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The Latest News And Reviews
Throughout The Car Industry



Categories: Car Reviews

Brand New Jeep, Same Old Jeep.

On: Wed, Mar 9, 2011 at 2:57PM | By: Lou Ruggieri


Jeep Wrangler test 2

If there is another car or truck out there that is as instantly recognizable as the Jeep Wrangler, we don’t know it. Since it was relieved from active duty for the Army and began its life as a fun-loving, do anything, and go anywhere truck, the Wrangler has had very, very few changes in the course of its 70-year nameplate run. In recent years, the Jeep went through perhaps its most dramatic changes to date, adding a sixth gear to the manual transmission and then adding an optional extra two doors to let the whole family join in the forest-romping, mud-stomping fun.

For 2011, Jeep has kept true to that mantra. The big changes aren’t so big, although Jeep owners are probably going to be pleased. With the Sahara model, you can now order your roof in the same color as the rest of the body of your Jeep instead of the ever-old, ever-new, black-colored top that has been around about as long as television. Don’t worry; it is still removable, as are the doors. How Jeep can manage that feat with such increasing safety regulations is quite the engineering accomplishment.


Ram Outdoorsman, Hit or Miss?

On: Mon, Mar 7, 2011 at 12:24PM | By: Chris Salamone


Ram Outdoorsman test 2

Regardless of how you feel about the new 2011 Ram Outdoorsman, the model’s exclusive two-tone paint job is just plain handsome. Yet, the truck offers few improvements over traditional RAM trucks other than added aesthetic details. Although the changes create a ruggedly unique-looking Ram, the question remains: are these improvements worth a few thousand dollars over the traditional ST and SLT models? Surprisingly, the Outdoorsman is actually not even close to the most expensive Ram model type; it rests two steps up from the lowest echelon—the Ram ST. So if you’re worried about having the nicest truck on the block, fear not, the Outdoorsman is strictly middle-class with a little panache allowing drivers to “celebrate the bond between man, truck, and nature.”


No Pain, No Gain?

On: Mon, Mar 7, 2011 at 10:37AM | By: Lou Ruggieri


Cayman R Porsche test 2

Here’s a fun sounding deal for all of you Porscheophiles:  How would you like the chance to buy  a brand new Porsche for just over $66,000? Not too bad right? Well, here’s the thing:  It won’t have a radio or air conditioning; oh, and it will be noticeably noisier than what you might expect out of a high-end sports car. Still interested? Well, if not, then you are not the target market for the new Cayman R Porsche is rolling out this month.  

Although no official word has indicated what the R stands for, we have made a short guess list: R could be for race, or race-ready, or ridiculously fun, or really, it’s pretty hardcore, or road-course hero, which the Cayman R is certainly destined to be. Essentially the R is a Cayman that has gone on the perfect diet/exercise program that allowed it to walk that very fine line of being able to build muscle in all the right places and lose body fat at the same time to further emphasize its already extremely athletic nature. There are not a lot of differences between the two, but the few that there are make the R a much more feral animal compared to its domesticated sibling. 


Focused On The Future

On: Fri, Feb 25, 2011 at 3:18PM | By: Lou Ruggieri


Focused On The Future test 1-1

Maybe it's the economy. Maybe it's the rising cost of gas. Maybe it's people wanting to just be a little greener than they were ten years ago, or maybe it's all of the above and then some. Whatever the reasons are, the 'economy' class of cars is starting to take over their namesake.
 
Ford has redone the Focus for 2012 to set itself up to be the leader in not only entry level compacts, but it may just give some higher-end compact models something to think about. Starting with a new body that is 55 percent high-strength steel and boron, which is a record high for any vehicle Ford currently has on the market, the 2012 Focus will finally be the same magnificent car that has been available in Europe for the last few years. The Focus will get a single engine:  A direct-injection 2.0-liter GDI four-cylinder engine that makes 160 horsepower and 146 lb-ft of torque (up 20 hp and 10 lb-ft over the outgoing 2011 Duratec). This little Ford packs a lot into a small package. 


