Tag Archives: luxury

The Electroliner makes one last stop at the Grohmann Museum

On Jan. 20, 1963, an era ended with the last run of the Electroliner trains between Milwaukee and Chicago.

Postwar car culture and highway expansion helped to spell the demise of the route, which delivered travelers at speeds nearing 90 mph in an atmosphere of comfortable luxury.

The current exhibition at MSOE’s Grohmann Museum takes us back through the 40-year history of the rail line — and the inventive posters that helped make its reputation. 

In the 1920s, Chicago was a rising rival to New York City, full of cultural treasures and civic landmarks. Milwaukee also was on the map as a desirable Midwestern destination and the corridor between southeastern Wisconsin and northern Illinois was noted as a charming place for sports and scenic beauty. 

English-born industrialist and utilities magnate Samuel Insull became the manager of this railroad route and his business savvy built its popularity through creative images and advertising. 

Art of the North Shore Line brings together posters, original paintings, photographs, and ephemera such as tickets, brochures and dining car menus. It revives the noteworthy accomplishments of the artists, designers and even staff of the train system. The works are drawn from private collections as well as public repositories, organized through the efforts of two curators, John Gruber and J. J. Sedelmaier. 

Gruber is an important figure in this field as a founder of the Center for Railroad Photography & Art, and recognized for his portraits of railroad workers. He is joined by Sedelmaier, who is better known for his work as an artist for Saturday Night Live’s “T.V. Funhouse” segments but has a personal connection to the material. In addition to being a collector, Sedelmaier traveled the train frequently in his childhood between Evanston and Chicago. He recalls a fascination with seeing the trains of the North Shore Line, brilliantly painted with red and turquoise palettes and decorated by silver lightning bolts. 

Not only was the North Shore Line lauded for its speed and frequency — often making five round trips daily — but the advertising for the route was something that stood apart. Overseeing the line, Insull was inspired by advertising for London’s Underground system. Viewers of the exhibition may also detect a lineage that draws from the traditions of the French advertising posters of the 19th century and then-current styles such as Art Deco. 

As Gruber and Sedelmaier write in an article for Railroad History magazine, “These posters represent the best campaign of the 20th century that focused on a single urban area, and its regional character appeared about a decade in advance of the regional movement in American art. Nothing on either coast topped Insull’s campaign, not even those of the national long-distance main lines.” 

Even today, the images retain a fresh, bold sensibility that asserts a sort of Midwestern leisureliness with sophistication and panache. 

A 1923 lithograph by Ervine Metzl, simply titled “By the North Shore Line,” features an angular black-and-orange fish in turquoise water, hungrily swimming to a fishing hook with tackle that takes on swirling Art Nouveau notes. At the top of the composition, a brightly decorated bobber is suspended among ripples of water, while in the lower right quadrant, the title of the piece floats in clean white lettering. 

It is clean and sparse, and includes no direct images of trains, travel or anything except this small vignette suggesting relaxation to be found in the lakes and waterways of the region. Of course, the implication is this is all there for you via the North Shore Line.

Other posters follow suit, with images of riders on polo ponies, and a view of the Milwaukee skyline framed by two sailboats skimming serenely through the harbor. 

History and urban pursuits also abound, with a picturesque representation of the university campus at Lake Forest and a view of Milwaukee’s Grand Avenue (now Wisconsin Avenue) that looks south from the main branch of the public library. Though the latter is an image that dates from 1925, the architecture and sculpture are still recognizable today. 

More abstract concepts such as the pleasures of travel are featured as well. An original gouache painting by Oscar Rabe Hanson, with the tagline “Comfort on the North Shore Line,” shows a fashionable lady of 1924 sitting in an armchair onboard the train. She delicately fingers her reading material and crosses her ankles, elegantly composed in the sophisticated atmosphere of the train. It is a far cry from the purely utilitarian travel of today. 

The posters retain their power to convey a civilized allure. The photographs that are also part of the exhibition conversely deal with a documentary sense. 

Most poignant are the series of pictures taken during the last runs of the Electroliner route in 1963. Riders converse in the train’s tavern car or wait patiently in the station to board. In one of these black-and-white photographs, a woman named Arleen Warzinik stands in a ticket booth, attentively assisting passengers on the last night of operations. It is the preservation of a memory and a note on changing times and modes of travel. 


Art of the North Shore Line continues at the Grohmann Museum, 1000 N. Broadway, through April 24. Admission is $5, $3 for students/seniors. Visit msoe.edu/about-msoe/grohmann-museum for details.

Current Exhibitions & Openings 

‘Katie Musolff and Andy Fletcher: Old Souls’

Tory Folliard Gallery 

233 N. Milwaukee St. 

Through March 12 

Two noted figurative painters come together in this exhibition. Fletcher’s paintings dwell on the rural landscape with far horizons and seem to meditate on distant memories. Musolff’s images of nature focus on the close distance, with images of birds, insects, plants and vegetables that are colorful and poetic investigations. 

‘Cutting Edges: Aimée Beaubien and Fred H. C. Liang’

The Pitch Project 

706 S. Fifth St. 

Through May 6 

The cavernous gallery space at The Pitch Project has been transformed into a playground of fancy by the embellishments of these two Chicago-based artists. Working from photographs as well as various types of paper, they meticulously cut, trim, braid, fold and otherwise train paper into wild expanses of sculpture, some draping from the floor, some attached to walls like extraordinary brocade and others like excitingly complex topiaries. 

‘Nature and the American Vision’

Milwaukee Art Museum 

700 N. Art Museum Drive. 

Through May 8

There is a long tradition of landscape painting in America where the representation of place also dives into a sense of mythology and symbolism. This exhibition explores American cultural and national identity through images of the land, and will also features Thomas Cole’s monumental, five-canvas visual commentary on the rise and fall of civilization, The Course of Empire. 

