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Found 79 results

  1. Hey guys, I have a buddy of mine who's typically a Chevy guy but he came across a 2012 F150 XLT EcoBoost. What I'm really looking for is are they reliable... I know it's kind of a loaded question but it's a little difficult to get some answers when Googling it because most that have 150,000 trouble free miles aren't the ones online posting about how reliable their truck is. The ones posting are the ones with premature issues. So, does anybody have any first hand or friends/family have first hand with any of that generation 3.5 EcoBoosts that have issues relating to the engine. AND/OR anybody that has put a lot of miles on their truck without issues. The truck in question has 69,000 miles and according to the site(local dealer) it has been maintained every 5000 miles at that dealer. Heck, I'll just post the link to the truck. http://triford.com/Highland-IL/For-Sale/Used/Ford/F-150/2012-XLT-Red-Truck/49186248/
  2. William Maley Staff Writer - CheersandGears.com October 24, 2012 Back in August, I had the chance to drive the new 2013 Mazda CX-5 for a week. The CX-5 featured the whole suite of Mazda’s SKYACTIV tech; engine, transmission, and lightweight construction. But what happens when you only take two out of the three parts of SKYACTIV? Well, you get the 2012 Mazda3i which comes equipped with the SKYACTIV engine and transmission. Does having two parts of SKYACTIV make the 3i a competent compact car or not? The 3’s exterior looks pretty much the same as it was introduced back in 2009, a design that doesn’t go for the cliché of the month. Up front, the big grin grille has been toned down a little and the front headlights now have blue accent rings, quietly signifying that you’re driving a SKYACTIV model. Along the side, Mazda designers have embellished the front fenders and placed a set of sixteen-inch alloy wheels into the wheel wells. Inside the 3, the same story applies. The interior is draped in black trim and seats. Thankfully, Mazda has added some other colors to give some variation. This included some silver trim along the dash and adding variety of colors for the illumination of the gauges and center stack (blue, red, and white). Materials range from hard plastics on the dash to soft touch materials on the door rests. All of the materials feel like they should belong in a $25,000 vehicle. As for build quality, the 3i Hatchback passed with flying colors with no apparent gaps or loose pieces. The front seats are well-bolstered and provide a good amount of adjustments for both driver and passenger. Back-seat passengers will find a decent amount of headroom and legroom. Be forewarned though; the seats are really firm, meaning this isn’t really a good choice for long trips. Cargo space for the Mazda3 hatchback measures out to be 17.8 cu.ft. with the rear seats up and 42.8 cu.ft. with the rear seats down. This puts the 3 hatchback on the smallish side when compared with the Ford Focus Hatchback and Hyundai Elantra GT. The 3 I had in for review was the top of the line Grand Touring trim that comes equipped with heated leather seats, power driver’s seat, Bluetooth, sunroof, leather wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, 265-watt Bose CenterPoint audio system, color Multi-Information Display, and navigation. My biggest complaint with the 3’s interior deals with the screens on the dash and the navigation. For starters, the Mazda3i comes with two screens. The screen the left is where trip computer, information about what you’re listening to, and navigation. To the right is where another screen displays what input you’re listening to. I feel this layout is just somewhat redundant and confusing. Also, the left screen is on the smallish side. Taking a quick glance at the screen is somewhat of a joke. Then there is the navigation system, which resides in the left screen, meaning you have to deal with smallness. Plus, if you want to enter an address or destination, you have to you use controls on the steering wheel to do it. This is slow way to input a destination and made me wish for a touchscreen. Hopefully with the next-generation 3, Mazda condenses the two screens into one. Next: Power, Ride, and Verdict Powering the 3i is Mazda’s 2.0L SKYACTIV-G four-cylinder producing 155 HP (@ 6000 RPM) and 148 lb-ft (@ 4100 RPM). If you decide to get a 3i Grand Touring model, you can only equip it with a six-speed SKYACTIV-Drive automatic. Want a manual? You’ll have to drop to the 3i Touring model. Compared to the CX-5 with the same powertrain, the 3i's difference is night and day.The sluggishness and need to rev the engine in the CX-5 is non-existent in the 3. Instead, the SKYACTIV-G is very spritely and willing to get you up to speed quickly. The six-speed automatic delivered smooth and quick shifts. Also, I found the transmission to downshift much quicker than in the CX-5. What’s the reason for different engine behavior in the two vehicles? Weight. The CX-5 FWD Touring I had back August tipped the scales at 3,272 lbs. The Mazda3i Grand Touring Hatchback tips the scales at 2,969 lbs. That’s a difference of 303 lbs. The EPA rates the Mazda3i Grand Touring Hatchback at 28 City/39 Highway/32 Combined. My average for the week was a surprising 34 MPG on mostly rural and suburban roads. On the freeway, I averaged 40 MPG. Mazda’s are known for their fun to drive aspect in their vehicles and the 3 is no exception to this. Mazda employs Macpherson struts up front; a multi-link setup in the back, stabilizer bars, and a power-assisted rack-and-pinion steering system. All of these components make the 3 a joy to drive on your favorite road. The suspension keeps the vehicle in check and controllable when going into the turns. The steering is weighted just right and provides the right amount of road feel. With the 3 being lively on a fun road, it does fall short when on a day to day basis. The suspension doesn’t cope well with minimizing the impacts of bumps and imperfections on the road. There is also a good amount of road noise, meaning you’ll have to speak a little bit louder to your passengers. Going back to the question I asked in the first paragraph: Does having two out of three parts of SKYACTIV make the Mazda3i a competent compact car or not? The answer is a resounding yes. By adding the SKYACTIV powertrain package, Mazda has revitalized the 3 to better compete with the current crop of compact cars with improved gas mileage and some very impressive handling. There are some shortfalls with the Mazda3i which include a rough ride for day to day driving, a surprising amount of road noise, confusing screens, and some uncomfortable seats. But if you can overlook the problems, the Mazda3i Hatchback is possibly the best balance of fun and efficiency in the compact car class. Cheers: Fuel Economy SKYACTIV-G Engine Much More Lively Quick and Smooth Automatic Unique Styling Sporty Ride Jeers: The Two Screens on the Dash Seats Becoming Uncomfortable After Awhile Interior Cargo Space On Small Side Sporty Ride Not Pleasant on Rough Roads Road Noise Disclaimer: Mazda provided the vehicle, insurance, and one tank of gasoline. Year - 2012 Make – Mazda Model – 3 Trim – i Grand Touring Hatchback Engine – 2.0L SKYACTIV-G Four-Cylinder Driveline – Front-Wheel Drive, SKYACTIV-Drive Six-Speed Automatic Horsepower @ RPM – 155 HP (@ 6,000 RPM) Torque @ RPM – 148 lb-ft (@ 4,100 RPM) Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 28/39/32 Curb Weight – 2,969 lbs Location of Manufacture – Houfu, Japan Base Price - $23,150.00 As Tested Price - $25,345.00 (Includes $795.00 Destination Charge) William Maley is a staff writer for Cheers & Gears. He can be reached at william.maley@cheersandgears.com or you can follow him on twitter at @realmudmonster. View full article
  3. William Maley Staff Writer - CheersandGears.com October 24, 2012 Back in August, I had the chance to drive the new 2013 Mazda CX-5 for a week. The CX-5 featured the whole suite of Mazda’s SKYACTIV tech; engine, transmission, and lightweight construction. But what happens when you only take two out of the three parts of SKYACTIV? Well, you get the 2012 Mazda3i which comes equipped with the SKYACTIV engine and transmission. Does having two parts of SKYACTIV make the 3i a competent compact car or not? The 3’s exterior looks pretty much the same as it was introduced back in 2009, a design that doesn’t go for the cliché of the month. Up front, the big grin grille has been toned down a little and the front headlights now have blue accent rings, quietly signifying that you’re driving a SKYACTIV model. Along the side, Mazda designers have embellished the front fenders and placed a set of sixteen-inch alloy wheels into the wheel wells. Inside the 3, the same story applies. The interior is draped in black trim and seats. Thankfully, Mazda has added some other colors to give some variation. This included some silver trim along the dash and adding variety of colors for the illumination of the gauges and center stack (blue, red, and white). Materials range from hard plastics on the dash to soft touch materials on the door rests. All of the materials feel like they should belong in a $25,000 vehicle. As for build quality, the 3i Hatchback passed with flying colors with no apparent gaps or loose pieces. The front seats are well-bolstered and provide a good amount of adjustments for both driver and passenger. Back-seat passengers will find a decent amount of headroom and legroom. Be forewarned though; the seats are really firm, meaning this isn’t really a good choice for long trips. Cargo space for the Mazda3 hatchback measures out to be 17.8 cu.ft. with the rear seats up and 42.8 cu.ft. with the rear seats down. This puts the 3 hatchback on the smallish side when compared with the Ford Focus Hatchback and Hyundai Elantra GT. The 3 I had in for review was the top of the line Grand Touring trim that comes equipped with heated leather seats, power driver’s seat, Bluetooth, sunroof, leather wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, 265-watt Bose CenterPoint audio system, color Multi-Information Display, and navigation. My biggest complaint with the 3’s interior deals with the screens on the dash and the navigation. For starters, the Mazda3i comes with two screens. The screen the left is where trip computer, information about what you’re listening to, and navigation. To the right is where another screen displays what input you’re listening to. I feel this layout is just somewhat redundant and confusing. Also, the left screen is on the smallish side. Taking a quick glance at the screen is somewhat of a joke. Then there is the navigation system, which resides in the left screen, meaning you have to deal with smallness. Plus, if you want to enter an address or destination, you have to you use controls on the steering wheel to do it. This is slow way to input a destination and made me wish for a touchscreen. Hopefully with the next-generation 3, Mazda condenses the two screens into one. Next: Power, Ride, and Verdict Powering the 3i is Mazda’s 2.0L SKYACTIV-G four-cylinder producing 155 HP (@ 6000 RPM) and 148 lb-ft (@ 4100 RPM). If you decide to get a 3i Grand Touring model, you can only equip it with a six-speed SKYACTIV-Drive automatic. Want a manual? You’ll have to drop to the 3i Touring model. Compared to the CX-5 with the same powertrain, the 3i's difference is night and day.The sluggishness and need to rev the engine in the CX-5 is non-existent in the 3. Instead, the SKYACTIV-G is very spritely and willing to get you up to speed quickly. The six-speed automatic delivered smooth and quick shifts. Also, I found the transmission to downshift much quicker than in the CX-5. What’s the reason for different engine behavior in the two vehicles? Weight. The CX-5 FWD Touring I had back August tipped the scales at 3,272 lbs. The Mazda3i Grand Touring Hatchback tips the scales at 2,969 lbs. That’s a difference of 303 lbs. The EPA rates the Mazda3i Grand Touring Hatchback at 28 City/39 Highway/32 Combined. My average for the week was a surprising 34 MPG on mostly rural and suburban roads. On the freeway, I averaged 40 MPG. Mazda’s are known for their fun to drive aspect in their vehicles and the 3 is no exception to this. Mazda employs Macpherson struts up front; a multi-link setup in the back, stabilizer bars, and a power-assisted rack-and-pinion steering system. All of these components make the 3 a joy to drive on your favorite road. The suspension keeps the vehicle in check and controllable when going into the turns. The steering is weighted just right and provides the right amount of road feel. With the 3 being lively on a fun road, it does fall short when on a day to day basis. The suspension doesn’t cope well with minimizing the impacts of bumps and imperfections on the road. There is also a good amount of road noise, meaning you’ll have to speak a little bit louder to your passengers. Going back to the question I asked in the first paragraph: Does having two out of three parts of SKYACTIV make the Mazda3i a competent compact car or not? The answer is a resounding yes. By adding the SKYACTIV powertrain package, Mazda has revitalized the 3 to better compete with the current crop of compact cars with improved gas mileage and some very impressive handling. There are some shortfalls with the Mazda3i which include a rough ride for day to day driving, a surprising amount of road noise, confusing screens, and some uncomfortable seats. But if you can overlook the problems, the Mazda3i Hatchback is possibly the best balance of fun and efficiency in the compact car class. Cheers: Fuel Economy SKYACTIV-G Engine Much More Lively Quick and Smooth Automatic Unique Styling Sporty Ride Jeers: The Two Screens on the Dash Seats Becoming Uncomfortable After Awhile Interior Cargo Space On Small Side Sporty Ride Not Pleasant on Rough Roads Road Noise Disclaimer: Mazda provided the vehicle, insurance, and one tank of gasoline. Year - 2012 Make – Mazda Model – 3 Trim – i Grand Touring Hatchback Engine – 2.0L SKYACTIV-G Four-Cylinder Driveline – Front-Wheel Drive, SKYACTIV-Drive Six-Speed Automatic Horsepower @ RPM – 155 HP (@ 6,000 RPM) Torque @ RPM – 148 lb-ft (@ 4,100 RPM) Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 28/39/32 Curb Weight – 2,969 lbs Location of Manufacture – Houfu, Japan Base Price - $23,150.00 As Tested Price - $25,345.00 (Includes $795.00 Destination Charge) William Maley is a staff writer for Cheers & Gears. He can be reached at william.maley@cheersandgears.com or you can follow him on twitter at @realmudmonster.
