Back in 2010 or 2011, I can't remember, I saw a commercial for the newly introduced Kia Optima SX. That commercial kickstarted my appreciation for the new design language of the company. I ended up purchasing a 2011 Optima SX and drove it for a year and a half before we became a one-car family. I just saw a new commercial for the Stinger GT starring Steven Tyler and I have to give Kia kudos. They definitely know how to design and market cars. Check it out:
Overall, there is so much that I absolutely love about the second generation SQ5. The exterior styling, performance and interior are all beyond reproach. That said, there are a few things that irritate me. They aren't major, but they just don't sit right with me considering the amount of money this thing cost. I have a feeling a few of these shortcomings are due to the highly expensive settlement the Volkswagen Group made with various world governments. Regardless, here is a list of five things I love and five things I don't.
Five things I love
Heated steering wheel
At first, I thought it was gimmicky, but I don't think I could own a vehicle that doesn't have one. It's such a luxury on a cold winter day.
Directional rear indicators
Overall, I am very impressed with the exterior and interior lighting packages on the SQ5. I particularly like the directional rear indicators. Watching them flash when I lock the car never seems to get old.
Heated/cooled cup holder
Another unnecessary option, but I'm amazed how many times I have used it. I mostly use the heating function since I like my travel coffee mug hot. They could have made both cup holders heated/cooled. My wife and I sometimes compete for the only heated/cooled cup holder.
Yeah, I know the Ford Escape comes with this option, but it doesn't take away from the fact that it is convenient. There have been many occasions in which I have used it. Usually when I'm loaded up with the little guy's hockey equipment.
I really enjoy the ambient lighting throughout the SQ5's cabin. It makes driving at night more visually dramatic and interesting. I keep it set on "Audi Sport" so the color scheme changes day to day. The family and I get a kick out of it and it lends the cabin a more sophisticated appeal.
Five things I don't love
Lack of flat-bottom steering wheel
When you equip your SQ5 with the winter package, which is standard on all SQ5's destined for Canada, Audi deletes the flat-bottom steering wheel. Apparently they haven't figured out how to add the heating option to the flat-bottom wheel. The round wheel is very nice and I love the way it looks and feels, but as much as I have tried to convince myself it is as cool as the flat-bottom one, it just isn't. Sad.
Cheap wheel maintenance kit
The maintenance kit that they threw in the trunk is a collection of the cheapest tools I have ever set eyes on. The plastic case they come in is even more embarrassing. The wheel anchor on the first generation SQ5 had a quality feel to it, but the new one is made out of pathetic plastic. I wish I would have kept the kit from my old one. Honestly, I would be surprised if Audi's cost on this bag of junk is more than 5 euros.
The two blank buttons on my console are a constant reminder that some other SQ5 drivers are driving around their countries with more things than me. It's an insult. I'm still trying to figure out what goes in these two spaces. I think one is the on/off button for the auto-park feature which isn't available to Canadian buyers, which takes me to my next point...
Unavailable features for Canada
Where are my front directional indicators? Where is my auto-park function? Where is my dynamic steering option? These, and a few other features, were available to buyers from other countries. Apparently, the Audi Canada brass decided we didn't need such features.
No exhaust tips
Sure, it was a chore keeping my exhaust tips clean on my previous SQ5, but is eliminating them altogether the best solution Audi designers and engineers could come up with? There's no getting around the fact that the faux exhaust idea is lame.
The plan has changed somewhat since my last post. A buyer has come forward for my current SQ5 and that has put pressure on my original timeline. Because the new Q5 factory in Mexico is not clear on when they will be able to fill custom colour orders, I have cancelled my "Nardo Grey" order. As much as I loved the idea of having a Nardo SQ5, the timing just won't work. I contacted my dealer and they tracked down a Daytona Grey model that is currently in transit and it should be here mid-September. It is the identical spec as the one I was going to build, except it has black instead of red leather interior and it has the 21"s that I was going to avoid this time around. I still have my current SQ5 until the end of the month, when the buyer and I will finalize the deal. In the meantime, I have been watching every video I can find on the 2018 SQ5. I plan on taking delivery of the new one with as much of the factory coverings still in tact, and I will perform the "new car prep" myself.
