Sunday, August 31, 2014


General Motors' luxury 2015 sedan Cadillac, continues to charge ahead with a steady roll out of updated and new models. As for the 2015 Cadillac ATS sedan, it returns with slight revisions to the front end,  with Wi-Fi connectivity, the latest OnStar telematics featuring a 4G connection and updated CUE infotainment system text-messaging capability, and option updates including the addition of lane-keep assist to the Driver Awareness package. In addition to the turbocharged 4-cylinder and V-6, the ATS sedan is offered with a 202-horsepower 2.5-liter engine.

In addition, Leone revealed Cadillac is also planning to introduce a redesigned SRX SUV and confirmed the launch of the ATS-V in 2015. "This is going to be a fantastic year for Cadillac," he said.

There’s no word as to when the flagship Caddy will be unveiled, but recent reports have hinted toward a New York Auto Show debut in April 2015. Both the luxury sedan and the revamped SRX will be among the first models to be launched with Johan de Nysschen, previously in charge of the Infiniti brand, as president.

Mostly known for large and luxurious vehicles, such as the Eldorado and the De Ville, Cadillac has lagged in that department since the latter was discontinued in 2005. Sure, the XTS has proudly carried the company’s full-size flag since 2013, but Cadillac needs something bigger and better to compete against the big-boys from Germany. The new flagship might be able to do just that, provided it comes with an unprecedented amount of convenience and safety features, and a powerful V-8 engine.Reportedly dubbed LTS, the new Cadillac flagship sedan is expected to borrow certain styling cues from the Elmiraj Coupe Concept we saw at the 2013 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. 

The stunning coupe carries an awe-inspiring design inside and out. The body is highlighted by a huge front grille flanked by extremely thin, vertical headlamps, while the rear boasts a similar design with skinny taillights running from the C-pillar down toward the bumper. Aggressive and stylish at the same time, the Elmiraj is definitely a study Cadillac needs to consider while designing the LTS. Fortunately, Cadillac has plenty of time to iron out all of the details before the LTS’ debut, as the NYIAS doesn’t kick off until April 2015.

Friday, August 29, 2014


The 2014 Nissan GT-R has advanced technology to overcome its substantial curb weight and offers agile responses along with truly breathtaking acceleration.

The GT-R’s all-wheel-drive system is one of the car’s most obvious technical assets. This system can send 100 percent of available power to the rear wheels, and up to 50 percent to the fronts. Added to this are Bilstein DampTronic electronically-controlled dampers – which monitor everything from engine rpm, to lateral acceleration, vehicle speed and braking force – along with Nissan’s Advanced Vehicle Dynamic Control, which sends power to each specific wheel, depending on where the car needs the most grip.

Nearly lost in the technological mix of asphalt-gripping hardware is the heart of the GT-R, the 545-horsepower twin-turbocharged V-6 engine that is nestled deep, and as far back as possible, in the front of the car. Nissan refers to this as "Premium Midship" design and, to be frank, the name sounds pretty ridiculous, that is until you open the hood. They’re not kidding or messing around; this engine is way, way back in the chassis!

An engine that isn't covered up by tons of plastic! The 545-horsepower twin-turbo V-6 looks fantastic in the GT-R.An engine that isn't covered up by tons of plastic! The 545-horsepower twin-turbo V-6 looks fantastic in the GT-R.PreviousNextAn engine that isn't covered up by tons of plastic! The 545-horsepower twin-turbo V-6 looks fantastic in the GT-R. Each Nissan GT-R is hand-built and comes with a plaque on it. 

Coupled to the engine is a dual-clutch 6-speed transmission fitted with paddle-shifters on the steering wheel. Those paddles not only will fire you into the next gear in only 0.15 seconds, they also happen to be lovingly designed, thanks to their large size and the layer of leather that covers them. In city driving, and stop-and-go traffic, the gearbox manages to maintain its cool, for the most part. There are occasional ‘clunks’ and ‘thunks’ from the transmission, but it doesn’t lurch or stumble like some other semi-automatics.

In fact, during normal driving, the Nissan GT-R proved very capable when simply cruising down the highway – or making an impromptu short-cut through the Bronx to avoid weekend summer traffic jams. The ride is definitely firm, and it borders on twitchy if you switch every control into track-ready “R-mode.” Leave things in standard mode, however, and you’ll be surprised at the GT-R’s level of comfort and stability in routine driving conditions. The Nissan GT-R doesn’t give up livability compared to well-rounded rivals like the Porsche 911, Audi R8 and Corvette Stingray.

That comparison is tossed out the window when you realize the GT-R rockets its way from 0 to 60 mph in approximately 3.0 seconds flat. Very few cars anywhere in the world can match that level of forward thrust. Nissan lists the top speed at 193 mph – I’m willing to forgive that the car’s speedometer actually reads up to 220 mph. Perhaps Nissan is being nice and leaving the door open to the GT-R tuning community. 

Compared to some sport-themed steering wheels that feel like you’re holding onto a pregnant python, I found the GT-R’s wheel to be extremely comfortable and attractive. (A colleague loved the fact that it’s not flat-bottomed, which is fast becoming the de facto trend in many modern sports cars)Some parts-bin buttons are still on the center console, and the driver’s gauge cluster looks way too much like something you’d find on a Sentra SE-R, in my opinion (minus the 220 mph speedometer, of course). Like the shrinking eye of a hurricane, these ergonomic oversights have slowly been surrounded by a solid mix of fine leather and high quality plastics. I really like the overall blocky layout of the dashboard, and a few hum-drum details don’t make a difference.

To its credit, the GT-R has loads more cargo room then many supercars that suggest owners pay a visit to Louis Vuitton for a custom-set of luggage, or gold-plated toothbrush holders. There is no silly cubby-hole in the nose to contend with, just an honest-to-goodness trunk with 8.8 cu. ft. of capacity. You can add the rear seats into the cargo-toting figures, too.

Thursday, August 28, 2014


Indian automaker Mahindra, mostly known for its SUVs and pickup trucks, has rolled out a sleek electric sports car concept at the 2014 Delhi Auto Expo this week. The new concept is called the Halo, and it’s destined to be one of the hottest products from Mahindra’s electric car division, Mahindra Reva.

Helping with the design of the Halo concept were leading design firms Pininfarina and Bertone, and evidence of their talents can clearly be seen in the styling. The interior layout in particular is similar to what you find in many high-end Italian sports cars.

Italy’s sports car manufacturers needn’t worry just yet, however. The Halo concept’s electric motor develops just 104 kilowatts (140 horsepower), which is enough to accelerate the small two-seater from 0-62 mph in about 9.0 seconds and see it reach a top speed of 100 mph. As for the driving range, Mahindra says the largest battery pack designed for the car offers a range of about 125 miles,The officials have specified that the car can be fully recharged in one hour, while a recharge of 15 minutes will give a range of 25 km.
Mr. Pawan Goenka who is Executive Director and President (Automotive and Farm Equipment sectors) at Mahindra & Mahindra shared the company's plans saying that they are working on a bigger powertrain and a final design. In three years, the car will be production ready and become commercially available. It is a long way to go till we see the car zooming past us on roads. Taking a guess at the price, some major automobile blogs report that the Mahindra Halo will definitely not be priced cheap. The estimated price is at around Rs. 30-35 lakh ($4,800-5,600USD) at the time of sale sometime in 2015-16

Tuesday, August 26, 2014


The XJ is one of the new Jaguars that any Agent could drive. The XJ is the best looking of the full-size luxury sedans. At 17.2 feet in its long-wheelbase form, it was never exactly the shy type. But Jaguar decided that its flagship should get the “R Performance” treatment, giving it more kick mechanically and visually.Pricing of the XJR starts at $116,895 for the regular, and $119,895 for the long wheelbase model. The latter is almost five inches longer, with the extra room in the back seats. If you’re buying a big expensive car, I can’t imagine why you wouldn’t opt for it.

