Drive 2014, Frontiers_Publishing-NAFri, 11 Apr 2014 23:46:45 GMThttp://emmisinteractive.comBawdy, Bitchy & Brutally Fast<img src=”” align=”left” vspace=”2″ hspace=”10″><p><img class=”image_align_center” src=”” alt=”” /></p> <p>To some it’s America’s automotive sweetheart while to others it’s a mid-life crisis on wheels. To car guys it’s one of the world’s best sports cars, while others see it as below-the-belt compensation. As a person who reviews cars for a living, I see it—as do many of my fellow car journos, gay and straight—as the most impressive new automobile of 2014. I’m talking about the Chevy Corvette Stingray.</p> <p>While its new styling is unmistakably Corvette, it appears to have been genetically spliced with exotic Italian DNA with its long, beveled hood, angular body sides and a bad boy backside featuring huge, can-sized quad exhaust pipes poking out from below. Especially in the searing Torch Red of my test vehicle, the ‘Vette looks a lot like a Ferrari, and that’s no accident.</p> <p>It drives like one, too. All new Corvette Stingrays are powered by the same, inappropriately loud, 450-hp V-8, with excellent manual and automatic transmissions doing the shifting. (I prefer the manual.) They’re not just fast in a straight line, either—brilliant steering and scintillating handling make bombing along Mulholland Drive just as enjoyable as hitting the dragstrip in Pomona or bursting from stoplight to stoplight along La Cienega. It’s fast everywhere, a</p> <p>license-eater if ever there was one.</p> <p>Fortunately, the ‘Vette is even marvelous idling in a parking lot, with the huge V-8 rumbling beneath you, tickling your naughty parts while you</p> <p>savor its world-class interior, the first time since the 1960s that its interior could be characterized as such. The Tron-inspired décor and computerized gauge cluster are more sci-fi than Euro-chic, but most of the materials used match the stuff found in similarly pricey sports cars from Porsche, Audi and Mercedes-Benz. The seats are body-hugging buckets that shame the floppy lounge chairs found in prior models, and there are not one but two low-mounted “oh-shit!” handles for your passenger. They’re gonna need them, too, at least with someone like me at the wheel.</p> <p>The Corvette has a practical side, too, with hatchback models offering Costco-trip cargo space, and even the convertible boasts a broad, capacious trunk. And did you see that fuel economy? It’s no Prius, but for a car with such a huge V-8, it’s pretty stellar. Unlike the Prius, this one will get you laid.</p> <p>If there’s one problem with driving a Corvette, it’s other people. Apparently nothing brings out nastiness in some drivers like seeing a red Corvette (at least one they’re not in). No matter how deferent I was driving down the street in this car, or how much I smiled at other drivers, I was constantly being cut off or blocked from merging. I’ve found that we gays</p> <p>appear split into three camps—clueless haters, obsessed</p> <p>maniacs and guys who pretend to be haters but secretly are</p> <p>obsessed maniacs. I can’t speak to the first camp because they’ll never understand, but to the latter, I can say that your obsession is fully justified. The new ‘Vette is absolutely terrific.</p> <p><strong>2014 Chevrolet Corvette by the Numbers</strong></p> <p>Price as tested (incl. dest.): $65,790<br /><span style=”font-size: 12px; line-height: 1.5;”>Styling: *****<br /></span><span style=”font-size: 12px; line-height: 1.5;”>Engine: *****<br /></span><span style=”font-size: 12px; line-height: 1.5;”>Handling: *****<br /></span><span style=”font-size: 12px; line-height: 1.5;”>Interior décor: *****<br /></span><span style=”font-size: 12px; line-height: 1.5;”>Quality: *****<br /></span><span style=”font-size: 12px; line-height: 1.5;”>Interior space: *****<br /></span><span style=”font-size: 12px; line-height: 1.5;”>Seat comfort: *****<br /></span><span style=”font-size: 12px; line-height: 1.5;”>Cargo Space: *****<br /></span><span style=”font-size: 12px; line-height: 1.5;”>Parkability: *****<br /></span><span style=”font-size: 12px; line-height: 1.5;”>EPA fuel economy (city/hwy): 17/29</span></p> <p><img class=”image_align_center” src=”” alt=”” width=”600″ /></p> <p><strong>L.A. CAR CULTURE</strong></p> <p>History has given us lots of notable Corvettes, but here in L.A. there may be none more iconic than <strong>Angelyne</strong>’s famous pink Corvette. Currently the local billboard legend is driving a C6 model—predecessor to the all-new 2014 C7 profiled on this page—but her huge blonde hair, self-titled vanity plate and custom bubble-gum paint have graced multiple generations of Chevy’s finest sports car over the last three decades. Why she drives the car, I totally understand. How she drives it in heels—that’s beyond me.