As a kid, I would spend a portion of my summer holidays at my Grandparents' place in Red Deer, AB. My Grandpa owned an Auto Body shop on the Southern edge of the city. In the early '80's, he purchased a Suzuki Samurai and gave it a flashy red paint job. I dreamt of one day inheriting it. On a few occasions, my Grandpa would let me drive it around his acreage. Then, disaster struck. A fire claimed the shop and many cars along with it - including the Samurai. I have fond memories of spending the summers up there, and I will always feel an affinity for these cool little jeeps.
My Grandpa was in the Auto Body business and he was always buying and selling cars. One car that he really took a shine to was the first generation Dodge Charger. They were under appreciated back then as well as now, but he just adored them. He had a 1966 with the base 318-cid and a '67 with the 383. He would let me borrow them for the summers and I have so many fond memories of rolling around the city in them. Here's a slideshow containing some retro shots from the late-80's. Check out that teal cummerbund.
The year was 1993 and my GLH Turbo was gone. The kid I sold it to totaled it that very weekend. But, once the dark clouds cleared, I started scouring the local Auto Trader for my next hot ride. I kicked the tires of numerous Escort GT's, Rabbits, and RX-7's, but I ended up succumbing to the allures of a pristine 1984 Ford Thunderbird Turbo Coupe. My folks had owned a 1984 FILA Edition T-Bird in the late-80's and I loved it. This car had a 2.3L turbo with a 5-speed and a host of options rarely seen in cars at that price range. I ditched the factory rims for a set of meaty 16-inchers and installed a thumping sound system consisting of two 10" JL Audio subs. I had a blast with that car until the throttle bottle started acting up. I would be sitting at a light and the engine would just starting revving all on its own. I took it to a couple of Ford dealers, but they wouldn't touch it. They told me some story about how there could be ten different throttle bodies for that car and they wouldn't know which one was correct. It was so bizarre. One guy offered to do an engine swap with a totalled 5.0 Mustang. I wasn't having any of that so I limped it to an independent used car dealer and got $1500 for it, wheels included. End of story.
I should also add that it was around this time that I developed a fascination with photographing my cars. I had no qualms when it came to backing up the driveway of a nice house and capturing a few glamour shots with my 35mm Fuji camera. I only ever had a guy yell at me once. Rich jerk.
In the mid-80's, Dodge collaborated with Carroll Shelby on some performance versions of the popular but pedestrian 2-door and 4-door Omni. In 1990, I purchased a 1985 Dodge Omni GLH Turbo from a friend.
Like most kids my age, I was enamored with performance hatchbacks, and the GLH, at least in my mind, was the king of the hill. The GTi was arguably a better car, but the exclusivity of the GLH along with the fact that not many people had any idea what lurked under the hood, made it a really fun car to own. The turbocharged 2.2 engine produced a whopping 146 bhp, which at the time, was quite impressive. Especially considering the whole package weighed a tick above 2000 pounds. It was mated to a 5-speed, which gave it incredible pep. In addition to these performance upgrades, the GLH-T was fitted with 15" alloys and sported a nifty ground effects package including Bosch driving lamps and blacked out trim and bumpers. These touches were subtle, which helped the GLH-T remain a "sleeper".
In time, things deteriorated. In addition to the body rust that I tried hard to combat, the gearbox and clutch went on me. I had it to a few different shops, but no one was able to really fix it. Once these problems hit, I reluctantly listed it in the Auto Trader. I ended up selling it to a kid who wrecked it the first weekend he took it out. There is a small part of me that thinks it would be cool to track one down and relive my youth. If that were to happen, I would probably opt for the even-more-rare GLH-S, which is pictured above. That one had an intercooler and 175 bhp. At the time, Dodge claimed the GLH-S out accelerated the Porsche 944 and Ferrari 308 to 60 mph. Anyway, here's some shots of what was arguably the most fun car I ever had the pleasure of owning.
