Car Reviews Community A Car Enthusiast Community http://www.lunch.com/carreviews <![CDATA[Honda Fit Quick Tip by jbeswick]]> Fitta", which apparently is the Swedish word for, ahem, the C Word (see http://forbruker.no/bil/article291156.ece). 

Note to brand marketers and creatives: it pays to hire a cunning linguist.]]>
http://www.lunch.com/Awesomeness/reviews/d/UserReview-Honda_Fit-163-1428057-205283.html http://www.lunch.com/Awesomeness/reviews/d/UserReview-Honda_Fit-163-1428057-205283.html Thu, 7 Apr 2011 20:37:55 +0000
<![CDATA[Emmett's Jeep Wrangler Quick Tip by Bethany_K]]> http://www.lunch.com/twilightsaga/reviews/d/UserReview-Emmett_s_Jeep_Wrangler-443-1469838-193331.html http://www.lunch.com/twilightsaga/reviews/d/UserReview-Emmett_s_Jeep_Wrangler-443-1469838-193331.html Sun, 7 Nov 2010 20:50:18 +0000 <![CDATA[Rosalie's BMW Quick Tip by Bethany_K]]> http://www.lunch.com/twilightsaga/reviews/d/UserReview-Rosalie_s_BMW-443-1469836-193330.html http://www.lunch.com/twilightsaga/reviews/d/UserReview-Rosalie_s_BMW-443-1469836-193330.html Sun, 7 Nov 2010 20:47:46 +0000 <![CDATA[Atari Jaguar Quick Tip by TheJohn]]> http://www.lunch.com/consolegames/reviews/video_game_console/UserReview-Atari_Jaguar-27-1334601-166431.html http://www.lunch.com/consolegames/reviews/video_game_console/UserReview-Atari_Jaguar-27-1334601-166431.html Sun, 26 Sep 2010 05:25:05 +0000 <![CDATA[Jaguar XKR Quick Tip by MNeulander]]> http://www.lunch.com/reviews/d/UserReview-Jaguar_XKR-15-1549036-146983.html http://www.lunch.com/reviews/d/UserReview-Jaguar_XKR-15-1549036-146983.html Sun, 5 Sep 2010 11:15:50 +0000 <![CDATA[Aston Martin DB5 Quick Tip by MNeulander]]> Of course I love this car.  It was the first bond car and had all the neat gadgets we all secretly wish we had to help us get through rush hour traffic!!!

In Goldfinger, Q reveals the Aston Martin DB5, "with modifications. Its windows are bulletproof, and the number plates, as they're known in England, are revolving. Then there are the controls within the armrest that can produce a smokescreen and an oil slick and raise a bulletproof shield (over the already bulletproof window). There are also front-wing machine guns and a rotating flower of blades that extend from the hubcaps. Finally, the top of the gear shifter flips to reveal a button, which Q tells Bond never to press. If he does, the roof will open up and the passenger will be ejected. "You're joking," says Bond. "An ejector seat" "I never joke about my work," says Q". Naturally; Bond was never not going to press that button.]]>
http://www.lunch.com/reviews/d/UserReview-Aston_Martin_DB5-15-1548756-146982.html http://www.lunch.com/reviews/d/UserReview-Aston_Martin_DB5-15-1548756-146982.html Sun, 5 Sep 2010 11:10:05 +0000
<![CDATA[ "Sweetie, Dick Haymes is the dreamiest - can you turn over the 45 before we hit the turnpike..."]]>

]]>
http://www.lunch.com/carreviews/reviews/d/UserReview-The_In_Car_Turntable_An_Appreciation-851-1601920-146457-_Sweetie_Dick_Haymes_is_the_dreamiest_can_you.html http://www.lunch.com/carreviews/reviews/d/UserReview-The_In_Car_Turntable_An_Appreciation-851-1601920-146457-_Sweetie_Dick_Haymes_is_the_dreamiest_can_you.html Thu, 2 Sep 2010 15:31:15 +0000
<![CDATA[Bugatti Veyron Quick Tip by nalinmello]]> SSC Ultimate Aero TT claimed it in 2007. But recently, people from Bugatti produced a gem, which help them regain the title for the fastest production car in the world.

