Driving a Porsche from the Hertz Dream Collection
It had been yet another long week of cold 20-degree weather and snow. Spring and warm sunny days seemed to be a cruel fantasy. The cold had me stalking the house, grumbling and moody, to the point where the dogs just stayed out of my way. Then my savior came in the form of an email: “Hey, are you available to go to Florida for four days to attend Porsche and Hertz’s press trip to Sebring?” You’re damn right I was!
It was a system shock: leaving cold and snowy Cleveland, and two hours later deplaning in sunny Orlando. Hertz had provided a beautiful black 2014 Porsche Cayman coupe for my stay. It was my first time behind the wheel of the new Cayman. Like all Porsches, it was fast, drove like a slot car, and made me feel like a race car driver on holiday. I got several compliments on my car during my stay in Florida. I felt a bit guilty. After all, it wasn’t my car. Buy a shiny black Porsche if you want to be a mini-celebrity.
This highlights the Hertz’s Dream Car collection, where any citizen with a credit card can rent for the weekend a series of highly desirable super cars. Depending on the location, Porsches, Ferraris and even Lamborghinis are available for hire for the right price. Hertz has a long history of loaning out the era’s fastest cars. In the ‘60s, the famous Shelby GT350H “Rent-a-Racer” could be had for a weekend on the track. The Dream Car is a modern interpretation of that idea.
Of all the makes in the Dream Car collection, Porsche and Hertz seem to be the best-suited partnership. Porsches are driver’s cars that have a unique quality in supercars: they’re comfortable and practical, which make them great rental vehicles. Both Porsche and Hertz focus on the driver’s experience. Renting a Porsche for the weekend gives you a luxury car that’s designed to be driven, not coddled and babied like some of the Italian ilk.
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Car Review: 2014 Lexus IS 250 AWD F Sport
The 2014 Lexus IS 250 AWD F Sport grabs your attention from the moment you first see it and kept our attention throughout the one-week test drive. The third-generation 2014 IS sport sedan features a bold design highlighted by the new dynamic signature spindle grille and for the first time separated LED Daytime Running Lights which are as cool as any on the road today. A combination of “aggressive elegance,” a more powerful road presence and a stronger brand identity help make the new IS models more alluring than ever.
The available F SPORT package as tested included unique 18-inch wheels with ultra-white paint that made a bonafied first impression on all that gave us feedback. Some notables that played key roles in the good-looking IS 250 F Sport was the further evolution of the spindle grille from the GS and LS models, featuring a more three-dimensional design with a chrome-plated frame and darker gray insert from top to bottom, standard HID low/high beam headlamps with LED DRLs and available twin projector LED low/ high beam headlamps, F SPORT exclusive colors (Ultra White, Ultrasonic Blue Mica, Obsidian and Matador Red Mica), and a wheelbase that has been increased by nearly three inches. Width has been increased by nearly half an inch for an aggressive stance.
This isn’t your father’s Lexus, as the IS 250 AWD F Sport has the attitude of a premium sports car with the functionality of the smartest luxury sedan all wrapped into one superb interior space. The driver can appreciate improved seating position and headroom, while the rear seat offers significantly improved roominess, ingress and egress. Separating the shocks from the springs results in a larger trunk as well.
New luxuries abound in the 2014 Lexus IS. A high-efficiency dual-zone climate control system uses new, touch-sensitive electrostatic temperature switches. The IS offers two multimedia systems: a standard high-resolution Lexus Display Audio (LDA) with controller or the optional Lexus navigation system. The navigation system is operated via a second-generation Lexus Remote Touch Interface (RTI) multi-function control device, which also allows control of the climate, audio, phone controls and more. New interior design with LFA-inspired, driver-focused cockpit and enhanced rear seat roominess and luggage capacity earned high marks from drivers and passengers alike.
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Car Review: 2014 Hyundai Equus Signature
Off a refresh for 2014, the Hyundai Equus strikes an elegant look with V8 power under the hood that will impress on her own. The 2014 Equus premium luxury sedan arrives with enhancements to exterior and interior design, vehicle dynamics, material selection, driver technology displays and advanced safety features. The week behind the wheel of the Equus was a real eye opener as to what affordable luxury feels like!
No worries on whether the 2014 Equus Signature can compete with other luxury sedans here, as during our test time with the Equus, this car was even mistaken for a Rolls Royce! The 2014 Equus exterior enhancements convey a premium-sport design message, starting with a new 19-inch turbine-blade alloy wheel design in a polished silver finish that relays motion whether parked or on the open highway. The front grille chrome bars are thinner, with sharper contrast to the blacked-out portions of the grille for a sportier look. The front fascia also has been redesigned, with the former chrome accents removed in favor of a modern premium appearance that includes lower fascia opening strakes. The headlamps offer jeweled design elements and include chrome contrasted with black-out finishes for a distinctive appearance. New LED fog lamps are now standard. Side mirrors have been redesigned for enhanced aerodynamics and tail lamp graphics move to a more horizontal theme.
