Recently our Porsche of Kansas City service area played host to Geeks for Kids as they celebrated four years of building custom electric cars for kids with mobility limitations. Geeks for Kids, is an all-volunteer non-profit where teams build electric, toy cars so that kids with mobility limitations can play with other kids as well as explore on their own and have a level of freedom not found in their day to day life.
Maybe you’ve never heard of Geeks for Kids, that’s ok we’d love to tell you about them, however they do an amazing job of telling their own story so we will just let them tell you.
(taken from Geeks for Kids website)
Over 500,000 American kids under the age of five have mobility challenges, and few have access to devices that give them free movement. Most insurance programs only provide electric wheelchairs for school-aged kids, and few parents can afford to buy electric wheelchairs on their own. These wheelchairs can cost nearly $17,000. This lack of independent movement severely limits younger kids’ interactions with their environment and with other kids.
Without free movement, these kids cannot grow and learn as their peers do. Even older kids with wheelchairs are often left on the sidelines as other kids run and play. The latest study, published recently in the journal Pediatric Physical Therapy, compared the activity of typically-developing toddlers to those with disabilities. The researchers found that typically-developing toddlers spend about an hour per day in direct play interactions with their peers, while toddlers with disabilities affecting mobility spend only six to twenty minutes per day in similar interactions.
Geeks for Kids strives to change the way these kids experience their world. They give kids a chance to move about and explore freely – not experience life as passive observers from strollers and wheelchairs. Plus, they make them feel “cool” with a hot rod that excites and engages their peers and encourages them to play together.
The Geeks for Kids mission is:
- To give kids with movement limitations the freedom to experience their world.
- To help them explore, learn and grow.
- To empower the high school and college engineering students who help build these cars to invent and build real, life-changing solutions.
- And, to bring the community together to do good things for kids.
Twenty-one kids received their custom vehicles this year and their smiles were priceless and the #Power2Play immeasurable. We couldn’t have been more proud to have hosted such a uplifting event where young minds work to create real-life solutions that improve the lives and experiences of not only the children but their families as well.
For almost 50 years, the Metropolitan Organization to Counter Sexual Assault (MOCSA) emergency crisis line has offered support to sexual assault and abuse survivors and the people around them 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
It’s part of an extraordinary legacy for the organization, which got its start in 1969 as an effort between criminal justice,
health, mental health, and other professions that came together to address the needs of those that had been sexually
assaulted. “Today, MOCSA continues to be the sole rape crisis center serving the greater Kanas City metro area, and we have a unique service model that focuses not only on advocacy and response and support, but also education and prevention, as well,” explains President and CEO Julie Donelon. “We look at it from a very holistic point of view to impact the issue and change the culture in our city.”
SERVING THE COMMUNITY
MOCSA serves Kansas City through three major programs: advocacy, counseling, and education and prevention.
In addition to the emergency crisis line, which is always answered by a live person, MOCSA also provides hospital
advocacy, sending a staff member or volunteer to offer support or intervention while survivors undergo sexual assault
exams at area hospitals. The organization’s advocacy efforts continue, whether a survivor goes through the criminal
justice process, wants help navigating a school’s Title IX procedures, or needs assistance breaking a lease to get out of
an unsafe situation. “Survivors often feel like they’re to blame, like they’ve done something wrong,” Donelon says. “They’ve seen how other survivors are treated when they come forward, through the news stories or the media or from reactions from friends and family that they’ve heard, and so a lot of times, they’re just very uncertain of what to do and who to tell, because they’re very vulnerable. They understand that likely their character will be attacked, but not that of the perpetrator’s. We want to make sure that we do everything to allow the victims to come forward and get the support that they need while they work their way through that whole process.”
MOCSA offers counseling programs for those 4 years and up who have been impacted by child sexual abuse, as well
as adult survivors of child sexual abuse, and adult and adolescent survivors of sexual violence. Additionally, the nonprofit works in more than 30 area school districts providing education and awareness programming for preschoolers through college students, as well as to community and professional groups. MOCSA also delivers Safe Bar training in bars and restaurants throughout the community to help educate staff about how to respond when they see dangerous situations.
The organization’s impact is considerable. The education and prevention department serves 65,000 annually. In 2019, MOCSA saw 1,500 individuals for counseling services, and it assists 1,400 annually through advocacy efforts, in addition to answering about 5,500 calls per year on the crisis line.