]]>
http://www.lunch.com/automobile_enthusia/reviews/d/UserReview-Bugatti_Veyron-432-1130977-115553.html http://www.lunch.com/automobile_enthusia/reviews/d/UserReview-Bugatti_Veyron-432-1130977-115553.html Thu, 19 Aug 2010 21:32:22 +0000
<![CDATA[ Never get stuck in traffic again!!!]]> http://www.lunch.com/carreviews/reviews/d/UserReview-Aston_Martin_DB5-851-1560562-112328-Never_get_stuck_in_traffic_again_.html http://www.lunch.com/carreviews/reviews/d/UserReview-Aston_Martin_DB5-851-1560562-112328-Never_get_stuck_in_traffic_again_.html Mon, 16 Aug 2010 02:02:13 +0000 <![CDATA[Aston Martin DB5 Quick Tip by MNeulander]]> http://www.lunch.com/reviews/d/UserReview-Aston_Martin_DB5-15-1560562-112314.html http://www.lunch.com/reviews/d/UserReview-Aston_Martin_DB5-15-1560562-112314.html Mon, 16 Aug 2010 01:14:45 +0000 <![CDATA[Aston Martin DBS Quick Tip by TheJohn]]> http://www.lunch.com/reviews/d/UserReview-Aston_Martin_DBS-15-1560554-112313.html http://www.lunch.com/reviews/d/UserReview-Aston_Martin_DBS-15-1560554-112313.html Mon, 16 Aug 2010 01:14:22 +0000 <![CDATA[Aston Martin DBS Quick Tip by MNeulander]]> http://www.lunch.com/reviews/d/UserReview-Aston_Martin_DBS-15-1560554-112312.html http://www.lunch.com/reviews/d/UserReview-Aston_Martin_DBS-15-1560554-112312.html Mon, 16 Aug 2010 01:10:36 +0000 <![CDATA[ Well Met Cadillac, Well Met]]> Pros: Powerful engine; excellent handling, beautiful cockpit, cutting edge exterior design; extremely fun to drive.
Cons: Side mirrors too small; lack of storage space
The Bottom Line: 

I love my new Cadillac CTS DI in Burnt Orange; it has all the power, refinement, and awe factor I was looking and hoping for! 



It was time.  After three years of saving practically every spare dime I could lay hands on for a substantial down payment, I finally purchased a very low mileage (3,341 miles) Cadillac CTS with a 3.6L DI (Direct Inject) engine and 4 wheel-drive in eye-catching and mind-pleasing Burnt Orange, a color that enjoyed a limited 500 unit run back in 2008.  I had had my eye on this particular car for about six months, biding my time until I could purchase the car.  So far no regrets, in fact I love this car!       

The Vehicle
 
The 2008 redesign of the smallest Cadillac sedan first caught my attention in early 2007 when I read about it in all three of the car magazines I subscribe to.  I had looked at the pre-2008 Cadillac CTS before and though I enjoyed the exterior styling of the car, I hated (not too strong a word) the interior; it looks as though the parts were taken from the nearest gumball machine and felt about as functional and eye-pleasing!

But for the 2008 model year Cadillac redesigned the performance sedan inside and out, and the results are spectacular.  I was immediately taken by the clean masculine lines of the car, the aggressive stance from almost every angle that bespeaks the power that lies under the hood.  But within those hard edges are soft lines and curves that make the car at once beautiful and unmistakably American-made. 

