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Navigon Offers Driving Maps A La Carte

On: Wed, Nov 30, 2011 at 1:36PM | By: Chris Weiss

Navigon Offers Driving Maps A La Carte test 2

Just in time for the busy holiday travel season, Navigon has updated its iPhone/iPad navigation app with a feature that should prove quite popular: a la carte US maps. The update eliminates the need to download a bunch of maps that you don't need and lets you focus only on those that you'll actually put to use.

Navigon's iOS-based app used to entail downloading a full set of US maps that took 1.7 GB of memory captive. Unless you happened to be a trucker or a frequent road-tripper that meant eating up memory with a pile of maps that you'd never use. How often do you travel through all 50 states?

Subaru Reveals BRZ Sports Coupe

On: Wed, Nov 30, 2011 at 11:32AM | By: Chris Weiss

Subaru Reveals BRZ Sports Coupe test 2

That didn't take long. A day after Toyota revealed its production GT 86 and a day before the official start of the Tokyo Motor Show, Subaru revealed its own production model. The painfully overexposed GT 86 and apparition-like BRZ are now both official!

The BRZ has a sporty, aggressive shape quite similar to its Toyota brother. Differences include a hood that's not nearly as inward-sweeping as the GT-86's, a grille with defined horizontal slats, and bulging rear fenders. I'm not a huge fan of the rear-end--the angle between the diffuser and body seems off to me (at least in the one picture I've seen), but overall, I prefer Subaru's take over Toyota's. The front-end looks more natural, and those big haunches just yell power and speed.

Element Era Ends: Ode To The Box

On: Wed, Nov 30, 2011 at 10:13AM | By: Chris Salamone

Element Era Ends: Ode To The Box test 2

For years we heard rumors that the much-adored Honda Element would be axed due to slumping sales numbers. But, year after year, the Element reappeared in Honda’s lineup with some fresh new makeup meant to reignite a formerly strong market contender. Fans remained content – few could question the Element’s versatility, CUV efficiency, or boxy good looks. Nevertheless, as of last December, Honda announced plans to officially end the Element’s production after the 2011 model year.

The Element will be forever missed, but is survived by the all-new CR-V and Crosstour – for better or worse. Honda’s Element execution marks a significant loss in the percentage of completely box-shaped vehicles remaining in the market, and an even larger loss when the Element’s class-leading cabin space, 4WD, and fun-factor are taken into account. In light of these facts, we thought an ending to the Element era deserved a special tribute, an ode to the box.

Smart 341 Parkour Concept Wins LA Design Challenge

On: Tue, Nov 29, 2011 at 2:56PM | By: Chris Weiss

Smart 341 Parkour Concept Wins LA Design Challenge test 2

Take a small, quirky car, add a name that brings visions of high-flying, stunt-man-style action, add some cool conceptual elements, and make the car truly "all terrain"--that sounds like the winning recipe for the "Hollywood car of the future." And, indeed, it is. Mercedes-Benz took home the LA Design Challenge award for the Smart 341 Parkour.

This year's Design Challenge tasked design teams with developing a car that embodied a futuristic Hollywood design. More than just asking for a car that would look good in movies, the challenge required teams to develop a short plot line based around the vehicle.

According to a statement from the jury, Smart took home the award for getting the formula just right, "With the 341 Parkour smart hit the nail on the head: the design combines innovation and functionality with an exciting film plot."


Toyota Bringing Trio of Eco-Friendly Concepts to Tokyo

On: Tue, Nov 29, 2011 at 1:45PM | By: Chris Weiss

Toyota Bringing Trio of Eco-Friendly Concepts to Tokyo test 2

While Honda plans to use the Tokyo Motor Show to show us the sporty side of green vehicles, Toyota will let its GT-86 handle the sporty end while a trio of concept cars showcases the practicality of green design. Toyota will debut fuel cell, electric and commercial vehicle concepts at the show.

Perhaps the most interesting of the three concepts is the FCV-R or "Fuel Cell Vehicle--Reality and Revolution." While the full name sounds about as overdramatic and conceptual as we've seen, Toyota is hoping to bring an actual fuel cell vehicle to market within the next four years, and the FCV-R is its latest step. The small sedan features a high-pressure hydrogen tank that delivers up to 430 miles of fuel-cell-powered driving.

Press Release: GM Builds 100-Millionth Small-Block Engine

On: Tue, Nov 29, 2011 at 12:09PM | By: Peter C Sessler

GM Builds 100-Millionth Small-Block Engine test 2

General Motors will build its 100-millionth small-block engine today – 56 years after the first production small block. Chevrolet introduced the small-block in 1955 and the production milestone comes in the same month the brand marked its 100th anniversary.