During the pandemic, MOCSA shifted to offering services remotely, including counseling and hospital visits. Donelon
says her team has also noticed a shift in community need during this unprecedented time: More people are dealing
with relationship violence as sheltering in place is encouraged and access to social support systems is limited. Sadly,
child sexual abuse cases are also on the rise, since many children don’t have the access they once did to trusted adults
outside their home they can confide in.
CHANGING THE CULTURE
Despite the troubling times we are in, there is cause for hope. Donelon says she has seen a dramatic shift in attitudes
regarding sexual assault during her 25 years working in the advocacy space. “It has gone from people not talking about it, people keeping it a secret and being ashamed and embarrassed about it, to having open conversations,” she says. “I’m just so optimistic because we’ve come some far in those 25 years I’ve been in the field, and I’ve been able to see the progress. I’m really eager for the next 25 and to see what more progress we can make.” Unfortunately, Donelon says myths about sexual assault are still pervasive in our society: That the victim was “asking” to be assaulted because of how she/he was dressed or behaving; that rapists are strangers that strike in isolated locations; and that only women can be victims. “I think the biggest challenge is changing the community’s perception about sexual violence,” Donelon says. “People often think sexual violence is something that happens to other people. But we know that sexual violence can happen to anyone, and does. The people that we work with, these survivors, are children, are mothers and fathers,
are brothers and sisters, are family members, are friends and colleagues. Nobody is immune from it, and I think it’s
really important that people understand it’s not just something that happens to other people. Because of that, we
all have a role to play in preventing sexual violence and responding to it.”
To learn more about MOCSA, access the organization’s services, or offer financial or volunteer support, visit
The Maserati Ghibli Trofeo.
Maserati and Ferrari. Performance and Passion. Two iconic
Italian brands deep with legend make a winning combination
for aficionados who appreciate automobiles with a blood-red
Maserati’s Trofeo packages inject excitement into the 2021
models of the Quattroporte, Levante, and Ghibli by stuffing a
Ferrari-designed twin-turbo V-8 under the hood. Putting the
Trofeo package into the Ghibli and Quattroporte “accentuates
the two sedans’ sporting spirit, by transforming them into the
fastest production Maserati road cars ever,” says Maserati.
Maserati was one of the first companies to introduce the
concept of a performance luxury sedan in the 1960s before
such a concept really existed. The Ghibli Trofeo takes the
luxury-performance paradigm up a notch because it marries
tire-spinning performance with an interior that is swathed in
rich leather and carbon-fiber trim. Competitors include the
BMW 5 Series, Mercedes-Benz E-Class, and the Audi A6.
This is the first time the mid-size Ghibli has been given
a V-8 engine, and Maserati says the result is their fastest
production road car ever. It can accelerate to 60 miles per hour
in 4 seconds and has a top track-speed of 203 miles per hour.
That’s not a misprint. This four-passenger, road-legal sedan
is capable to breaking 200 mph, a top speed that is greater
than all but a handful of exotic supercars. And yet it is perfectly
comfortable strolling around town during everyday driving.
That’s the beauty of today’s automotive technology: Searing
performance coupled with mild manners. Fuel economy is 13 miles per gallon in the city and 20 on the highway, not bad considering the power and performance, but it does require a $3,700 gas guzzler penalty.
This 3.8-liter, twin-turbo gem spins up power as sweetly as
the blender that whips your morning smoothie, and the 580
horsepower delivers a bigger kick than a double espresso. One
dab of the throttle and you’re definitely awake.
Using a twin-scroll turbocharger for each cylinder bank yields a
wide powerband and accounts for the engine’s ability to be docile
at low speed and fierce when the throttle gets flattened. Stab the
Sport Corsa button on the console and you’ll unleash the beast.
The exhaust becomes throatier, the throttle more responsive, and
all 580 horses strain to run. That’s when you really understand
why the Trofeo is so special. Launch control.
The Trofeo rides on beautiful Orione 21-inch wheels shod with
high-performance Pirelli tires. Aided by traction control and antilock
brakes and an advanced driver assistance system that predicts
driving situations in advance and adapts the engine speed and
brakes accordingly. Maserati says this system intervenes more
smoothly than most vehicle stability control systems. It also offers
Level 2 Autonomous Driving.
