Luxury SUV:

Mercedes-Benz GL – 80% New for 2013


Mercedes-Benz GL350 BlueTEC

Mercedes’ (@mbusa) top of the line SUV, the 7-passenger GL (#2013GL-Class), is new for 2013.  As the top selling premium luxury sport utility vehicle, GL certainly is a healthy profit contributor to parent company Daimler AG.  Built at Mercedes-Benz Tuscaloosa, Alabama assembly plant, 53% of GL production is sold in the United States.  The 2013 GL is the second generation GL and continues to be derived from the platform that also underpins the 5-passenger ML.  About 80% of the GL is all new for its second generation.  We had a chance to drive several versions of the new GL at its global press preview in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

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Bourbon, Bluegrass and THE BOOK – Driving the 2011 Infiniti QX56


The King is DEAD, long live the King. Very appropriate for the all new Infiniti QX56 being launched in the USA later this year. But first, we have to set the stage for the review itself – not the vehicle. Infiniti hosted small groups of journalists at the 21C Museum Hotel in Louisville. The hotel itself was worth the trip. Quirky, quaint with 42 plastic red penguins to entertain the guests. Penguins with bibs at dinner. Penguins with a shower cap in the tub. The “museum” part of the hotel’s title relates to the art on display – all by artists alive today and produced during the 21st Century. When an artist dies, their works are removed to a private gallery in the owners’ quarters on the 4th floor of the hotel. Oh, yeah, THE BOOK – found in the bar with a plain cover is worth the price of a martini.
The great drive in the QX56 through bourbon country and horse country from Louisville to Frankfort (Kentucky’s capital) was picturesque and the roads were great. Not much traffic. Rolling hills. Perfect for the large sport ute. Major surprise, however, was that the historic mile-after-mile of white fences Kentucky horse country is known for has transformed into creosote black fences… lower cost and longer life. The drive through northern Kentucky is highly recommended. Hopefully you have more than a stock rentacar. Don’t forget to stop at Choctaw Jim’s general store in Campbellsburg. They make a mean peanut and jelly sandwich with peanut butter bread. Yum. The only blemish is that the authentic American Indian artifacts mostly are made in China.
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Intiniti QX56 Formidable Competitor in Premium Luxury SUV Class Now, about the second generation Infiniti QX56. As you probably know, the first generation QX is based on the Titan pickup and assembled at Nissan’s Canton, Mississippi assembly plant. The new QX is based on the Japanese market Nissan Patrol and produced in Japan.

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First Drive: Chrysler Aspen


VehicleVoice correspondent and AutoPacific staff were among those the Chrysler Group invited to Palm Springs, California, to experience first-hand their first SUV, the Aspen, and their latest attack on the mid-size sedan market, the all-new Sebring. We covered the reveal of the Aspen at the 2006 North American International Auto Show and the Sebring in June at the Chrysler Proving Grounds, and now we’re able to share our first driving impressions. In this space, we tackle the Aspen.


Why Add an SUV?
Chrysler noted that of the buyers that leave the Chrysler brand, 25 percent go on to buy SUVs. Of that 25 percent, 75 percent leave the company altogether, while about 25 percent go to Dodge or Jeep. Two years ago, the Chrysler Group decided to reskin a Durango and see if they can’t keep some of those buyers.
The Aspen gives Chrysler loyalists needing an SUV a reason to stay, though any new buyers it brings will be welcomed. As far as a theme, the 300 of SUVs is clearly the target. Differences between Durango and Aspen are all things customers can touch; suspension tuning is slightly different, but components, brakes, and steering components and ratios are all identical to Durango. Sheetmetal differences include the front clip (fenders, grille, fascia, lamps, and hood outer), rear door, rear aperture quarter, tailamps, and rear fascia. These changes give you an SUV with more pizzaz and chrome, and the Aspen looks best in strong colors that allow the chrome to pop. Black and blue were very nice; in silver, the chrome gets lost along with its personality.

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2005 Volvo XC90 Top Luxury SUV Winning AutoPacific Vehicle Satisfaction Award


Volvo XC90 Wins AutoPacific 2005 Luxury Sport Utility Vehicle Satisfaction Award

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“The widely acclaimed Volvo XC90 car-based sport utility rates highest among Luxury Sport Utility Vehicles for 2005. XC90 owners rate their Luxury SUV strongly in the reputation of the Volvo brand, feeling safe while driving (no surprise there… it’s a Volvo!), front seat room, cargo capacity, interior materials, anticipated resale value, quietness and controls. These combine to deliver a very balanced product from a respected brand.”
The Infiniti QX56 was a close second to the Volvo. XC90 nosed out the QX56 due to its perceived superior safety attributes.

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