New cars: What’s ahead in 2015

Sales of small crossover SUVs are booming in the U.S., and automakers are responding quickly with new entries in the 2015 model year.

Ten brands — Audi, BMW, Chevrolet, Honda, Jeep, Lexus, Lincoln, Maserati, Mercedes and Tesla — are rolling out new vehicles to cash in on the buying binge.

Crossover SUVs are built largely on car underpinnings, so they maneuver like a car and get gas mileage that’s almost as good. They appeal to a wide range of people from millennials to aging baby boomers looking to downsize. People love the big storage space ahead of the rear hatch, and they like the visibility and easy entrance and exit provided by the high seating position.

So far this year, crossover SUV sales are up almost 14 percent, outpacing the overall market’s 9 percent gain, according to Autodata Corp. It’s pulling buyers from other segments, too, mainly small and midsize cars.

The crossover segment is splitting in several directions as well. Honda, Chevrolet and Jeep have CUVs coming out that are built on subcompact frames. Luxury automakers also are joining the party with entries from Audi, Lincoln, Lexus, Maserati and the all-electric Tesla.

Other segments have hot products, too. In midsize cars, Chrysler rolls out the all-new 200 and Hyundai has a new Sonata. America’s most popular car, the Toyota Camry, gets a face lift after just three years to better compete with newer rivals.

There also are multiple high-performance models and some new additions to the electric car lineup despite relatively slow sales.

Here’s a roundup of what’s new in the U.S. for the 2015 model year:


TLX: Honda’s luxury brand beefs up its midsize sports sedan entry with an all new TLX to replace the slow-selling TSX and the TL. The new car gets two powertrains, a 2.4-liter, 206-horsepower, four-cylinder engine with an 8-speed automatic transmission, and a 3.5-liter, 290-horsepower V6 with a nine-speed automatic. Two-wheel drive models get Acura’s all-wheel steering. Honda promises it will be “vault-like” quiet with a stiffer body and better sealing and insulation. Starts at $31,890 including shipping. 


4C: After a nearly 20-year absence, Italian car maker Alfa Romeo is returning to the U.S. market. Alfa expects to ship 800 of its 4C sports cars to the U.S. this year and 1,200 more in 2015. The sexy two-seat roadster is handmade in Modena, Italy, with extensive use of lightweight components like carbon fiber to cut weight. The all-aluminum engine, a 1.7-liter turbocharged four-cylinder, produces 240 horsepower and gets the car from 0 to 60 in a little more than 4 seconds. It’s paired with a six-speed automatic dual clutch transmission. Fuel economy is estimated at 28 mpg in combined city and highway driving. The 4C will be sold at 86 dealers— all of whom also sell Fiats or Maseratis — later this fall, starting at $53,900.


A3: New sedan came out earlier in the year, and Audi plans to roll out convertible, high-performance and hybrid-electric versions during the next 16 months. The sedan, with a new exterior redesigned for American preferences, comes with 1.8-liter and 2-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engines in the “entry premium” market. The sedan also has a panoramic glass sunroof and xenon headlights standard. Starts at $30,795 including shipping.

A8: Audi’s big highway cruiser gets a revamp for 2015 with a new exterior design and improved powertrains. It also gets technology that helps a driver stay in the lane lines, and a night vision assistant that can detect animals headed into the car’s path. The optional 4-liter V-8 gets a power boost from 420 horsepower to 435. There’s also an updated S8 high-performance version. A8 starts at $78,325 including shipping.

Q3: Audi adds a premium small crossover SUV to its lineup in response to wild demand in the U.S. for the vehicles. A 2-liter four-cylinder turbocharged engine with 200 horsepower and a six-speed automatic transmission are standard. Audi says it has a low roof line and wraparound tailgate. The company said it has coupe-like design and agility with the utility of an SUV. Starts at $33,495 including shipping.


CONTINENTAL GT3-R: Bentley adds to its Continental sedan family with the GT3-R. It’s the fastest accelerating Bentley ever, with a 0-60 mph speed of 3.6 seconds. The two-door has a retuned version of the Continental GT’s 4.0-liter twin turbocharged V8, which gives it 50 more horsepower for a total of 572. Variable displacement automatically switches to four cylinders when less power is needed. Bentley also shaved 220 pounds off the GT to make the GT3-R faster. It gets a combined 15 mpg in city and highway driving. The GT3-R will be limited to 300 cars globally, all handmade in England. Ninety-nine of those are headed for the U.S. and four for Canada. Deliveries will begin in the first quarter of 2015 for those who can cough up the $337,000 price.


4 SERIES GRAN COUPE: It’s a four-door sedan, like the 3 Series, but with the sloping roof and coupe-like design of the 4 Series. There are two engines: a 2.0-liter four-cylinder with 240 horsepower, which gets 34 mpg on the highway, or a 3.0-liter inline 6 with 300 horsepower that gets 32 mpg on the highway. All versions are mated to an eight-speed sport automatic transmission. Rear-wheel drive is standard with optional all-wheel drive. The Gran Coupe, which went on sale in the U.S. this summer, starts at $41,225.

i3: The first of BMW’s family of all-electric vehicles went on sale in May. The compact four-seater is instantly recognizable, with its blunted, blacked-out hood and a jumble of angled windows in the rear. It’s BMW’s first production car with a passenger cabin made primarily of carbon fiber, which is as strong as steel but 50 percent lighter. It’s powered by a 22-kwh lithium-ion battery and a 170-horsepower motor, and gets 80 to 100 miles on a charge. Buyers concerned about range can add a gas-powered range extender generator, which maintains the battery’s level of charge and roughly doubles the car’s range. The i3 starts at $42,275, including destination; the range extender version starts at $46,125.

i8: BMW’s first plug-in hybrid super car arrived in the U.S. in August. The car is low-slung and aerodynamic; even BMW’s signature kidney grille is mostly covered to help air flow.  A turbocharged three-cylinder, 1.5-liter engine works with the electric motor to give the car 357 horsepower and 0-60 acceleration of 4.2 seconds. But drivers can also brag about the fuel economy: 76 mpg equivalent, a measure that takes into account the electric power used from charging. The car has a six-speed automatic transmission and a top speed of 155 mph. Starts at $135,700.

