2019 BMW X4 Sports Activity Coupe: Elevated Athleticism

Where does an auto brand go once the zenith stage has seemingly been reached? Well, for BMW that means the continuation of creating additional numbered vehicles and enhancing current numbered variants such as the X-factors which represent its family of Sports Activity Vehicles (SAVs) and Sports Activity Coupes (SACs). Whether it is X5, X6, the upcoming X7 or the reinvigorated 2019 X4, each provides individual talents for owners looking for just as much performance as utility, storage and off-road capabilities.
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2018 Audi SQ5 3.0T quattro tiptronic: Sporty Family Fun

Experienced by Kimatni D. Rawlins

I must say, this past week was one of Automotive Rhythms’ more thrilling automotive test drive experiences since we were piloting the 2018 Audi SQ5 3.0T quattro tiptronic compact-luxury SUV. Sporty, dynamic, and laden with advanced technology, the SQ5 is suitably fit for small families, adventurous singles, or young couples looking for enticement during each and every ride. Although, it felt more like a taller wagon in comparison to its bigger Q7 cousin, which means parking was never a qualm in crowded lots or on busy city streets. [Read more…]

2018 Volkswagen Atlas: Active, On-The-Go Family Style

Experienced by Kimatni D. Rawlins

The Volkswagen Atlas is a big midsize SUV with three full rows of seating for seven passengers to accommodate the typical American family looking for a cavernous cabin and plenty of utility, flexibility, technology and comfort. It represents as VW’s largest production vehicle and joins a small but adventurous family of German SUVs including the Tiguan and Touareg. [Read more…]

2018 Volkswagen Atlas: American Heart and Soul

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Experienced by Kimatni D. Rawlins

For the first time ever the Santa Monica Pier allowed an automaker to host a vehicle reveal which took place on a beautiful and exciting evening as Volkswagen introduced the all-new 2018 Atlas to a large group of media and live Internet audience. With three rows of seating for seven passengers the midsize SUV is built in Tennessee and designed for the typical American family looking for a cavernous cockpit with an ample amount of utility, flexibility, technology and comfort. This anomaly translates into Volkswagen’s largest vehicle in the U.S. and brings them out of the shadows of the smaller Golfs and Jettas they manufacture.

The Atlas appears to be quite intuitive and versatile since it features Volkswagen Digital Cockpit instrumentation; Volkswagen Car-Net connected vehicle services with App-Connect for pairing with either Apple CarPlay, Android Auto or MirrorLink; a 12-speaker Fender Premium Audio System; and two powertrains to choose from — a 238-horsepower 2.0-liter turbocharged TSI 4-cylinder engine and the 280-horsepower 3.6-liter VR6 engine — with both married to an 8-speed transmission. Buyers can opt for either the front-wheel-drive variant or the 4Motion all-wheel-drive Atlas that comes with the VR6 models.

“This is the biggest and boldest Volkswagen we have ever built in the United States, delivering the distinctive design and craftsmanship we’re known for, now with room for seven,” said Hinrich J. Woebcken, CEO of the North America Region, Volkswagen. “The Atlas marks a brand new journey for Volkswagen to enter into the heart of the American market.”

There are quite a few fresh vehicles planned to be released in 2017 where plenty of anticipation leads us to a bevy of new SUVs, sports cars and pickup trucks including the VW Atlas. The technical acumen of the Atlas is presented in an amalgamation of driver assistance systems such as Adaptive Cruise Control; Forward Collision Warning and Autonomous Emergency Braking (Front Assist); Blind Spot Monitor with Rear Traffic Alert; Lane Departure Warning (Lane Assist) and Parking Steering Assistant (Park Assist) to name a few. These unequivocal advantages allow VW to attract a wider range of buyers with a vehicle that broadens appeal to active, on-the-go families. Moreover, Automatic Post-Collision Braking System kicks in when the airbag sensors detect an initial impact triggering the vehicle to apply the brakes to reduce the unfortunate opportunity of a secondary impact and further damage or injury.

Some things I noticed right off the bat after the Atlas drove onto the stage were the flush, dual tailpipes, a stylish tailgate spoiler, LED headlights, front and rear skid plates, a hitch, muscular design cuts, strong wheel arches and stylish rims, especially the black wheels on the Mustard hued Atlas. This may be a bit too pompous for some but ideal for many others. At 198.3” long, 77.9” wide and 69.6” tall, VW will offer the Atlas in five trim levels. To get to the third row VW has originated a cool, innovative solution for the folding seat which simultaneously tilts and slides in one piece, and can be done so even when a child safety seat is strapped in. As they claim, the third row is truly suitable for two adults unlike many in this competitive set.

The Los Angeles unveil marked the beginning of a new voyage for VW and concluded at historic Route 66. Indeed it’s designed for America, but will also be exported to other markets. This fresh start also aligns with VW’s electrification strategy for a future that will bring us 30 EVs by 2025. The Atlas arrives the spring of 2017.