BMW and Mercedes-Benz have long had successful performance divisions. It makes sense that Jaguar (now owned by Tata Motors Ltd. (TTMT) and in the throes of a full-fledged renaissance) is vigorously pushing its own R Performance line. Added power and performance parts means pricier cars, and Jaguar has become very serious about its sporting side.

For example, the aging XK coupe, which starts around $80,000, is now on offer as the XKR-S GT for a staggering $174,000. The midsize XFR-S costs $100,000 and gets 550 horsepower. I’m looking forward to the eventual R treatment to the brand-new F-Type convertible, which is already a tire smoker.The XJ has seen an R treatment before, but the previous 2004 model-year XJR was a much fustier machine with an antiquated design. The latest body shape is more compelling.

There’s an allure to the glossy sheen of its large surfaces and the deep resonance of the overpowered engine. The XJR L is a Lear jet that never lifts off four wheels.The base XJ L starts around $82,000 and has 385 horsepower. The XJR L uses the same engine, a 5.0-liter V-8, but it is supercharged to a rating of 550 hp and 502 pound-feet of torque.

Jaguar says that will get you to 60 miles per hour in 4.4 seconds and an autobahn-ripping top speed of 174 mph. Gas mileage is average for the segment -- i.e. poor -- at 15 city, 23 highway.

But first, the inside. Leather, leather, everywhere, wrapped tightly and form-fittingly around all of the contours, including three humps that rise from the dash containing dual air vents and an analog clock.This triple mountain of luxury speaks to materials in the model of British bespoke craftsmanship, but still comes off as clean and modern.That modernity extends to Bond-worthy digital gauges that are found on all new Jags and Land Rovers, which flick to life in a dynamic sequence when the car is first turned on.

The company’s designers like theater, and it’s a bit of fun frippery. The air vents even light up as part of an extraneous $1,700 “illumination package.” Otherwise the car I tested was without silly options, coming to $122,295.

On one drive I had two people in the back and I was trying to overhear their conversation. The car shuts out most road noise but I still couldn’t hear them clearly. Why were they whispering? They weren’t, actually, they were just that far away. Long wheelbase indeed.All the seats are comfortable, but the front buckets keep you from slipping around under hard driving.

There are clues to its forceful nature on the outside, including side sills that extend off the body and a lip at the trunk edge that works as a spoiler. The car I tested had 20-inch wheels with a stormy gray finish on the rims. The downside to these performance tires is the car doesn’t ride as evenly as a standard XJ, despite an adaptive suspension.

Put the driving systems in dynamic mode and the XJR becomes a hot rod. The torque is incredible, moving the Jag along so quickly that it imperils reason. It powers around corners like a locomotive. I soon came to realize no legal road in America was up to its potential.

So I went onto a racetrack, pretending that I was on a European back road in hot pursuit of the bad guys.The Jag has an electronic active differential that keeps the power to the tarmac even accelerating out of corners. It happily does things a big sedan simply shouldn’t be able to: squealing tires, solar-plexus-hammering launches and G-force turns.I would have felt bad treating it this way, except that it is exactly what the XJR L is designed to do. Unnecessary? Totally. Unless, of course, you’re a superspy.

Monday, August 25, 2014


The 2014 Buick Verano is a  premium sedan which has the same powertrain as the Chevrolet Cruze. Nevertheless, the Verano is original inside and out, and defined by distinctive and upscale European character. Like its near-luxury competitors, the Verano is refined, attractive and well-equipped.

The Verano should appeal to young professionals looking for premium amenities without breaking the bank. Since it's not as mainstream as, say, the Infiniti G or the Lexus IS, some of the Verano's appeal might be its originality, five-seat 2014 Buick Verano is available in base, Convenience Group, Leather Group and Premium Group trims. 

All models except the Premium have a 2.4-liter, four-cylinder engine and a six-speed automatic transmission. The Premium (Verano Turbo) has a turbocharged, 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine and a six-speed automatic transmission. A six-speed manual is available on the Premium model. Buick introduced the Verano for the 2012 model year, and last year, the 2013 Verano was named our Best Upscale Small Car for the Money and our Best Upscale Small Car for Families.

Before the Verano Turbo was introduced, we liked the Leather-trimmed version. It offers the amenities heated seats, push-button start and, of course, leather upholstery -- that separate a luxury car from a more pedestrian vehicle. And if a powerful engine isn't a big deal, the Leather Verano package is still a great choice. But if you're looking for a sporty, entry-level luxury car, the Verano Turbo is the clear winner. 

The 2014 Verano’s cabin feels luxurious and is made with premium materials, test drivers say. Front seats are spacious and supportive, with plenty of room for the driver to stretch out, they add. Reviewers say that the rear seats are snug, but usable, which is normal in a small sedan. 

People like the Buick Verano’s generous list of standard features, including a six-speaker stereo with touch-screen display, USB and auxiliary ports, OnStar, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity,satellite radio ,steering wheel-mounted audio and cruise controls and a voice-activated infotainment system. 

Optional features include a nine-speaker Bose sound system, push-button start, navigation and a moonroof. Several test drivers say the dashboard is crowded with too many buttons, making controls confusing to operate. Newly available safety features a rearview camera, rear parking sensors and rear cross traffic alert. blind spot monitoring, lane departure warning,

Sunday, August 24, 2014


The FourSixteen ,Saleen holds the Model S in high regard ,As expected, the Tesla Model S based Saleen FOURSIXTEEN performance electric car was shown for the first time at the 2014 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance.

Tesla has entirely new class of American automobile, said company founder Steve Saleen. a company with a heritage of tuning American muscle cars like Fords 64 Mustang,new class of electric American performance cars .Now all 3 Tesla S and FourSixteen vehicles stand out from the rest of the pack for century to come.

Saleen has optimised the airflow over the car's body by adding a redesigned front fascia, aero vents, a bespoke V-shaped hood, carbonfibre rear diffuser and high-downforce rear-mounted spoiler.

The FourSixteen possesses the same power and torque outputs as the standard Model S, at 410bhp and 443lb ft. However, the car's electric motor is mated to a Saleen drivetrain which includes an all-new 11.39:1 final gear ratio for quicker acceleration. The FourSixteen also has a locking differential to maximise traction and grip.

All of the Saleen-engineered driveline components increase efficiencies in torque management, give a track capable throttle response, and provide faster acceleration. A Saleen high-efficiency drivetrain cooling system has been fitted to assist engine cooling and help maintain consistent temperatures in high-performance situations.

The Saleen FourSixteen gets track-calibrated suspension to enhance cornering agility. The system can be ordered in a fully adjustable configuration, allowing the driver to easily increase stiffness in order to use the car on the track. The stability control system has received new software to provide improved cornering response and driver ability.

The standard brake package in the FourSixteen includes 355mm discs and four-piston callipers. A carbon-ceramic brake system is available as an option. The car runs on 21 inch's wheels and tires as standard, although 22 inch's items can be specified as an option.

Inside, Saleen has replaced the usual Model S trim with a two-tone leather and Alcantara design while seat bolsters on both the front and rear seats have been increased to provide extra support when cornering.

Perhaps one change that any Model S owner would appreciate is a new center console. This provides extra storage for the driver and front passenger, a cupholder and a pocket for smartphones and other electronic devices.

The door panels and dashboard are also upholstered a new mix of coloured leather accents and facings, as well as carbon fibre highlights hand-stitched for a quality feel.

All this doesn't come cheap based on the Tesla Model S P85, you'll pay $150,000 before federal taxincentives and any local rebates you might be eligible for. That's between $50,000 to $60,000 more than the P85.