M3 SEDAN/M4 COUPE: The performance variants of the 3 Series sedan and 4 Series two-door coupe. Under the hood is an all-new inline-6 engine that’s lighter but more powerful than the V8 in the previous version. It gets 425 horsepower and 406 pound-feet of torque and can go from 0-60 mph in 3.9 seconds. The engine is paired with either a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission or a six-speed manual. Another first: a carbon-fiber roof to save weight and make the car more nimble. The M3 and M4 went on sale this summer in the U.S. starting at $62,925 for the sedan and $65,125 for the coupe including destination fees.

X4: A leaner, sportier version of the X3 small SUV. It’s slightly longer and more than an inch lower than the X3. While it still has four doors, it has coupe-like styling, with a low roof that sweeps to the rear. Two engine choices: a 2.0-liter four-cylinder with 240 horsepower on the xDrive28i and a 3.0-liter inline-6 with 300 horsepower. Both are mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission.  The xDrive28i starts at $45,625.


ATS COUPE: The General Motors luxury brand gets a coupe to go after the BMW 4-Series and Audi A5. It gets the two most powerful engines now in the sedan, a 2-liter turbocharged four-cylinder with 272 horsepower, and a 3.6-liter V6 with 321 horsepower.  There are six-speed manual and automatic transmissions available. Starts at $38,990 including shipping.

ESCALADE: The big SUV with bling is revamped. Comes standard with heated and cooled front leather seats and heated second-row leather, plus a host of other luxury features. Powered by a 6.2-liter, 420 horsepower V-8 with a six-speed automatic transmission. Also comes in longer ESV version. Starts at $72,690 including shipping.


CAMARO Z/28: Street legal and track-ready, a lighter version of the sports car with a 7-liter, 505 horsepower V-8. Starts at $73,300.

COLORADO: Chevy returns to the midsize pickup truck market in the fall with the Colorado, aimed at outdoorsy types, especially Californians. GM promises a more refined, quieter smaller truck that can do many things a full-size pickup can. There will be two aluminum-block engines available in the first year, a 200-horsepower, 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine and a 3.6-liter V6 with 305 horsepower. All-wheel drive is available. In the second year, a diesel engine will be available. Six-speed automatic transmissions; two- or four-wheel drive. Starts at $20,995 including shipping.

CORVETTE ZO6: Racetrack-ready supercar with a supercharged 6.2-liter, 650-horsepower V-8. All Corvettes get an optional eight-speed automatic transmission.  It’s available early next year with a starting price of $78,995, including destination charge.

SILVERADO HD: Heavy-duty version of the Silverado that came out last year with an available 6.6-liter diesel engine and the ability to carry 3,760 pounds in the bed. Starts at $32,405 for a regular cab and long box with the standard 6-liter 360 horsepower V-8 and a six-speed automatic transmission.

SUBURBAN: The long version of the Chevy SUV has the same features as the Tahoe with seating for up to nine and a bigger cargo area. Base price is $48,590 including shipping.

TAHOE: General Motors rolls out a revamped version of its big SUV to big sales as people get used to lower gas prices. The Tahoe, based on new pickup truck underpinnings that were unveiled last year, has been on sale since the spring. Sales are up 18 percent so far this year. It has three rows of seats for seven to nine people and comes standard with a 5.3-liter, 355-horsepower V-8 with a six-speed automatic transmission. Despite weighing up to 3 tons, the Tahoe still gets an estimated 23 mpg on the highway. Prices start at $46,885 including shipping.

TRAX: Chevy gets an entry in the fast-growing small crossover SUV market. Although it’s not supposed to be as nice as its sister, the Buick Encore, the Trax promises some higher-end features: standard keyless entry, standard rear-view camera and optional 4G cellular and WiFi hotspot capability. Powered by a 1.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine with 138 horsepower, mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. Gets up to 36 mpg on the highway. Price not yet released. Due out early next year.


300: Gets a freshening for the 2015 model year, but no details have been announced. To be unveiled at the Los Angeles Auto Show in November.

200: The revamped midsize sedan based on Alfa Romeo underpinnings hit showrooms in the summer. It’s sleeker and more European-looking than its predecessor, and it comes with an upscale interior with a knob to change gears instead of a bulky lever. Buyers have a choice of two engines: a new 184-horsepower 2.4-liter four-cylinder, and a 295-horsepower 3.6-liter V6. It also has a nine-speed automatic transmission that will take the four-cylinder engine to an estimated 36 mpg on the highway. Models with 2.4-liter engines get technology that shuts off the engine at stop lights starting sometime after Oct. 1. Starts at $22,695 including shipping.


CHALLENGER: Some cosmetic upgrades to the classic two-door muscle car, but the big news is the SRT Hemi Hellcat coming later in the fall with an almost unbelievable 707-horsepower, 6.2-liter supercharged V-8. Hellcat starts at $59,995.

CHARGER: Same for minor changes except for the SRT Hellcat version. Chrysler claims the supercharged Hemi V-8 makes the Charger the most powerful and fastest sedan on the market. Price for the Hellcat wasn’t released. Base version starts at $27,990 including destination, but Hellcat will be substantially more.