  4. William Maley Staff Writer - CheersandGears.com June 20, 2012 Every year, there’s a new trend in the automotive world. One moment, its crossover mania; the next moment, it’s the coupe sedan. The current fad is compact, near luxury cars. And it’s not only the regular suspects that are getting into it. Luxury manufacturers are getting into the game as well: Audi, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Acura, and even Buick. Buick? Yes, Buick. Last year, the tri-shield introduced their new compact car, the Verano. Buick is hoping to take slice out of the growing luxury compact car market. But does a small compact Buick make sense at all? Exterior At first glance, the Verano looks to be a like shrunken La Crosse. The front end carries Buick’s signature waterfall grill and a set of headlights with a blue tint. On the hood, portholes sit on either side. The side profile carries the same profile from the larger LaCrosse and the standard eighteen inch wheels do a good job of filling in the wheel wells. The back end is short and has a tall trunk lid. One design cue that I didn’t like on the Verano is the chrome bars on top of the taillights. I’m not sure as to why they are there, but those bars add a touch of tackyness. All I would ask is for those chrome bars to be removed or to be color coded to the vehicle. Interior The Verano’s interior is one of the better ones GM has done in awhile. The dash layout is logical and most of the materials are soft touch and good quality. The only black mark with the dash lies with the “wood” and “metal” trim around the center stack. Come on GM, you’re marketing this as a premium compact car, at least put some better quality “wood” and “metal”. Speaking about the center stack, the Verano comes equipped with Buick’s new Intellilink infotainment system. Intellilink provides AM/FM/XM radio, USB and AUX connectivity, and streaming of Pandora and Stitcher Internet Radio. The system had two problems though. After I had used Pandora once and decided to go back to it, the system would play the music but no sound came out. The other problem was when I had iPod connected and would play a certain track, the system would decide to play it at Alvin and the Chipmunks speed. Hopefully GM is working on a fix. As for comfort, the Verano delivers it in spades. Passengers sitting in the front will find seats very comfortable and pleased to find them heated. Back seat passengers will find the space somewhat tight. Head and legroom come at a premium. The trunk measures out to 14 cu. ft., about 0.2 cu. ft. less than the large Regal. Next, Ride, Drive, and the Verdict Ride and Drive The Verano comes equipped with GM’s 2.4L four-cylinder producing 180 HP and 172 lb-ft of torque going through a six-speed automatic. Getting off the line and driving around town, the Verano provides respectable power. However, on the freeway and/or when trying to make a pass, the 2.4L feels overworked and underpowered. Thank the Verano’s curb weight of 3,300 lbs for that. Luckily for the Verano, a new 2.0L turbocharged four-cylinder is on its way later this year. Fuel economy of the 2.4 stands at 21 City/31 Highway/25 Combined. During my week with the Verano, I matched the combined figure of 25. The Verano's closest competitor, the Acura ILX gets better mileage out of its base 2.0L with 24 City/35 Highway/28 Combined and matches the Verano when equipped with an optional 200 HP 2.4L four (22 City/31 Highway/25 Combined). Bigger, heavier cars with much more power get similar highway numbers to the Verano (Dodge Charger is one of them), and comparing to the new Acura ILX is natural, but if you're going to do that, you need to compare the power and torque output as well. I haven't driven the ILX 2.0 yet, but I will bet it will be sitting higher in the RPM band than the Verano 2.4L. The Verano does come back with one of the quietest rides in the class. Road and wind noise are non-existent, even at highway speed. Also, the Verano ride feels very solid and composed, giving you the feeling you’re in a more expensive vehicle. If you feel like having some fun, the Verano is a willing partner. The front MacPherson suspension and rear Z-link setup keep the Verano stable when cornering, and the steering provides a good feel and weight. But don’t push it, the Verano isn’t a Ford Focus or a Dodge Dart, it will fight back. Verdict Does a compact Buick make sense? Almost. Unfortunately the weak link in the Verano is the 2.4L’s fuel economy. This is a compact car that gets almost the same fuel economy as a full size vehicle equipped with the V6. Hopefully, the turbo engine coming out later this year can rectify this. Otherwise, the Verano has a lot going for it: a handsome exterior, a comfortable interior, Buick’s new Intellilink system, and a very quiet ride. As the Verano was being driven away, I wondered how long how it would take to for me to save up enough money to get a Verano Turbo. Yeah, the Verano is that good. Cheers: Exterior Design Interior Intellilink Quiet Ride Jeers: Fuel Economy Tail light brows Year - 2012 Make - Buick Model - Verano Trim - 1SL Engine - 2.4L DOHC Four-Cylinder Driveline - Front Wheel Drive, Six Speed Automatic Horsepower @ RPM - 180 @ 6200 Torque @ RPM - 171 @ 4900 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 21/32/25 Curb Weight - 3300 lbs Location of Manufacture - Lake Orion, Michigan Base Price - $25,965.00 As Tested Price - $26,850.00 (Includes $885.00 Destination Charge) William Maley is a staff writer for Cheers & Gears. He can be reached at william.maley@cheersandgears.com or you can follow him on twitter at @realmudmonster. View full article
  5. William Maley Staff Writer - CheersandGears.com June 20, 2012 Every year, there’s a new trend in the automotive world. One moment, its crossover mania; the next moment, it’s the coupe sedan. The current fad is compact, near luxury cars. And it’s not only the regular suspects that are getting into it. Luxury manufacturers are getting into the game as well: Audi, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Acura, and even Buick. Buick? Yes, Buick. Last year, the tri-shield introduced their new compact car, the Verano. Buick is hoping to take slice out of the growing luxury compact car market. But does a small compact Buick make sense at all? Exterior At first glance, the Verano looks to be a like shrunken La Crosse. The front end carries Buick’s signature waterfall grill and a set of headlights with a blue tint. On the hood, portholes sit on either side. The side profile carries the same profile from the larger LaCrosse and the standard eighteen inch wheels do a good job of filling in the wheel wells. The back end is short and has a tall trunk lid. One design cue that I didn’t like on the Verano is the chrome bars on top of the taillights. I’m not sure as to why they are there, but those bars add a touch of tackyness. All I would ask is for those chrome bars to be removed or to be color coded to the vehicle. Interior The Verano’s interior is one of the better ones GM has done in awhile. The dash layout is logical and most of the materials are soft touch and good quality. The only black mark with the dash lies with the “wood” and “metal” trim around the center stack. Come on GM, you’re marketing this as a premium compact car, at least put some better quality “wood” and “metal”. Speaking about the center stack, the Verano comes equipped with Buick’s new Intellilink infotainment system. Intellilink provides AM/FM/XM radio, USB and AUX connectivity, and streaming of Pandora and Stitcher Internet Radio. The system had two problems though. After I had used Pandora once and decided to go back to it, the system would play the music but no sound came out. The other problem was when I had iPod connected and would play a certain track, the system would decide to play it at Alvin and the Chipmunks speed. Hopefully GM is working on a fix. As for comfort, the Verano delivers it in spades. Passengers sitting in the front will find seats very comfortable and pleased to find them heated. Back seat passengers will find the space somewhat tight. Head and legroom come at a premium. The trunk measures out to 14 cu. ft., about 0.2 cu. ft. less than the large Regal. Next, Ride, Drive, and the Verdict Ride and Drive The Verano comes equipped with GM’s 2.4L four-cylinder producing 180 HP and 172 lb-ft of torque going through a six-speed automatic. Getting off the line and driving around town, the Verano provides respectable power. However, on the freeway and/or when trying to make a pass, the 2.4L feels overworked and underpowered. Thank the Verano’s curb weight of 3,300 lbs for that. Luckily for the Verano, a new 2.0L turbocharged four-cylinder is on its way later this year. Fuel economy of the 2.4 stands at 21 City/31 Highway/25 Combined. During my week with the Verano, I matched the combined figure of 25. The Verano's closest competitor, the Acura ILX gets better mileage out of its base 2.0L with 24 City/35 Highway/28 Combined and matches the Verano when equipped with an optional 200 HP 2.4L four (22 City/31 Highway/25 Combined). Bigger, heavier cars with much more power get similar highway numbers to the Verano (Dodge Charger is one of them), and comparing to the new Acura ILX is natural, but if you're going to do that, you need to compare the power and torque output as well. I haven't driven the ILX 2.0 yet, but I will bet it will be sitting higher in the RPM band than the Verano 2.4L. The Verano does come back with one of the quietest rides in the class. Road and wind noise are non-existent, even at highway speed. Also, the Verano ride feels very solid and composed, giving you the feeling you’re in a more expensive vehicle. If you feel like having some fun, the Verano is a willing partner. The front MacPherson suspension and rear Z-link setup keep the Verano stable when cornering, and the steering provides a good feel and weight. But don’t push it, the Verano isn’t a Ford Focus or a Dodge Dart, it will fight back. Verdict Does a compact Buick make sense? Almost. Unfortunately the weak link in the Verano is the 2.4L’s fuel economy. This is a compact car that gets almost the same fuel economy as a full size vehicle equipped with the V6. Hopefully, the turbo engine coming out later this year can rectify this. Otherwise, the Verano has a lot going for it: a handsome exterior, a comfortable interior, Buick’s new Intellilink system, and a very quiet ride. As the Verano was being driven away, I wondered how long how it would take to for me to save up enough money to get a Verano Turbo. Yeah, the Verano is that good. Cheers: Exterior Design Interior Intellilink Quiet Ride Jeers: Fuel Economy Tail light brows Year - 2012 Make - Buick Model - Verano Trim - 1SL Engine - 2.4L DOHC Four-Cylinder Driveline - Front Wheel Drive, Six Speed Automatic Horsepower @ RPM - 180 @ 6200 Torque @ RPM - 171 @ 4900 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 21/32/25 Curb Weight - 3300 lbs Location of Manufacture - Lake Orion, Michigan Base Price - $25,965.00 As Tested Price - $26,850.00 (Includes $885.00 Destination Charge) William Maley is a staff writer for Cheers & Gears. He can be reached at william.maley@cheersandgears.com or you can follow him on twitter at @realmudmonster.
