Off-Roading

Jeep Adventure Academy off-road instruction school kicks off operations in October

The Jeep Gladiator Rubicon is made to be trail-ready

Photo courtesy of FCA US LLC

If you want to go off-roading but you’re apprehensive behind the wheel? Jeep is introducing the Jeep Adventure Academy, a program that provides hands-on, off-road driving instruction to Jeep 4x4 owners.

"Off-roading is a rite of passage for Jeep 4x4 owners and the new Jeep Adventure Academy will provide key knowledge every off-roader can use for hitting the trails," said Jim Morrison, Head of Jeep Brand, FCA - North America. "The new Jeep Adventure Academy underscores the Jeep brand's commitment to delivering Jeep 4x4 vehicles that provide owners with a sense of capability, safety and security to handle any condition or adventure with confidence."

2021 Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk Jeep Trailhawk models are trail-tested ahead of their retail salePhoto courtesy of FCA US LLC

The Academy kicks off this October and will take place at select locations nationwide. Instructors from Jeep Jamboree USA will lead the program alongside off-roading experts.

Each Academy session will focus on several essential areas of off-roading instruction, including 4x4 system basics, driving techniques, trail etiquette, vehicle preparation and equipment, how to properly read terrain and challenging obstacles, safety tips and more.

The Jeep Adventure Academy will take place during the first three weeks in October at the following locations:

  • Holly Oaks Off-road Vehicle Park, Holly, Michigan: October 2-4
  • Southern Missouri Off-Road Ranch, Seymour, Missouri: October 9-11
  • Hollister Hills State Vehicular Recreation Area, Hollister, California: October 16-18

Registration is available at jeepadventureacademy.com. A one-day session starts at $99 and requires Jeep 4x4 vehicle ownership. The academy sessions will be led by professional staff from Jeep Jamboree USA, an organization that has been conducting off-road adventures since 1953.

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Nuts & Bolts

 
 

The Mercedes-Benz GLA was redesigned for the 2021 model year.

Photo courtesy of Mercedes-Benz

The Mercedes-Benz GLA was completely redesigned for the 2021 model year, taking it from a mundane tuna can-like hatchback to a zippy, more traditional small SUV. Everything about it fits into the modern Mercedes SUV lineup. It's a mini Merc. It's formulaic and perfectly fine but it's just not that nice compared to what else you can get for around $40,000 (starting price is just over $36,000)

Mercedes sells the GLA in three variants with another on the way. There's the traditional GLA 250 and GLA 250 4MATIC, and the AMG GLA 35. A more high-performance version of the model, the AMG GLA 45 is coming soon. Front-wheel drive is standard and all-wheel drive is available on most models. A variety of drive modes allow the driver to choose how much torque they want to allocate to what wheels and additional setup options for suspension and dynamics are available on pricier GLAs.

2021 Mercedes-Benz GLA 250 The car's infotainment and driver information screens are housed together as one unit.Photo courtesy of Mercedes-Benz

2021 Mercedes-Benz GLA 250

As tested, the GLA 250 was powered by the standard 2.0-liter turbo-four that is paired with an eight-speed dual-clutch transmission. It delivers 221 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. The SUV had trouble off the line during daily driving. The GLA's turbo lag added together with low-end gearing confusion to make the mundane drive from stop sign to stop sign in a neighborhood a comfortable creep followed by a robust burst of energy. Once out of the neighborhood and up to full speed on the highway, the powertrain performed far better, however, there was nothing elegant about it.

The model's steering is numb, which is typical for its class. It's steering circle isn't as tight as is optimal.

Any promise of a tranquil ride that you would think would be relatively standard with a Mercedes is not something the GLA possesses. However, for as much road noise that permeates the cabin, it's still less than the awful rattling the previous generation GLA allowed in. For that we can all be thankful.

The added height of the GLA gives the vehicle a more SUV-like seating position than its crossover predecessor. Ingress and egress is easy, as it should be with a model of these proportions. Head- and legroom for front passengers is fantastic for a vehicle of the GLA's size.

Seats in the GLA are not uncomfortable, and certainly not the worst that Mercedes offers.Photo courtesy of Mercedes-Benz

Mercedes wins points for the GLA's tech, which is easy to use, responsive, and pleasing to the eye. The GLA comes standard with the Mercedes-Benz two screens, in one large housing. Its Mercedes-Benz User Experience (MBUX) operating system runs two 7.0-inch screens. The centrally located screen, which controls the infotainment system, reacts to touch and can also be operated by a touchpad controller on the center console. The list of standard equipment also includes four USB ports, Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto.

Buyers can upgrade their model to include a 10.25-inch infotainment touch screen, 12-speaker Burmester audio system, wireless device charging, a Wi-Fi hot spot, head-up display, and navigation.

Mercedes gives every GLA a reasonable amount of active safety features. The list includes a rearview camera, blind spot monitoring, forward collision warning, vehicle exit warning, automatic emergency braking, driver drowsiness monitoring, and crosswind assist. To get the most desirable safety features, GLA buyers need to add on two packages, which drive up the price $2,800.

The SUV has ample space in the second row for adults.Photo courtesy of Mercedes-Benz

The GLA's interior materials, cabin noise, and unrefined powertrain make it seem like a less-than premium SUV. The car's tech offerings give it a boost, but other models offer a longer list of standard and available safety technology.

Buyers who are savvy and looking to get the most bang for their buck will want to test drive similarly sized models like the 2020 Buick Encore GX, Jaguar E-Pace (it was refreshed for the 2021 model year with major changes), and Mazda CX-30 before committing to the GLA. They have interiors that are just as nice and offer price tags that are more wallet-friendly.

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The Rolls-Royce Dusk in Tokyo collection features unique accents.