CALIFORNIA T: Ferrari beefs up its sinuous California convertible with a turbocharged V8, the first turbocharged engine in a Ferrari since the 1980s. The new 3.9-liter V8 produces 552 horsepower, an increase of 69 over the previous California. It’s paired with a seven-speed dual clutch automatic transmission. It has a maximum speed of 196 mph and a 0-60 time of 3.6 seconds. Pricing hasn’t been announced for the California T, which goes on sale in the U.S. later this fall.


EDGE: Ford’s two-row midsize SUV has been completely redesigned, with a leaner, sharper look and a new underbody that’s shared with the Fusion sedan. In North America, it has a standard 2.0-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder engine with 245 horsepower and two other optional engines: a 3.5-Liter V6 with 285 horsepower carried over from the previous Edge  and a 2.7-liter EcoBoost V6 with 300 horsepower in the Edge Sport. All are mated to a six-speed transmission. Options include heated and cooled seats and a hands-free liftgate that works with a wave of the driver’s foot. Goes on sale early next year in North America and later in Europe, South America and Asia. Pricing hasn’t been announced.

F-150: Revolutionary changes are coming to the 2015 F-150 pickup, which has been the country’s best-selling vehicle for more than 30 years. The outside will be 97-percent aluminum, which will shave 700 pounds off its weight. That will make the truck more nimble and save fuel. The frame beneath is still made of steel, but Ford has used more lightweight, high-strength steel. There are two new engines, a base 3.5-liter V6 and a 2.7-liter EcoBoost V6, and a 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 and 5.0-liter V8 carried over from the previous truck. Pricing starts at $26,615 for the base XL, or $395 more than the 2014 base model. The top-of-the-line Platinum version starts at $55,235. Scheduled to go on sale late this year.

MUSTANG: The iconic pony car — which celebrated its 50th anniversary this year — is getting its first redesign since 2005. The 2015 Mustang evokes the fastback profile of the original, with a steeply sloped windshield and rear window and a short rear deck. The interior has softer, more premium materials and updated features like Ford’s touch-screen dashboard system and adaptive cruise control. Under the hood are three engine choices: an upgraded 3.7-liter V6 with 300 horsepower, a new 2.3-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder with 310 horsepower and an upgraded 5-liter V8 with 435 horsepower. Manual or automatic transmissions are available. Other upgrades include a faster-folding and better insulated convertible top, three-dimensional tri-bar tail lights, and new front and rear suspension systems for improved handling. Goes on sale this fall starting at $24,425 including destination fees.

TRANSIT CONNECT WAGON: Ford returns to the minivan market with the five- or seven-passenger family hauler based on its new Transit Connect commercial van. It’s bare bones, without automatic sliding doors and other cushy features of larger minivans like the Honda Odyssey. Its unique look, with a high, squared-off roof and oddball color choices like “burnished glow,” will put off some buyers. But it’s also easier on the wallet, starting at $24,525, or more than $4,400 less than the Odyssey. There are two engine choices: a 2.5-liter four-cylinder with 169 horsepower and a 1.6-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder with 178 horsepower. The Transit Connect Wagon — and Ford’s commercial vans — went on sale earlier this summer.


CANYON: Upscale version of the Chevy Colorado with nicer interior but aimed more at business owners than outdoorsy types. Starts at $21,880 including shipping.

SIERRA HD: New heavy-duty version of the upscale pickup. Nicer interior, but essentially the same as the Chevy Silverado HD. Starts at $32,405 including shipping.

YUKON: Revamped version of General Motors’ big and highly profitable SUV, almost the same as the Chevy Tahoe but more upscale. Three rows of seats for seven to nine people. Standard 5.3-liter, 355 horsepower V-8 with a six-speed automatic transmission that gets 23 mpg on the highway. Also an XL version that’s comparable to the Chevy Suburban. Starts at $45,450 including shipping.


CR-V: The top-selling small SUV in the U.S. is to get engine and transmission upgrades as well as styling changes for the 2015 model year. But Honda won’t release details until the fall.

FIT: Revamped mini-car passes the important Insurance Institute for Highway Safety front-end overlap crash test and earns a “Top Safety Pick” designation with only one other car in its class — the Chevy Spark. In addition, the Fit gets a more powerful 1.5-liter engine with 130 horsepower and a continuously variable transmission that makes it quieter and helps it get an estimated 36 mpg on the highway. Fit also gets a roofline spoiler, LED tail lights and a rear-view camera. The electric Fit EV is discontinued. The new Fit starts at $16,315 including shipping.

HR-V: All-new Fit-based SUV hits showrooms in the winter, likely with the same engine and transmission. Honda promises a “versatile and spacious” interior that allows for multiple seating configurations and a lot of cargo space. Few details were released, but Honda says it will be smaller than and cost less than the Civic-based CR-V, which starts at $23,950 with shipping.


GENESIS: Hyundai makes another run at German luxury for a lot less money. The new rear-drive Genesis gets sleeker looks, a more refined suspension, and it hangs onto its 5-Liter, 420 horsepower V-8. It also has an 8-speed automatic transmission. The base engine is a 3.8-liter V-6 with 311 horsepower. All-wheel-drive also is available. Starts around $38,950 including shipping.

SONATA: The car that broke the bland styling mold for midsize cars gets restyled for 2015, and although sculpted and elegant, doesn’t stand out like its predecessor. The new Sonata gets an upgraded suspension, and the interior is far nicer. Hyundai says the interior and passenger space lead the highly competitive class. Standard 2.4-liter direct-injected four-cylinder engine has 185 horsepower, while a turbocharged 2-liter in a 2.0T Sport model boasts 245 hp. All have six-speed automatic transmissions. There’s also a 1.6-liter turbocharged Eco version with a seven-speed dual dry clutch automatic that gets 38 mpg on the highway. Base version gets 37 mpg highway and starts at $21,960 with shipping.