  6. By Chris Doane January 29, 2013 I know I won’t get much, if any, sympathy when I say that, sometimes, there are letdowns when you review cars. Last week, the car I was evaluating was a $100,000, 400hp, German coupe. (Read my review of the 2012 BMW 650i xDrive coupe here) I’ve now stepped directly from that into a Kia Rio. I’ll pause for your laughter. For the price of the super coupe, you can buy 5.4 Kia Rios. You could keep that .4 for spare parts? But don’t let price fool you. Oddly enough, there is something about the way the Kia drives that beats the German car hands down. If you guessed power, speed or luxury, then you’re either not familiar with these cars, or you’re three martinis into “lunch” at the bar. What the much cheaper Kia does have over the German car is steering feel. The coupe from Deutschland has 262 more horse power, yards and yards of leather, but in the Kia, I actually have some sense of what the front wheels are doing via what I feel through the steering wheel. And I’ll take some feel over none any day. If driving is something you enjoy, steering feel is pretty useful information to have when zipping through the corners. Even if driving is nothing more than a task for you, it’s pretty nice to know when the front wheels feel like they’re about to lose traction. While no one would ever mistake the Rio for a sporty, corner carving car, the Rio SX model has a sport-tuned suspension, 17-inch wheels, and light, responsive steering that, somehow, make this small, underpowered car a little bit fun to drive. It’s a bit like a go-kart, only with airbags, a trunk and room for five passengers. Well, 4.5 anyway. The main reason I say “a little bit fun to drive” is because of the 1.6L, 138hp four cylinder motor in the Rio. Those hot, 17-inch wheels on this Rio SX might make it look quick, but this hatchback ain’t going anywhere fast. While there is certainly power to be had from this little four-banger, you’ve got to rev the snot out of it to reach that power. Once the tachometer reads 4500-5000rpm, then you approach something that could be considered acceleration. In regular, everyday driving, the lack of power isn’t really an issue. You’ll get through the city, and around the highways, just fine. But in some situations, like passing on even a modest incline, you might think twice. As I attempted to pass an older, slower Nissan on a slight uphill, the pass happened in such slow fashion that I would’ve had time to say hello to the driver, ask if he was hungry, make a sandwich, and pass it over. Wait, did he want Grey Poupon? So we don’t have speed, but that should come as no surprise since this car is intended more for fuel efficiency. The Rio is rated for 28mpg city, 36mpg highway, and we observed a 31mpg average with sporty driving habits and more highway driving than city driving. There is also an “eco” button you can press that reigns in the engine, and transmission shift points, for increased fuel economy. Even though the fuel economy is fairly good, the tank in the Rio is pretty tiny at 11.3 gallons. If you have a long commute, you’ll still be filling up a lot, but at least you’ll only be pumping in 11 gallons each time. If you want to know when that tank is about to run dry, it’s not a good idea to rely on the digital, remaining range readout in the gauge cluster. One moment, the Rio SX told me I could drive another 31 miles before I was out of fuel. Less than 5 minutes of regular driving later, it told me I had no range remaining. Inside the Rio, it’s about what you’d expect in a $18,545 car. A nicely designed, mostly hard plastic interior, but with soft touch material in the right spots and a backup camera. Wait, what? A backup camera in a $18,545 car? Touch-screen nav too? Don’t forget the power fold mirrors. Though, in a car this narrow, I’m not really sure why you’d ever need to fold in the mirrors. Of those features, it’s the backup camera that is almost a necesity due to the massive blind spots the stylish C-pillars create. Without a rear-facing camera, backing out of a parking spot involves more prayer than driving skill. Normally, in cars of this price range, the seats suffer when it comes to comfort. Somehow, the chairs in the Rio manage not to do that. They certainly aren’t heavily padded or bosltered seats, but after three hours of wheeling, I was perfectly comfortable, and ready for three more. Frankly, the best part of the Rio is how fantastic it looks. If you venture back even a few years ago and look at the cars Kia was producing then, you’d never have guessed this company was capable of designing something this good looking. Not only does the exterior design trump the Scion xB, Honda Fit, Toyota Yaris and Nissan Versa, but it certainly holds its’ own against the Chevy Sonic and Ford Fiesta as well. 2012 Kia Rio SX 5-door - $17,700 -Carpeted Floor Mats - $95 -Destination - $750 TOTAL - $18,545 Album: 2012 Kia Rio SX 5-Door 7 images 0 comments View full article
  7. By Chris Doane January 29, 2013 I know I won’t get much, if any, sympathy when I say that, sometimes, there are letdowns when you review cars. Last week, the car I was evaluating was a $100,000, 400hp, German coupe. (Read my review of the 2012 BMW 650i xDrive coupe here) I’ve now stepped directly from that into a Kia Rio. I’ll pause for your laughter. For the price of the super coupe, you can buy 5.4 Kia Rios. You could keep that .4 for spare parts? But don’t let price fool you. Oddly enough, there is something about the way the Kia drives that beats the German car hands down. If you guessed power, speed or luxury, then you’re either not familiar with these cars, or you’re three martinis into “lunch” at the bar. What the much cheaper Kia does have over the German car is steering feel. The coupe from Deutschland has 262 more horse power, yards and yards of leather, but in the Kia, I actually have some sense of what the front wheels are doing via what I feel through the steering wheel. And I’ll take some feel over none any day. If driving is something you enjoy, steering feel is pretty useful information to have when zipping through the corners. Even if driving is nothing more than a task for you, it’s pretty nice to know when the front wheels feel like they’re about to lose traction. While no one would ever mistake the Rio for a sporty, corner carving car, the Rio SX model has a sport-tuned suspension, 17-inch wheels, and light, responsive steering that, somehow, make this small, underpowered car a little bit fun to drive. It’s a bit like a go-kart, only with airbags, a trunk and room for five passengers. Well, 4.5 anyway. The main reason I say “a little bit fun to drive” is because of the 1.6L, 138hp four cylinder motor in the Rio. Those hot, 17-inch wheels on this Rio SX might make it look quick, but this hatchback ain’t going anywhere fast. While there is certainly power to be had from this little four-banger, you’ve got to rev the snot out of it to reach that power. Once the tachometer reads 4500-5000rpm, then you approach something that could be considered acceleration. In regular, everyday driving, the lack of power isn’t really an issue. You’ll get through the city, and around the highways, just fine. But in some situations, like passing on even a modest incline, you might think twice. As I attempted to pass an older, slower Nissan on a slight uphill, the pass happened in such slow fashion that I would’ve had time to say hello to the driver, ask if he was hungry, make a sandwich, and pass it over. Wait, did he want Grey Poupon? So we don’t have speed, but that should come as no surprise since this car is intended more for fuel efficiency. The Rio is rated for 28mpg city, 36mpg highway, and we observed a 31mpg average with sporty driving habits and more highway driving than city driving. There is also an “eco” button you can press that reigns in the engine, and transmission shift points, for increased fuel economy. Even though the fuel economy is fairly good, the tank in the Rio is pretty tiny at 11.3 gallons. If you have a long commute, you’ll still be filling up a lot, but at least you’ll only be pumping in 11 gallons each time. If you want to know when that tank is about to run dry, it’s not a good idea to rely on the digital, remaining range readout in the gauge cluster. One moment, the Rio SX told me I could drive another 31 miles before I was out of fuel. Less than 5 minutes of regular driving later, it told me I had no range remaining. Inside the Rio, it’s about what you’d expect in a $18,545 car. A nicely designed, mostly hard plastic interior, but with soft touch material in the right spots and a backup camera. Wait, what? A backup camera in a $18,545 car? Touch-screen nav too? Don’t forget the power fold mirrors. Though, in a car this narrow, I’m not really sure why you’d ever need to fold in the mirrors. Of those features, it’s the backup camera that is almost a necesity due to the massive blind spots the stylish C-pillars create. Without a rear-facing camera, backing out of a parking spot involves more prayer than driving skill. Normally, in cars of this price range, the seats suffer when it comes to comfort. Somehow, the chairs in the Rio manage not to do that. They certainly aren’t heavily padded or bosltered seats, but after three hours of wheeling, I was perfectly comfortable, and ready for three more. Frankly, the best part of the Rio is how fantastic it looks. If you venture back even a few years ago and look at the cars Kia was producing then, you’d never have guessed this company was capable of designing something this good looking. Not only does the exterior design trump the Scion xB, Honda Fit, Toyota Yaris and Nissan Versa, but it certainly holds its’ own against the Chevy Sonic and Ford Fiesta as well. 2012 Kia Rio SX 5-door - $17,700 -Carpeted Floor Mats - $95 -Destination - $750 TOTAL - $18,545 Album: 2012 Kia Rio SX 5-Door 7 images 0 comments
  8. By Chris Doane January 7, 2013 It’s midweek and I’m cruising down the interstate when I come up behind one of the Passat TDI’s diesel brethren from a few decades prior: An early 1980’s Mercedes 300D. The tortured Benz was loud, emitting a smoke screen, and judging from its’ lack of ability to pass a semi-truck, the non-turbocharged 300D. A quick look at the trunk lid badging confirmed that. Back in the 1980’s, I’m not really sure what the appeal of the 300D would’ve been. Gasoline was around $1.20 a gallon and luxury buyers wouldn’t have thought twice about filling up at that price. The 300D had 83hp, 120 lb-ft of torque, and without the turbocharger, looked to have “John Deere” acceleration qualities. Fuel economy usually fell between the high 20’s and low 30’s. As it turned out, the biggest redeeming quality, realized years later, was that the diesel motors in the 300 were built to be absolutely bombproof. The first 100,000 miles on these motors was simply the break-in period. These days, Mercedes 300D’s reaching half a million miles, or more, is not uncommon. The one I saw looked as though it might be past the half-million mark, but there it was, still going. Well, sort of. Pulling my mind back into the cabin of the Passat TDI, the contrast is pretty stark. I’m driving at a casual 72mph, and the car isn’t even breaking a sweat, humming along at 2200rpm. No diesel racket, no smelly gray cloud, no lack of ability to pass at highway speeds. Thirty years of diesel technology advancements had now turned a car that roared, coughed and smoked into a sedan that behaved like all the rest and sipped diesel at a minuscule rate. Same, but different Walk onto a Volkswagen dealer lot, and the only real visual cue to tell the diesel Passat apart from the gasoline model is “TDI” badge on the back. Once you pop the hood, you’ll be face to face with the TDI’s biggest change: The 140hp, 2.0L four-cylinder turbo-diesel engine. As with all diesels, it’s the 236 lb-ft of torque that really gives the Passat TDI its’ oomph. Past the different power plant, the other significant change is waiting for you in the trunk where the urea filler spout is located. Urea, or AdBlue as VW dubs it, is a liquid that is injected into the exhaust, greatly reducing the terribleness of diesel exhaust and allowing the car to meet U.S. emissions regulations. That might sound like an added hassle, but one tank of urea in the Passat should last you 10,000 miles, and is timed to be part of your regular oil changes. If the urea tank does happen run low, as it did during my week with the Passat, the car gives you somewhat of a stern warning, but it comes well in advance of the urea tank going dry. With 800 miles of urea range remaining, the warning light advised the engine would not be able to start once the tank was empty. The good news is a gallon of urea cost me only $6.99 at a local auto parts store and took all of three minutes to buy and pour into the tank. If you can’t manage to do that within 800 miles, the problem might be sitting in the driver’s seat. Both the diesel and gasoline-powered Passats feature a smooth shifting, 6-speed DSG transmission. You’ll barely feel the first two shifts, and you’d have to have your eyes glued to the tachometer to know the cogs are swapping once you’re into third gear. MPGs The Passat TDI is a pretty purpose driven vehicle. It’s meant to be a comfortable, mid-size cruiser that gets phenomenal fuel economy, and it reaches those goals with ease. The interior feels quite large, front and back, and the materials have not been cheapened in the way that the Jetta’s have. While I’m still pretty sure the only people fingering the dashboards are automotive writers, if you feel the need, you will find it’s fairly soft. More importantly, the 8-way power seats are “drive all day” comfortable. The most impressive part, and the reason you’ll buy this sedan, is the fuel economy. With the automatic transmission, the EPA says the Passat will get 30mpg in the city and 40mpg on the highway. However, that’s not really accurate. One of the quirks with diesel engines is that it takes longer for them to break in than gasoline motors. 10,000 miles is usually the number most TDI aficionados use for a good break in period. During that break in period, the piston rings in the engine will become better seated and the compression in the engine will improve. The end result of that is even better fuel economy. The Passat I drove had nearly 17,000 miles on it by the time I slid behind the wheel, so this diesel engine should’ve been operating much closer to its full potential than a brand new engine. Much of the driving I did was on hilly roads, and with a less-than-light foot. Despite that, the Passat still averaged 42-44mpg. That’s 2-4mpg above the EPA highway rating while driving like a teenager who’d just got his license and the keys to dad’s car. Once I eased off the throttle and returned to a regular pace, the mpg started creeping towards 50mpg. Use the cruise control for all your highway driving, and a mileage number just past 50mpg wouldn’t be out of the question. On the downside, the Passat’s fun factor rates somewhere around “mashed potatoes.” The suspension is tuned much more for comfort than it is for cornering. There is a decent helping of body roll in the corners, and over large bumps, or rough road, the Passat can feel downright floaty. That’s great if your mom is in the passenger seat, but not so good if you want to go hunting for the corner apex. Additionally, the turbo lag is pretty noticeable. Floor the accelerator, and for the first two seconds, not much happens. That can make jumping out into traffic from a dead stop a pretty interesting gamble. Once the turbo is spooled up, power delivery is adequate. The Highway Choice In the end, I can forgive the Passat TDI for not being a sport sedan because that just isn’t what it’s supposed to be. In the same way that a hybrid or electric car makes sense for city drivers, this VW makes huge sense for people who spend most of their commute on the highway. Unfortunately, a fun-to-drive diesel doesn’t really exist in the U.S. market yet, but a midsize sedan that can achieve 50+ mpg can’t be ignored. Going out to the car the next morning and thinking “didn’t the fuel gauge say that yesterday morning?” was certainly not a bad feeling. 2012 VW Passat TDI SEL Base price - $32,915 Destination - $795 Total = $33,710 Album: 2012 Volkswagen Passat TDI 6 images 0 comments
