Wednesday, October 27, 2010

High Tech, Low Price

There's plenty of expensive cars with cool high-tech features like navigation, dual clutch automatic transmissions, turbocharged engines and awesome multi-media connections. But what if you only have about $20,000 to spend - check out this report from AOL's Translogic web show.

The 2011 Ford Fiesta and 2011 Nissan Juke both offer compelling features that any tech-head would totally get geeked out about. Price range? $16,000 - $22,000.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

2010 Lexus IS 350C

Two parts sports car, one part luxury convertible, the Lexus IS 350 Convertible is the one Lexus that combines the best of sport and luxury. The rear-wheel drive IS convertible is based on the IS sedan so handling is sportier than other Lexus vehicles - it feels more like a BMW 3-Series or Infiniti G37. The 300+ hp six-cylinder engine is powerful and fun, plus it has a nice, subtle exhaust note.

The interior is perhaps a slight step down from more expensive Lexus sedans but the heated and cooled seats are comfortable, materials are high quality and all the features you'd expect in a Lexus are there. The power folding hard top instantly converts the IS from an open top sports car to a smooth and quiet luxury coupe.

In the end the Lexus IS 350C is the perfect car for someone who enjoys driving and seeking out twisty roads but wants to balance that with a comfortable everyday car. The ride is firmer than a Lexus ES but a little more forgiving than that of a BMW.

The Infiniti G is a little sharper and better looking but the Volvo C70 lacks the Lexus Convertible's refinement and polish.

Monday, October 25, 2010

2011 Mazda2 - Seems Fine to Me

Here's the problem with reading too many car magazines, they're not speaking to the people who actually buy cars. They're writing to people who wish they owned a Porsche 911 or a BMW M5 and think everything else is terrible, In short, they're writing to themselves. Know-it-alls and loudmouths populate the halls of these long overly esteemed publications that are lucky if they reach 200,000 people. Of course they go on like they're doing Tonight Show numbers circ 1973 but really they're just living in the past. They hate cars like the Mazda2 - it's underpowered they say, it's got an outdated automatic transmission is another complaint. Really? Seems fine to me.

With 100 hp, the 2011 Mazda2 feels plenty powerful. Is it going to win at Le Mans? No, but it is a fun car to drive that provides both entertaining handling and a high quality interior. The seats are comfortable and the back seat isn't impossible to use. The 2011 Mazda2 is mechanically related to the Ford Fiesta so that good - the Fiesta is probably the best subcompact out there.

At just $16,000 for a nicely equipped Mazda2, I say ignore all the old guys that write and talk too much simply for their own pleasure. Go test drive a Mazda2, it's a well-made little car that will have you re-thinking just how much car you really need.

Monday, September 27, 2010

A Sporty Hybrid? Crazy or Not?

Thanks to eGM Car Tech for the pic of Honda's 2011 CR-Z as shown at the Detriot Auto Show. Honda says it's a sporty hybrid - that sounds like an oxymoron. Either way, here's Translogic's take on the sporty but fuel sipping CR-Z hybrid. Six-speed manual trans doesn't hurt the sport cred that's for sure.

What do you think, can Honda have it's S2000 cake and daintily sip fuel at the Insight table too?

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Electric Cars - It's Nothing New

Electric cars are the future right? Who killed the electric car? Electric cars will get us off of imported oil, right? Probably not. It turns out, the problems with electrics cars have been the same for more than 100 years. A century ago, gues what the range was on a Detroit Electric - yep about 100 miles, just like the Nissan Leaf. Granted the Detroit Electric would only go about 30 miles per hour but that seems like a very minor gain for 100 years of science. Check out this report from AOL's Translogic.

