Thursday, November 29, 2012

Test Drive: 2013 Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo 4X4

By Ben Aghajanian, UpShift Contributing Editor

Syracuse, NY-

We all know Chrysler went through some tough times in the last few years. Plant closings, the divorce from Daimler, a lousy economy, a horribly mismanaged segment under Cerberus Capital Management, and a managed chapter 11 bankruptcy. Many people will agree that the partnership with Daimler yielded little for Chrysler in terms of good product, except for the 300C/Dodge Charger. And, to the surprise of some, the new-from-the-ground-up 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee. The new Grand Cherokee actually shares some components with the Mercedes-Benz ML-class, but the Jeep is built at Jefferson North Assembly—in the heart of Detroit, Michigan.

They certainly nailed the appearance on this new Jeep—it looks worthy of its “Grand” moniker. Even in base Laredo trim, it’s not covered in unpainted plastic, nor is the interior filled with dummy buttons. The exterior design looks like it could be a direct evolution from the “WJ” (1999-2004) model, and this is a good thing. The 2005-2010 model was a much less attractive design, inside and out.

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Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Test Drive: 2012 Ford Escape Limited 4x4

By Ben Aghajanian, UpShift Contributing Editor
They say “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” ‘They’ could be talking about the outgoing Ford Escape, which  was replaced this year by an all-new model.

In 2008, Ford did a heavy refresh on the already strong-selling Escape. The exterior was restyled and the interior was redone, as well. In 2009, it received comprehensive engine, transmission, and suspension updates. Out went the 4-speed automatic, swapped for a new 6-speed Aisin unit. The 2.3-liter and 3.0-liter engines were replaced by a 2.5L inline four with 175hp, and a substantially revised 3.0L Duratec V6, with reworked plumbing good for a 40-horse jump to 240hp.

One of my favorite things about the Escape is the styling. While many SUVS have cut down on the greenhouse size considerably, the Escape kept its upright appearance, large windows, and consequently excellent sightlines. Additionally, it has not packed on the pounds like many other vehicles, weighing in near 3,550lbs, which aids in handling and fuel economy.

Click "read more" after the jump to continue reading.