2017 Mercedes-Benz GLS: Fit Family Approved

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Experienced by Kimatni D. Rawlins

There are not many large, luxury SUVs that are absolutely, positively incredible. Most offer pure opulence but no bravado while others focus only on the macho elements of utilities in a world where only a small percentage of customers take their pride and joys off road. Well, the refreshed and re-dubbed prodigy from Mercedes-Benz proposes the best of three worlds — lavishness, technology and stoutness — in one complete package.

Like a visit to Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, the contributions of the 2017 Mercedes-Benz GLS including the reinvigorated interior are pretty magical. My experience test-driving the GLS range — including the AMG GLS63 — in Gateway, Colorado was impeccable to say the least. Tagged as the S-Class of the M-B SUV line due to an altered naming convention, the luxurious touring utility is fit for influential families looking for advanced technology, three rows of seating (standard), 4-MATIC AWD (standard) and diverse engines (four in total) to choose from including an economical diesel and the potent, hand-built 5.5-liter V8 Biturbo with 577 runaway horses. With this authoritative AMG variant I doubt parents have to worry about arriving late to the kids’ practices.

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Shortly after landing into Grand Junction Regional Airport an assortment of GLS models were awaiting for evaluative drives in route to the enchanting Gateway Canyons Resort nestled within the enthralling Red Rock Canyons. Life is so pure, simple and beautiful in Western Colorado that it was almost difficult to focus in on the task at hand. Well, until I was handed the key to my German chariot. This is what you call double the pleasure. Obtainable in four models — GLS350d 4MATIC, GLS450 4MATIC, GLS550 4MATIC and the aforementioned AMG GLS63 — Mercedes has positioned itself smartly for the diverse group of core, large-sized SUV buyers. Especially in correlation to pricing which can range from $67,050 for the 255-horsepower (457 lb.-ft. of torque) 3-liter V6 Turbo Diesel to $124,100 for the AMG.

Some of the noticeable differences with the GLS in comparison to the old GL (launched in September 2012) are a bolder front and rear fascia (especially the menacing chin spoiler), the new dash and interior including the 3-spoke multifunction steering wheel, a newfangled grille, new bumpers, new LED taillamps, the 9G-TRONIC automatic transmission with wheel-mounted paddle shifters and DYNAMIC SELECT with its assortment of transmission driving modes. The AIRMATIC air suspension with Adaptive Damping System has also been enriched to respond more adeptly to various road conditions. Working in concert with the transmission, DYNAMIC SELECT allows the operator to pre-select the setting most appropriate (up to six settings) for the task at hand whether for sporty driving or tackling snow-covered roads. You can also raise the suspension up to 12.5″ with the Off-Road Engineering package. A bevvy of new light-alloy wheels is also at your disposal. I became fond of the unique 21” spins standard on the GLS550 as well as the stationary and illuminated running boards. Another favorite is the 7,500 towing capacity from the factory available Trailer Hitch ($575). It’s a must for dads such as myself that bike often with the family and occasionally tow small trailers.

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Some may say I was hustling backwards since I began the tour from the airport in the AMG then subsequently dumbed-down my options to the GLS550 and lastly the GLS450. Well, I didn’t mind starting off in greatness. Inclusive in the full price of $131,470, my Lunar Blue Metallic AMG GLS63 was endowed with a Carbon Fiber trim ($1,590), Porcelain/Black Exclusive Nappa Leather, 22” AMG Matte Black rims ($1,750), AMG Sport Suspension, quad pipes, the Power EASY ENTRY ($400) one-button, flip folding seat technology for entering the third row area conveniently and the Rear Entertainment System ($1,950) with 8.3″ screens located on the seat backs of the powered, heated, ventilated, multicontour and massaging front row chairs. With the force of hurricanes powering the 5,754 lb. AMG the vehicle blows from 0 to 60 mph in 4.5 seconds. Honestly, it was challenging keeping it under 60 mph, even when applying light pedal pressure. Imagine that!

Day two would see us cruising to Arches National Park near Moab, Utah then on to Sorrel River Ranch for a healthy lunch. A $99,105 ($93,850 MSRP) Iridium Silver Metallic GLS550 4MATIC would be my ride over and a $78,550 ($68,700 MSRP) GLS450 4MATIC would escort me back to Colorado. Power in the 550’s 4.7-liter V8 Biturbo engine was impressive as the 449-horsepower felt more like 500, even in the higher altitudes. In this vehicle I paid more attention to COMAND’s infotainment and navigation features, the harman/kardon LOGIC7 surround system and Apple CarPlay. Of course I love how the interface of your smartphone is replicated on the 8” color COMAND screen such as music and audiobooks, but keep in mind Apple CarPlay also overrides the vehicle’s own apps and functions so you won’t be able to use any of them except the radio. Lane Keeping Assist is pretty aggressive and feels like a jolt when you drift outside the lane without signaling so stay focused. Although the 9-speed transmission is pretty efficient the mileage on the 4.7-liter is not. Expect only 13 city and 18 highway estimated mpg in the GLS550. This is why I would personally opt for the 362-horsepower 3-liter V6 Biturbo in the GLS450. In this case the GLS achieves approximately 17 city and 22 highway mpg.

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Available now (diesel coming at a later date) the GLS will help fortify Mercedes-Benz’s position in a growing utility market that is eager for grander products which present car-like agility, artificial intelligence and sport utility adventure.