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The Latest News And Reviews
Throughout The Car Industry

Categories: Car Reviews

Platform Sharing 101: Scion

On: Tue, Jun 29, 2010 at 11:23AM | By: Sherry Christiansen

Platform Sharing 101: Scion test 1-1

The Toyota Motor Corporation established the Scion as a separate marketing entity to attract generation Y car buyers-those coming of age in the car buying market in the mid-2000’s. Toyota debuted the Scion in 2002 at the New York Auto Show with a formal launch in mid-2003 for the 2004 model year. The Scion xB is a quirky little car designed like a "matchbox" but priced for a market of young buyers.

Scion is a US division of Toyota founded in 2003. It currently has three models: the xA, xB and the tc (a design based on the European Toyota Avensis), the xD 2008-current  and iQ early 2011.  The Scion xA is one of Toyota's top-selling vehicles in Europe.

Just as General Motors owns Chevrolet, Toyota decided to separate itself from Scion in order to create a completely different identity for a new market of younger buyers.

Pleading The Fifth

On: Fri, Jun 25, 2010 at 1:37PM | By: Lou Ruggieri

Pleading The Fifth test 1-1


In the court of public opinion it seems that the previous generation M5 (designated E60 inside BMW) was indicted on charges of impersonating a super sedan for the American public. It seemed the jury found the chassis too stiff, the sequential auto shift too difficult to use for everyday driving, the engine too… well… too racy. The Formula One-inspired, naturally aspirated V-10 produced 500hp from its five liters (100hp per liter is such a high benchmark that it is reserved mostly for those that use turbochargers or superchargers). Despite its 8000rpm shriek, it managed a peak of ‘only’ 383lb-ft of torque at a very lofty 6100 rpm. The race-inspired V-10 also had the thirst of a track car averaging only around 11/city and 17mpg on the highway.  

Add to that condemnation a haughty as- tested price of entry at around 90k and a competitor from Cadillac in the form of the mighty LS6 and the even more potent LS9-powered CTS-V, that had more torque, more horsepower, and an entry price almost 30 grand less and you have a case mounting against the German hot rod. GM all but threw the book at the E60 with a very impressive run around the Nurburgring Nordschleife (a 12.9 mile track that sports 33 left hand turns and 40 right hand turns) in the CTS-V, making the Cadillac currently the fastest sedan in the world. At the end of that trial you have a car in the M5 that is guilty of asking too much for just not enough.  

The Bavarians are not known for sitting on their laurels, however, and they quickly bailed out their V10 super car. They have been working with the M5, and began its rehab program in the hopes it will be vindicated of the defamation it suffered at the hands of critics and Cadillacs alike. Though still a year or so away it doesn’t look like a full pardon is going to be a problem.  

The Launch of the 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee

On: Wed, Jun 23, 2010 at 9:57AM | By: Sherry Christiansen

The Launch of the 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee test 1-1

Everyone knows that Chrysler Corporation has had no picnic recently; in the past three years, the company has seen three different owners. The Chrysler line-up has become outdated and there has been very little activity, as far as announcements of new products, until now.

The 2011 Grand Cherokee is about to change all of that with new models that will soon be filling the show rooms. Initial development of the Grand Cherokee started as far back as 2006, when Chrysler was still tied up with Daimler-Benz (the parent company of Mercedes-Benz). So, although the new owner of Chrysler is now the Italian Fiat Company, the newest Jeep shares many features with the Mercedes-Benz ML.

The styling is purely Jeep. "It's our other icon," says Mark Allen, head of Jeep design, referring to the difference between the Grand Cherokee and the Wrangler. The 2011 model keeps the familiar Grand Cherokee appearance on the exterior, but it has been described as having “a more athletic sculpting and softer edges, the new Grand Cherokee is better dressed to mingle with the soft-roader crossovers in the suburbs.”

2011 GM Heavy Duty Pickups

On: Wed, Jun 16, 2010 at 12:57PM | By: Sherry Christiansen

2011 GM Heavy Duty Pickups test 1-1

The latest generation of GMC Heavy Duty (HD) trucks is quite impressive! The Chevrolet and GMC 2500HDs are for those who are looking for a heavy capacity truck, without the need to move extremely large loads or contend with the ride dynamics secondary to a stiff suspension.

Critics remark that they are very impressed with the wide range of GM HD pickups for 2011; the trucks have hauling, towing and power ratings that surpass all other trucks in their class, getting closer than any other GM trucks in standing toe-to-toe with the F-Series Super Duty lineup.


