2018 Kia Stinger GT2 AWD V6 review update: tilting at benchmarks

The Car Connection News Feed - Sun, 07/15/2018 - 13:00
The Kia showroom of today isn't the Kia showroom of ten, or even five, years ago. The 2018 Stinger? It's proof that Kia no longer is happy with being an economy-car benchmark. Now it's aimed its sights at the big luxury brands and their sport-sedan standard-bearers. The 2018 Stinger is a five-door hatchback that looks like a sedan, and acts like a...
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2019 Volvo XC40 T5 AWD R-Design review update: cheeky and fun, but not without foibles

The Car Connection News Feed - Sat, 07/14/2018 - 13:00
Volvo has spent the past two years checking off a lot of tasks: big SUV, mid-size SUV, sedan, wagon. Now it's time for its maiden voyage into the small crossover SUV world, and with the 2019 XC40, Volvo takes on accomplished vehicles already on the road: the BMW X1, the Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class, and the Audi A3. With the XC40, Volvo may not be...
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Refreshing or Revolting: 2019 BMW 8 Series Coupe vs. 2018 Lexus LC

Motortrend News Feed - Fri, 07/13/2018 - 23:30

The 2019 BMW 8 Series revives a nameplate that hasn’t been seen in this market in 20 years. But the idea of a flagship coupe isn’t new. Other automakers have launched big, luxurious two-door grand tourers of their own before and since—including Lexus, which has the seductive-looking and surprisingly fun-to-drive LC 500. How does the BMW’s styling stack up against Lexus’ radical design language? Take a look below and decide for yourself.

From the front, the 8 Series is the more conservative of the two, featuring narrow LED-accented headlights and kidney grilles, and wide lower intake openings. The LC gets Lexus’ spindle grille, and this might be the best interpretation of the polarizing design feature yet. The Lexus also gets triangular headlights with clusters of three LED projectors, along with the brand’s signature check mark daytime running lights.

Both cars look sleek from the profile view. The 8 Series features a long rear quarter window that tapers into the subtlest of Hofmeister kinks. Character lines begin from the large “air breather” vents behind the front wheels and spread across the doors. The coupe’s clearly defined rear shoulders are also visible from the side. Meanwhile, the Lexus employs a floating roofline, minimal character lines, and prominent side skirts that feed into slender vents just behind the doors.

The 8 Series has a wide, planted stance when viewed from behind. Narrow LED taillights spread across the car’s shapely trunk lid, while the rear bumper sports wheel vents and integrated parallelogram-shaped tailpipes with chrome surrounds. The LC’s rear end is just as unconventional as its front, but in its own way is attractive and sporty-looking. The taillights feature a vertical element that juts sharply downward, and the rear bumper shape echoes the front with a protruding spindle design.

Just as the two coupes’ exterior designs are vastly different, so too are their interiors. The 8 Series’ cabin is an updated take on BMW’s familiar interior design language, featuring an LCD instrument cluster, glass-accented electronic shifter, and wide 10.25-inch central touchscreen with gesture controls. The LC’s cockpit is highlighted by distinctive front seats, uniquely contoured door panels with free-floating door handles and generous swathes of Alcantara, and a tiered dashboard that connects with the center console via a piece that serves as both partition and passenger grab handle.

The two cars have similar missions, yet they couldn’t be more different when it comes to design. Which flagship coupe do you think looks the best? Share your thoughts with us on Facebook!

The post Refreshing or Revolting: 2019 BMW 8 Series Coupe vs. 2018 Lexus LC appeared first on Motor Trend.

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Roborace Proves Human Drivers are Optional in Goodwood Hillclimb

Motortrend News Feed - Fri, 07/13/2018 - 22:30

Technology firm Roborace succeeded at making history at this year’s Goodwood Festival of Speed. Its Robocar was the first autonomous race car ever to climb the hill at the event, and as you can see in the video below, it did a pretty good job.

Automated computer systems and a variety of sensors give the car a 360-degree view of its surroundings. This technology includes an Nvidia Drive PX2 computer, radar, lidar, ultrasonic, GPS, and camera sensors. Trees block satellite signals along much of the course, making it unhelpful to rely much on GPS, however.