</p>http://www.frontiersla.comSteve SilerThu, 17 Apr 2014 13:00:00 GMT2015 Ford Fusion Energi<img src=”” align=”left” vspace=”2″ hspace=”10″><p><img class=”image_align_center” src=”” alt=”” width=”600″ /></p> <p>I’m asked all the time about hybrids, and, frankly, I find them hard to love (especially the Prius). Plug-ins, on the other hand, including the Chevy Volt and this car, the Ford Fusion Energi, actually work for me. Why? Because you can drive them around as electric cars for most of the day (up to 24 miles in the case of the Fusion Energi), and when the juice runs out, you continue on your merry way sipping gas. Plug-ins are the best of both worlds.<br /><br />The Fusion is the most normal-feeling of all plug-ins, which should be reassuring to people who don’t dig the shape of the Volt. And it is effectively an all-electric car so long as there’s enough juice in the battery, with the gas engine kicking on only under hard acceleration. Steering and handling are largely unaffected by the more complex powertrain. The only driving weirdness—other than being in a big sedan that glides along more silently than your boyfriend after you missed your anniversary—is the braking, which is somewhat jerky as the brake energy regeneration system and conventional brakes attempt to work together to slow the car most efficiently. I do love, however, the virtual braking coach, which shows you what percentage of the brake energy you’ve recaptured after each stop. Cool.<br /><br />In most other respects, the Fusion Energi is just like other Fusions, with the same son-of-Aston Martin styling, the same spacious and well-styled interio, and the same bevy of high-tech equipment. <br /><br />What about plugging in? Well, the car comes with a thick wire that connects a port on the front right fender to the wall outlet—which wall outlet, exactly, is entirely up to you; I had to poach power from a nearby outlet in my condo complex for two of the five days I had the car. Charges can take anywhere from a couple of hours to overnight, depending on what strength of plug (110V or 220V) you have access to. Of note: if you purchase a plug-in or EV and live in an apartment building, the building is required by law to allow you to install a car-charging station—usually at your expense—in your parking spot.<br /><br />The cheapest Fusion Energi model is the SE, which comes reasonably well-equipped for $39,495, which is nearly $15K more than the non-hybrid Fusion SE—no one said those batteries come cheap. My SE-grade tester came with about $5,000 worth of options—like radar cruise, lane-keeping assist, reverse sensors, navigation and more—bloating the price to an eye-watering $44,620. That’s BMW money, and for that, its leather should feel less vinyl-esque, and the wheels oughta look dressier. And then there’s the trunk, a huge portion of which is taken up by the big, heavy battery pack.<br /><br />With its 100 mpg-equivalent fuel economy rating from the EPA (I averaged the low 80 mpg range since I didn’t plug in every night), the Fusion Energi is as efficient as it is pretty. And while it’s a little expensive, I wholeheartedly approve of the purchase for people who want an EV but don’t want the range anxiety that comes with it.</p> <p><img class=”image_align_center” src=”” alt=”” width=”600″ /></p> <p style=”text-align: center;”><strong>2015 Mustang: Ford’s only product that’s hung like a horse.</strong></p> <p>Ford’s noble steed just got way better for 2015, with its first all-new redesign in years. Smaller, lighter and way more fuel-efficient, the new ‘Stang is state-of-the-art in ways you would never associate a muscle car to be. I predict this will be a real gay fave for 2015.</p>http://www.frontiersla.comSteve SilerWed, 19 Feb 2014 04:45:00 GMTSpeed, Sound and Catnip<img src=”” align=”left” vspace=”2″ hspace=”10″><p><img class=”image_align_center” src=”” alt=”” width=”600″ /></p> <p>For most of Jaguar’s history, the company has built cars that look—well, historical. But Jaguar has been dipping into the catnip lately, building cars that are low-slung, lightweight and not a little bit irreverent.