2019 Volvo S60 Sedan and V60 Wagon: Pure Swedish Performance

Experienced by Kimatni D. Rawlins

The current stage of Volvo’s product assault has come to fruition with the introduction of the all-new 2019 S60 sedan and V60 wagon which are designed and engineered with a focus on powertrain electrification. I know it sounds cliché but the mid-sized premium Volvos truly drive like dreams as I discovered on the energetic roads of Southern California. Offered in four trims – Momentum, Inscription, R-Design and Polestar Engineered – the “60” series is another shining example from the ubiquitous Swedish lineup that includes award winning SUVs, stately sedans, multi-talented wagons and inimitable performance variants.

Yes, the Volvo product range is young and refreshing, yet innovative and captivating. The automaker is far more than just a safety pioneer. Volvo has become an industry tech leader by spearheading “sustainable resource” movements, simplifying the vehicle purchase process and diversifying manufacturing by way of cultural explosion at its newly built U.S. factory outside of Charleston, South Carolina where the S60 is built. [Read more…]

Jeep Lifestyles with the all-new 2018 Wrangler

Experienced by Kimatni D. Rawlins

When all hell hits the fan it would be in your best interest to posses the keys to a Jeep, preferably the 2018 Wrangler. The goal is to get away swiftly and discretely in a 4×4 with the versatility to triumph any terrain that leads to salvation. That’s probably what the armed forces thought 75 years ago. As the story goes Willys-Overland’s beat out Bantam and Ford in 1941 as the principle supplier of the U.S. Army’s 1,500 go-anywhere and structurally rigid reconnaissance vehicles. Later the world would come to know this quintessential 4×4 as the Jeep. [Read more…]

2015 Jeep Renegade: Small, but Rough, Rugged & Raw

2015-Jeep-Renegade-offroadingExperienced by Kimatni D. Rawlins

Jeep, the venerable SUV brand continues to deliver more country hits than Taylor Swift. No, not music hits, I’m speaking country as in backwoods, forests, mud, ruts and rough terrain. The Trail Rated manufacturer is on a roll selling over a million vehicles in the last five years. That’s a great deal of off-roading! Next up is the newfangled 2015 Renegade which sets them in small, utility territory (B segment) providing fuel efficiency, elevated driving dynamics, full capability, interior room and daring utility in typical Jeep fashion.

According to Jeep product planners and executives 2015 is going to be a fundamental and foundational year for the company with globalization taking center stage. For example, Jeep hasn’t manufactured locally in China in over 10 years. But the plan is to build there and the Renegade will play a vital role in Jeep’s future story and success worldwide. Especially since the little guy is their first all-new vehicle introduced in the last five years. Up until now, the current roster has only been updated or refreshed. Originally, the platform was envisioned as a minute, wide Jeep. But where would designers and engineers go from there when they embarked upon the project four years ago? Well, now we know the intention was to instill Wrangler personality and character into the Renegade. Designed and engineered in Auburn Hills, Michigan, the Renegade is small — but staying true to its heritage – is also rough, rugged and raw.

When I first saw photos of the domestic utility I was in disbelief that it could do what it had done during my drive time. Yet, I can’t deprive the senses of their second Hollister Hills State Vehicular Recreation Area (SVRA) experience where we evaluated the Renegade in Trail Rated environments. SVRA is a major state park and active space in the Gabilan Mountains in Hollister, CA for camping and picnicking. It is also laden with graphic trails for 4x4s, dirt bikes and ATVs. In fact, Jeep held the media drive for the Grand Cherokee a few years back in this same location and utilized some of the exact courses to prove the Renegade Trailhawk’s bravado. It scampered up steep hills providing a view of the sky from the windshield, not the sunroof, and continued traversing upward until our campground below looked as if it was being viewed through a telescope. I then selected Hill-decent Control and let the Renegade crawl downward at a slow pace while it self-braked. The Trailhawk was also confident in bouncing over small boulders and bending around tight, dirt slopes. Yep, everyone was scratching their heads after the off-road experience.

2015 Jeep RenegadeThe premise of the Renegade is simple in nature but complex in construction. And of course there will be compromises when attempting to package your wish list and still come out on top with a game changer. For this reason the Renegade is an oddly shaped Jeep when it comes to styling, but it gets the job done. When a Wrangler pulled up, my drive partner and I looked at each other wondering why it actually didn’t resemble the Wrangler more. Naturally the vehicle features a vertical front end with big round headlights and Jeep’s 7-slot grille, a lowered beltline for larger windows, a flat roof and Trapezoidal wheel arches from the 1941 Willys MB Jeep. One of the coolest elements is the two-piece removable My Sky open-air system aka the dual-pane sunroof, of which one is power retractable and the other is fixed. Yet, both allow you to remove the 10-pound glass panes and store them in the cargo area under the 2-piece floor. With all windows rolled down and the sunroof relocated, the joy of fresh air and deep sunlight does become reminiscent of a Wrangler. The operation takes about ten minutes max so if your Spidey senses forecast rain make sure to pull over in enough time.

The Renegade is presented in four models dubbed Sport, Limited, Trailhawk and Latitude and ranges in MSRP from $17,995 for a Sport 4×2 to $25,995 for a Trailhawk (excludes $995 destination). Each represents a specific aspect of the Jeep hallmark such as the aggressive Trailhawk which is the toughest of the crew and is enhanced with front tow hooks, more aggressive approach (30.5 degree) and departure (34.3 degree) angles, taller tires, a painted roof option, Hill-decent Control, skid plates and the 4×4 Jeep Active Drive Low system with Rock mode). Two efficient 30-mpg plus powertrains come in the form of a 2.4-liter MultiAir2 4-cylinder with 180 horsepower and 175 lb-ft of torque (paired with the new 9-speed automatic transmission) and the spunky 1.4-liter MultiAir Turbo kicking out 160-horsepower and 184 lb-ft of torque (paired with the 6-speed manual transmission). Either engine can be had as 4×2 FWD or 4×4 ($2,000 option), but only the 2.4-liter specifically can tow up to 2,000 pounds.