You do get a four-year/50,000-mile warranty though, and delivery shouldn't be too painful either Saleen quotes a 6-8 week delivery slot following order confirmation and receipt. And if you don't want the full package, Model S buyers can opt to buy individual components from Saleen's catalog.

Friday, August 22, 2014


As promised by Porsche more than a year ago, the German luxury automaker has unveiled details all-new 2015 Cayenne. And for the first time in the car’s history, you’ll be able to buy it with a plug.The all-new 2015 Porsche Cayenne S-E Hybrid — which replaces the outgoing non plug-in hybrid — should manage a far better fuel economy thanks to its larger on-board battery pack and much more powerful electric motor. At the time of writing, official fuel economy figures aren’t available, but Porsche says the Cayenne S-E Hybrid will sprint from 0-62 mph in 5.4 seconds, more than a second quicker than its non plug-in predecessor.

The electric motor provides an additional boost. In coasting mode, the combustion engine is decoupled and switched off, allowing the Cayenne S E-Hybrid to glide for some distance under its own momentum – for a significant reduction in fuel consumption without any compromise in terms of sports performance.Using the main off-road control on the center console, you can select one of up to three modes (depending on the model) for improving the off-road capability or revert the setting to normal road driving. In Off-road Mode 1, the maps for all relevant systems,are adapted to provide optimum traction. In addition, High Level 1 is selected on vehicles featuring air suspension with PASM. The air suspension can also be raised further to High Level II to increase the approach/departure angle and wading depth.

Off-road Mode 2 ensures even greater traction on difficult terrain* by fully locking the multi-plate clutch. The electronically controlled variable rear differential on the optional Porsche Torque Vectoring Plus is integrated within the all-wheel drive system and can be fully locked in Off-road Mode 3.

Available on the Cayenne S, Cayenne S Diesel and Cayenne Turbo. Porsche Dynamic Light System, adjusts the range of the dipped beam based on driving speed. The dynamic cornering light function swivels the main headlights towards the inside of a bend based on the current steering angle and road speed. The static cornering lights activate the auxiliary headlights in order to illuminate more of the road in tight bends and turns.

Porsche Dynamic Light System Plus,offers two additional functions: High Beam Assistant is activated at speeds in excess of approx. 40 mph. It detects vehicles driving in front as well as oncoming traffic. The intensity and range of the light cone can therefore be adapted to the prevailing situation. As you approach a junction, Intersection Assistant activates the left and right cornering lights, making the beam of light broader and shorter. This improves illumination of the area directly surrounding the vehicle. At your fingertips. In the truest sense of the word. The paddles enable fast, sporty and ergonomic gear changes. There are also additional multifunction controls for telephone, radio and on-board computer functions,the steering wheel also comes with optional heating. In addition to sporting appeal, it also offers a high level of comfort. 

Available as a factory-fitted option from Porsche Exclusive:Porsche Rear Seat Entertainment.The display consoles are trimmed in matching interior leather with decorative seams and are located on the front seat backrests. Each one contains a high-resolution, swivel-mounted 7-inch color touchscreen display. The system comprises two display consoles, each with an integrated player and USB port, and two wireless infrared headphones.Boasting built-in anti-shock protection, the system is compatible with CDs and DVDs and can even receive TV broadcasts – in conjunction with the optional TV tuner. 

It is also possible to connect two separate and individually selectable AV sources, such as a games console or digital camera. Intelligent lightweight construction has been integral to the Porsche identity since the very beginning. It is economical thanks to the high proportion of aluminum, plastics and high-strength sheet steel used. This also includes a reduction in the variety of plastics. Recycled plastics are used where they meet our exacting technical requirements. As a result, the Cayenne models are around 95% recyclable today.

Thursday, August 21, 2014


The all-new 2015 Acura TLX is being produced at the Marysville Auto Plant with Acura's new performance luxury sedan slated to land at dealerships nationwide now in August. With the launch of the new TLX, more than 90 percent of Acura vehicles sold in America are now made in U .S. A. mass-market cornerstone, there will always be an alternative.

Designed, developed and engineered by R&D teams in Ohio and Los Angeles, and manufactured exclusively in Ohio, the all-new 2015 TLX delivers on its advertising tagline of "It's that kind of heavy metal rolling the highway's" combining incredible sports-sedan athleticism with premium luxury-sedan refinement. The new TLX is a technological powerhouse, featuring two advanced new powertrains and two next-generation Acura precision-handling technologies – Precision All-Wheel Steer (P-AWS) and Super Handling All-Wheel Drive (SH-AWD) – all delivered in a sophisticated and dynamic new exterior package.

Designed to be the Goldilocks model in the automaker’s three-sedan lineup, the 2015 Acura TLX is not too big, garish, or striking looking. It replaces the TSX and the TL, leaving the Civic-based, largely forgettable ILX as the base model and the disappointing RLX as the flagship. Clearly, a lot is at stake with the TLX so it must succeed. Its price tag's $30,000 to the mid-$40,000.

The TLX formula is a straightforward porridge, with the front-drive model offered with optional all-wheel-drive and a choice of four- or six-cylinder engine. This car rock and roll TLX brings rolling down the highway is with acronym-heavy systems that supposedly aid rear-wheel steer and handling assistance and display SH-AWD and P-AWS on the trunk lid. Arguably, this is to compensate for the better weight distribution and rear-drive configuration of the car’s European competitors. 

The base engine is a 2.4-liter four-cylinder with 206 horsepower, matched with an automated manual eight-speed, dual-clutch transmission. The midlevel model has a 3.5-liter V6 with 290 horsepower, teamed with a nine-speed conventional automatic transmission. The top offering combines the six-cylinder engine with all-wheel drive. With four-cylinder doesn't come all wheel drive.

The TLX offers a full suite of advanced safety technologies,  radar system, aided by a camera .such as blind-spot detection, forward collision avoidance, cross-traffic monitor, and lane-departure warning.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014


The mid-size Buick Regal is the one of the best sedans, and one of the best-looking vehicles built by Buick. New upgrades include a new turbocharged engine, along with a new infotainment system and safety gear.

The 2014 Buic Regal features a turbocharged four-cylinder engine that most reviewers agree is powerful, though some think it can feel a bit slow from a stop. A mild-hybrid eAssist powertrain is optional in the Buick Regal, and critics say the eAssist model is refined and fuel-efficient, though much slower than the turbocharged Regal. A six-speed automatic transmission is standard, and some test drivers say it has well-timed shifts, while a few criticize it for sometimes taking too long to downshift. 

The 2014 Buick Regal also gets an EPA-estimated 21/30 mpg city/highway, which is decent for the class, and the eAssist model gets 25/36 mpg city/highway, which is very good for the class. Reviewers say the base Regal’s suspension system balances comfort with relatively agile handling, while GS models have a firmer suspension system that makes them sporty and fun to drive. Still, many test drivers write that if you’re looking for a true sport sedan, you might want to consider other upscale midsize cars.

The Buick Regal has an interior built with high-quality materials. The turbocharged Regal has a larger-than-average trunk, but the eAssist model’s trunk is much smaller because the battery pack takes up space, which reviewers don’t like. The Regal has a long list of standard features for the class, including leather upholstery, heated front seats, a rearview camera, dual-zone automatic climate control, satellite radio, a seven-speaker sound system and Buick’s IntelliLink infotainment system, which features a full-color touch-screen display and can connect to your smartphone via Bluetooth or a USB port. Optional features include navigation, a sunroof and a number of new-for-2014 safety and driver assistance options, including side blind zone alert, rear cross traffic alert, lane departure warning, adaptive cruise control and forward collision warning.

