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.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

2011 Ford Fiesta 40 MPG Fuel Economy - It's Official

The 2011 Ford Fiesta has officially earned an EPA fuel economy estimate of 40 MPG highway making it the most fuel efficient car in it's class. Thanks in part to the PowerShift six-speed automatic transmission, the car will also earn a high city MPG estimate from the EPA - that's 29 mpg.

Ford's PowerShift transmission is a dual clutch setup that works like a real manual transmission without the clutch. Competitors like the Honda Fit get 35 MPG on the highway, the Kia Forte EX with a Fuel economy package earns an EPA estimate of 36 MPG.

In addition to the high fuel economy, the 2011 Ford Fiesta is also a blast to drive and has available high-tech features like Sync and AppLink that allows access to smartphone apps like Twitter and Pandora.

Friday, May 14, 2010

1992 Oldsmobile Trofeo - Now, I'm the Sucker

I admit it - I like a lot of 80s and 90s GM cars. In my dream collection I will have a 1996 Buick Roadmaster wagon and a 2003 Buick Park Avenue. Plus, a Reatta, Allante and probably a 1992 Oldsmobile Trofeo. It looks awesome. Like the Regal Grand National, the Trofeo looks like your grandparents car with blacked out trim, fog lights and bigger wheels. Something about that formula is really cool. Mechanically identical to the doofier looking Toronado and Buick Riviera, the Trofeo is probably little more than an appearance package but it's one that works.

The Trofeo was powered by GM's prolific pushrod, 3.8 liter V6 and that was good for about 170 hp at the time. 1990 models have slightly less power. The '91 and '92 models had ABS standard and incorporated steering wheel audio and climate controls - pretty sweet for 1992. 0-60? Sure. Slalom? Maybe.

Consumer Guide says an Olds Trofeo is only worth about $1300 at most.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Five Reasons the Smart ForTwo is for Suckers

1. The Smart ForTwo is ugly - no, that's not cute, that's hideous. The Miata, Beetle and Fiesta are cute. Even the long gone Dodge Neon could teach the Smart a thing or two about good looks.

2. The transmission is terrible - they call it an automatic but it feels like a 15 year old girl who just got her learner's permit is shifting it for you - jerky and unrefined.

3. The Smart Car is not inexpensive - about the same price as a nicely equipped Kia Forte or Honda Civic. Pssst, just get one of those instead and you'll get to forego the "why am I so stupid" speach you will no doubt give yourself every morning,

4. It's noisy, and hard to control at freeway speeds. Safety cage, shmaftey cage - it better have some protection because as jittery as the Smart is on the highway, you're bound to wreck eventually.

5. It is PAINFULLY slow - 0-60, no not really, highway merging? Do not attempt.

It's just a horrible little car - get a Ford Fiesta, Chevy Cruze, Kia Forte, Scion xD or even a pedal car instead - even Roddy the bouncing pony is more refined. Unless you're getting the Smart as a toy for your car loving kid, skip it.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

2011 Ford Fiesta Begins Production

Ford's stellar new subcompact for 2011 begins production this week. It's being built in Mexico at Ford's Cuautitlan plant recently converted from full size truck duty. Two Fiesta versions will be produced - a four door sedan and a five door hatchback.

The 2011 Ford Fiesta is an all new subcompact that offers high tech features like Sync and AppLink which allows voice control of some smartphone apps like Pandora. A turn by turn navigation system, leather and a six-speed dual clutch automatic transmission are also available on the new Fiesta.

The 2011 Ford Fiesta goes on sale this summer and frankly, it looks like it will blow away every other subcompact sold in the US.

2010 Dodge Journey R/T Review

With three rows of seating, a tall roof and hatch style rear door, the 2010 Dodge Journey sounds a lot like the Dodge Caravan. Well, it is and then it isn't. Let's say multi passenger vehicles are dorky, let's say no one really wants to drive one but let's say plenty of people need the function and features of a minivan. Sound like you? The you might be a cadidate for a Dodge Journey R/T.

In many ways the Journey has a split personality - it looks like an SUV but works like a minivan, it looks distinctly American outside but has an obvious European feel inside. Ride and handling are sporty enough to make the Journey R/T entertaining at times but the really interesting features are family items like Sirius Backseat TV that allows rear seat passengers to watch Disney Channel and Nickelodeon programs, that plus tons of underseat storage will make road trips much less of a hassle. There's also a built in child's booster seat in the second row - again, very European in terms of features and presentation.

The 3.5 liter V6 that's standard on the R/T moves the crossover Journey from 0-60 in 8 seconds - 23 miles per gallon is not stellar but certainly in line with other crossover SUVs like the Chevrolet Traverse. Acceleration is more than adequate and the Journey R/T actually feels quick.