Photo courtesy of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars

Nearly every aesthetic aspect of a Rolls-Royce can be customized. From traditional leather choices to intricate inlays, vapor blasted titanium, and million-stitch embroidery, the options for owners from the Bespoke side of the brand are nearly endless.

"The Bespoke Collective scaled new heights of greatness in 2020 – that they did so against the backdrop of numerous, unprecedented constraints and challenges makes their accomplishments even more impressive," said Torsten Müller-Ötvös, Chief Executive, Rolls-Royce Motor Cars. "Never before have we seen such levels of Bespoke detailing in each commission, demonstrating that Rolls-Royce clients around the world have sought solace in creativity – commissioning introspective items of luxury that will stand the test of time to become lasting and poignant legacies."

Here, AutomotiveMap takes a closer look at some of the most intricate designs that the luxury automaker crafted in 2020. Click here to see their hits list from 2019.

Dusk in Tokyo

Rolls-Royce Dusk in Tokyo interior

Photo courtesy of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars

The 'Dusk in Tokyo Collection' is comprised of a Phantom, Wraith, Dawn, and Cullinan that celebrate the life and culture of Japan's capital city. Each model features a z complex, multi-faceted white paint, eponymously named 'Dusk in Tokyo', that is reminiscent of high-rise glass and concrete buildings bathed in the warm light of early dusk. The paint contains aluminum and mica flakes that create subtle tones in low light.

The Black Leather interior, punctuated by Rose Gold Bespoke Audio grilles and on Phantom, the fascia's Rose Gold clock case, is meant as a contrast, just as the long shadows of the city's call buildings cast on the ground below them.

At the cars' face is the Spirit of Ecstasy, presented in Rose Gold for the first time in Japan, representing the setting of the sun.

The Steed Phantom Extended

Rolls-Royce Phantom Steed Extended

Photo courtesy of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars

This horse-themed Phantom features complex bespoke embroidery that embellishes the interior rear doors. The design was developed from a sketch presented to the Rolls-Royce Bespoke Design Collective, by a Chinese client with a very clear vision.

Neon Nights Color Trilogy

Rolls-Royce Neon Nights Trilogy

Photo courtesy of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars

The new Rolls-Royce Bespoke Collective collection featured a limited run of four of each color Dawn, Wraith, and Cullinan models. Each is colored with a hue inspired by the natural world. Read more about these models here.

Phantom 'Iridescent Opulence'

Rolls Royce Iridescent Opulemnce

Photo courtesy of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars

This Phantom includes artwork that originally debuted as a concept in 2017. It was created in partnership with a Swiss materials specialist with the result being a gallery that houses over 3,000 sustainably sourced iridescent tail feathers. These feathers have been hand-sewn in to the open pore fabric. A Mother of Pearl casing surrounds the clock at the heart of the Gallery while bespoke embroidery at the rear waterfall and silver inlays on the picnic tables complete the design.

Wraith 'Inspired by Earth'

Rolls-Royce Wraith Inspired by Earth

Photo courtesy of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars

The Earth gave the design team the inspiration for this solar system-themed Wraith. The one-of-a-kind model was showcased earlier this year here on AutomotiveMap.

Wraith Kryptos Collection

Rolls-Royce Wraith Kryptos Collection Photo courtesy of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars

The Wraith Kryptos Collection comes complete with its own cipher that is concealed in the cars' bespoke detailing. Just 50 models were commissioned as part of the series. AutomotiveMap took a closer look at the vehicles here earlier this year.

The Mahlangu Phantom

Rolls-Royce The Mahlangu Phantom

Photo courtesy of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars

A South African client commissioned the bespoke model to display a highly personal work of art from globally celebrated South African artist, Dr Esther Mahlangu. Dr Mahlangu, a national icon in Africa from the Ndebele region, was the first artist to create an artwork in this way and the motor car was named 'The Mahlangu Phantom' in her honor. Positioned front and centre in the Phantom's interior, the one-of-a-kind commission is a striking display.

Cullinan Spirt of Russia Collection

Rolls-Royce Cullinan Spirit of Russia

Photo courtesy of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars

Four Rolls-Royce Cullinan SUVs were created and dedicated to Russian mountains: Elbrus, Krasnaya Polyana, Golden Mountains, and Klyuchevskaya Sopka. The exteriors of the models are painted Iced Black Diamond, Iced Gunmetal Steel, Midnight Sapphire Blue and Premiere Silver - colors chosen because they are reminiscent of the frosty peaks. Inside each, a map of Russia is on the starlight headliner while mountain peaks are embroidered on the headrests. The engraved sill plates of each car bear an inscription naming the mountain region that inspired its design, as well as the height of the highest peak in each region.

Dawn Silver Bullet Collection

Rolls-Royce Dawn Silver Bullet Photo courtesy of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars

The Dawn Silver Bullet Collection features an ultra-metallic paint job and unique aero cowling. Click here to read more about the car.

Sportive Collection

Rolls-Royce Sportive Collection

Photo courtesy of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars

A Collection of two Black Badge Dawns and nine Black Badge Wraiths were commissioned for the United Arab Emirates. The group features bold color combinations and technical fibers that intertwine to create vibrancy. Each has a hand-painted coastline. They also features woven-leather door panniers and engraved bespoke audio frets.

Arctic White and Hotspur Red Phantom

Rolls-Royce Hotspur Phantom

Photo courtesy of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars

An Arctic White exterior paint job with a double pinstripe in Hotspur Red is just the beginning of this model. The red continues inside where the lambswool floor mats, privacy curtains, and luggage compartment are completed in the color. The 'Lakeshore Aurora' Gallery is designed and created by the Rolls-Royce Bespoke Collective.

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