First Drive Review- 2015 Acura RLX Advance

If you’ve followed my blog for any period of time, you know that I am a loyal fan of Acura products. I love the understated luxury, high quality and track record of reliability. This is Acura’s flagship sedan.  The large luxury sport sedan segment is fiercely contested, with competitors such as the Audi A6, BMW 5-Series and Lexus GS. Acura is relatively new to this segment, and the RLX is not what you would call a strong competitor among the others, selling supposedly less than 8,000 units last year. The 3.5L V6 makes a healthy 310 horsepower which is enough to calmly propel the large sedan at a nice pace and still have enough grunt in store for freeway merging or passing. The RLX sets itself apart from the competition by offering a 3-motor Hybrid AWD system. You read that correctly- 3 electric motors. The largest of the 3 mated to the transmission in between the front wheels operates like any other FWD-based hybrid- providing power assist at low speeds and also in high-load scenarios. The rear motors- operate together using Acura’s SH-AWD torque vectoring programming to allow for stellar cornering and traction and can be powered under low speed.

The bolstering isn’t excessive, the RLX is geared towards comfort, not sport. The back seat is roomy and the cushioning is soft. The leather is high-quality and surrounds the entire cabin. Acura is now using a two-screen infotainment system, the larger screen sitting high on the dash is used for the navigation map, and the smaller, sits lower in the dash and is an interactive touch-screen with tactile feedback. The smaller unit is used to control climate, audio, phone and navigation inputs.

Models with the Advance Package include safety features such as Blind Spot Monitoring, Collision Mitigation Braking System, and Lane Keep Assist. The RLX can be ordered in a few different trim levels- base, w/ Navigation, w/ Technology Package, w/ Krell Audio, w/ Advance Package and SH-AWD Hybrid w/ Technology or Advance. Prices begin at $48k and climb to a steep $65k before options and accessories- prices are right in line with the competitors.

The car feels as large as it is. The steering has weight to it, but not a sporty type of weight- almost an artificial feeling designed to create the feeling of size. The 3.5L Direct Injected V6 provides a nice feel of power reserve and the brakes inspire confidence.

All in all, the RLX is aimed at a very specific demographic of a very large market. I honestly think the only people who will buy an RLX are Acura loyalists who find themselves in the market for a large sedan. Thanks for reading! Stay tuned for more reviews of the rest of Acura’s lineup and some offerings from Infiniti.

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First Drive Review- 2015 Infiniti QX80

Infiniti offers something for almost every market that appeals to buyers in the luxury segment. This is their flagship SUV- the QX80 (formerly QX56). Sharing platforms with both the Nissan Armada and Infiniti’s own M-Sedan, the QX80 is a large SUV with three rows of seating and stuffed with technology and luxury features.

The 5.6L V8 makes 400 horsepower and 413 pound-feet of torque which will push this nearly 6,000 pound monster along at a rate of 14mpg city and 20mpg highway- drinking 91 octane or better. The QX-80 has an optional AWD system, powering all four wheels constantly, and offering the driver a Low-Range setting for towing or off-roading (If the mall parking lot is blocked by rubble, proletariats, or domestic compact cars). The QX80 is independently sprung at all four corners, and provides a tall ride height, and an exceptionally supple and floaty ride quality. The steering is weighty, in a “I’m driving something that weights 3-tons” kind of way.

Infiniti loads this badboy to the brim with technology- Blind spot monitoring, lane keep assist, collision mitigation braking, 360-degree camera system, and object detection. All of these features make piloting this extremely large SUV much less stressful. Remote start system engages quickly and is much appreciated on hot summer days or cold winter mornings. Rear seat passengers will be kept entertained by individual headrest mounted monitors. The rear seat can be ordered in dual captains chairs or as a split folding bench. The third row is two separate seats that are electrically folded into the floor or brought up, they can be controlled individually. Keep third row passengers to small children and you should experience no complaints. Power liftgate makes closing the gate after unloading groceries with full hands a breeze. The driver controls navigation and radio through dash-mounted buttons and dials underneath a relatively small screen. This system has been used in Infiniti products since the late 2000’s. The only Infiniti product to have an updated infotainment system is their newest model-the Q50. Heated front seats are standard, and cooled seats are optional. Bose speakers are optional, and this system is exceptional- in typical Bose fashion.