Under the sheetmetal, the Robocar employs four 135-kilowatt electric motors that power each wheel. All together, these motors produce more than 500 hp. The car is the work of Daniel Simon, former senior designer at Bugatti and creator of fantasy vehicles for Hollywood films such as Tron: Legacy and Oblivion.

The Robocar wasn’t the only autonomous vehicle to make its way up the hillclimb course, however. An autonomous 1965 Ford Mustang, commissioned by Siemens and the Cransfield University in the U.K., managed to climb the hill, although a bit slower and less gracefully. The pioneering autonomous hillclimbs were performed just in time for the 25th anniversary of the Goodwood Festival of Speed.

Source: Goodwood, Goodwood Road & Racing via YouTube

The post Roborace Proves Human Drivers are Optional in Goodwood Hillclimb appeared first on Motor Trend.

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AEW Ciloger acquires Dortmund office for fund's German debut

Property Week News Feed - Fri, 07/13/2018 - 22:20
AEW Ciloger has acquired an office asset in Dortmund from Cording Real Estate Group’s LQG Landmark Partnership, marking the debut German acquisition for its OPCI Franceurope Immo Fund.
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Video: Nissan GT-R50 by Italdesign Runs the Goodwood Hillclimb

Motortrend News Feed - Fri, 07/13/2018 - 19:30

Over the years, the Nissan GT-R has become a bit dated due to a lack of a full redesign. Now, a collaboration between Nissan and Italdesign has resulted in a fresh reinterpretation of the sports car. The Nissan GT-R50 by Italdesign debuted at the Goodwood Festival of Speed, where it was recorded running the famous 1.16-mile hillclimb.

In the video below, you can hear the car’s roaring twin-turbo 3.8-liter V-6 engine that makes 710 hp and 575 lb-ft of torque. That’s a good deal more than the standard GT-R Nismo, which produces 600 hp and 481 lb-ft. An upgraded Brembo brake system allows the car to handle the extra power, and the model also receives a revised Bilstein damping system. In terms of design, the car stands out with its power bulge hood, lowered roofline, “samurai blade” cooling outlet behind the front wheels, and large adjustable rear wing.

The vehicle represents the first collaboration between Nissan and Italdesign. It celebrates the 50th anniversaries of both the GT-R and the Italian design and engineering firm. The GT-R50 may spawn a limited-production model that would be built by hand.

Nissan factory GT3 racers Lucas Ordóñez and Alex Buncombe were tasked with driving the GT-R50 up the hill. Watch the video below to see how the model performs. Then check out the video below that to learn about the process of creating the model.

Source: Nissan, Goodwood Road & Racing via YouTube

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BMW M Performance Parts Concept Rolls Out at Goodwood

Motortrend News Feed - Fri, 07/13/2018 - 19:00

BMW is turning the sporty style of its BMW M2 up a notch with the premiere of the BMW M Performance Parts Concept at the Festival of Speed in Goodwood this week.

The frozen black BMW M Performance Parts Concept wrapped with gold accents is 132 pounds lighter than the M2 it’s based on and features upgrades from the BMW M Performance Parts catalog already available as well as exclusive new concept bits.

Many of the M Performance Parts featured on the concept car are expected to be available within the next nine months. The extensive use of carbon fiber greatly contributes to the coupe’s weight reduction. On top of numerous other carbon-fiber lightweight parts, the concept is comprised of an M Performance Carbon hood that sheds 17.6 pounds and a clear carbon-fiber finish roof that saves about 13.2 pounds. Not only does the material make the roof lighter, but it also helps lower the car’s center of gravity.

The BMW M Performance Parts Concept rides on 19-inch M Performance forged wheels. The lightweight wheels reduce unsprung mass, which enhances steering response and overall driving dynamics. The aerodynamics of the car are also optimized by an M Performance carbon-fiber rear diffuser, which is already available as part of the M Performance Parts lineup, and M Performance carbon-fiber front side panels that should be available this fall.