  9. By Chris Doane January 7, 2013 It’s midweek and I’m cruising down the interstate when I come up behind one of the Passat TDI’s diesel brethren from a few decades prior: An early 1980’s Mercedes 300D. The tortured Benz was loud, emitting a smoke screen, and judging from its’ lack of ability to pass a semi-truck, the non-turbocharged 300D. A quick look at the trunk lid badging confirmed that. Back in the 1980’s, I’m not really sure what the appeal of the 300D would’ve been. Gasoline was around $1.20 a gallon and luxury buyers wouldn’t have thought twice about filling up at that price. The 300D had 83hp, 120 lb-ft of torque, and without the turbocharger, looked to have “John Deere” acceleration qualities. Fuel economy usually fell between the high 20’s and low 30’s. As it turned out, the biggest redeeming quality, realized years later, was that the diesel motors in the 300 were built to be absolutely bombproof. The first 100,000 miles on these motors was simply the break-in period. These days, Mercedes 300D’s reaching half a million miles, or more, is not uncommon. The one I saw looked as though it might be past the half-million mark, but there it was, still going. Well, sort of. Pulling my mind back into the cabin of the Passat TDI, the contrast is pretty stark. I’m driving at a casual 72mph, and the car isn’t even breaking a sweat, humming along at 2200rpm. No diesel racket, no smelly gray cloud, no lack of ability to pass at highway speeds. Thirty years of diesel technology advancements had now turned a car that roared, coughed and smoked into a sedan that behaved like all the rest and sipped diesel at a minuscule rate. Same, but different Walk onto a Volkswagen dealer lot, and the only real visual cue to tell the diesel Passat apart from the gasoline model is “TDI” badge on the back. Once you pop the hood, you’ll be face to face with the TDI’s biggest change: The 140hp, 2.0L four-cylinder turbo-diesel engine. As with all diesels, it’s the 236 lb-ft of torque that really gives the Passat TDI its’ oomph. Past the different power plant, the other significant change is waiting for you in the trunk where the urea filler spout is located. Urea, or AdBlue as VW dubs it, is a liquid that is injected into the exhaust, greatly reducing the terribleness of diesel exhaust and allowing the car to meet U.S. emissions regulations. That might sound like an added hassle, but one tank of urea in the Passat should last you 10,000 miles, and is timed to be part of your regular oil changes. If the urea tank does happen run low, as it did during my week with the Passat, the car gives you somewhat of a stern warning, but it comes well in advance of the urea tank going dry. With 800 miles of urea range remaining, the warning light advised the engine would not be able to start once the tank was empty. The good news is a gallon of urea cost me only $6.99 at a local auto parts store and took all of three minutes to buy and pour into the tank. If you can’t manage to do that within 800 miles, the problem might be sitting in the driver’s seat. Both the diesel and gasoline-powered Passats feature a smooth shifting, 6-speed DSG transmission. You’ll barely feel the first two shifts, and you’d have to have your eyes glued to the tachometer to know the cogs are swapping once you’re into third gear. MPGs The Passat TDI is a pretty purpose driven vehicle. It’s meant to be a comfortable, mid-size cruiser that gets phenomenal fuel economy, and it reaches those goals with ease. The interior feels quite large, front and back, and the materials have not been cheapened in the way that the Jetta’s have. While I’m still pretty sure the only people fingering the dashboards are automotive writers, if you feel the need, you will find it’s fairly soft. More importantly, the 8-way power seats are “drive all day” comfortable. The most impressive part, and the reason you’ll buy this sedan, is the fuel economy. With the automatic transmission, the EPA says the Passat will get 30mpg in the city and 40mpg on the highway. However, that’s not really accurate. One of the quirks with diesel engines is that it takes longer for them to break in than gasoline motors. 10,000 miles is usually the number most TDI aficionados use for a good break in period. During that break in period, the piston rings in the engine will become better seated and the compression in the engine will improve. The end result of that is even better fuel economy. The Passat I drove had nearly 17,000 miles on it by the time I slid behind the wheel, so this diesel engine should’ve been operating much closer to its full potential than a brand new engine. Much of the driving I did was on hilly roads, and with a less-than-light foot. Despite that, the Passat still averaged 42-44mpg. That’s 2-4mpg above the EPA highway rating while driving like a teenager who’d just got his license and the keys to dad’s car. Once I eased off the throttle and returned to a regular pace, the mpg started creeping towards 50mpg. Use the cruise control for all your highway driving, and a mileage number just past 50mpg wouldn’t be out of the question. On the downside, the Passat’s fun factor rates somewhere around “mashed potatoes.” The suspension is tuned much more for comfort than it is for cornering. There is a decent helping of body roll in the corners, and over large bumps, or rough road, the Passat can feel downright floaty. That’s great if your mom is in the passenger seat, but not so good if you want to go hunting for the corner apex. Additionally, the turbo lag is pretty noticeable. Floor the accelerator, and for the first two seconds, not much happens. That can make jumping out into traffic from a dead stop a pretty interesting gamble. Once the turbo is spooled up, power delivery is adequate. The Highway Choice In the end, I can forgive the Passat TDI for not being a sport sedan because that just isn’t what it’s supposed to be. In the same way that a hybrid or electric car makes sense for city drivers, this VW makes huge sense for people who spend most of their commute on the highway. Unfortunately, a fun-to-drive diesel doesn’t really exist in the U.S. market yet, but a midsize sedan that can achieve 50+ mpg can’t be ignored. Going out to the car the next morning and thinking “didn’t the fuel gauge say that yesterday morning?” was certainly not a bad feeling. 2012 VW Passat TDI SEL Base price - $32,915 Destination - $795 Total = $33,710 Album: 2012 Volkswagen Passat TDI 6 images 0 comments View full article
  10. By Chris Doane January 22, 2013 Five minutes after the photo session with the 650i came to an end, my phone rang. It’s Mark, the guy who was driving the Bimmer while I snapped photos. “Chris, something is wrong with my car. It feels slow, I must be towing a big trailer.” There was no trailer. Mark had just stepped from a 400hp, twin-turbo BMW into a 2005 Ford Expedition XLT. All 5352 pounds of it. “I’ll never enjoy driving this again. I’m blaming you.” Oh, um…alright, then. Misbehavin’ Apart from permanently ruining a man’s truck, the 650i encourages you to behave in ways your fellow motorists might not fully appreciate. You’ll creep up behind that Rav4, with only the “halo” LED lights on, stalk it like prey, then drop two gears and hammer past it in even the shortest passing lane. But when you have this much thrust on tap, short passing lanes suddenly turn into “Oh, I can make that!” lanes. The main source for that urge to misbehave comes from BMW’s twin-turbo, 4.4L V8 engine, good for 400hp and 450 lb-ft of torque. While those 400 ponies are undoubtedly great, you also get all the available torque very early in the rev range (1750 rpm.) Simply put, the power delivery is immediate, fierce and will pin you against the seat when you mash the pedal on the right. In addition to the speed, hammering the accerator summons a gurgling, satanic symphony of power, emanating from the huge tailpipes. It’s a sound that is as addictive as it is bad for your fuel economy. Living in proximity of a long tunnel should be a prerequiste to own this car as tunnel blasting will become your newest, loudest, most favorite hobby. When it comes to handling, the 650i encourages you to bend the rules once again and take the corner posted 20mph at 45mph. It’s something this BMW is certainly capable of, as it offers large amounts of grip, very flat cornering and…almost no steering feel whatsoever. And that last bit can be a problem. As is the case with many new cars, the 650i has electric power steering. A nasty side effect can be little to no steering feel. It made for a pretty numb steering wheel in the new 5-series, and it’s done exactly the same thing to the 6-series. Wheeling the 6’er through the bends is a hard feeling to describe. “Strange” might be the most accurate word. With no steering feel, it’s difficult to tell when your cornering speed might get too fast, and your grip of the road will cease to be. You almost have to rely on listening to whether the tires are just “singing” through the corner, or screetching and about to let go. With less sensory input to react to, it’s tough to know whether you’ll make it through the corner gracefully, and power out of it, or if you’ll be sucking on the airbag after skidding off the road and into that sugar maple tree. But hey, either way, it’ll be exciting. Technology, anyone? Once you set butt inside the new 6-series, there’s an awful lot of technology waiting for you. Some of it is cool, some of it is mediocore, and some of it doesn’t really work. Any tech talk about a BMW car almost certainly involves the often controversial iDrive interface system. It’s a setup that’s been through several revisions, and the net result of that is…it still sucks. It certainly sucks less than the earlier versions, but iDrive still has tons of endless menus that aren’t real intuitive to navigate. The week before I drove the 650i, a friend of mine said I’d be totally wow’ed by the heads up display offered in this BMW. It projects your speed, along with several other bits of information, on the windshield near your normal line of sight. Since a BMW is not an F-22 Raptor stealth fighter, I was skeptical how useful this really was. After one day of using it, I was totally sold on the HUD. Sure, it will help you keep your eyes more on the road, but really, it’s just the cool factor that makes you want it. On the downside, the HUD can be very hard to see if you’re wearing polarized sunglasses. One of the latest automated technologies making its way into luxury cars are the automatic high beam lights that turn themselves on and off as other cars approach you. Much like the earlier days of rain-sensing wipers that never seemed to get wiper speed right, these auto brights just aren’t there yet. Sometimes they worked, sometimes they would turn themselves off when I was the only one on the road. Heaps of style Once you’re past all the technology, you might notice you’re sitting in one of the nicest, most luxurious interiors out there at the moment. While I’ll let the photos do most of the talking, there is leather, and contrast stitching, everywhere. The dash flowing into the center console is incredibly elegant and the seats adjust 20 different ways to mold to your body. It is a really, really nice place to be. Unless of course you’re in the back seat. Then it’s best not to have legs since there’s nowhere to put them. On the outside, the sleek elegant design continues with an incredibly attractive posterior, strong character lines highlighting the profile, and a front end that’s gone a bit wrong. While this new 6-series is certainly much more attractive than the rounded-off, last-generation model, the front fascia on this latest model feels a bit over-styled. There’s just too much going on, especially when you opt for the M-sport package. Sign here Should you buy one? Yes, buy it for the sound that comes out of the exhaust pipes alone. Nevermind the exquiste interior, good, but numb, handling and rev-happy, twin-turbo V8. It’s certainly no sports car, but it’s grand tourer worthy of your checkbook. The biggest reason not to buy one? The way this 650i xDrive was spec’ed, you could be in an M6 coupe for only five grand more. And if you’re spending 100 grand on a 6-series, well, what’s another five? 2012 BMW 650i xDrive Coupe - $86,000 -Cold Weather Package - $750 -Driver Assistance Package - $3,330 -M-Sport Package - $4,440 -20” wheels with performance tires - $1300 -Premium Sound Package - $1800 -Instrument Panel with Leather - $1500 -Ceramic Controls - $650 -BMW Apps - $250 -Destination - $875 TOTAL Price – $100,825 Album: 2012 BMW 650i xDrive Coupe 8 images 0 comments View full article
