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Winter Issue



Urban Wheel Awards Special Preview Issue


> Dealers of The Year > Suppliers of The Year

> Pioneer of The Year > Executive of The Year > Company of The Year

We Drive:

> BMW X5 > Buick Regal GS > Land Rover Range Rover Sport > Mercedes-Benz E250 BlueTEC > Subaru WRX

Urban Truck of The Year Chevrolet Silverado

2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA Urban Car of The Year

Urban Green Vehicle of The Year BMW i3

Get Your Subscription to Decisive Digital at

In order to remain a champ, you have to switch your style up. Introducing the 2014 Next Generation Corolla. Sleeker and smarter to help you go more places.

Bold, Re-Designed Exterior // Available Paddle Shifters // All-New, Spacious Interior // Available Entune® App Suite Just a few ways we’re upping our game. Prototype with options shown. Always drive safely, obey traffic laws and focus on the road while driving. Apps/services vary by phone/carrier; functionality depends on many factors. Select apps use large amounts of data; you are responsible for charges. Apps & services subject to change. Apps identified by “TM” or “®” are trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective companies. For enrollment and more details, see © 2013 Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc.





PUBLISHER: Randi Payton EDITOR-IN-CHIEF: Lyndon Conrad Bell. ART DIRECTOR: Fran Sherman EDITORS-AT-LARGE: Mary M. Chapman, Hank Chase, Christopher Jackson, Valerie Menard


SENIOR EDITORS: Warren Brown, Brian Armstead CONTRIBUTING WRITERS: Sheryll Alexander, Lori Downes, Gayle Fleming, Wendy Ida, Chris Mendoza, Joan Stanford, Joanne Tucker WEB DEVELOPMENT: Thuan Ngo


DECISIVE MEDIA HEADQUARTERS: 8181 Professional Place, Suite 170 Hyattsville, MD 20785 T. 301.850.2858 • F. 301.390.1825 PRESIDENT & CEO: Randi Payton PRODUCTION/DISTRIBUTION: Joyce Gates BUSINESS MANAGER: Damon Redmond SALES DIRECTOR: Karen Payton MARKETING: Tamika Brown UWA EVENT DIRECTOR: Rosiland Triche BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT/DECISIVE MEDIA DETROIT:  Leonard Corbin PUBLIC RELATIONS: Marjorie Staten INTERNS: Nyeelah Briscoe Ronald Arroyo DECISIVE magazine © 2013 is published four times annually as a newspaper-delivered publication and digital e-magazine by Decisive Multi-Media, Inc. Your complete resource for research and opinion on consumer products and services. Visit us at Email us at

For licensing and reprints of Decisive/Decisive Auto content, contact Nick Lademarco at Wright’s Media,, Toll Free 877-652-5295

Membership applied for October 2012


All the votes are in and the big event is slated for January 12—but why wait? Here’s everything you need to know about the 2014 Urban Wheel Awards. Now, all you have to do is pick out your outfit and plan to join us in Detroit for the biggest, most comprehensive celebration of diversity in the auto industry anywhere.





Here’s the straight scoop on five of the hottest new cars for 2014. We’ve driven the new BMW X5, Buick Regal GS, Land Rover Range Rover Sport, Mercedes-Benz E250 BlueTEC, and the all-new 2015 Subaru WRX. Here’s the verdict.

Our 2013 Chrysler 300C John Varvatos Limited Edition continues to both amaze and impress. The holiday season finds it festively loaded with passengers and presents, pressed into performing as the street’s most intimidating Christmas sleigh. And yeah, you know Santa’s jealous—massively!

INDEX TO ADVERTISERS Cover II: Toyota – Page 3: BMW – Page 14: Buick –

Page 31: Decisive Digital – Cover IV: Jeep –



The 2014 BMW diesel models deftly combine driving excitement with outstanding fuel economy. Imagine a luxurious, handsome, and sophisticated automobile capable of traveling 675 miles on a single tank of fuel—that’s the 2014 BMW 328d; the stylishly clean ultimate driving machine.


letters from the editor

And So, Another Year…


Winter Issue



Urban Wheel Awards Special Preview Issue

And so another year ends—or another year begins, depending upon your perspective. Here at Decisive Media, it means we’re putting the finishing touches on our annual

Urban Wheel Awards extravaganza, and trust me, Santa’s workshop ain’t got nothing on how busy things are around here right about now.

The good news is, all of the judging is complete and all of the awardees have been chosen. So this year, we decided to give you a preview of the who’s, what’s, and how’s. Hey, it’s the age of the Internet, 2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA nobody waits for anything anymore. And time, as Inside: > Pioneer of The Year Urban Car of The Year > Dealers of The Year > Executive of The Year the old saying goes, waits for no one. So here you go, > Suppliers of The Year > Company of The Year everything you need to know about the 18th Annual Urban Truck of The Year Urban Green Vehicle of The Year We Drive: Urban Wheel Awards. Chevrolet Silverado BMW i3 > BMW X5 You’ll also note we’re returning a bit more closely > Buick Regal GS > Land Rover Range Rover Sport to our roots going into 2014. > Mercedes-Benz E250 BlueTEC We’re shifting our focus a bit, leaning more > Subaru WRX toward the automotive category than we have in the Get Your Subscription to Decisive Digital at past few years. It’s what you’ve told us you really want from us, and we listen when you speak. We’re here for you, not vice versa, so we go where you need us to be. In the coming issues you’ll find more car related features. We’ll still cover consumer products, but they’ll be more automotive oriented. Ditto travel and finance as well. Along with the Urban Wheel Awards preview, you’ll find this issue dedicated to reviewing what we feel are five of the more interesting offerings for the 2014 model year. You can look forward to lots more of that sort of content from us going forward. And so, without further ado, let’s get cracking! Go ahead, turn the page—enjoy! And, if there’s ever anything you feel I need to know to make the magazine more appealing to you, feel free to drop me a line. Send an eMail message to It’ll come straight to me. And so, another year begins. Thanks for reading—and Happy New Year! .Lyndon Conrad Bell Editor-in-Chief Decisive Media

The All-New BMW 328d Diesel 1-800-334-4BMW

THERE’S NO STOPPING YOU NOW. 45 mpg, 675 miles per tank, and fewer trips to the pump.*


* The numbers are based on preliminary BMW results for highway fuel economy value of 45 mpg for the 328d Sedan and a fuel tank capacity of 15 gallons. Actual results may change as a result of EPA testing. * *For the first four years from in-service date or 50,000 miles, whichever comes first. For complete details on BMW Ultimate Service visit ©2013 BMW of North America, LLC. The BMW name, model names and logo are registered trademarks.