Buick Regal has standard leather upholstery and heated front seats, which are two features that are optional on some upscale midsize cars. A power-adjustable driver’s seat is also standard and a power-adjustable passenger seat is optional. GS models come with sport seats. Critics agree that the Buick Regal has very comfortable and supportive front seats, especially the GS model. However, they say the rear seats lack head- and legroom.The 2014 Buick Regal features a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that generates 259 horsepower. An optional mild-hybrid eAssist powertrain includes a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine and a small electric motor that combine to make 182 horsepower. All Regals come standard with a six-speed automatic transmission. A six-speed manual is optional on front-wheel drive GS models. The 2014 Buick Regal gets an EPA-estimated 21/30 mpg city/highway, which is decent for the class, and the eAssist gets 25/36 mpg city/highway, which is very good for the class.
and accelerates smoothly, and they think it has a very refined start-stop feature.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014


Korean automaker Hyundai is invested heavily into hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, beginning with the Hyundai Tucson Fuel Cell SUV. But with just six refilling stations concentrated in South Cal, hydrogen fuel cell vehicles lack any sort of refueling infrastructure.

So what does Hyundai want to do to change that? In an interview with Green Car Reports, Hyundai executive Dave Zuchowski said, “We believe the fuel oil companies that have been doing this for 100 years should invest in infrastructure, and we’ll do what we do best, which is build cars.”

The state of California is investing millions of dollars into hydrogen fueling stations that will support fuel cell vehicles from Toyota and Honda as well, and that to be fair by the end of 2016 there are expected to be 30 refilling stations across South California. At the very least though, people paying the $499 a month to lease a Hyundai Tucson Fuel Cell vehicle will have access to free, unlimited hydrogen, which is about the only way to undercut the trivial refueling costs of cars like the Tesla Model S.

Unfortunately for Hyundai and other companies committing to hydrogen, electric cars seem ready to take off into the mainstream thanks to superstars like Tesla and BMW building EVs people really want to buy. Meanwhile, EV advocates have highlighted just how wasteful current hydrogen production methods are,all electric cars seem is new wave to world to move electric  in the next centuries and forever. 

Just don’t tell Hyundai though.  They seem more concerned taking potshots at Tesla over “government money” used to install the Supercharger network (not true in the least, by the way) than explaining how they’ll build a nationwide network of hydrogen fueling stations, which is also getting government help.

Monday, August 18, 2014


Did you know that Hybrid cars haven't always been cool?  it's true, in fact, there was a time when the 'hybrid' tag described a fairly dull-to-drive segment of the industry. That's no longer the case, as there are now a fair number of cool hybrid cars, vehicles that offer intriguing driving dynamics, outstanding performance, or at the very least attractive styling that places them above more pedestrian options. You'll still usually have to spend more than you would on a Prius to get behind the wheel of a cool hybrid car, and most of these models aren't focused exclusively on efficiency, but each shows how the hybrid market has expanded since those dark early. 

The 2015 BMW i8 is a game-changing plug-in hybrid that manages to strike a near-perfect balance between performance and efficiency. This sports car offers a 1.5-liter three-cylinder engine and a single electric motor that split their output to the rear and front wheels, respectively. The all-wheel drive BMW i8 is shifted via a six-speed automatic transmission that manages its 357 horsepower and 420 lb-ft of torque output to allow it to hit 60-mph in 4.2 seconds. It also offers 22 miles of electric-only range and the kind of futuristic styling that wouldn't look out of place in the next Tron sequel. 

The 2015 Porsche 918 Spyder takes the i8 concept to the next extreme, elevating itself to supercar status by way of its 887 horsepower and 944 lb-ft of torque when its hybrid drive system is being used to maximum capacity. The Porsche 918 Spyder features a 4.6-liter V-8 engine that's attached to the rear wheels, but there are also two electric motors that can kick in on each axle to up the ante to the near-1,000 lb-ft of torque plateau. A top speed of 214-mph is possible with the 918, and the car can even drive at 93-mph for almost 20 miles on battery power alone. When the car's lithium-ion battery pack is empty it can be plugged in to the wall and charged in as little as two hours. 

The two-seat 2014 Honda CR-Z hatchback is the only hybrid car you can get with a manual transmission, which scores it major cool points right off the bat. Designed to provide a sporty drive at an affordable price, the Honda CR-Z manages to land somewhere in the middle of frugal and fun with a chassis that is willing to twist and turn with the road ahead but an engine that isn't quite as responsive as it should be. 

The CR-Z is motivated by a 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine that works together with a single electric motor to produce 130 horsepower and 140 lb-ft of torque. A continuously-variable automatic transmission is available for those who don't want to shift the car themselves.

Sunday, August 17, 2014


Unless a luxury sedan is woefully underpowered or has some other Achilles heel, sales in the segment are won and lost not under the hood, but in the driver's seat, where automakers are raising the bar considerably for confidence-inspiring safety-and-convenience electronics. And there our long-term 2014 Infiniti Q50S is quite competitive.

Are the Q's systems perfect? No. In fact they come with some annoyances I'll relay below. But I can't wait to tell you about the awe-inspiring magic within. Jonny Lieberman can hardly mention a Mercedes-Benz these days without excitedly -- and justifiably -- blurting "This thing can practically drive itself!" 2014 Infiniti Q50s Rear Three Quarter Panel Well, Mercedes isn't alone. Acura, Subaru, and others all have street versions of early self-driving tech. Our Q50S includes the $3500 Technology Package that pretty much amounts to an autopilot checkbox: It's got intelligent cruise control, forward emergency braking paired with advanced forward-collision warning, lane departure prevention, and active lane control.

The whole setup is controlled by just a few buttons. One selects whether active lane assist is on. You know it's running by looking at a simple graphic on the dash that, when all features are on, shows the car surrounded by a green border. The follow distance on the intelligent cruise control comes in three settings, the closest distance of which still appears to allow for the old 2-second rule. 

The magic "self-driving" is triggered when active lane assist is on and the cruise control has a speed set, and it's remarkable. On long, straight stretches of freeway, it does an absolutely great job of staying in the lane and slowing or speeding up for traffic ahead. The adjustments are so smooth, you can't help but have an increasing sense of confidence. The Nervous Nellie hands that hovered above the wheel during the first few tests now are free to perform stretches and knuckle pops without worry that emergency human interaction will be necessary.

Gentle curves are a little more difficult for the system, as it seems to take the nose getting just past the turn-in point before correcting. But the car never drifts into another lane and there isn't the feeling of a panic correction despite the lane-departure alarm occasionally going off. (Sharp curves require driver intervention.) 2014 Infiniti Q50s Instrument Cluster The system -- at least so far (liability attorneys, please stop reading now) – does not prompt you to place your hands back on the wheel after a set time, as Acura's system does. It'll go for miles if you let it. It also does not appear to have problems with direct sunlight, something we've noticed on other brands. 

Obviously, the self-driving aspect of all these systems must be used judiciously. Nobody should break out the iPhone to play JellyCar or anything. But for brief breaks – and for glimpses into the future – it's invaluable. The safety systems have had a few hiccups. For instance, associate online editor Alex Nishimoto had automatic braking kick in when he was backing up, despite there being no obstacles present. More seriously, the forward collision prevention system can trigger alarms and braking under some normal, if slightly aggressive, driving situations. I've had it activate twice when quickly approaching a stopped car in my lane. My intention was to quickly switch lanes (yes, at sort of the last few seconds). But the system can't know my intention, so it triggered the start of braking as I began my switch. That's potentially a problem if you're moving to get in front of someone in the other lane.

Friday, August 15, 2014


Taxi culture is integral to life in New York, and to a lesser degree most cities in the United States. Where we can’t go by car, we hail a cab. Yes, in places like Los Angeles where transportation is scattered and there is neither rhyme nor reason to traffic patterns, taxis take a back seat, but are still there for those nights when you can’t otherwise get home.

