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Monday, December 19, 2011

Saab Files for Bankruptcy!

Today Saab filed for bankruptcy, after General Motors shot down Saab's recent plan. It now looks like Saab will not survive. Spyker purchased Saab from General Motors in 2010 for $400 million.

I really was hoping that Saab would be able to make it after it was purchased from General Motors. It's a shame that Saab has to suffer due to the lack of management of the old General Motors. The 9-5 and 9-4x are very attractive vehicles and it would have been nice to see what Muller could do with the brand. I have to give credit to Muller because he has stood by Saab the day since it was acquired. I didn't expect the Saab brand to go through all of these problems. Today looks like the beginning of the end for Saab.

Update (2/28/12): It seems like Saab may still have some life left. Several international and Swedish investors have made bids for Saab. The names of these investors have not been released but leads many to speculate. According to a few sources Volvo and BMW have thrown in bids for Saab. The investor who gets Saab will have to a plan that is in the best interest of Saab. .

Please be sure to check back for more details!

Will Saab be rescued? Are you a loyal Saab fan?

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Sunday, December 18, 2011

Thoughts: 2013 Nissan Pathfinder

Spy shots of the next generation Nissan Pathfinder have surfaced on the internet and I am quite curious about the final product. Upfront the Pathfinder reminds me of the Murano, which is a great looking vehicle but I'm not sure if it will work for the Pathfinder. The new Pathfinder will be built on the same front-wheel drive platform as the Murano, Maxima, and new Infiniti JX. It is very likely that the new Pathfinder and Infiniti JX will share the same engine options as well.

I think that the redesigned Pathfinder will have a better shot at competing against the Toyota Highlander, Chevy Traverse, and Honda Pilot. The only thing I am really concerned about is if Nissan plans to give the new Pathfinder a masculine look.  I've always seen the Pathfinder as being very rugged and aggressive.The Murano is a nice looking but to me is geared towards females instead of males. Based off of the heavy camo I can't really tell how the new Pathfinder will look. I'm hoping that it keeps it's masculine look which makes it a Pathfinder. I didn't find anything wrong with the box look of the current generation Pathfinder. It would have been very interesting if Nissan could have developed that truck shape. I think that the GMC Terrain pulls off that look very well. 

The Pathfinder concept will be unveiled at the 2012 Detroit Auto Show.

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Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Thoughts: 2013 Dodge Dart

The 2013 Dodge Dart made its debut this week at the 2012 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Mich.

Dodge is getting back into the compact segment with the 2013 Dodge Dart. The Dart will replace the aging Caliber, and become Dodge's smallest car in it's lineup. Dodge's new compact sedan is based on the Alfa Romeo Giulietta hatchback. The Dart will offer Dodge's performance and Alfa Romeo's DNA which will result in a fuel efficient, attractive, and fun to drive vehicle.

The styling of the new Dart takes some cues from the Charger, with the full-width LED tail lams, and dual exhaust.. The Dart has a tailored split-crosshair grille, projector headlamps, fog lamps, and accentuated fenders. The Doge Dart will be powered by 3 fuel efficient four cylinder engines. Buyers can select from a new "Tigershark 2.0L engine, a 1.4L MultiAir Intercooled Turbo engine, and a new "Tigershark" 2.4L MultiAir engine.

The Dart will be built at Chrysler Group's Belvidere Assembly Plant in Belvidere, Ill.

I've never really been excited about products from Dodge. I think that this vehicle will attract many buyers to the Dodge brand. I have to give Dodge credit because they are making the right choices and moves. The Dart will be priced at about $16,000. I can't wait to get behind the wheel of the new Dart. I may consider it as my first car!

What are your thoughts on the new Dodge Dart?

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Friday, December 2, 2011

FIAT And Bing Team-Up For The Bing Magical Holiday Calendar

Yesterday Microsoft's search engine Bing kicked off the Bing Magical Holiday Calendar, giving away HUGE prizes each day during the month of December. Today, Automaker FIAT has teamed up with Bing for the campaign, and are giving users a chance to win a brand new FIAT 500 Lounge Hatchback. If you want a chance to win, users should to visit www.bing.com/holiday TODAY to enter the sweepstakes, which closes at 11:59pm PT TONIGHT.

Users can also checkout the Bing Magical Holiday Calendar for a chance to win cool prizes each day during the month of December. Bing is offering a variety of giveaways and entertainment including today’s FIAT giveaway, along with other customized prizes including free concerts for a year, a trip around the world, a VIP New York Fashion Week experience and more.  Each day’s surprise is unveiled at 12:01am PT and entries are open until 11:59pm that evening.

If you want a chance to win a FIAT 500 Lounge Hatchback make sure to enter the sweepstakes!!!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Honda Motor Co. 2011 November Sales

The Honda Motor Co. sold a total of 83,925 vehicles, a decrease of 10.1% compared to last November. The Honda brand was down 9.9%, selling 74,016 units. The Civic led the pack selling 17,133 units, up 0.7%. The CR-V was down 13.7%, selling 16,426 units. The CR-Z saw a decrease of 71.4%, selling 305 units. The Insight was down 53.2%, selling only 749 units.

The Acura brand sold 9,909 units, down 11.2%. The TSX was the leader, selling 2,691 units, down 0.2%. The RDX saw an increase of 7.6%, selling 1,326 units. The MDX saw a decrease of 24.2% selling, 3,308 units. The RL sedan sold only 45 units, a decrease of 74.3%.

I am a fan of Acura's designs but not a fan of Honda's recent design language. I think that many people don't like the designs of recent Honda's and Acura's. Majority of the comments I've heard about Honda and Acura has been pretty negative. Honda is starting to understand this because they are going to deliver a refresh of the recently introduced Civic. In my post about Acura (http://theglight.blogspot.com/2011/09/what-happened-to-acura.html), I talk about what they need to change. In my opinion the brand shares too much with their Honda relatives. If Acura can differentiate itself from Honda and deliver impress car designs I think they will get more attention to their brand.

Toyota Motor Corporation 2011 November Sales

The Toyota brand sold a total of 118,502 vehicles, up 2.4% compared to last November. The redesigned Camry led the pack selling 23,440 units, up 8.5%. The new Yaris had a gain of 149.8%, selling 5,604 units. The Corolla still managed to sell 16,115 units while being down 4.5%. The Prius was up 42.8%, selling 15,208 units.The Tocoma was up 8.5%, selling 9,739 units.

The Lexus brand sold a total of 19,458 vehicles, up 2.4%. The ES led the pack selling 4,731 units, up 11.6%. The IS sold a total of 2,876 units. The RX was the only SUV in the lineup to not see a sales decrease. The HS hybrid has not been a big seller, only selling 207 units.

The Scion brand was down 11%, selling 3,553 units. The tC coupe was down 6.4% selling 1,578 units. The xB was down 17.(% selling 1,202 units. The xD sold 773 units, down 8.4%.

Both Toyota and Lexus saw an increase in sales compared to November 2010, while Scion saw a decrease. I expect Scion to see a jump in sales when the 2013 FR-S arrives at dealerships. The 2013 FR-S will attract so many people who may go in to see the FR-S but end up buying another model. This new model is exactly what the Scion brand needs!