To further enhance the juiced up M2, the interior includes M Performance carbon-fiber seats with Alcantara. BMW says the gold-seamed sport seats offer the support needed for spirited driving. Alcantara is used on a number of other surfaces, including the M Performance carbon-fiber handbrake.

To top off the BMW M Performance Parts Concept, it is built with an M Performance suspension with adjustable compression and rebound stages. This M Performance suspension is already available as a retrofit set for production cars. See your dealer for more details.

Source: BMW

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Tesla EV Federal Tax Credits to Begin Winding Down

Motortrend News Feed - Fri, 07/13/2018 - 18:00

After hitting 200,000 sales, Tesla will have to start rolling back federal tax credits on its electric vehicles starting next year.

Tesla will continue to offer the full $7,500 tax credit through the end of the year. Starting January 1, 2019, customers will only be eligible for $3,750, and that number drops to $1,875 on July 1 of that year. By the start of 2020, the federal tax credits will have run their course, unless they somehow get extended. The credits apply to those who purchase a new Tesla Model S, Model 3, or Model X.

Under the tax credit initiative created during the Obama administration, customers of new plug-in vehicles can claim between $2,500 and $7,500 depending on the size of the car and its battery capacity. Each manufacturer can sell 200,000 EVs in the U.S. before they have to phase out the credits, which are gradually reduced by 50 percent every six months once the 200,000 mark is hit. Of course, a number of states also offer rebates or tax credits for new electric cars, in addition to other perks such as carpool lane access and free municipal parking.

It’s unclear how the end of the tax credits will affect customer interest. The Model S and Model X already command a pretty penny to begin with. The Model 3 is deemed more affordable with an expected starting price of $35,000, although prices climb quickly with options and we have yet to see the base model CEO Elon Musk promised.

Chevrolet will be in the same boat as Tesla pretty soon. As we reported earlier, the brand is expected to pass the 200,000 mark later this year, so you might want to buy that Bolt sometime soon if you’re in the market. But like Tesla, GM isn’t deterred by the tax credit situation. The automaker will introduce two new EVs based on the Bolt next year. By 2023, GM’s lineup should include at least 20 all-electric vehicles.

Source: Reuters, Tesla

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2019 Rolls-Royce Cullinan Makes California Debut

Motortrend News Feed - Fri, 07/13/2018 - 17:30

Last night in Hollywood, California, along with a handful of celebs and Rolls owners, we got the chance to check out the latest addition to the Rolls-Royce lineup, the 2019 Cullinan. Two SUVs—or “high-bodied cars,” as Rolls likes to say—were in attendance, including one finished in a fresh coat of Magma Red paint and another in a more conservative shade of gray.

Up front, the 2019 Rolls-Royce Cullinan is big and imposing with its stainless steel pantheon grille. Its hoodline is much higher, and its high-bodied side profile is longer than any luxury SUV around. Around back there’s a two-piece tailgate that closes like the clasp on the finest Swiss-made watch at the push of a button.

Under the hood, a twin-turbo 6.75-liter V-12 engine delivers 570 hp and 627 lb-ft of torque. The V-12 is mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel drive.

The SUV is available in two configurations—Lounge Seats for five passengers or Individual seats for four. For the first option, the seats completely fold down electronically  to create a flat load area and can be configured in a 2/3 and 1/3 split. With the seats up, the rear compartment offers up to 21.2 cubic feet of storage space. The Individual Seat configuration is designed for rear passenger comfort and features a fixed glass partition to keep it sealed from the rear luggage compartment. This may make it more difficult to haul your larger Rembrandt masterpieces, but it ensures plenty of sound and weather insulation for its occupants. It also allows for a removable Viewing Suite module that produces two comfortable leather seats and a cocktail table that emerges from the rear tailgate for the ultimate in tony tailgating—again with the touch of a button.

There’s also an optional ashtray and lighter in the door panels along with umbrella stowage and a center console drinks cabinet that’s comes in handy for all types of adventures.

We can’t wait to take it for a long spin—so stay tuned for our driving impressions in the near future. If you like what you see, you might want to put in your order right away. Lucky new owners can expect deliveries to start this winter.

The post 2019 Rolls-Royce Cullinan Makes California Debut appeared first on Motor Trend.