The truth is, gasoline is more efficient. There is no big revolution coming for electric cars, that's been the hope for 100 years and it's time to get over it.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Facts on the 2011 Chevrolet Volt

There seems to be some confusion about the Chevy Volt - here's a few facts:

The Chevrolet Volt uses a gas engine to make electricity when the batteries run down.
The 1.4 liter gasoline engine never powers the wheels.
Chevy suggests premium fuel but it will work on regular unleaded.
Fully charged, the range is 40 miles total - that's 20 miles each way.
While driving, the gasoline powered generator kicks on automatically but you really can't feel it.
It is possible for the gas engine to charge the batteries and store some electricity.
In "Mountain Mode" the car's gas engine can run and will put a little power back in the batteries.
The retail price is $41,000 - some people will qualify for an IRS tax credit - not cash back.
The Volt will not qualify for HOV status in Calif.
Many dealers have already said they will mark the car up $5,000.
The Chevrolet Volt is built in the US, including most of the battery pack.
Chevrolet will warranty the batteries for 8 years or 100,000 miles.
Not all Chevy dealers will sell the Volt - high demand areas like California will get the cars first.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Online Research Shows Sienna and TL Ads Work

Check out this AutoTrader article that says vehicles like the 2011 Toyota Sienna and Acura TL are moving up on the list of considered new cars. The Ford Mustang is number one with AutoTrader users and the Sienna is now fifth.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Nissan Leaf Leads to More Electric Cars

As the reality of the all electric Nissan Leaf draws nearer, expect to see a lot more all-electric vehicles, concepts, drawings and promises. One is the Audi e-tron, and all electric, high performance coupe that looks like a smaller version of the R8 - it's a real car but just not for US buyers. Recently, Audi entered the car in a 100+ mile rally. A high performance electric car may seem silly but Mercedes Benz says a battery powered SLS could be a reality and the Tesla Roadster is fairly quick without the help of a gasoline engine. BMW is also working on an all-electric car based on what the company learned from the Mini-e. The luxury hybrid Fisker Karma is also on the way and Tesla promises a four-door, all electric performance sedan. Also look for Mitsubishi's electric i-Mieve and of course the Chevrolet Volt is on its way.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Bye Bye PT Cruiser!

Say goodbye to the Chrysler PT Cruiser, production ends this week. The car has been around since 2000. Housewives over 40, retirees, Victrola collectors and Dale Ernhardt t-shirt wearers will have to pick a different ride - Chevy HHR anyone? The Jeep Compass is just a crappy as the PT Cruiser sot that's one you can consider too. Actually, the PT Cruiser is nicer than the Compass.

Truth is, the PT Cruiser was never a super star - it's been primarily a value proposition. At one point, you could lease one for $99 per month. FIAT, Chrysler's new owners, has a lot experience with small, affordable cars that are fun so maybe they can come up with non-retro replacement for the PT.

MSN Autos has a much more in depth article on the PT Cruiser and it's long, slow demise. Soon, we'll be seeing fewer and fewer of those PT Cruisers with the wood paneling - now what will we make fun of? But we didn't always look at the retro PT with such contempt, according to the Detroit News Chrysler sold more than 1.3 million PT Cruisers. And remember, the PT was an almost instant success - just goes to show, today's superstar is tomorrow's sad story. Hey Kayne, better spend the money wisely.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

2010 Toyota Matrix Review - Mid Trim Matrix S $22,000

The 2010 Toyota Matrix is a lot like the 2009 Toyota Matrix. That's just as well since the Matrix was redesigned in 2009. Due to increased concerns about safety, the 2010 version of the Matrix does get stability and traction control added to the standard features list. The price also jumps up about $250.

There's a lot to like about the Matrix, it's basically a Corolla wagon but with an extra dose of attitude. The mid-level Toyota Matrix S is likely the best seller as it combines value and desirable features. The standard engine is a 1.8 liter inline four cylinder but the S model comes with the more powerful 2.4 liter engine (158 hp). An eight speaker stereo with satellite radio, tilt and telescoping steering wheel, power windows and keyless entry are all standard. Add a few extras like $880 alloy wheels, sport package (front and rear spoilers) and carpeted floor mats and cargo mat for an extra $200 and the price is just a hair over $22,000, base price is $19,650. The one feature you'll miss on the S is cruise control - it is not standard and well worth adding to the options list. There's also an all-wheel drive version of the Matrix.