Maserati’s Skyhook suspension system – yes, that’s the actual
name – uses acceleration sensors to continuously monitor and
adjust the dampers, or shock absorbers, at each wheel in real
time. Consequently, the Ghibli responds intuitively to driving
conditions. Comfort is the default suspension setting and Sport is
selected by a switch on the console. In Comfort, the ride quality is
compliant at moderate speeds. I would be concerned about the
vulnerability of the rims on rough roads, however.
The interior is rich in luxurious details that underline the Trofeo’s
sporty personality without sacrificing the typical Maserati
elegance. A high-resolution, 10.1-inch display with multi-touch
function is integrated into the center of the instrument panel. The
center console has a spot for wirelessly charging cell phones.
The Trofeo’s cabin underlines the car’s sporty, high-performance
nature of the Trofeo. The interior is wrapped in what Maserati
calls “Pieno Fiore” full-grain natural leather. The seats are deep
and comfortable, with the Trofeo logo embroidered into the
headrests. Carbon fiber accents are used throughout, and the car
I drove had the optional exterior carbon fiber trim package. Even
the tiniest interior detail such as the small analog clock perched
atop the dash is impeccably styled to emphasize elegance.
When you’re tired of being entertained by sound of the V-8
engine, you can tune your ears to one of two sound systems:
The Harman Kardon Premium Sound System (four woofers, four
tweeters, one centre fill, and one sub with amplifier, giving a total
of 650 W) is standard, and the Bowers & Wilkins High Premium
Sound System (15 speakers totalling 1,280 W) is optional.
As expected for a car in this segment, the list of driving
assistance and safety features is extensive. Adapative
cruise control with stop-and-go function, lane-keeping
assist, blind-spot assist, traffic-sign recognition, forwardcollision
warning, advanced brake assist, and autonomous
emergency braking are all there. Active Driving Assist is a
Level 2 autonomous system that keeps the car in its lane
in concert with the adaptive cruise control. It still requires
“hands on the wheel” but reduces driver fatigue, according
A rearview camera, cross-path detection and optional
surround view are also standard.
Maserati has a four-year, 50,000-mile warranty.
Performance runs deep in the history of Maserati.
According to the company’s website, Rodolfo Maserati, a
railroad worker, and his wife, Carolina, had seven children,
“all of whom inherited their father’s passion for speed
and performance.” In 1914, the Maserati brothers – Alfieri,
Ettore, Ernesto, and Bindo – opened the Officine Alfieri
Maserati “car workshop” in Bologna, Italy. The Tipo 26, born
in 1926, was the first car to carry the Maserati name and
Trident logo that was inspired by the fountain of Neptune in
Bologna. If the brothers could experience the Trofeo today,
it would be beyond their wildest dreams.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR / PHOTOGRAPHER
Tom Strongman has a degree in photojournalism from the University of Missouri and was
formerly the director of photography and then the automotive editor of The Kansas City
Star. Tom, a member of the Missouri Press Association Photojournalism Hall of Fame, has
written about and photographed cars for more than three decades
While winning awards is nice and makes us very appreciative, we do what we do and how we do it because we believe in delivering a level of luxury customer experience that is unparalleled not only in the Kansas City area but across the country.
Being rated a top-dealer by any of these sites requires an average review rating of 4.5 stars or higher out of a total of 5 stars. We don’t take this lightly, we want every experience at our dealerships to be unmatched for its level of care, trust, and service. Whether our customer is here to shop for a new vehicle or to service their existing one we believe everyone who walks through our doors to be deserving of and worth the time it takes to communicate fully and deliver on what we promise.
“We are thrilled to recognize Aristocrat Motors as a 2021 Top Rated Dealer,” said Sam Zales, President and COO at CarGurus. “CarGurus is known as the leader for trust and transparency in car shopping, and we are proud to honor all of the dealerships that reflect the same values. The Top Rated Dealer program gives dealerships like Aristocrat Motors the opportunity to showcase their customer service excellence, and we applaud their high standards.”
“CARFAX has more than 2.2 million verified customer ratings and reviews for dealerships around the country,” said Bill Eager, CARFAX Vice President of Dealer Business. “The Top-Rated Dealer program recognizes the best of the best for exceptional service and customer care. The select group of dealers, including Aristocrat Motors, are being celebrated for their commitment to building consumer confidence through exceptional service and customer care.”