Nissan North America November Sales

Nissan North America sold a total of 85,182 vehicles in the U.S., which is a gain of 19.4% compared to last November. The Nissan brand was up 21.4%, with 76,745 vehicles sold. The Altima was up 12.2%, with 20,613 units sold. With help from the redesigned sedan, the Versa saw an increase of 38.2%, selling 9,921 units. Nissan's popular Rogue crossover was up 27.2%, selling 10,845 units. The Leaf was able to sell 672 units. The Frontier was up 37.8%, selling 4,324 units. The 2012 NV commercial van sold a total of 1,238 units.

The Infiniti brand was only up by 3% last month with sales of 8,428 vehicles. The G sedan led the way with 3,623 units sold, up 26.9%. The QX was the second best selling Infiniti model, up 9% with 1,446 units sold. The FX saw a increase of 24.9%, with 1,125 units sold. The EX35 saw a big decline of 46.8%, with only 428 units sold.

Nissan has done very well lately increasing their sales while Toyota's and Honda's sales have declined. I am optimistic that Nissan's sales will continue to increase especially with the redesigned Altima and Sentra on the way. Infiniti on the other hand is not faring to well when comparing their sales with other luxury makers. I think Infiniti offers great vehicles that are very competitive in their classes. I just don't understand why their models are not attracting consumers. This is an issue that Infiniti needs to try and figure out. Lexus, BMW, and Mercedes-Benz have been selling so many more vehicles this year than Infiniti has. I said this in my post about Infiniti (http://theglight.blogspot.com/2011/10/thoughts-infiniti.html) but they really need more vehicles in their lineup. It's been years but it is time for Infiniti to bring back the flagship Q sedan!!!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Revealed: 2013 Mazda CX-5

Mazda revealed the 2013 Mazda CX-5 which replaces the aging Tribute. The new CX-5 in my opinion is the best looking model currently in Mazda's lineup. This vehicle now wears the new Kodo styling instead of the "Smiley Face" design that everyone is used to to. The vehicle looks very sporty and aggressive which is a step in the right direction. I really like the interior on this Mazda which looks a lot better than the interiors in other Mazda products.

The new CX-5 is powered by Mazda's new 2.0L direct injected SkyActive-G engine. This engine produces 155 horsepower and 150 lb-ft of torque. Front wheel drive models will return 26 mpgs in the city and 33 mpgs on the highway. Front wheel drive models equipped with a manual transmission will return 35 mpgs on the highway. All wheel drive models will return 25 mpgs in the city and 30 mpgs on the highway. The base model vehicles can be had with either a 6-speed manual or 6-speed automatic. The all wheel drive models will only be equipped with a 6-speed automatic transmission. There will be three trim levels: Sport, Touring, and Grand Touring.

The CX-5 will be slotted below the bigger CX-7. I am very excited for future products that come from Mazda. The CX-5 is a great start for displaying the new Kodo styling. I can see this being a big seller for Mazda because of it's styling and fuel economy. One thing that bothers me is that this engine only produces 155 horses, I expected a little bit more coming from Mazda. Other than that I am very pleased with the new CX-5.

The CX-5 will go on sale in early 2012.

Update: The CX-5 will be priced at $21,490 for the base model.
Touring: $24,690 (FWD), $25,940 (AWD)
Grand Touring: $27,840 (FWD), $29,090 (AWD)

For more information on this car please check out Mazda's website: http://mazdausa.com/MusaWeb/displayPage.action?pageParameter=modelsMain&vehicleCode=CX5#/home

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Revealed: 2013 Lincoln MKS and MKT

Lincoln revealed the refreshed MKS and MKT at the L.A. Auto Show. I don't know what Ford/Lincoln was thinking but the new corporate grill is worse than the one it replaces. I actually prefer the old grill compared to this new one, I thought it made Lincolns look bold. Many people didn't like it which is the reason for this new grill but it was not a good choice. Just like Honda has to go back and make some changes to the new Civic, Ford/Lincoln needs to go back and make some MORE changes. The interior of both vehicles are better than they were before but I would like to see something a lot different. When I look at the interiors they still remind me of the Ford brand. Lincoln really has to drastically change up the interiors the next go around.

Besides the new grill and front fascia, the MKS and MKT also receive new features. One of the new features are the Continuously Controlled Damping system, which is standard on all MKS models and only available on the MKT models equipped with the EcoBoost 3.5 V-6 engine. Another feature is The Lincoln Drive Control allows the driver to change the settings on the car from normal, comfort, or sport. Lincoln will also offer a lane keeping system and a lane keeping aid. The standard 3.7L V-6 engine now pushes out 300 horsepower and 275 lb-ft of torque. That is a bump of 32 horsepower for the MKT and 27 horsepower for the MKS. The highway fuel economy has risen by 1 mpg for the MKT and by 3 mpg for the MKS.

I think that Lincoln did make the right changes under the body of the vehicles but not the right choices with the designs. I don't think that this new fascia makes the vehicles look classy or professional, it just makes it look odd and boring. The previous grill made a BIG statement and made Lincoln's very recognizable on the road. I know that Lincoln has a long way to go but more changes need to be made along the way. I really want Lincoln to succeed and be a true luxury competitor but Ford has to really make that effort.

The new 2013 Lincoln MKS and MKT will go on sale in Spring of 2012.

How do you feel about the design change?

For more information on the new MKS and MKT check out Lincoln's website:  http://www.lincoln.com/

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Thursday, November 17, 2011

Revealed: 2012 Hyundai Azera

Hyundai revealed the redesigned 2013 Hyundai Azera  and it is now my favorite Hyundai model to look at. The Azera will sit between the Sonata and the Genesis in Hyundai's lineup. It will compete against the Toyota Avalon, Nissan Maxima, and Ford Taurus (They have some serious competition!). The design of the Azera makes it look like a luxury car which is not a bad thing. To me the Azera wears Hyundai's fluidic design the best. The interior of the Azera looks great as well and is similar to other Hyundai models.

The Azera will be powered by a 3.3L direct injection V-6 engine that produces 293 horsepower and 255 lb-ft of torque. The power will be sent to the front wheels. The Azera is expected to achieve 20 mpgs in the city and 29 mpgs on the highway. I think that Hyundai kept this car very competitive with others in it's class. The Azera should be very quick and have really good fuel economy.

Where Hyundai shines with the Azera is with the standard features. The Azera will come standard with leather seats, navigation, and Hyundai's new Blue Link system. Hyundai really wanted to set high standards with the Azera and I believe they accomplished that. Even entry luxury cars such as the Lexus ES and Buick LaCrosse need to keep their eyes open. The Azera definitely offers a lot of competition.

The Azera will go on sale in February.

What are your thoughts on the 2012 Hyundai Azera?

For more information on the new Azera check out Hyundai's website: http://hyundaiusa.com/vehicles/future-cars/2012/azera/

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Revealed: 2013 Cadillac XTS

I want to start off and say that the 2013 Cadillac XTS is a damn good looking car! I love the designs of Cadillac's models but the XTS just stands out the most. Cadillac really nailed the the exterior of this vehicle and it looks different than the other cars in it's class. The XTS will compete against the BMW 5 Series, Audi A6, Infiniti M, and the Mercedes-Benz E Class. The interior of the XTS is also a selling point of this car, which includes Cadillac's new CUE system. Some advanced technologies include land departure, forward collision, and side blind zone warnings.

