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The Latest News And Reviews
Throughout The Car Industry

Categories: Car Reviews

Celebrity Apprentice Affirms Buick Brand Confusion

On: Tue, Mar 13, 2012 at 11:22AM | By: Chris Salamone

Debbie Gibson test 2

Unlike a few years ago, Buick is a company with a lot of momentum going forward. The Regal has been universally accepted as an impending classic, the Verano shares DNA with an already superstar GM product (Chevy Cruze), and the soon-to-be youthful Sonic-based subcompact Encore all define a brand lineup which has undergone substantial evolution. Indeed, for the first time in a long while Buick, as a brand, looks to have a sunny financial forecast. Then Sunday’s episode of The Celebrity Apprentice aired.

But the problem with Buick’s brand messaging on Donald Trump’s wildly successful celebreality show wasn’t the fault of the program’s cast, Mr. Trump, or the quality of Buick’s Verano – the vehicle which happened to be showcased. Buick’s brand confusion came from a much larger, more systemic, issue. At least on the televised recording, Buick’s executives failed to specifically address what type of brand concept the celebrities should focus on.

Dear Chevy, Thank You!

On: Thu, Mar 1, 2012 at 10:02AM | By: Lou Ruggieri

Corvette 427 Convertible test 2

In case you haven't heard, Chevy has confirmed that 2013 will be the last model year for the venerable C6 Corvette. Although that is sad news for some of us who may not be able to purchase one new off the showroom floor, there is a silver lining to the story. No, we're not talking about the C7 -- who knows what's going to happen with that whole thing. What we are excited about is that Chevy is adding a 'new' model to their existing lineup of crossed-flagged wonders: The Corvette 427 convertible, and all we can say is, "Finally!" 

2012 Ram Power Wagon, Just Short Of Perfection

On: Tue, Feb 28, 2012 at 11:36AM | By: Chris Salamone

2012 Ram Power Wagon test 2

 For the first time ever, we’ve got three Power Wagon models to choose from. And to make matters more exciting, one particular model actually starts at a lower MSRP relative to previous years. The base model, Power Wagon ST, comes in at $41,855 and offers bargain hunting off-road enthusiasts a stripped down post-apocalypse friendly truck with absolutely no regard for weakness…or fuel economy. Depending on the depth of your pocket book and desire for amenities, Ram also offers Power Wagons in the standard issue and Laramie variety.

But even considering the vehicle’s long list of brutish attributes, some virile enough to be banned in our puritanical society, the Power Wagon does have a pretty major flaw.

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

On: Thu, Feb 16, 2012 at 4:59PM | By: Lou Ruggieri

BMW E46 M3 test 2

In this day and age, car styles seem to come and go as quickly as iPhone models.  As soon as you get the new one, there's a commercial out saying that your new one is now the old one, and the real new one is on its way. Carmakers have been frustrating consumers for years with that same tactic. You spend thousands of dollars on a very carefully thought out decision, and before the down payment check clears, there's already a newer model on its way to make your hard earned car obsolete.  

But every now and then, a carmaker creates something that is so special, it stands the test of time. Not surprisingly, BMW accomplished this task, either willingly or not, with the third generation of its venerable M3. The code-named E46 was created from 2001 until 2006 and put the M3 on the map as a world-class performer, and all-around all-star. Not only did the new for 2000 M3 look the part, with a lowered stance, aggressive front fascia, bigger, wider wheels and tires, and trademark M-style quad exhaust, but it also had plenty of bark to back up its bite.


Audi S8 - The New State Of Performance Cars

On: Tue, Feb 14, 2012 at 1:55PM | By: Lou Ruggieri

Audi S8 test 2

My, how things have changed. Under 'normal' circumstances of days in the not-so-distant past, if you were going to spend $110,000 on a sporty fun-to-drive hot rod car, the big news would be that said car has 520-horsepower and 479-lb.-ft. of torque and was capable of ripping of 4.0-second 0-60 mph runs despite its 4400 pound, four-door stature.  

But as it turns out, the new S8 doesn't necessarily headline with the big horsepower news, but co-headlines at best. The news that apparently Audi is just as excited about for its potential buyers has nothing to do with horsepower. The big news is that if you decide to spend 110k on a sports car, it seems you won't have to spend as much on gas as you used to. Yup, that's right, you extremely wealthy businessmen and women, it seems you can have your cake and eat it too (whatever exactly that really means).

2012 Kia Optima SX Turbo

On: Thu, Feb 9, 2012 at 11:29AM | By: Chuck Arehart

2012 Kia Optima SX Turbo test 2

Enter the new Kia Optima turbo with the keyless entry system and you are greeted with a new-age-y electronic jingle and on-screen message in the center of the instrument panel that welcomes you to the drive. You are further comforted with an extremely well-designed interior where everything falls ready to hand, seats that will support many a physique, and when properly optioned out, includes a dual panel sunroof and the latest in navigation and communications technology. Yes, Kia is serious about being competitive in the mid-size market and at first blush, the Optima is in the running for class-leading status.

Classic Car Cultist: Saab 99 Turbo

On: Tue, Feb 7, 2012 at 12:36PM | By: Chris Salamone

Saab 99 Turbo test 2

What makes a car worthy of the title ‘cult classic’? Do the legions of vintage auto enthusiasts seek then new-fangled technology, drivability, innovative design cues, or historical relevance? If the criteria for a cult classic come from an aromatic mix of the above attributes, then few cars - ever - will rival Saab’s most prestigious thoroughbred, the 99 Turbo.

