2018 Toyota Camry XSE – Redefining Entry Level Luxury

2018 has started with a few surprises in the automotive industry. First, Buick comes out with their all new station wagon, the Regal TourX. It’s very possible and not too far fetched to say that the TourX could reshape the opinions of consumers on whether crossovers are the best option when shopping for a vehicle that provides cargo space, practicality, and a relative sense of performance. The all new Kia Stinger GT is setting out to take on the likes of the Audi S5 Sportback, as it provides a surprisingly great driving experience and performance. Then you have the 2018 Toyota Camry XSE. The sedan that just might redefine the term, “entry level luxury”.

When you think of the Toyota Camry, performance and luxury are probably not the first adjectives you’d use to describe this sedan. In fact, most likely it’s practicality and reliability that are the more accurate terms. However for the 2018 Camry XSE, it feels as though Toyota has made a sedan that challenges all preconceptions, opinions, and perceptions that it’s just a car that will get you from point A to point B. Having had the opportunity to test drive this car at the New England International Auto Show, I can no longer look at the Toyota Camry as being a means of transportation for the average driver. Instead, the Camry has given me hope that during a daily commute to work, I can still have some fun behind the wheel and enjoy the driving experience without having to pay $45k+ on a new luxury vehicle.

With the very distinct and almost retro-like two-toned exterior, which is optional on the XSE, the Camry looks much more aggressive than in previous years. A black mesh front grille and 19″ wheels also adds a sporty appeal on this trim. For performance the XSE comes with a 3.5L V6 engine that gets 301 hp and 267 lb ft of torque and is paired with an 8 speed automatic transmission that do come with paddle shifters. You’ll go from 0-60 in 5.8 seconds which is 0.1 seconds slower than the Honda Accord 2.0T Touring but faster than the Hyundai Sonata and Kia Optima.

Inside you’re greeted by a very comfortable and spacious interior. For a car that’s not considered a full-sized sedan, the Camry comes with a lot of arm room. You don’t feel cramped, and you’re not so close to your passenger that it begins to feel uncomfortable. The most important aspect of the interior are the seats. Along with the two-toned exterior, you’ll get red sports seats that literally hug you while driving. It surprised me that I was behind the wheel of a Toyota with paddle shifters and was actually comfortable during the test drive.

2018 Toyota Camry XSE
2018 Toyota Camry XSE

I don’t know if it’s almost the two decades long biases I’ve had against the Camry or Toyota in general being a car enthusiast, but I was genuinely impressed with both the looks and driving experience.

Toyota has been marketing themselves lately as being more sporty and cool which didn’t make much sense to me prior to spending time with the Camry. However, I’m beginning to buy into their latest changes as the XSE is surprisingly fun to drive and provides a comfortable luxury-like driving experience.

The Camry XSE comes with a base price of $35k and can reach $39k fully loaded. While it could be argued that the Camry is reaching entry level German luxury sedan territory, what can’t be denied is that Toyota is beginning to offer some sense of luxury with performance. It will be interesting to see where the brand goes from here, as the redesigned Toyota Avalon shares the same design cues as the Camry, and the facelift looks just as good.

Japanese and Korean car makers are stepping up their game, and with that comes better designed cars. The next few years are going to be exciting, and for me, I’m looking forward to what’s down the road as car brands that weren’t emphasizing luxury at all, are beginning to offer features, styling, and performance that’s hard to pass up if you’re a consumer in the market for a sedan in the $35k – $40k price range.

2018 Buick Regal TourX – The Station Wagon Is Back In The US

In the automotive market, 2018 has begun much like every year this decade. Crossovers are the vehicle of choice by consumers and with each passing year, brands introduce new models to appeal to the growing demand for small SUV’s that provide road clearance, cargo space, and for some, off-road capability. Throughout this era of crossover dominance, there’s been a sentiment festering in the hearts of some Americans who want station wagons to once again have a presence in car brands’ lineups. The good news is that their wishes have been granted by GM with the all new Buick Regal TourX.

For Buick, this is the first time since 1996 that they’ve offered a station wagon. At first glance the TourX has a very European look and that’s because of the collaboration between Opel and GM. In the UK, the TourX is known as the Vauxhall Insignia Country Tourer. Many often refer to the TourX as being a twin to the Audi A4 Allroad, and while they do share similar design cues in terms of appearance, there is absolutely no relation. However, this is a blessing for Buick, as any similarity to a well known German station wagon could yield high rewards in the near future.