The New York yellow cab is an icon that has global and wide-reaching impact. It has defined my city as other fads have come and gone. And I’ve always wanted to sit at the helm and deliver people to their destinations. (I do it all the time in test cars, as it stands.) Being a New York cabbie commands a certain kind of rough attitude, and an intimate knowledge of the city’s thoroughfares and secret passages.

I studied the routes from behind the plexiglas barrier for years, and then applied all the taxi drivers’ rules to my own driving. Where the cabbies turn, I turn. The gas stations where they fill up must be the least expensive and quickest. The ramshackle eateries where cabbies from around the world stop to get a quick plate of food are probably the most authentic tastes of home that the city has to offer. I longed to try out a day in this world.

So, when Nissan offered five days driving the new NV Taxi, which had won over the hearts of New York’s bureaucrats to become the Taxi of Tomorrow -- legal implications notwithstanding -- I accepted without hesitation.

There is enough legroom in back that jump seats, like the ones rumored to be fitted to the new London black cab, make total sense. Of the 10 "fares" who had the chance to try it out, there was nary a complaint. Like some older minivans, the bench does not adjust its individual seats, so it's going to stay in position regardless of the demand for cargo space. Sliding doors made entry and exit easy, and reduce the chance of nailing a wayward cyclist with one half flung-open.

In addition to the separate climate controls, passengers can utilize two USB ports and a 12-volt outlet for charging mobile devices on the go.The Nissan NV200 Taxi has a 2.0L 4 cylinder engine and gets 24mpg/combined. It does not have a ton of power, but provides a comfortable drive and will surely fit in well in the busy environment of the Big Apple. When the low-effort sliding doors are open, the rear passenger light is illuminated. Much like a yellow flashing light of a school bus, this is to alert drivers that a person is exiting. That seems to be a particularly helpful feature. 

There is also a "Call 911" light at the top. This is controlled by a switch on the drivers dash.When the doors open, you are greated with much more leg room than any Crown Victoria. The Taxi seats 4 total: 3 in back and one up front. Right over the drivers shoulder is the intercom system. The plexi-glass partition doesn't make it impossible to hear, but the intercom makes communication easier. Driver and passenger can activate or deactivate the intercom with a flick of the switch.If the passengers want to get some fresh air or the party went a little long, there is a small window on each sliding door. It opens pretty easily to allow some fresh air into the cabin. A great feature for easy in and out is this electric step that moves out when the door is opened. 

 A newly designed light for the taxi number and on duty indicators look like a small Alien craft has landed on the roof, but it looks like Nissan took everything into account for fuel mileage and efficiency. I almost forgot another great feature; the passenger section has a panoramic roof for viewing of the incredible New York atmosphere. You can get a peak of the roof in the shot. In summary, enjoy the legroom; don't talk bad about the driver because he could turn the intercom on

Thursday, August 14, 2014


The 485 horsepower Challenger SRT 392 is insane. The 580 horsepower Camaro ZL1 is insane. The Hellcat goes about warp speed zones , blowing past crazy, stupid and mind-bending along the way. I don't think humankind has yet invented a word that can describe the like heavymetal band rolling or motorcyle on high way thundering ride.

How fast is the Hellcat? No one really knows, because getting 707 horsepower to the ground is virtually impossible, at least on street tires. Think of that slab of plastic on the floor not as an accelerator pedal, but as a tire-destroying pedal, because flooring the Challenger from a stop does little more than turn rubber to smoke. Extracting Chrysler's promised 3.5 second 0-60 time requires not flooring the pedal, at least not too quickly. The good news is that the Challenger Hellcat driver need never floor the pedal, because even at half-throttle, this car will blow the doors off just about anything else on the road.

Let's talk about what makes the Hellcat the Hellcat. I'm sure most of us remember when Dodge introduced the first Challenger SRT8 with a 425 horsepower 6.1 liter V8, then bumped it up to 6.4 liters and 470 hp. For 2015, that particular engine (now called the SRT 392, for its displacement in cubic inches) gets a bump to 485 hp. Just to put things in perspective, that's enough for a 0-60 time of 4.1 seconds, faster than a Posche 911 Carrera.

The Hellcat's motor is based on the same iron-block Apache engine found in the SRT 392, though the two share few common parts. It's been destroked for a slightly-smaller displacement of 6.2 liters (370 cubic inches). Up top sits a supercharger which can deliver 11.6 pounds of boost. (A supercharger is an engine-driven blower that pumps more air into an engine than it could "breathe" on its own, allowing the engine to produce more power. It performs the same function as a turbocharger, but is driven by the crankshaft (usually througha belt) rather than the exhaust. The supercharger requires significant drive power from the engine, making it less efficient than a turbo, but its superior low-RPM power boost is more in keeping with the muscle car experience.)

Total output is 707 horsepower and 650 lb-ft of torque, delivered to the rear wheels via either a six-speed manual transmission (a beefed-up version of the Viper transmission -- can you imagine the Viper transmission having to be beefed up for anything?) or a strengthened version of the 8-speed automatic found in other Challengers.

The Hellcat shares its four-wheel independent suspension with the SRT392, though the Hellcat gets thicker stabilizer bars. The brakes are, as you would hope, massive: 15.4 inch rotors up front and 13.8 out back, the former clamped by Brembo six-piston calipers and the latter by four-piston calipers. (To compare, most cars do just fine with a single-piston setup.)In order to keep things sane, the Challenger comes with two keys, a black key that limits power output to 500 hp and a red key that let's all seven hundred out of the stable. There's also a combo-lock valet mode that limits engine output even further. As with other Challengers, the SRT Hellcat comes with four drive modes (Default, Sport, Track and user-programmable Custom), which fine-tune power output, traction, exhaust noise and stability control systems (though not steering; unlike other Challenger models, which get electric power steering, the Hellcat's steering is engine-driven hydraulic. As a result it feels significantly lighter than other Challengers and a bit more precise, though still lacking in feedback.)

Wednesday, August 13, 2014


If your dream superhero power is a cloak of invisibility or super strength, you're probably going spend your life feeling a little inadequate. However, you may be able to absorb one of your favor superhero's attributes  you super fan by buying the same car

A new Batmobile is on the way for 2016's Batman vs Superman film, but there a few more other superheroes drive cars there own rock and roll car on the movies.

Iron Man's with his heavy metal car Honda Known as the Acura NSX roadster in the US, Tony Stark's vehicle of choice from the 2012 Avengers film was created uniquely for the film. It is based upon the actual NSX but is not set to make the production line. 

However, Iron Man fans could consider some of his other cars - in the first Robert Downey Jr film from 2008, Stark has a little trouble getting to grips with his Iron Man suit in his garage and an AC Cobra, among other vehicles, took the brunt. Ouch - fortunately only a replica was used for filming. Parked next to the Cobra was a sleek Saleen S7 - with a 200mph plus top speed, it's certainly a superhero-worthy mode of transport. Alternatively, at one point in the film, Stark is seen working on a Ford Flathead Roadster hot rod.

The Black Widow's Corvette
In this year's Captain America: Winter Soldier, the Black Widow, as played by Scarlett Johansson, is seen driving a Corvette C7 Stingray - appropriately enough, it's black.

The Green Hornet's Black Beauty
Black Beauty in the 2011 film of 'The Green Hornet' took some serious punishment, shot with more holes than a chunk of Edam. 29 Imperial Crowns played the role of Black Beauty in the film.