The 99 Turbo was the car which defined Saab as a brand. Some might call it gimmicky, ridiculous, or perhaps even controversial. But those individuals would be wrong. This was a car which defied consumer expectations and taught the world something new about mass production cars – you could have a smaller, lightweight vehicle including plenty of storage space, without sacrificing fuel economy on the altar of performance.

Ferrari 458 Spider - The Dream Maker

On: Tue, Jan 31, 2012 at 11:53AM | By: Lou Ruggieri

Ferrari 458 Spider - The Dream Maker test 2

If you have never had the good fortune of sitting inside of a Ferrari while its driver rips off a couple redline shifts down an open freeway onramp, you seriously need to add that little soul-stirring experience to your bucket list. If you don't have a bucket list, may we suggest you go get a pen, some paper, and jot down at least one item on that list. There is simply nothing quite like it. There are few sounds in this world that can actually reach through you and excite your soul, but for an automotive enthusiast of any level, the banshee-like shriek of 40 valves fluttering wildly in a short stroke V8 masterpiece at 9000 rpm is unparalleled in the physical realm.  

The only thing that comes close to hearing a Prancing Horse at full song is, well, hearing it sing louder. Enter the 458 Spider. For all intents and purposes, the 458 Spider is actually an inferior model compared to its fixed-roof brethren. Although it is powered by the same magnificent 4.5-liter V8 pumping out 562 heaven-sent horsepower at 9000 rpm and 398 lb.-ft. of torque at 6000 rpm funneled through the same 7-speed dual-clutch tranny, the Spider is 110 pounds heavier at 3450 pounds, which negatively affects all aspects of performance.

That being said, the topless version is slower by a tenth or two of a second as speed increases. 0-60 mph comes up a tenth slower at 3.1 seconds, as does the quarter mile in 11.1 seconds. Even on the top end, the Spider only does an even 200 mph, which is a couple miles per hour off of the standard 458 Italia. On top of everything else, the Spider commands a price tag roughly 12 percent higher than the standard 458, coming in just shy of $260,000.

Charger SRT8 Super Bee - Serious!

On: Fri, Jan 27, 2012 at 1:42PM | By: Lou Ruggieri

Charger SRT8 Super Bee test 2

Dodge, this is beneath you. We really thought all of this nonsense was over and done with. And with the economy in the state it’s in, you really should realize that people are starting to understand what true value really is all about. However, you have chosen to bring about the ... ahem ... mighty ... 2012 Dodge Charger SRT8 Super Bee. Oh, great! A legendary name plate that one would equate with a better model than your garden-variety SRT8 Charger, right? Well, muscle car fans, don't get your hopes up.

The Dodge Super Bee seems like it is a bit of a bust, at least to one humble writer. Granted, it is difficult to call a RWD car that puts down 470-hp and 470-lb.-ft. of torque through an overhead valve 6.4-liter thumping V8 a bust, but that's just the thing -- it's the same motor as the 'regular' SRT8. No difference. The transmission is the same 5-speed automatic as the non-Super Bee. Wheelbase? Same. How about the base price? Yup, right about the same 42 grand as the normal SRT8.

2013 Subaru B-R-Z: Fin-al-ly!

On: Thu, Jan 19, 2012 at 4:04PM | By: Lou Ruggieri

2013 Subaru B-R-Z:  Fin-al-ly! test 2

After what has felt like decades of waiting, the Toyota/Subaru sports car finally has a due date! No more hazy sketches, no more guessing numbers and figures, thankfully we can do away with the Tebow-sized hype and actually see what kind of car some of us having been saving up for.  

In Subaru guise, the BRZ looks strikingly like the offspring of a Nissan 370Z and a Hyundai Genesis coupe -- which in this case is a good thing. It sits low to the ground and sports a center of gravity a mere 18-inches off the pavement. One of the goals of this car since its conception was to be as light as possible, and at a scant 2,770-pounds, we would have to call that a success. Aerodynamic curves outside give way to a very familiar Subaru-style interior -- brushed aluminum pedals and trim pieces as well as the red-stitched seats, steering wheel and e-brake handle all give off a very sporty vibe. 

Not sporty enough? How about a tach mounted front and center on the gauge cluster to make sure you know when to pull or push that shifter, while a digital display clocks your pace through the atmosphere? Simple HVAC controls and a digital GPS/radio setup give a much more upscale feel than what the sticker says you paid for the car. 

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

On: Fri, Jan 13, 2012 at 3:59PM | By: Lou Ruggieri

Ferrari F40 test 2

If you sit back and think about just how many different model cars have come across the assembly lines, it’s amazing that we remember any of them at all. Sure, you personally might remember your first car, but by-and-large, not too many of us are really emotionally vested in a 1987 Buick Skylark the way you might be. But then there are cars that come along every once in a great while that we as a collective civilized world can appreciate. Cars that are so striking, and so stunning that men and women that have no automotive knowledge whatsoever become awestruck and mesmerized by the mere sight of one of these mighty machines. That list of cars is very short, but it can be argued that at the top of that very short list lies one car, and one car only -- the Ferrari F40.