But the real treat lies inside the 2008 Cadillac CTS wherein the cockpit has been completely rethought.  Gone are the hard plastics and cheap looking dials & knobs that so wrecked pre-2008 CTS’s; instead GM fashioned what has to be the most striking interior layout of any car I’ve seen in this class!  The cockpit is now rich, beautiful, thoughtfully laid out, and inviting, right down to the navigation screen that rises out of the dash in silent eloquence.  Yes, the exterior is what drew me in, but it’s the well-appointed, highly functional, and beautiful cockpit styling that told me that I must have this car!

Standard equipment for the Cadillac CTS is impressive, and a full complement of the latest safety technology is standard as well, such as ABS and traction control. In addition, there are a variety of luxury options, including full leather seating, a premium Bose audio system and a 40GB hard-drive-based navigation system that can store up to 9GB of digital music files. Two sport suspension packages are available as well, one of which adds 4-wheel drive to the mix.

Just the (Engine) Facts Man

The 2008 Cadillac CTS shipped with two engine choices; a base 3.0L V6 making 263Bhp (Base horsepower) and 253 pound-feet of torque, and; a 3.6L DI (Direct Inject) V6 making 304Bhp @6400 rpm and 273 pound-feet of torque.  The 3.6L DI represents the first direct-injection engine in an American-built car. The technology is designed to give the engine a boost in power without a turbo-charging unit by pumping pressurized gasoline directly into cylinders in a fine mist, resulting in a higher power output than traditional fuel injection.  And, according to GM, the resulting emissions are cleaner.

Either engine can be had with a six-speed manual transmission or a six-speed automatic transmission with manual shifting via the console-mounted shifter; no steering-wheel paddles here.  EPA mileage estimates check in at 16 to 18 miles per gallon in the city and 25 to 26 mpg on the highway; your mileage will vary of course.

Exterior Styling

Even the entry level 2008 Cadillac CTS looks bold and exciting.  The lines flow smoothly from one masculine-inspired chiseled edge to the other.  The front grill is a mixture of plastic and chrome pieces and gives the car its unmistakable look. The headlights are a busy beautiful mix of LED, Halogen, and HID lighting.  At the outer edge of each headlight assembly is a white LED-powered pipe for soft night driving.  The main (round) headlights are adaptive and turn (15 degrees outboard, 5 degrees inboard) in the direction of the car, lighting corners and curves.  The remaining headlights are two sets of fixed square high-beam and turn signal lights.  Completing the forward light assembly are two fog lights in chrome enclosures at the bottom of the fascia.    

In the rear, the car is fitted with a LED powered red light pipe that mirror the front light pipes in form and function.  Brake lights and turn signals are in the form of 27 LED’s that glow yellow or read depending on function.  The white backup lamp is also a grouping of LED’s as is the trunk-mounted center brake light.  

The base CTS rides really low on its 17” aluminum wheels fitted with all-season tires; it is intimidating to say the least.  My 2008 Cadillac CTS 3.6L DI rides on 18” painted aluminum wheels with 18” Michelin Pilot HX MXM4 all-season performance tires.  

The outside mirrors are way too small for my taste and they lack LED turn signals.  Overall, visibility in the 2008 Cadillac CTS 3.6L DI is adequate because the glass surface area is somewhat limited.  The overly large A-pillars can obscure oncoming traffic, but there is more than adequate visual space out of the front window. 

The rear windows is rather small and backing up would be nerve-racking if not for the backup warning system that uses a system of three LED lights (mounted above the rear window) that warn the drive when he is getting close to an object.  The passenger-side outside mirror can also be programed to cant downward whenever the car is put in reverse.  This is especially helpful when backing out of my garage and or parallel parking!

Interior Styling

The interior of the 2008 Cadillac CTS 3.6L DI matches the bold statement(s) of the exterior. Overall build quality is excellent, the materials are upscale and equal to the price paid, with a rich hand-stitched leather dash and side door treatments.  Sapele wood trim accents the dash, doors (front and rear) and center console.  In my particular case the interior is Ebony with Sapele wood trim on the instrument panel, center console, door trim, steering wheel, and shift knob.  The treatment is equal to or better than that found in more expensive European and Japanese makes. 