The XTS is replacing the aging STS and DTS models in Cadillac's lineup. The XTS will be powered by a 3.6L direct injection V-6 engine that produces 300 horsepower. The power will be sent to the front wheels. This engine will be mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. I am very surprised that the XTS's engine does not produce more horsepower but I'm sure 300 horses will be enough for the buyers of this vehicle.

The production of the XTS will begin in the spring. I love cars that have bold designs so I can't wait to see this vehicle in person! This is a great start for the Cadillac brand in changing up their lineup.

What are your thoughts on the 2013 Cadillac XTS?

For more information on the XTS check out Cadillac's website: http://www.cadillac.com/xts-luxury-sedan.html

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Revealed: 2013 Infiniti JX

Yesterday Infiniti revealed the new 2013 JX , it's new front-wheel drive luxury crossover. In a previous post about the JX concept I gave praise to Infiniti for delivering another great looking vehicle. I think Infiniti has to add more vehicles to it's lineup and the JX is a great start. The production version doesn't look much different than the concept car. The interior of the JX screams luxurious!

The front-wheel drive version will start at a little over $40,000 and the an all-wheel drive version will start around $42,000. The JX will be powered by a 3.5L V-6 engine that produces 265 horsepower and 248 lb-ft of torque mated to a sport-tuned CVT. Which will achieve 17 miles in the city and 23 miles on the highway.

I am actually really disappointed with the engine that Infiniti has chosen to use in the JX. I really expected this vehicle to have more horsepower and torque. This engine is very similar to the engine used in the Nissan Murano. This is not to say that it is a bad engine but I think it was the wrong choice for the JX. At these price points I expected to see an engine similar to the ones found in other Infiniti models. I'm curious as to why Infiniti didn't use the Maxima's engine which produces 290 horsepower? Infiniti did price this vehicle well and it will undercut the starting prices of the Acura MDX and Audi Q7.

The Infiniti JX will go on sale in the Spring of 2012. I expect this model to be very important for the Infiniti brand. I think Infiniti has a hit on their hands and I can't wait to drive the new JX!

*Update: Since this morning (3/27/12) I have been reading and watching reviews and comments on the 2013 Infiniti JX35. There are some who fully like the vehicle and others who only like certain aspects of the vehicle. Three problems that came up were about the 265 hp V6 engine, style and the CVT transmission. Many could not understand why Infiniti chose it. I know that the choice of the CVT was for fuel economy. The JX does offer better fuel economy than the MDX and RX. I love the styling of Infiniti vehicles so I am a big fan of the JX styling, but some are not fans of it. When I first heard Infiniti was using the 265 hp V6 I was quite shocked by it. When I think of Infiniti I always think of bold styling and horsepower! But I can see where Infiniti is coming from with this vehicle. I may not agree with all of the choices but I respect it. I can't wait to get behind the wheel of the JX35 to see how it really performs.

What are your thoughts on the 2013 Infiniti JX?

For more information on the JX check out Infiniti's website: http://www.infinitiusa.com/all-new-jx/

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Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Interview with Ian Shannon and Chris Hayek, Pennzoil

I recently had the chance to interview Ian Shannon, Global Lead Automotive Products R&D for Passenger Car Motor Oils, and Chris Hayek, Director of Global Brand Marketing.

My interview with Ian Shannon and Chris Hayek focused on motor oil myths, the shift in motor oil from wear protection to cleansing, motor oil testing, the truth behind company claims, and the future of Pennzoil.

Check out my interview below:


                            

I want to give a big thanks to Kyle Ragonese for working with my schedule to make this interview happen! I also want to thank Ian Shannon and Chris Hayek for taking out the time to answer my questions. 

For more information on Pennzoil check out their website: http://www.pennzoil.com/

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Thursday, October 27, 2011

Interview: Brand Loyalty

I had the opportunity to have an interview with Doug Scott who is Sr. Vice President of GfK Automotive. He has more than 29 years of experience in the automotive and marketing research industries. He has also worked with automakers such as Toyota, Chrysler, and Subaru. Mr. Scott was a national research manager for Toyota Motor Sales before joining GfK.

GfK Automotive conducts research for the global automotive industry.

My interview with Doug Scott focused on Brand Loyalty and how technology is changing the way we buy cars. Check out my interview below. While you may hear Doug Scott clearly, you may have some difficulties hearing me speak. So these are the questions that I asked Mr. Scott:

1. What does brand loyalty mean?
2. Will Toyota's brand loyalty increase or will it stabilize?
3. What is your take on the success of Hyundai and Kia?
4. Do you think the younger generation will become more loyal as they age?
5. Which automakers have benefited from new technology enhancements?
6. Had an improvement in overall quality helped automakers attract and retain new buyers, as well as pre-boomers and boomers?



I want to thank Daniel Schwartzberg for putting this interview together. I also want to thank Doug Scott for taking out the time to answer my questions.

For more information on GfK Automotive check out their website: http://www.gfkamerica.com/sectors/automotive/index.en.html

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Monday, October 24, 2011

Is It The End of the Line for Saab?

Things have not been going well for Saab, since it was purchased from General Motors. To be honest I was really shocked that Saab was experiencing so many problems from the start. I thought Saab would be in better hands than when it was under General Motors. Saab could have been a very profitable brand if GM put in the investment. I know that Saab's current owner is trying to keep Saab alive but the time is surely ticking now!

Last month Saab won court protection from creditors to reorganize. Pang Da Automobile Trading Co. and Zhejiang Youngman Lotus Automobile Co. had agreed to buy a combined 53.9 percent stake in Saab. This offer was rejected by Mr. Muller. Saab recently obtained financing from North Street Capital. North Street Capital would lend Saab $60 million and buy 2.39 million shares. Many people are surprised that this offer was not taken because of Saab's current position. I have to give credit to Mr. Muller for really believing in Saab because he is trying really hard to keep this company alive. I don't think that Mr. Muller is going to let Saab die that easily. He has so much faith in this company and I'm sure he has the right plans to bring this company back to the forefront of the automobile industry. 

There is no telling what will happen to Saab in the next few days or weeks. But I am surely rooting for Saab to survive. I think Saab is one of those distinct and quirky brands that could thrive if it had the right management unlike with GM (Cough!). I would love to see more products from Saab that are actually competitive. If Buick can be turned around then I'm damn sure Saab has a chance. The end of Saab could be coming very soon but there still seems to be a bit of hope left.

Update: Saab has rejected a full buyout from Pang Da Automobile Trading Co. and Zhejiang Youngman Lotus Automobile Co.

Do you hope Saab makes it?

For more information about Saab and it's products check out Saab's website: www.saab.com

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Ford Explorer Passes the 100,000 Sales Mark

The Explorer has become the fastest growing midsize crossover in the U.S. After a complete redesign, compared to 2010, U.S. sales are up 290 percent. The Explorer has passed the 100,000 vehicle sales mark. Ford has been on a roll lately with their recently re-designed vehicles.