On the road, the Matrix feels like a competent economy car - the ride is neither exceptionally smooth or excessively busy. On rough roads the Matrix feels a bit jittery but other than than it's fine. The 2.4 liter engine is powerful enough, the five speed automatic transmission helps keep the revs (and noise) down but if you really step into it there's a lot of noise. Road and wind noise are managed well.

As a versatile wagon, the Toyota Matrix works well. It's not remarkable but it does provide that extra measure of Toyota-ness that we've come to expect from cars like the Corolla. The interior is neither plush nor super-cheap but somewhere in the middle. Cargo space is OK for a compact and the wagon configuration adds a little more total volume versus the trunk on a sedan. Think of the Toyota Matrix as a nothing more than a well-built compact wagon that will likely hold its value over the years. It's no sports hatch like the Mazda3, nor it is penalty box.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Nissan Leaf Ad - Truly Interactive for the iPod

Here's just a hint at how Nissan is incorporating mobile and smartphone tech into the advertising and function of the new electric Leaf. The Nissan Leaf will be on sale soon and will be the first mass produced, all electric car.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

2011 Toyota Sienna SE - Blame Ford and Mercedes Benz

I blame the Ford Flex and Mercedes Benz R-Class for the SE version of the new Toyota Sienna. For 2011 the Sienna is all new and it is a fairly remarkable minivan as far as minivans go. A spacious interior, swoopy new look, remote keyless entry and standard rear parking camera on all but the base model add up to a pretty compelling van.

But this time around there new Sienna on the block, the cool cat of minivans if such a thing could ever exist. See, Toyota says the Sienna SE is for those who see themselves as cooler than a minivan but since they're likely parents they can't deny the usefulness of a minivan. I say competition from family friendly and super stylish haulers like the Ford Flex, Lincoln MKT and Mercedes Benz R-Class led Toyota to such a radical attempt at cool. Family friendly layout + still want to drive something stylish + Toyota resale value = Sienna SE. Officially, Toyota says "The SE has a lot of design features not normally seen on a van such as a sportier grille and taillights, tighter tuned handling, and 18-inch alloy wheels to name a few."

OK, if that's the intent of the Sienna SE then Toyota can call it a success. As much as it kinda seems silly, I have to admit the sporty minivan sorta works. It does feel sportier and the look is more aggressive with that wide front air dam and rear roof spoiler. I even like the "sport" black and white gauges. Plus, it has the features that make minivans so family friendly anyway - side sunshades, power sliding side doors, fold flat third row seating and a large, very useful center storage box. But those useful features sort of miss the point of the new Sienna SE - this rap video produced by Toyota says it all.

Monday, June 28, 2010

2011 Honda Accord - Small Improvements and Better MPG

The popular Honda Accord gets a few tweaks for 2011. Thanks to better areodynamics, revised gear ratios and improvements to engine and transmission friction the 2.4 liter version of the Accord now gets 34 mpg on the highway and 23 in the city. That puts it in better contention with Hyundia's new Sonata, a car that gets an EPA highway rating of 35 mpg.

The Accord's look has been slightly redone for 2011 as well. The grille is the most noticable revision - it now has a slightly stronger look and borrows some styling cues from the Accord Crosstour. The front bumper cover has been redone as well. V6 models get new wheel choices for 2011 too. The pictured above is a 2011 Accord EX-L V6.

The interior gets a mild makeover too with some primary controls being relocated to improve ergonomics. Newly available features include USB audio input, steering wheel mounted paddle shifters for some models and a rear parking camera.

Finally, there's a new Honda Accord SE for 2011. It basically takes the features from the LX-P then adds leather, heated seats and power lumbar support for the driver's seat.