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Wood-Be Weight Savior – Technologue

Motortrend News Feed - Fri, 07/13/2018 - 17:00

Stop the 40-ton presses and cool the autoclaves. There’s a new light/strong/cheap material poised to join the vehicle engineering toolbox, and it’d be recognizable to the designers of Conestoga wagons. Forget titanium, carbon fiber, and high-strength steel. The hot new substance on the automotive scene is … wood?

Yes, wood might no longer be just for dashboards and Morgan body framing. Researchers at the University of Maryland have developed a way to make cheap, renewable, fast-growing, CO2-consuming wood 10 times stronger and tougher than natural wood, aligning its strength with some steels but at one-sixth the weight and vastly lower cost. (The cost savings over carbon fiber apply, as well.)

It’s called “densified wood.” Producing it involves boiling the wood in a solution containing sodium hydroxide and sodium sulfate just long enough to remove 12 percent of the cellulose, 73 percent of the hemicellulose, and 46 percent of the lignin. It’s then boiled in deionized water to remove these chemicals and then hot-pressed (perpendicular to the growth direction) at 725 psi and 212 degrees F until it’s squashed to about 20 percent of its original thickness.

Removing lignin and hemicellulose leaves the wood cell walls porous—so the hot press completely collapses the tubes used to transport water and nutrients throughout the living tree. The remaining cellulose nanofibers remain highly aligned but are much more densely packed. When they’re packed that closely, the hydrogen atoms in their hydroxyl groups are close enough to “hold hands,” making it way harder to push, pull, or tear them apart.

How much harder? After pressure-cooking, the specific tensile strength (how much force per area you can apply to the wood before it breaks, divided by its density) roughly quadruples. That makes it stronger than steel and aluminum—it’s even about one and a half times better than a lightweight titanium alloy (TiAl4V). Compress it along the growth direction, and it’s 5.5 times stronger than undensified wood and slightly ahead of mild steel.

Surprisingly, the densified wood also becomes tougher—harder to scratch or fracture via impact. Often, improving a material’s strength makes it more brittle. But in this case that hydrogen hand-holding also makes the treated wood 10 times stiffer and harder to break than natural wood, and its scratch-resistance improves 30-fold. Painting makes it immune to the effects of humidity.

University of Maryland researcher Liangbing Hu says the material can be joined mechanically via rivets or bolts and/or bonded with adhesives. He claims that the surface finish and hardness coming out of the press are sufficient to accept a class-A painted finish, so it could form exterior panels as well as structure. And with no exotic resins it’s easier to recycle than most composites.

There are some caveats and asterisks, of course. Metals can be cast or stamped to nearly any shape imaginable, but densified wood’s strength aligns with the original branches and trunks. So although it can be bent quite a lot, laminated, and formed as tubes and other shapes during the boiling/pressing process, there will be geometric limitations. And although Hu’s team forecasts that densified wood will be cheaper than carbon fiber, at this point the cycle time to produce parts is considerably longer, making it suitable only for low-volume applications. A good one: bulletproofing. Laminating several thin sheets of densified wood with their growth directions oriented at 90-degree angles shows promise as a lightweight, thin, cost-effective armor plating capable of resisting at least small arms fire.

If this isn’t interesting enough, the Maryland team has other automotive wood tricks: Removing the lignin from wood and infusing it with methyl methacrylate produces transparent wood that’s stronger and better insulating than glass. A biodegradable nanocellulose paper could replace plastic on instrument lenses, and a photonic paper is showing promise in advanced battery applications. We suggest UMD and Hu produce an all-wood concept car to showcase these technologies. Perhaps Automobile design editor Robert Cumberford could style it as a follow-up to his 1982 wood-bodied Martinique.