Amy Marentic, who is a Group Marketing Manager at Ford stated "with best-in-class fuel economy and technology like MyFord Touch®, terrain management and the world's first second-row inflatable seat belts, Ford had shown that our dedication to customers' needs is paying off,". 






The new  EcoBoost engine has an EPA rating of  28 mpg on the highway. Ford's all new Escape will be unveiled at the upcoming Los Angeles Auto Show. It will be offered with a 1.6 liter and 2.0 liter EcoBoost engine.

This is great news for Ford and I hope they continue with their success.

Check out more information about the Explorer on Ford's website: www.ford.com

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Thursday, October 20, 2011

No More Dodge Grand Caravan and Avenger!!!

For 2013 The Chrysler Group will be eliminating the Dodge Grand Caravan and Avenger. Doing this will leave just one minivan the Town and Country and one midsize car the 200 in The Chrysler Group's portfolio. The next generation Town and Country will arrive in 2014. While the 200 replacement will arrive in 2013. I think that this is a very smart decision by The Chrysler Group because it eliminates duplicate vehicles. I was surprised that Chrysler decided to discontinue the Grand Caravan instead of the Town and Country because it's Dodge's best selling model. But it looks like The Chrysler Group is trying to make Dodge into a sporty brand which it should have been from the very beginning. This will allow Dodge, Chrysler, and Jeep to occupy different parts of the automotive market. In January of next year Dodge will launch a new compact sedan based on the Alfa Romeo's Giulietta platform. After seeing many spy shots of Dodge's new compact sedan, I can't wait for it to be fully revealed.

Both the Dodge Grand Caravan and Avenger will be replaced by a single crossover based on a Fiat platform. At first I thought that it was a bad choice by the Chrysler Group but now I understand why they are doing this. I would really love to see this new crossover which is set to arrive in 2014, compete against the Nissan Juke, Hyundai Veloster, VW Beetle, and the Mini Cooper Countryman. In my opinion I think that Dodge has a good chance of creating a very sporty and reasonably priced crossover.

Is The Chrysler Group making the right decisions?

Will you miss either vehicle?

Check out more information on Dodge's lineup: http://www.dodge.com/en/

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Wednesday, October 19, 2011

2013 Porsche Macan

The Porsche Macan will go on sale in 2013. The Macan will be based off the same platform as the Audi Q5. It will take the slot below the bigger Cayenne in Porsche's lineup. Like the Audi Q5 the Macan may receive the same 2.0 liter 4 cylinder and 3.0 liter V6 engines. There will definitely be a five door configuration but no definite answer on the three door option. The Macan will be produced at Porsche's plant in Leipzig.

Porsche is hoping to attract younger buyers to it's brand with the Macan. I think that the Macan will definitely bring in the new buyers that Porsche is hoping for. There's no doubt that the Macan will be a great addition to the Porsche lineup and the luxury crossover market.

Well it looks like Porsche decided not to keep the Cajun name around. I don't know if I like Macan but it might grow on me over time.

How do you feel about the Macan name?

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Monday, October 17, 2011

Thoughts: Buick Verano

Buick has really transformed themselves in the past few years, in a good way. I was first impressed with the Enclave and how stylish it was because at that time I couldn't believe it was a Buick. Then came the LaCrosse which is just a great looking car. Every time I see the LaCrosse, I just think "luxury". The Regal was the next Buick model to appear and I was blown away again. But my thoughts about the Regal changed after I drove the CXL model. Now there is a new Buick model coming called the Verano. I will give it to Buick that their vehicles are very attractive. The Verano like the rest of the Buick family screams "luxury". When I heard that this model was going to be below the Regal I started to have doubts. Those doubts continued when I found out that this model will share it's platform with the Chevrolet Cruze and Volt. All I kept thinking in my mind was that the Verano was going to be an upscale Cruze. Their price ranges overlap each other which doesn't help. When I think of models that are rebadged I think why would someone pay a premium price for a Verano when they can get similarly equipped Cruze for less money?

The Buick Verano will start at over $23,000. The base Verano will be equipped with a 2.4-liter engine that produces 180 horsepower. There will be a 2.4-liter turbo four engine later on in the model year. While Buick states that the average Verano customer isn't interested in performance, I really don't believe that. In my opinion if someone is spending money on a premium or luxury vehicle, I'm sure they expect a decent engine to come with it. I'm not saying put an engine with 300 horses in the car but an engine that makes a statement. In this price class there are so many other choices to choose from. I'm really rooting for Buick to stay competitive and be successful. But the biggest problem they have to fix is their engine choices. The base engine in the Regal and Verano just don't cut it in my opinion.

What are your thoughts on the new Buick Verano?

For more information on the Verano check out Buick's website: http://www.buick.com/verano-luxury-sedan.html

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Monday, October 3, 2011

Thoughts: Infiniti

I've driven just about all of the Infiniti models except for the M and QX. Lately everyone has been bashing   Infiniti for their designs, I praise them because there are no other car companies that can pull it off. There is nothing wrong with Infiniti's designs in my opinion. I think every Infiniti looks good with my favorite being the FX! Everyone that has talked to me or read my blog knows that I am a big fan of Nissan & Infiniti. My grandmother has had three generations of Nissan Maxima's ('84, '99, & '05) and two Infiniti EX's ('08 & '11). They are my top two favorite brands mainly because of their bold designs and great engines. While I do like Infiniti there are some things that I dislike about the brand as well. I am not a big fan of the new 7-speed transmission. The biggest complaint I have about Infiniti is their model line-up. Yes they will be adding the new JX and a small compact car but I don't think those two are enough especially when you compare their line-up to BMW or Mercedes-Benz.

In one of my post a week or so ago I talked with Matt Farah and he stated "They need a halo car" referring to both Infiniti and Acura. I had to sit and think about it but I completely agreed with him. Infiniti has been saying for the past few years that it is not the right time to bring back the Q45. But I think its hurting the brand more by not having a halo car that competes against the Audi A8, BMW 7 series, and the Mercedes-Benz S class. There are also talks of a Infiniti super car based off of the Nissan GT-R, which I think would be great for the brand. If the rumors are true and this car does come to the line-up I hope that its after the Q45. I would also love to see Infiniti make a car that competes against the Mercedes-Benz CLS and Audi A7. One car that needs to be grow in size to be more competitive is the EX. Infiniti doesn't sell many of these and that has do with the fact that the EX is smaller than its competitors.

I consider Infiniti a luxury brand but if they want to truly go head to head with their German rivals they have to take the IPL brand to the next level. It has been said that the IPL brand does not compete against BMW's M and Mercedes-Benz AMG performance brands. But I feel that it should have been positioned to compete against them and should not have been released if it wasn't going to be a true performance brand. I know that Infiniti can take the IPL performance brand to the next level. If Infiniti does go about repositioning the G IPL I'm sure they can take on the M3 and C63 AMG.