The Punisher's Pontiac GTO
Played by Thomas Jane in the 2004 film version, our hero builds himself an armoured muscle car, the Pontiac GTO, to help him take revenge upon those who killed his family. A previous film version starring Dolph Lundgren, put the Punisher on a motorbike, but the GTO is much cooler.The historians toiling in Motor Trend's windowless basement tell us that "GTO" stands for "Gran Turismo Omologato," which apparently is Italian for "goat." Or something like that. Anyway, you may recall that it was two score years ago that Pontiac, with a pre-DeLorean John DeLorean calling the shots, plopped a hulking Bonneville V-8 engine into a compact 

Tempest body to create the original GTO (well, okay, the name actually first appeared on a vehicle from a faraway carmaker that rhymes with "Pherrari," but let's not let that get in the way of a good story). The GTO's Schwarzenegger-engine-in-a- Hugh-Grant-body formula was an instant hit and, for the rest of the 1960s, an ever-more socially irresponsible breed of so-called musclecars painted America's streets with the ribbonlike remnants of their tortured rear tires.

Transformers Corvette
Chevrolet likes to preview its new concepts in Transformers films - first the latest Camaro was introduced in concept form in the 2007 film, while in 'Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen' in 2009,General Motors announced the surprise debut of the Chevrolet Stingray Concept at the Chicago Auto Show on Wednesday, February 11, 2009. The car appears in the film “Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen,” as the vehicle mode of Autobot “Sideswipe.” .  but also draws on Corvette heritage cues from other generations. It brings them together in a futuristic shape that seems to be equal parts racecar and space ship. the new Camaro began as a “pure concept” without production ambitions, so it’s possible this Corvette has some kind of future. For now, though, the show car’s purpose in life is to celebrate 100 years of motoring history at GM, and of course, fight evil as “Sideswipe” in Revenge of the Fallen. As always, reception will be an important factor in production consideration.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014


The engine lineup of the E-class has been significantly overhauled, but only a fraction of those mills will be offered in the U.S., where the global 2.0-liter turbo four of the E200 and E250 will not be available. Eventually, we believe base duties in America will be handled by the 248-hp, naturally aspirated direct-injected 3.5-liter V-6 in a new-to-the-U.S. E300. 

For now, though, that same engine will be tuned to deliver 302 hp for duty in the E350, which will again be available with rear- or 4MATIC all-wheel drive and in both body styles. The E400 hybrid sedan pairs the 3.5-liter six with a 27-hp, 184-lb-ft electric motor to deliver an estimated 24 mpg in the city and 30 mpg on the highway. Benz will continue to offer the 402-hp, twin-turbocharged 4.7-liter V-8 in the four-door E550, which will again be exclusively all-wheel drive.

Topping the E lineup will be the significantly revised E63 AMG, with its updated 5.5-liter twin-turbo V-8 producing 550 hp and 531 lb-ft of torque and feeding all four wheels; we recently got a ride in a prototype, and you can read much more about the car here. There will again be an E63 AMG wagon, which is of course awesome. 

On the compression-ignition front, the E350 BlueTec will be supplanted the new-for-2014 E250, available with 4MATIC. The E250’s diesel four-cylinder will deliver 190 hp and 369 lb-ft of torque, not far off the 210 hp and 400 lb-ft of the six-pot diesel it will replace. All powertrains will feature stop-start capability.

The vehicle is great in every way. It is a technological wonder. Do take them up on the training class, you will be glad you did.The greatest surprise is the "Econo Driving Mode". When using this feature, the engine is designed to shut down while idling at stoplights etc. When you release the brake and touch the gas pedal, it smoothly restarts and resumes the trip. This must save gas because on my last 44 mile trip, it registered 33 mpg. Lastly, look closely at the E Sport vs the E Luxury, they are different looks and different cars. On Sundays (sometimes), we wonder what an E- Luxury might have been but the thought does not last long. Enjoy!

Styling more aggressive looking than last year-probably more appealing to younger drivers than older ones. Very stable car on the road, quiet, with excellent seats. A really superb driving car. Negatives: GPS and COMMAND module are subpar compared to an Audi. 

Monday, August 11, 2014


The Ram 1500 pickup now produces 395 horsepower. Everybody has thought highly enough of the pickup that a revised model of the current-generation 1500 was just introduced a few weeks ago. Apparently, that popularity has compelled Ram to build a special-edition model called the Ram Black Express.

Looking the part of a completely bad-ass pickup , RAM built the Black Express to accommodate a slew of new features that completely sets it apart from the rest of the 1500 lot. Not that the latter doesn’t boast of many creds, the Black Express just takes it to another level.

One look at the Black Express and you immediately notice that it’s been blacked out to the hilt, complete with a black grille and front fascia, black bumpers, black badges on the front and rear, and to no one’s surprise, black 20-inch aluminum wheels.

There’s also the addition of a bi-function halogen projector headlamps with LED running lights, a standard feature on this special edition compared to it being an added option on the regular steeds.

No powertrain changes were made so expect to see the same 5.7-liter Hemi V-8 under its hood, good enough to produce 395 horsepower and 410 pound-feet of torque while mated to a six-speed automatic transmission with a towing capacity of 9,250 pounds to go with an estimated 0-to-60 mph time of about 8-something seconds and a top speed of about 135 mph.

The Ram Black Express comes with a base price of $26,955, a little over $1,000 more than the base Express 4X2 regular cab. Boosted by its strong popularity, the Ram 1500 has become quite the American institution. It’s impressive credentials are evident in the high demand for this pickup.

While the 2014 Ram 1500 retains its basic shape and looks, it still came with a few changes, most notably the placement of the grille, which is now an inch taller than the one in 2012. There are still a variety of engine options to choose from for the 2014 model, highlighted by the 5.7-liter HEMI V-8 that now produces 395 horsepower and 410 pound-feet of torque.

Sunday, August 10, 2014


We have started seeing many more Tesla vehicles driving around locally, specifically the Tesla S. It is no surprise that people have really started to notice and buy these impressive all-electric sports cars. Increasing curiosity is being driven by their recent news of booming sales and cross country tour which showed off their growing network of charging station. Their network of chargers allowed their team drive from Los Angeles to New York, granted it was using a specific route but this is just the beginning for the young company.

For those of you still in the dark about Tesla and their cars, here is a very solid walk-through of the Tesla S P85 their highest performance model at the moment.                                                                                          The Tesla Model S has been an undeniable success since it went on sale in 2012. With over 22,000 sold last year, it’s quickly become one of the most popular battery-powered cars in the U.S. and the world.

This despite prices that range from $72,240 to over $100,000, and the fact that in many states the company’s brick and mortar showrooms aren’t allowed even to tell you how to purchase one, let alone sell you one, due to laws that prohibit company-owned dealerships. Tesla doesn’t do franchises; you buy its cars directly from the mother ship.

But clearly, its slinky looks, lightning speed and a range of up to 265 miles per charge have overcome these hurdles by addressing many of the issues that have stalled the widespread adoption of electric cars, while raising a few of its own.

Five fires – three caused by accidents damaging the floor-mounted battery pack, one due to a faulty home charger and one that remains a mystery – have garnered plenty of media coverage, but have done little to stop the company’s momentum.

I recently spent a couple of days in a top-of-the-line P85 – the performance model, with 416 hp, some handling tweaks, a jumbo 85 kilowatt-hour battery pack rated at 265 miles of range per charge, and a starting price $95,740.

A 362 hp version is also available, as is the bargain basement Model S 60, which has 302 hp and a smaller 60 kWh battery pack with a range of 208 miles. Tesla says the vast majority of its customers are opting for cars with the larger juice box, as it’s the main feature that sets the Model S apart from other electric cars.

A full charge takes as little as four hours at home, but Tesla is installing a network of “superchargers” at rest stops around the country that can do much faster than that and are compatible only with its cars. You can get about 150 miles worth of electricity in half an hour at one of these, or a full charge in 75 minutes, free of charge. The idea is that on those occasions that you need to drive more than 265 miles in a day, you’re going to need to fill your stomach and empty your bladder at some point, and three or more extra hours of driving are your reward.