Ambient lighting under the door and dash Sapele trim glows a faint blue at night (thanks to LED’s), while pin lights illuminate the underside of the door handle well and the center console from above.  I can tell you the effect is seriously cool and comforting and lends an air of luxury to the car.  My 2008 Cadillac CTS 3.6L DI came equipped with a center console pop-up 8” navigation screen with voice and text guidance; a must for me.  I can tell you that so far the system has worked well, and doubles as a personal address book where one can place hands-free calls. 

Speaking of hands-free, I opted to activate OnStar, which offers hands-free calling if you purchase minutes.  The system works well and calls can be placed via steering wheel mounted controls or from the Navigation system address book.  Additionally, Bluetooth is available and hands-free calls can be made from a mated cellphone device.  

XM NavTraffic (real-time traffic and weather) is available for $10.00 a month, and XM satellite radio is also available.  Since I do not travel out of state on a regular basis I opted not to get the service.            

Headroom in the 2008 Cadillac CTS 3.6L DI is more than adequate for me at 5’8 inches.  Backseat passengers may not sign the same tune because the roof line is pretty low back there.  The eight-way adjustable (driver and passenger) leather seats in the 2008 Cadillac CTS 3.6L DI are comfortable, and have adequate lumbar support though it took some time to find a good driving position.  And should room is more than adequate for me and I have pretty wide shoulders.

The center console is truly a work of art and of all the cars I test-drive before deciding on the CTS, it represents the best amalgam of form, function, and aesthetics I came across.  The controls for the sound system, CD, navigation controls, heating & air conditioning are well laid out and easy to reach.  And the feel of the controls is solid and befitting a vehicle at this price-point.  The steering wheel controls mirror the center consoles well laid out functionality.       

The 10-speaker Bose 5.1 Cabin Surround sound system with 40GB hard drive and USB connectivity that ships with the 2008 Cadillac CTS 3.6L DI is suburb.  The sound system controls are tightly integrated with those of the navigation system and the result is a seamless and easy-to-learn scheme.  Music can be had from a number of sources including FM/AM radio, XM, HHD, CD, iPod (via audio jack), or USB device.  Live radio can be paused and recorded as can CD’s and MP3’s from an attached USB storage device.   

Sound quality is outstanding and there are separate controls for bass, mid-range, and treble, but no separate equalizer controls.  The sound system has advanced features such as automatic volume control that adjusts the volume upward, or downward, according to vehicle speed, and or ambient noise levels and a mute button.

Another must with my 2008 Cadillac CTS 3.6L DI: the UltraView power sunroof with tilt-sliding, express-opening and power sunshade.  Needed?  Of course not, but it is seriously cool too look at!  

Performance

The 2008 Cadillac CTS 3.6L DI is flat out fun to drive and he handles like a stallion, answering instantaneously to a push on the accelerator pedal, or tap of the steering wheel.  As I stated above The 2008 Cadillac CTS 3.6L DI feature a 304-horsepower 3.6L Direct Inject V6 engine rated at 273 pound foot of torque at 6400RPM.  Acceleration is quick and smooth even at highway speeds, and there was a surprising amount of low end torque from a standstill; after all the 2008 Cadillac CTS 3.6L DI can do 0-60 in 6.5 seconds!  The engine is a little loud when cold, but once it warms up it is very quiet; hardly any engine noise is transmitted into the cabin. 

The manual/automatic transmission is rather smooth, and switching through the gears was noticeably free of jerks, and constant searching.  304hp takes a little getting used to after driving a cross-over for the last five years, and the car can easily get away from me unless I pay attention to my foot; acceleration is that smooth and seamless.  

The Manual Mode of the six-speed transmission is great for seat-of-your pants (spirited) driving when instant torque is needed for faster than normal acceleration.  I have to admit that it took a little while to master, but I managed; shifting down or up through the available 6-speeds without benefit of clutch is a blast.  A readout on the instrument panel tells the drive which gear he is in, and switching between manual and automatic modes is easy.  Some reviews have complained about the lack of paddle switching on the steering wheel in Manual Mode, but for anyone who had driven a true manual, on the shifter is where the control belongs!    