</p> <p>The all-new, two-seat F-Type sports car is the smallest, speediest and brashest of them all. Whether you choose the 340-hp V-6 or the rip-snortin’ 495-hp V-8, the F-Type can reduce its fat rear tires into pools of molten rubber without much provocation, though only the V-8 can be equipped with a popping, crackling exhaust system so loud and raucous you’ll have Harley Davidson riders yelling, “That’s too damn loud!”</p> <p>Steering and brakes give the F-Type reflexes that are—you guessed it—cat-like. And the interior is less ‘sugar daddy-in a silk robe and more ‘James Bond-meets-Tom of Finland.’ All this British beauty and brawn is priced somewhere between the Porsche Boxster S and Carrera Cabriolet, neither of which can hold a candle to this pretty kitty in terms of sex appeal.</p> <p style=”text-align: center;”><strong>2014 Jaguar F-Type</strong></p> <p><em>Base Price (including destination): $69,895 (V-6); $81,895 (V-6 S); $92,895 (V-8)</em></p> <p><em>Power: 3.0-liter supercharged V-6 (340 hp, 339 lb-ft of torque); 3.0-liter supercharged V-6, S (380 hp, 339 lb-ft of torque); 5.0-liter supercharged V-8 (495 hp, 460 lb-ft of torque)</em></p> <p><em>Tranny: 8-speed automatic with manual shift control</em></p> <p><em>Fuel Economy, city/hwy: 20/28 mpg (V-6); 19/27 mpg (V-6 S); 16/23 mpg (V-8)</em></p> <p><strong>2015 Jaguar F-Type Coupe<br /><img class=”image_align_center” src=”” alt=”” width=”600″ /> </strong></p> <p>To give the frisky F-Type roadster a playmate, Jaguar introduced the gorgeous F-Type coupe at the 2013 L.A. Auto Show last November. More or less identical to the convertible but with a slinky, fixed metal roof in place of the roadster’s folding ragtop, the coupe promises an even more intense driving experience. And it’s seriously beautiful, proving that you don’t have to be a bottom to appreciate a hard top.</p>http://www.frontiersla.comSteve SilerMon, 06 Jan 2014 19:31:00 GMT2013 L.A. Auto Show Goodness<img src=”” align=”left” vspace=”2″ hspace=”10″><p><img class=”image_align_center” src=”″ alt=”” width=”500″ /></p> <p>In about six months, the 2015 BMW i3 electric car will start whirring along the roads of Southern California, and just before this year’s L.A. Auto Show, I got a chance to drive the futuristic little thing. Here’s what I learned.</p> <p>For starters, there’s a lot of design going on here. Large glass panels, futuristic body panels, center-opening doors and cool light designs give the i3 a look like nothing else on the road. The cabin looks more like an industrial design project than a car interior, with floating info screens and a beautiful slab of open-pore bamboo that sweeps down from the glovebox cover underneath the iDrive screen. The seats don’t look comfortable but they are, and both rows of seats were designed so that passengers can easily slide across to the other side to get out in case parking is really tight. Very clever.</p> <p>But alas, even BMW has a hard time making an electric car fun. While it has that characteristic electric car rush of acceleration, its steering does not feel as natural as in most BMWs, and its super-skinny tires and aggressive stability controls render handling very, uh, cautious. At least the price is attractive: $42,275 for the all-electric model; add $3,850 if you want to add a Chevy Volt-style, range-extending engine in the back.</p> <p><strong>Other L.A. Auto Show Highlights</strong></p> <p><img class=”image_align_center” src=”” alt=”” width=”500″ /></p> <p>2015 Mercedes-Benz GLA</p> <p>The new, compact Mercedes GLA250 and GLA45 AMG attempt to bring the style of the CLA class to the crossover segment. Sporty and fun-looking, it will arrive in March with base prices in the mid $30Ks.</p> <p><img class=”image_align_center” src=”” alt=”” width=”500″ /></p> <p>2015 BMW i8</p> <p>Low-slung styling, swan-wing doors and a powerful plug-in hybrid powertrain will make the i8 the sexy counterpart to the i3 when it arrives next Spring carrying a price of $135,925.<br /> <img class=”image_align_center” src=”” alt=”” /></p> <p>2015 Porsche Macan</p> <p>Due early next year, the Macan is essentially the Cayenne’s little brother. Smaller and lighter but at $51K no cheaper, the Macan embodies the Porsche spirit better than the porky Cayenne. Make mine blue.</p> <p><img class=”image_align_center” src=”” alt=”” width=”500″ /></p> <p>2015 Lincoln MKC</p> <p>Lincoln’s take on the Ford Escape brings better interior materials, lots of tech and great looks. It becomes available next summer at a starting price of $33,995.</p> <p><img class=”image_align_center” src=”” alt=”” width=”500″ /></p> <p>Best Concept:</p> <p>Mercedes-Benz AMG Vision Gran Turismo</p> <p>Designed for a video game then brought to life as a one-off concept, the Vision Gran Turismo is a mouth-watering, rolling impossibility. Still, it proved sexy enough (and phallic enough) to get more than a few of us kinda horny upon the sight of it. Indeed, things like this are why I love cars so much.