Don’t eat too much, though, or you may doze off behind the wheel. Even with your foot to the floor, the Tesla’s rear-mounted motor barely makes a whimper, its body cuts through the air like a ghost and hardly any road noise makes its way through the air suspension that comes standard on the P85.

The cabin itself is ultramodern in style, airy and comfortable, though the materials trimming it don’t seem quite as plush as those found in most cars in this price range. There’s plenty of room up front for the sort of professional sport giants and literal fat cats who will be attracted to a Model S, but that sloping roof makes the rear seat a tight fit for anyone approaching 6-feet tall. 
looks long and lean, but the Model S is more of a midsize car priced  must have all your accounts ready for that price.

For such a high-tech vehicle, it’s also a bit short on g  gizmos and gadgets; there’s no blind spot warning system, radar cruise control, self-parking feature or anything neat like that. But you can be sure the next generation model will be rock and rolling new stuff, as Tesla recently advertised for an Advanced Driver Assistance Systems Controls Engineer.

The marquee feature today is a 17-inch tablet-style touchscreen that replaces every button normally found on a dashboard, save for the one that operates the hazard lights – certainly a legal requirement. As these sorts of interfaces go, it’s among the best, with easy-to-read graphics and large icons.

Saturday, August 9, 2014


The first time we had the chance to see the new TRD Pro off-road package for the full-size Tundra was during its introduction at the 2014 Chicago Auto Show. Toyota really hyped the new package, available this fall, as providing new levels of desert-running, four-wheeling capability for the 2015 4Runner, Tacoma, and Tundra.
2015 Toyota 4Runner, Tundra & Tacoma TRD Pro Series First Review 5
In fact, Toyota even created a huge off-road course inside Chicago’s McCormick Place to give hair-raising rides to showgoers through water crossings, over steep hill climbs, on a giant teeter-totter, and across a nasty set of broken logs.

The new TRD Pro off-road option will replace the previous Rock Warrior 4x4 option and offers a more comprehensive (and capable) four-wheel-drive package. Like the Tacoma TRD Pro, the Tundra TRD Pro includes a unique set of interior and exterior design features, vastly upgraded suspension components, and a TRD exhaust for a little extra grunt (we’re told that each of the vehicles we recently tested—the Tacoma, Tundra and 4Runner—will get a 5- to 10-horsepower bump from the new exhaust). The new Tundra package will be offered only in four-wheel-drive but can be had on both double-cab and CrewMax cabs equipped with the 5.7-liter V-8. To date, the package can only be offered with the SR5 trim level. TRD Pro trucks will only be offered in black, white, and Inferno (which is sort of a burnt red).

With the exception of the new shocks and springs, our favorite details on the TRD Pro have to do with how they promote the package around the outside of the truck. Not only does the Tundra TRD Pro have a unique black center-bar grille spelling out “Toyota” across the front like the old FJ, but it also includes a special stamping in the bed sides (similar to the Tundra stamp in the tailgate) that identifies this as a TRD Pro pickup. All badging on TRD Pro vehicles is blacked out, along with door handles and mirrors. Unique 18-inch, aluminum, five-spoke wheels and Michelin 32-inch (actually 275/65R18) LTX tires round out the special dress code. The package is finished with extra aluminum in front and midsection skid plating for added protection.

The meat of this package is at the corners of the truck in the form of high-tech, specially designed, dual-reservoir Bilstein shocks, as well as a unique set of slightly longer Eibach front springs. The springs in front allow for a more balanced stance, raising the front end about two inches. Thankfully, TRD Pro Tundras will have adjustable headlights so when cargo or tongue weight is put on the rear of the truck, drivers will be able to limit any nighttime headlight issues with oncoming traffic. The Bilstein coil-over shocks are speed sensitive and have a massive 60 mm piston shaft diameter (stock sizes are 46 mm). This unique setup in front actually softens the factory ride and offers almost two inches of extra wheel travel. The extra reservoir (attached to the bottom rear of the shock) allows for better cooling.

Another favorite technology in this package is the TRD-tuned dual exhaust that emits a V-8 rumble that we’ve never heard from a factory-offered Toyota truck before. The tuning is especially fun to listen to when getting deep into the throttle with vast empty stretches of power-line road in front of you. The throaty exhaust note was accomplished by opening up the cats and reducing the back pressure, all the while making sure that it never exceeded the 95-decibel, federally mandated noise limit.

Knowing we have such massive front-axle ground clearance—and a quarter-inch-thick front skid plate—we confidently straddle certain obstacles we might otherwise have to steer around in lesser trucks, lest havoc be wreaked on their vital organs. The added wheel travel and the high-capacity shocks let us leap and bound with less risk of bottoming out, and like that of any good Baja-grade truck, the ride actually gets smoother the faster you go. The slow-off-center steering keeps us busy in the wash, and the ride—on- and off-road—is pretty brittle overall (thank you, stiff-walled light-truck tires), but in general, the jounce and rebound properties of the suspension and the grip level of the tires are exactly what they need to be for grin-inducing romps on fast trails like this.

Sadly, although the chassis twists up the fun dial to 10, the ancient V-6 and five-speed-automatic powertrain in our test vehicle remains locked in at about four. Fortunately, there’s a fix in the form of an available TRD supercharger that Toyota says adds another 59 horses and 52 lb-ft of torque. If it were our money, we’d save our pennies for that and pair it with the cheaper six-speed manual. Even better, all of that can be done without voiding the Taco’s three-year/36,000-mile warranty.

When the Tacoma TRD Pro goes on sale this fall, it will be the most exclusive of the three new TRD Pro Series models that Toyota is launching as part of a concerted effort to breathe new life into the TRD brand. Only 1500 TRD Pro Tacomas will be made during the first year. Pricing will be released closer to the on-sale date, but don’t be surprised to see it come in a bit higher than the $34,525 Toyota asks for its cheapest 2014 Tacoma TRD T|X Baja Series.

Thursday, August 7, 2014


For those of you who like how it looks but do not know the name of this fine SUV the Buick Encore is a compact crossover SUV that features upscale styling and amenities in an efficient package. The Buick Encore comes with a turbocharged four-cylinder engine, which critics say offers adequate performance in the city. However, they also write that the 2014 Encore lacks the power needed for highway passing and merging. One test driver adds that the Encore’s six-speed automatic transmission doesn’t help matters, since it tends to upshift quickly to help maximize fuel economy. 

The EPA reports that the 2014 Encore gets 25/33 mpg city/highway, which is quite good for the class. Only a handful of compact SUVs use less fuel. Auto writers generally don’t consider the Buick Encore athletic, but many appreciate its predictable handling and comfortable ride. Additionally, a few reviewers note that the Encore’s tight turning circle is an asset in crowded city streets and parking lots.

Test drivers say that the Encore features a stylish cabin that’s trimmed in soft-touch materials. They note that an active noise cancellation system keeps the Encore’s interior quiet at speed, and that the standard infotainment system is easy to use. Most reviewers say that the Encore’s front seats are comfortable and spacious, though one writes that rearward visibility could be better from the driver’s seat. Some also note that the rear seats are comfortable, with good head- and legroom, though other critics write that hip- and shoulder room are in short supply. 

The Encore’s tidy dimensions mean that it may not be the best choice for families, and it also results in less cargo space than most competing SUVs. Still, test drivers say that the Encore offers a useful amount of room behind the second row.Standard safety features include 4-wheel anti-lock disc brakes with brake assist, electronic stability and traction control systems, OnStar, and ten airbags. Other standard features include: Buick QuietTuning acoustics package with active noise cancellation, 18-inch alloy wheels, Bluetooth wireless connectivity, IntelliLink audio system with 7-inch color touch screen and an oil life monitor. 