F-TYPE COUPE: A coupe now complements the F-Type convertible introduced in 2013. There are three versions: The F-Type has a 3.0-liter supercharged V6, the F-Type S has the same engine modified for 40 more horsepower and the F-Type R has a 550-horsepower, 5-liter supercharged V8. Like the convertible, the coupe is built on a rigid but lightweight aluminum platform. The coupe gets an estimated 28 mpg in highway driving. The F-Type coupe, which went on sale in the spring, starts at $65,925, including destination fees. The F-Type R starts at $99,925.


RENEGADE: Subcompact Fiat-based SUV hits showrooms early next year, but Chrysler sales execs are wishing they had it now as small SUV sales soar. It looks like a classic Jeep with a vertical grille and round headlamps. It’s the iconic brand’s first entry in the segment. It will have 16 engine and transmission configurations for markets around the world, including the first nine-speed transmission in its class. Mileage will exceed 30 mpg on the highway, Chrysler says. Price hasn’t been announced, but it will be less than the larger Cherokee, which starts around $24,000.


K900: Kia enters the luxury market with the full-size, rear-drive K900 sedan. Like its sister, the Hyundai Equus, the K900 offers luxury features at a far lower price than German or Japanese rivals. The K900 has two engine choices: a 3.8-liter V6 with 311 horsepower or a 5-liter V8 — Kia’s first ever V8 — with 420 horsepower. Both are mated to an eight-speed transmission. Buyers can also opt for reclining rear seats that are heated and cooled. The K900 starts at $60,400 including destination.

SEDONA: Kia’s new minivan, expected to go on sale this fall, has more leg room in all three rows than the outgoing model and optional leg rests in the second row. It also features new services like Geo-fencing — which lets owners specify zones on a map and get an alert if a vehicle is driven there — and alerts if the vehicle is driven too fast or past a set curfew. The structure is stiffer, for better handling, and there’s a new 3.3-liter V6 with 276 horsepower. Pricing hasn’t been announced, but the 2014 model started at $25,900.

SOUL EV: An all-electric version of Kia’s funky Soul goes on sale in the fall as Kia’s electric in the U.S. Kia says the Soul EV will have a range of 80 to 100 miles on a single charge. The car has two charging ports, one for regular charging and one for fast charging. Recharging times vary from 24 hours for a fully depleted battery using a standard 120-volt outlet to under five hours using a 240-volt outlet. Kia dealers will offer free charging. The Soul EV will initially be sold in California, Oregon, New York, New Jersey and Maryland, but Kia will offer the vehicle in other markets as infrastructure and demand grows. Pricing wasn’t announced.


HURACAN LP610-4: The all-new supercar replaces the Gallardo model line as the car you dream about. Its racetrack looks cover a 5.2-liter V-10 engine with 610 horsepower. Seven-speed dual clutch transmission. Four-wheel drive. Goes zero to 60 in motorcycle-quick 3.1 seconds. Chassis made of lightweight carbon fiber and aluminum. All LED lights. Beautiful interior. Arrives in showrooms late summer. What’s it all cost? Starts at $237,250.


DISCOVERY SPORT: If you want to know how important the small crossover SUV market is, just ask Land Rover. Its marketing director says the launch of the Discovery Sport is a “pivotal moment” in the company’s 66-year history. The new entry into the high end of the segment comes standard with all-wheel-drive, a 2-liter, 240-horsepower turbocharged engine and a nine-speed automatic transmission. It can seat up to seven and has a body shell built for efficiency and safety out of high-strength steel and aluminum. It goes on sale early next year starting at $38,920 including shipping.


NX 200T/NX 300H: Lexus joins the fast-growing compact SUV segment with the NX. It has Lexus’s signature spindle grille, with highly sculpted surfaces and angular LED slits for daytime running lights. The NX debuts with either a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine — the first turbocharged engine in a Lexus — or a hybrid powertrain. The gas engine gets 235 horsepower and is mated to a new six-speed transmission. The hybrid has a specially tuned 2.5-liter gas engine and a new transmission with a kick-down function that automatically switches to a lower gear for smoother acceleration. Both are available with all-wheel drive. Inside, a touch pad in the center console replaces the joysticks drivers use to control functions in other Lexus models. Another first is a wireless charging tray, where drivers can place phones to automatically recharge. New safety features include a pre-collision system that can apply brakes and even stop the vehicle if it senses a pending collision. The NX goes on sale this fall. Pricing wasn’t announced.

RC 350: The RC350 is a two-door coupe that adds a little sportiness to Lexus’s lineup. The RC 350 shares a platform with Lexus’s IS and GS sedans. It’s as wide as the larger GS but lower and shorter than the IS. It will go on sale in the U.S. later this year with two engine choices, the 3.5-liter V6 with 306 horsepower that’s also in the IS and GS or a 2.5-liter hybrid powertrain. The IS gets 28 miles per gallon; fuel economy figures for the RC haven’t been released. The RC F Sport will have the same V6 engine but beefed up suspension and handling. At the top of the line is the performance version, the RC 350 F, which has a 5-Liter V8 expected to produce more than 450 horsepower. Pricing will be announced later in the fall.


MKC: For the first time, Ford’s luxury Lincoln brand has a small crossover. It has an athletic exterior, with Lincoln’s signature split-wing grille and wraparound tail lights, and some Lincoln firsts, including a system that detects when the driver is nearing the door and illuminates the ground near it. Other features include a collision warning system, a lane-keeping system that alerts drivers if they’re drifting, and a parking system that can automatically guide the car out of tight parallel parking spots. The MKC has a standard 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine with 240 horsepower and an optional, new 2.3-liter four-cylinder with 285 horsepower. The MKC starts at $33,995 including destination fees.