</p>http://www.frontiersla.comSteve SilerMon, 09 Dec 2013 14:00:00 GMT2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA250: What Price Class?<img src=”” align=”left” vspace=”2″ hspace=”10″><p><img class=”image_align_top_right” src=”” alt=”” width=”450″ /></p> <p>When gays think of Mercedes-Benz, most of us envision glamorous, spacious luxury cars with Autobahn-storming performance and bank vault solidity, so many a plucked eyebrow has risen at the idea of Mercedes offering its all-new CLA class for an eye-poppingly cheap starting price (for a Mercedes, anyway) of $29,900.</p> <p>On paper, the CLA is the stuff hipster dreams are made of—a message put forth in Mercedes’ famous Super Bowl ad wherein a starry-eyed 20-something declines an offer to sell his soul to the devil (played by the inimitable William Dafoe) since he could afford the car himself. First, it’s gorgeous, with a broad, low nose, swoopy “four-door coupe” roofline and banana-shaped body contours much like its sexy big brother, the CLS class. It also has a powerful turbocharged four-cylinder engine, a seven-speed paddle-shifted transmission, sophisticated infotainment screen (which looks like an iPad Mini perched up on the dashboard) and incredible mpg ratings of 26 city/38 highway/30 combined.</p> <p>That said, our little hipster may need to ask for a raise if he wants to turn his CLA into a true dream ride. In the metal, the $30K CLA feels like … well, exactly what you’d expect a $30K Mercedes to be like. It’s got solid bones but is conspicuously missing certain niceties any Mercedes would feel incomplete without, including dual-zone climate control, a sunroof, navigation, LED running lights, a rearview camera, auto-dimming mirror and programmable garage door opener. All of that (and much more) is available as options, of course, but to add it all, you’ll be pushing $40K, not $30K. The good news is that, at $40K, the CLA feels convincingly upscale and, indeed, worth the money, especially if you order the panoramic sunroof that pours light into what is otherwise a somewhat claustrophobic interior.</p> <p>The CLA’s dirty little secret is that, like a Honda Civic or a Toyota Corolla (and unlike nearly every other Mercedes-Benz), it’s a front-wheel-drive car, though fortunately its performance is more akin to a grown-up VW GTI than some bargain econocar. Steering quality, handling and high-speed stability, for example, exhibit typical Teutonic stability. And despite being powered by only four cylinders, this thing’s got puh-lenty of scoot. (Thank you, turbocharger.)</p> <p>Now, if you really want to splurge, you can add beautiful LED running lights and taillamps as well as a sport package with gorgeous 18-inch wheels and aggressive body kit. Loaded to the gills, the CLA250 can top $43K, which is kinda steep for a small, front-wheel-drive anything. But for that kind of money, you get a sexy and fuel-efficient Benz that really puts the ‘CLA’ in ‘CLASS.’</p> <p><img class=”image_align_top_right” src=”” alt=”” width=”420″ /></p> <p><strong>What a Concept!</strong></p> <p>Cadillac’s arrestingly beautiful Elmiraj concept coupe stole the show this year at the Pebble Beach Concours D’Elegance. While there is virtually no possibility it will make its way to production in the exact form you see here, it’s likely that Cadillac’s long-rumored flagship super-sedan—expected to push six figures—would take a lot of its styling cues from this car. In the meantime, feast your eyes and cross your fingers that Cadillac will green-light a flagship model that looks darn close to this. Bravo!</p>http://www.frontiersla.comSteve SilerMon, 28 Oct 2013 13:00:00 GMT2014 GMC Sierra: Pickup Perfection<img src=”” align=”left” vspace=”2″ hspace=”10″><p><img style=”display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;” src=”” alt=”” width=”500″ /></p> <p>As much as Prius drivers claim moral high ground when it comes to getting around town on a whiff of gasoline, the fact of the matter is that people still like trucks. Big ones. And not just in Texas. And not just for contractors.</p> <p>Indeed, there are many people who just like big pickups, and for them there may be none better than the 2014 GMC Sierra. Along with its twin, the 2014 Chevrolet Silverado (which, to be fair, is just as slick), the Sierra wears square-jawed styling that is both butcher and classier than ever. A little extra glitz comes via LEDs above and below the big headlights, while massive chrome wheels are available to fill the wheelwells. Seriously, this is a truck that brandishes its gleaming, chrome-grilled hugeness with chest-thumping pride.