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The Latest News And Reviews
Throughout The Car Industry

Categories: Car Reviews

Not-So-Smart Fourtwo?

On: Tue, May 17, 2011 at 1:31PM | By: Lou Ruggieri

Smart Fourtwo EV test 2

Technology for the most part is good. Technology is also fun, to some extent, but it does have its drawbacks. Sometimes, on the way to making something truly special, there are a lot of... not so innovative... innovations. The laserdisc player, the eight-track, video phones, Charlie Sheen, car stereo remotes, they all had high buy-in costs and low returns in terms of usability and entertainment. Most of these non-comedians eventually led to actual useful results in modern day life, but we had to go through a bit of a technological adolescence that was more infamous than famous.  

Right now, America is going through a similar period with automobiles. Before we can get to true freedom from oil, we have to get past this time of awkward growth. We know we can't survive on gasoline much longer, and ideally electric cars are the way we are going. We can see glimpses of the future with cars like the new Porsche 918 Hybrid and Mercedes SLS AMG E-Cell on the high end, as well as the Prius, Volt, and Leaf on the low end of the price spectrum.

Nissan Murano CrossCabriolet: Hybrid Theory?

On: Fri, May 13, 2011 at 4:54PM | By: Lou Ruggieri

Nissan Murano CrossCabriolet test 2

Once every decade or so, one of these vehicles comes around; they aren't quite tough enough to be considered trucks or even SUVs, but somehow they don't display enough sedan DNA to be considered cars either. In the past, the most recent example was the 1999-2001 Isuzu VehiCROSS convertible that you can see in the 2000 film Mission to Mars (Gary Sinise rolls up several years in the future). Ten years before that, the Geo Tracker and Suzuki Sidekick showed up with the looks of a dwarfed SUV, but the driving characteristics of a tall compact car.  

It's been exactly a decade since the end of Isuzu's run in America with its VehiCross-over, and sure enough we have the newest addition to this group of misfit toys:  The Nissan Murano CrossCabriolet. It's an interesting vehicle to say the least, but to be honest; we are not entirely sure what purpose it serves, especially in this day and economic age. Sure, small SUV sales are up a bit in recent years, and everyone loves a convertible, but those two things don't necessarily go well together, kind of like honey mustard and Rice Krispies Treats. 

Forget RVing, There's A New Kid In Town

On: Thu, May 12, 2011 at 4:22PM | By: Chris Salamone

Kevin Hornby Designs Transit Connect Conversion test 2

Looking back on days of old, the VW camper van was and remains an iconic standard for motorized wanderlust glory. Aside from tempting looks, the VW van also boasted a reasonable purchase price, comparatively decent gas mileage, and easy-to-operate gadgetry. But 40 years later those selling features just don’t hold a candle to modern amenities or make financial sense when buyers consider the cost of owning an unreliable antique. There are many conversion van kits on the market, yet one alone stands out as a strong competitor to the VW vans of yesterday: Kevin Hornby Designs Transit Connect Conversion.

Chevy Silverado 2500HD; No. I Won't Help You Move

On: Fri, May 6, 2011 at 4:28PM | By: Chuck Arehart

Chevy Silverado 2500HD test 2

It's funny how having a full-size pickup that can do lots of stuff suddenly puts you in demand. Once the Chevy Silverado 2500HD test vehicle arrived, my popularity among those that needed something hauled, towed, or yanked out of the ground soared to the heights of Justin Beiber. When I stopped by a friend's house, I heard everything from, "I was thinking of putting the boat in the water," to “I picked out a new sofa bed." "Well, gotta get going'," was my common reply, escaping any time investment. Not that the Silverado HD wasn't up for those chores.

The 765 lbs.-ft. of torque that peaks at a low 1600 rpm is a 105 lb.-ft. improvement over the 2010 Silverado HD and is backed up by 397 horsepower. Ah, the beauty of big diesel engines. Other perks to the powertrain for 2011 include a 63-percent reduction in emissions and B20 biodiesel capability.


SRT8 392: Not So Challenging To Love

On: Thu, May 5, 2011 at 2:00PM | By: Lou Ruggieri

Dodge Challenger  SRT8, 392, test 2

If we are being honest, when the Dodge Challenger first bowed onto the scene, it didn't really live up to the legend and lore of its namesake. Sure it looked good, but it was heavy, a bit underpowered unless you opted to drop down 40 grand for the SRT variant, and seemed to just be another cookie-cutter wannabe amidst a lineup of mediocre models.  

It seems Dodge may have realized this somewhere along the way, and actually did what a lot of American car companies refused to do in the past:  They fixed their mistake, at least in terms of the SRT model. The new Challenger SRT 392 is nothing short of a beast. Taking a page out of other performance car's books, Dodge execs realized that car guys (and gals) are nostalgic in their taste for fast iron. They enjoy heritage, and want to feel a link to the past when gas was cheap and changing a cam in your car took a weekend and a few beers. So for those not in the know, the 392 harks back to those days gone by.

