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The Latest News And Reviews
Throughout The Car Industry



Categories: Car Reviews

2013 Chrysler 300

On: Mon, Feb 25, 2013 at 10:03AM | By: Jon Summers


Chrysler 300 front test 2

When Chrysler launched the 300, in 2004, they took inspiration from the Firearrow concept car of 1954, pictured below -- just compare the front views. Any car designer will tell you the "face" is usually the place where the design begins, the point of inspiration. Many seemed to like the Firearrow look of the ’04 300, but for me it never quite worked. To drive, the old car was OK, but it was plasticky inside, and always left me feeling a little underwhelmed. It was only when I drove the Dodge Charger, built on the same platform, that the design gelled somewhat -- it felt more like a Dodge than a Chrysler -- surprising given that both are based upon then-partner Daimler-Benz’s Mercedes W211 ( E-class ) platform.


M6 Gran Coupe: The Perfect Compromise?

On: Thu, Feb 7, 2013 at 4:32PM | By: Lou Ruggieri


M6 Gran Coupe: The Perfect Compromise? test 2

If some is good, more must be better right? Well, maybe. It seems that at least in the minds of BMW execs, that theory has gotten some traction (pun intended). Understandably, BMW figures that if a potential buyer is going to drop a significant sum of cash on a luxury car, it should be exactly what they want. Enter the BMW M6 Gran Coupe -- a perfect halfway point for that indecisive speed freak that just can't decide between an M5 and an M6.    

The M6 Gran Coupe, the newest model to join BMW's M lineup, should quite literally have been badged the M5.5 or perhaps the M5 1/2. It stands to reason that a car that is almost exactly half of two cars should split the difference, at least in our minds. Need more evidence before you support our M5.5 nameplate? No problem. How about the fact that the Gran Coupe does look like an M6 from the rear, but looks suspiciously like an M5 sedan from a profile view, while the front clip could very easily be confused for either or the M5 or M6. Also, consider this: The M6 Gran Coupe sits perfectly on the wheelbase of none other than the M5.


Review: 2013 Ford Focus ST

On: Wed, Jan 9, 2013 at 12:24PM | By: Jon Summers


2013 Ford Focus ST front view  test 2

The 2013 Focus ST is a new model for US customers, and a replacement for a well-loved – and quite big selling – European Focus ST. The comparison is important, since Ford says that European and US spec Focus ST are to be the same; indeed, in the spirit of the original Taurus SHO, only a 6 speed stick shift is on offer.

The outgoing European Focus ST was based on the second generation Focus which did not come to the US. These STs were lovable cars, their low-grade plastic interiors offset by rorty, spirited driving characteristics, and using a derivation of Volvo’s 2.5-liter turbocharged inline 5, not the 2.0 litre turbocharged inline 4 found in the 2013 model. Indeed, this tester often thought a Focus ST would be an ideal daily driver in Europe, so the arrival of a new, Euro-spec Focus ST on US shores was cause for some excitement.


Review: 2013 Kia Optima

On: Fri, Jan 4, 2013 at 3:58PM | By: Jon Summers


2013 Kia Optima test 2

Not so long ago, “top of the range Kia” was almost an oxymoron. However, as parent Hyundai grows and moves upmarket, Kia is being sucked along too. Not only is this size of car relatively new ground for Kia, so too is the distinctive styling language which goes along with it. Faux air intakes sit on the fenders – hey, if it is good enough for BMW M-cars, why not a Kia - and there is a large, distinctively-shaped corporate grille. It looks a shade too aggressive for most Kia drivers, a teenager trying just a little bit too hard, but at least it beats the fade into the scenery beige styling which used to afflict Kias, and the guests at a wedding we attended had plenty of favorable comments.


 

Haunted Highways: A Series Exploring The Ghosts of Cars Gone By (Quickly)

On: Mon, Dec 17, 2012 at 3:16PM | By: Lou Ruggieri


BMW Z8 test 2

In 1997, BMW debuted a concept car called the Z07. It was an instant success on the show circuit, and not being a company to rest on its laurels, BMW quickly got the Z07 onto the production line only two short years later and dubbed it the Z8 -- and the world was instantly better for it. The Z8 was built from 1999 through 2002 and was given the model code E52. It seemed that Bimmer had an idea that its newest flagship was going to be a success, as it guaranteed potential owners that it would continue to build replacement parts for it for the next 50 years.  Presumptuous? Perhaps, but not as much as some may think.