I am no expert on the auto industry but over the years I have seen the auto industry evolve. The luxury car market has become very competitive and no luxury automaker can afford to make a mistake. Infiniti's sales have increased from where they used to be but they still don't come close to BMW, Mercedes-Benz, or Lexus. Infiniti's marketing team has to really get aggressive and promote the brand more. I think the introduction of the JX and new compact sedan will bring more buyers to the brand but Infiniti still needs a halo car. It's time for the Q to be resurrected, and if it is, Infiniti needs to make sure it is just as competitive as the S class, 7 series, and the Lexus LS. If I had to buy a luxury car, Infiniti would be my first choice I would not have to think about it twice. I wish Infiniti nothing but success and hope that the brand will become a more competitive luxury car brand.

I can't wait to drive and review the new JX!

Are you a loyal Infiniti fan? What is your favorite Infiniti model?

For more information on Infiniti vehicles check out there website: www.infinitiusa.com

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Friday, September 30, 2011

Review: 2011 Buick Regal CXL


I first spotted the redesigned Buick Regal in 2010 while I was living in Tennessee and thought it was a great looking car. I have to give Buick credit for the designs of their current vehicles. The Regal competes against the Acura TSX, Audi A4, Infiniti G25, Lincoln MKZ, and the Volvo S60. There are many things that I like and dislike about the Regal. The Regal is the first Buick that I have ever driven. The Regal is front-wheel drive and powered by a 2.4 L inline 4 cylinder engine that produces 182 horsepower and 172 lb-feet of torque. I drove a base model Regal that came in at over $26,500.



 The Regal rides on General Motors' Epsilon II platform, which the Buick LaCrosse, the Saab 9-5, and the new Chevrolet Malibu are also built on. There are 3 Regal trim levels to choose from. The trim levels range from the CXL, the CXL Turbo, and the GS. The CXL turbo trim uses a 2.0 liter turbo charged engine that pushes out 220 horsepower. The fuel economy for the turbo is rated at 18 city and 28 highway. The GS trim uses a 2.0 liter high output turbocharged engine that produces 270 horsepower. New for 2012 is the use of Buick's new eAssist mild hybrid technology on the base trim level variants. 


The exterior of the Buick Regal is very attractive and sporty. A lot of people are very impressed with the styling and many can't believe it's a Buick. The Regal definitely stands out among the other cars in its class. Unlike the LaCrosse, the Regal's front end is toned down. I would have liked to see a bolder front end on this car. I think that the rear of the car is what really stands out. The color of the Regal I drove was called midnight blue metallic, which I wasn't too fond of. 


The interior of the Regal is another selling point of this car. The materials used were of high quality which made the vehicle feel luxurious. What really stood out for me were the front seats. I found them very comfortable and supportive. I thought they were some of the best car seats I've sat in recently. The back seats of the Regal were also comfortable as well. There was more than enough head room and leg room for me. One thing that I didn't like so much was the center console. There are just too many buttons for me. I felt that Buick could have come up with a more elegant center console. The Regal I drove came standard with a 6 speed automatic transmission with manual mode, leather upholstery, heated front seats, dual-zone automatic climate control, Bluetooth wireless connectivity, 3 free months of XM radio, and a USB and IPod port. The trunk of the Regal offers 14.2 cubic feet of storage. 



Buick calls the Regal a midsize sport sedan but I wouldn't quite agree with that after driving this non-turbo model. I think that the 2.4L engine denies the Regal from truly being labeled a sport sedan. For a midsize car that weighs over 3600 lbs., the 182 horsepower engine was not impressive. I also wasn't impressed with how the Regal accelerated, it is just too slow. The Regal accelerates from zero to sixty in 8.7 seconds. I was very impressed with how smooth the ride was and how quiet the cabin was at highway speeds. I was also impressed with the steering feel and how well the Regal turned into corners.


I can say that I had an interesting time behind the wheel of the Buick Regal. The Regal's design will definitely attract young buyers to the Buick brand. Even though the Regal is attractive and rides smoothly, I still wouldn't consider buying one. I just have a big issue with the 2.4L engine in the CXL trim level; maybe the GS model could change my mind. Buick has been on a roll lately and I don't see them slowing down any time soon. With a few improvements I think the Regal can become an actual sport sedan. If you like sporty and attractive cars and horsepower isn't a concern for you then take a look at the Buick Regal. 


How do you feel about the Buick Regal? Is it a true sport sedan?


For more information the Regal check out Buick's website: www.buick.com

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Thursday, September 15, 2011

A Conversation with Matt Farah

I had the pleasure of having a conversation yesterday with Matt Farah, who is the co-host of The Car Show on Speed and the founder of TheSmokingTire.com. When I was told about this opportunity I couldn't believe it because I had just started my car blog and was fairly new to this industry. This was definitely an opportunity that I could not pass up. I was kind of nervous because I have never spoken to an auto journalist before. But that nervousness went away and I was able to have a terrific conversation with Matt Farah.

Matt was really down to earth, funny, and straightforward while we were talking. He made me feel as if I already knew him which made me engage in the conversation even more. In the time that we did talk, we covered a lot of topics dealing with the auto industry. There were things that we really agreed on while there were a few things that we thought differently about.

The first topic that I asked Matt about was his view on Hyundai and Kia. He felt that they were going on the right path and was pleased with their quality and value. He even said that Hyundai and Kia are doing a better job than their Japanese competitors. Hyundai has had success with the Genesis and Equus, and Matt feels that they should make a luxury car brand. This is because many people who purchase a car like that don't want to buy or show up to a dealership where for example an Elantra is being sold.

About a week or so ago I wrote a post titled "What Happened To Acura???". This is a question that I had to ask Matt because I felt that I couldn't be the only one that thinks Acura has a problem. Matt really expressed his true feelings towards Acura's design choices, which were negative. I may be the only person who actually likes the designs that Acura has put out. But we both agreed that there were way more Acura's (especially the TL) years ago then there is now. Matt feels that Acura needs to get better designs if they expect people to buy their cars. I thought that Matt made a lot of sense when he said that Acura needs to have a flagship model preferably the NSX.

Matt and I then moved on to talk about the future of Lincoln and what things need to change. Matt was not very fond of the design choices of Lincoln, while on the other hand I actually like those designs. Just like Acura, Matt feels that Lincoln needs their own design team that will separate Ford and Lincoln. One interesting thing Matt brought up was that Lincoln needs to have a RWD car that draws attention to the brand. It would be very similar to what Chrysler did with the 300. I thought that this was a good idea that Matt had brought up. I do think that Ford will actually devote the time to give Lincoln a major makeover.

I had the chance to drive the 2011 Buick Regal CXL and I can say that I wasn't that impressed with the car. I thought I was the only one who felt that way but Matt had similar views about the Regal and the Buick brand. While talking about the brand Matt was making a few jokes that I just found to be really fun. While the jokes were funny, they were actually pretty true and accurate. As Matt pointed it out that Buick badge still represents a problem for many.