2015 Jeep Renegade LimitedI found the 2.4-liter to move with aspiration on the hilly roads in route to SVRA while manipulating the lower gears on the automatic. Though, on the highway we could have used a bit more torque for top-speed passing. A bevy of mechanical and electronic technologies advance the Renegade above some of its competitors. One of which is Selec Terrain traction system with settings for Auto, Snow, Sand, Mud and Rock. It is paired with both Jeep Active Drive and Active Drive Low 4×4 systems. Snow mode for example starts you off in 2nd gear and reduces throttle while Sand mode provides a little more wheel slip. Forward Collision Warning-Plus, LaneSense Departure Warning-Plus, seven airbags, Blind-spot Monitoring and Rear Cross Path detection and ParkView rear backup camera are just a few of 70 safety features added to the Renegade.

Jeep does some very cool things like model Orange/Grey interiors from base jumping suits and title their exterior hues Commando, perfect since I wore fatigues which made me feel like G.I. Joe on a recon mission. Jeep also challenged the company’s younger designers to sketch enthusiastic interiors grounded on their very own lifestyle expectations. The end result is an energetic, functional cabin with fold flat seats, a high-pitched headliner, large controls, colorful contrasts and the trapezoidal theme which accentuates the vents, door handle moldings, speakers and gearshift casing.

2015 Jeep Renegade TrailhawkSitting inside 116 cubic feet of interior space (51 cubic feet for the cargo area) felt like a magic trick. My athletic build is suited more for Grand Cherokees, not Renegades, so I thought. But I was pleasantly surprised by the vehicle’s roominess and comfort. The thick, multifunction steering wheel is solid and firm, as is the tall gear selector with manual mode on the 9-speed. An electric park brake creates space and leaves room for items such as the hardy, center cup holders and the Renegade’s actions are interpreted through a color 7” multi-display and configurable TFT gauge cluster which allows the vehicle to clearly communicate its activities with the driver. Additionally, Uconnect 5.0 and 6.5AN touchscreen systems deliver equivalent technology and digital services as the rest of the Jeep family. Intuitive, thoughtful and engaging, I am more at ease in a Chrysler ride when Uconnect is present. “With Uconnect Access, the all-new 2015 Jeep Renegade is the most innovative small sport-utility vehicle (SUV) on the market,” said Alan Amici, Head of Uconnect Systems and Services — Chrysler Group LLC. “Thanks to the array of Uconnect features and services, Renegade’s drivers can remain productive and stay in touch without ever taking their hands off the vehicle’s available heated steering wheel.”

You can get with this, or you can get with that, but if Trail Rated is part of your vocab then Jeep is where it’s at!

2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee: Tri-Athlete in the Making

2014_Jeep_Grand_Cherokee...01 In 2011, Jeep re-engineered the Grand Cherokee with a broader and uniquely tougher design, advanced its off-road capabilities and tweaked the interior styling. It would finish atop everyone’s list and soon became the most awarded SUV on the planet. For its 2014 model, Jeep redefined the go-anywhere, premium SUV with stately characteristics including a new 8-speed automatic transmission, advanced user-friendly technology with Uconnect, three superior 4×4 systems, Jeep Selec-Terrain traction management system, the availability of a 3.0-liter EcoDiesel V6 engine and a bevy of active safety technology.

Welcome to the multipurpose world of Jeep.

Capable in various dimensions from adventure treks to luxury lifestyle to sporty culture, the 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee is a tri-athlete in its own respects. Customers of this chiseled but defined sport-utility have the versatility of loading up the family in lavish style while hauling their boat or trailer. Once the camp is set up then the fun begins when you take the Jeep off-road to test its trail rating. All the while peace of mind is solidified knowing the Grand Cherokee is amended with 70 standard or available progressive safety systems such as Forward Collision Warning which alerts the driver of an impending crash; Blind Spot Monitoring which warns you of any vehicle in the blind spot area; ParkSense park assist which alerts you of objects around your vehicle; seat-mounted side thorax bags, front and rear curtain air bags; and electronic stability control with electric roll mitigation to name a few. [Read more…]

2014 Mitsubishi Outlander: Efficient Technology Utility

2014 Mitsubishi Outlander GTThe world is getting faster while technology prevails over anything remotely reminiscent of antiquated inventions or analogous to tradition. Philosophical ideology that more is better and faster is efficient is the prevailing view over prior times of technological and human evolution. This applies to our cell phones, computers, eating habits and transportation. How can we eat faster in shorter time or travel further on less fossil fuel? The inherent edge is bestowed upon the corporations we choose to dictate our lives. For Mitsubishi, they want to ascertain demands for a family friendly sport utility are met with great results. [Read more…]

2013 Land Rover Range Rover: Epic Devotion

2013_Range_Rover_27It goes without saying, “you can take a lion out of the jungle, but you can’t take the jungle out of the lion.” This was my initial judgment when Land Rover elected to showcase the technological and adventurous capabilities of their all-new 2013 Range Rover — which voraciously manhandled the mountainous terrain of Utah’s most innermost environs — to a group of world travelers and automotive nomads. Yes, it’s still as opulent as a penthouse on 5th Avenue, yet none of the stately British SUV’s grizzly characteristics have been lost to the redesign.

It simply performs honorably within both extremes of today’s conveyance modes–pleasurable and authoritative! [Read more…]