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The Latest News And Reviews
Throughout The Car Industry

Categories: Car Reviews

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

On: Fri, Sep 2, 2011 at 2:05PM | By: Lou Ruggieri

2003 Ford SVT Mustang Cobra test 2

For well over three decades, the battle for Ponycar supremacy has raged on between Mustang, Camaro, Firebird, and a host of other pavement pounding miscreants at race tracks, stoplights, and bar stools across the country. Each new edition of one car brought about new brags and taunts about how antiquated the other car was in contrast. 

Over and over it went, and throughout most of the 1990s, the LT1 and later LS1 Camaros and Firebirds wreaked havoc on the psyches of Mustang owners everywhere. Even though the more 'advanced' single and dual overhead cam modular motors of the Mustang GT and Cobra theoretically had a technological edge over the GM's antiquated pushrods, the Blue Oval just got out-muscled by the General's good 'ole fashioned torque and tuning. Mustang owners noticed, as did Mustang builders. 

In a pound-for-pound fight, there was no fight. A bone stock Camaro SS or Firebird WS6 would obliterate any Mustang Cobra (discounting the ultra-limited 2000 Cobra R model, but even then in a straight line it was still a driver's race). At the turn of the millennium, even though the Mustang was the decidedly more popular car (thanks in no small part to enormous V6 sales) it seemed that not all 300-horsepower cars were created equal, and the General's 325 Thoroughbreds were more than the 320 Clydesdales that Ford was offering up at the track. But then in 2002, everything changed and the Mustang struck back with a one-two punch that knocked the Camaro out for the next seven years.

2013 Lexus GS Rev-ealed!

On: Wed, Aug 31, 2011 at 3:23PM | By: Chris Salamone

2013 Lexus GS 350 test 2

Launched at Pebble Beach, Lexus announced the company’s plans to produce an all-new GS 350 in 2013. Like the vehicle’s predecessors, this most recent GS appears to be another road-raging monster synched with the refinements of proper luxury breeding. The new GS mixes uniquely aggressive styling with enhanced handling, the latest technology, and a more spacious interior. Most enticingly, in addition to the GS 350, Lexus plans to launch other GS models in early 2012—hinting at a hybrid and F Sport version.

“Today, buyers in the mid-size luxury segment want a more engaging driving experience, styling that makes a statement, and a roomier interior package,” declared Mark Templin, the Lexus group VP and General Manager. “With the all-new GS, we’re giving them what they asked for, and more.”

2012 Tiguan: V-Doubling Their Efforts

On: Wed, Aug 31, 2011 at 12:13PM | By: Lou Ruggieri

2012 Tiguan: V-Doubling Their Efforts test 2

Unless you have been living under a rock for the past few years, you may have noticed that the small SUV segment of the marketplace has become a bit, saturated.  It seems that Americans still love the idea of an SUV, but somewhere between the invention of the Suburban and V10 Expedition, those same Americans decided they didn't quite like their high-riding 'Utes when it came time to refill their very big, very empty gas tanks. 

So, the car makers gave to the world smaller, more refined versions of those big boys and their popularity sky rocketed, and in fact did so well that just about every car company has at least one hat in the ring. But with so many choices, obviously there have to be some sales winners and some sales losers.  One of those losers in the last few years has been the Volkswagen Tiguan.

Please GM, Not Another Malibu SS!

On: Mon, Aug 29, 2011 at 9:22AM | By: Lou Ruggieri

Please GM, Not Another Malibu SS! test 2

There is good news and bad news when it comes to the Chevy Malibu and the year 2013. The good news is easy—compared to the outgoing 2012 model, the '13 variant will have much more fit and finish. More shoulder and hip room (up by nearly 3 inches), and adds more than three cubic feet of interior space. And although the 4.5-inches lost in wheelbase may seem like a negative, it is actually addition by subtraction because the new Epsilon II platform is home to a newer, much sportier nigh Bimmer-like look.