2014BMW328d A CLEAN ULTIMATE DRIVING MACHINE Generally, when you think of a car capable of returning 45 miles per gallon, factors like smooth, powerful, agile, luxurious, stylish and prestigious get left on the table. Well, it’s time to recalibrate your thinking, because BMW’s new 328d delivers 280 ft-lbs of torque, making it quick off the line and endowing it with all sorts of passing power, as it glides past gas station after gas station, after gas station, taking advantage of its 675 miles of highway range1. Yes, you read that right, 675 miles of range. In fact, with its 15 gallon fuel tank, the new 2014 BMW 328d can make the eighteen hour drive from New York City to Miami — some 1,276 miles — stopping but once to refuel. And, it will do so while holding you in complete comfort behind the wheel of what is universally acknowledged as one of the best driver’s cars in the world. With its new diesel lineup, BMW has considerably expanded the meaning of the ultimate driving machine. Now, in addition to sheer driving pleasure, it also means


extraordinary fuel economy. This makes ownership of a BMW as much of a value oriented proposition as it is a sporting and luxurious one. Plus, the sophisticated new BMW diesel engines are quiet and smooth in operation, with exhaust emissions cleaner than that of most gasoline engines. If you’re still harboring images of annoying vibrations and huge plumes of black smoke, it’s time you did a reset on your perception engine. In Europe, there are places where fully 80 percent of BMW models sold are equipped with diesel engines. European drivers appreciate style, sophistication, and performance; and diesel easily makes the grade over there. You’ll be truly impressed with the exceptional fuel economy you can attain while enjoying your new BMW—and how big you’ll save on fuel costs. In fact, driving a BMW diesel model actually lowers the cost of the


"...driving a BMW diesel model actually lowers the cost of the car over a period of four to five years when measured against a comparably priced gasoline model." car over a period of four to five years when measured against a comparably priced gasoline model. So, whether you’re in it for the sheer driving pleasure, or you appreciate the potential for piloting one of Europe’s most prestigious models, all the while getting the fuel economy of a significantly less comfortable compact car, you really owe it to yourself to take a look at the 2014 lineup of BMW diesel-powered models. To explore more, go to www. where you can learn more about the benefits. While you’re there, be sure to check out the options, including “Build Your Own Diesel”, “Take A Test Drive”, and “Locate A Dealer”. It’s time to come clean, with the ultimate driving machine.d D

The numbers are based on preliminary BMW results for highway fuel economy value of 45 mpg for the 328d Sedan and a fuel tank capacity of 15 gallons. Actual results may change as a result of EPA testing.



urban wheel awards


The Annual Urban Wheel Awards (UWA) event is held each year during the press run-up to the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS). The official multicultural event held in conjunction with the NAIAS, the awards promote diversity and inclusiveness of people of color in the automotive industry. The program brings together celebrities, automotive executives, international media, government representatives, and the multicultural community. It is also the business-to-business component of the Decisive Media platform. The event attracts hundreds of leaders and influencers, and in the process, generates relevant content, which we deliver to large-scale audiences. This enables hundreds of organizations to establish and strengthen relationships with the auto industry through mainstream and multicultural auto media. Hosted this year by actor Morris Chestnut and comedienne Maria Costa, the event is to be held on Sunday, January 12 at 7:00 p.m. at the Marriott Renaissance in Detroit. Morris Chestnut’s breakthrough role was playing “Ricky Baker”, the college-bound football star whose life was tragically cut short by gang violence in John Singleton’s seminal film; Boyz ‘N the Hood. The living personification of the phrase tall, dark, and handsome, Morris Chestnut has carved out a niche for himself as one of the go-to heartthrob leading men in modern romantic cinema. Currently starring in one of the hottest films of the year—The Best Man Holiday—Morris Chestnut is one of Hollywood’s most popular personalities.



Over the past few years, Maria Costa has proven herself a force to be reckoned with. The DVD of her one-woman comedy concert film— Macho Men and The Women Who Love Them - Live from the Kodak Theater— is available worldwide on Netflix and Amazon. The live version of the show is currently touring the country. Critically acclaimed, the Detroit native’s new film— Viva America—was nominated for a 2013 Imagen Award for excellence in Latino film and television and s he is slated to receive a star on the Detroit Walk To Fame later this year. d D

dealersoftheyear African-American Dealer of The Year Dorian Boyland After a career in professional baseball, Dorian Boyland turned his sights on the automotive retailing field. He got his start as a salesperson on a dealership sales floor in 1983. Within two years he was a partner in a dealership, two years later he purchased his first franchise. Today, he owns 10 dealerships, employs some 525 people in 10 states and boasts some $315 million in revenues. Further, he has given more than three million dollars in charitable donations to Minority related causes.

Hispanic Dealer of The Year Manuel A. Gonzalez A Cuban émigré, Manuel A. Gonzalez came to the United States with the goal of starting his own business and becoming a successful entrepreneur. He opened his first dealership in 1992. Today, his Sterling Auto Group dealerships are renowned for delivering quality products and unmatched customer service. These traits are directly attributable to Gonzalez’s business philosophies, along with his passion for community involvement. Among his many accolades, Gonzalez has been awarded the Better Business Bureau’s Torch Award for excellence in marketplace ethics, and a Chamber of Commerce Community Impact Award.