  11. By Chris Doane January 22, 2013 Five minutes after the photo session with the 650i came to an end, my phone rang. It’s Mark, the guy who was driving the Bimmer while I snapped photos. “Chris, something is wrong with my car. It feels slow, I must be towing a big trailer.” There was no trailer. Mark had just stepped from a 400hp, twin-turbo BMW into a 2005 Ford Expedition XLT. All 5352 pounds of it. “I’ll never enjoy driving this again. I’m blaming you.” Oh, um…alright, then. Misbehavin’ Apart from permanently ruining a man’s truck, the 650i encourages you to behave in ways your fellow motorists might not fully appreciate. You’ll creep up behind that Rav4, with only the “halo” LED lights on, stalk it like prey, then drop two gears and hammer past it in even the shortest passing lane. But when you have this much thrust on tap, short passing lanes suddenly turn into “Oh, I can make that!” lanes. The main source for that urge to misbehave comes from BMW’s twin-turbo, 4.4L V8 engine, good for 400hp and 450 lb-ft of torque. While those 400 ponies are undoubtedly great, you also get all the available torque very early in the rev range (1750 rpm.) Simply put, the power delivery is immediate, fierce and will pin you against the seat when you mash the pedal on the right. In addition to the speed, hammering the accerator summons a gurgling, satanic symphony of power, emanating from the huge tailpipes. It’s a sound that is as addictive as it is bad for your fuel economy. Living in proximity of a long tunnel should be a prerequiste to own this car as tunnel blasting will become your newest, loudest, most favorite hobby. When it comes to handling, the 650i encourages you to bend the rules once again and take the corner posted 20mph at 45mph. It’s something this BMW is certainly capable of, as it offers large amounts of grip, very flat cornering and…almost no steering feel whatsoever. And that last bit can be a problem. As is the case with many new cars, the 650i has electric power steering. A nasty side effect can be little to no steering feel. It made for a pretty numb steering wheel in the new 5-series, and it’s done exactly the same thing to the 6-series. Wheeling the 6’er through the bends is a hard feeling to describe. “Strange” might be the most accurate word. With no steering feel, it’s difficult to tell when your cornering speed might get too fast, and your grip of the road will cease to be. You almost have to rely on listening to whether the tires are just “singing” through the corner, or screetching and about to let go. With less sensory input to react to, it’s tough to know whether you’ll make it through the corner gracefully, and power out of it, or if you’ll be sucking on the airbag after skidding off the road and into that sugar maple tree. But hey, either way, it’ll be exciting. Technology, anyone? Once you set butt inside the new 6-series, there’s an awful lot of technology waiting for you. Some of it is cool, some of it is mediocore, and some of it doesn’t really work. Any tech talk about a BMW car almost certainly involves the often controversial iDrive interface system. It’s a setup that’s been through several revisions, and the net result of that is…it still sucks. It certainly sucks less than the earlier versions, but iDrive still has tons of endless menus that aren’t real intuitive to navigate. The week before I drove the 650i, a friend of mine said I’d be totally wow’ed by the heads up display offered in this BMW. It projects your speed, along with several other bits of information, on the windshield near your normal line of sight. Since a BMW is not an F-22 Raptor stealth fighter, I was skeptical how useful this really was. After one day of using it, I was totally sold on the HUD. Sure, it will help you keep your eyes more on the road, but really, it’s just the cool factor that makes you want it. On the downside, the HUD can be very hard to see if you’re wearing polarized sunglasses. One of the latest automated technologies making its way into luxury cars are the automatic high beam lights that turn themselves on and off as other cars approach you. Much like the earlier days of rain-sensing wipers that never seemed to get wiper speed right, these auto brights just aren’t there yet. Sometimes they worked, sometimes they would turn themselves off when I was the only one on the road. Heaps of style Once you’re past all the technology, you might notice you’re sitting in one of the nicest, most luxurious interiors out there at the moment. While I’ll let the photos do most of the talking, there is leather, and contrast stitching, everywhere. The dash flowing into the center console is incredibly elegant and the seats adjust 20 different ways to mold to your body. It is a really, really nice place to be. Unless of course you’re in the back seat. Then it’s best not to have legs since there’s nowhere to put them. On the outside, the sleek elegant design continues with an incredibly attractive posterior, strong character lines highlighting the profile, and a front end that’s gone a bit wrong. While this new 6-series is certainly much more attractive than the rounded-off, last-generation model, the front fascia on this latest model feels a bit over-styled. There’s just too much going on, especially when you opt for the M-sport package. Sign here Should you buy one? Yes, buy it for the sound that comes out of the exhaust pipes alone. Nevermind the exquiste interior, good, but numb, handling and rev-happy, twin-turbo V8. It’s certainly no sports car, but it’s grand tourer worthy of your checkbook. The biggest reason not to buy one? The way this 650i xDrive was spec’ed, you could be in an M6 coupe for only five grand more. And if you’re spending 100 grand on a 6-series, well, what’s another five? 2012 BMW 650i xDrive Coupe - $86,000 -Cold Weather Package - $750 -Driver Assistance Package - $3,330 -M-Sport Package - $4,440 -20” wheels with performance tires - $1300 -Premium Sound Package - $1800 -Instrument Panel with Leather - $1500 -Ceramic Controls - $650 -BMW Apps - $250 -Destination - $875 TOTAL Price – $100,825 Album: 2012 BMW 650i xDrive Coupe 8 images 0 comments
  12. By William Maley Staff Writer - CheersandGears.com January 9, 2013 Ask someone to say the first thing that comes to their mind when you mention the word hybrid, and more often than not they will say the Toyota Prius. Despite not being the first hybrid on sale in the U.S. (that honor falls to the 1999 Honda Insight, which went on sale a full two years before the Prius in the U.S.), the Prius became a sales success and symbol for the hybrid vehicle. Why? The Prius offered the right mix of unheard fuel economy, features, and practicality in one package. Now in its third-generation, the unassuming hybrid hatchback falls into two polar opposite camps of thought. Those who love its efficiency and reliability and those who think the Pruis is an anathema to everything held dear by car enthusiasts. I'm an auto enthusiast, so when I recently spent a week in a 2012 Toyota Prius, I naturally approached the car with skepticism. Is it as good as the high fuel economy fans claim? Is it kryptonite to automotive enthusiasts? Read on to find out. Encounters of the Hybrid Kind The third-generation Prius is very much like the previous-generation model with its alien spaceship look. The third-generation model carries on the oval-esque shape with some aerodynamic tweaks including a smoother front end, squared-off corners on the rear end, and a new rear spoiler. These design changes help drop the drag coefficient from 0.26 cd to 0.25 cd. Other items of note include a set of LED taillights and an optional solar panel (part of a $3,820.00 Deluxe Solar Roof package) that power fans to cool down the vehicle’s interior without turning on the vehicle. I didn't get chance to try it since the average temperature here in Detroit was in the mid-thirties during my time and I rather enter a warm, not cold Prius. What would make this optional solar panel even better is the ability to charge the battery when the Prius is parked and keep the Prius warm in winter. Inside, the alien spaceship design theme continues with a floating center stack, a uniquely-styled shift knob, and a digital gauge cluster sitting on top and in the middle of the dashboard. The placement of gauge cluster does make it somewhat harder to make a quick glance while on the move. My test Prius did come with a heads-up display which had a speedometer and a power gauge letting you know how much power you’re drawing from the hybrid system. I do want to talk to the person who decided to hide the buttons for the heated seats underneath the center stack. The only way you know where they’re hiding is when you enter or exit the Prius. Did no one at Toyota bring this up during one of the design meetings? Seating was decent for both front and rear passengers with enough head and legroom. Materials are what you would find in current Toyota models; hard plastics and very synthetic-feeling leather. This would be ok if the price tag of this Prius wasn’t $33,118.00. The only real positive to the interior is that build quality is very good throughout the interior. As I mentioned earlier, this Prius was equipped with the $3,820.00 Deluxe Solar Roof package. Besides the solar roof, the package includes a seven-inch touch screen, navigation, Toyota’s Entune System, Bluetooth, an eight-speaker JBL system, and Toyota’s safety connect which provides emergency assistance services. The touchscreen was very responsive when pressed and provided the right amount brightness whether it was day or night. The eight-speaker JBL system provided ok sound, but I found that I had to turn it up when driving the Prius on the highway as there was too much road noise. As for Entune, I didn't get chance to try it since I didn't have the application on my iPhone to utilize the system. Yes, you need the Entune application on either your iPhone or Android phone to use it. Under the Skin, It’s a Prius Alright Pop the hood of the Prius and right before your eyes is one part of Toyota’s Hybrid Synergy Drive; a 1.8L Atkinson cycle four-cylinder engine producing 98 horsepower (@ 5,200 rpm) and 105 lb-ft of torque (@ 4,000 rpm), and a electric motor producing 80 horsepower and 153 lb-ft of torque. Total power output is rated at 134 horsepower. The other part of Toyota’s Hybrid Synergy Drive is a Nickel-Metal Hydride battery pack sitting in the back of the Prius. Your only transmission is a CVT. The Prius’ powertrain gets the job done. It will take a few seconds longer to get up to the speed on the road. Not much noise from either the engine or CVT enters the cabin when you accelerate normally. If you need to get a move on because there is a larger vehicle bearing down onto you or need to merge onto the highway, the drone of the engine and CVT are very apparent. Thankfully, the hybrid system seamlessly transitions electric power. The center stack has three buttons that can change the behavior of the hybrid system. The first is an EV mode which allows the Prius to travel a short distance on electric power alone below 25 MPH. The hybrid system will turn if you go above 25 or press further down on the pedal. With a light foot, I was able to go about a mile on electric power alone. Next is Eco mode which reduces throttle response in an emphasis to get better fuel economy numbers. This is ok if you don’t have a lot of traffic behind you or in a hurry to move along. If you don’t meet either or the criteria, leave Eco mode off. Finally there is Power mode which is the opposite of Eco mode. This mode noticeably increases throttle response to help you in certain situations like merging onto a highway. Fuel economy is very impressive for this small car. The EPA rates the Prius at 51 City/48 Highway/50 Combined. During my week with the Prius, I averaged 47.9 MPG with mostly suburban driving and sticking my foot into it. Ride and handling is taken care with a pair of MacPherson struts with a stabilizer bar up front and a torsion beam setup in the rear. While the setup isn’t technologically advanced like the rest of the Prius, it provides a somewhat comfortable ride. I did wish for some more damping when driving over craters that are called potholes in the Detroit area. Steering for the Prius comes in the form of an electric power-assisted rack-and-pinion system. The steering has some heft and some feel, something the old Prius lacked. That doesn’t make it a driver’s car since the Prius’ suspension is more tuned for comfort and the standard low-rolling resistance tires don’t provide enough grip. The Prius is a quiet vehicle when driven below 50 MPH. Go above that and you’ll notice an abundance of road and wind noise. I’m hoping with the next-generation Prius, Toyota puts in some more sound deadening material. Visibility is very good for the front and side. Rear visibility takes a hit due to the rear hatch shape and the large spoiler sitting in the middle of the hatch. Thankfully, the Prius did come equipped with a standard rear view camera. The Prius truly delivers on its promise of greenness with some impressive fuel economy numbers, clever technologies to make every use up every last drop of gas, unique design, and comfortable ride. However, the Prius has some faults. The road and wind noise while going above 50 MPH tops my list followed by the interior materials. That said the Toyota Prius is the perfect vehicle for someone who commutes in town and wants to tell everyone that they’re saving the planet. For me, I’ll pass on the Prius. Cheers Fuel Economy Technology Exterior Looks Somewhat Comfortable Ride Jeers Wind and Road Noise at Speed Engine and CVT During Hard Acceleration Materials Used in the Cabin Disclaimer: Toyota provided the vehicle, insurance, and one tank of gasoline. Album: 2012 Toyota Prius Four 18 images 0 comments Year - 2012 Make – Toyota Model – Prius Trim – Four Engine – 1.8L Atkinson cycle four-cylinder, Electric Motor Driveline – Front-Wheel Drive, Electronically Controlled continuously Variable Transmission Horsepower @ RPM – (Gas) 98 HP (@ 5,200 RPM), (Electric) 80 HP (N/A), (Combined) 134 HP Torque @ RPM – (Gas) 105 lb-ft (@ 4,000 RPM), (Electric) 153 HP (N/A), (Combined) N/A Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 51/48/50 Curb Weight – 3,042 lbs Location of Manufacture – Tsutsumi, Japan Base Price - $28,235.00 As Tested Price - $33,118.00 (Includes $760.00 Destination Charge) Options Deluxe Solar Roof Package: $3,820.00 Carpet Floor Mats & Cargo Mat: $225.00 Cargo Net: $49.00 First Aid Kit: $29.00 William Maley is a staff writer for Cheers & Gears. He can be reached at william.maley@cheersandgears.com or you can follow him on twitter at @realmudmonster.