</p> <p>Now, given that not everyone is keen on brazen displays of bling and bravado these days, I didn’t know what reaction to my silver SLT test truck was going to be like during the week I had it, but without exception, people loved it—especially after they climbed inside. The heated and cooled seats inside were covered in supple brown leather, with a stitched dashtop and huge swathes of real aluminum contributing a sense of richness once reserved for Cadillacs. Lighting is all provided by LEDs, while the center screen presents its many controls in an app-like arrangement not unlike your iPad. Bluetooth is included, of course, as are two household power plugs and no fewer than five (yes, five) USB ports to plug in and charge your gadgets. This is one luxe rig.</p> <p>The sense of luxury continues on the road, with cabin tranquility rivaling that of Lexus’s big LX570 SuperUte. The engine is quiet (too quiet, perhaps), while brilliant aero tuning allows utterly zero wind noise in, even at high speeds. Steering is accurate, though the brakes and accelerator both feel spongy and rather unresponsive. Also, as a full-size truck (a 4X4 in the case of my tester), the Sierra does retain a bit of bounce over the road, though hardly enough to rattle the fillings out of your mouth. At least parking is a cinch, thanks to front and rear parking sensors and a rear camera. And even with its big V-8, fuel economy is more akin to crossovers than big trucks, with EPA ratings of 16 city/22 highway and 18 overall.</p> <p>While this truck’s $49,710 out-the-door price may sting (base for a 4X4 SLT Crew Cab is $43,125), consider that it also came with forward collision warning, OnStar, land departure warning (handy on a truck this high and wide), a moonroof, powerful Bose audio and even a heated steering wheel. Overall, it convinced me that, greenies be damned, trucks are more awesome than ever. Long live the big Amurrrrican pickup!</p> <p><img style=”display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;” src=”” alt=”” width=”500″ /></p> <p>2015 BMW i8: The High-Style Hybrid</p> <p>Taking the Frankfurt Auto Show by storm earlier this month was BMW’s much-anticipated i8 plug-in hybrid sports car, this time in full-fledged production trim. What you see here is exactly what BMW will sell starting next year as a 2015 model—butterfly doors, radically disjointed body panels and all. A turbocharged gas engine powers the rear wheels, while an electric motor powers the fronts; together they help the i8 scoot to 60 mph in just 4.4 seconds. With prices starting at about $138,000, you’re gonna have to bring some green to go green.</p>http://www.frontiersla.comMon, 30 Sep 2013 13:00:00 GMT2013 Bentley Continental GT V-8: What to Drive if You’re Rich and Single<img src=”” align=”left” vspace=”2″ hspace=”10″><p><img class=”image_align_center” src=”” alt=”” width=”600″ /></p> <p>For our Most Eligible Bachelors issue, we thought about the ultimate, money-is-no-object first-date sled. A Ferrari would be fun, though a tad obnoxious for a first date. A Rolls-Royce would bring all the spoils, but are we going to a formal here? Hope not. A Bentley Continental GT? Now we’re talking. <br />I recently got a chance to sample Bentley’s newest Continental GT coupe model, equipped with its splendid new turbocharged V8, and found myself thinking that if a guy came and picked me up in one of these, it could be Mr. Right or Mr. Wrong and it would be awfully hard to tell the difference.</p> <p>Appropriately Intimate<br />First, the Continental’s tidy, two-door, four-chair package is as much car as any bachelor really needs, even if he has more money than Bill Gates. It’s got presence, but not too much, with a seductive design that starts with a broad—dare I say phallic—front end sweeping into pontoon-style fenders. My personal favorite element is the pillarless window treatment that creates one unbroken opening when all windows are lowered.<br />The cabin is decidedly intimate space for the driver and his chosen passenger, with somewhat smaller seats to occasionally seat two friends behind them. Its low roof and slim windows are all the better for a discreet after-dinner makeout session—but there is nowhere near enough room to get it on in back. Remember, this is a date car, not a hotel room. Invite him inside for further shenanigans if you have any class.