By Eric Barton
City & Shore Magazine
Think of luxury cars and you may think first of BMWs, Mercedes-Benzes, Jags and Caddys.
They’re all fine choices, but for a driver who wants something different – something you just don’t see too often on the road – we’ve assembled a trio of simply incredible cars. Nobody else in the work parking lot may be driving at least two of these models now, more on that later; but all three are stellar choices.
There was a moment in traffic on Davie Boulevard when the guy in the Jeep Wrangler glanced over at our SUV, a Range Rover Evoque Convertible, and gave us a look. Was it wonder? Envy? Maybe just complete surprise, before swerving back into his lane, that such a thing even exists?
You get a lot of looks driving one of the world’s only SUV convertibles. It’s a strange combination, no doubt. Why does this vehicle exist? Who knows? But that doesn’t stop it from being a wonderful idea.
Unlike a lot of convertibles, which end up looking like they failed on their New Year’s weight-loss goals, the Evoque convertible’s dimensions are nearly identical to its hardtop cousin. With the top up, it’s even hard to tell it’s a droptop. With the top down, though, it looks both beautiful and bizarre, like a beefed-up sports car, like nothing you’ve seen anywhere. It is a car that looks like designers just carved it from a block of modeling clay, like a concept car, like something that completely ignores function for form.
Consider, for instance, the back window, which, with the top up, provides a postcard worth of rear sight. Or the trunk, which is positioned below the hardware for the top, meaning you’d better take another SUV for Thanksgiving dinner shopping. Otherwise, the interior is Land Rover luxurious and comfortable, with handsome touches like a gear lever that zooms up when the car powers on. Drop it into sport mode, and the Evoque’s engine does its best to haul around all of this SUV-plus-convertible-top weight; hit the gas at a light, and the two-liter engine thinks about it, thinks some more, and then, eventually, accelerates a little.
So, it’s not quick or all that practical. But drive with the top down, as we did past that Wrangler, and you’ll experience something weirdly, thrillingly fun about being so high up in a convertible. There’s none of that feeling of vulnerability you get in a small droptop sports car. Only a feeling that you’re above it all, with the wind in your hair, in an SUV.
So weird, so different, so cool.
Land Rover Fort Lauderdale, 400 W. Copans Road, Pompano Beach, 954-949-0654, landroverftlauderdale.com; Land Rover Palm Beach, 7550 Okeechobee Blvd., West Palm Beach, 561-209-7000, landroverpalmbeach.com.
Here’s an impressive stat about the Genesis G90 sedan: everyone who gets into one goes absolutely nuts about how luxurious it is.
OK, that’s an unscientific conclusion we made after a week in the G90. But this car is undoubtedly the best luxury-per-dollar value on the market.
The Genesis is a new brand spun off by Hyundai. The South Korean company turned its old Genesis sedan into the G80, and then the old Hyundai Equus became this car, the flagship G90. However it came to be, it just might be our new favorite luxury car now.
It’s hard to imagine anyone finding anything significantly objectionable about the G90, in or out. The styling is simple but stylish, an almost coupe-like design with a roof line curving slowly over the long sedan body. Every surface presents something you want to touch, from the ultra-glossy paint to the handle grips on the door, covered in a supple plastic or rubber or leather. Even the tech is impressive, with a 3D-looking navigation system that animates the buildings around you in a completely captivating way (might be smart to not stare at it while driving). The seats are so comfortable you’ll want one out by the pool. In the back, there are giant captain’s chairs with a handsome armrest in the center, full of controls and dials. If you can, figure out a way to get chauffeured.
The drive is also perhaps better than any other big brand sedan. Yes, that’s right: this drives better or on par with a 7-Series or an S-Class. The acceleration, even from the entry-grade six-cylinder, feels as powerful and smooth as a bullet train.
Complaints? Well, the volume and temperature knobs look so similar you might crank up the A/C when you really meant to crank up the Tchaikovsky. If you’re defecting from one of the standard luxury brands, the Genesis dealer network might take some time to get the hang of, too.
Otherwise, the G90 is like finding that pre-tailored suit on the rack at the Saks outlet. It’s handsome, it’s luxurious and it’s a bargain.
Coconut Creek Genesis, 4960 N. State Road 7, Coconut Creek, 954-283-1002, coconutcreekgenesis.com; King Genesis, 1399 S. Federal Highway, 954-421-3330, kinggenesis.net; Rick Case Genesis, 3550 Weston Road, Davie, 888-927-3001, rickcasegenesisdavie.com; Rick Case Genesis Fort Lauderdale, 925 N. State Road 7, Plantation, 888-391-4666, genesisfortlauderdale.com.
Lexus RX 350
OK, it’s not uncommon to see the Lexus RX 350 in traffic. It’s a popular car, judging by the number parked in so many manicured suburban driveways, too.
So why is it on this list?
Because of a fascinating piece of technology that dissolves stress from any commute.
Before we get to that, though, let’s address some logistics. Think SUV, and you probably think first of a vehicle to go get the groceries. Yes, you can stuff carts-full of tote bags and packages in the back of an RX 350, but there’s a far better reason why so many people are putting them in their driveways. The Lexus RX 350 is simply a complete package itself: A great car to drive, a comfort to sit in for any amount of time and a vehicle that does everything well.
Maybe you haven’t noticed the RX styling, because they’re so common on the roads, but it’s handsome – from the side especially – where it looks more like a bulked-up sports coupe than a big SUV. Inside it’s all two-tone chestnut and black, bright red stitching on most surfaces, and a seems-clearer-than-reality 12-inch display headlining the dash. The technology is flawless, like a so-smart touch-free rear lift door that motors upward just by waving your hand in front of the Lexus logo. And maybe this car isn’t for those focused on driving dynamics, but the super-light steering and quite-quick acceleration makes this hefty SUV feel downright sporty.
But the piece of fascinating tech that makes it all uncommonly good is the radar cruise control, which accelerates and brakes for you, in everything from stop-and-go traffic to highway cruising. As traffic finally cleared on one particularly troubled recent day on Oakland Park Boulevard, the RX accelerated on its own back up to the speed limit. Then it braked, when unexpectedly things slowed down again.
Along the drive, the stress of fighting traffic in this comfy grocery-getter slowed down too. And on our roads, that’s a luxury.
JM Lexus, 5350 W. Sample Road, Margate, 800-805-3987, jmlexus.com; Lexus of North Miami, 14100 Biscayne Blvd., North Miami, 888-292-3189, lexusofnorthmiami.com; Lexus of Palm Beach, 5700 Okeechobee Blvd., West Palm Beach, 561-291-6004, lexusofpalmbeach.com; Lexus of Pembroke Pines, 16150 Pines Blvd., Pembroke Pines, 888-220-0088, lexusofpembrokepines.com.