The New Sixth-Generation Volkswagen Jetta

On: Wed, Jun 16, 2010 at 9:40AM | By: Sherry Christiansen

The New Sixth-Generation Volkswagen Jetta test 1-1

Volkswagen is preparing the launch of the new sixth-generation, 2011 Jetta, which is promised to be a more conservative redesign. Rumors have it that Volkswagen may also be considering a Jetta R model, which could appear as a sedan or a new coupe body style (seemingly the NCC incarnate transformed to the sixth-generation Jetta), which would be longer, leaner, and less expensive than its  predecessor and, for the first time, does NOT resemble the Golf.

BMW Announces Launch Of New SuperBike

On: Mon, Jun 14, 2010 at 10:08AM | By: Sherry Christiansen

BMW Announces Launch Of  New SuperBike test 1-1

Everyone knows that BMW has been well established in the marketplace on high performance imported cars for decades. The three letter acronym sparks interest and inspires car enthusiasts around the world. When it comes to BMW’s reputation in building high performance bikes there is not quite as much fervor from fans. All of that is seemingly about to change as BMW prepares to launch what the New York Times calls “the most significant motorcycle in 2010, an overachiever on the order of the M3 or M5.”

New York Times quotes Hendrik Von Kuenheim, BMW’s general director of motorcycles as saying “We must speak the language of the segment and follow the usual market standards. We will compete both on technology and price, and build a bike that will set new benchmarks and win an appropriate market share.”

Toyota Sales Gaining in Japan

On: Mon, Jun 7, 2010 at 9:42AM | By: Michael Jon Lazar

Toyota Back on Track test 2

Despite being the subject of much scrutiny as of late, the largest automaker in the world, Toyota, is on the rebound. Things are actually looking up for this carmaker. In fact, a recent report published on Bloomberg shows that sales in Japan are way up for Toyota, and that they have substantially increased their annual production of cars and exports. Not only that, but their future is looking bright and shiny, too. This is because Toyota has risen to the challenge of what is, perhaps, the most horrendous PR nightmare any company could ever endure (with regards to the millions of recalled parts, as well as the faulty acceleration issues, and being lambasted by the US Congress). Even after many people wrote them off, and even after sales plummeted with the fall of their image, Toyota is back in the driver's seat! And there is a good reason why they are the largest maker of cars—because their annual production and sales easily demonstrate this fact.

According to a recent report published on Bloomberg, “Toyota Motor Corp., the world’s largest carmaker, led a sixth straight monthly increase in vehicle production in Japan as a global recovery spurred exports. Output at the country’s 12 vehicle makers in April rose 51 percent from a year earlier to 731,794 units, the Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association said in a statement today. Exports surged 90 percent.”

But the buck does not stop there. No way, Jose! The carmaker has also drastically increased the production of its car lines immensely. After the PR escapade that nearly busted the company over this past year, they had drawn back on production of new cars, and the output.  That was because they needed to focus on revamping their image, and really assuring people that buying a Toyota was a wise decision. Despite the calamity that the car company endured, they did indeed make it through the trials and tribulations, and have come out on top in the end!

The BMW 5-Series Gran Turismo

On: Mon, May 31, 2010 at 10:24AM | By: Sherry Christiansen

The BMW 5-Series Gran Turismo test 1-1

BMW is well known for producing luxury sports sedans and the BMW 5 Series Gran Turismo is no exception. The Gran Turismo combines the precision handling of the 5-Series sport sedan with a hatchback body style that adds plenty of cargo space for passengers and their gear. At first glance, this car resembles a cross between the X6 and a BMW 7 Series sedan. The Gran Turismo shares much of its engineering with the 7-series that BMW launched last year as well as the 2010 5-series.

According to BMW, the car combines “the best attributes of an elegant sedan, a contemporary Sports Activity Vehicle and a classic Gran Turismo" (a Gran Turismo is a vehicle with the performance of a sports-car with luxury features and added cargo space). The 550i's twin-turbo direct-injected 4.4-liter V-8 puts out 400 hp and 450 lb.-ft. of torque. Combined with an 8-speed automatic transmission, the car can go from 0-60 mph in as little as 5.4 seconds.

. . . And Just In Case You Can't Wait For Saturday

On: Fri, May 28, 2010 at 12:36PM | By: John Welch

. . . And Just In Case You Can't Wait For Saturday test 1-1

CBS will broadcast last week's American Le Mans Series Race tomorrow at 1:30 p.m. EST. The program will feature a documentary format, similar to 2008's "Truth In 24".