Since I started my car blog I have been trying to get advice from people who have been in the auto industry and how they got to where they are now. Two of the last questions that I asked Matt was how he got started and about TheSmokingTire.com. What I really appreciated about Matt Farah was that he was really honest and genuine when he gave me his answers. He came out and said that the auto industry is really hard to get into but you have to have that drive and passion. The advice that he gave me was exactly what I needed to hear. Matt went on to explain how TheSmokingTire.com started, which was an incredible story. I would like to say anyone who is interested in cars should definitely take a look at Matt Farah's website TheSmokingTire.com

I know how hard it is to get in contact with people in the auto industry, so I am really grateful that Matt Farah took time out of his busy schedule to speak to me!!! I just started out writing about cars and to be given this opportunity is more than I could have ever asked for. Again I want to thank Matt Farah because I appreciated our talk about the auto industry. There aren't too many people on my campus who have a love of cars like I do so it was great to talk to someone else who has a love of automobiles as well.  I also want to give a special thank you to Michael Cilnis who worked with me for the past three weeks trying to make this call happen. I hope that I have the opportunity to speak with the other co-host as well one day.

Please check out The Car Show on Wednesday's at 10pm ET on Speed.  The show is hosted by comedian Adam Carolla, automotive journalist Dan Neil, TheSmokingTire.com founder Matt Farah, and NBA Champion John Salley.

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Entries Being Accepted for The Webby Awards!!!

Anyone who has an automotive website should definitely submit an entry for this years Webby Awards. The early entry deadline is October 28, 2011. The Webby Awards honors the Best Automotive Website that provides information about every single aspect of the automotive industry. The Webby Awards celebrates this year's best online films, advertisements, apps, and websites.

For this year's Webby Awards, Entrants can submit their work at www.webbyawards.com. The nominees of these awards will be announced in April of 2012. The actual awards will take place later on in the Spring of 2012.

The information pasted below is from the Webby Awards website: www.webbyawards.com.


About The Webby Awards
Hailed as the "Internet's highest honor" by the New York Times, The Webby Awards is the leading international award honoring excellence on the Internet, including Websites, interactive advertising & media, online film & video, and mobile & apps. Established in 1996, the 15th Annual Webby Awards received nearly 10,000 entries from all 50 states and over 60 countries worldwide. The Webby Awards is presented by The International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences. Sponsors and Partners of The Webby Awards include: AOL, Aquent, Yahoo!, Microsoft, Ford, Dentyne, Facebook, MLB Advanced Media, Rackspace Hosting, YouTube, HPUSA Today, Business Insider, 2advanced.Net, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Time Out New York and Guardian News and Media.


For more information regarding the Webby Awards please visit: http://www.webbyawards.com/

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Negotiations between Chrysler and the UAW has continued past the deadline!

While the current national labor contract was set to expire on September 14, the Chrysler Group and the UAW have agreed to continue bargaining past that date. The Chrysler Group and the UAW will continue to work together to reach a new agreement. If an agreement is met, there are still several processes before the new national labor contract is implemented.

Hopefully Chrysler and the UAW will be able to reach a deal very soon.

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Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Will Saab Make It???

Today Saab announced that they were filing for bankruptcy. Saab's parent company thinks that going through bankruptcy will allow them to raise short term funding.

Update: A Swedish court has rejected Saab's application for protection from it's creditors.

I personally think that Saab needs more than just short term funding. I actually thought that Saab would be better off once General Motors sold it to Spyker.  But I guess I was wrong about that. It's very obvious that General Motors can be blamed for the condition that Saab is currently in. General Motor's neglect, engine choices, and overpriced vehicles did damage to the Saab brand. General Motor's decision to purchase Saab was not a good one; just like Ford when they purchased Volvo, Jaguar and Land Rover. Damage was done to all of these brands because neither company had proper management and couldn't devote all their time towards all the brands.

I honestly don't know what will happen with Saab but I'm surely thinking that things are not looking too good.  I really like the design of the 9-5 and 9-4 but I don't like their engine choices. Saab really needed its own identity instead of being rebadged General Motor products. Saab's parent company really has faith that Saab will be able to make it successfully as a car brand. As Saab is trying to reconfigure itself the brand is losing market share. I always root for struggling automakers because I feel that competition is good and I hope that Saab can come out a contender. I have no idea what is going to happen but as of right now this may be the end of Saab!

Do you think Saab will make it? Are you a true Saab loyalist?

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Thursday, September 1, 2011

What Happened to Acura???

In August Acura moved 9,054 vehicles, which was down 24.5% compared to August 2010.

 I have mixed  reviews about Acura as of late. I believe they are not the same Acura that they once were. As many people have put it "Acura has lost its way". I may be one of the few who actually liked the "beak" design on all of the Acura models. I thought that it was bold, stylish, and really made Acura's cars stand out in the crowd. I just didn't get why many people didn't like the designs. The biggest problem that I have with Acura has to deal with the interior.   In a previous post about the TL I got on Acura about their interiors. When I think of luxury I don't think of an interior of a Acura. This is the same problem that Lincoln has because the interiors look almost identical to their Ford counterparts. If I'm a buyer interested in a luxury car and I look at an Acura and see the interior I'm going to think why not get a Honda for less money. I know that Acura has the ability to do this and they need to if they want to be taken seriously. When I sit in a Acura I want to feel like I'm covered in luxury and not just an upscale Honda.

Another problem that Acura faces is its lineup. This is the same problem in my opinion that Infiniti also faces. Acura has to develop more models if they want to gain the interests of new buyers. I would like to see roadsters, coupes, and a flagship in Acura's lineup. There's no denying that Acuras drive well so it would be a good thing for them to create other models. If Acura really wants to be a big player in the luxury car market they really be on the same level as their German rivals. I honestly believe that Acura has to add more vehicles to their lineup if they want to gain market share.

Honda really has to step up their game and give Acura a complete overhaul. If Honda needs help, assistance, or viewpoints they need to get in contact with me! I'm 21 and I know exactly what people my age/generation are looking for when it comes to buying a car. The old ways of doing things are not working anymore and it is clearly showing. With new models and greatly improved interiors I think that Acura can really become a stronger luxury car company. I really want Acura to succeed and hope that the brand turns around. But that decision is in the hands of the management at Honda Motor Company.

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Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Thoughts: Lincoln



Lincoln as a luxury brand has lost its way over the years due to the lack of management at Ford Motor Company. I am really rooting for Lincoln to make a great comeback as a luxury brand. If Hyundai and Kia can go through major transformations and come out successful, so can Lincoln. Lincoln has to really differentiate itself from the Ford brand which might be its biggest challenge. Consumers who shop for luxury cars really want to feel as if they purchased a luxury car and not just a premium car. I think that Lincoln needs to have an interior makeover that doesn't look exactly like their Ford relatives. I am a big fan of the design choices that Lincoln has made and don't think that they went too far. In order for Lincoln's to be noticed their designs have to be bold and stand out from the crowd. One thing that will be very important is the driving dynamics of Lincolns. They can't drive like Fords, Lincoln has to find some way to make their ride feel luxurious. I really think that Lincoln is taking the right steps in trying to change their image but I hope that they make the right final choices.

With Mercury gone (even though I think Mercury could have been successful if they turned it into a sporty brand), Ford now has the resources to invest in Lincoln. As a 21 year old I would not even consider looking at a Lincoln vehicle because I could get a similarly equipped Ford for less money. Lincoln really needs a RWD sedan in their lineup and that's point blank. Lincoln has to make faster moves with their cars. In order for Lincoln to be successful they have to step their game up. A RWD sedan should have been the first thing on Ford's list when they decided to focus on Lincoln. The 2013 Lincoln MKZ concept is a very good looking car and will help Lincoln increase sales. But I do not think that the MKZ will save Lincoln. Lincoln needs to follow in the footsteps of Cadillac. It has been a long road but Cadillac knows what they have to do in order to be viewed as a true luxury brand. I'm still not convinced Ford is serious about Lincoln being a true luxury brand. I wish Ford and Lincoln the best and hope they grow up and make the right choices. But if they can't make the right choices its time to clean house! .

