Sunday, July 29, 2012

Review: 2012 Nissan 370Z Coupe Touring

The 2012 Nissan 370Z is the second time I've been in a 370Z. My first time is when I drove a 2010 Nissan 370Z NISMO on the roads of Tennessee. My time in the 370Z NISMO was fun and challenging because it was my first time in two years driving a manual (I'm still learning how). But this time around my tester came equipped with a 7-speed automatic, YAY! There are three Z's to choose from, including the coupe, the roadster, and the NISMO. My tester was a 370Z Touring that came in at $42,535.

In my opinion the 370Z is the best looking vehicle in the Nissan lineup. A lot of the Z
s design elements have trickled down over the years into the Maxima, Altima, and Murano CrossCabriolet. The Z features claw-like shaped headlights, plenty of curves, and a tooth in the grille that is going away for the 2013 model year. I am not a big fan of black cars but my tester's Magnetic Black Metallic color really stood out.

The 370Z is a small vehicle and sits EXTREMELY low. The interior of the 370Z is a big improvement over the 350Z. I am happy that the Z has no rear seats! This allows more room for the driver and passenger to adjust their seats. There is a mix of good quality and soft touch materials throughout the cabin. The seats in the Z are very comfortable and supportive. I do think that at $42,000 power adjusting seats should be standard. The knobs and buttons are of good quality and are easy to reach from the drivers seat.

There was little to no tech in my tester. The 370Z does have push-button start, and an eight-speaker sound system. Buyers can step up to a hard-drive based navigation system, 9.3GB of music storage, XM satellite radio, Bluetooth audio streaming, and a much needed rear-view camera.

Behind the wheel
The 370Z is powered by Nissan's 3.7L V6 engine producing 332 hp and 276 lb-ft of torque. Unlike the rest of the Nissan lineup the Z's engine is mated to a 7-speed automatic transmission. The transmission works really well and power comes on when needed. A lot of reviewers complained about the engine noise but I did not find it that annoying. But it could be that I was having too much fun on the roads of North Carolina. Majority of the time I had the car in manual mode and used the paddle shifters which to my liking are mounted to the steering wheel column instead of the wheel. Visibility in the 370Z is really limited. Driver's will have to pay attention to their blind spots. The ride of the 370Z can be pretty harsh and Nissan needs to find a way to improve ride quality.

I have always had a fascination with the Z going all the way back to the Datsun days. The 370Z is a blast to drive and is a great value. I think the biggest problem facing the current generation Z is price. The 370Z is in the same price field as the Infiniti G37 coupe and convertible. There have been talks that the next generation Z would feature a smaller engine which I hope is not true. The V6 is a staple of the Z and should not be replaced. If you're in the market for a sports car be sure to check out the Nissan 370Z at your nearest dealership (If you're in NC be sure to visit my friends at Greenville Nissan). You may be able to get a good deal because the 2013 370Z model is getting ready to roll out. A 2012 Nissan 370Z base trim starts at $32,280 and delivers 19 mpg city and 26 mpg hwy.

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Tuesday, July 24, 2012

'13 Nissan Altima Live Chat

Some team members behind the 2013 Nissan Altima will be available for a live chat this Thursday. The Altima team will be discussing the NASA-inspired zero gravity seats, new Xtronic CVT transmission, NissanConnect, and more. The live chat on Thursday will be at 10am PT/1pm ET on the Nissan Altima Facebook page at Altima Product Specialist, Vishnu Jayamohan, and Altima Marketing Manager, Xavier Martinet will be taking questions.

Video Invitation from Altima Product Specialist, Vishnu Jayamohan:

Xtronic CVT Technology:

The Green Light: The 2013 Nissan Altima is beginning to show up at dealerships. I will definitely be logging on for the live chat on Facebook. If you are interested in the 2013 Nissan Altima make sure not to miss out on this opportunity especially if you have any questions!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Teased: 2014 Mazda6

After seeing the spy shots of the Mazda6 wagon I was let down a bit. But I felt better after Mazda released a 21 second clip of the 2014 Mazda6. I was a big fan of the Takeri concept and it seems the Mazda6 has taken a lot of those cues.

The teaser only shows the front fascia of the Mazda6 which is very attractive. The 2014 Mazda6 will be next in line to receive the new Kodo design which debuted on the Mazda CX-5. Like the CX-5 the Mazda6 will be powered by a Skyactiv 4-cylinder engine. Mazda has said a Skyactiv diesel engine will make its way to the U.S. A hybrid system is also a possibility when the Mazda6 debuts. But the Mazda6 will lose the current V6 engine.

New 2014 Mazda6 fender teaser:

Teaser #3 (Rear):

Teaser #4 (Side):

*Teaser #5 (Front):

The Green Light: Based on design my favorite midsize sedan is the Kia Optima but I think that will change with the 2014 Mazda6. I am happy Mazda has decided to step its game up with attractive and bold designs. The midsize sedan segment is the most competitive segment and automakers are taking advantage of that. Mazda hasn't released any other information about the 6. The 2014 Mazda6 will makes its debut at the 2012 Paris Auto Show this fall. I am sure Mazda will release more teaser video clips and shots until its debut in September.

What are your thoughts on the 2014 Mazda6 clip?