Read more by Frank Markus here:

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NHTSA regulator: self-driving vehicles shouldn't be regulated... yet

The Car Connection News Feed - Fri, 07/13/2018 - 15:44
A top auto safety official at the NHTSA has claimed that it’s too early to regulate self-driving vehicles, such as the ones being tested by Uber, Waymo, and more. According to Automotive News, NHTSA deputy administrator Heidi King said in an interview on Thursday: “At this point the technology is so nascent I don’t think it is...
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2017 Hyundai Tucson Long-Term Verdict Review

Motortrend News Feed - Fri, 07/13/2018 - 13:00

Our long-term 2017 Hyundai Tucson has been with us for a year, and its departure is now imminent. During its time with us, the turbocharged crossover served mainly as a commuter car, but it’s also done multiple trips out of the City of Angels, to beautiful Palm Springs, Northern California, and Texas. Our bright orange Tucson was a reliable companion, faithfully taking us to work or play; however, it wasn’t without its quirks.

Read about the updated 2019 Hyundai Tucson right here

Our Tucson spent time with two chaperones: Former digital director Chris Clonts had it for the first half, and I took over for the second. Most of the staff found the Tucson to be a comfortable daily driver with supportive seats and a reasonably large cargo area for hauling groceries and luggage. Associate online editor Michael Cantu and web producer Erika Pizano took the Tucson out on road trips, and they both found it cozy for long drives. Pizano also noted after her trip to Yosemite National Park that three people and their gear will easily fit in the Tucson. Between commuting and road trips, staffers who drove the Tucson found that it rode well even with the 19-inch alloy wheels that come standard on the Limited trim.

There weren’t many complaints about the Tucson’s driving experience when traffic flows smoothly, but when you find yourself in stop-and-go traffic, things start to get awkward thanks to the tuning of the seven-speed twin-clutch automatic transmission. When combined with the sluggish throttle response, the gearbox was clunky in traffic because it tries to hold the highest gear it can get away with even in gridlock, causing it to feel like it’s going to stall. Heavy traffic is where you also notice the transmission getting confused and hunting through gears. All is not lost ,though, thanks to the 175-hp 1.6-liter turbo-four. It produces 195 lb-ft of torque at low revs, so the transmission rarely needs to downshift to get you some passing power. The engine itself is smooth and has plenty of pep for the average consumer.

Transmission aside, the Tucson was easy to live with. Kudos to Hyundai for providing an easy-to-use, stress-free multimedia system and center stack controls. The learning curve isn’t big; it only takes a few seconds to figure out how everything works. Our long-termer also came with the larger 8.0-inch touchscreen, which was responsive and had a logical icon layout. Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are also well integrated, so it’s easy to have Google or Siri take over multimedia duties or access apps such as Waze and Spotify. The only downside that I can note about the infotainment system is that it only has a single USB port. Crossovers should have at least two, considering most people can’t live without their phones these days.

We serviced the Tucson three times during its stay with us. We spent a total of $389.88 on maintenance, which included three oil changes, one cabin air filter, and one oil filter replacement. Overall, that wasn’t too bad but was more than the maintenance costs of our last long-term Honda CR-V and Mazda CX-5, at $349.50 and $320.37, respectively. However, our long-departed 2014 Nissan Rogue SL was more expensive to service than the Tucson at $648.61 while covering similar mileage.

Near the end of our loan period, Hyundai introduced the refreshed 2019 Tucson. In the update, the 1.6-liter turbocharged I-4 and seven-speed twin-clutch automatic have been replaced with a 181-hp 2.4-liter I-4 paired to a conventional six-speed automatic. The 2019 Tucson gets revisions inside and out; among the additions are full LED headlights, adaptive cruise control, and a 360-degree camera, features that were originally not available on this model. There are also two additional USB ports, so you don’t need to compromise passenger charging in favor of CarPlay usage.

During its time with us, the 2017 Hyundai Tucson proved to be reliable; we never had a major issue. The interior still feels solid, and there are no squeaks or rattles to report after roughly 22,000 hard miles on the odometer. The infotainment system still works as well as it did when the Tucson first arrived, and the leather seats show little sign of wear even after serving as a photo support vehicle a number of times.

With the refreshed model’s arrival, we’re interested to see how its more conventional powertrain improves refinement and whether the added tech features make it a stronger proposition. As for the 2018 and earlier model, though, its clunky transmission makes it difficult to recommend if your typical routine includes much stop-and-go driving. If the Tucson’s strengths nonetheless appeal to you, consider instead waiting for the refreshed model or opt for the less powerful (and slower) models equipped with the base 164-hp 2.0-liter I-4.

