was boosted with sharp 19” alloy spins, dual exhausts and the latest AWD system. All vehicles on this press trip were blessed with the 2-liter Turbo GDI 4-cylinder with 240-horsepower and 260 lb.-ft. of torque between 1,450-3,500 rpm and the aforementioned 6-speed automatic. I must say, during a skilled highway maneuver I had to cross four lanes before existing which required acceleration before slowing down. Aptly, the Sportage provided the juice and the visibility for the move. Bigger brakes and a sports tuned suspension on the SX Turbo also added to the skillfulness of the smaller CUV.

2017 Kia Sportage EX EX

The Sportage SX Turbo comes in at $32,500 and features the Technology package, skid plates on the front and rear, Dynamic Bending Lights as part of the bug-eyed HID headlamps, LED tail lights, metal pedals hard like heavy metal, a hands-free Smart Power Liftgate and paddle shifters situated on the thick, thumb-imprinted steering wheel. To go along with the stiffer and safer chassis, a Magna Dynamax AWD is available on all models for $1,500 and is a must-have on the east coast where I reside in Maryland. After the harsh winter we had there is no way I’m rolling without AWD and snow/ice tires. Amazingly the Magna Dynamax system is enhanced with torque vectoring which allows the locking center differential to also provide torque to each individual wheel. More importantly, it’s intuitive and predictive and uses software to determine your driving habits over time.

Introduced in 1994, the Sportage of today is far nobler than its ancestor in every category. Designed in Germany and Korea and tuned at Kia’s California Proving Grounds, the newfangled Sportage has a chiseled physique with a triangular stance that is now longer and wider. Alloy wheels sizing in 17s, 18s and 19s are pushed to the corner for optimal maneuvering while the lower, wider grille is highlighted by “Ice Cube” LED fog lights. I’m wondering if O’Shea Jackson is digging them, especially since Kia is so musically oriented. It helps them reach their consumer base and diverse markets.

2017 Sportage EX EX

Just like Kia I have an adoration for music — Roots, Rock, Reggae to be exact — so Bob Marley, Peter Tosh, Junior Gong, Burning Spear, Wailing Souls, Junior Murvin and Raging Fyah were spinning for the entirety of our drive. Holly was also delighted by my selections. Our ride was embedded with the Technology package (a $2,700 stand alone option) which comes with a smorgasbord of amenities such as the 8″ touchscreen with onboard navigation, Android Auto (Apple CarPlay also available), UVO eServices telematics and a Harman Kardon audio unit with game-changing Clari-Fi technology (cleans up sound distortion from compressed audio files from satellite radio, MP3s, etc). That’s 320 watts, 8-speakers and the 3rd Gen UVO 3 software in a Sportage!

2017 Sportage EX EX

From behind the wheel and in the passenger chair I felt comfortable and not squashed as I do in many petite utilities. Kia increased the front and rear legroom, amplified the cargo space by 18% and inserted a dual luggage floor which is perfect for separating sports gear from groceries. Standard safety measures are plentiful in the form of Electric Stability Control, side curtain airbags, Downhill Brake/Hill-start Assist Control, Rear­Camera Display and much more. The SX receives even more with a Blind Spot Detection System, Autonomous Emergency Braking with Pedestrian Detection System and Front and Rear Parking Assist Sensors. Also, towing capacity for both the AWD and FWD Sportage is 2,000 pounds with trailer brakes and 1,650 without. Perfect for hauling motorcycles or the Fit Fathers fleet of mountain bikes. Of course the best fuel combination is 23 city MPG and 30 highway MPG in a FWD LX. Our SX AWD achieves 20 city MPG and 23 highway MPG.

Together the Sportage and I kept one another active and full of energetic vibes. Before and after my drives with the CUV I hit San Diego’s Embarcadero Park for an 8-mile training run on day one then a 4-mile cool down on day two since I was preparing for the Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon back home in D.C. I refueled with a quinoa, bean and veggie bowl. Hey, if my ride feels good then I also want those positive vibrations. Remember, stay active, have fun and continue to invigorate your life!

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2016 MINI Cooper Clubman: Dads, it’s Safe to Join the MINI Club, Man!

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Experienced by Mike Tucker

MINI has begun to loosen its traditional British accent here in the United States and targeting consumers in need of hauling more, preferably adults and children in my case. The 2016 MINI Cooper Clubman stretches longer (168.3”) than any other MINI built and is also the widest at 70.9”. I should also mention the unique rear split doors which extend its total to a whopping six. There is now more MINI to love.

Fit Fathers was recently invited to the South for an informative evaluation in Georgia’s oldest city. Savannah is an area rich with history and mystique, whereas the same can be said for the new MINI Clubman. Rightfully so, the brand chose to share its latest creation amidst beautifully aged trees with hanging moss and haunted houses. The ghost of MINI’s future suggests a bigger picture for the company, harnessing British tradition with a newfangled take on the iconic design befitting its “seriously playful” maxims. A future that welcomes the past, the Clubman takes note of the Clubman Estate which in 1969 replaced the Morris MINI Traveller and Austin Seven Countryman, created to represent road trip options for MINI enthusiast in the 60s. Introduced in 2007 as a similarly stretched MINI hatchback, the 2016 MINI Clubman is more novel than it is familiar, with a refined identity and sporty flavor.