Once you learn more about this luxury SUV with it’s turbo-charged engine you’ll want to experience it for yourself.
Many luxury SUVs sacrifice good driving dynamics for the commanding seating position SUV enthusiasts love, but with the Jaguar E-PACE you can have both. Up against familiar rivals, the E-PACE more than holds its own with its own selection of powerful turbocharged engines, captivating style and impressive capabilities both on- and off-road. And with pricing starting at just $39,950, the 2020 Jaguar E-PACE provides an abundance of luxury for your investment.
Performance Specifications and Interior Highlights of the 2020 Jaguar E-PACE Luxury SUV
When you browse from our selection of 2020 Jaguar E-PACE models, you’ll experience the luxury SUV in six premium grades – E-PACE, SE, R-Dynamic S, R-Dynamic SE, R-Dynamic HSE and the all-new Checkered Flag Edition. The SUV features luxurious seating for five passengers with 24.2 cubic feet of standard cargo space behind the rear seats. All versions are fitted with a 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine, which generates 246 horsepower on E-Pace, S and SE models. On R-Dynamic S, SE and HSE models, the engine gets retuned to 296 horsepower.
With its athletic platform and power-packed roster of turbocharged engines, the Jaguar E-PACE has become somewhat of a favorite for our Kansas City clients. Even at its most basic form the 2020 Jaguar E-PACE features 18-inch alloy wheels, LED headlights, full-grain leather-trimmed seats, a rearview camera and a 10-inch Jaguar Touch Pro™ touchscreen. Standard driver assists include automated emergency braking, front/rear parking sensors and lane-keeping assist.
When the Maserati Levante Trofeo launched in 2018, it sent a shockwave through the segment as the most extreme Levante to ever see the street. This year a legend becomes a collection as Maserati places the Trofeo badge on what we can confidently call the fastest, most powerful versions of the iconic Quattroporte and Ghibli sports sedans.
At the crossroads of power and Italian craftsmanship, the Maserati Trofeo Collection is a refined declaration of performance. Each entry in the Maserati Trofeo Collection is engineered for driving perfection, pairing massive power with a driver-centric technology package. Features are designed to engage and excite the senses with the Launch Control electronic aid, Integrated Vehicle Control (IVC), Level 2 Advanced Driving Assistance Systems, and a “Corsa Mode” that enables faster throttle response, instantaneous gear shifts, and a powerful exhaust soundtrack.
3.8L V8 Twin Turbo
580 hp @ 6,750 rpm
0-60 mph in 4.2 sec.
Top speed of 203 mph
3.8L V8 Twin Turbo
580 hp @ 6,750 rpm
0-60 mph in 3.7 sec.
Top speed of 187 mph
3.8L V8 Twin Turbo
580 hp @ 6,750 rpm
0-60 mph in 4.0 sec.
Top speed of 203 mph
The entries of the Maserati Trofeo Collection are masters of the pavement, and they look just as stunning as they perform. Each design is inspired by the concept of speed through the lens of timeless Italian beauty. In nature, some animals have flashy traits that signal a warning to potential challengers. There’s no need to hide if you can fight, after all. The details of the Trofeo Collection confirm what you already know to be true – these are sports cars of the highest order. There are aerodynamic details in high-gloss carbon fiber, dark finish taillights, race-inspired wheels, and air vents accentuated by red accents.
The Trofeo Collection may be inspired by the world of racing, but it is uncompromising when it comes to luxury and comfort. Each interior in the collection features sculpted natural leather sports seats, carbon fiber patterns, a Trofeo-specific instrument cluster, cutting-edge technology, and a concert-hall sound system.
Schedule a test drive today!
When Growing Futures launched in 1965, it was one of the
first Head Start programs in the country. More than 50 years
later, the Johnson County nonprofit is still providing early
education opportunities and family support services to the
community – and the job is only getting bigger, says Director
of Development and Community Relations Jessica Hoffman.
“Poverty has continued to increase,” she says. “Right now,
there are over 32,000 people in Johnson County who are
living below the poverty threshold.”