Asian Dealer of The Year Rahim Hassanally Rahim Hassanally, the 2014 Urban Wheel Awards Asian Dealer of The Year bought his first dealership in 2006, at the age of 28. Today, his Momentum Auto Group is comprised 16 franchises, employs more than 250 people, and generates some 300 million dollars in annual revenues. Recently appointed by the governor of California to serve on the California New Motor Vehicle Board, Hassanally’s organization is known for setting standards in customer service, as well as offering fair pricing and exceptional value in a courteous and professional atmosphere.



urban wheel awards

urbansuppliers OF THE YEAR African-American Supplier of The Year NuTek Steel For over 21 years, Sarah J. Bates’ NuTek Steel has been a reliable source of quality high-strength carbon steel products and processing services. Founded in 1992 as New Technology Steel, Bates, NuTek’s board chair and CEO, who reorganized and renamed the company in 2009, is known for her

hands on approach to business. In addition to running a highly successful enterprise, Ms. Bates is also a dedicated philanthropist, having founded the Norman and Louise Jones Foundation—named for her parents—to empower youth through education and professional development.

Hispanic Supplier of The Year The IDEAL Group Back in 1979, Frank Venegas, founder of the IDEAL Group, won a Cadillac in a homebuilder’s association raffle. He sold the car for $12,000 and used the proceeds as IDEAL’s startup capital. Today, the IDEAL Group boasts more than $200 million in annual revenue and employs some 250 people. More than a successful company, the IDEAL Group is also a committed partner in the community. From urban

gardening projects to providing mobile computers to every student at Detroit’s Cristo Rey High School, Venegas and the IDEAL Group make it a point to give back to the community they call home. The IDEAL group provides a variety of services to the auto industry; including construction, supply chain management, and on-demand distribution of parts and machinery.

Asian Supplier of The Year

NYX, Incorporated

In 1989, Chain Sandhu bought a small engineering firm called NYX and transformed it into a $250 million powerhouse, supplying plastic components to the auto industry. Chances are the glovebox in your car was produced by NYX, Incorporated. Known for improving efficiency and quality, Sandhu lists people, technology and quality as the cornerstones



of his invest and grow strategy for the company. Over the years, he and NYX have been honored with the Ernst and Young 'Entrepreneur of the Year' award, and the Hank Aguirre 'Humanitarian Award'. Dedicated to helping others follow in his footsteps, he is also a member of the board of directors of the Michigan Minority Business Development Council.


executive,pioneer,&company OF THE YEAR Urban Executive of The Year José Muñoz José Muñoz got his start in the car business working at his wife’s dealership. And though he holds a PhD in Nuclear Engineering, the auto industry is where he has made the most significant strides of his career. As president of Nissan Mexicana, he was responsible for growing the company’s market share by 25 percent, and in the process surpassing General Motors as the top selling auto manufacturer in Mexico. Recently named executive vice president and chairman of Nissan North America, he is quoted as having said Nissan’s commitment to diversity is an integral part of the strategy supporting the company’s long-term growth.

Urban Pioneer of The Year Leon C. Richardson Leon Richardson started Chemico Systems in 1989, making him one of the first African-American entrepreneurs to enter the chemical business. His real genius though, was partnering with another African-American owned enterprise in the field—Mays Chemical Company—and creating one of the first strategic partnerships between two African-American entrepreneurs in the chemical industry. Together, the two organizations operate as ChemicoMays, employing some 250 people, with operations in the United States, Puerto Rico, and Mexico. The company also supplies goods and services in South America, Europe, and Asia.

Urban Company of The Year Toyota Motor North America Toyota Motor North America is an organization with diversity included as every part of its business. What’s more, the company’s core principles are rooted in respect for people and continuous improvement. Its diversity strategy encompasses human resources, procurement, minority advertising, dealership development, community support, and strategic oversight. The company has more than doubled its annual spending with diverse suppliers since 2001 and when it comes to marketing to people of color the company has few peers. It has also increased the number of ethnic minority and women owned dealerships in its distribution network, and increased its philanthropic giving to organizations serving diverse populations. Further, people of color now represent nearly 30 percent of its U.S. employment.



urban wheel awards

Mercedes-Benz CLA 2014 URBAN CAR OF THE YEAR

According to UWA juror and syndicated automotive reviewer Arv Voss of Auto Impressions: “The 2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA lacks nothing in terms of outstanding performance attributes and sexy, visual magnetism. It was designed to take one’s breath away, and does so effortlessly. Further, the CLA comes equipped, not stripped. This new four-door coupe easily qualifies as a new star in what is already an impressive Mercedes-Benz stable.” Freelance reviewer Joe Tralongo said: “In the past, Mercedes-Benz’s attempts to create a cool, sub $30K entry-level car have met with mixed results. But, with the introduction of the stunning CLA sedan, Mercedes-Benz’s luck may have just taken a turn for the better. Aggressive styling, decent performance and available AWD make the CLA an easy car to live with year round. Toss in the panache of owning a car adorned with the three-point hood ornament for about the same price as a nicely equipped more prosaic offering, and the CLA begins to look like an upwardly mobile ladder climber’s dream come true.”


Chevrolet Impala 10


Toyota Corolla

Chevrolet Silverado

2014 URBAN TRUCK OF THE YEAR UWA juror and freelance automotive reviewer Mary Chapman said of the Silverado: “The new Chevrolet Silverado’s exterior lines are cleaner and squarer, and set off by just the right amount of tasteful bling. An absolutely beautiful truck, the Silverado’s also undergone a host of structural upgrades, making it even more robust. Further, it can be fitted with three engines, including a new, remarkably efficient 4.3-liter V6 with 285 horses. This new Chevrolet displays improved performance all around.” Freelance reviewer Mark Elias said: “GM continues to refine its bread and butter pickup truck. In highline crew cab trim, it is fully capable as a utility vehicle. But it’s also so good, it can go from being the second vehicle in the garage to the ONLY vehicle in the garage.”