A fully loaded QX80 will cost you in the neighborhood of $80k. If you are in this tax bracket, and want a large Japanese luxury SUV, the QX80 is the car for you.

Thanks for reading! Stay tuned for reviews of Acura products and more Infiniti products.

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First Drive Review- 2015 Acura MDX SH-AWD Advance w/ Theater Package

Acura has offered the MDX for many years and after multiple face-lifts and botox implants- we find ourselves with the current form.

The MDX is Acura’s largest SUV, the size allows for a 3rd row of seats which will accommodate children and miniature adults with ease. The second row is very spacious and tells that this is meant to be a luxury family hauler and grocery-getter.  The MDX features Acura’s 3.5L V6 with Direct Injection, producing just under 300 horsepower and 267 pound-feet of torque, which will scurry you and the children to soccer practice at a rate of 27 mpg combined if you opt for a model equipped with Acura’s SH-AWD system. The MDX can tow up to 5,000 if equipped properly from a dealership.

The MDX can be ordered in a multitude of trim levels, with or without SH-AWD, with Technology, Advance and/or Entertainment packages starting at $43k and surging all the way to $57k. The model featured is a fully loaded SH-AWD with Advance and Entertainment Packages. This means this vehicle is equipped with navigation, backup camera, ELS surround sound system, blind spot monitoring, collision mitigation braking system, lane departure warning system, remote start, and Acura’s “Ultrawide” Rear Entertainment Screen. The MDX can also be ordered with a screen half the size of the ultrawide variant.

The MDX is a large SUV and definitely feels it. The ride height is tall, the steering is heavy, but not in a sporty way, the suspension provides a taut ride without being too firm or too mushy. Acura is great at producing suspensions that ride this way. Visibility is pretty good for this size of vehicle, and the aforementioned safety features create a confident driving experience for the pilot. The power liftgate is helpful if you’ve got your hands full with groceries or children, and the second row can be folded forward with the touch of a button making entrance for third row passengers a breeze.

The interior materials are typical Acura, nicely finished, soft-to-the-touch, durable materials that feel good in your clutch. The steering wheel is wrapped in soft-grain leather, has mild grip extensions and is on the thicker side, which is always appreciated. The seats are nicely padded, but do not feature much side bolstering- this isnt surprising, as the MDX doesnt necessarily put the sport in Sport Utility Vehicle. The MDX also features Acura’s dual-screen infotainment system, the larger of the two shows the Navigation map or backup camera display, and the smaller of the two is a touch screen with tactile feedback, and is used to control everything from climate control and heated seats to radio to navigation to phone settings.

All in all, the MDX is a great GL-Class/QX60/QX80/GX/X5 competitor, offering the equipment of the competitors and a fraction of the price. Acura’s tried and true SH-AWD system and optional extra safety features in the MDX make it a very smart choice for the consumers with a small family in the large luxury SUV market.

Thanks for reading! Stay tuned for reviews of a few Infiniti products, as well as some more offerings from Acura.

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Photoshoot- 2010 Acura ZDX

This past weekend I made a trip up to Flagstaff, AZ to see my family and to watch my best friend in her theater performance. While there I took my ZDX for a cruise to some scenic roads and places and took some photos. IMG_0080.JPGIMG_0075.JPG


These were taken in Lockett Meadow, which lies high on the Peaks.




These were taken off of Walnut Canyon Road




And these were taken on a residential road near the Flagstaff Mall.

Hope you guys enjoy the photos!

First Drive Review- 2010 Ferrari California

As a child with a passion for cars, you always dream of driving a luxury exotic Italian supercar. My job brought this dream to reality, when I was given the opportunity to photograph a Ferrari California in July.

The Ferrari California is a 2+2 hard-top convertible, sporting Ferrari’s 4.3L V8 mated to a 7-speed dual clutch automated manual, the performance is everything you could expect from an Italian supercar- breathtaking.

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This particular model wore a Grigio Silverstone Metallic paint and Rosso leather interior.