More than 3,000 of those Johnson County residents are
children 5 and under, according to United Community Services
of Johnson County data, and thousands more people
earn just over the threshold, which is $21,780 for a family of
three. During the past decade, Johnson County’s population
grew by 20 percent, but the number of people living in poverty
increased by 134 percent. While Growing Futures started
by serving 17 preschoolers in 1965, today it serves over 222
kids annually and maintains a waitlist filled with other kids
and families who have need of the nonprofit’s services.
A HELPING HAND
Growing Futures is one of several Head Start programs
serving Johnson County. President Lyndon B. Johnson announced
the Head Start program in the same year Growing
Futures was founded, and although offerings have evolved
over the decades, the nationwide program aims to promote
the health and school readiness of infants, toddlers, and preschool-
aged children from low-income families in communities
around the country.
Growing Futures offers numerous programs to address
those needs. Home-based Early Head Start serves pregnant
women, infants, and toddlers up to age 3, providing home
visits and group socialization activities that promote secure
parent-child relationships and supports parents in offering
quality early-learning experiences. Children 6 weeks to 3
years old can participate in the Early Head Start, a program
based on site at Growing Future’s Early Education Center.
An on-site preschool program is also available for kids 3 to
5 years old.
Staff members observe children for mental health or behavioral
concerns and work closely with parents to support
children through consultations, counseling, and play therapy.
Additionally, Growing Futures’ disabilities and school readiness
specialists identify kids with disabilities and coordinate
services to help them be successful.
But the organization doesn’t just work to help kids – it can
connect participating families with community resources
and support systems, whether they’re facing food insecurity
or want help reviewing a resume. Comprehensive family
services also ensure families receive dental exams and vision
“They’re essentially getting their head start, as well,” Hoffman
says of parents.
ADAPTING TO COVID-19
Already contending with increased need in the community,
Growing Futures has been further challenged by
COVID-19. In the spring, the nonprofit shifted its programming
to offer remote virtual learning opportunities to children
and families. Children came back to school in early
September to a hybrid virtual and in-person model.
“We have a phenomenal staff, and they have been very
flexible and very able to pivot on very short notice in these
ever-changing times,” Hoffman says. “They’ve been so
creative and so adaptive.”
But the program experience is far from the only facet
of operations affected by the pandemic. Hoffman says
an increasing number of families have been applying to
Growing Futures programs this year as households lose
sources of income. Meanwhile, funding options are becoming
Although Growing Futures receives federal funding,
they’re responsible for raising more than $400,000 annually
through monetary donations, in-kind donations, or
volunteer hours, which requires support from community
partners, corporate sponsors, and individuals. Grants the
organization normally could have applied for have shifted
to provide more targeted COVID relief, and individual
donors and community partners may be hesitant to make
a donation during a period of such economic uncertainty.
“Donations are slowly trickling in, but it’s taking a lot of creativity to host fundraisers now in a virtual climate,” Hoffman says. Growing Futures accepts monetary donations online, but there are plenty of other ways community members can get involved, from volunteering on outdoor
projects at the center, to donating supplies on the organization’s wish list, which range from classroom items like paper and books to health supplies such as diapers and disinfecting wipes. Growing Futures has also partnered with The Ripple, which Hoffman describes as an online marketplace where people can sell items and have the proceeds go directly to a nonprofit of their choice.
Help is needed now more than
ever as new families continue to apply to Growing Futures’ programs, Hoffman says. “We have a waitlist we maintain
of at least 100 children at
all times, so the need is definitely there, and that’s leading us to try to grow and expand, as well,” she
explains. “We’re hoping to launch a capital campaign soon for a new facility.”
To learn more about Growing Futures, including how to help, visit growingfutureseec.org.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Kelsey Cipolla is a local writer, editor, and social media specialist. Kelsey has covered
everything from the Kansas City culinary scene to home design, health, fitness trends,
hidden gems, and nonprofit in the Kansas City community.
The phrase “man of the world” could have been coined with Julián Zugazagoitia in mind. He was born in Mexico City into a family steeped in history, creativity, and culture. He has lived in Paris, Rome, and New York. Since 2010, when he was named director of the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Julián Zugazagoitia has called Kansas City his home.
What is it about Kansas City that has made it feel so much like home for you?