Hyundai Santa Fe



urban wheel awards

BMW i3

2014 URBAN GREEN VEHICLE OF THE YEAR Of the BMW i3, UWA juror and freelance automotive reviewer Christopher Jackson said: “ The BMW i3 is a serious effort to infuse a premium brand with a "green" heritage. The BMW i3 is as stylish as it is environmentfriendly and high-tech.” Mary Chapman said: “BMW's first from scratch all-electric production car is touted to have a range of up to 100 miles, attain the equivalent of 93 mpg, and get from zero to 60 in seven seconds. Further, with its light-weight carbon body and dried-grass composite instrument panel, the all-new BMW electric car takes the notion of being “green” quite literally.”


Cadillac ELR 12


Honda Accord Hybrid

thehistoryoftheurbanwheelawards Founded as the Golden Wheel Awards in 1997, the Urban Wheel Awards were developed to recognize and honor diversity in the auto industry. Some 350 people braved a major snowstorm to attend the first program, held on Jan. 9, 1997, at the Renaissance Club in downtown Detroit. The Golden Wheel Awards were renamed the Urban Wheel Awards on Jan. 7, 1999, to better reflect the mission and purpose of Decisive Media (formerly On Wheels, Incorporated). Over the years, the venues have changed to accommodate ever increasing audiences, and categories have been added to reflect progress in diversity. 2013 – SEVENTEENTH ANNUAL URBAN WHEEL AWARDS Honoring Women in the Automotive Industry Sunday, January 13, 2013 – Sound Board, MotorCity Casino Hotel Co-Hosts Edward James Olmos, Actor, Producer, Director, and Community Activist & Niecy Nash, Comedian & Actress Celebrity Presenters Vickie Winans, National and International Gospel Recording Artist; K’Jon,National and International Urban Recording Artist; L. J. Reynolds & Martha Reeves,National and International R&B Recording Artists 2012 – SIXTEENTH ANNUAL URBAN WHEEL AWARDS 16 Years of Emerging Diversity in the Automotive Industry Sunday, January 8, 2012 – Sound Board, MotorCity Casino Hotel Co-Hosts Phylicia Rashad, Award Winning Actress & John Quiñones, Emmy Award Winning ABC News Anchor Celebrity Presenters Debbi Morgan, Film & TV Actress; Gina Hiraizumi, Actress/ Recording Artist 2011 - FIFTEENTH ANNUAL URBAN WHEEL AWARDS Celebrating 15 Years of Emerging Diversity in the Auto Industry Sunday, January 9, 2011 – Sound Board, MotorCity Casino Hotel Host Jamal Simmons, CBS News Analyst Celebrity Presenters K’Jon, National Recording Artist; Dwele, National Recording Artist 2010 – FOURTEENTH ANNUAL URBAN WHEEL AWARDS Stimulating Minority Business Development Tuesday, January 12, 2010 – Sound Board, MotorCity Casino Hotel Host LisaRaye, actress. National and International Urban Recording Artist, K’Jon, presented and performed 2009 - THIRTEENTH ANNUAL URBAN WHEEL AWARDS Fashion, Stars, and Cars Tuesday, January 13, 2009 – Detroit Opera House Co-hosts Tony Plana, Actor & Sheryl Lee Ralph, Actress Celebrity Presenters: Kevon Edmonds and KEM, National R&B Recording Artists; Henry Cho, National Stand Up Comedian 2008 - TWELFTH ANNUAL URBAN WHEEL AWARDS Fashion, Stars, and Cars Tuesday, January 15, 2008 – Detroit’s Fox Theater Co-hosts Rozie Perez, Actress & Kevin Frazier, Host, The Insider Celebrity Presenters Musiq Soulchild, Grammy Nominated Neo Soul Balladeer; Funkmaster Flex, NY Radio Personality; Tyson Beckford, Super Model, and MTV’s Sway The 2008 UWA program book made its digital debut and won the Content-Wise Magnum Opus Award. ContentWise stated: “The innovative use of an electronic format helps extend the impact of a publication that people traditionally consult for one night then put in an album or even throw away.”

2007 – ELEVENTH ANNUAL URBAN WHEEL AWARDS Multicultural Diversity in the Auto Industry Tuesday, January 9, 2007 – Orchestra Hall at the Max M. Fisher Music Center Co-Hosts Vivica A. Fox, Actress & Alex Raymundo, Actor Celebrity Presenters Tommy Davidson, Actor/Comedian & Brian Tee, Actor 2006 – TENTH ANNUAL URBAN WHEEL AWARDS Tuesday, January 10, 2006 – Orchestra Hall at the Max M. Fisher Music Center. Host Sinbad, Actor/Comedian Celebrity Presenters Vivica A. Fox, Actress, & Bokeem Woodbine, Actor 2005 – NINTH ANNUAL URBAN WHEEL AWARDS Tuesday, January 11, 2005 – Orchestra Hall at the Max M. Fisher Music Center. Host Sinbad, Actor/Comedian 2004 – EIGHTH ANNUAL URBAN WHEEL AWARDS Tuesday, January 6, 2004 – Orchestra Hall at the Max M. Fisher Music Center. Host Robert Townsend, Actor/Writer/Producer/Director 2003 – SEVENTH ANNUAL URBAN WHEEL AWARDS Tuesday, January 7, 2003 – Detroit Institute of Arts Museum Hosts Cathy Hughes, CEO Radio One & Alex Reymundo, Comedian 2002 – SIXTH ANNUAL URBAN WHEEL AWARDS Thursday, January 10, 2002 – Detroit Institute Of Arts Museum Hosts Judge Greg Mathis From “Judge Mathis,” The Nationally Syndicated Reality-Based Court Show & Yolanda Nava, Author Of “It’s All In The Frijoles” And An Emmy Award-Winning Television Broadcast Journalist 2001 – FIFTH ANNUAL URBAN WHEEL AWARDS Thursday, January 11, 2001. Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History 2000 – FOURTH ANNUAL URBAN WHEEL AWARDS Thursday, January 13, 2000. Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History 1999 – THIRD ANNUAL URBAN WHEEL AWARDS Thursday, January 7, 1999. Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History 1998 – SECOND GOLDEN WHEEL AWARDS Thursday, January 8, 1998. Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History 1997 – GOLDEN WHEEL AWARDS Renaissance Club



a kind of chemistry that makes With the new intelliLink* infotainment system, 8-inch reconfigurable driver information center and available head-Up display, the new 2014 buick Lacrosse has the right formula for being comfortably connected. discover more at

*Full functionality requires compatible Bluetooth® and smartphone. Some devices require USB connectivity. ©2013 General Motors. All rights reserved. Buick® Buick emblem® IntelliLink® LaCrosse®

minds go boom.