In the Spring of 2009, my wife and I were driving a 2006 Cadillac STS-V and a 2009 Pontiac G8 GT. With a combined horsepower of 830, we got where we needed in a hurry, but once winter hit, we realized neither car was very practical. So, we decided to sell both cars and go with a SUV. We seriously considered the BMW X5, GMC Yukon, Mercedes ML and Audi Q7. We ended up going the Q7 route, and it really was the right choice. We both loved its looks, practicality, and overall driving experience.
Our Q7 was equipped with the 3.6 litre V6 which put out a mediocre 286 bhp. Honestly, I always felt like the vehicle was underpowered. The TDI version would have been our first choice at the time, but there was a huge waiting list in my city. The 4.2 was substantially more expensive and offered a relatively small power upgrade of 54 bhp. We chose this car right off the lot because we loved the Garnett Red Pearl paint and it was loaded with all options minus the 3rd row seating. We enjoyed our four years of relatively trouble-free ownership. The only problems we had with the vehicle over that time was a malfunctioning door handle, squeaky sun roof, and a "clunk" when engaging the car in drive. All problems were rectified by our dealer with little to no fuss. One modification I made to the Q7 was the brakes. I upgraded the pads and rotors shortly after purchasing it. The OEM pads produced a merciless amount of brake dust, so I went with a set of Hawk LTS pads that lasted until the car sold almost four years later.
A fun modification I made was moving to a 22" Porsche Cayenne replica wheel in a gloss black. I went with 285/35 Yokohama Parada Spec-X A/S performance rubber. It was a real head turner. I sold the Q7 with under 60k km's on the clock. There was some wear on the outer edge of the passenger seat, but the car was otherwise perfect. I got over 70% of what we paid. I was quite happy with that.
This is the car that transported our son home following his birth, so it will always hold a special spot in our hearts. It served our family well during our time together. It was dependable, comfortable, and I was proud to drive it. You can't really ask for much more than that from a family hauler.
It boggles my mind that 1990 was 25 years ago. I was in my first year of University and completely obsessed with my car. Although I loved my 1985 Dodge Omni GLH Turbo, there were a number of other cars I had my eye on. These are the top ten cars from that era as I remember them now, and then.
I couldn't believe what pristine condition the 2-year-old car was in. It was flawless. Even the wheels. Not a mark. After ogling it for a bit, we did the deal and we were on our way. We spent the next week working our way back to North of the border. We spent a night in Cleveland, two nights in Chicago, a night in Minneapolis, a night in Bismarck, and a night in Great Falls before heading through the border at Coutts. It was an epic road trip with lots of fun along the way.
When my wife and I returned to Canada after a decade of life overseas, we agreed that we were going to get a nice car. We figured something with heated seats would be nice. So, I spent months researching what kind of deal I could get on a sweet ride from the States. I narrowed it down to a Chrysler 300 SRT or Cadillac STS. Soon after arriving home, a 2006 STS-V popped up in Parma, Ohio and it was irresistible. I phoned the guy up, made the deal, and booked a flight for the next day. My friend flew into Cleveland from Vancouver, arriving at the exact same time. Ten minutes and a chest-bump later, we were standing in front of what appeared to be a brand new STS-V.
The import process went well despite a slight hiccup. The Friday we arrived in Great Falls, I realized I had misplaced the original bill of sale. Luckily, I was able to get ahold of the dealer just before he took off for the weekend. He was highly cooperative and FED EX'd me a replacement copy that arrived later that day! (That would never happen in Canada). I dodged a bullet there. Once the car was in Canada, it was subjected to two inspections. All that was required to register it was a few minor modifications performed by the local Cadillac dealer. I pampered that car for two years, but it saw little action. It was not cut out for the Canadian winters, plus I couldn't bare the thought of subjecting it to the ravages of our winter roads. It sat, covered, for too many months of the year in our underground parking facility. With the factory warranty set to expire in a matter of months, I let her go.