The Convenience trim adds: dual-zone climate control, rearview auto-dimming mirror, blind spot sensor, remote start and front fog lamps. The Leather trim adds: heated front seats and steering wheel, power adjustable front passenger seat, leather seating surfaces and driver seat memory system including the exterior mirrors. The Premium trim adds on the tech with rain sensing wipers, Bose audio system, lane departure warning and Ultrasonic front and rear parking sensors including rear vision camera.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014


The 2014 Mercedes GLA is the future of innovation and must be driven to understand the quality and technology that has been added.

Mercedes-Benz GLAThe GLA moves between the poles of two core design values: progression and tradition. It is an all-rounder, has SUV genes – and is youthful yet sculpturally pleasant at the same time. The low greenhouse, the higher vehicle body and the large wheel cutouts exude a strong power of attraction. Sharp lines lend definition and precision. The confidently upright front with a central star gives the GLA a competent expression which is intensified by the characteristic look of the headlamps. From a side view, the GLA also embodies power and competence. In contrast to previous SUVs, the GLA is not as bulky and its entry is not as high. As a result it is perfect for the everyday routine of urban people.                                                      
The strong and competent appearance of the exterior is continued consistently in the interior. The strong horizontal emphasis and the dynamic design are further characteristics. Added to this is a high sense of perceived value, encompassing the design, the options available and possibilities for combining top-class materials. Matt and high-sheen 3D geometries create an attractive play of light. The large selection of materials and colour combinations for seat covers provides great scope for individualisation. Sports seats with integrated head restraints are available to the customer as special equipment upon request. The volume of the luggage compartment can be increased by 60 litres thanks to the optional luggage compartment package. The equipment lines Style, Urban and AMG Line are available for even more individuality. During the first year, the Edition 1 will be available in limited quantities as a special mode.                                        

The GLA moves with a fuel consumption as low as 4.3 litres/100 km, thus setting new standards in its segment. The modern four-cylinder engines with turbocharging and direct injection provide for dynamic pulling power coupled with the highest efficiency. 

All of the engines are equipped with the ECO start/stop function as standard. The engines are combined with either a six-speed manual transmission or the optional 7G-DCT dual clutch automatic transmission, both of which unite comfort and sportiness in a particularly special way.

Mercedes-Benz also supplies the GLA with a new generation of the 4MATIC all-wheel drive system with fully variable torque distribution. This all-wheel drive system is characterised by high tractive power reserves and outstanding agility accompanied by optimum driving safety and energy efficiency. Vehicles with 4MATIC are all equipped with Downhill Speed Regulation (DSR) as well as an off-road drive program as standard. By selecting the off-road drive program the transmission shift point and the accelerator characteristics are also adapted to meet the demands of easy cross-country driving, particularly on loose surfaces.                                                                                                                                                      
Numerous driving assistance systems support and relieve the driver in the GLA. The SUV has, amongst other things, ATTENTION ASSIST for drowsiness detection and radar-supported COLLISION PREVENTION ASSIST with Adaptive Brake Assist as standard. This is then upgraded to COLLISION PREVENTION ASSIST PLUS when combined with DISTRONIC PLUS, the optional adaptive cruise control. It also has an additional function: the system can brake the vehicle autonomously when travelling up to a speed of 200 km/h if a risk of collision persists and the there is no reaction from the driver. The system will also brake in response to stationary vehicles up to a speed of 30 km/h and can avoid rear-end collisions up to a speed of 20 km/h. Successful assistance systems such as the lane package with Blind Spot Assist and Lane Keeping Assist or Adaptive Highbeam Assist are also available on request.

Always informed on the road: the driver is always up-to-date in the new GLA. This is thanks to the newest generation of the multimedia system which is fitted as standard in the GLA. The Digital Drive Style App concept which, in combination with the optional "Drive Kit Plus for iPhone®", provides for the seamless integration of the iPhone® in the vehicle, has been extended. The highlights include the Siri voice control system, and the Glympse real-time location sharing app. Further functions are: Facebook®, Twitter®, Internet radio, AUPEO!™ Personal Radio and the progressive navigation solution from Garmin® with internet-based real-time traffic information.

Whether as a companion on an exploratory trip or a reliable partner in everyday situations, the new GLA has the world at its feet thanks to its progressive interpretation of the SUV segment. 

Monday, August 4, 2014


U.S. and Canadian dealers on Monday began ordering 2015 Ford Motor Co F-150 pickup trucks, which are lighter than earlier models, priced higher and include additional standard features, the company said.

The launch of the new trucks with aluminum bodies is key for Ford as the F-150 pickups have been the best-selling vehicles in North America for 36 years and are profit centers for the No. 2 U.S. automaker.

The vehicle is on its way to continuing that streak this year.

Ford Chief Executive Mark Fields said last week the rollout of the new trucks was on target for first sales late this year, and he was confident they would launch without quality problems sometimes associated with new vehicles.

The base, or non-luxury, models - the XL work truck and the most popular version the XLT - will see prices rise $395 over F-150 pickups currently on sale. The XL base price will be $26,615 including destination charges, and the XLT will begin at $31,890.• New LED accent lamps, larger video screens, and other new fea­tures on most of the mod­els
• Top-line ver­sions, such as the F-150 Plat­inum and King Ranch edi­tion, get a level of stan­dard equip­ment more nor­mally asso­ci­ated with lux­ury cars than work trucks. • The new F-150 could, in some con­fig­u­ra­tions, see a gain of as much as 7 miles per gal­lon.
• A mileage-miser pack­age that will rely on a new nat­u­rally aspi­rated 3.5-liter V-6 to replace the old 3.7-liter pack­age.
• Adding a 2.7-liter Eco­Boost engine, the small­est Ford has used in an F-150.
• A turbo pack­age, that could con­tribute to addi­tional fuel econ­omy gains.
• New infor­ma­tion screens and a bet­ter audio sys­tem
• Heated and cooled front seats and LED light­ing in its cargo box.
• New LED head­lamps and tail­lights
• An 8-inch infor­ma­tion screen,
• Cargo box lights, side mir­ror spot­lights,
• Remote tail­gate release and power lock,
• Twin 400-watt power out­lets,
• Push-button start,
• Heated rear seats and a heated steer­ing wheel.

Together, these two versions will account for up to 70 percent of F-150 sales, said company spokesman Mike Levine.

Levine said the higher prices were due to additional standard features in all five trim levels of the F-150, and not because of the greater cost of aluminum over steel.

The Lariat, the lowest priced of the luxury F-150s, begins pricing at $39,880, up $895. Levine said this version includes an eight-inch LCD screen and a rear-view camera as standard equipment.

The two highest-priced versions saw the biggest price increases. The King Ranch F-150 rose $3,615 to $49,460, and the Platinum version rose $3,055 to $52,155.

Mark Smith, president of Dick Smith Ford in Raytown, Missouri near Kansas City, said on Monday that customers were at first skeptical of the aluminum truck.

"As time has gone by and people have read more about the aluminum truck, apprehension has turned into excitement," said Smith.

Early Monday, Smith said he and his sales staff were studying the new offerings and had yet to make any orders for new trucks. Still, Smith said falling gasoline prices boded well for pickup truck sales.

The national average price for regular gasoline is $3.52 per gallon, 16 cents less than a month ago, and in the Kansas City area are under $3.10 per gallon for regular, from $3.40 per gallon a month ago, according to the AAA travel group.

The aluminum alloy body on the new trucks makes them up to 700 pounds lighter, which will allow for greater fuel efficiency, but Ford has yet to announce fuel economy ratings.