On Wheels: Reviewed


Arguably the benchmark in its class, the BMW X5 was the first automobile to

and the world’s first Sport Activity Vehicle has evolved considerably—yet steadmarry the attributes of a sport utility vehicle with the driving dynamics of a fine fastly maintained its core competencies. sports sedan. The result became a best seller and ushered in a whole new set of For 2014, the X5 has a slimmed down sensibilities. So successful was the BMW X5, the model quickly spawned a raft of exterior appearance, harboring a more luxe oriented interior, albeit covering a lot imitators—some of them quite brilliant actually. of the same mechanicals. It is now more handsome, while still a reasonably sized, terrific handling vehicle. The BMW is also Interestingly, when the X5 was introduced, BMW’s marketing team, now capable of seating seven (in a pinch). in its effort to expand upon the concept of the SUV in order to convince Inside, the new X5 benefits from more premium materials. Further, consumers the X5 was indeed something different, latched onto the Sport the design stretches the horizontal lines as far as possible to enhance the Activity Vehicle moniker—rather than allowing the model to be considimpression of spaciousness. The three-level dash treatment adds more ered a sport utility vehicle. This was primarily because the BMW was the first vehicle of its type designed to perform more adroitly on the street than texture, as well as more substance to the look. The seats are finished with a multi-paneled upholstery treatment, giving them a richer, more on trails and rugged terrain. substantial look, while multicolored ambient lighting imbues character to Some 15 years later, the first BMW to be built in North America,



the passenger cabin after dark. On the technology front, the BMW iDrive system has been updated to incorporate a Touchpad system. Integrated into the top of the iDrive controller, it permits phone numbers, contact names, and addresses to be written out directly. It can also be used to zoom in and out on the map in the navigation system—as well as set parameters for the audio system. While we’re on the subject of the navigation system, in addition to the usual directional information, it now provides speed limit intel too. For 2014, the X5 is being offered in four flavors with three trim packages. The base xDrive35i model is powered by 300-horsepower, 3.0-liter turbocharged inline six, capable of delivering 300 ft-lbs of torque. The V8 xDrive50i model is also turbocharged and produces 445 horsepower and 480 ft-lbs of torque from 4.4-liters. The xDrive35d model also uses a turbocharged 3.0-liter inline six—running on diesel fuel. Output is 255 horsepower and 423 ft-lbs of torque. Allwheel drive is standard equipment and the only transmission choice is an eightspeed automatic. We’ve driven both gasoline-fired powerplants and can report they are extremely competent at what they do. We will say while the six-cylinder demands no undue attention; when you’re sitting behind that V8, you know it. The engine rumbles, grumbles, and even roars — depending upon what you require of it at differing junctures. Mind you, it’s highly mellifluous and not at all disturbing—but it does make its presence known, in a very good way. While space doesn’t permit us to go too deeply into it, a number of revisions and enhancements to the body structure and the suspension system have both improved handling and made the X5 a quieter automobile. Further, the BMW Dynamic Handling Package and the Adaptive M suspension system promise to improve the BMW’s responsiveness even more. The available Driving Dynamics Control even allows you to tailor the way the X5 behaves to the way you feel, or your particular need at any given moment. This is unquestionably a driver-oriented vehicle, but at the same time it is extremely comfortable and family-friendly. The 2014 BMW X5 really is the best X5 ever. Pricing starts at $53,725.d D



On Wheels: Reviewed

2014 Folks, Buick has changed, and then again, it really hasn’t. Spend some time in the new 2014 Buick Regal GS and you’ll experience an athleticism long disassociated with the tri-shield brand. The soft “doctor’s” car demeanor the marque came to represent is gone—sort of. Yes, the Regal GS is luxurious like you’d expect a Buick to be. It is also in possession of a dignified look and stature like you’d expect a Buick to have. But it goes like the European sport sedan upon which the 2014 Buick Regal is based, the German Opel Insignia. Which is where Buick has changed—sort of. You see, in the past, there have been a number of performance oriented Buick models. It’s just been quite a while since the company brought a standout performance car to market. The last ones of any real significance were arguably the turbocharged Regal models of the late 1980’s. In fact; the 1987 Buick Regal GNX was faster than its Corvette contemporary. Of course today, a performance car has to be about more than just blistering acceleration. It needs to be exceptionally responsive, stop



well, corner adroitly, steer nearly telepathically, and if you’re trying to play in the luxury sports arena, you’ll need to provide a smooth and comfortable ride—on top of spirited handling. This can be a formidable task. But it is one the new Buick Regal GS pulls off with considerable competence—for the most part. Turbocharging once again pays a key role in the model’s prowess. In this case, the turbo force-feeds a 2.0-liter inline four-cylinder engine, inciting it to produce 259 horsepower and 295 ft-lbs of torque. The twin-scroll turbo spins up quickly, so the engine drives more like a V6 than a turbocharged four. It is smooth, tractable, and delivers a nice exhaust note—with just the right hint of sportiness—while still maintaining the dignity a Buick ought to have. Two transmissions are offered, a six-speed manual and a six-speed