LEVANTE: In its drive to sell 50,000 cars per year by 2015 — up from a record of 15,400 last year — Maserati plans to introduce its first SUV, the Levante, in 2015. Few details have been released, but it’s expected to be built in Italy and share a platform and engines with Maserati’s Ghibli and Quattroporte sedans.


MAZDA2: The sporty subcompact has been on sale since 1996, but only arrived in the U.S. three years ago when Mazda saw the success of other tiny cars like the Honda Fit. Now it’s getting a makeover. The 2016 Mazda2, known as the Demio in Japan, goes on sale in Japan and other markets this fall, but it’s not expected to arrive in the U.S. until 2015. It has a richer, more substantial look, with the same swooping curves as its older sibling, the Mazda3. Mazda says it will also have more high-tech and safety features. More details, including U.S. engine choices, will come closer to its sale date.

MIATA: The MX-5 Miata convertible kicked off its 25th anniversary in May with a limited-edition version. The 100 anniversary editions sold out in 10 minutes, a testament to the roadster’s enduring popularity. Next up: the fourth generation. The all-new 2016 Miata was unveiled Sept. 3 in Japan, Spain and California. The elegant, curvy sports car uses Mazda’s Skyactiv suite of fuel- and weight-saving technologies for the first time, helping it shed 220 pounds. Mazda says it will be smaller but stronger than the outgoing model to improve driving dynamics. Pricing and other details will be released when the Miata goes on sale next summer as a 2016 model.


B-CLASS ELECTRIC: Mercedes enters the small market for fully electric cars in the U.S. with the B-Class hatchback. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that its 177-horsepower motor can go 85 miles on a charge, but Mercedes says that’s closer to 100 on real roads. The car goes on sale in July in California, Oregon, Maryland, Virginia, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Maine. It shows up in other states in the first half of 2015. Starting price: $42,375 including shipping.

C-CLASS: All-new midsize luxury sedan with aluminum exterior sheet metal and a gorgeous interior. Initial models are all-wheel drive. The C300 gets a new direct-injection turbocharged 2-liter 4-cylinder engine with 241 horsepower. The C400 gets a new direct injection V6 twin turbo with 329 horsepower. High-performance C63 AMG coming, but no details announced. A rear-drive C300 comes in the first quarter of 2015. Starting price is $41,325 including destination.

GLA CLASS: Another compact SUV joins the parade in the fast-growing segment. For the U.S., the GLA250 gets a raised suspension that’s equivalent to the European off-road version. It shares technology with the CLA Coupe. The GLA 250 comes with a 2-liter turbocharged 208 horsepower engine and all-wheel drive. The high-performance GLA 45 has a 355-horsepower engine. Starts at $34,225.

S-CLASS: Elegant coupe added for 2015 with a 449-hp V-8 biturbo engine and a standard panorama roof that covers two-thirds of the surface area. Pricing has not been released.


HARDTOP 4 DOOR: A four-door version of the recently redesigned Hardtop 2 door. It’s 6.3 inches longer than the 2-door, but it keeps the Hardtop’s proportions instead of venturing into wagon territory like its big sibling, the Mini Countryman (which is 5 inches longer). The 4-door has three seats across the back and more headroom than the 2-door; it also has a bit more cargo space. There are two engines: a 1.5-liter 3-cylinder with 134 horsepower and a 2-liter four-cylinder with 189 horsepower in the sporty Cooper S Hardtop 4-door. They’re paired with new six-speed manual or automatic transmissions. Fuel economy hasn’t been released, but the manual version of the 2-door gets 34 mpg in combined city and highway driving. The Hardtop 4-door will go on sale in the U.S. in January for $22,300 including destination fees, or $1,000 more than the 2-door.


GT-R NISMO: Nissan has given its GT-R sports car the high-performance NISMO treatment. The result: the fastest GT-R ever built. The GT-R NISMO has a 3.8-liter twin turbo V6 with 600 horsepower and 481 pound-feet of torque. That’s an increase of 55 horsepower and 18 pound-feet over the standard GT-R. The GT-R NISMO went on sale July 31 with a starting price of $151,585, including destination fees.

MURANO: The Murano helped spark the crossover boom when it was introduced in 2003. The new version, out later this year, takes a big leap forward in terms of design. It’s more angular, with a more prominent V-shaped grille and a blacked-out rear pillar which makes the roof look like it’s floating. Inside, new features include a full-color, 7-inch instrument panel screen, a bigger moonroof and Nissan’s so-called Zero Gravity seats, which use NASA technology to minimize driver fatigue. New safety features include a forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking and an “around view” system that uses four cameras and three radar systems to help the driver monitor all sides of the car when parking or backing. The engine, a 3.5-liter V6 with 260 horsepower, is carried over, but Nissan expects the new Murano to get 20-percent better fuel economy than the 20 mpg combined on the outgoing model thanks to weight reduction, better aerodynamics and an improved transmission. For the first time, the Murano will be built in the U.S., at Nissan’s plant in Canton, Mississippi. Previous versions were made in Japan.


MACAN: Porsche adds a smaller SUV to its lineup to join the sport-luxury fray. Came out in the spring. Starts around $50,000.