I really enjoyed that car, and I sometimes yearn to hear that 469 bhp V8 wind itself up. I added a Borla exhaust which really made a ruckus as it made its way down the boulevard. Around the time I sold it, I took the second generation CTS-V for a spin. I was shocked by its power. Tonight, I was checking out the third gen CTS-V online, and it got me all nostalgic about my rad Cad. Great car. Greater road trip.
It's been over a year since I parted ways with my 2011 Kia Optima SX. I really enjoyed it for the 2.5 years I owned it. Prior to purchasing it, my wife and I shared one car. But, with her at home on maternity leave, we needed a second one. I ordered it in February and took delivery (the first in the city) in May of 2011. It didn't see a lot of use, and I sold it just prior to Christmas 2013 with only 8,800 kms on the clock. I sold it for $29k with the summer wheels. The guy who bought it said it looked better than the brand new model he test drove earlier that week. <blush>
One of the best parts of owning that car was the attention it garnered. I rebadged the car with a different Kia logo used in Korea, so that really confused people. I installed a set of Eibach springs, which in combination with the MRR HR2 19" rims, gave it a pretty aggressive stance. As fun as the attention was, I did find myself often having to defend the Kia brand against criticism. Anyone who had some time behind the wheel was impressed with the car, but there are still a lot of people out there who think all Kia's are garbage. That was a bit frustrating.
The 274bhp turbo 2.0 was shockingly fast. Power came on quickly and very smoothly. The suspension was decent, made better by the low profile Hankooks. Compared to its competition, this car had personality and spirit. There were some issues with the quality of finishing, but for $33k, there is nothing that touched it in terms of looks, performance, and value. It was loaded with equipment you wouldn't find in a $50k car.
There's no such thing as the perfect car, but all things considered, this car was perfect for what I needed at the time.
In March of 2009, GM was on the verge of bankruptcy and dealers in our city were offering handsome discounts on their stock. We ended up trading my wife's 2007 Lincoln MKZ in for a 2009 Pontiac G8 GT. This car was essentially a Holden Commodore with Pontiac badging. We received a $7500 discount on the car and ended up driving it off the lot for $31k. It was a smoking deal. Within three months, the shine had worn off the penny and we listed it for sale. It sold in less than an hour for $30,500. While I absolutely loved the looks and performance of the car, it wasn't really fitting the bill for us.
One thing that really irritated me about this car was the fact it arrived from the dealer with all kinds of scuff marks on the paint. I took it back to them twice, but their detailing staff lacked the skill to rectify any of the paint issues. I spent a month trying to get the paint back to factory-fresh condition, but the paint was so thin and weak, it proved useless. The paint seemed to scratch incredibly easily and it was a magnet for dust. I actually think the paint held an electrostatic charge that attracted dust particles. A few other maintenance issues began to surface and the dealer proved unable/unwilling to address them. After three frustrating months of ownership, I was done.
Pontiac went out of business shortly after this car arrived in Canada ('08 version was available in the US), and it's a shame because this car had great potential. I imagine the second generation of this car would have been something really special. This YouTube clip will give you an idea of what this car was all about:
I was picking up a pizza when I saw a familiar sight. Our 2009 Audi Q7 we parted with last Fall. The new owner lives not too far away. It looked to be in excellent shape still. I had a quick chat with him and he loves it. I peeked inside and I did notice just how much bigger the interior of the Q7 is compared to the Q5. His little guy had about 6-8 inches more legroom in the backseat as compared to my little guy. Anyway, I thought it was pretty cool that these two cars finally had an opportunity to meet.
Who is Rick?
I'm just a guy who loves his garage, Audi, and detailing so much he blogs about them.
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