automatic. However, there is a catch. The Regal can also be had with either front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive. But, if you opt for all-wheel drive, you’re locked into the automatic transmission. Which wouldn’t be such a bad thing except we noticed a significant lag between throttle application and response from the engine with the automatic transmission. We were told this was to ensure the smoothness for which Buicks are known. But we’ve driven a number of very smooth cars with similar powerplants (BMW’s 328i is a glaring example) bereft of this malady. We will say this is the only real chink in the Buick’s armor though, as the rest of the car delivers a wholly satisfying driving experience. Oh, wait; there is one more thing. In our opinion, the lack of paddle shifters on the steering wheel for the automatic transmission in a modern performance-oriented car is something of an oversight. When we discussed it with Buick’s representatives, they said most people don’t use them, so it didn’t make sense to add the expense to the development costs. We guess they know their existing market, but we wonder if that will put off potential conquest buyers a bit, since all of the key competitors offer them. Happily, this is the only place you’ll find the Buick lacking equipmentwise. The sport seats are firm, supportive, and comfortable over long distances, The interior of the car has a richness we found very reassuring. Standard features for the 2014 Buick Regal GS include Buick’s IntelliLink radio with integrated navigation, Bluetooth streaming for audio and handsfree phone operation, and a nine-speaker Bose amplification system. Satellite radio is also included—with a threemonth free trial. Keyless entry and start, as well as remote start, are also standard fare. Cruise control, dual-zone automatic climate control, a pair of DC power outlets, and a 12volt AC power outlet are also included in the base price. Optional kit includes blind spot monitoring with lane change alert, Rear Cross-Traffic Alert, Lane Departure Warning, Forward Collision Alert, Following Distance Indication, a power moonroof, smart cruise control, and automatic collision preparation with braking. Bottom line, the 2014 Buick Regal GS is good looking, well equipped, and handles beautifully. If they could just fix that throttle issue, we’d be absolutely set. Oh, and give us a set of paddle shifters for the transmission. Pricing starts at $37,830 for the front-drive 2014 Buick Regal GS. The all-wheel drive model starts at $40,195.d D



On Wheels: Reviewed

LandRover 2 0 14


If you’ve already seen the article in this issue on the BMW X5, you should know when Land Rover introduced the Range Rover Sport back in 2005, the market success of the BMW was one of the catalysts driving its development. The BMW X5 and Porsche Cayenne had demonstrated one-percenters would go for a luxury SUV with outstanding power and handling on the street. Further, those models had demonstrated—for a certain segment of that demographic— offroad capability was truly secondary. Of course, prodigious off road capability is an integral aspect of Land Rover’s DNA; no way the company was going to do a fast SUV wouldn’t hold its own on the Rubicon Trail. Thus, the original Range Rover Sport was engineered to scream on the street just as well as it would relentlessly traverse untamed terrain. Based as it was on the then-current standard Range Rover, this meant that first Range Rover Sport was a heavy proposition.



Fortunately, Land Rover went to aluminum for the Range Rover when it redid the model for the 2013 model year, so this new Range Rover Sport became an aluminum intensive vehicle too. The result being the 2014 Land Rover Range Rover Sport can boast outstanding performance; both on the road and off, along with exceptional handling and remarkable fuel economy. On the appearance front, the 2014 Range Rover Sport has a distinct

appearance, somewhat reminiscent of the new Range Rover Evoque. With its newfound sleekness, this latest model actually looks fast—which it absolutely is. What’s more, the new interior treatment has a richness of appearance, wholly befitting one of England’s top luxury marques. Plush is the watchword here, with a sporting edge wholly in keeping with the dynamic characteristics of the sportiest Range Rover model. The original Range Rover Sport used quite a bit of plastic in the interior, but this has been replaced by soft surfaces for the key touch points around the cabin. Additionally, the décor is comprised of extremely fine leather, richly polished wood, and a munificent offering of aluminum trim. And while it sounds like a lot, when it’s all blended together, the result is suitably understated, yet opulent.

Two engine offerings are provided; the Range Rover Sport SE runs a supercharged 340-horsepower, 3.0-liter V6 engine capable of 332 ft-lbs of torque. The Range Rover Sport Supercharged gets a 510 horsepower, 5.0-liter V8 engine capable of whirling out a prodigious 461 ft-lbs of torque. An eight-speed automatic transmission funnels engine output to all four wheels regardless of the engine chosen. Much to our delight, both models—also regardless of your engine choice—go like vehicles less than half their size. The idea of an automobile with the girth of the Range Rover Sport doing the things it can do dynamically is almost surreal. Fact of the matter though; the 2014 Range Rover Sport is one extremely capable vehicle—both on the road and off. Acceleration is near endless in its abundance, while roadholding is absolutely otherworldly. Bottom line, Range Rover Sport is one seriously amazing auto to drive. Even better, the interior is outstandingly plush, the exterior styling is the sleekest we’ve ever seen on a full-size Range Rover, and of course the prestige factor remains positively assured. Nothing else is a Range Rover. If you are one of those drivers for whom only the most prestigious will do; in this category it’s Range Rover or nothing at all. Yes, the Porsche and the BMW are similar, but they’re nothing like it, nothing at all. Pricing starts at $63,495 for the V6 powered Range Rover Sport HSE and $79,995 for a V8 powered 2014 Range Rover Sport Supercharged.d D



On Wheels: Reviewed

Mercedes-BenzE250 2 0 1 4

While the marketing team at Mercedes-Benz is eagerly referring to the 2014 E-Class as a redesign, we’re a bit reluctant to go along with them in that regard. See, when the mechanical changes are relatively minor, and the styling change is largely a refresh rather than a major revision, we’re more apt to label it an update.