The most beautiful surprise that this city has given me is to have the murals at UMKC by Spanish painter Luis Quintanilla. He was exiled because of the Spanish civil war and he ends up in Kansas City painting some murals. He dedicated them to my grandfather. [Julián’s grandfather fought the Fascists in Spain of the 1930s. He was eventually captured by the Gestapo and executed.] Those murals make me feel that this is really home.
Does your family’s amazing history impact you and what you do, on a daily basis?
It’s different moments of consciousness in which you start realizing the complexity of your own identity. Growing up in Mexico City there were not a lot of questions, but I left for the UK for the first time when I was 12 and that was the first big shock. It was the beginning of my understanding that we’re all immigrants all the time. Identity is such a complex thing.
As we speak, the museum is closed due to COVID-19, and the world is also seeing protests demanding equal treatment and opportunity for all people. What does a place like the Nelson-Atkins mean in times like these?
When society and humankind come to moments that really challenge us, humankind needs to express itself. Art has found ways to tackle even these things. We have had pandemics in the past. Our collections have examples of artists creating art during very difficult moments. What I see is art that goes beyond the forms we normally celebrate. New generations expressing so much through social media and digital form. People can connect with us in the digital world.
The inside part of the museum is closed but people can still come and enjoy the landscaping and the sculptures. I trust that just being in the environment, in front of the art, is inspiring.
Some may look at places like the Nelson-Atkins and think, ‘Well, that isn’t really for me because of my socio-economic status or education or skin color.’
I know you and your staff work hard to make this a place for everyone.
We have made a lot of efforts to be a place of openness, of inclusivity, of making sure that everyone feels ownership of the museum’s legacy. Today’s events call for more effort. I would say from the moment we opened this building in 1933, the first speech at that time said this place is for all groups, all races, all creeds. This is work that has to be done by society at large and work that we have to do together. We have a wonderful and wide diversity of people enjoying the museum and that is something we need to continue to foster.
We are using this time to look at ourselves as staff, look at our history as an institution, to reassess our collections, how collections have come to be. We need to be more cognizant, more attuned to our times. We also need to understand that we are part of a stream of history, knowing others have also faced times like these. Society today is waking up to many things. The younger generations are making us more aware of where we should be going.
In these uncertain, unsteady, unchartered times, should we look to art and places like the Nelson-Atkins as some sort of constant?
The nature of expression is always going to be there and museums like ours provide the ability to travel, not only the geographies of distant cultures but also in time. To see how time and different cultures and different civilizations and different ways of thinking are represented through art. A museum like ours can teach you that there’s hundreds of ways of thinking. That should give us a sense of awe. A museum like ours gives you a variety of possibilities. You see that humanity has so many ways of expressing and being. We can engage in dialogues that enrich and enlarge our perceptions and make us have more points of view than one.
Article taken from Fall 2020 edition of Today Kansas City Magazine, a publication of Soave Automotive Group. Interview by Joel Nichols.
Land Rover redesigns an icon for the future
Redesigning an icon is never easy, but Land Rover has succeeded in crafting a new Defender that embodies 70 years of Land Rover DNA in a package that is both handsome and practical.
“The new Defender is respectful of its past but is not harnessed by it,” said Gerry McGovern, Land Rover’s chief design officer, in press materials. “This is a new Defender for a New Age. Its unique personality is accentuated by its distinctive silhouette and optimum proportions, which make it both highly desirable and seriously capable – a visually compelling 4×4 that wears its design and engineering integrity with uncompromised commitment.”
The Defender has a lightweight all-aluminum monocoque, or unibody, structure that is three times more rigid than a traditional body-on-frame design.
There are two versions: a short-wheelbase two-door Defender 90 that will be available later in the year and a four-door, long-wheelbase Defender 110. The base Defender, with a turbocharged four-cylinder engine that puts out 296 horsepower, begins at $49,900. The Defender S starts at $53,350. Moving up to the Defender SE P400, with a mild-hybrid-electric six-cylinder engine pumping out 395 horsepower, the base price is $62,250. The Defender HSE is $68,350, the Defender First Edition is $68,650 and the Defender X begins at $80,900. The vehicle driven here was a Defender SE with a sticker price of $71,230.
The Defender 110 comes in five-, six-, or seven-passenger configurations. The seven-passenger configuration has a third-row seat with room for two. The six-passenger model has a front bench seat with a middle section that can fold forward to create an armrest. Three-across front seating is very rare these days.