If the outgoing Malibu was the average cubicle worker, then the new Malibu is the boss in his own office who has more responsibilities, but shows up wearing jeans and sneakers on a Tuesday morning. The '13 Malibu conveys a sense of casual competency we haven't seen from GM in an extremely long time, and actually looks quite a bit like an Americanized Acura TSX from certain angles. In short, the new Malibu actually looks like it can compete on a global level with cars like the Hyundai Sonata, Honda Accord, and even the performance oriented Nissan Maxima. 

However, there is a downside to this very hopeful story. Despite the new car's very sporty motif, there are rumors that Chevy is debating on bringing back the SS badge to the Malibu. Now, for those of you who may have blocked out the awful image of the last Malibu to wear the SS badge, it was the very ill-fated Malibu Maxx SS, a very lackluster, automatic, station wagon. A true SuperSport, if there ever was one. And, though the one good thing that came out of that travesty was that GM put forth a decree that only legitimate performance cars will wear the venerable double 'S' badge from that point forward. 

Well, we at Autoshopper are here to hold GM to its word. Please, GM, no more Malibu SS models. Please! Look, the new Malibu is a fine looking car, it really is, and not just in comparing it to its predecessors either. The '13 Malibu really looks like it could help GM take back some of that all-important family sedan market that has been dominated by the Japanese carmakers for so long. But that being said, it is still just that—a family sedan.


2012 Jeep Wrangler Gets Engine Reduction?!

On: Wed, Aug 24, 2011 at 12:09PM | By: Chris Salamone

3.6-liter Pentastar test 2

We’ve waited, and waited, and waited. Since the Wrangler’s inception, some of the vehicle’s strongest characteristics have remained its greatest weaknesses for everyday driving: low-end torque and gear ratios meant for off-roading. That potent mix of rock-crawling power has historically meant terrible gas mileage and unfortunate off-the-line acceleration times. Finally, as of 2012, Jeep has decided to rework the Wrangler’s engineering to try to maintain the vehicle’s legendary off-road prowess while improving fuel economy and quickness.

The devout Jeep driver may recall how the company has reduced engine size offerings over the years, fearing their beloved overlander would become just another ‘soft-roader’. But really, Jeep’s recent decision to utilize the 3.6-liter Pentastar engine over last year’s 3.8-liter makes perfect sense. Other than an ego-slashing drop in physical size, the latest Pentastar offers more torque, more horsepower, and greater fuel efficiency (up to 21 mpg).

Ready To Be Loved, The 2012 Subaru Impreza

On: Mon, Aug 22, 2011 at 10:30AM | By: Chris Salamone

2012 Subaru Impreza test 2

While other models like the Forester and Outback have blossomed, the Impreza has been waiting on the metaphorical bench for a much needed update. This Fall, Subaru intends to release the latest redesigned Impreza into dealerships. So far, so good. Positive reviews are pouring in from all around the auto industry, not least of which is Motor Trend’s First Look which proclaims the Impreza has “the right stuff.” Subaru is the only carmaker in the industry to post consecutive sales increases over the past three years and the latest Impreza looks like it will likely contribute to the company’s success.

Michael McHale, Subaru’s head of corporate communications, recently stated that “With the 2012 Impreza, we’re heavy up on style, and we’re heavy up on fuel efficiency. That’s where we go next.”

And they’re not joking.

The Manlier Mini!

On: Fri, Aug 19, 2011 at 6:29PM | By: Lou Ruggieri

The Manlier Mini!  test 2

It seems that Mini has noticed that their premiere happy-go-lucky hatchback has attracted a rather... one-sided... customer base. Although the Mini Cooper has been extremely popular, it seems that mostly women, not men, tend to go for the go-kart. So in an attempt to take back some of the masculine market share, Mini has chopped the top (and the name) on the Cooper, and is bringing the manliest Mini to the states for 2012 in the form of the Mini Cooper Coupe.

The Most Underrated Car Of 2011!