With that said, this is a considerably significant update however. E-Class sedans and wagons get the styling refresh, while the coupes and convertibles remain unchanged. However, all models do get new interior design elements, and there are new engines across the board too. OK, so maybe the MBZ team is more on target than we initially gave them credit for. You decide. However you slice it, the E-Class is one very important model line for Mercedes-Benz. Given fully ¼ of all of the cars the company sells have an “E” on their trunklid, and when you consider Mercedes offers some 13 model ranges, that’s a huge statement. Essentially, the E-Class Mercedes-




Benz is the tent pole of the brand. Remarkably though, the E-Class could almost be a brand within itself. Comprised of coupes, cabriolets, sedans, and station wagons, and powered by a choice of eight different powertrains (in both rearand all-wheel drive), there really is an E-Class Mercedes product for just about every category of driver. With that said, the subject of this review is the E250 BluTEC sedan, powered by a 2.1-liter turbocharged four-cylinder diesel engine. The powerplant produces 195 horsepower and 369 ft-lbs of torque starting at 1600 RPM. A seven-speed automatic transmission routes its power to either the rear wheels or all four wheels in the case of our all-wheel drive 4MATIC test car. Auto start and stop is applied as well, shutting the engine down at traffic signals, railroad crossings, or any other situation in which the engine is left idling for an extended period.

By the way, 2014 marks the first application of diesel power to an all-wheel drive Mercedes-Benz E-Class passenger car. It is also the first time Mercedes-Benz has offered a four-cylinder engine to an E-Class model for North America. Naturally, we were curious to see how it would measure up. And frankly, with 369 ft-lbs of torque available to it, the E250 BlueTEC was measuring up big time. And despite the fact it consumes diesel fuel, the 2014 E250 BluTEC accelerates smoothly, quietly, and steadily. You have to be told the car houses a diesel engine. None of the traditional vibrations, smells, or any other untoward aspects of diesel power are discernable. Additionally, the seven-speed transmission—playing nicely along—shifted seamlessly. We were barely aware of gear changes. Netting superior fuel economy while sacrificing little in the way of performance, we were quite impressed with the diesel Benz. As for the overall driving experience, the handling—if you’ve any familiarity with the Mercedes-Benz E-Class model—competently straddles the line between comfortable ride and proficient cornering. In other words, the Benz will let you go quickly, while still delivering ride quality comfortable enough to keep your passengers contentedly settled. In other news, the 2014 model year marks the incorporation of the latest suite of Mercedes-Benz’s safety technologies into the E-Class platform. The Mercedes-Benz intelligent drive system incorporates a new stereoscopic camera system, enabling the car to “see” in three dimensions. A $2,800 option, the system can stop the car if it spots an imminent collision. Further, it can help keep the car centered in its lane of travel, anticipate traffic flow, recognize pedestrians, and mitigate pedestrian injuries in potential collisions if it surmises the driver is inattentive. Other sensors mounted on the 2014 Mercedes-Benz E-Class will prevent a lane change if a vehicle is in the driver’s blind spot, prep the car to protect occupants if it senses they are about to be subjected to a rear-end collision, and it can stop the car completely at speeds of less than 31 miles per hour if the driver is about hit a stationary object. What’s more, the styling changes have made what was arguably one of the best looking cars in the class even better looking. With the 2014 Mercedes-Benz E-Class we have even more of what was already a very good thing. Mercedes-Benz E250 BluTEC pricing starts at $51,400, while the E250 BluTEC 4MATIC starts at $53,900.d D

On Wheels: Reviewed

SubaruWRX 2 0 1 5

For the 2015 model year WRX, Subaru has dropped mention of the Impreza nameplate. The car is now simply known as the 2015 Subaru WRX. And with it, the boyishness of previous iterations of the car has been allowed to fall by the wayside as well. Starting with the look of the car: the huge wings, giant air scoops, and overall cartoonish demeanor have been eschewed in favor of a more subtle, sophisticated, almost European look. What’s more, the hatchback, so loved by the wannabe rally-king set, has been dropped as well. You’ll now get your WRX as a sedan only, just as it was when the model first came to the United States back in 2004. Furthermore, a continuously variable transmission has been fitted to the car, and perhaps most telling of all, the suspension system has been calibrated for optimal performance on pavement. This is a significant change from previous iterations of the WRX. Those cars, hewing more toward the World Rally heritage of the car, left quite a bit of compliance in the suspension systems. This always hamstrung the WRX when its more potent STi sibling was lined up for a street fight next to the Mitsubishi Evo—its closest competitor. And let’s face it; these cars are almost always driven on pavement—not dirt.



What we have here is something of a new philosophy for Subaru’s high protein sedan. Further, the WRX and the Impreza—the model upon which it is based—now have very little in common style-wise. According to Subaru’s representatives, only the roof and the rear decklid of the WRX are identical to the Impreza. The doors, front fenders, hood, bumpers, headlights, and taillight clusters are all specific to the WRX. So while you might see a hint of Impreza in the overall shape of the car, the detailing of the WRX really does make it distinctive from its more sedate cousin. Long story short, this new WRX is indeed a more sophisticated performance car. Where previous versions of the WRX kind of resembled what would happen if somebody were let loose with an aftermarket performance catalog specifically tailored to the car, this version of the WRX looks like everything was thought through and integrated in a wholly organic fashion. For power, a 2.0-liter direct injection turbocharged horizontally op-

posed four-cylinder engine with variable valve timing provides 268 horsepower and 258 ft-lbs of torque to the 2015 WRX. Peak torque occurs at just 2000 rpm. A new six-speed manual transmission conducts power to all four wheels as standard equipment. As we mentioned before, also new to the WRX is an optional continuously variable transmission (CVT). And while this might well sound like a strange offering for a performance car, the reality is it works quite well. In most cases, given the way the transmission is calibrated, you won’t even notice it’s a continuously variable unit. By the way, when you look at the Subaru’s sticker, if you see “Sport Lineartronic”, you’re looking at the CVT. Acceleration from zero to 60 is quoted at 5.4 seconds with the six-speed manual and 5.9-seconds with the Sport Lineartronic. Driving the car, the first thing you’ll you notice is the sharp throttle response. Push the gas pedal and the 2015 WRX responds immediately. The engine is free winding, creamy smooth, sounds terrific, and does its thing with just a hint of turbo whistle to remind you it’s force-fed. Ask for a change of direction and you’ll note near instantaneous helm response. The steering is very quick, but it’s also nicely linear. You get exactly what you ask for. Happily, to go along with the improved power and additional grip, Subaru improved the braking system too. For more arresting ability, a larger set of brake rotors and more robust clamping power from the calipers were prescribed to provide fade-free operation—delivered with precise modulation. In sum, the overall character of the 2015 Subaru WRX reflects the significant attention its development team paid to improving quality, style, and performance. The interior treatment is much more handsome and substantive, while the exterior styling is considerably more sophisticated. About the only complaint we can lodge against the new WRX is the amount of road noise filtering into the passenger compartment. Overall though, the 2015 Subaru WRX is easily numbered among the cars we love.d D