Lincoln also needs a twitter account!!!! Every other luxury automaker has one, so why doesn't Lincoln have one?

Do you think Lincoln will ever become a true luxury brand? Would you consider buying a Lincoln?

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Monday, August 29, 2011

BMW's New 4-Cylinder Engine

BMW announced their new 4-cylinder engine which will appear in the Z4 sDrive28i. The new 2.0L 4-cylinder TwinPower Turbo Engine will put out 240-hp and 260 lb-ft of torque. This new engine comes with increased fuel efficiency. It is 30% more efficient than its 6-cylinder equivalent while being lighter and more compact.

Overall I am very impressed with BMW's new engine and think that it is the perfect option for anyone who is going to purchase a Z4. BMW did a great job of getting the most out of their new 4-cylinder engine.

Would you consider this engine? Was this a smart choice by BMW?

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Monday, August 22, 2011

Ford and Toyota Collaborating on A New Hybrid System

Ford Motor Company and Toyota Motor Corporation announced that they would collaborate equally on a new advanced hybrid system. This hybrid system would be used on light trucks and SUVs.

This will be interesting because Ford and Toyota each have great hybrid systems that they use. I'm sure that both of them working together will produce a great hybrid system.

Is this a smart move for Ford and Toyota?

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Friday, August 19, 2011

Thoughts: Infiniti JX Concept

The JX was unveiled last night at Pebble Beach. Infiniti's new concept is a 7 passenger/3-row crossover that will  join their lineup in 2012. Overall I think that the Infiniti JX is a great looking vehicle. In my opinion the JX doesn't stand out as much as the other Infiniti models. Compared to the Acura MDX, Audi Q7, and Mercedes-Benz GL, I think the JX is the best looking out of the bunch. The interior of the JX is what really stands out for me and reminds me of the Infiniti M. I was shocked to find out that this model will be front-wheel drive instead of rear-wheel drive. This will be Infiniti's first front-wheel drive model since the 2003 Infiniti I35. The JX will also use Nissan's famous CVT that will be sport tuned.

I think that this vehicle is very important for Infiniti because they need to expand their product line. I'm a big fan of Infiniti and I'm sure this model will sell well. A lot of people have  been bashing Infiniti's styling choices lately but I love them. Why look like every other car on the road when you can stand out and look good doing it? The Infiniti JX is a great looking vehicle inside and out. The final production version will debut at the 2011 Los Angeles Auto Show in November.

How do you feel about the Infiniti JX concept?

For more information about the JX check out Infiniti's website: http://www.infinitiusa.com/all-new-jx/?next=Home_Page.Home.JX_Micro.Button

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Thoughts: Cadillac Ciel Concept

When I saw the pictures of the Cadillac Ciel concept, I had mixed feelings about it. I got the sense that Cadillac was trying to mix the old and the new together with this concept. The rear of the Ciel is what really bothered me when I kept looking at it. I tried to imagine myself in this car and just couldn't see it. But after looking at the pictures a few more times this morning I like the Ciel concept a lot now. I don't know what happened but I find this concept to be very luxurious and classy. I really like the front end of the Ciel and think that Cadillac did an amazing job designing it. The front end is very bold and reminds me of the other models in Cadillac's lineup.

I hope that this concept does get the the "go" for production because I think it would fit quite well in Cadillac's lineup. Cadillac doesn't have any convertibles currently and in my opinion the Ciel would bring in new customers. I'm sure if the if it does get the "go" for production not everything would make it into the production car but I think everything should.

Congrats to Cadillac on designing a terrific concept car!

Do you like/dislike Cadillac's Ciel concept?

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Thursday, August 18, 2011

Revealed: 2013 Lexus GS 350

The 2013 Lexus GS 350 was unveiled at Pebble Beach today. I am actually not that impressed with the exterior of this vehicle. It looks okay but other vehicles in this class such as the Audi A6 and Infiniti M37 look a lot better. I really think that the interior looks amazing and it is about time that Lexus has updated their interiors. The interior in my opinion is the highlight of the 2013 Lexus GS 350. It looks better than the current generation but it doesn't stand out enough for me. I do think that this vehicle will drive extremely well and I can't wait to get behind the wheel.

Lexus is moving in the right direction but they still have some work to do.

What do you think of the 2013 Lexus GS 305?






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Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Ford Wins Big!

Ford has done very well as of late. Their vehicles have improved greatly and are catching the eyes of many consumers. Ford swept the 2011 AutoPacific Ideal Vehicle Awards winning 7 awards. I hope that Ford continues on their path of success.

The awards Ford took home were:
Luxury Midsize Car- 2011 Lincoln MKZ
Premium Midsize Car- 2011 Ford Fusion
Hybrid Car- 2011 Ford Fusion Hybrid
Large Light Duty Pickup- 2011 Ford F-150
Heavy Duty Pickup- 2011 Ford F-series Super Duty
Large Crossover SUV- 2011 Ford Flex
Premium Midsize Crossover SUV- 2011 Ford Explorer

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Review: 2011 Kia Optima LX

The Kia Optima has never come across my mind all of these years until it’s recent design. I thought of it as a very bland and forgettable car, and it became the punch-line of my many jokes. But after seeing and driving the new Optima I can see that my perception of this car has truly changed. The 2011 Kia Optima is stylish, great to drive, and offers so much value. The Optima competes against the Toyota Camry, Nissan Altima, Hyundai Sonata, Honda Accord, Ford Fusion, Chevy Malibu, Volkswagen Passat, Chrysler 200, Dodge Avenger, and Suzuki Kizashi. This is the first Kia I have ever driven and I can say that it is a true player in the competitive and crowded midsize car market.   The 2011 Kia Optima is powered by a 2.4L I4 engine that produces 200 horsepower and 186 lb-ft of torque. I drove a LX model with the automatic transmission that came in at a little over $22,000.

The Kia Optima rides on the platform as its sister the Hyundai Sonata, but you would never think that by looking at both vehicles. There are 5 Optima trim levels to choose from, which are the LX, EX, EX Turbo, SX, and Hybrid. The fuel economy for the LX with the manual transmission is rated at 24 city and 35 highway. The LX with the automatic transmission, and the EX model are rated at 24 city and 34 highway. The EX Turbo and SX models are rated at 22 city and 34 highway. The hybrid Optima’s fuel economy is rated at an impressive 36 city and 40 highway.

The designers at Kia did a damn good job of making the Optima look fantastic and stand out against the other midsize cars on the road. When I had first seen the 2011 Optima on the streets I was really blown away because I couldn’t believe how good it looks. I think that the Optima is actually the best looking midsize car there is right now (no offense Hyundai Sonata). The Optima looks great from all angles. The Optima I drove was a metallic bronze. I am not too big on dark colored cars but I would definitely take an Optima in this color.