The 18” Michelin Pilot HX MXM4 tires are surprisingly quiet even at advanced road speeds, and the ride is smooth and enjoyable, said tires gripping the road tightly even on rough pavement and corners.  Speaking of corners, the steering wheel responds well to the touch and the car takes corners at high speed with aplomb.  
 
Final Thoughts
 
So far it’s a love affair between my burnt orange 2008 Cadillac CTS 3.6L DI and me.  There are a few quibbles, like lack of center console storage spaced, but overall Cadillac and GM have delivered a world-class luxury automobile that is both a blast to drive, and to admire at inside and out.

When I decided that I wanted a luxury automobile I looked at and test drive an Acura TL, BMW 328i, and Mercedes C300, but none of the cars could touch the 2008 Cadillac CTS 3.6L DI in terms of overall styling, performance, luxury appointments, and value.  Cadillac is back and once again serious about designing world-class autos.  I am proud to drive this quintessentially American-made, very masculine bit of sophisticated sheet-medal.    
Amount Paid (US$): 25,250
Condition: Used
Model Year: 2008
Model and Options: CTS 3.6L DI]]>
http://www.lunch.com/carreviews/reviews/product/UserReview-2008_Cadillac_CTS-851-1648286-183805-Well_Met_Cadillac_Well_Met.html http://www.lunch.com/carreviews/reviews/product/UserReview-2008_Cadillac_CTS-851-1648286-183805-Well_Met_Cadillac_Well_Met.html Sun, 15 Aug 2010 12:00:00 +0000
<![CDATA[Porsche 918 Spyder Quick Tip by TeamAWAC]]> http://www.lunch.com/Sub5Zero/reviews/d/UserReview-Porsche_918_Spyder-11-1440478-81956.html http://www.lunch.com/Sub5Zero/reviews/d/UserReview-Porsche_918_Spyder-11-1440478-81956.html Tue, 3 Aug 2010 17:46:20 +0000 <![CDATA[ Don't bother - a waste of money.]]>
But their Street Atlas has an antiquated, clumsy, difficult to use interface; the navigational and points of interest data is often erroneous or out of date.

And the BT-20 Bluetooth GPS supplied in this package is absolutely useless.

It is sitting right now, connected via Bluetooth to my computer, with a clear view of the southern, eastern and western sky. After more than an hour, the utterly worthless DeLorme BT-20 finally recognized 2 satellites. I put my smartphone right next to it, turned on GPS and within a minute locked on to 10 of 11 satellites.

A several years old unit that came with Microsoft Streets & Trips had no problems either.

Maybe, some day, I will update my Topo maps and if DeLorme is still the only player in the low priced space, I might buy an upgrade.

Otherwise I don' plan on ever buying a DeLorme product again and strongly recommend that you don't either. DeLorme products simply aren't worth the money.