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Behind the stunning black wheels lives a set of enormous Brembo Carbon Ceramic brakes, complete with bright red fixed piston calipers. Wrapping the wheels is nothing less than the best offerings from Pirelli-P-Zero Neros.

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The engine bay is nothing if not majestic and elegant. Bright red intake manifolds call to Ferrari heritage, and a sport exhaust creates a very subdued, distinctly Italian rumble.

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Everything in this interior is wrapped in ultra premium Rosso Italian leather, and the thickly bolstered steering wheel features LED’s at the top, which range in color from green to red, and flash when the computer suggests the driver to upshift. The push button start and adjustable vehicle dynamics controls also reside on the steering wheel.

This vehicle had the optional 7-speed dual clutch automated manual, which is controlled by paddles on the steering column, and buttons in the center console. There is no park, you must pull both shift levers to put the transmission in neutral, and then apply an electronic parking brake.

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Interestingly however, the media interface is a touch-screen unit, FROM CHRYSLER CORP. The same unit can be found in everything Mopar from a top trim Chrysler 200 to a Jeep Wrangler.


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One wouldn’t expect the back seats of a Ferrari to be commodious by any stretch of the word, I would be surprised if even a small child could fit back there comfortably. Leave it to your Gucci bags or custom Ferrari luggage and you should hear no complaints.

This Italian stallion will be at home with the top down on Rodeo Drive, or screaming at 8,000 RPM on the Nurburgring- pick your poison.

Thanks for reading and stay tuned for the next review!

First Drive Review- 2015 Acura TLX Advance

Acura has had a plethora of sedans in their lineup for years now, ranging from the TSX to the TL to the RLX. For the 2015 model year they chose to combine their two smaller sedans, the TSX and TL into one all-new model- the TLX. The new model is cleanly styled, packed with tech, trimmed with high-quality materials, and is surprisingly affordable. The base 4-cylinder model starts at just under $31k while the range topping 3.5L V6 SH-AWD Advance w/ P-AWS starts at just under $45k. There are seven exterior colors and four interior colors to choose from, as well as Technology and Advance packages available for both engine and transmission choices. Speaking of powertrains, Acura has refreshed their offerings by giving buyers the choice of either a 2.4L I4 mated to an 8-speed Dual-Clutch Automatic, or a 3.5L V6 paired to a 9-speed Automatic- thats right- NINE forward gears all of which are controlled through buttons in the dash as opposed to a more conventional lever, and power is fed to either the front wheels, or through Acura’s SH-AWD system to all four.


The EPA rates the FWD 4-cylinder model at 24MPG city and 35MPG highway, while a SH-AWD V6 will net you 21 city and 31 highway.

At first glance, the exterior styling is very typical Acura- clean, modern, classy, and still sporting their controversial “beak” grille.

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The size is a good combination of it’s predecessors, and interior space is abundant for the average sized human. 10-way adjustable driver’s seat means the pilot can find the perfect position. Rear seat room is more than sufficient for long trips and offer 60-40 folding capabilities if you like to replace people with cargo.

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Interior appointments are high-quality and newly refreshed for 2015. As mentioned before, there are 4 different leather colors to choose from (some may be only available with specific exterior colors)




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The Advance Package includes navigation, backup camera, ELS Surround Sound system, Collision Mitigation Braking System, Adaptive Cruise Control, Lane Departure Warning, and remote engine start (included in keyless fob) The engagement of remote start takes longer than other vehicles in it’s class.


The steering feel is very organic, and feels very direct. The steering wheel is on the thicker side, and is wrapped in silky smooth soft grain leather. The suspension is tuned perfectly for this vehicle and feels very planted and reacts to bumps with complete control and adjustable dampeners do a stellar job at keeping the ride smooth and taut.

New for this class from Acura is the addition of P-AWS, or Precision-All Wheel Steer. P-AWS is a system that can allow the rear wheels to adjust toe angles independently, this adjustment allows the TLX to handle twisty roads with complete control. Available on Acuras for a few years now, IDS, or Integrated Dynamics System, allows the driver to choose from Economy, Normal, Sport, and Sport+. Each setting provides changes to transmission shift points, throttle response, suspension firmness, and steering feel.