Buick is offering their station wagon at a base price of $29k, with the most expensive trim, the Essence, topping out at around $42k. There’s only one engine option: A turbocharged four cylinder engine that gets 250 hp and 295 lb ft of torque, and is paired with an 8 speed automatic transmission. For the drivetrain, AWD does come standard on the Regal TourX. The most important specification on this station wagon however is just how much cargo room you get. With the rear seats up, the TourX comes with 35 cubic ft of cargo room, but when the seats are folded down, that room doubles in size, outclassing all competition in it’s price range.

A lot of that has to do with Buick going with a mid-sized station wagon, rather than competing against the smaller Volkswagen Golf Alltrack. The TourX provides more cargo room than the Audi A4 Allroad, and in fact is more in line with most crossovers in terms of interior dimensions, but is significantly cheaper. Buick’s goal is to take on the crossovers in it’s price range, primarily the Subaru Outback. While the TourX isn’t an off-roader by any means, it’s a viable alternative as a daily driver for consumers who want the sensation of driving a car, but still have the cargo room that can be found in a Honda CR-V and Toyota Rav4.

Ultimately, the most appealing aspect of this station wagon is the fact that it offers European luxury for less than the German and Swedish competitors. While there are GM elements that make up the interior of the TourX, it can be said that it’s at least on par with crossovers in it’s price range, and I’d argue that the interior is better than what you’d find on a Volkswagen Golf Alltrack.

When taking a look at the TourX Essence which is the top trim, you’ll get leather seats, a heated steering wheel, dual zone climate control, and an 8″ touch screen display. You’ll get a navigation system, along with up to date traffic reports, and even a 5 day weather outlook. A panoramic moonroof is optional, which brings in a lot of natural light and just gives the TourX a more luxurious feel. Optional packages include a number of safety features such as rear park assist, rear cross traffic alert, adaptive cruise control, lane keeping assist, lane departure warning, and front automatic braking.

Overall the TourX is a breath of fresh air in an automotive era filled with crossovers, especially in a price range at or below $40k. Hopefully in the near and not to distant future, American auto manufacturers build off what Buick is offering: 250 hp and AWD coming standard, no CVT transmission, and styling that is very appealing, even to consumers who aren’t in the market for a station wagon. Time will decide whether the TourX is the beginning of a new trend in the automotive world, but with other station wagons like the Audi A4 Allroad, Volvo V60 and V90, and the Volkswagen Golf Alltrack on the market, it could be argued that station wagons are creeping back into the United States.

The 2018 New England International Auto Show

This past weekend was the New England International Auto Show in Boston, with this year featuring a Pagani Huayra, Porsche 918, Lamborghini Aventador SV, Bugatti Veyron, the completely re-designed Aston Martin Vantage, and the Porsche 911 GT2 RS!

Here’s the video from Thursday’s Press Day, where we got to take an exclusive look inside the GT2 RS and check out some of the brand new cars that are arriving in dealership showrooms this year!

Look forward to reviews coming this year on some of the cars in this video. The Toyota Camry XSE was very impressive, as it’s two-toned exterior and red interior certainly grabbed attention. Also the all new Buick Regal TourX made it’s Boston debut, which comes with 250 hp standard.

2017 Ford Focus RS Review

Huge thank you to Muzi Ford in Needham, Massachusetts for allowing me to take a look at the 2017 Ford Focus RS. The RS is the ultimate year round vehicle for car enthusiasts, as it’s performance and AWD drivetrain lets the driver have fun on the road, the track, and in the winter.

Here’s the full review of the Focus RS. Also, visit Muzi Ford’s website to check out their extensive Ford inventory!

http://www.muziford.com

2018 Volvo S60 T5 Dynamic – The Perfect Daily Driver

In 2017, car buyers have plenty of options to choose from. They can purchase a sedan, crossover, full sized SUV, or hatchback, but it gets even more difficult when you narrow it down to a specific category within the automotive market. For luxury sedans, consumers can go with BMW, Audi, Mercedes Benz, Alfa Romeo, Lexus, Acura, and Jaguar, but for the person who wants a compromise between safety, luxury, and performance, the Volvo S60 is the ideal car that suits the needs of many Americans.

Monday I got to spend time with a 2018 S60 T5 Dynamic, courtesy of Volvo Village in Danvers, Massachusetts. If you’re familiar with the second generation S60, you know that over time its appearance has become more aggressive and sporty. Starting with the 2017 model year, the Dynamic trim was introduced, and with that brought a slight change as the 2018 I got to review had the 18″ Tucan Diamond Cut Black Alloy wheels that come standard.

Volvo has integrated sporty qualities to compliment the luxurious aspect on the S60 by providing sport seats standard that will literally hug you while you’re driving. Combined with the fact that they’re leather and heated, no matter what time of year or the weather, your experience behind the wheel will be an enjoyable and comfortable one. Adding on to the luxury appeal for the interior, you get a Harman/Kardon premium sound system, a navigation system, dual zone climate control, and a leather wrapped steering wheel.