GHOST SERIES II: Rolls Royce debuted this updated version of the 5-year-old Ghost sedan to U.S. audiences last spring in New York. The Ghost Series II has the same 6.6-liter twin-turbocharged V12 engine, which produces 563 horsepower, and the same eight-speed transmission. There’s also some updated technology, including satellite-aided transmission, which uses satellites to predict the car’s moves. The Ghost Series II gets 20 mpg on the highway. Pricing starts at $286,750 when it goes on sale in October.


xB: An all-new version of the boxy Scion xB goes on sale in November. Toyota hasn’t released any details of the new version, which will be the first major redesign since 2007. The xB helped launch Toyota’s youthful Scion brand in 2003.


FORTWO: The tiny car made by Mercedes-Benz gets revamped with a new 90-horsepower engine, a big improvement over the 70 horsepower in the current model. The new tiny car comes out next year as a 2016 model. It will have both manual and automatic transmissions available. Pricing hasn’t been announced. The current model starts at $14,020.


OUTBACK: The all-wheel-drive brand rolls out a new Outback wagon with more interior space and about the same footprint on the outside. Subaru says it made the wagon more aerodynamic, gave it a continuously variable transmission, lightened the 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine and installed an aluminum hood to save weight. This boosts gas mileage from 30 mpg on the highway to 33 with the four. Also available with a 3.6-liter six-cylinder engine. Air bags deploy from the bottom front seat cushion to hold people in place in a crash. Rear-view camera is standard on all models. Starts at $24,895 excluding shipping, which varies in different states.

LEGACY: Midsize sedan gets a revamp like the Outback with gas mileage rising from 32 to 36 mpg on the highway with the 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine and automatic transmission. Continuously variable transmission standard on all models. Interior space grows, but the exterior footprint stays about the same. Seats are higher. Starts at $21,695 excluding shipping.


MODEL X: Electric-car maker Tesla is expected to bring its third vehicle and first SUV, the Model X, to market in the fall of 2015. The hotly anticipated Model X will have standard all-wheel drive, two battery options — a 60 kWh or 80 kWh — and seating for seven. Its so-called “falcon wing” doors open out and then upward, easing access to the third-row seats. Pricing, fuel economy and other details haven’t been released. Tesla’s current model, the Model S sedan, starts at $71,070.


CAMRY: Shaken by newer, sexier rivals, Toyota started redesigning the midsize Camry sedan almost immediately after its last update in 2011. The updated car, unveiled in April at the New York Auto Show, is longer and wider, with a more aggressive grille and chiseled sides. Toyota says it changed every exterior surface but the roof. Inside, there are softer materials and a wireless charging system. The body is stiffer and the suspension and steering were retuned for more responsive driving. Even the carpet and side mirrors were redesigned to make the car quieter. The engine options remain the same: a 2.5-liter four-cylinder generating 178 horsepower or a 3.5-Liter V6 rated at 268 horsepower. The 2015 Camry is scheduled to go on sale in mid-September. Pricing hasn’t been released, but it will start around the same price as the current model starting at $23,250.


GOLF: The seventh-generation of the hatchback comes in the 2015 model year, and it’s bigger and more efficient than its predecessor, VW says. Gas and diesel engines are available, and a new high-performance GTI gets a 2-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine with up to 220 horses. Gets an estimated 37 mpg highway with a 1.8-liter gas engine and manual transmission. VW also introduces its first fully electric vehicle in the U.S., the e-Golf, with a maximum range of 115 miles. And next year VW will roll out a new Golf SportWagen to replace the Jetta wagon, and a new super-high-performance Golf R. Base Golf starts around $18,000, while e-Golf starts at $36,265.

ROUTAN: Chrysler-made minivan gets the axe.


XC90: Volvo’s new XC90 seven-passenger SUV is a critical vehicle for the Swedish automaker. It’s the first update to the SUV, one of Volvo’s best sellers, since 2002, and the first time Volvo has released a new vehicle since being bought by Chinese automaker Geely in 2010. The luxurious interior has a large touch screen in the dash for vehicle controls and a gear lever made of crystal glass. Outside, Volvo touts the T-shaped running lights, dubbed “Thor’s hammer” by the SUV’s designers. In the U.S., Volvo will offer a family of turbocharged four-cylinder engines, including the T5 with 254 horsepower and the T6 with 320 horsepower. At the top of the line will be a plug-in hybrid with 400 horsepower. The XC90 is expected to go on sale in the U.S. in the spring.

Real estate deals: No. 1, Bon Jovi’s penthouse

If a person’s home is the mirror of the person themselves, Jon Bon Jovi and wife Dorothea seem to do everything well.

Now up for sale is the Bon Jovis’ 7,452-square-foot New York Soho duplex. With huge glass walls and terraces seen from almost every room, even the kitchen windows will have you looking instead of cooking. Aside from the pure glamour of it all, the layout is unusually well thought out. The family part of the house is on the lower floor with a great room, wood-burning fireplace, marble baths, dining area and a gourmet kitchen. There are five bedrooms on the first floor including the master bedroom suite with rare arched windows.

The upper level includes formal living and dining rooms and access to the home’s grand terraces with lush landscaping and panoramic New York views. Also on the second floor is another kitchen, screening room, guest room, full bath and a powder room. Did we mention the second wood burning fireplace?

The Bon Jovi apartment is located in the New Museum Building. At 12 floors, it is one of the tallest structures in the Lower Manhattan area. The building was constructed in 1897 as offices, became the New Museum of Contemporary Art in 1996, and later converted to condominiums.

In the mid 1900s, Soho was one of New York’s most distressed neighborhoods as its deep industrial base began to erode. Starting in the 1960s, Soho was transformed from the mostly deserted remnants of the city’s big textile factories into artists’ and hipsters’ lofts. Today, it is near the top of any list of U.S. upscale neighborhoods with art galleries, shops and expensive homes. Other celebrity SoHo residents include Kelly Ripa, Justin Timberlake and Ariana Huffington.