</p> <p>The Exact Opposite <br />of Pretentious<br />It should go without saying that Bentleys are authentic, or put another way, what you see if what you get. What looks like engine-turned aluminum is engine-turned aluminum. What looks like leather is exactly that (and of the very softest kind). And if it looks like hand-rubbed wood, well, don’t get me started on the hand-rubbed wood. Suffice it to say, if authenticity is an admirable trait in a man, the Continental GT is very flattering indeed.</p> <p>A Little Bit Eccentric<br />Hand-built by career craftsmen and women in Crewe, England, every Bentley has a human-ness that is hard to describe but easy to feel. For example, the minute variations in the stitching on the steering wheel and dashboard, as well as the gathers in the leather here and there show that a person—not a machine—does the hard work here. It is fabulous.<br />If there are any flies in the ointment, the biggest would be the infotainment/<br />navigation system, with its dated-feeling, sometimes confusing interface and delayed responses. Hopefully our dream bachelor will be more fluent in the operation of these controls than I was able to become in my short three days with it. Also, for $200K, I would like to see a radar cruise control and the availability of a sunroof. There is a convertible version, I suppose, but it’s not quite as pretty.</p> <p>A Turn-On <br />When Turned On<br />As lovely as it is to behold, the Continental GT V-8 is even more alluring once you turn it on. Bentley’s new 500-hp V8 has deep reserves of turbocharged power and sounds absolutely intoxicating. Its breathtaking acceleration is made possible thanks to an eight-speed transmission and all-wheel grip. How fast is it? From a stop, 60 mph flies by in about 4.5 seconds, and if there’s enough space and a flat, straight road ahead, 185 mph is theoretically possible, though a wise bachelor won’t show you that on a first date, since first kisses aren’t cute behind bars.</p> <p>Still Made of Unobtanium<br />The Continental GT V8’s $178,425 base price makes it the cheapest car Bentley builds, but, uh, it is certainly no bargain. And honestly, the dream date we’ve been discussing here is bound to remain exactly that for pretty much everyone reading this (myself included). But trust me, any actual eligible bachelor lucky enough to drive one of these may not be eligible for long.</p>http://www.frontiersla.comSteve SilerMon, 02 Sep 2013 14:47:00 GMT2014 Mercedes-Benz S-Class: ‘S’ Stands for ‘Superlative’<img src=”” align=”left” vspace=”2″ hspace=”10″><p><img class=”image_align_center” src=”” alt=”” width=”600″ /></p> <p>Mercedes-Benz exhibited no shortage of audacity when it called its all-new flagship S-Class “the best car in the world” as it was introduced to the media earlier this year. With its slick new styling, sparkling LED lights and spectacular interior, it sure brought the wow factor, though for that claim to be anything more than hyperbole, it would have to drive at least as good as it looks. And after flying to Ontario, Canada, where Mercedes gave me my first chance to drive the big übersedan—which will start appearing in showrooms in September—I can say that it does.</p> <p><strong>The LED Zeppelin</strong></p> <p>But first, feast your eyes. Unlike the last S-Class, which had a pinched snout and clunky contours, the 2014 car’s shape is as slippery as that wet bar of soap you keep dropping in the gym shower. If you think Audi has a lock on pretty LED lighting, know that the S-Class is the first all-LED car, using approximately 500 of the little guys throughout the car, inside and out. The ambient light-sensitive, three-element taillamps are particularly cool as they dim at night so as not to “dazzle” other drivers (yes, “dazzle”—Mercedes’ word, not mine), drivers behind you at a stoplight or in traffic. So considerate.</p> <p><strong>A Rolling Spa</strong></p> <p>We love our leather and certainly love our wood, and the S-Class has plenty of both (though perhaps not the kind you’re thinking of), with many color choices of each, all arranged in extraordinary elegance, even among flagship sedans. The interior design and execution of the new S-Class approaches that of Bentley and Rolls Royce, which is no small feat.