Passengers in the back will be greeted with very comfortable and supportive bench seats that will keep them in place, and give them good leg room. They’ll have rear cup holders that fold down from the center seat, along with a storage compartment that can fit smartphones and other small items.

When it comes to Volvo, safety is the number one priority. Blind Spot Information System, Brake assist, Rear Park Assist Sensors, Rear Park Assist Camera, and anti-whiplash front head restraints highlight the safety features on the S60.

For performance, you’ll get a turbocharged 4 cylinder engine with 240 hp and 258 lb feet of torque. An 8 speed automatic transmission w/Geartronic comes standard, but paddle shifters are optional. When it comes to fuel economy, you can expect to receive 23 mpg in the city and 31 mpg on the highway. Volvo also offers two drivetrain variants on the S60, FWD and AWD, with front wheel drive getting slightly better gas mileage.

The S60 I got to review was the base AWD trim with the heated front seats and steering wheel package. One of the options that Volvo offers include: the $1000 Sports Package that gets you paddle shifters, sports chassis, electric power steering personalization, and 19″ Portia Diamond Cut Alloy Wheels. The Technology and Vision packages offer additional safety features, such as Collision Warning w/ Full Auto Brake & Pedestrian and Cyclist Detection, Adaptive Cruise Control w/ Queue Assist, Lane Keeping Aid, and Driver Alert Control to name a few.

Overall the 2018 Volvo S60 T5 Dynamic is a great daily driver. You get safety, luxury, and performance, along with AWD as an option. The MSRP of the S60 I reviewed is $41k, but the front wheel drive variants start around $34k. It’s reasonably priced, making the S60 a serious competitor to the BMW 3 Series and others in its class. Volvo has made strides against their German counterparts over the past few years, and with their resurgence in the luxury market, Volvo can no longer be overlooked.

This Is What Being A Car Enthusiast Is All About

The final days of summer are upon us, which means the car season up here in Boston is slowly coming to a close. There’s only a handful of weeks remaining where the weather is conducive for car meets and Cars & Coffees, as the cold and snow aren’t too far away. With the impending end to an awesome car season looming in the back of our minds, it doesn’t mean that we can’t have fun and enjoy spending time with fellow car enthusiasts. On a late Saturday afternoon, a meet was organized at the best spot in Boston to take pictures and to just get away from the crowds at car events. This meet, while short lived due to the police kicking us out, turned out to be one of the best nights this summer.

Lamborghini Huracan Between to Corvettes
Lamborghini Huracan Between to Corvettes

Near the waterfront of the Boston harbor the fog rolling in off the water, combined with the industrial buildings and loading terminals, created an atmosphere that would have been expected on the set of a Fast & Furious movie. As the sun began to set, cars started arriving, including two Lamborghini Huracans, a Porsche 911 GT3, a McLaren 570S, C6 and C7 Chevrolet Corvettes, a Maserati Gran Turismo, and small groups of BMWs, Audis, and JDM cars. Familiar faces arriving with each car made this car meet a great time to just hang out and talk with friends. That’s what the car community is all about.

Long Beach Blue BMW M2
Long Beach Blue BMW M2

Chevrolet Corvette C7

Audi Crew
Audi Crew
Lamborghini Huracan
Lamborghini Huracan

To many non-car enthusiasts, excessive revving, and doing burnouts and donuts in empty parking lots are usually what they associate with when they think of late afternoon or evening car meets. That can’t be further from the truth or reality. When you have a group of great individuals who love cars and want to share their passion with fellow car enthusiasts, meets in exclusive locations tend to be the best. For about two hours we took photos, videos, talked, and met up with friends before the meet was ultimately shut down. Despite the early end, it was a great evening nonetheless.

I’m so thankful to be part of a community with awesome people that make late summer evenings fun. This is what being a car enthusiast is all about, and why our community is so close-knit. The Boston car scene may not be as big as Los Angeles, Miami, or Texas, but it’s the car owners and people that make us the best car community in the country.

Porsche 911 GT3
Porsche 911 GT3
Nissan GTR
Nissan GTR
McLaren 570S
McLaren 570S
Porsche 911 Turbo
Porsche 911 Turbo

Upcoming Car Events and Cars & Coffees For September In Boston

Here’s the list of upcoming car events and Cars & Coffees for the month of September. If you know of any other large car events this month, comment below and I’ll add them to the list.

McLaren Boston
McLaren Boston
Herb Chambers C&C
Herb Chambers C&C
Seacoast Cars and Coffee
Seacoast Cars and Coffee

September 10th is Seacoast Cars & Coffee up in Portsmouth, NH.