If you just can't wait until tomorrow afternoon, or you (like I,) want to witness every nanosecond of the 6-hour Grand Prix of Monterey, the entire race can be viewed courtesy of the ALMS and TodoCast.

TodoCast is a new system for professional videographers, event producers, content owners and organizations looking to reach their fans with Live Internet Broadcasts. Fortunately for us, the American Le Mans Series is one of those event-producing organizations! The race is split into three parts: hours one through three, hours four and five, and the final hour. Simply fill out the requisit "login" information, complete your free registration, and you're ready to consume six hours of motorized madness.

I have taken advantage of this service already, spacing the race out over several evenings. Even a casual fan might get lost in the intense action, action that doesn't lose pace over the course of six hours. The first two hours feature a hellacious duel among the LMP competitors, and the final four is a non-stop, fender crushing, teeth gnashing, GT brawl. The top four cars are often four different makes, and the lead changes hands so often you might think it was every lap.

The CBS broadcast has it's place. The drama and excitement of a Le Mans-style enduro might not be immediately obvious to an uninitiated observer, and the high-style documentary (ala NFL Films) is an excellent way to introduce the series. For the previously aware, however, the ability to view all of the pulse-pounding action from the Grand Prix of Monterey is a blessing from God, or Buddha, or Xenu Warrior Princess or whoever you donate your ten percent too.

Coda's 2011 Electric Sedan Is Looking Pretty Good

On: Wed, May 26, 2010 at 9:40AM | By: Michael Jon Lazar

Coda 2011 Electric Sedan test 2

This startup, fledgling automaker based in Los Angeles, California is getting some pretty decent attention in the news as of late. I have been seeing articles and reports from all over about this new electric car line that promises one of the most advanced electric batteries to ever be used in any electric car. This is because the car uses a Chinese-made Lithium-ion (LiFePO4) battery that is configured with 728 cells (104s7p), and that, according to the specs on their website (http://www.codaautomotive.com/tech_specs.html), gets around, “6 hours from 220V (30AMP)” driving time. The battery can easily be charged overnight, in about 5-7 hours.

The car is an impressive and roomy four-door sedan that is both sugary-looking and aesthetically pleasing to the eyes. And it’s pretty safe too. According to the safety specs on the car, which can be easily found at their website in the ‘Tech Specs’ section, the car is equipped with, “Intelligent 6 air bag system (two advanced frontal, two seat-mounted side, and 2 side curtain airbags), Occupant Detection.”  But they also offer the always desirable Anti-Lock Brake System (ABS), and Electronic Stability Control, as well as three point seatbelts. The overall federal safety rating, according to their website, will be an, “Anticipated 5-Star NCAP (New Car Assessment Program).”

Zipcar Is Zipping It's Way All Over Europe

On: Mon, May 17, 2010 at 3:08PM | By: Michael Jon Lazar

Zipcar test 2

Perhaps one of the most innovative notions that has ever reached the auto rental loving and using masses—perhaps most people are not fond of renting cars because they are paying and they are not driving their own cars—Zipcar is growing exponentially, according to some breaking news reports that show some shocking numbers, as far as expansion and a surprise company merger between the Euro equivalent—or what was up until recently—Streetcar. But this is really no surprise, because there are many desirable features this car rental service has to offer to people, universities, as well as businesses too.

Rates and Plans

The summary of what the company’s service model embodies is rather simple at heart, according to their website, and very innovative when you think about it. Once you sign up and are approved for using a Zipcar—which you can do at their website online at www.zipcar.com—you can then use the website to locate cars that are parked and are for rent in areas near to you. Many places have special Zipcar parking for drivers to park the cars when they are done using them, and for other drivers to pick up and use later on, as opposed to returning them to a specified car rental lot. Anybody who has a Zip card can unlock and drive the car. The company automatically bills the costs of the miles you drove (which for most of their plans include up to 180 miles per day; but you can up that online by adding more miles to your plan). The cars also have a free fuel card in them that you can use to fill up at any gas station, as well. And as far as insurance goes, you are covered with their insurance by being a member, so no worries there.

When looking at their website for what Zipcar poignantly called “Seattle personal driving plans”, there two options offered: “occasional driving plan,” and, “extra value plan”. The real difference between them is pennies saved for drivers who use the plans more often. The usage of either plan requires a $25 US application fee, as well as a $50 US annual fee, which does not vary for either plans. However, some drivers who use Zipcar or Streetcar often can save a few bucks by opting to go with their Extra Value Plans; similar rates are in effect in Europe, just priced out in Euros.