The Defender 110 is big inside. The back seat has tons of legroom, and the cargo area is substantial. The exposed powder-coated magnesium cross-car beam that spans the instrument panel is integral to the overall strength of the body structure. It is available in a range of finishes and has integrated grab handles to aid entry. There are ample storage bins and cubbies throughout the interior, a phone charging pad and several plugs for phones, tablets, or laptops.
The functional heart of the cabin is the Pivi Pro system, accessed through a 10-inch high-resolution touchscreen, which allows customers to control numerous aspects of the vehicle using the same processing hardware as the latest smartphones. In addition, customers can connect two mobile devices at once using Bluetooth2.
The system accepts over-the-air software updates and various apps such as music streaming. Learning the touchscreen takes some time but it is not much different than most cell phones.
Let’s take a closer look at the powertrain options. The four-cylinder has a twin-scroll turbocharger that delivers 296 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque. It can accelerate the vehicle to 60 miles per hour in 7.7 seconds. The more interesting engine is the mild-hybrid six-cylinder that has both a twin-scroll turbocharger and a 48-volt electric supercharger. The starter motor replaces the alternator to assist the engine under acceleration, while the 48-volt lithium-ion battery stores energy captured as the vehicle slows down. Total power output is 395 horsepower and 406 pound-feet of torque. This engine propels the vehicle to 60 miles per hour in 5.8 seconds. The Defender can tow 8,201 pounds with either engine. Both engines are coupled to an eight-speed automatic transmission, and a two-speed transfer case that provides extra-low gearing for towing and off-road use.
The six-cylinder engine delivers excellent power right from idle. Full-throttle acceleration is quite impressive for a vehicle that weighs 5,034 pounds. The eight-speed transmission always seems to be in the right gear for any circumstance and the shifts are smooth.
While I did not have an opportunity to try the Defender off-road, Land Rovers are known for their off-road capability, and if history is an indicator, the Defender should be outstanding. An actuator-controlled piston operated by the foot pedal applies braking effort, delivering much finer control. Land Rover says this new system is handy during low-speed off-road maneuvers and when the traction control and emergency braking systems are triggered, because it can lock a wheel within 150 milliseconds, twice as fast as the 300 milliseconds with a conventional set-up.
The Terrain Response system is activated by the touchscreen and it has settings for various off-road conditions. It also has an automatic function that recognizes the driving surface and configures the vehicle with no driver input.
The high sills, short overhangs, and externally mounted rear wheel facilitate the vehicle’s off-road capability. For serious going, such as mud or sand, the driver can adjust cross-axle slip using center and rear slip controls on the central touchscreen. There are three settings that control throttle, gearbox, steering, and traction control, allowing the driver to tailor the vehicle for a particular situation.
A unique feature is a wade setting that enables the drivers to observe the depth of water under the vehicle on the vehicle infotainment screen. The wade setting also softens the throttle response, sets the ventilation system to recirculate cabin air, locks the drive, and adjusts the ride height. The Defender can wade through 35.4 inches of water. Once out of water, the vehicle automatically drags the brakes to clean and dry the discs.
A new option is a factory-fitted satin protective film that is available on Indus Silver, Gondwana Stone, and Pangea Green paint finishes. The wrap gives the body a satin finish and enhances durability because it can be repaired more easily than paint.
Want to test drive a Defender, or any of our other in-stock Land Rovers? Contact us today.
A compact SUV with innovative technology
The 2020 Mercedes-Benz GLB250 crossover utility vehicle sits smack in between the company’s GLA and GLC, which is a pretty nice place to be because it offers the room of a larger vehicle with the maneuverability of a smaller one, and it does so at an affordable price. The GLB appears to be aimed directly at young families who want a spacious cabin, good fuel economy, a small third-seat option, and Mercedes-Benz styling.
The GLB’s 111.4-inch wheelbase is 5.1 inches longer than the GLA and only 1.7 inches shorter than that of the GLC. The long wheelbase not only contributes to a smooth ride but it accounts for 38 inches of back-seat legroom. The somewhat boxy exterior features an upright front section with short front and rear overhangs. The practical design allows 41 inches of headroom in the front seat, and a low step-in height makes getting in easy for youngsters or adults with their arms full of groceries.