The revised 2011 Honda Accord goes on sale in August of 2010.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Living Legend Hiromu Naruse Killed in an Auto Accident

Since the 1960s, any Toyota worth getting excited about had the thumbprint of legendary test driver Hiromu Naruse on it. He started Toyota Motorsports, the 2000GT was his baby and so was the fearsome 90s era Supra. Sadly, he was killed in an automobile accident. AutoBlog has a nice tribute.

2011 Ford Mustang V6 Fuel Economy

It's clearly a stunt but Ford took the new 2011 Mustang and lapped Bristol Motor Speedway as many times as possible on just one tank of gas - the result: more than 1,450 laps or about 776 miles. Ford said they used special driving techniques to maximize fuel economy but other than that, the car is a stock 2011 Ford Mustang V6. The end result is an astonishing 48.5 miles per gallon. The Mustang's speed was kept at an average of 43.9 miles per hour. The drivers did not run the air-conditioning and avoided quick starts and stops. Keeping a steady speed also helps raise fuel economy - no matter what car you drive, these types of driving techniques can raise your mpg.

The new all aluminum V6 displaces 3.7 liters and makes 305 hp. A six-speed automatic transmission helps keep rpms low and that contributes to the Mustang's high fuel economy. Clearly Ford was feeling the sting of GM's new V6 as found in the Camaro - it too is a 300+ hp engine that delivers decent fuel economy. Ford says this engine will earn an EPA rating of more than 30 mpg highway which will top the Camaro V6's highway mpg of 29.

Friday, June 18, 2010

2011 Toyota Avalon Limited Review

As soon as my eight year old son opens the rear door of the 2011 Toyota Avalon he says "this looks like a car for someone who lives in an mansion." Is that a good thing? He sure thought so - granted, comfortable cars like the Avalon often get labeled as cars for old people but guess what, old people have nice stuff so I don't think of it as a slam.

For 2011 the Toyota Avalon gets a few cosmetic updates - the look is a little less generic and it has more presence on the road. A larger grill and restyled wheels are the only real reasons for this. Plus, some of the lines are now sharper which adds a slightly more masculine tone. The tailights have been resculpted too. Under the hood is the same 3.5 liter V6 from before - it makes 268 hp and is good for 20 mpg in the city and 29 on the highway.

The interior gets a bit of a refresh too. The gauges are now separated into two distinct clusters with metallic looking trim surrounding each. It looks good but the materials feel kinda cheap, ditto for the faux wood trim on the dash and doors. I know it's not a Lexus but this is the top of the line Toyota, some real wood would be nice.

All Toyotas, including the 2011 Avalon now get the company's Star Safety System. It incudes stability control, ABS, brake assist and traction control.

Even a quick 10 min drive proves my son is right - this is a car for people who live in mansions. It just has this serene quality that oozes luxury and quality. It's not that the cabin is so deluxe, it's not really. But driving the car reveals such a purity and isolation you can't help but love it. Sure, people who still read car magazines will agree with the arrogant editors that the Avalon is basically a Japanese Buick. Again, I don't see the harm in that but clearly that crowd does. But remember these are the same people that think spending $50,000 on a compact sedan with little rear seat room and too firm suspension is worth it because, well it's got that blue and white logo and is rear wheel drive. Instead, for less than $40,000 I'll take the Avalon and it's business class rear seat spaciousness and plenty of up to date tech features like XM nav/traffic, rear parking camera, Bluetooth and iPod connection.

The 2011 Avalon isn't lazy or floaty, it's just smooth. Smooth acceleration, smooth ride, smooth steering. You're not going to conquer the slalom in this car - then again, who lives near a slalom? Exactly, no one. Besides, a palpable smoothness speaks to precision and quality - who could be against that?

If you have enough drama at work each day and want to feel like you live the pampered life of a mansion owner (at least for the duration of your commute), spend a little time in the 2011 Toyota Avalon's accomdating, heated and cooled seats. It's a car that looks and feels like a real luxury without the luxurious price tag.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Oldsmobile Revival - With Mercury Out of the Way...