For one, the Clubman receives some of its inner cool from BMW, which is behind its engine and architecture. This can be felt emotionally within the cockpit to the ride’s quick response and assured handling. There is the 2-liter inline 4-cylinder engine with TwinPower Turbo in the Cooper S Clubman that provides 189-horsepower. Then you have the 1.5-liter inline 3-cylinder TwinPower Turbo engine and 134 horsepower in the Cooper Clubman model. Each is paired with the standard 6-speed manual transmission or owners can upgrade to the 8-speed Steptronic for the Cooper S Clubman (a first for the brand) or the 6-speed Steptronic in the Cooper Clubman. I was able to open the vehicle up to see that the 3-cylinder is very capable and will be enough to satisfy most. Those who want more should opt for the Cooper S. The 4-cylinder exudes that go-kart feel and sound synonymous with MINI adventures. When driving the Cooper S Clubman there is an immediate acknowledgment of more torque (207 ft.-lbs. compared to 162 ft.-lbs.) which pushes the fun meter closer to the zippy and smaller MINI Cooper S. Of course some agility is lost from the latter, but you will likely be carrying precious cargo in this larger vehicle, so a little restraint is actually a good thing in this case.

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It is very obvious that MINI took their time manifesting the new Clubman, six years to be exact. The exterior lines are clean and precise while the metallic paint shines like patent leather oxford shoes. Specifically, there are twelve hues to decipher from with two totally fresh options: Melting Silver Metallic and Pure Burgundy Metallic. The split doors, rear lights and chrome accents add unique flair like a shawl lapel to a tuxedo jacket. Its ride maintains a certain level of sophistication but is never uptight with the lively interior, atmospheric lighting and the projected MINI logo illuminating the ground from its side view mirrors at night.

Can you say love at first “sit”? The leather seats are some of the most comfortable I have sat in and the fabric renditions in the base model were also cozy. The cabin allows for enough room to situate three adults comfortably in the rear which was unheard of in a MINI until now. The standard 6.5” color LCD handles navigation and media functions and is activated by a center controller. The Clubman is also efficient on gas and the environment with 35 MPG highway and 25 MPG in the city, and is categorized as a super ultra-low emissions vehicle.

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The larger dimensions of the Clubman offer a new perspective to MINI and may be just what the on-the-go parent of midsize families need. Having tested a MINI Cooper S a few months ago I remember less about the fun driving and more regarding my three kids complaining about their cramped riding experience. While the Clubman’s size may upset some MINI purists, it will be equally welcomed by those in need of additional space.

Tested on French and German racetracks, roadways and tailored in Oxford, the MINI Clubman has undeniable character. The slight growth spurt in the Clubman makes for a more functional and passenger-friendly experience and takes MINI from being a novel idea to a practical reality for daily commuters.

The 7-Day Summer Juice Cleanse

The 7-Day Summer Juice Cleans

It’s time for a summer refresh so please join Fit Fathers for the The 7-Day Summer Juice Cleanse right after 4th of July weekend.  This implies you are ready to clean out your plumbing including the gastrointestinal as well as your colon. Don’t be shy of these terms! It’s natural.

Why Juice? Though juicing disregards the fiber from fruits and veggies its benefits are plentiful. Vitamins and minerals are absorbed directly into the blood stream without the fiber, which slows digestion and absorption. Juicing heals and repairs tissue, strengthens the immune system and gives the digestion system and liver a well-deserved break. But most of all, a juice detox forces toxins out the body which in-turn encourages fat lost, since the body actually produces additional fat just to store and protect you from these toxins. Reduced toxins equals less body fat. Also juicing allows organs to temporarily vacation. [Read more…]

2016 Volvo XC90: Top Rankin’

2016_Volvo_XC90_Exterior

Experienced by Kimatni D. Rawlins

My close friends, family and business associates understand my deep and profound love for reggae legend Robert Nesta Marley. The melodious rhythms and positive vibrations of his tunes ignite passion in my soul incessantly. So the first task upon entering the ambitious and opulent cabin of the 2016 Volvo XC90 was to connect my iPhone to the iPad-resembling Sensus infotainment center, select the Marley playlist and let the music reverberate through the amplified Bowers & Wilkins (B&W) audio system. From Jamming to No Woman, No Cry I cruised through Santa Monica, California feeling inspirational. Yet, both the mode of transport along with the audio of choice played a key factor in my upbeat mood. Possibly, could Volvo have unknowingly channeled the King of Reggae to become the Top Rankin’ 7-passenger luxury SUV on the American market? Yes, possibly. [Read more…]

Family Fitness on the Track!

541325_417221824959168_1630821863_nDavid Allison — Maybe you work long hours. Maybe you or your spouse are away for work many weeks out of the year. Maybe you’re a single parent. Or maybe your kids are all different ages. But no matter what your family situation is, you wish to find some sort of fitness regimen, which will fit into your busy schedule, as well as find something that everyone can be involved in and have fun in the process.

Usually the easiest solution is the simplest one. And the simple solution is to find a local track in your area with a fence, a field and bleachers. Here are some ideas you can use to get a workout in for yourself and your kids of all ages.

[Read more…]

The Protein Juggernaut Has Deep Roots

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The problems we face in our healthcare system are widely known and they are serious. We desperately need solutions, and I believe that we are overlooking an exceptionally good source of information that can help solve this problem. It’s called history. In this case I speak of the history of nutrition, and nowhere is this history better illustrated than in the history on protein. For this commentary, I will select comments from two rather long but unpublished papers of mine on the history of nutrition and cancer research written in 1985-86 when I was a visiting scholar at Oxford University. [Read more…]