  13. By William Maley Staff Writer - CheersandGears.com January 9, 2013 Ask someone to say the first thing that comes to their mind when you mention the word hybrid, and more often than not they will say the Toyota Prius. Despite not being the first hybrid on sale in the U.S. (that honor falls to the 1999 Honda Insight, which went on sale a full two years before the Prius in the U.S.), the Prius became a sales success and symbol for the hybrid vehicle. Why? The Prius offered the right mix of unheard fuel economy, features, and practicality in one package. Now in its third-generation, the unassuming hybrid hatchback falls into two polar opposite camps of thought. Those who love its efficiency and reliability and those who think the Pruis is an anathema to everything held dear by car enthusiasts. I'm an auto enthusiast, so when I recently spent a week in a 2012 Toyota Prius, I naturally approached the car with skepticism. Is it as good as the high fuel economy fans claim? Is it kryptonite to automotive enthusiasts? Read on to find out. Encounters of the Hybrid Kind The third-generation Prius is very much like the previous-generation model with its alien spaceship look. The third-generation model carries on the oval-esque shape with some aerodynamic tweaks including a smoother front end, squared-off corners on the rear end, and a new rear spoiler. These design changes help drop the drag coefficient from 0.26 cd to 0.25 cd. Other items of note include a set of LED taillights and an optional solar panel (part of a $3,820.00 Deluxe Solar Roof package) that power fans to cool down the vehicle’s interior without turning on the vehicle. I didn't get chance to try it since the average temperature here in Detroit was in the mid-thirties during my time and I rather enter a warm, not cold Prius. What would make this optional solar panel even better is the ability to charge the battery when the Prius is parked and keep the Prius warm in winter. Inside, the alien spaceship design theme continues with a floating center stack, a uniquely-styled shift knob, and a digital gauge cluster sitting on top and in the middle of the dashboard. The placement of gauge cluster does make it somewhat harder to make a quick glance while on the move. My test Prius did come with a heads-up display which had a speedometer and a power gauge letting you know how much power you’re drawing from the hybrid system. I do want to talk to the person who decided to hide the buttons for the heated seats underneath the center stack. The only way you know where they’re hiding is when you enter or exit the Prius. Did no one at Toyota bring this up during one of the design meetings? Seating was decent for both front and rear passengers with enough head and legroom. Materials are what you would find in current Toyota models; hard plastics and very synthetic-feeling leather. This would be ok if the price tag of this Prius wasn’t $33,118.00. The only real positive to the interior is that build quality is very good throughout the interior. As I mentioned earlier, this Prius was equipped with the $3,820.00 Deluxe Solar Roof package. Besides the solar roof, the package includes a seven-inch touch screen, navigation, Toyota’s Entune System, Bluetooth, an eight-speaker JBL system, and Toyota’s safety connect which provides emergency assistance services. The touchscreen was very responsive when pressed and provided the right amount brightness whether it was day or night. The eight-speaker JBL system provided ok sound, but I found that I had to turn it up when driving the Prius on the highway as there was too much road noise. As for Entune, I didn't get chance to try it since I didn't have the application on my iPhone to utilize the system. Yes, you need the Entune application on either your iPhone or Android phone to use it. Under the Skin, It’s a Prius Alright Pop the hood of the Prius and right before your eyes is one part of Toyota’s Hybrid Synergy Drive; a 1.8L Atkinson cycle four-cylinder engine producing 98 horsepower (@ 5,200 rpm) and 105 lb-ft of torque (@ 4,000 rpm), and a electric motor producing 80 horsepower and 153 lb-ft of torque. Total power output is rated at 134 horsepower. The other part of Toyota’s Hybrid Synergy Drive is a Nickel-Metal Hydride battery pack sitting in the back of the Prius. Your only transmission is a CVT. The Prius’ powertrain gets the job done. It will take a few seconds longer to get up to the speed on the road. Not much noise from either the engine or CVT enters the cabin when you accelerate normally. If you need to get a move on because there is a larger vehicle bearing down onto you or need to merge onto the highway, the drone of the engine and CVT are very apparent. Thankfully, the hybrid system seamlessly transitions electric power. The center stack has three buttons that can change the behavior of the hybrid system. The first is an EV mode which allows the Prius to travel a short distance on electric power alone below 25 MPH. The hybrid system will turn if you go above 25 or press further down on the pedal. With a light foot, I was able to go about a mile on electric power alone. Next is Eco mode which reduces throttle response in an emphasis to get better fuel economy numbers. This is ok if you don’t have a lot of traffic behind you or in a hurry to move along. If you don’t meet either or the criteria, leave Eco mode off. Finally there is Power mode which is the opposite of Eco mode. This mode noticeably increases throttle response to help you in certain situations like merging onto a highway. Fuel economy is very impressive for this small car. The EPA rates the Prius at 51 City/48 Highway/50 Combined. During my week with the Prius, I averaged 47.9 MPG with mostly suburban driving and sticking my foot into it. Ride and handling is taken care with a pair of MacPherson struts with a stabilizer bar up front and a torsion beam setup in the rear. While the setup isn’t technologically advanced like the rest of the Prius, it provides a somewhat comfortable ride. I did wish for some more damping when driving over craters that are called potholes in the Detroit area. Steering for the Prius comes in the form of an electric power-assisted rack-and-pinion system. The steering has some heft and some feel, something the old Prius lacked. That doesn’t make it a driver’s car since the Prius’ suspension is more tuned for comfort and the standard low-rolling resistance tires don’t provide enough grip. The Prius is a quiet vehicle when driven below 50 MPH. Go above that and you’ll notice an abundance of road and wind noise. I’m hoping with the next-generation Prius, Toyota puts in some more sound deadening material. Visibility is very good for the front and side. Rear visibility takes a hit due to the rear hatch shape and the large spoiler sitting in the middle of the hatch. Thankfully, the Prius did come equipped with a standard rear view camera. The Prius truly delivers on its promise of greenness with some impressive fuel economy numbers, clever technologies to make every use up every last drop of gas, unique design, and comfortable ride. However, the Prius has some faults. The road and wind noise while going above 50 MPH tops my list followed by the interior materials. That said the Toyota Prius is the perfect vehicle for someone who commutes in town and wants to tell everyone that they’re saving the planet. For me, I’ll pass on the Prius. Cheers Fuel Economy Technology Exterior Looks Somewhat Comfortable Ride Jeers Wind and Road Noise at Speed Engine and CVT During Hard Acceleration Materials Used in the Cabin Disclaimer: Toyota provided the vehicle, insurance, and one tank of gasoline. Album: 2012 Toyota Prius Four 18 images 0 comments Year - 2012 Make – Toyota Model – Prius Trim – Four Engine – 1.8L Atkinson cycle four-cylinder, Electric Motor Driveline – Front-Wheel Drive, Electronically Controlled continuously Variable Transmission Horsepower @ RPM – (Gas) 98 HP (@ 5,200 RPM), (Electric) 80 HP (N/A), (Combined) 134 HP Torque @ RPM – (Gas) 105 lb-ft (@ 4,000 RPM), (Electric) 153 HP (N/A), (Combined) N/A Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 51/48/50 Curb Weight – 3,042 lbs Location of Manufacture – Tsutsumi, Japan Base Price - $28,235.00 As Tested Price - $33,118.00 (Includes $760.00 Destination Charge) Options Deluxe Solar Roof Package: $3,820.00 Carpet Floor Mats & Cargo Mat: $225.00 Cargo Net: $49.00 First Aid Kit: $29.00 William Maley is a staff writer for Cheers & Gears. He can be reached at william.maley@cheersandgears.com or you can follow him on twitter at @realmudmonster. View full article
  14. William Maley Staff Writer - CheersandGears.com January 3, 2013 Porsche Cars North America - Up 61% Volkswagen of America - Up 35.4% BMW of North America - Up 34.8% American Honda - Up 26.2% Mazda North American Operations - Up 21.9% Audi of America - Up 17.3% Hyundai Motor America - Up 17% Volvo Cars of North America - Up 15.1% Toyota Motor Sales - Up 13.2% Mercedes-Benz USA - Up 12% Chrysler Group LLC - Up 10% Subaru of America, Inc - Up 8.8% General Motors - Up 5% Ford Motor Company - Up 2% Nissan North America - Down 1.6% Kia Motors America - Down 9.7% Mitsubishi Motors North America - Down 18% American Suzuki Motor Corporation - Down 24.2% William Maley is a staff writer for Cheers & Gears. He can be reached at william.maley@cheersandgears.com or you can follow him on twitter at @realmudmonster.
  15. William Maley Staff Writer - CheersandGears.com January 3, 2013 Porsche Cars North America - Up 61% Volkswagen of America - Up 35.4% BMW of North America - Up 34.8% American Honda - Up 26.2% Mazda North American Operations - Up 21.9% Audi of America - Up 17.3% Hyundai Motor America - Up 17% Volvo Cars of North America - Up 15.1% Toyota Motor Sales - Up 13.2% Mercedes-Benz USA - Up 12% Chrysler Group LLC - Up 10% Subaru of America, Inc - Up 8.8% General Motors - Up 5% Ford Motor Company - Up 2% Nissan North America - Down 1.6% Kia Motors America - Down 9.7% Mitsubishi Motors North America - Down 18% American Suzuki Motor Corporation - Down 24.2% William Maley is a staff writer for Cheers & Gears. He can be reached at william.maley@cheersandgears.com or you can follow him on twitter at @realmudmonster. View full article
  16. William Maley Staff Writer - CheersandGears.com December 28, 2012 After a number of complaints from owners saying that their Nissan Leafs were losing charge capacity, Nissan has announced a new warranty for the Leaf's battery. “Nissan will protect against capacity loss in LEAF batteries that fall below nine bars, of the available 12 bars displayed on the vehicle’s battery capacity gauge, for the first five years or 60,000 miles in the United States, whichever comes first,” said Nissan executive VP Andy Palmer in a letter sent to Leaf owners. The warranty will debut on the 2013 Leaf, but the warranty will be expanded to cover all 2011 and 2012 models before next summer. Before, Nissan claimed the Leaf's lithium-ion battery would only lose 20% of its charge capacity after being driven for five years. However a group of Leaf owners in Arizona said their vehicles were losing charge capacity at a much faster rate and sued the company. Palmer in his letter also said that the automaker is also working "to improve the precision of the battery capacity gauge that displays remaining capacity in the Leaf's electric vehicle battery." “Our actions today are intended to put customer minds at ease regarding the topic of battery capacity loss,” wrote Palmer. “Even though it is expected the great majority of owners will never have to use this enhanced warranty, we want each Nissan LEAF owner to have the security that should capacity loss exceed this defined threshold, Nissan will cover the repair or replacement of their battery under warranty.” Source: Automotive News (Subscription Required), MyNissanLeaf.com William Maley is a staff writer for Cheers & Gears. He can be reached at william.maley@cheersandgears.com or you can follow him on twitter at @realmudmonster.
  17. William Maley Staff Writer - CheersandGears.com December 28, 2012 After a number of complaints from owners saying that their Nissan Leafs were losing charge capacity, Nissan has announced a new warranty for the Leaf's battery. “Nissan will protect against capacity loss in LEAF batteries that fall below nine bars, of the available 12 bars displayed on the vehicle’s battery capacity gauge, for the first five years or 60,000 miles in the United States, whichever comes first,” said Nissan executive VP Andy Palmer in a letter sent to Leaf owners. The warranty will debut on the 2013 Leaf, but the warranty will be expanded to cover all 2011 and 2012 models before next summer. Before, Nissan claimed the Leaf's lithium-ion battery would only lose 20% of its charge capacity after being driven for five years. However a group of Leaf owners in Arizona said their vehicles were losing charge capacity at a much faster rate and sued the company. Palmer in his letter also said that the automaker is also working "to improve the precision of the battery capacity gauge that displays remaining capacity in the Leaf's electric vehicle battery." “Our actions today are intended to put customer minds at ease regarding the topic of battery capacity loss,” wrote Palmer. “Even though it is expected the great majority of owners will never have to use this enhanced warranty, we want each Nissan LEAF owner to have the security that should capacity loss exceed this defined threshold, Nissan will cover the repair or replacement of their battery under warranty.” Source: Automotive News (Subscription Required), MyNissanLeaf.com William Maley is a staff writer for Cheers & Gears. He can be reached at william.maley@cheersandgears.com or you can follow him on twitter at @realmudmonster. View full article
  18. William Maley Staff Writer - CheersandGears.com December 6, 2012 In for review this week at the Cheers & Gears Detroit garage is the vehicle that started the hybrid revolution. I'm of course referring to the Toyota Prius. Our test Prius is the Prius Four, which is the almost top of the line model in the lineup. As tested price for this $33,118.00 (includes $760.00 destination charge) thanks mostly to a Deluxe Solar Roof Package which adds a solar powered ventilation system and a load of tech goodies including navigation and Toyota's Entune system. Spending a few moments in the Prius, I found the interior is much like the current crop of Toyota's passenger vehicles (aside from the new Avalon); hard plastics are abundant through the dash and the standard leather seats feel like the vinyl covering your grandma would throw over the furniture to protect it. Positive points include how much space is inside for front and most rear passengers, cargo space, how quiet the car is in electric mode, and of course the fuel economy. At the moment, I'm averaging around 52 MPG. Now, I have the Prius till next Thursday and will be updating during my time with it. In the meantime, if you have questions, drop them below. Update: November 9, 2012 Its been a few days since the Prius came into my care and I'm undecided on it so far. I wish there was more power so I can keep up with traffic a little bit better without switching to the power button or sticking my foot into it. I do like that I'm averaging so far around 50.1 MPG with mostly suburban driving. Some things are causing me to scratch my head. For example, who at Toyota decided to put the heated seat controls in the storage cubby right underneath the center stack? Also, no instant MPG readout? I'll be updating this once again after I take the Prius out on the highway and spend some more time with it. Get your questions in. William Maley is a staff writer for Cheers & Gears. He can be reached at william.maley@cheersandgears.com or you can follow him on twitter at @realmudmonster.