Let's face it, Mercury hasn't been a serious contender for years maybe even decades. Old S-55, Cougar Eliminator, 60s era Grand Marquis and others were certainly cool but like Janet Jackson said, "what have you done for me lately?" Well, nothing. And that's exactly why Oldsmobile is ready for it's big comeback. No, really.

Oldsmobile has a rich performance history with cars like the 4-4-2, the 65 Starfire with a 425 cu in V8, Achieva SCX and the powerful Quad 4 engine. Oldsmobile also got the luxury side of things right - witness the 60s Olds 98, 80s era Olds Cutlass, Oldsmobile Silhouette and the last Olds Aurora.

An American car that's equal parts performance and luxury is just what we need - but with a much lower price than brands like BMW and Cadillac.

There, I said it. Oldsmobile in '13 - the company is tan, rested and ready. So long Mercury, hello Oldsmobile.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee - First for New Chrysler V6

Jeep's all new Grand Cherokee should be on sale soon and with it comes an all new V6 engine that will eventually find its way into most future Chrysler products. But even that's a loaded statement because it's still not clear that Chrysler will have much of a future. Even when the '11 Grand Cherokee debuted, the new SUV was overshadowed by FIAT and Chrysler execs showing off a FIAT 500. Too bad because the new GC is more luxurious and more capable off-road with features like air-suspension and a higher grade interior.

Jeep is the one thing Chrysler owns that still rings true with consumers, especially Americans. The name Jeep still has enough equity that it will likely be around for years to come no matter who owns it - let's just hope future Jeeps aren't rebodied FIAT Pandas. Hey FIAT, good luck with the Dodge Caliber and Dodge Avenger too.

But the new Pentastar V6 sounds promising. It's an all aluminum, DOHC w/VVT, 3.6 liter engine that's good for 280 hp - Chrysler says the new V6 is more fuel efficient too. If the new engine is as good as the 2011 Grand Cherokee looks then they'll have a winner.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Hybrids are Best for City Dwellers

If you want a hybrid - deciding which one is best for you might depend on where you live. Many hybrids get better fuel economy in city driving - that's not true of convential gas only cars.

Cars like the 2010 Toyota Prius, 2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid, Ford Escape Hybrid, 2010 Lexus HS250h and Mercury Milan Hybrid do better in the city while cars like the Camry Hybrid and Honda Insight are slightly better on the highway.

Here's a breakdown of which hybrids urbanites might want to check out thanks to Bunker Hill Magazine.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Father's Day Gifts for Car Loving Dad

Looking for a good, original Father's Day gift - here's a few for the dad who's into cars:

Vintage racing jackets are affordable and look cool: is a good place to start.

Old Decals work too:

Check out for a good online selection of scale model cars, old and new. Or how about some old racing movies - has old racing footage, racing movies as well as football, baseball and other nostalgic sports videos.

Or if your dad is really into keeping that old or new ride clean, hit for stuff like special buffers, lighted tweezers, a windshield cleaner that gets the corners, motor oil colonge (yes, really) and the ultimate car washing kit. They even have thier own father's day gift guide.

If that doesn't work how about a vintage soda machine - and maybe a little old style, original recipe Dr Pepper to fill it -

Friday, June 4, 2010

2010 Jeep Patriot Limited - Butterface?

Ever hear the term butterface? I never heard it before a year ago - there was this woman who worked at the office. She was blonde, drove an M3 and from about 10 yards away she looked like a teen blogger's definition of hot. This creepy guy named Glenn was all over her - I thought, no way, she's five steps over his head. Creepy, balding single guys in their 40s who spend lots of time with mother have little feel for what league they're truly a part of. Anyway, one day I saw this woman up close and was later told about butterface - everything is totally rockin' but her face. Yikes!

As the months went on ol' butterface realized even she was out of Mr. creepy, winebar stalker, pseudo-intellectual, wannabe movie expert's league and she started to ignore him. Good thing, she probably would have ended up in mother's basement.