If you’re in the market for a luxury mid-size sedan, have a driving enthusiast that lives somewhere in your heart, and enjoys more understated styling- the TLX is the sedan for you.

Feel free to ask me any questions about the TLX or anything in general. Thanks for reading.

Living With It Review- 2010 Acura ZDX SH-AWD Advance

A few weeks ago I traded my 2012 Mazda3 for this 2010 Acura ZDX from a dealership I work for. Some of the things I considered in the commitment for this new vehicle were:

1- Luxury Accomodations

Part of my decision to purchase this vehicle was because I wanted some luxury car features such as Navigation, Reverse camera, high quality surround sound system, adaptive cruise control, leather and a nicer badge to brag about. This Acura has every option from the factory and during it’s production was Acura’s flagship- this particular model reaching nearly $56k when it was new.

2- AWD Capability

Acura has had their SH-AWD (Super-Handling All-wheel Drive) offered in their vehicles for years and this was standard in every ZDX. In addition to the obvious increase in handling performance and stability in adverse weather conditions, Acura added electro-magnetically controlled “lockers” for the rear axle shafts. This allows for complete power to be sent to one wheel if all others experience loss of traction. Acura’s SH-AWD system allows for constant changes to power distribution and can vector torque between side to side and fore and aft, but defaults to a FWD bias in everyday driving to save fuel. I make frequent trips to Northern Arizona and having a stellar AWD system working underneath me gives me great peace of mind.

3- Larger Passenger Room, Cargo area, and Vehicle Size 

Stepping into what is essentially a squished MDX from a small Mazda hatchback was quite the transition. The larger size allowed for more comfortable accommodations for myself and my passengers. The larger cargo area was beneficial for my work equipment and the taller ride height has eliminated the need to be constantly bent over while working out of the trunk.

4- 3.7L V6 and Technology

I have always longed for a V6 when commuting with the Mazda and the smaller 2.0L I4. The J37A V6 creates 300 horsepower and 276 lb-ft of torque and the 11.2:1 compression ratio means the ZDX drinks premium fuel. I average 19mpg in mixed city driving and have reached 25mpg on a long freeway-only road trip. Considering this beast weighs 4,450 pounds and all four wheels are powered, the fuel economy numbers are mildly impressive. The Advance package was an all-inclusive package which included everything in the Technology Package and added a few exclusive options. In total, the technology features on this vehicle are as follows:

Adaptive Cruise Control & Collision Mitigation Braking System

Navigation, Reverse Camera, and Blind Spot Monitoring

ELS Surround Sound System

Heated and Ventilated Seats

Integrated Dynamics System (Adjustable Suspension, Steering, and Transmission Calculations)

5- Exclusivity and Style

Over the course of 4 production years, Acura made approximately 6,000 units, which makes the ZDX a very rare and exclusive vehicle. The styling is very polarizing, and a lot of people dont know what kind of vehicle it is- this confusion and mystery was very attractive to me, and I personally think the design of this vehicle is futuristic, and clean and robust.

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I enjoy that I get to have a luxury vehicle, and also retain the reliability that Acura is known for. All the technology features included in this vehicle are a treat every time I pilot the ZDX. The powertrain works well and is powerful but still quiet and poise. I like the adjustable suspension, which offers Comfort and Sport settings, both of which give new personalities to the car. The seats are firm, but comfortable, and the ventilation feature is much appreciated during hot summers. All interior materials are of high quality and leather is soft grain, but durable.


Premium is $0.43 more per gallon than regular fuel in my area, and it adds up when filling the 21 gallon tank. The transmission is usually in a gear too high during cruising (to save fuel economy) but when you put your foot in it, it has to unbury itself from an extra gear. The ELS sound system, even with standard subwoofer, doesn’t seem to be as hearty as one would expect from a premium vehicle. When set in Comfort mode, the suspension is slightly too boaty, and I would appreciate a little more control. The navigation system could use and update, but isnt a huge issue.

So that in summary, is my review of my 2010 Acura ZDX. Hope you enjoyed reading, and feel free to ask any questions about my vehicle, my dealer, or anything else.

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