Read more about our 2017 Hyundai Tucson Limited AWD: Our Car SERVICE LIFE 13 mo / 22,096 mi BASE PRICE $32,070 OPTIONS Carpeted floor mats ($125) PRICE AS TESTED $32,195 AVG ECON/CO2 24.0 mpg / 0.81 lb/mi PROBLEM AREAS None MAINTENANCE COST $389.88 (3-oil change, inspection; 1-tire rotation, air filter, in-cabin air filter) NORMAL-WEAR COST $0 3-YEAR RESIDUAL VALUE* $22,200 RECALLS None *IntelliChoice data; assumes 42,000 miles at the end of 3-years 2017 Hyundai Tucson Limited AWD POWERTRAIN/CHASSIS DRIVETRAIN LAYOUT Front-engine, AWD ENGINE TYPE Turbocharged I-4, alum block/head VALVETRAIN DOHC, 4 valves/cyl DISPLACEMENT 97.1 cu in/1,591 cc COMPRESSION RATIO 10.1:1 POWER (SAE NET) 175 hp @ 5,500 rpm TORQUE (SAE NET) 195 lb-ft @ 1,500 rpm REDLINE 6,500 rpm WEIGHT TO POWER 20.5 lb/hp TRANSMISSION 7-speed twin-clutch auto AXLE/FINAL-DRIVE RATIO 4.88:1 (1st, 2nd, 4th, 5th); 3.58:1 (3rd, 6th, 7th, R) /2.58:1 SUSPENSION, FRONT; REAR Struts, coil springs, anti-roll bar; multilink, coil springs, anti-roll bar STEERING RATIO 14.4:1 TURNS LOCK-TO-LOCK 2.7 BRAKES, F; R 12.0-in vented disc; 11.9-in disc, ABS WHEELS 7.5 x 19-in cast aluminum TIRES 245/45R19 98H M+S Hankook Kinergy GT DIMENSIONS WHEELBASE 105.1 in TRACK, F/R 63.1/63.6 in LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT 176.2 x 72.8 x 64.8 in GROUND CLEARANCE 6.4 in APPRCH/DEPART ANGLE 17.2/23.9 deg TURNING CIRCLE 34.9 ft CURB WEIGHT 3,586 lb WEIGHT DIST, F/R 58/42% TOWING CAPACITY 1,500 lb SEATING CAPACITY 5 HEADROOM, F/R 39.6/39.2 in LEGROOM, F/R 41.5/38.2 in SHOULDER ROOM, F/R 57.1/55.1 in CARGO VOLUME BEH F/R 61.9/31.0 cu ft TEST DATA ACCELERATION TO MPH 0-30 2.8 sec 0-40 4.1 0-50 5.9 0-60 7.9 0-70 10.6 0-80 14.0 PASSING, 45-65 MPH 4.1 QUARTER MILE 16.2 sec @ 85.5 mph BRAKING, 60-0 MPH 120 ft LATERAL ACCELERATION 0.83 g (avg) MT FIGURE EIGHT 27.1 sec @ 0.64 g (avg) TOP-GEAR REVS @ 60 MPH 1,850 rpm CONSUMER INFO BASE PRICE $32,070 PRICE AS TESTED $32,195 STABILITY/TRACTION CONTROL Yes/Yes AIRBAGS 6: Dual front, front side, f/r curtain BASIC WARRANTY 5 yrs/60,000 miles POWERTRAIN WARRANTY 10 yrs/100,000 miles ROADSIDE ASSISTANCE 5 yrs/Unlimited miles FUEL CAPACITY 16.4 gal REAL MPG, CITY/HWY/COMB 24.9/32.9/28.0 mpg EPA CITY/HWY/COMB ECON 24/28/25 mpg ENERGY CONS, CITY/HWY 140/120 kW-hrs/100 miles CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB 0.76 lb/mile RECOMMENDED FUEL Unleaded regular

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Celebrity Drive: ‘Lucky Dog’ Host Brandon McMillan