As an alternative to a minivan, the 2010 Dodge Journey is excellent. As a serious competitor to other crossover SUVs it's just middle of the road. Still, the Dodge Journey's aggressive good looks and interior flexibility are enough to earn it a test drive by anyone looking for a good, non-minivan family wagon.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Lexus LFA Nurburgring Edition

Here's a look at the upcoming Lexus super car the LFA - a Nissan GT-R fighter maybe? Well, like a GT-R but with at least SOME comfort hopefully. The car pictured has the Nurburgring package which adds 10 hp over the standard LFA. Total output from the 4.8 liter V-10 is up to 562. It also gets sport tuned suspension, grippier tires, larger front spoiler and fixed rear wing. The package adds $70,000 to the LFA's already lofty $375,000 base price. Only 50 will be sold.

25 Collectible Cars of the Past 25 Years

Consumer Guide has a list of 25 recent cars that may be worth holding onto - don't get me wrong, I liked the Oldsmobile Aurora and Saturn Sky Red Line when they were new but collectible? Probably not.

There are a few cars on the list that will likely get some attention when they roll across the auction block in coming years - the 2002 Ford Thuderbird was underwhelming in a lot of ways but it has a V8 and just looks right. The 2003 Mercury Marauder is nothing more than a Crown Vic with blacked out trim but the old guys with money for old cars will like it no matter what I say. Buick Grand National is obvious, but the Buick Reatta and Cadillac Allante might be odd and nothing more. The Consumer Guide list is heavy with American cars - I'd add the second generation MR2 and 1999 Honda Civic Si to the list - good luck finding one that hasn't been ruined. Also, they have the last Mercury Cougar on the list - I say that car is one of the world's worst.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Ultra Rare Cadillac Jacqueline - only $285,000

Thanks to prolific forum poster Waynep7122 - I ran across this super rare, super "I've never heard of it" Cadillac.

The for sale ad says it was built and designed by Pinin Farina for the 1961 Paris Auto Show. Asking price is a mere $285,000 for a slice of automotive history. The car is for sale at Heritage Classics in Beverly Hills, CA. You can see their other high end and rare classics here.

According to Concept the Jacqueline was built without mechanical running gear since it was a concept/show car only. In the 1990s, someone outfitted the car so that it could be driven. It sure is a slick looking car but I can't help but think "stylish Checker Marthon" when I see the front end treatment - maybe I'm crazy.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Even Smaller Engine for Mini? 3 Cylinder Could be Coming

According to AutoBlog, the next Mini Cooper might be good for 50 mpg - not because it's a hybrid but thanks to a smaller three cylinder turbocharged engine. The base 2010 Mini Cooper already gets 37 mpg on the highway which isn't bad. Direct Injection and a small turbo should keep performance at expected Mini levels too.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Aston Martin Lagonda - cool web article

If you like old Astons, this short but informative article is worth reading. Retrospective: The 1976 - 1989 Aston Martin Lagonda Saloon. The fact that Aston slapped the name on a recent crossover-looking thingy is sad and will have even young guys asking "what are they thinking." And we thought the SS Malibu Maxx was an abomination.
This '76 model is so odd it's cool - sort of like a Citroen SM or modern Citroen C6. There seems to be a bit of late 80s Oldsmobile Trofeo in the styling along with a little 1985 Cadillac Seville. Of course the Aston predates those cars by at least a decade. By the way, there are tons of cool looking car pics over at - that's where I stole this picture. Then again, I like the Buick Reatta and just said two Citroens are cool so what do I know?

Volksfest in Pennsylvania - Clean, rare VWs

If you like VWs, you've got to check out Volksfest in Central Pennsylvania. Every year some of the cleanest, quickest, rarest and sometimes pointless VWs gather in a small town near Hershey, PA. Is an 80s era VW Cabrio worth spending every spare monment on? Someone thinks so. There's a nice summary of the event over at VW including nice pics of some of the sharpest VWs in the US. Water cooled VeeDubs welcome too.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

2011 Hyundai Sonata - Camry Owners will not likee

Do you have or want a Toyota Camry? If yes, then you should skip the new Hyundai Sonata for 2011. The swoopy styling alone will probably give Camry owners nighmares -the lack of cheap plastics on the dash will also have them scratching their heads. The Sonata's price is right too - about $19,000 to start and $25,000 for a top of the line Limited with sweet looking red leather seats, iPod connection and an Infinity sound system. Even The Truth About Cars says Hyundai is "on a roll" with the new Sonata.

The 2011 Sonata offers a remarkably roomy back seat, firm but comfortable front seats and fuel sipping four cylinder engine. The 2.4L engine delivers 35 mpg on the highway and an estimated 26 mpg combined average. If you like your midsize family sedans with an extra helping of V6 then you're out of luck - the Sonata no longer offers a V6. Buick is doing same thing with the new Regal.

On the road, the Sonata has a smooth ride a but a few passengers complained that it was too firm, handling is much sharper than both the Accord and Camry. Road trips are no sweat thanks to an iPod connection, XM radio and an Infinity sound system.

Based on style, price, fuel economy and interior room, I'm going to give the 2011 Hyundai Sonata a big Yes Please when it comes to midsize family sedans.