Until you drive the Equus, you really don’t appreciate the high-end luxury that is incorporated into the cabin space. The 2014 Equus interior perfectly complements the enhancements to its exterior to the satisfaction of the most discerning car buyer. Thus, the themes of premium and performance again greet the driver behind the wheel. The entire instrument panel and center stack have been redesigned with more premium materials and an ergonomically-correct layout, with new button iconography for quicker and easier feature recognition. The center console and shift lever reveal more premium material selection and contemporary premium-luxury design cues. Steering wheel control layout has been improved, with new low-sheen button designs and icons. Similarly, rear passengers will enjoy a new rear console and button layout, with available dual 9.2-inch, high-resolution, adjustable seatback video screens to enjoy movies, audio media, HVAC or seating functions. Rear passengers can even search restaurant locations and provide navigation system directions directly to the driver’s navigation screen. The premium leather seats and microfiber suede headliner really set the tone for a high-quality space. We drove the Equus in zero degree temperature during a frigid midwest winter and the fast heating seats were our favorite comfort feature of the car! Also, the Lexicon 7.1 discrete surround sound audio system with a whopping 17 speakers is one of the best we have heard in an automobile.
The climate control system now offers three distinct cabin temperature zones for driver, passenger and rear passengers. The standard smart cruise control system has been enhanced to include a full 0-mph stop-and-start function for use in stop-and-go traffic. The smart proximity key now includes both key-fob and card-key types of vehicle entry for greater driver convenience.
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Bullz-Eye on location at Daytona 500 with Jimmie Johnson
I have never been a NASCAR fan. For a guy who loves sports, I knew more about curling than I did NASCAR. I could never understand why watching cars making hundreds of laps was so popular.
Then I attended the 2014 Daytona 500 in Jacksonville, Florida courtesy of Lowe’s and my life changed. I’m not ashamed to admit I’ve watched each of the ensuing races in Phoenix and Las Vegas, intently. We interviewed 21-year old rookie Kyle Larson since then and my respect for him, and the sport, is through the roof.
The highlight of the trip? Meeting six-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion and Lowe’s driver Jimmie Johnson.
Prior to meeting Jimmie Johnson, I had no frame of reference for his level of success or how historically dominant he has been working alongside Crew Chief Chad Knaus.
It was only after someone aptly explained that Knaus is the Bill Belichick to Johnson’s Tom Brady (though they’ve been twice as successful in terms of championships) did I realize how much they’d accomplished as a team. Here’s Jimmie and I, laughing about our favorite recipes:
After I met and briefly interviewed Johnson, I was fortunate to be invited into the Lowe’s pit for the start of the race.
The thing that impressed me the most was the sound. When you’re standing in the pit, you hear this groaning sound in the distance, like a gathering thunderstorm, and then all of the sudden… BOOM! The entire field explodes right in front of you, a mix of colors and shapes that you can barely discern. Then, they’re gone again and the sound dissipates to a low hum.
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Posted in: Cars, Lifestyle, On Location
Tags: 2014 Daytona 500, 50 Cent, Artis Gilmore, Chad Knaus, Daytona 500, Daytona 500 with Jimmie Johnson, Daytona International Speedway, Jimmie Johnson, Kaitlyn Farrington, Kobalt Tools, Lake Lloyd, Lowe's, Lowe's Racing, NASCAR
Car Review: 2014 Lexus RX 350
There are certain vehicles that you know are special from the first time you see it, and that’s exactly how we felt regarding the 2014 Lexus RX 350. There’s no question that Lexus created the blueprint for the luxury crossover utility vehicle 15 years ago with the original RX models. The 2014 RX 350 maintains its segment leadership by evolving that original and admired formula.
From the bold, brand-signature spindle grille, to the classy 19-inch alloy wheel with all-season tires, the 2014 Lexus RX 350 arrives in style. The distinctive skin of this SUV makes an impression with sharp LED daytime running lamps, Xenon HID headlamps, rain sensing wipers, power folding electrochromic heated outside mirrors with blind spot monitor and roof rails. The silky smooth skin is highlighted with a rear taillights and hatch that blend in so discreet that they look like one piece of sheet metal. The styling has evolved from the early days of the RX 350, but the overall shape hasn’t drifted too far from the original, and that’s what you call staying power in the marketplace!
The upscale ambience in the Lexus RX 350 cabin is just the beginning of a customized experience every time you set foot in the fabulous interior. Lexus interiors have set new standards in design, materials, standard features and details, and the RX 350 shows why. The 10-way power front seats, ebony or espresso bird’s eye maple and dual-zone automatic climate control system set the tone for the luxury found throughout the cabin. The RX 350 upholds another Lexus tradition: the inclusion of true premium audio as standard equipment. The nine-speaker Lexus Premium Audio System offers a multitude of music source choices, including a CD player, SiriusXM Satellite Radio capability with a 90-day trial subscription included, Bluetooth audio streaming and USB/iPod control. The seats are truly made for each individual driver and passenger, enhancing the driving experience for all.
The Display Audio/Rear Backup Camera Package upgrades the audio system to 12 speakers. For the ultimate in mobile sound, Lexus exclusively offers Mark Levinson audio systems, a brand revered by audiophiles. The RX 350’s as-tested 15-speaker Mark Levinson Surround Sound system will delight discerning ears, no matter the music choice. The system delivers 330 total watts of power through a 15-speaker array with an incredibly low 0.1 percent total harmonic distortion (THD). Clearly one of the finest audio systems we experienced in a review vehicle.
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