That's just a long and draw out way to say the 2010 Jeep Patriot is sort of like a butterface - looks great, works well on paper and seems to offer a good dose of Jeep-ness for a low price. But up close and personal things start to get unattractive. The drone from the 172 hp, 2.4 liter inline four is bothersome and the CVT feels kinda clunky. Still, 172 hp isn't bad for a four banger and the Patriot is good looking when compared to the generic Honda and Toyota compact SUVs.

The Patriot doesn't have much rear seat legroom and the quality of materials inside isn't anything to get excited about but the darn thing starts at about $16,000. Opt for the Limited and your well into low $20,000 territory. For that price you'll get leather seating, 17-inch polished aluminum wheels and monochrome paint. Even in 4 wheel drive trim, the Jeep Patriot delivers best in class fuel economy - 28 mpg highway is the best you'll get in an SUV that drives all four wheels and the Patriot does have an off road mode and hill descent control for the the 4x4 version. Much has been made of the Chevy Equinox's 32 mpg on the highway but that's for the front-wheel drive version.

Yes, the Jeep Patriot may be a butterface of sorts but just like that semi-attractive woman with the M3, someone will marry her and think he won the lottery - nothing wrong with that. The Patriot is the same way, it will have plenty of takers simply because it looks like a real deal Jeep from 50 paces - the low price doesn't hurt either. But look a little closer and the flaws become obvious.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

A Few Good Reasons to Kill Mercury

As a counterpoint to Inside Line's excellent The Art of Mercury photo essay I'd like to point out a few reasons Mercury should have been killed long ago and how they've never really had their act together since the 1970s. Starting with the most unattractive sports car ever - the 1990 Mercury Capri. An American Miata? Not really, the Australian built Capri's front wheel drive and sedan like styling meant Capri shoppers ran to the local Mazda dealer as soon as they got a whiff of this disaster.

But there was trouble long before in the form of the Merkur brand, a German built Ford or Mercury depending on how you look at it. How do you say ugly in German? I think it might be Merkur Scorpio. Hey Germany, please stick to building harsh riding $50,000 compact sedans and starting wars - you rock at both.

The 1986 Mercury Cougar was the only car that made the Chevy Celebrity look sexy. Congrats on that one!

Maybe it was the 1980s that really killed Mercury and they've been sort of a walking corpse ever since. The Mercury Topaz was a Ford Tempo clone...., and that's the good news. The cars were hoplessly unreliable and even doing a double take you'd still mistake a Topaz for the equally attractive Plymouth Acclaim, or Dodge Aries or maybe a Nissan Stanza (Pssst, that's not a compliment).

And what about this hideous contraption - it looks more surprised than Christina Gonzalez after her well publicized facelift. Thanks to Ford for this gem. The Mercury LN7 was, well it was just a hideous contraption - and yes, I'm gonna keep using the word contraption.

And finally, please to present..., the 1999 Mercury Cougar! Ugly doesn't even begin to cover it. The edgy design seemed modern at the time but it looked dated real fast, sort of like that teal green Honda used on the 90s era Accords. This Cougar was a fairly large coupe and yet the rear seat was for contortionist and babies only - even then, I recall a few babies asking for more leg room. The quality was poor and even with the V6, you could feel the A/C sapping power as it cycled on and off. Horrible car. So long Mercury, I guess I won't miss you as much as I first thought.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

2010 Mercury Milan Hybrid - The Last Mercury I'll Drive

I was all set to say how much I like the 2010 Mercury Milan Hybrid. Yes, it's basically a Ford Fusion Hybrid but I just like the way the Mercury Milan looks. On the road it feels like the Fusion - smooth, refined and plenty powerful. There is a bit of engine drone under full throttle but it is a remarkably nice car and gets about 40 mpg. It's easy to get high mpgs because the car willing goes into full electric mode. Prowling parking lots or stop and go freeway traffic usually means you're using no gas at all.