Jerry]]>
http://www.lunch.com/carreviews/reviews/d/UserReview-Earthmate_GPS_BT_20_2010-851-1541257-97277-Don_t_bother_a_waste_of_money_.html http://www.lunch.com/carreviews/reviews/d/UserReview-Earthmate_GPS_BT_20_2010-851-1541257-97277-Don_t_bother_a_waste_of_money_.html Sat, 24 Jul 2010 12:00:00 +0000
<![CDATA[Jacob's Volkswagen Rabbit Quick Tip by vampire_eyez]]> http://www.lunch.com/twilightsaga/reviews/d/UserReview-Jacob_s_Volkswagen_Rabbit-443-1469841-67590.html http://www.lunch.com/twilightsaga/reviews/d/UserReview-Jacob_s_Volkswagen_Rabbit-443-1469841-67590.html Fri, 23 Jul 2010 03:00:22 +0000 <![CDATA[Rosalie's BMW Quick Tip by vampire_eyez]]> http://www.lunch.com/twilightsaga/reviews/d/UserReview-Rosalie_s_BMW-443-1469836-67589.html http://www.lunch.com/twilightsaga/reviews/d/UserReview-Rosalie_s_BMW-443-1469836-67589.html Fri, 23 Jul 2010 02:56:38 +0000 <![CDATA[Alice's Porsche Quick Tip by vampire_eyez]]> http://www.lunch.com/twilightsaga/reviews/d/UserReview-Alice_s_Porsche-443-1469840-67584.html http://www.lunch.com/twilightsaga/reviews/d/UserReview-Alice_s_Porsche-443-1469840-67584.html Fri, 23 Jul 2010 02:54:24 +0000 <![CDATA[Emmett's Jeep Wrangler Quick Tip by vampire_eyez]]> http://www.lunch.com/twilightsaga/reviews/d/UserReview-Emmett_s_Jeep_Wrangler-443-1469838-67582.html http://www.lunch.com/twilightsaga/reviews/d/UserReview-Emmett_s_Jeep_Wrangler-443-1469838-67582.html Fri, 23 Jul 2010 02:52:50 +0000 <![CDATA[Edward's Volvo Quick Tip by vampire_eyez]]> http://www.lunch.com/twilightsaga/reviews/d/UserReview-Edward_s_Volvo-443-1469835-67581.html http://www.lunch.com/twilightsaga/reviews/d/UserReview-Edward_s_Volvo-443-1469835-67581.html Fri, 23 Jul 2010 02:52:14 +0000 <![CDATA[ An Afforadable Corvette]]> Pros: Your average Hot Wheel.  Relatively durable and is a reflection of a Corvette.

Cons: Average for a Hot Wheel.  Nothing special about it.

The Bottom Line: For a child who enjoys Hot Wheels, is a nice addition.  It does not necessarily stick out but is inexpensive and gives one more to play with.

Mattel Hot Wheels are often acquired by collectors but this review will focus on it as a toy rather than a potential valuable or investment.

My daughter has recently showed an interest in playing with Hot Wheels and has a small collection that is quickly building.  We have begun to start a collection of cars for her to play with.  My nephew is quite the Hot Wheel fanatic and he is ecstatic to have something in common with her.  This is his favorite activity with her and they both very much look forward to this quality time with one another.

The Mattel Hot Wheels Corvette C6 is approximately 2 inches long and about a 1/2 inch tall.  The size of the model is a ratio of 1:64 as compared to a life sized corvette.  It has four spinning wheels in which the front work independently from the back.  Each wheel will spin independently from one another. The Mattel Hot Wheels Corvette C6 is colored in a deep glittered orange and is a convertible.  The front bumper has also been given the matching appearance.  The popular Corvette logo has been added on the hood giving it a more realistic appearance.  The lines and overall shape is nearly identical to the actual vehicle although they appear to be a bit more pronounced in the toy.  Since the toy is much smaller, it is likely the cause of the visual perception differences.  The windshield is made of a black translucent plastic giving the impression that it is tinted.  There are no other windows visible and it is assumed that they are down.  In comparison with other hot wheels, its size is similar to the other varieties that are made.

The inside of the vehicle has significant detail in the design even though no color has been added.  The entire inside of the Mattel Hot Wheels Corvette C6 has been done in a smoky gray.  The pattern on the interior and the steering wheel are quite clear and are obviously featured.  The detail is specific enough that you can identify that the car is automatic but the appearance of the shifter.  It is even possible to identify the emergency brake located on the passenger side of the middle divider.  The doors, hood and truck do not open but are clearly identified on the toy car.

The Mattel Hot Wheels Corvette C6 has held up quite nicely especially in the hands of a toddler.  She enjoys bringing her cars into the bath and has gone driving across almost every flat surface in our home.  Small portions of the paint have chipped off although they are extremely small.  The bumper appears to have taken the majority of the damage.  Overall, the car looks almost as good as when we originally took it out of the package.

