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:

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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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