I have to say that the interior of the Optima would be the main reason why I would purchase an Optima. The interior is fantastic and reminded me of a mix between Audi and Saab. I thought that the materials used in this car were of really high quality. One thing that I am fascinated with in any car is the shifter, I just like a great shifter design and the Optima delivers on that. My car had the fabric seats and I found them to be quite comfortable. I have come too really like leather seats lately and would probably choose leather over the cloth. While there is a sloping roof line I still found there to be more than enough headroom. But anyone taller than 5’9” might find headroom to be a little tight. The backseats were very spacious and comfortable, and could fit 5 people very comfortably. I really loved everything about the center console; I liked how it was positioned towards the driver for easier access. All of the buttons and knobs were positioned very well. My car came equipped with Bluetooth connectivity, satellite radio, 6 speakers, and an auxiliary jack.  The trunk which has 15.4 cubic feet of storage space was a highlight of the Optima. The 60/40 rear split seats are also a plus which the seats can be folded by the use of two buttons in the trunk. One of my favorite features was the cooling glove box. This interior really made me want to go out and buy myself a Optima.

I had a great time behind the wheel of the Optima. The Optima’s 200 hp engine really blew me away, because I was not expecting the power to kick in so instantly. The 6 speed automatic transmission was also a highlight in this car. The ride in this car was very smooth and there was more than enough power on hand when I needed it. The 6 speed transmission really works well and I didn’t find too many problems with it. I thought that the Optima accelerated great; it's acceleration was better than the 2011 Buick Regal CXL that I also tested. I really did not like the brakes in this car at all, I felt that I always had to push harder on the brakes than I needed to. I am not really big on 4 cylinder engines but I think that Kia has done a great job with this engine.

For my first time behind the wheel of a Kia, I can say that I had a good time with the 2011 Optima. I can actually say that I wouldn’t mind having this car as a daily driver. I would like to have the navigation system because I feel that it makes the console look better rather than having the small storage space that was in my LX. I think that Kia did everything right with this vehicle and the Optima should be taken seriously as a midsize contender. This car offers so much style and a lot of value. Anyone who is in the market for a midsize car should really check out the 2011 Kia Optima. I promise that this car will not disappoint you at all.

I hope to have the opportunity to drive the Turbo model and other Kia models.

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Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Thoughts: 2012 Toyota Camry

I have never really been a huge fan of Toyota's, mainly because I think their designs are quite bland. Over the  past few months Toyota has talked about how the design of the Camry will be vastly different from the current model. It seems after all of these years Toyota finally understands that their designs need to change. I actually had high hopes for the 2012 Camry and thought that it would be a step forward in the right direction.  But after seeing the latest spy shots of the 2012 Camry hybrid, I'm not so impressed.  I was really hoping that Toyota would knock it out of the ballpark with an aggressive design but that just didn't happen. It may be an improvement over the current Camry but its just not good enough. I would love to see the interior of the 2012 Camry to see if there was more of an upgrade but I'll just have to wait and see. I would also like to see how the new Camry drives since I've never driven one before. No matter how many people bash Toyota on the design of the new 2012 Camry, I think that it will still sell well because it wears the Toyota badge.

Do you agree? What are some of your thoughts on the 2012 Camry?

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Thursday, August 4, 2011

Review: 2011 Nissan Juke SL AWD

I have to start out by saying that I love everything about the Nissan Juke. The 2011 Nissan Juke is  very fun and exciting to drive and offers a lot of value. The Juke competes against the Mini Cooper Countryman and in my opinion the new Hyundai Veloster, and the Volkswagen Beetle. I’ve been behind a lot of Nissans and the Juke is my favorite Nissan so far. The Juke is powered by a new 1.6L direct injection turbo engine that produces 188 hp and 177 lb-ft of torque. I drove a fully loaded Juke SL AWD model that came in at over $26,000.

The Nissan Juke is based on Nissan’s global-B platform. This platform underpins the Cube, Versa and the Renault Clio. There are 3 Juke trim levels to choose from. The trim levels range from the Juke S CVT FWD to the Juke SL CVT AWD. I think that there is a Juke for everyone who really likes this small crossover. The fuel economy is rated at 24 city and 31 for the FWD manual, 27 city and 32 highway for the FWD CVT, and 25 city and 30 highway for the AWD CVT. The Juke can be had with Nissan’s CVT or a 6-speed manual transmission. The AWD torque vectoring system is only available with Nissan’s CVT transmission. The AWD system reduces understeer and improves the Juke’s cornering ability. Nissan’s intelligent AWD system can also create up to a 50/50 power split between the front and rear wheels.

Every review that I have watched or read always made fun of the Juke’s distinctive styling. But I’m not here to do that because I think that the Juke is a great looking vehicle. I am not at all offended by the Juke’s quirky styling. The Juke will definitely stand out in a crowd of other boring and bland looking vehicles. The front end of the car is quite different compared to other vehicles and not everyone will like it.  The Juke I drove was Sapphire Black and I actually liked it even though I am not a huge fan of black cars.

The interior of the Juke really stood out for me. I thought the materials used were of high quality especially for a vehicle in this class or segment. The seats were wrapped in black and red leather with red trim. The front seats were very comfortable and offered a lot of leg and back support. The back seats however are not as spacious as the front but I think that anyone who is really tall could deal with sitting back there for a short ride. While the Juke might look small on the outside I found it to be quite spacious on the inside. I really liked the high-rise center console that is shaped like a motorcycle gas tank. It was really easy to reach the shifter which was a plus. The Juke model I had was equipped with navigation and a back-up camera. I found the back-up camera to be quite useful in a few tight spots. All of the controls in the Juke were very easy to use, especially the navigation system. For $800 that navigation system was so simple to use, that made me think for that you get a great system for a very low cost. There is 10.5 cubic feet of room in the back with the rear seats up but when the 60/40 rear seats a folded there is 35.9 cubic feet of space. My favorite thing about the interior was Nissan’s I-CON system which is such a great feature. When pressing the D-mode button the climate controls changes appearance and function. Three driving modes will appear which are normal, sport or eco. Everything about this interior really made me love the Juke even more.

I had a lot of fun behind the wheel of the Nissan Juke. This car is such a blast to drive and it handles so well. It really blew away my original expectations.  I had the car in sport mode which stiffened the steering feel and transmission shifts. Going into corners were easy and smooth thanks to Nissan’s AWD system. This car accelerated and braked very well. I really loved the 1.6L direct injection engine and would like to see it used in other Nissan models. There may people that disagree with me but I really couldn’t find a bad thing to say about how the Nissan Juke drives.

My time spent with the Nissan Juke was really amazing. I could see myself driving this vehicle every day. I’m 21 and still in college so the Juke is more than enough to satisfy all of my car needs. The Juke has been selling quite well since it was offered this past October. I’m really not surprised that this vehicle is doing well because it offers great styling, a good value, and is very fun to drive. For everyone that keeps saying this car is ugly please check it out in person because your thoughts may change. If you are in the market for something small and fun to drive please take a look at the Nissan Juke.

I wish I could have been in the Juke a little longer! (Nissan send me a Juke to drive longer!)

What are your thoughts and opinions of the Nissan Juke?

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