Motortrend News Feed - Fri, 07/13/2018 - 13:00

Quick Stats: Brandon McMillan, host of Emmy-winning “Lucky Dog”
Daily Driver: 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee (Brandon’s rating: 8 on a scale of 1 to 10)
Other cars: See below
Favorite road trip: Pacific Coast Highway to Oregon
Car he learned to drive in: 1980s Toyota pickup truck
First car bought: 1980s Toyota pickup truck

Animal trainer turned TV host of Lucky Dog Brandon McMillan is living his dream life. “You have two options: live the life you dream, or dream of a life you’re not living,” he tells Motor Trend.

Each week he saves a dog that would’ve been euthanized and trains it for a home, transporting each in his 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee. And although McMillan often describes certain cars as “sexy,” the Jeep is more utilitarian than hot. But it serves its purpose and hasn’t let him down, so it’s a keeper.

Photo courtesy Brandon McMillan

“That’s my dog car, man. I’m going to drive that thing till it dies. I’ve been a Jeep guy my whole life. It’s a comfy ride. The only drawback is the [electrical system] has been a little glitchy, and that’s a Jeep thing. It’s almost like Jaguar,” he jokes.

This is McMillan’s third Jeep, which he rates an 8. “I had a Wrangler and a Cherokee before this. I’ve always liked them. They’re tough, and they’re a perfect mix of rugged with that sexy look that I like. The beauty of Jeeps [is that] you can beat them up and they’re still good. I’m not very demanding when it comes to cars, as long as the damn thing gets me from here to there. Hopefully if I crash, it’s safe. I haven’t tested that part out yet,” he says with a laugh.

McMillan has thought about getting the newer Grand Cherokee. “They made minor tweaks to make it better. Maybe that’s my next one,” he says. “Although I will say, those Toyota Tundras are looking pretty sexy right now. They’re just known for their reputation. They have to be the most reliable car on the planet.”

McMillan’s decision to buy the Jeep represented a conscious choice to support the American auto industry. “I do like classic American cars, and since I wouldn’t drive one every day, why not get just a modern American car?” he says.

The Jeep isn’t a loaded model. The SUV has power windows and a CD player, and that’s about it, he says.

Photo courtesy Brandon McMillan

“It’s a dog car at the end of the day, and when you have a dog car, you don’t want it too nice. You don’t want it too fancy because the dogs will make sure that it’s not nice and fancy by the time they’re done with it,” he says.

He’s run errands in the past and left dogs inside for a few minutes with the car running and the AC on. When he came back, they’ve made a mess. “If you’ve got a $100,000 BMW and you put a bunch of dogs in it, I don’t think so,” he says, laughing.

McMillan adds that he doesn’t feel like he’s missing out on a car that has all the bells and whistles. “To me, a car [should be] like an old pair of shoes. Yeah, they’re not the prettiest things, but they’re so comfortable,” he says.

Car he learned to drive in

McMillan learned to drive in an early 1980s Toyota. “It was already 15 to 20 years past its prime, but then again, it’s a Toyota so it was still running fine,” he says. It had four different wheels, it was rusted, I couldn’t even tell you the paint color because it didn’t have an actual color. It was a stick shift, too, so to this day I still know how to drive a stick because of that.”

He taught himself how to drive. “Driving is not that difficult. My mother taught me a few things and driving a stick. I’d be a liar to say I didn’t steal my parents’ car a couple times when I was a kid just to go up the street and back,” he says. “What I’ve learned is some people have a natural ability to drive well. I knew how to drive really well from day one. It wasn’t much of a learning curve for me. I failed the written test twice, but the driving test was easy.”

The windshield wiper on the old Toyota didn’t work, so when it rained he’d wear a snorkel mask and stick his head out the window.

Photo courtesy CBS

McMillan lived in Hawaii when he was a teenager and was able to get his license at 15. “Learning to drive in Hawaii is fun because you learn to drive on the roads and off the roads. Off-road driving in Hawaii is awesome,” he says.