</p> <p>There is so much to talk about inside this car that it’s hard to pick a place to start, but among its standout features are its twin 12.3-inch, color, side-by-side dashboard screens, available “hot stone” massaging seats, laser-cut perforated leather trim on the seats and dashboard and available 1560-watt 24-speaker Burmester sound system that provides surround sound for each outboard seat. Speaking of seats, the four rear seating packages include two that offer the right rear seater an opportunity to fully recline, legs crossed, while watching TV. Particularly stunning is the optional silver-stained wood in a two-tone gray leather interior. The cherry on top—an interior aroma release system always keeps the car smelling great, with one’s choice of four available scents. Or you can install your favorite scented oil. Slick.</p> <p><strong>Nearly Drives Itself</strong></p> <p>So does it drive well? It really does. It would be sufficient if it merely had a fast engine and a smooth ride, but beyond those must-haves, the 2014 S-Class has more cameras than a red carpet blockbuster premiere, which, combined with radars and other communication devices, help keep it from hitting other cars, pedestrians and even animals that may cross its path, as well as keep it in its designated lane. Activate the radar cruise control with stop-and-go capability and the S-Class makes traffic jams and road trips equally pleasurable.</p> <p>Of course, the 2014 Mercedes-Benz S-Class won’t come cheap when it arrives in dealerships this fall, but there are many pricier flagship sedans from other manufacturers that cost as much or more than the $100K-plus estimated base price of the S-Class. Is it the best car in the world? Well, let’s put it this way—in the 20 years I’ve been testing cars, I can’t recall anything being much better.</p>http://www.frontiersla.comSteve SilerThu, 08 Aug 2013 19:14:00 GMT2013 Lexus ES300h & 2014 Lexus IS250<img src=”” align=”left” vspace=”2″ hspace=”10″><p>Unable to harpoon the entry-level, $35-50K luxury automobile segment to the same level of success that, say, BMW has had with its 3-Series, Lexus has adopted a strategy that brackets the segment with two utterly antithetical cars—the tidy IS sport sedan and the sprawling, tranquil ES. Now, I could pitch one against the other here and tell you which one is best, but honestly, in this case, everybody wins.</p> <p>Both are essentially brand-new cars; the V-6-powered ES350 and its hybrid ES300h twin were brilliantly redesigned for 2013, adding gobs of style and top-shelf substance like semi-analine leather and sexy bamboo trim to what had been a rather matronly proposition in its past iterations. The much smaller, rear-wheel-drive IS250 and IS350 are all-new for 2014, lunging for the 3-Series’ jugular with absolutely gorgeous steering and handling, revvy and conspicuously sonorous engines and decidedly intimate—if a touch over-styled—cabins. Both share Lexus’ new spindle-shaped grille and arrow-like LED daytime running lights, but while the ES looks like Mister Responsible, the IS is a bratty little punk that happens to be wearing a business suit.</p> <p>Divergent as they are in the way they get down the road, there’s plenty of overlap in other areas. Both cars offer Mark Levinson surround sound audio systems, comfy leather seats (the ES, being more like lounge chairs, those of the IS being rather snug), a joystick-like Remote Touch screen interface and a full suite of Lexus Apps, including OnStar-like destination assist, local gas prices and more. Materials are a little hit-or-miss inside both cars—the beige ‘metallic’ plastic trim found in most every Lexus model today is particularly appalling—proving that the Germans still do the best job of covertly sneaking in the cheap bits without anyone noticing.</p> <p>Both get excellent fuel economy, particularly on the highway; while the IS numbers weren’t made public at the time of this writing, the trip computer on the prototype I drove for a week told me that I averaged 32 mpg on the freeway down to San Diego one day, and 26 mpg during the week I drove it. The ES350 gets 21/31 city/highway, while the ES300h hybrid hits an impressive 40/39 city highway.