The 17th Annual Urban Wheel Awards event was held on Sunday, January 13, 2013 in the Sound Board Theater, at the MotorCity Casino Hotel in Detroit. Hosted by by award-winning actors Edward James Olmos and Niecy Nash, the event honored the contributions of women in the automotive industry in management, manufacturing, engineering, design, marketing, human resources, and communications, as well as other segments of the industry. Companies dedicated to the development and advancement of women in the auto industry were also recognized. "Our mission is to ensure efforts in all aspects of diversity are honored and rewarded with the Urban Wheel Awards. For seventeen years, this has been the only event held during the NAIAS promoting and cel-



ebrating diversity and inclusion in the auto industry. We were extremely honored to dedicate the 2013 event to women in recognition of their significant accomplishments and successes in the automotive industry.� said Randi Payton, UWA founder. Proceeds from the UWA support the Emerging Diversity Education Fund to provide scholarships, internships, and mentoring support for ethnic minority college students pursuing careers in communications and the auto industry. In addition to the women honored, the Cadillac ATS was named Urban Car of The Year, the Ram 1500 was named Urban Truck of The Year, and the Tesla Model S was named Urban Green Vehicle of the Year.d D

Toyota Motor Sales, Progress in Women’s Dealership Diversity: Alva Mason Manager, Strategic Dealer Representation & Community Relations

Chrysler Group LLC, Progress in Human Resources: Georgette Borrego-Dulworth Director, Talent Acquisition and Global Diversity Toyota Motor Engineering & Manufacturing North America, Inc. (TEMA), Progress in Women’s Supplier Development: Adrienne C. Trimble Project General Manager, Corporate Diversity & Inclusion General Motors, Progress in Community Service Initiatives to Women: Vivian Pickard President, General Motors Foundation & Director, Corporate Relations, General Motors Company Pioneer of the Year: Jenell R. Ross President, Bob Ross Auto Group —Centerville, Ohio

Designer of the Year: Crystal Windham Director of Design GM North American Passenger Car Interiors

Hispanic Supplier of the Year: Dolores M. Rodriquez President, Whisper Creative Products, Inc.

Native-American Supplier of the Year: Andra Rush President, The Rush Group

African-American Dealer of The Year: Gail Burrus Martin CEO, Martin Management Group

Hispanic Dealer of The Year: Evelyn Chatel Freedom Auto Group Lifetime Achievement Award: Kathy Jackson Legendary Automotive Journalist

Alicia Boler-Davis Vice President of Global Quality and U.S. Customer Experience General Motors Company

Asian Dealer of The Year: Lori Lum Toyooka President And General Manager, Lum’s Auto Center



long term



Going into the holiday season, our long term 2013 Chrysler 300C John Varvatos Limited Edition found itself serving as Santa’s sleigh (OK, the lovely and ever so giving Mrs. L.I.R. Bell’s sleigh), for the holidays. Trunk packed with gifts for the trip to the family holiday gathering, we were flat amazed at how many packages the Chrysler’s trunk happily consumed. With the trunk packed and two other adult family members in the car with us, we set off on the two-hour drive to the event. On the highway, even fully loaded the way it was, the 300C ruled the road with effortless acceleration, comfortable cruising, and pretty much every Christmas song ever composed at our fingertips. Between the Satellite radio’s offerings, the hours and hours of carols Mrs. Me had loaded on her iPhone, the CD player, and the hard disc storage unit… Well, let’s just say if I hear yet another version of “Run, Run Rudolph”, I swear to God… We had a particularly frigid few days in December here in the San Francisco Bay Area, and during them we discovered something else really neat about the Chrysler. Whenever the ambient temperature drops below 40 degrees F, the 300C automatically activates the driver’s seat heater and the steering wheel heater. And, if you take advantage of the Chrysler’s remote start feature while you make your last minute preparations to leave the house, by the time you get in the car, the interior is nice and warm, as are the seat and the steering wheel. Let me tell you, if you’ve never driven a car with a heated steering wheel on a cold winter’s day, you’ve truly missed one of the more



sublime pleasures of modern life. And yes, we know idling the car while we get ready to go could be considered a waste of fuel. But cold is cold and being warm isn’t something I consider a waste of fuel where my darling wife is concerned. WRITTEN BY LYNDON CONRAD BELL But I digress… Back to the holiday road trip... It’s remarkable how everyone who rides with us in the Chrysler can sense just how solid the car feels on the road. Having test driven so many cars over the course of my career, I’m attuned to it, perhaps acutely so. But it’s surprising to me how many people who don’t spend so much time with cars can feel it in the way the 300C goes down the road—without even driving it. They say the Chrysler feels “heavy”. But not heavy as in ponderous—in fact they also note how agile the car is. They mean heavy as in solid, secure, confident, and trustworthy. Frankly, if you have to turn over a car to someone you love to be their primary transportation; those are exactly the traits you’d want it to have. Putting Mrs. Me in the 300C was like getting her a bodyguard for the street. I like that—I like that a lot.d D





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Grand Cherokee Summit shown. *Jeep Grand Cherokee has received more awards over its lifetime than any other SUV. Jeep is a registered trademark of Chrysler Group LLC.

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