  19. William Maley Staff Writer - CheersandGears.com December 6, 2012 In for review this week at the Cheers & Gears Detroit garage is the vehicle that started the hybrid revolution. I'm of course referring to the Toyota Prius. Our test Prius is the Prius Four, which is the almost top of the line model in the lineup. As tested price for this $33,118.00 (includes $760.00 destination charge) thanks mostly to a Deluxe Solar Roof Package which adds a solar powered ventilation system and a load of tech goodies including navigation and Toyota's Entune system. Spending a few moments in the Prius, I found the interior is much like the current crop of Toyota's passenger vehicles (aside from the new Avalon); hard plastics are abundant through the dash and the standard leather seats feel like the vinyl covering your grandma would throw over the furniture to protect it. Positive points include how much space is inside for front and most rear passengers, cargo space, how quiet the car is in electric mode, and of course the fuel economy. At the moment, I'm averaging around 52 MPG. Now, I have the Prius till next Thursday and will be updating during my time with it. In the meantime, if you have questions, drop them below. Update: November 9, 2012 Its been a few days since the Prius came into my care and I'm undecided on it so far. I wish there was more power so I can keep up with traffic a little bit better without switching to the power button or sticking my foot into it. I do like that I'm averaging so far around 50.1 MPG with mostly suburban driving. Some things are causing me to scratch my head. For example, who at Toyota decided to put the heated seat controls in the storage cubby right underneath the center stack? Also, no instant MPG readout? I'll be updating this once again after I take the Prius out on the highway and spend some more time with it. Get your questions in. William Maley is a staff writer for Cheers & Gears. He can be reached at william.maley@cheersandgears.com or you can follow him on twitter at @realmudmonster. View full article
  20. William Maley Staff Writer - CheersandGears.com December 3, 2012 Porsche Cars North America - Up 71% Subaru of America - Up 59.7% American Honda - Up 38.9% BMW Group U.S. - Up 38.8% Volkswagen of America - Up 29.3% Volvo Cars of North America - Up 26.8% Audi of America - Up 24.4% American Suzuki Motor Corporation - Up 22% Mazda North American Operations - Up 17.7% Toyota Motor Sales - Up 17.2% Mercedes-Benz USA - Up 15.6% Chrysler Group LLC - Up 14% Nissan North America - Up 12.9% Kia Motors America - Up 10.9% Hyundai Motor America - Up 8% Ford Motor Company - Up 6% General Motors - Up 3% Mitsubishi Motors North America - Down 4.3% Jaguar Land Rover North America - Down 7% William Maley is a staff writer for Cheers & Gears. He can be reached at william.maley@cheersandgears.com or you can follow him on twitter at @realmudmonster.
  21. William Maley Staff Writer - CheersandGears.com December 3, 2012 Porsche Cars North America - Up 71% Subaru of America - Up 59.7% American Honda - Up 38.9% BMW Group U.S. - Up 38.8% Volkswagen of America - Up 29.3% Volvo Cars of North America - Up 26.8% Audi of America - Up 24.4% American Suzuki Motor Corporation - Up 22% Mazda North American Operations - Up 17.7% Toyota Motor Sales - Up 17.2% Mercedes-Benz USA - Up 15.6% Chrysler Group LLC - Up 14% Nissan North America - Up 12.9% Kia Motors America - Up 10.9% Hyundai Motor America - Up 8% Ford Motor Company - Up 6% General Motors - Up 3% Mitsubishi Motors North America - Down 4.3% Jaguar Land Rover North America - Down 7% William Maley is a staff writer for Cheers & Gears. He can be reached at william.maley@cheersandgears.com or you can follow him on twitter at @realmudmonster. View full article
  22. Hello All, So since there is no generic section in the 2012 autoshow section, I am posting my pictures here allong with my take of the autoshow. First off let me start by saying the Seattle Autoshow is about 1/3 smaller than it has been in the past. It was really a shock to see almost no 3rd party auto vendors or alternative nicnack vendors. I arrived excited to check out 2 auto's I was told by local dealers would be there. Honda CNG Civic GX and a GM Bi-Fuel CNG truck. Sadly both were a no show. Course I was hoping to stand around and do free selling of the auto's while handing out business cards for CNG appliances for home fueling. None of it happened. New to the Seattle Autoshow, they had a test drive area. All vendors were required to have auto's on hand for test driving. I have never seen so many california, Michigan, Texas and Canada plates on the auto's along with the funky looking Mexican plate. Clearly telling you where all these test auto's came from. So to start off with, they had a beautiful white with silver strip Corvett ZR1. I got an over head shot, but then the crowds moved in and it was no go to get any better images. I moved onto the 2013 ATS which was beautiful. Amazing fit and finish and I have to say. BMW will be in for a rude awakening. The line to test drive the ATS was crazy long and everyone coming back was very positive on the car. After this, I spend considerable time on the Buick Encore. Fit and Finish is extremely tight. Over all layout is clean and for many people I heard nothing but positive comments and better yet, many asian and Indian people were looking at it and loved what they found. In regards to me at 6'6". No one can sit behind me. I cannot sit up straight as I like due to no headroom and the back seat has me slumped over as I cannot sit in it. The car while very nice is clearly for the average 5'8" tall crowd. A few other 6' tall people could not get comfy either but we all liked the package and feel it will be a hit with smaller people and with woman. BLOWN AWAY - I spent so much time going over the new 2013 Acadia. In fact, I wish I had gotten picture of the new Buick Enclave as the fit and finish of the Buick was sad compared to the GMC. My dad and others that were around me were just shocked at how nice it was compared to the Buick. No seams around the doors, the finish works on the body was freakin amazing and the fit and finish inside made this one of the BEST GMC auto's I have ever seen. The updated GMC Terrain are also just as amazing. My dad fell in love with the Iridium Metallic color and the Black Diamond. He likes it so much that after I droppeed him off, he left with my mom to go test drive on with here as a replacement for his Colorado. All of them had the new 3.6 VVT engine. I talked with a few around me that were looking at it and one couple had a 2 year old terrain with the v6 and they loved the new one so much that they were seriously considering trading it in as the wife loved the size but loved the new interior and color. The guy was excited about the new V6. Over all, I was suprised at how many people were all over GM products. Allot of buzz this year. Walked through the Lincoln area as my dad has always been a towncar lover and he did not see anything he liked. I was actually surprised at how dated the cars all looked. The only thing getting any interest from younger people was the Navigator and people my age in their 40's who were looking kept making comments about how dated it looked. The rest of their line up was mostly being looked at by Baby Boomers with Oxygen tanks and walkers. I took pictures of the MKz Concept they had and to me it was nothing special. Most baby boomers did not like it and everyone else was pretty much ignoring it. I saw nothing positive in the Lincoln camp. Due to my 72yr old father pooping out, we headed to the exit through the Chevy entry level cars and I snapped some pics of the new Spark while my dad took a rest. Have to say for a $16K dollar car, I see people looking at it for a commuter car and not much else. I could not get comfy inside, way to small for me, but too be expected. I will say that this car in comparison to the Honda Fit is very nice and way better fit and finish than the Honda fit. GM should have a hit on their hands with this car.
  23. William Maley Staff Writer - CheersandGears.com July 20, 2012 Back in January, Drew got his hands on a 2012 GMC Terrain SLT-2 AWD with the 3.0L V6. Seven months later, I have almost the same GMC Terrain, right down to the black paint. However, Drew has driven the Terrain and its platform mate, the Chevrolet Equinox before. This would be my first go with it. After a week, what would I think about the Terrain? Has anything changed since the Terrain's last visit to C&G Garage? Only a few items of note. In the infotainment department, the Terrain dropped its base radio and replaced it with a large, seven-inch touchscreen radio. Also, GMC's Intellilink which provides smartphone integration, and the ability to stream Pandora and Stitcher Internet Radio is now on the option list. Also on the options list (only for the SLT-2 model though) is lane departure warning and forward collision alert. The Outside & Inside Story Exterior The Terrain definitely fits the "Professional Grade" persona that GMC puts out there. The front end features a large, bold chrome grill that lets everyone know what you're driving. A pair of large, square headlights and a uniquely sculpted hood complete the front. The side profile features prominent front and rear fenders, body cladding running along the bottom of the doors, and a set of five-spoke, eighteen-inch chrome wheels. The back end has a set of taillights that flank a large chrome bar hiding the release for the hatch and a rear-view camera. Also featured on the rear are twin exhaust pipes. However, the designers pumped up the fake testosterone too much and the end result looks like it is trying too hard to fit the Professional Grade persona. Given the choice between the Terrain and the Chevrolet Equinox, I would choose the Equinox every time. Interior Stepping into the Terrain's interior, I was amazed as to how much interior space there was for passengers. Front seat passengers get a pair of heated leather seats, with the driver getting eight-way power-adjustments. Back seat passengers will have nothing to complain about with Terrain as head and legroom are well above average. Also, back seat passengers can also recline and move the seat backwards and forward. Cargo space for the Terrain measures at 31.6 cu.ft. with the seats up and 63.9 cu.ft. with the seats down. As for the Dash, build quality and materials are good. The center stack is laid out well and most of the controls are in easy reach. The only set of controls that I would move is for the trip computer. The buttons are set too low in the stack for easy reach. I would put them onto a stalk on the steering wheel column like other GM vehicles. The Terrain comes with a variety of infotainment options, ranging from a standard seven-inch touchscreen radio that provides AM/FM/SiriusXM/CD and USB input to a Naviagtion system with a 10 GB hard drive for music. This particular Terrain came with GMC's Intellilink system. Like the Chevrolet Malibu Eco and Buick Verano, I had a couple of problems (iPod playback at Alvin & Chipmunks speed on certain tracks and Pandora playing without sound). Powertrain, Ride, Safety, and Verdict Drivertrain The Terrain comes with the choices of a 2.4L direct-injection four-cylinder or a 3.0L direct-injection V6 engine, and front-wheel or all-wheel-drive. This Terrain is equipped with the 3.0L DI V6 producing 264 horsepower and 222 lf-ft of torque and all-wheel drive. No matter which engine or drive configuration you choose, the only transmission available is a 6-speed automatic. The 3.0L V6 makes its 222 lb-ft of torque at a high 5100 RPM leaving the crossover's transmission constantly on the hunt for the right gear. Making a pass requires a lot of planning. Fuel economy for the V6-AWD is 16mpg city and 23mpg highway, which shockingly, is identical to the more powerful, larger, and heavier GMC Acadia V6 AWD. Somehow, I was able to coax out 21 MPG for my average. If you want/need V6 power in your Terrain, wait for the 2013 models with the 3.6L DI V6 to begin rolling out. Ride & Drive Driving the Terrain is very a pleasant experience. The suspension does a good job of providing a comfortable ride and isolating road imperfections. Also, the suspension does a good job of keeping the Terrain stable in cornering and emergency maneuvers. As for the steering, it is weighted just right. Noise from the engine and the road is kept to a minimum thanks in part to triple door seals, double pane glass, and other sound deadening materials. Safety This particular Terrain was equipped with the optional lane departure warning and forward collision alert. Using a camera mounted in the rear-view window, the two systems warn you if you're drifting into another lane or are about to run into the back of a vehicle. In theory, both systems should work very well. In practice, one out of two isn't bad. The lane departure warning is more a nuisance than a help, just a warning light and audible beep. Also, a study from HLDI found out vehicles equipped with lane departure warning were in more accidents than vehicles without the system. The forward collision alert is a good system, flashing a big, red light on the dash and beeping. The system also prepares the braking system for the driver to hit the brakes quickly. One item I do have to give GMC kudos for is the dual mirrors for the side-view mirrors, which helps minimize the Terrain's blind spots. Verdict The GMC Terrain is one of the best CUVs on sale today. Despite my dislike for the exterior styling, most of the overall package is just right for most crossover buyers. There is an Achilles heel though to the Terrain and that is the optional 3.0L V6. The power isn't quite where you want it in certain situations, the six-speed automatic hunts for gears, and fuel economy makes you think you're driving a larger vehicle. This is a case of right car, wrong engine. For most buyers, the 2.4L Ecotec four is all you need. For those who need V6 power, wait till the 2013 Terrain comes with the 3.6L V6. You'll sacrifice nothing in fuel economy but gain more horsepower and torque. Disclaimer: General Motors provided the vehicle, insurance, and one tank of gas for this review. Year - 2012 Make - GMC Model - Terrain Trim – SLT-2 Engine – 3.0L DI V6 Driveline – All Wheel Drive, Six Speed Automatic Horsepower @ RPM - 264 @ 6950 Torque @ RPM - 222 @ 5100 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 16/23/19 Curb Weight – 3798 lbs Location of Manufacture – CAMI Assembly, Ingersol, Ontario Base Price - $33,010.00 As Tested Price - $36,495.00 (Includes $810.00 Destination Charge) William Maley is a staff writer for Cheers & Gears. He can be reached at william.maley@cheersandgears.com or you can follow him on twitter at @realmudmonster. View full article