</p> <p>So, whether the IS or ES is better for you depends on which end of the introvert/extrovert spectrum you resemble most. Whether you’re the calm, quiet type or the shameless extrovert, this year you’re more likely to find something you love at the Lexus store than ever before. </p>http://www.frontiersla.comSteve SilerMon, 08 Jul 2013 07:00:00 GMTTop 5 Gay Cars For 2013<img src=”” align=”left” vspace=”2″ hspace=”10″><p>Holy lambdas! Is it Pride season already? Based on how many rainbows and hot shorts we’re seeing out there, it clearly is. And since summertime is also a great time to shop for a new car, what better time to bring you my list of the Top Gay Cars of 2013? This year, I’ve found a little bit of everything from everywhere that could make us proud! </p> <p><img class=”image_align_center” style=”float: left;” src=”” alt=”” width=”350″ /></p> <p><strong>Best “Family” Sedan 2014</strong></p> <p>Mazda <span>6</span></p> <p><em>Base Price: $21K</em></p> <p>Its beloved Miata notwithstanding, Mazda is one of the most under-considered car brands out there among gays. The slinky, all-new 6 sedan could change that, however, with its head-turning styling, great interior and stunning fuel economy. The beauty of the Mazda 6 is more than skin deep, with a surprisingly Audi-like interior—complete with an available BMW iDrive-like control interface—as well as a powerful yet miserly engine that achieves fuel economy approaching hybrids. And at $21K to start ($31K loaded), it’s a serious bargain. Now that you know it exists, put some ‘family’ in this sweet family sedan.</p> <p><img class=”image_align_center” style=”float: left;” src=”” alt=”” width=”350″ /></p> <p><strong>Best Sports Car <span>2013 </span></strong></p> <p>Porsche <span>Boxster</span></p> <p><em>Base Price: $50K</em></p> <p>If you, like many people, think the Porsche Boxster is just a poor-man’s 911, think again. The gorgeous 2013 Boxster is a supremely satisfying sports car unto itself, its longstanding virtues of telepathic steering, pan-flat handling and right-now thrust all taken to the next level. Best of all, the Boxster just looks terrific, with supercar-like proportions and more distinct headlamps and taillamps. And while it’s hardly cheap, the $25-30K you’ll save by not buying a comparably equipped Carrera Convertible will go a long way toward filling its two trunks (!) with some other fun things that’ll make you proud.</p> <p><img class=”image_align_center” style=”float: left;” src=”” alt=”” width=”350″ /></p> <p><br /><strong>Best Luxury Car <span>2013</span></strong></p> <p>Audi <span>A7/S7/RS7</span></p> <p><em>Base Price: $61K</em></p> <p>The Audi A7 is essentially an A6 sedan with a five-door hatchback body. A hatchback? For gays? Yep. With its swoopy roofline, ducktail tush, angular front fascia and sexy LED headlights, the A7 makes the A6 look like a pair of sensible shoes next to Louboutin pumps. Its four-place interior is similarly special, rendered in premium materials and assembled with the loving craftsmanship with which Audi has set the industry standard for decades. Starting around $61K and rising toward six figures pretty quickly with engine and interior upgrades, the A7 is expensive. Then again, such relentless sexiness seldom comes cheap.</p> <p><img class=”image_align_center” style=”float: left;” src=”” alt=”” width=”350″ /></p> <p><strong>Best SUV <span style=”line-height: 1.5;”>2014 </span></strong></p> <p><span style=”line-height: 1.5;”>Jeep </span><span style=”line-height: 1.5;”>Grand Cherokee</span></p> <p><em>Base Price: $29K</em></p> <p>Yeah, yeah—gays driving Jeeps is so cliché. But the truth is, the Grand Cherokee has never been a better match for us. With solid, Mercedes-derived bones, a high-feature interior and square-jawed good looks, the refreshed 2014 GC is one of those rare automobiles that feels right at home no matter where it is. Big news for 2014 is the availability of a quiet new “Ecodiesel” V-6 that can move and tow like a monster V-8 while delivering fuel economy solidly in the mid-20mpg range. Prices extend to $64K for the insanely fast SRT-8 model. As far as I’m concerned, you can’t go wrong with any.</p> <p><img class=”image_align_center” style=”float: left;” src=”” alt=”” width=”350″ /></p> <p><strong>Best Economy Car <span style=”line-height: 1.5;”>2013 </span></strong></p> <p>Ford <span style=”line-height: 1.5;”>Focus</span></p> <p><em>Base Price: $17K</em></p> <p>With its combination of thriftiness, attractive price and, of course, great looks, the 2013 Focus is one of Ford’s sweetest products ever. Find it from basic to feature-laden, frugal to sporty. There’s even an electric version. But unless you’re a serious gearhead or an environmental activist, the sweetest Focus is the Titanium, with blackout exterior accents and slick, multi-spoke wheels. Available goodies include a parallel parking system, a high-contrast white-and-black interior and customizable ambient lighting. Also, as with the saucy Audi A7, the Focus is quite fetching as a hatchback. Score another one for the home team!</p>http://www.frontiersla.comSteve SilerMon, 27 May 2013 13:00:00 GMT