On: Fri, Aug 19, 2011 at 12:34PM | By: Lou Ruggieri

The Most Underrated Car Of 2011! test 2

Driving along the mean streets of New Jersey a few days ago, I caught myself doing a double-take on the highway. Now, usually this type of behavior is perfectly acceptable for most cars that make more than 450 horsepower, or the occasional automotive rarity such as a Delorean or mint-condition late-80s Toyota MR2 solely due to their extreme uniqueness. But this particular neck turn wasn’t devoted to anything of the sort; in fact, I found myself very surprised at my own immediate visceral response. The car, believe it or not, was a brand new... wait for it... Indigo Blue Pearl Hyundai Elantra. Suffice to say, this was the biggest automotive surprise for this writer in all of 2011.

Yes, a Hyundai. No, not the sporty coupe. No, not even the high-end $65,000 Equus. No, what caught my eye was the $16,000 four-door Hyundai sedan. Seriously. And the sad part is that even as a writer, I am struggling to explain why it impressed me so, but that won't stop me from trying.

2012 Nissan Versa: A Great Investment!

On: Fri, Aug 12, 2011 at 1:48PM | By: Lou Ruggieri

2012 Nissan Versa: A Great Investment! test 2

Unless you've been hiding under a rock somewhere, it should come as no surprise that the US economy is in a bit of turmoil as of late (well, for a while actually, but even more so lately). The stock market is down 600 points one day, up 400 the next, gold is up to about a million dollars an ounce, and America's sterling credit rating just got a kick in the teeth. Fun times! So as our GDP comes dangerously close to zero, odds are we are going to see consumers scaling back even more than they have been recently.

But, such is life. Just when you really start making progress with your savings account, that's when the water pump on your 1998 Cutlass Ciera convertible goes and, although you've gotten used to the rickety seat, and the window that doesn't fully close, or the horn that doesn't always blow, not to mention that weird shake in the steering wheel at around 68 mph, or that slight pull to the left when you have to slam on the brakes, shelling out another $600 for a replacement pump on a car whose company doesn't even exist anymore just doesn't make much financial sense, and lo and behold, it's time for a new car! But after being out of the new car game for two decades, it can be quite intimidating for some, leaving them wondering where to even begin. Well, your local Nissan dealership might just be the place, because the 2012 Versa is a legitimate automobile that can fit into just about any budget.

C63 AMG Black Series: Black Out Fast!

On: Thu, Aug 11, 2011 at 12:46PM | By: Lou Ruggieri

C63 AMG Black Series: Black Out Fast! test 2

M3 owners beware, because Mercedes is gunning for the top spot among two-door coupes, and they may just have done it. Sure, the AMG C63 is a badass ride, but the sportier M3 still managed to outperform it around the track, and the folks over at Mercedes were none too happy about that. So, the AMG guys sent the C63 back to the gym and what came back for 2012 was the very powerful, very intoxicating black out fast C63 AMG Black Series. 

So fast and highly tuned are the Black Series models that the C63 is only the fourth model to get the Black Series treatment. That is because the Black Series is a far cry from your average E-Class sedan. There is no coddling here, no floaty suspension to snuggle up with over long, leisurely Sunday afternoon drives. Oh, no; the Black Series is a track-bred monster. Don't think so? Well, let's put it this way: when was the last time you heard of a Mercedes offering the back seat as an option?

Review: The 2011 Buick LaCrosse

On: Wed, Aug 10, 2011 at 12:43PM | By: Mary McRae

2011 Buick LaCrosse test 2

Redesigned last year, the Buick LaCrosse has brought in a new trend for Buick, one which emphasizes modernity and performance. As opposed to the detached, floaty performance and disappointing cabin that Buicks once were known for. The 2011 Buick LaCrosse stands out among affordable midsize cars because of its sharp styling, assured performance and a cabin that's just about the most luxurious offered at this selling price. This midsize sedan's attractive styling perfectly balances classic Buick nods like the vertical lines of the grille and the sweeping line of the body with thoroughly contemporary detailing. And the car's elegant appearance is combined with surprisingly adept driving dynamics. It's enough to make you forget all about the ship-size cars in that coffee table book of Buick history.