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Tuesday, July 10, 2012

2013 BMW 3-series wagon & ActiveHybrid 3

BMW 3-series wagon
It looks like the BMW 3-Series wagon will make its way to the U.S.

The 2013 3-Series wagon will be powered by a 2.0L turbocharged 4-cylinder engine that is found in the 328i sedan. The engine is mated to an 8-speed automatic transmission and produces 240 hp and 255 lb-ft of torque. There is no word that the 6-speed manual, 3.0L turbocharged straight six, or 3.0L turbodiesel I-6 engine will be offered.  The 3-series wagon will arrive in the spring of 2013.

BMW ActiveHybrid 3
The ActiveHybrid 3 uses a 3.0L turbocharged 6-cylinder engine and an electric motor mated to an 8-speed Steptronic automatic transmission. The 3.0L inline 6 and motor produces a combined 335 hp and 332 lb-ft of torque. The electronic motor can power the ActiveHybrid 3 at speeds up to 45 mph for up to 2.5 miles. The ActiveHybrid 3 will arrive at dealerships this fall starting at $50,195

Would you be willing to shell out $50,000 for a luxury compact hybrid?

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Thursday, July 5, 2012

2013 Kia Optima Limited

Kia is testing the waters with an upscale version of the Optima. The 2013 Kia Optima Limited is on sale now and is priced at $35,275. Since no other midsize cars offer trims starting at over $35,000, the 2013 Optima Limited competes against the Hyundai Azera, Nissan Maxima, Ford Taurus, Chevy Impala, and entry level luxury compact sedans.

The Limited trim is $7,700 more than the top of the line SX trim. The 2013 Optima Limited gets LED daytime running lamps, red brake calipers, and special 18" chrome wheels. Occupants of the Optima Limited are treated to black or white Nappa leather seats, center console, and door panels. The Limited also adds wood accents to the steering wheel, doors, and shift knob.

The 2013 Kia Optima Limited is quipped with Kia's 2.0L turbocharged 4-cylinder engine, producing 274 hp and 269 lb-ft of torque. The 2.0L turbocharged engine is paired with a 6-speed automatic transmission.

The Green Light: I am a big fan of the current generation Kia Optima. Even though I have yet to drive the 2013 Nissan Altima and Ford Fusion, the Optima is my favorite midsize sedan. As much as I love the Optima I'm not sure if buyers will be willing to shell out $35,000 for the Optima Limited. I personally think it would have been better for Kia to introduce an actual luxury model. If I was buying a vehicle right now I would most likely buy an Azera or Maxima over the 2013 Optima Limited.

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Sunday, July 1, 2012

Angie's List Tips For Classic Car Detailing

Thinking about detailing your classic car this summer? 
Angie's List shares 10 tips to take you beyond simply washing and waxing your ride:

1. Chrome trim - Avoid touching chrome trim with your hands if possible. The oils from your skin can cause smudges and can eventually deteriorate the chrome surface. Wipe off smudges and fingerprints with a soft cotton cloth.

2. Upholstery - Remove grease streaks or oil-based stains from upholstery with baby powder. Sprinkle it directly on the spot, allowing it to rest on the surface for about half an hour. Dust it off with a soft nylon brush then vacuum the area to remove the powdery residue.

3. Interior carpet - Spray compressed air over the carpet to flush out dirt from around the edges and in the corners. Use a sweeping motion above the carpet on the floorboards and in the trunk. Remove the loosened dirt with a wide attachment on a vacuum cleaner hose.

4. Dashboard - Cotton swabs are an effective way to clean dirt and debris from inside and in between the dashboard vents. They also work well around gauge seams and inside slots for heating and air control levers.

5. Wheels - To get all the dirt from crevices and voids, use a toothbrush to detail wheels. Nylon bristles work well on spokes and intricate patterns. Be sure to use the proper type of cleaning solution for the surface material.

6. Engine compartment - Hang a bright light overhead to make more areas of the engine compartment visible while you're detailing it. Don't be afraid to remove parts to thoroughly clean them.

7. Window glass and stickers - Remove old or faded stickers before washing the windows. Slowly peel them off with your fingers, starting with a raised corner under your fingernail. Dampen a cotton rag with rubbing alcohol and saturate the remaining parts of the stickers to soften them.
Quickly wipe up any liquid that runs down the glass before it reaches the bottom of the window. Use a sharp razor blade to remove any stubborn stickers by sliding it underneath, flat against the window. Douse the rag with alcohol again to remove any gummy residue.

8. Detailing rags - Use different rags to clean different elements of your vehicle. For example, don't use the same cloth to detail the tires that you use to clean the windows.
Most importantly, don't mix cleaning solutions on the same cloth without laundering it in between uses. Microfiber towels are helpful for cleaning surfaces without scratching them or leaving lint on the surface.

9. Under the hood and trunk - Don't forget to clean the undersides of the hood and the trunk lid when you're detailing your classic car for a show. Lay a sheet over the engine or across the trunk opening before you begin if these overhead areas haven't been cleaned in a long time.

10. Exterior surface imperfections - If there is a slight bubble in any surface, resist the temptation to press on it or flick it off with your thumbnail. It could be an imperfection in the surface that will quickly become a chip or a larger imperfection if it's removed.
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