Previously asking $42 million, the penthouse, including furniture & great views, is now priced at $37.5 million. Raphael De Niro of Douglas Elliman and Leonard Steinberg of Urban Compass share the listing.

Meg Ryan’s San Francisco Victorian:

On Valentines Day in 1991, after starring in three films with him, Meg Ryan married Dennis Quaid. During their marriage, which ended in 2001, they lived in a charming gingerbread Victorian in San Francisco.

Once again for sale but with a contract pending, Meg Ryan’s former home in Pacific Palisades has been used as a location for a feature film and a television pilot, as well as in catalogs for Pottery Barn and Design within Reach.

Built in 1889, the six-bedroom, seven-bathroom house was designed by Samuel Newsom who also designed the Oakland and Berkeley city halls and the Napa Valley Opera House. He was well known for his ornate Queen Anne residences and this home still has the peaked roofs and detailed ornamentation intact.

Not at all like most Victorian homes, this glamorous home has wide open rooms filled with light and neutral paint with a wide curving stairwell and light hardwood, immediately giving one a sense of airiness and space.  There are wide views of the bay from all the main rooms and especially from what is called the “pent room,” which must have been the attic at one time and is now a fabulous room for enjoying the views from both inside and outside through glass walls that open to another terrace.

The Queen Anne home is priced at $8.995 million, with a contract pending.

Neutra-Maltzan modern two-home compound: 

It’s like winning the design lottery. Imagine two homes on five and a half acres on a hill in La Cresenta, California, bordered by the Angeles National Forest.  But more important, what about owning two homes on that property by two iconic star architects?

Richard Neutra, 1892 to 1970, was highly sought after by the wealthy to build their glamorous celebrity homes.

Neutra had worked for Frank Lloyd Wright for a short time before going out on his own and was known for his extreme geometric but airy structures that was a variation on the West Coast mid-century modern residence.

In 1953, he designed and built a home for his secretary, Dorothy Serulnic, and her violinist husband on a piece of land they had managed to buy with their limited finances.  Famous for the attention he gave to defining the real needs of his clients, regardless of the size of the project, he thoughtfully produced a comfortable and stylish home for the couple.

Measuring at 1,350 square feet, with two bedrooms, one bath and walls of glass, giving it the feeling of being much larger.  The couple lived there for over 40 years.  In 1997, it was sold to internationally known artists Lari Pittman and Roy Dowell.

Pittman and Dowell moved in and spent the next few years creating an artistic garden made up of cactus of all varieties, planted in designs reminiscent of art on canvas.  Afterward, they decided they wanted an additional home, but one with the same modern concept as their Neutra house.  They engaged Michael Maltzan who designed an unusual seven-sided structure with glass walled triangular and polygon rooms that pivot off of a central courtyard.  The house was completed in 2009, was featured in Architectural Record in 2010, and has won three awards from the American Institute of Architects.

The Hillside La Cresenta compound featuring six acres, artistic cactus gardens and two homes by Richard Neutra and Michael Maltzan is priced at $7.9 million.

Connecticut windmill House: 

Guaranteed to inspire any artist, writer or flute player who likes to welcome the sunrise, this Dutch replica windmill at the edge of the Connecticut River is for sale.

Located in an historic waterfront town, Essex is one of the few U.S. towns to be attacked by a foreign power.  In 1884, 136 British sailors from six British war ships rowed to shore and took over the town, meeting with practically no resistance.  What saved the day and the town from being destroyed was that the British Commander, Richard Coote, was impressed by a merchant who met him with the secret Masonic handshake.  So instead of burning the town and attacking its citizens, the British looted the shops and returned to the harbor to destroy the newly built American warships in the harbor.  To commemorate the event, the city sponsors a parade every May with a fife and drum corp that marches down Main Street to the steamboat dock where Commander Coote landed.

This charming windmill, with wind blades attached, could be the ultimate weekend getaway for weekend boaters or, with added cooking facilities, a full time residence for an artist, writer or couple.

Presently advertised with a wet bar, a few alterations could turn it into a functional kitchenette for anyone whose life does not revolve around turning out gourmet meals for a crowd.

Built in 1967, the windmill has 840 square feet, three bedrooms and one full bath.  There is also a full unfinished basement accessed by a hatch.  Every surface, from wood floors to walls and quaint stairwells is in perfect condition making it move-in ready.  The main living room opens out to a 360-degree, wrap-around deck with breathtaking water views, where one can watch boats sail by or watch the water hawks nesting.  

The Connecticut River windmill cottage in the historic town of Essex, is offered for sale for the first time, is priced at $1.925 million.

Top real estate deals: http://www.toptenrealestatedeals.com/homes/weekly-ten-best-home-deals/2014/7-22-2014/



Gay-exclusive hotel opens on Riviera Maya

A luxury hotel catering exclusively to gay men is opening next month on the Mexico’s Riviera Maya near the Tulum archaeological zone.

The Adonis Tulum Gay Men Resort & Spa features 94 oceanfront suites along with a menu of spa services and recreational activities, such as snorkeling and scuba diving. Prices for two are in the $846 – $900 range per night, although special packages include three nights for $1,069 per person.

“The hotel is uniquely for men, says general director Patrick Lurenz. “That is to say, only homosexual couples are accepted, it’s not for women, although among our personnel we have heterosexual men and women and all have received specialized training to avoid having our guests feel uncomfortable or discriminated against.”

Lurenz said that the hotel is the first establishment of its kind in the state of Quintana Roo.

The property is on this year’s Expedia Insiders’ Select list, an annual selection of the top hotels based largely on traveler opinions as well as value and Expedia expert input.

The property also is affiliated with the International Gay & Lesbian Trave Association.