Surprisingly, the GLB has a base price of $36,600 for two-wheel drive and $38,600 for 4Matic all-wheel drive. The base price swells with popular options, and the model I drove had a sticker price of $50,150. Competitors include the BMW X1 and Volvo XC40, among others.
Powering the GLB is a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder that has been completely updated to deliver sprightly acceleration and fuel economy that is rated at 23 miles per gallon in the city and 31 on the highway. This aluminum engine has cast-iron cylinder liners, four valves per cylinder and variable cam timing. It is paired with an eight-speed, dual-clutch automatic transmission that seems to be in the right gear at the right time whenever you need some extra punch for passing or changing lanes. One reason the engine feels so lively is because the GLB’s curb weight is a comparatively svelte 3,638 pounds.
The two-wheel-drive version sends power to the front wheels, while the 4Matic permanent all-wheel-drive system with variable torque distribution sends 80 percent of the power to the front wheels and 20 percent to the rear in “Eco/Comfort” driving mode. In Sport mode that shifts to 70 percent front and 30 percent rear. The Dynamic Select switch lets the driver choose Sport, Eco/Comfort, and Individual settings to control all-wheel drive although the system reacts intelligently to the current driving situation in any mode. In off-road mode, the all-wheel-drive clutch acts as an inter-axle differential lock, and power distribution is balanced 50:50 front to rear. An Off-Road Engineering Package further enhances the GLB’s off-road capabilities, because it adapts the engine’s power delivery and the ABS control to tackle off- road terrain away from paved roads.
For a vehicle aimed at young families, the cabin is of prime importance, not only in terms of comfort but also in terms of convenience. The split-folding rear seat, for example, can be moved closer to the front seat, making it easier for the front-seat passenger to reach a toddler in a child safety seat or to increase the rear cargo area. The sliding rear seat also improves access to the optional third seat, admittedly best suited for youngsters. The large tailgate opens to reveal a sizable cargo space (62 cubic feet with the seats folded).
The GLB has ISOFIX and TOP-Tether anchorages for child seats, and these can be used to attach up to four child seats in the rear. The third row includes two drink holders between the seats as well as two stowage compartments with a rubberized insert, each with a USB-C port. The third seat folds flush with the load compartment floor.
The Mercedes-Benz instrument panel now consists of two screens, one for a digital instrument cluster and one as a touchscreen for operating various vehicle functions such as audio, navigation, Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. The test car was equipped with the premium package that includes two larger 10.25-inch screens that sweep across the instrument panel like a large computer tablet. The gauge display can be changed in several ways, and many vehicle functions can be controlled by voice. “Hi, Mercedes” is all you need to say to get access to many functions. While the test car was not equipped with its own navigation system, I could connect my phone with Apple CarPlay and use my voice to get directions, play music, etc. Navigation with augmented video and speed limit assist adds an additional $1,150.
The GLB also offers optional driving assistance systems with functions adopted from the benchmark S-Class. Using this technology, the GLB is able to drive semi-autonomously in certain situations. To do so, it keeps a close eye on the traffic with camera and radar systems that allow it to see up to 1,640 feet ahead. The GLB also uses map and navigation data to support assistance functions. The driver assistance package of adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping assist, evasive-steering assist, active-brake assist with cross-traffic function, emergency stop assist, lane-change assist, and active-steering assist adds $2,250.
Mercedes-Benz says that one in three of its vehicles sold worldwide is an SUV, and one in four a compact model. Thus, the GLB is poised to tackle an energized SUV market with a compact size, innovative technology, and everyday usability. For the opportunity to purchase one today, check out our Express Store.
Just the facts….
Engine: 2.0-liter, 221-horsepower four-cylinder
Transmission: 8-speed dual-clutch automatic
4Matic all-wheel drive
Wheelbase: 111.4 inches
Curb weight: 3,638 pounds
Base price: $38,600
As driven: $50,150
MPG rating: 23 in the city, 31 on the highway
ABOUT THE PHOTOGRAPHER
Tom Strongman has a degree in photojournalism from the University of Missouri and was
formerly the director of photography and then the automotive editor of The Kansas City
Star. Tom, a member of the Missouri Press Association Photojournalism Hall of Fame, has
written about and photographed cars for more than three decades.