 

Mercedes SLK; One (S)(L)ic(K) Ride

On: Mon, Feb 21, 2011 at 10:56AM | By: Lou Ruggieri


Mercedes SLK; One (S)(L)ic(K) Ride test 1-1

Even though it’s been around for nearly 15 years, the Mercedes Benz SLK is still a good looking car after all these years. Whether it is the early Kompressor version or the excitable AMG SLK55 of only a short while ago, the SLK has become a staple in the sports car market. For 2012, Mercedes has unveiled the third generation of its Boxster-fighter and it is a beauty.  

Taking cues from the drop-dead gorgeous SLS AMG halo car, the SLK continues the traditional long hood, short deck proportions that are the foundation for any attractive sporting car. The nose of the new SLK is more upright than the outgoing pint-sized SLR McLaren model. Keen eyes will notice not just the SLS inspiration when the roof is up, but when the SLK goes top-down, an SL model resemblance will start to make itself known. 


2011 Best US Cities for Autonuts

On: Fri, Feb 11, 2011 at 2:22PM | By: Chris Salamone


Amelia Island test 2

For too long, bloggers and would-be "lifestyle" magazines have disseminated articles about the virtues of certain cities throughout the United States which have the best climate, outdoor activities, cost of living to average salary ratio, or worse…the highest population of singles over 65. Auto enthusiasts have waited too long for a list which actually gives them cities with useful amenities like ample gas stations, colorful car shows, or perhaps even a rich automotive historical heritage. This list is dedicated to seek out and explain the best, most exciting, cities for autonuts to visit or live. Viewer discretion is advised; not all content is suitable for every pocketbook.


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

On: Fri, Feb 11, 2011 at 12:23PM | By: Lou Ruggieri


Acura NSX test 2

When it comes to exciting cars of yesteryear, few cars are as underappreciated as the legendary Acura NSX. Whether it was being mistaken for a Ferrari or taking knocks for not having enough power as other cars in its price class, the NSX does not get nearly the credit it deserved. But with a little more insight, we might just be able to get the NSX the credit it absolutely deserves.  

In the mid-1980s, after years of research, Honda decided to throw its hat into the performance car ring. Using the Ferrari 348 as a benchmark to beat, Honda set out on its journey and quickly decided that instead of trying to find a designer better than those talented Italians, they would just go out and pay the very best Italian on the market to create the shape of their halo car. And so, in 1984, Honda employed the services of none other than the legendary Pininfarina to pen a prototype deemed the HP-X or Honda Pininfarina Xperimental which evolved six years later onto show room floors as the NSX, or New Sportscar Xperimental. Honda took note of some exotic cars' penchant for breaking down and being temperamental when it came to driving their very wealthy owners around for any length of time or any lengthy distance. The goal of the NSX was to be every bit an exotic that its Italian competitors were, but to excel where they were weak, and at a price point much lower than even the cheapest prancing horse or raging bull. And from its first appearance in 1991 to its final bow in 2005, the NSX achieved all of its goals in spades.


A Dance With The Devil

On: Thu, Feb 3, 2011 at 3:17PM | By: Lou Ruggieri


A Dance With The Devil test 1-1

If you are one of the lucky few on the planet to be in the market for a new Lamborghini, there is something you need to know before you walk into the dealership of the raging bull. Buying a Lamborghini is not just about buying a pretty car or a status symbol, it’s not just about having a lot of money to invest into a car that is fast, no, no, my friend, there is a lot more at stake than just a monthly car payment that exceeds a good deal of mortgage payments. No, when you plunk down the equivalent of a blue-collar life savings as a down payment for one of these beasts, you are making a deal with the devil.


King Caddy

On: Wed, Jan 26, 2011 at 3:28PM | By: Lou Ruggieri


King Caddy test 1-1

You've seen the commercials by now.  "Fastest sedan on the planet" and "0-60 in 3.9 seconds" while some anonymous figure shifts through gears in a cockpit that looks like it belongs in the movie Tron.  If, like most commercials, you don't remember what the actual product was through the haze of bright lights and quick images, it was General Motors' M5-fighter, the Cadillac CTS-V.  The car itself has been around since 2004 in a few different formats.  The 'V' designation was GM's answer to the luxury car market's idea to use a letter or series of letters to tell the world this is the 'fast' version of the car.  Whether it's V, M, S, F, AMG, Type-S, SS, IPL, Z, the list keeps climbing as more and more car companies are jumping on the alphabet soup  bandwagon, which at this point could be coined the Bandwagon QRS, just so you know that's the faster bandwagon model.  But I digress ... 