But it really doesn't matter because Ford is killing the Mercury brand. Let's face it, all Mercury vehicles are just re-branded Fords and many are set to expire soon. The Crown Vic and Mercury Grand Marquis are both set to be replaced soon and the Mountaineer (a Mercury version of the Explorer) is also dead. The only real relevant Mercurys are the Mariner and Milan both have hybrid versions but both are also just Fords with nicer trim.

Mercury is 71 years old and has brought us notable cars like the Mercury Cyclone GT, Mercury Comet, Colony Park wagon and the Mercury Monterey S-55. It used to make sense that there'd be a brand between the basic Ford and the classier Lincoln but now that can be accomplished with an high end Ford model (say a Taurus Limited) and an entry level Lincoln (say a Lincoln MKZ).
So long Mercury - the 2010 Milan Hybrid is probably the last new Mercury I'll ever drive.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

2012 Buick Regal GS - Not Just a Concept

Now that the Buick Regal is a reality, GM officials confirm that the high performance GS has the green light. GM will build the car but not much else is known.
Buick has been without a performance model for some time. There was a 2000 Buick Regal GSX SEMA car that was lowered, and supposedly made 300 hp from a supercharged, intercooled V6. A milder dealer installed GSX option from SLP was available and it added GSX badges, a smaller blower pulley and a reprogramed computer plus dual exhaust - output was bumped up to 270 but good luck finding one.

We expect a turbocharged four cylinder engine making about 250 - 260 hp in the 2012 Regal GS. No V6 will be offered but if those numbers are accurate, Buick won't need one.
The last production Buick Regal GS made 240 hp using a supercharged V6 - pictured is a GS from 2000. The turbo I4 will certainly get better fuel economy, and deliver more power. Plus, the new Regal seems like a slightly smaller, lighter car than the previous version and this new Regal GS will route that power through all four wheels (or not - several web sites are saying the Buick will not get all-wheel drive b/c engineers don't think the weight/cost is worth it.) No doubt the Opel Insignia which shares the Buick's platform will get the AWD system.
The latest high performance Buick Regal is just the latest in long line of hot rod Buicks starting with the 1965 Buick Skylark GS. This one is part of a private collection you can check out at
Later the GSX, Regal T-Type, Regal Grand National and Regal based GNX carried the performance torch for Buick.

No prices have been announced for the latest generation Buick GS but low to mid $30,000 range is a good guess.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Where Have All the Jobs Gone? Abandoned Dealerships

Want to know where many jobs in local communities have gone - just take a look at these pictures.

Each of these dealerships employed hundreds of people from entry level salespeople to college graduates in the management and finance departments to highly trained technical people. This Pontiac dealership had been in place for decades.

Plus, each of these closed dealerships represents hundreds of thousands of dollars in lost city and county tax revenue - why are they closing fire stations and laying off teachers? Not enough tax money to support them.

Here's an empty service drive at a former Volvo dealership. This picture was taken on a Friday at 4pm.

Not just discontinued or slow selling luxury brands got the ax.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

2011 Nissan Leaf - taking orders

If you want a an all-electric Nissan Leaf, better get your request in now. There's a $99 placeholder fee - you can sign up at the Nissan web site.

Asking price should be about $32,000 but you can get a $7,500 tax credit from Uncle Sam so the real price is even lower. The Leaf is all electric and Nissan says it has a 100 mile range. I drove a prototype Leaf and it feels smoother, quicker and is quieter than other 'lectric cars like the Mini. It should seat 5 passengers comfortably, have an optional navigation system and emits zero emissions.

2012 Dodge Charger - All New Charger On Sale Soon!

Made ya look! I wish this was the all new 2012 or 2013 Dodge Charger. The promise of the revived Dodge Charger has never really be fufilled. This concept car from 1999 looked like the real deal - rear wheel drive, Hemi V8, sleek styling that hints at the past but is completely forward looking. Sadly, it never showed up. Instead we got the current generic and plasticky 'hood cruiser. The 2010 Dodge Charger is more like a Dodge Intrepid II than a real Charger. OK, it's rear wheels move the car and you can get a Hemi but c'mon the current Charger is really nothing special.