Classic Car Cultist: International Scout II

On: Wed, May 4, 2011 at 4:47PM | By: Chris Salamone

International Scout II  test 2

 Oh… you’ve never heard of the International Harvester Scout II? Well, I’ll bet you’ve seen it in one of the 34 movies and shows starring this epic American off-roader, such as Desperado, Avalanche, Milk, Dallas, and, of course, Swamp Thing. The Scout II may not be your absolute favorite hero machine, but as far as credibility is concerned, Swamp Thing is commonly accepted as the authoritative standard for cult classic films and this car is the perfect automotive pairing to swamp monsters and hokey script writing. But, the Scout II offers much more than just a funky aesthetic.

The International Harvester Scout was one of the seminal production civilian off-road SUVs, meant to compete with early Jeep models. Scouts were produced as two-door trucks with inventive options such as a half cab pickup or removable hard and soft tops. Considering that IH spent a total of 24 months in R&D for the entire vehicle (engine and manufacturing), the Scout was and remains to be an incredible achievement.

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

On: Mon, May 2, 2011 at 5:49PM | By: Lou Ruggieri

the very limited Corvette Grand Sport. test 2

Every once in a while a car company gets it right. They mix the right blend of power, beauty, and mystique into the pot and come out with something that elicits an image of several engineers in lab coats smoking cigars and patting each other on the back as they stand at the end of the production line when the first model rolls off. In 1996 those crafty Chevy engineers had every right to celebrate when they made the very limited Corvette Grand Sport.

Even though there were only 1000 models made (810 coupes and 190 convertibles), the Grand Sport was a car that got worldwide attention. The C4 Corvette (fourth generation) was in its final model year, but after being around for 12 years (1984-1996), it seems Chevy wanted it to go out with a bang instead of a whimper.

2012 Mercedes C-Class: Something To C Here.

On: Sat, Apr 30, 2011 at 1:14PM | By: Lou Ruggieri

2012 Mercedes C-Class test 2

Although on paper, the C-Class Mercedes should have been competition for the benchmarked 3-Series BMW, anyone that has driven the two cars can attest that other than size, there wasn't much to compare between the two. The BMW simply walked away from the C-Class in every competitive category; that is... Until now. Although it's technically not a new model, there are enough improvements to the 2012 C-Class to garner a second (or third) look. 

Little upgrades are noticeable and appreciated all around the new C-Class, beginning out front with a bigger grille and three-pointed star for the Sport version of the car. The hood is crafted out of aluminum to save 20 pounds off the nose, while the more dramatically slanted front end, combined with new bumpers and headlights all help the car achieve a very sleek 0.26 coefficient of drag. To put that number in perspective, a C6 Corvette sports a 0.28 Cd.

1/4 Strip Tease: GT-R, Z06, And GT500

On: Thu, Apr 28, 2011 at 5:12PM | By: Chris Salamone

GT-R, Z06, and GT500  test 2

A lot of people are excited about the new Lexus LFA supercar, and with good reason. Back in 2010 the Lexus LFA defeated the Nissan GT-R in an all-guns-blazing drag race. Despite that victory and loads of media attention since, critics suggest the LFA is overpriced compared to the almost equally athletic, yet $300,000 cheaper, GT-R. Those critics will have even more ammunition to fire against the LFA for 2012 when they see this video which demonstrates how less expensive supercars are equally glorious.

In the April, 2011 issue of Motor Trend three epic supercars were set against each other in a five-figure full speed brawl. What sets these cars apart from other supercars? Simple, they don’t require a major league baseball deal or draining a lifetime savings account to purchase.

Forbes lists "The Worst Cars on the Road." Sort of.

On: Mon, Apr 25, 2011 at 11:49AM | By: Andrew W Davis

Photo illustration by author test 2

Want to know what the Smart ForTwo coupes and Mercedes’ flagship S550 have in common? [Yes, they’re from the same company. And both have engines and wheels. But this is NOT what I meant.] Forbes.com—in cahoots with Consumer Reports—has named both to its “The Worst Cars on the Road” list.

Nope. Not kidding.

Those are two of the three foreign vehicles on the list—the U.S.-built Nissan Titan truck is the other—of twelve listed, broken down (ha!) into five SUVs, three trucks, three cars, and one minivan.

Chrysler took the biggest hit, with five vehicles named: Chrysler’s Town & Country minivan; Dodge’s Dakota pickup, and Nitro SLT SUV; and Jeep’s Liberty/Liberty Sport and Wrangler Unlimited off-roaders.

The GM contingent is led by Cadillac’s Escalade SUV, though in its “Base” trim level. Chevrolet swept the rest, with its Aveo/Aveo5 economy car, Colorado pickup, and Tahoe Hybrid SUV.

But things aren't as they seem...

VW Golf R: The Hotter Hatch

On: Wed, Apr 20, 2011 at 11:48AM | By: Lou Ruggieri

Volkswagen Golf R test 2

Fans of the Volkswagen GTI have seen their prized steed come a long way in its time. It wasn’t long ago that those three letters brought about an image of a 20-year old with a shaved head and bad attitude behind the wheel of a stripped down hatch with fuel-rich burst of exhaust buzzing down the highway, held in place by a racing harness beneath a roll cage and a 10,000-watt stereo system.

Those were interesting days, to say the least. But it seems that Volkswagen, its drivers, and its GTI have all matured together, realizing that speed can be synergistically combined with modern creature comforts, technology, and style to create a car that is more than the sum of its trade-show parts.