 

The V in CTS-V should stand for Very Fast.  The latest rendition of the CTS-V does live up to the hype those commercials promise.  Currently, the CTS-V is the fastest production sedan in the world thanks to the 6.2 liter supercharged LSA V8 under the hood (borrowed from its stablemate the Corvette ZR1)  The "detuned" mill pumps out 556 horsepower 551 lb-ft in stock form.  Now for most of us, that should be enough.  To have the fastest sedan in the world is well ... Enough really.  But then, to guys like John Hennessey, fast has a different connotation altogether.  Apparently 550 horsepower is the beginning for Hennessey.


The Greatest All-Around Sports Car On The Planet.

On: Fri, Jan 21, 2011 at 10:09AM | By: Lou Ruggieri


The Greatest All-Around Sports Car On The Planet.   test 1-1

Let’s be clear about something:  I don’t want to like the new Porsche 911 Turbo S. Sure it’s the first “S” model we’ve seen in five years, and on some level, as a car enthusiast, I should be happy about that. But the truth is, down deep, I’m not. See, I’m just not a Porsche guy at all. Growing up, I’ve always had a deep-seated love for Italian sports cars. To me, they were the always the most visceral, they were (and are) the embodiment of passion and extroverted dramatic flair. I always loved to watch even people who I knew for a fact had almost zero interest in automobiles as anything more than people-movers suddenly explode with excitement when a screaming yellow Lamborghini or blood red Ferrari would roll up next to them at a traffic light, or passed their field of view in a parking lot. Even they realized that those Italian masterpieces were something special. And just as I saw those stunning Ferraris and Lamborghinis as the heroes, I couldn’t help but paint their challengers, like Porsche, as the villains always trying to dethrone the mighty Italians and claim the crown as king of all supercars. If that happened, somehow I thought the world would be plunged into the lifeless, emotionless, gunmetal grey I always seemed to see Porsches depicted in. 

But as I grew up, slowly my somewhat unfounded biases and characterizations towards the upper echelon of high performance automobiles began to erode, and a new found respect emerged for the sheer skill and genius I realized it took to create a piece of metal, add a few hundred horsepower, four wheels, make it look great, and rocket to 60 mph in only a few seconds. Much like sports analysts will tell you; once they become professionals, they begin rooting less for teams and more for a good game or a good story they can analyze more easily. I found myself slowly becoming less interested in rooting for sheer dominance of any one car, even my beloved Prancing Horse or Raging Bull, and more for a good match-up in a comparison test.  It has since become much easier to spot and asses a quality car, even if it is made by my childhood arch rival.  


The Next 300

On: Thu, Jan 13, 2011 at 10:54AM | By: Lou Ruggieri


The Next 300 test 1-1

If you didn't notice something a little special about the first Chrysler 300 back in 2004, it's possible you came upon this article by accident, and you really aren't much a car buff at all. It may have been hard to describe, but for most of us, there was something about the 300 that just said, "Yea, I dig it!" Maybe it was the fact that it was one of the first true rear-wheel drive American sedans we've seen outside of a Cadillac. In fact, it was the first RWD sedan from Chrysler in 15 years. Or maybe it was that it harked back to fond memories of big sedans of the 50s and 60s that displayed a visible heft and didn't try to be anything but a solid luxury car for the masses. 

If you didn't notice any of the 300's styling, then you probably weren't one of the several hundred thousand to purchase one since its inception. To put it in perspective, 300 sales eclipsed the 300,000 mark in its first 25 months. But, have no fear because instead of running out to your nearest Chrysler dealer and picking one of the last remaining 2010 models out there, you will have a chance to be on the forefront of a new generation of Chrysler's popular flagship. The new-for-2011 Chrysler 300 promises to be better than its predecessor in almost every way ... Almost.