McMillan saved $1,500 to buy the Toyota. “It had no accessories, it had no radio, it had no windshield wipers, all the tires were pretty much bald, but it ran. And I ran that thing into the ground!” he says. “And it was still running after I ran it into the ground. It just wanted to live.”

McMillan made money from jobs like mowing neighbors’ lawns and walking and training dogs, and he saved his lunch money for five years. “I would get $2 a day for lunch, and I would put the money under my carpet every single day, and I would eat the free lunch at school, which was a peanut butter and jelly and a milk,” he says. “I was able to acquire enough money, and when you’re in your teenage years, you think $1,000 is like a million.”

McMillan doesn’t have his dream car yet, since he used money he’s made to buy a ranch. “My ultimate dream with a car is to get a 1966 Chevelle convertible, midnight blue. That right there, in my opinion, is a dream car. The bottom line is, the older that car gets, the better it gets,” he says. “These new cars, they’re built to last three to five years. It’s no fluke that these 1960s hot rod classics get better over time, and the rarer they get, the more valuable they get. I don’t see a 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee becoming a classic like a ’66 Chevelle.”

He plans to get this dream car in the next couple of years. “They’re hard to come by, though; they really are,” he says.

Favorite road trip

McMillan’s favorite road trip memory was the time he drove to Oregon on the Pacific Coast Highway over two days. “We did PCH the entire time. What gorgeous scenery that is,” he says. “You’ve got places in Central and Northern California, where, especially [in] Northern California near Oregon, the PCH turns into sheer cliffs. You’re riding pretty much over the ocean. It’s awesome.”

He took that drive when he was filming Great White Serial Killer for Discovery’s Shark Week in Northern California and Oregon. But McMillan also loves Mulholland Drive.

“This is my favorite driving moment ever—about 10 years ago I had a client, very wealthy guy,” McMillan says. “He called me up and said, ‘I hear you’re a dog trainer. Can you get to my house tomorrow, 12 o’clock?’”

Photo courtesy Brandon McMillan

It turns out the client’s dog was scared of being in the car. The dog would shake and panic and drool with anxiety the whole time. So McMillan said the solution, besides opening the window, was to drive the dog in the car a lot. The client didn’t have time to do that, so it was up to McMillan.

“He opens his garage, he has a collection of supercars—Ferraris, Lambos, Bentleys,” McMillan says. “I’m like, ‘Oh, which one am I training him to?’ He goes, ‘All of them pal.’”

McMillan did that for six weeks. “He put me on his insurance for every single one of these cars. I would take these $350,000 sports cars out. Of course I had a dog in there, but I’d always bring the dog back and go for a quick little run myself,” he says with a chuckle.

He drove the dog all along Mulholland. “There is something to be said about these sports cars. When you pay that much for them, you see them hug the road much more than a Jeep Cherokee,” he says. “I had never been in a Ferrari in my life and [heard] all this hype. Then you drive one one day, [and] you’re like, ‘Wow, it’s all it’s cracked up to be and more.’”

It turned out the dog was afraid of getting carsick, and the remedy was a little booster seat so he could see out the window, as well as opening the window for fresh air.

“Problem was solved. Of course I had to drive the dogs plenty of times to let him know he wasn’t going to get sick,” he says.

Lucky Dog on CBS

Each week, viewers watch McMillan work with dogs that were going to be euthanized. He prepares the dogs for new owners who are well matched to them.

“So I save their life, bring them back to my ranch. I rehabilitate them [and] train them tailor made to the family that I’m going to give them to,” he says. “It’s a long journey. I’m training service dogs and therapy dogs.”

It takes weeks or sometimes—in the case of service dogs—months to train them. And there are times when McMillan finds it hard to let a dog go.

“There’s been a few in the past, especially the service dogs, because the longer I have the dog, the harder it is to get rid of them,” he says. “If I have them for weeks, it’s not that difficult to release them, but if I have them for six or eight months, it’s tough, because they feel like a family member.”

Lucky Dog airs weekends on CBS. McMillan is also the author of the book Lucky Dog Lessons, has a nonprofit, and offers training products. For more information, visit


The post Celebrity Drive: ‘Lucky Dog’ Host Brandon McMillan appeared first on Motor Trend.

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