Haunted Highways: A Series Exploring The Ghosts Of Cars Gone By (Quickly)

On: Sat, Oct 27, 2012 at 10:47AM | By: Lou Ruggieri


Plymouth Prowler test 2

Every once in a while, a car comes a long that people can't help but love. All allegiances are put aside -- whether they be Bow Tie, Blue Oval, Prancing Horse, Four Rings, Blue Propeller, or Raging Bull. Some cars just bring out the little kid in all of us, and any gearhead with a pulse can smile and say, "Yeah, you know what? That's one damn fine automobile!" In 1997, Chrysler rolled a car rolled off the assembly line that was literally the automobile equivalent of a thumbs up on wheels -- the Plymouth Prowler.

Built in 1997, it took a year off and then continued on in production from 1999-2002, the Prowler was the end result of creative license being bestowed on a bunch of designer/engineers whose only requirement was to come up with a modern hot rod. Whether or not the car succeeded in its intended mission is a matter of personal interpretation, but no one can argue whether or not it can be labeled a hot rod, the Prowler is still one cool car.


The World's Fastest Production Motorcycle

On: Wed, Oct 10, 2012 at 5:17PM | By: Jon Summers


Kawasaki ZX14R test 2

Kawasaki has always had a reputation for building terrific engines; there is an urban legend this was because Kawasaki honed their skills in World War 2, building fighter plane engines. The story went that since they built planes, their test track was in fact a runway – no corners but lots of straight, explaining why the bikes went well, indeed perhaps rather too well for the way the bike performed in the turns, leading to a whole generation of seventies Kawi’s being labeled “widow-makers”.


One Month Until The Poison Sets In!

On: Mon, Oct 8, 2012 at 9:29AM | By: Lou Ruggieri


2013 SRT Viper test 2

It's only a month away. A mere flip of the calendar, and once again anyone with the credit and/or the cash can wander down the their local Dodge dealership and drive off in the newest version of arguably the most visceral American sports car to come off an assembly line since the Shelby Cobra. That's right, the fifth-generation Viper is only a few short weeks away from showroom floors. Now, that isn't necessarily breaking news, but the newest Viper does give us a headline that may not have been its originally intended purpose. But more on that later…


Consumer Reports Flunks Fisker Karma

On: Fri, Sep 28, 2012 at 9:48AM | By: Chris Weiss


Consumer Reports Flunks Fisker Karma test 2

It's been a while since we've reported anything about Fisker, which can only mean one thing: something bad has happened with the brand. Outside of an exception here and there, Fisker headlines tend to run pretty negative. In this case, Consumer Reports has put on its high school teacher glasses and given the Karma a big, red F.

The Karma didn't exactly get off to a good start with Consumer Reports. Back in March, the Karma that CR purchased for testing barely made it to headquarters before an electrical problem turned it into a large, aesthetically pleasing paperweight. CR had to send it back to Fisker immediately for a battery replacement, and a greater battery replacement program was born. Bad first impression.


The 1LE Is Back! The 1LE Is Back?

On: Fri, Sep 21, 2012 at 5:05PM | By: Lou Ruggieri


Camaro 1LE test 2

For those of us who grew up in the 1980's, there were plenty of fond memories.  TV shows that actually had actors and actresses, music that was memorable if nothing else, some of the best movies around, and fashion that was ... okay, well forget the fashion. Sadly, the 1980s were a time in which car manufacturers were still recovering from the gas crisis. As a result, the cars they produced were less engaging than, say, your average episode of Thundercats.

There were a few bright spots along the way -- presuming you were grading on a curve of course. One such example came along in 1989 when Chevy took their (then) venerable IROC Camaro and offered up an option package called 1LE. This RPO code provided a version of the Camaro that could compete in the SCCA Showroom Stock racing events. In 1989-1992 form, the 1LE package included upgraded brakes, shocks, suspension, driveshaft, fuel tank, as well as some weight reduction making Camaros with this package much more agile than your garden variety IROC-Z.


2013 Ford Mustang GT

On: Fri, Sep 14, 2012 at 4:00PM | By: Jon Summers


2013 Mustang 5.0 test 2

The 2013 Mustang GT is not so much a new car as it is the last iteration of a very well-loved old one. The 2014 Mustang will end the retro look Mustangs have worn since 2005; it will be something all new. Whisper this – it may even have independent rear suspension – thus changing a key, if gloriously Neanderthal, element of Mustang DNA. The last time Ford tried something so radical, by replacing the Fox Mustang with the front wheel drive Probe, customer reaction was so vociferous the board changed direction, and green-lighted development of a new generation of rear-drive Mustang.

Comparing the 2012 with the 2013 model, raw power is up to 420hp, thanks to the use of piston and ring coatings from the Boss 302. There is a new automatic transmission, a 6 speed, which features SelectShift, a tool allowing drivers better control over the ‘box, by allowing the car to be manually held in each gear. Visually the Mustang has had some nip-and-tuck work, with HID headlights alongside a new grille, set in a new front fascia. Tail lights too have been redesigned, with a blacked-out look, and new wheel designs are available.