For more information you can visit their website:
Seacoast Cars & Coffee Website

You can also check out their Facebook Page:
Seacoast Cars & Coffee Facebook Page

There’s three car events this month at Larz Anderson Auto Museum.

Larz Anderson Car Events September
Larz Anderson Car Events September
The Boston Cup
The Boston Cup
NorthEast Classic
NorthEast Classic

At Gilette Stadium in Foxborough, there’s Bass Pro Shops Cruise Night on Thursday nights from 4-8pm. This is a bi-weekly event that usually gets a turnout between 1000 and 2000 cars. Here are the two upcoming cruise nights.

Bass Pro Shops Cruise Night
Bass Pro Shops Cruise Night

As always, I’ll continue to update this article if any large car events pop up within the next few days and weeks.

Reminder – No Bass Pro Shops Cruise Night August 31st

Due to the New England Patriots playing at home tomorrow, August 31st, there is no Bass Pro Shops Cruise Night. The next meet is Sept 14th.

Upcoming Car Events and Cars & Coffees For August In Boston

Here’s the list of upcoming car events and Cars & Coffees for the month of August. If you know of any other large car events this month, comment below and I’ll add them to the list.

McLaren Boston
McLaren Boston
Herb Chambers C&C
Herb Chambers C&C
Boston Cars & Coffee August 26th
Boston Cars & Coffee August 26th
Tutto Italiano
Tutto Italiano

In addition to Boston Cars & Coffee at Larz Anderson, there’s special events held at the museum each weekend. Here’s the five car events at Larz for the month of August.

Larz Anderson Event Schedule of August
Larz Anderson Event Schedule of August
Seacoast Cars and Coffee
Seacoast Cars and Coffee

August 6th is Seacoast Cars & Coffee up in Portsmouth, NH.

For more information you can visit their website:
Seacoast Cars & Coffee Website

You can also check out their Facebook Page:
Seacoast Cars & Coffee Facebook Page

As always, I’ll continue to update this article if any large car events pop up within the next few days and weeks.

UPDATE

2nd Annual Shriners Donation Car Show
2nd Annual Shriners Donation Car Show
5th Annual Concorso Italiano
5th Annual Concorso Italiano

At Gilette Stadium in Foxborough, there’s Bass Pro Shops Cruise Night on Thursday nights from 4-8pm. This is a bi-weekly event that usually gets a turnout between 1000 and 2000 cars. Here are the two upcoming cruise nights.

Bass Pro Shops Cruise Night
Bass Pro Shops Cruise Night

Dream Ride August 26th and 27th in Farmington, Connecticut.

For more information visit:

Dream Ride 2017
Dream Ride 2017

McLaren F1, McLaren 720S, and V12 Zagato – All In One Weekend

The car season in Boston has already reached the halfway mark, and to transition into the second half of the season July 8th and 9th certainly didn’t disappoint. So far this season we’ve seen two Ferrari 488 GTBs, at least three Porsche 911Rs, and now in one weekend we got the opportunity to see the McLaren F1, the new McLaren 720S, and the Aston Martin V12 Zagato. Here are some of the photos from this past weekend.

The Spy Shots of the McLaren 720S

McLaren 720S
McLaren 720S delivered to McLaren Boston
McLaren 720S
McLaren 720S

At McLaren Boston Cars & Coffee, we were greeted by the 720S which was being delivered to the dealership at the same time as the event was coming to an end. Unfortunately, the covers weren’t taken off, but thanks to a few exposed parts of the car, this 720S is Pearl Orange. This makes it one of the first to land in the United States.

Herb Chambers’ McLaren F1

McLaren F1
McLaren F1
McLaren F1
McLaren F1
McLaren F1
McLaren F1
McLaren F1
McLaren F1

Sadly, this will be the last time we see this F1 as it will be auctioned off later this year. The good news however, is that it will be replaced by the new Mercedes Benz AMG Project One hypercar.

The 2013 Aston Martin V12 Zagato

Aston Martin V12 Zagato
Aston Martin V12 Zagato
Aston Martin V12 Zagato
Aston Martin V12 Zagato
Aston Martin V12 Zagato
Aston Martin V12 Zagato
Aston Martin V12 Zagato
Aston Martin V12 Zagato
Aston Martin V12 Zagato
Aston Martin V12 Zagato
Aston Martin V12 Zagato
Aston Martin V12 Zagato

After McLaren Boston Cars & Coffee, I had to stop by and check out the Aston Martin V12 Zagato at Aston Martin of New England. This car is very rare, as only 61 were made worldwide and about six are in the United States.

This was by far the best weekend so far this car season, and hopefully bigger and better things are to come before the winter arrives.