The milestone engine is a 638-horsepower supercharged LS9 small block – the power behind the 205-mph Corvette ZR1 – which is hand-built at GM’s Performance Build Center, northwest of Detroit. It represents the fourth generation of the small block and is the most powerful engine ever built by GM for a regular-production car. GM will preserve the engine as part of its historical collection.

An Open Letter To Lexus

On: Tue, Nov 29, 2011 at 11:07AM | By: Lou Ruggieri

An Open Letter To Lexus test 2

In regards to its “December to Remember” sales event marketing campaign, Lexus needs to just stop. Seriously. These commercials are extremely destructive to the fabric of the true holiday season, and beyond that, extremely destructive to relationships everywhere. Don't believe me? Think it over. First and foremost, when wives and girlfriends, husbands and boyfriends see men and women surprising each other with a new ES or GS sedan, there is literally nothing any of us who have gotten "normal" gifts can do to compare. Aside from giving our significant others a new house or maybe a puppy, anything else will just look paltry compared to the jackass on TV who heard the December to Remember theme on his new phone (which by the way is a pretty good gift in and of itself), and then went outside to see a red bow on top of his brand new Lexus. So the first problem is just the enormity of the gift embarrasses the rest of us.

Press Release: 2012 Jeep Compass

On: Tue, Nov 29, 2011 at 10:02AM | By: Peter C Sessler

2012 Jeep Compass test 2

Offering fuel economy of up to 29 mpg highway and unsurpassed 4x4 off-road capability in the compact-SUV segment, the 2012 Jeep Compass features a sophisticated design, with cues coming directly from the brand’s premium icon, the legendary Jeep Grand Cherokee.

New for 2012, the Jeep Compass sports three new exterior colors: True Blue Pearl Coat, Copperhead Pearl Coat and Rescue Green Pearl Coat. Calibration improvements to the available continuously- variable transmission II (CVT2) provide drivers with better launch acceleration, smoother deceleration when coasting from 25 mph, improved pedal responsiveness and reduced engine revolutions per minute (rpm) when accelerating at mid-throttle.

The 2012 Jeep Compass also boasts more than 30 safety and security features, including standard electronic stability program (ESC), electronic roll mitigation, hill-start assist (with manual transmission), side-curtain air bags for all rows and available front-seat-mounted side air bags.

Hertz For Heroes Program Offers $3M In Free Weekend Rentals To Returning U.S. Service People

On: Mon, Nov 28, 2011 at 4:54PM | By: Andrew W Davis

Illustration by author test 2

In a campaign they say is designed to “honor…U.S. troops returning home” and “thank them for their bravery, sacrifice, and dedication,” the folks at Hertz Corp. will be giving said service people 40,000 vouchers that entitle each of them to a free weekend (Friday to Monday) rental of a “midsize”—more on that later—car anywhere in North America.

If you do your part.

[It’s easy. Honest.]

Ferrari Owners To Get Dibs On Special Editions

On: Mon, Nov 28, 2011 at 3:10PM | By: Chris Weiss

Ferrari Owners To Get Dibs On Special Editions test 2

When you build cars as desired and exotic as the 599 GTO, sometimes even the most loyal among your customer base can't get their hands on one. Ferrari is currently considering a move that would ensure that its best customers get the first look at its latest models.

Ferrari is planning to start an owners club for its biggest customers. Members of the club will automatically get first right of refusal when it comes to special edition models, ensuring that Ferrari's most prized collectors are first in line for the latest models.

"I do not want our faithful collectors to miss the opportunity to buy one of our special series," Ferrari CEO Luca Cordero di Montezemolo explained when talking to Automotive News Europe.

Just How Far Gone Is TOO Far For A Car?

On: Mon, Nov 28, 2011 at 2:01PM | By: Andrew W Davis

Lake-find 1925 Bugatti Brescia Type 22 Roadster test 2

You may not have noticed, but in today’s car-selling market there’s nothing hotter than the “barn find.” For whatever reason, people—mostly Europeans—are paying the same price for any car-shaped hunk of corroded scrap that drifts in front of their noses as they used to for a similar vehicle in concours-quality condition.

Now I’m not talking about those weathered-but-all-there “unrestored originals,” as I can completely agree that an all-original as-built car in decent-but-not-perfect condition should always be worth more than the same car “restored” as “they are only original once” and—and this is the crux of the argument—anyone can buy a restored car, so the “survivor” cars are by definition more rare—and they’re getting rarer by the day.

But does that mean that each of the three “cars”—if they could even be called that—I’m about to cover should be worth the fortune paid for them because they are, due to their decrepit condition, “unique”?