Although a decade old, this concept car's look is still fresh unlike the current Dodge Charger. Please Fiat, if you know what's good for you build a car like this one. An all-new Dodge Charger is long overdue - do it, Fiat!

Friday, May 21, 2010

10 Coolest Cars for Under $18,000 - Thanks

Kelley Blue Book says they've figured out the 10 coolest cars for under $18,000. It's a pretty solid list with expected entries like the 2011 Ford Fiesta, 2010 Honda Civic and the 2010 Kia Soul. I'm not entirely sure I'd have the the Scion xB or Suzuki SX4 on my list but they're entitled to their opinion. The 2010 Kia Forte EX should be on the list and it's not.

I'd also add a used Mercury LN7, Chevy Lumina APV and the Chevrolet Celebrity Eurosport but that's just me.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Maybe You Don't Need a Hybrid

Chevrolet makes a hybrid Tahoe - it gets 21 city / 22 highway. But the company's own non-hybrid SUVs do better than that. The 2010 Chevrolet Traverse gets a combined average of 19 mpg topping out at 24 mpg on the highway. The smaller 2010 Equninox does even better with a 26 mpg combined EPA estimate and 32 mpg on the highway.

Although the Toyota Prius does get a real world 50 mpg, many more affordable small cars do nearly as good as other hybrids - Kia Forte EX w/ fuel economy package 36 mpg highway, 2011 Ford Fiesta w/ automatic transmission 29 city / 40 highway, 2010 VW Jetta SportWagen TDI 30 city / 42 highway. Other cars like the Ford Focus, Hyundai Elantra Blue, VW Golf TDI and Honda Fit do well too but most are priced at or below $20,000 (the VWs are a little more)

So maybe skip the hybrid and save some money.

Red Light Cameras - You Can't Trust Journalists

Here's one more reason you CANNOT trust journalists or news organizations. The Arizona Republic newspaper has hired a former Redflex spokesperson to cover the red light camera industry. Redflex is a company that makes and sells red light camera - Imagine having a Toyota spokesperson or former spokeperson in a decision making position regarding auto safety coverage at The New York Times or CNN. What a scam - it's clear the Arizona Republic isn't the least bit interested in what's best for readers. The Truth About Cars has the full article.

What to do if You get Stopped by the Police

It seems obvious, pull over in a safe area, don't yell at the cop - this Tips from a Police Officer article includes the obvious and not so obvious.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

2010 Jaguar XFR Review - 510 HP Sedan

Jaguar's XFR is a better luxury sport sedan than the BMW M5. Yes, it is. Plus, the Jag is a little less expensive - $80,000 for the Jag is nothing to sneeze at but the M5 is about $5,000 more. I suppose the BMW would be best for a racing series but the 2010 Jaguar XFR is better for everyday use. With a supercharged V8 cranking out 510 hp, the Jag has the performance side covered. But where the Jaguar really shines is in terms of balance and luxury.

The interior is high tech and high quality. Two tone seats, exposed stitching on the dash and door panels plus a Bowers and Wilkins stereo give the XFR a look and feel that's just as comfortable on the town as it is carving up a favorite back road. There's even a place for your iPod.

The shiftable six-speed automatic transmission seamlessly sends power to the rear wheels and that power comes on fast and strong. Launch the car from a stop and it jumps ahead with all the ferocity of a caged cat. The sound bellowing from the quad exhaust tips combined with the whine of a spooling up blower is the kind of thing that gets the attention of every man, woman and child within a three block radius. High performance R brakes and 20-inch wheels shod with Dunlop SP Sport Maxx tires mean braking and handling are equally impressive.

It's likely a car like the BMW M5 racks up quicker track times but in a luxury performance car, that's only a fraction of the story. The 2010 Jaguar XFR sure gets the performance part right but it also does luxury just right too. The XFR is all Jag, all luxury and all awesome.