  24. William Maley Staff Writer - CheersandGears.com July 20, 2012 Back in January, Drew got his hands on a 2012 GMC Terrain SLT-2 AWD with the 3.0L V6. Seven months later, I have almost the same GMC Terrain, right down to the black paint. However, Drew has driven the Terrain and its platform mate, the Chevrolet Equinox before. This would be my first go with it. After a week, what would I think about the Terrain? Has anything changed since the Terrain's last visit to C&G Garage? Only a few items of note. In the infotainment department, the Terrain dropped its base radio and replaced it with a large, seven-inch touchscreen radio. Also, GMC's Intellilink which provides smartphone integration, and the ability to stream Pandora and Stitcher Internet Radio is now on the option list. Also on the options list (only for the SLT-2 model though) is lane departure warning and forward collision alert. The Outside & Inside Story Exterior The Terrain definitely fits the "Professional Grade" persona that GMC puts out there. The front end features a large, bold chrome grill that lets everyone know what you're driving. A pair of large, square headlights and a uniquely sculpted hood complete the front. The side profile features prominent front and rear fenders, body cladding running along the bottom of the doors, and a set of five-spoke, eighteen-inch chrome wheels. The back end has a set of taillights that flank a large chrome bar hiding the release for the hatch and a rear-view camera. Also featured on the rear are twin exhaust pipes. However, the designers pumped up the fake testosterone too much and the end result looks like it is trying too hard to fit the Professional Grade persona. Given the choice between the Terrain and the Chevrolet Equinox, I would choose the Equinox every time. Interior Stepping into the Terrain's interior, I was amazed as to how much interior space there was for passengers. Front seat passengers get a pair of heated leather seats, with the driver getting eight-way power-adjustments. Back seat passengers will have nothing to complain about with Terrain as head and legroom are well above average. Also, back seat passengers can also recline and move the seat backwards and forward. Cargo space for the Terrain measures at 31.6 cu.ft. with the seats up and 63.9 cu.ft. with the seats down. As for the Dash, build quality and materials are good. The center stack is laid out well and most of the controls are in easy reach. The only set of controls that I would move is for the trip computer. The buttons are set too low in the stack for easy reach. I would put them onto a stalk on the steering wheel column like other GM vehicles. The Terrain comes with a variety of infotainment options, ranging from a standard seven-inch touchscreen radio that provides AM/FM/SiriusXM/CD and USB input to a Naviagtion system with a 10 GB hard drive for music. This particular Terrain came with GMC's Intellilink system. Like the Chevrolet Malibu Eco and Buick Verano, I had a couple of problems (iPod playback at Alvin & Chipmunks speed on certain tracks and Pandora playing without sound). Powertrain, Ride, Safety, and Verdict Drivertrain The Terrain comes with the choices of a 2.4L direct-injection four-cylinder or a 3.0L direct-injection V6 engine, and front-wheel or all-wheel-drive. This Terrain is equipped with the 3.0L DI V6 producing 264 horsepower and 222 lf-ft of torque and all-wheel drive. No matter which engine or drive configuration you choose, the only transmission available is a 6-speed automatic. The 3.0L V6 makes its 222 lb-ft of torque at a high 5100 RPM leaving the crossover's transmission constantly on the hunt for the right gear. Making a pass requires a lot of planning. Fuel economy for the V6-AWD is 16mpg city and 23mpg highway, which shockingly, is identical to the more powerful, larger, and heavier GMC Acadia V6 AWD. Somehow, I was able to coax out 21 MPG for my average. If you want/need V6 power in your Terrain, wait for the 2013 models with the 3.6L DI V6 to begin rolling out. Ride & Drive Driving the Terrain is very a pleasant experience. The suspension does a good job of providing a comfortable ride and isolating road imperfections. Also, the suspension does a good job of keeping the Terrain stable in cornering and emergency maneuvers. As for the steering, it is weighted just right. Noise from the engine and the road is kept to a minimum thanks in part to triple door seals, double pane glass, and other sound deadening materials. Safety This particular Terrain was equipped with the optional lane departure warning and forward collision alert. Using a camera mounted in the rear-view window, the two systems warn you if you're drifting into another lane or are about to run into the back of a vehicle. In theory, both systems should work very well. In practice, one out of two isn't bad. The lane departure warning is more a nuisance than a help, just a warning light and audible beep. Also, a study from HLDI found out vehicles equipped with lane departure warning were in more accidents than vehicles without the system. The forward collision alert is a good system, flashing a big, red light on the dash and beeping. The system also prepares the braking system for the driver to hit the brakes quickly. One item I do have to give GMC kudos for is the dual mirrors for the side-view mirrors, which helps minimize the Terrain's blind spots. Verdict The GMC Terrain is one of the best CUVs on sale today. Despite my dislike for the exterior styling, most of the overall package is just right for most crossover buyers. There is an Achilles heel though to the Terrain and that is the optional 3.0L V6. The power isn't quite where you want it in certain situations, the six-speed automatic hunts for gears, and fuel economy makes you think you're driving a larger vehicle. This is a case of right car, wrong engine. For most buyers, the 2.4L Ecotec four is all you need. For those who need V6 power, wait till the 2013 Terrain comes with the 3.6L V6. You'll sacrifice nothing in fuel economy but gain more horsepower and torque. Disclaimer: General Motors provided the vehicle, insurance, and one tank of gas for this review. Year - 2012 Make - GMC Model - Terrain Trim – SLT-2 Engine – 3.0L DI V6 Driveline – All Wheel Drive, Six Speed Automatic Horsepower @ RPM - 264 @ 6950 Torque @ RPM - 222 @ 5100 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 16/23/19 Curb Weight – 3798 lbs Location of Manufacture – CAMI Assembly, Ingersol, Ontario Base Price - $33,010.00 As Tested Price - $36,495.00 (Includes $810.00 Destination Charge) William Maley is a staff writer for Cheers & Gears. He can be reached at william.maley@cheersandgears.com or you can follow him on twitter at @realmudmonster.
  25. William Maley Staff Writer - CheersandGears.com November 6, 2012 Much like the competition, Kia offers a variety of powertrains in their midsize sedan competitor, the Optima, to meet the demands of consumers. There’s a base four-cylinder model, a turbocharged-four taking the place of a V6, and hybrid model. I’ve reviewed the base four-cylinder Optima back in July, and found it to be one of best midsize sedans on sale. Now it’s time to see where the Optima Hybrid can match the high bar set by the regular Optima or not. The differences between a normal Optima and an Optima Hybrid are very noticeable on the exterior. The biggest giveaway that you’re driving an Optima Hybrid besides the hybrid badge on the back is a unique set of seventeen-inch alloy wheels. Other changes Kia has done to the Optima Hybrid include a revised rear fascia and a new rear spoiler. On the interior, Kia has changed the instrument cluster to one that gives information on how much battery charge there is left, an eco gauge, and a small color screen providing trip computer info. The optional navigation unit (part of the $5,350.00 premium technology package) has a screen providing information about the system. The Optima Hybrid’s powertrain is made up of a 2.4L gas engine producing 166 HP (@ 6,000 RPM) and 154 lb-ft of torque (@ 4,250 RPM), an electric motor producing 40 HP (@ 1,400-6,000 RPM) and 151 lb-ft of torque (0 - 1,400 RPM), and a 270V lithium-polymer battery. Total output of the hybrid system is 206 HP and 195 lb-ft of torque going through a six-speed automatic. The best way to describe the Optima Hybrid’s powertrain is ‘almost fully realized’. When pulling away from a stop, the Hybrid pulls away quickly whether on electric or hybrid power. On open roads and in traffic, I never found myself wishing for more power since the powertrain is able to keep up. The downside to this system is the transition from electric to hybrid power is very noticeable. When the switch happens, you can hear the gas engine hesitate for a brief moment and feel some sort of vibration. The Optima Hybrid got EPA ratings of 35 City/40 Highway/37 combined. However a few weeks after turning the Optima Hybrid back in, Hyundai and Kia announced they had overstated fuel economy on certain 2011-2013 vehicles. The Optima Hybrid was one of those vehicles affected and has revised EPA fuel economy numbers of 34 City/39 Highway/36 combined. During the week, I averaged 37.2 on mostly rural and suburban roads. On the freeway, I hit 40 MPG with the cruise control set on 70 MPH. Kia didn’t change much with handling and ride of the Optima Hybrid, which means the sporty and composed ride from the standard Optima remains. Steering on the Optima Hybrid is the same as the normal Optima as well; not a lot of feel and a surprising amount of heaviness to it. Wind and road noise on the Optima Hybrid were kept to a minimum. The Kia Optima Hybrid is very good first effort. Building upon a good base of the normal Optima, the hybrid model possesses very good performance and decent fuel economy for the class. Kia does need to work on smoothing out the transition from electric to hybrid power though. There is one problem for the Kia Optima Hybrid, the competition. On paper, the Toyota Camry Hybrid and the new Ford Fusion Hybrid best the Optima Hybrid in fuel economy ratings. The only thing Kia can fight back with is the amount of equipment that you can get for the price. The Optima Hybrid I had in for review cost $32,500.00. But for that price, I got heated and cooled front seats, heated back seats, panoramic sunroof, navigation, a premium sound system, and much more. To try and match the equipment level of the Optima Hybrid, you’ll have to spend a few thousand more on the competitors. Is that enough though to convince someone to check it out? If you’re looking for a midsize hybrid to stand out, check out the Optima Hybrid. If fuel economy is a concern, look at the Camry and Fusion. Disclaimer: Kia provided the vehicle, insurance, and one tank of gasoline. Year - 2012 Make – Kia Model – Optima Hybrid Trim – N/A Engine – 2.4L Four-Cylinder, Electric Motor Driveline – Front-Wheel Drive, Six-Speed Automatic Horsepower @ RPM – (Gas) 166 HP (@ 6,000 RPM) , (Electric) 40.2 HP (@ 1,400 to 6,000 RPM), (Combined) 206 HP Torque @ RPM – (Gas) 154 lb-ft (@ 4,250 RPM), (Electric) 166 HP (@ 0 - 1,400 RPM), (Combined) 195 lb-ft Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 34/39/36 Curb Weight – 3,490 lbs Location of Manufacture – Hwasung, South Korea Base Price - $25,700.00 As Tested Price - $32,500.00 (Includes $750.00 Destination Charge) William Maley is a staff writer for Cheers & Gears. He can be reached at william.maley@cheersandgears.com or you can follow him on twitter at @realmudmonster. View full article

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