Neither my daughter nor my nephew have expressed that the Mattel Hot Wheels Corvette C6 is one of their favorites.  I would say that they like this car just as much as they do the remainder of their cars.  Both my daughter and nephew have this particular Hot Wheel.

This toy is intended for children three years of age.  I have seen this toy car available in red as well.  The cost for this Hot Wheel will be around $1 as is the norm with their other models.  This car was designed by Hot Wheels in 2009.  They describe it as having a "razor-sharp handling, eye-catching style and a 430 hp V* engine, this classic convertible was made to live life in the fast lane."  A bit dramatic for a car I suppose, but even a toy corvette is better than none at all!  The gas and insurance is significantly cheaper as well.

Recommended:
Yes

Amount Paid (US$): 1
Type of Toy: Car, Truck or Raceway
Age Range of Child: 3 to 5 Years]]>
http://www.lunch.com/carreviews/reviews/product/UserReview-Mattel_Hot_Wheels_2009_003_Models_Corvette_C6_164_Scale-851-1649259-185026-An_Afforadable_Corvette.html http://www.lunch.com/carreviews/reviews/product/UserReview-Mattel_Hot_Wheels_2009_003_Models_Corvette_C6_164_Scale-851-1649259-185026-An_Afforadable_Corvette.html Sun, 13 Jun 2010 12:00:00 +0000
<![CDATA[Audi Quick Tip by Bethany_K]]> http://www.lunch.com/reviews/d/UserReview-Audi-1010160-56380.html http://www.lunch.com/reviews/d/UserReview-Audi-1010160-56380.html Wed, 28 Apr 2010 17:23:09 +0000 <![CDATA[Toyota Prius Quick Tip by jrjohnson]]> http://www.lunch.com/reviews/d/UserReview-Toyota_Prius-20-1130919-56224.html http://www.lunch.com/reviews/d/UserReview-Toyota_Prius-20-1130919-56224.html Thu, 22 Apr 2010 18:58:08 +0000 <![CDATA[Toyota Prius Quick Tip by IsiandJasmom]]> http://www.lunch.com/reviews/d/UserReview-Toyota_Prius-51-1130919-55842.html http://www.lunch.com/reviews/d/UserReview-Toyota_Prius-51-1130919-55842.html Thu, 8 Apr 2010 13:25:57 +0000 <![CDATA[ Nissan Leaf: An Electric Car for the Rest of Us]]> electric cars are neat alternatives for people who want to be environmentally responsible and don't mind keeping fairly close to home, but they do have one significant drawback: they're either gobsmackingly pricey two seat sportsters (Hello, Tesla Roadster!) or larger-than-normal golf carts made just beefy enough for 35 mph-and-under street duty. Not terribly appealing to the majority of American motorists, eh? Thankfully, Nissan has seen fit to create an EV that, aside from being powered by lithium ion batteries driving an electric motor and having a roughly 100 mile range, is a pretty normal front-drive, 5-door, 5-passenger subcompact called the Leaf.

As a purely electric vehicle, the Leaf does without any internal combustion engine, giving it a serious leg up on other green cars like the Honda Insight, the Toyota Prius, Ford Fusion Hybrid and the upcoming Chevy Volt. Granted, there is still a little pollution released somewhere else (the exact amount depends on what kind of power plant the electricity comes from), but if for some reason you want to end it all by locking yourself in the garage with the car running, the Leaf will definitely leave you disappointed (read: alive).

But the Leaf's cleanliness isn't its only calling card; it also has many cutting edge tech toys inside the cabin, like Sirius/XM satellite radio, keyless ignition and Bluetooth connectivity. And speaking of connectivity, you can actually use your iPhone or other smart phone to remotely tell the Leaf to pre-heat or pre-cool the interior, and you can program the Leaf to send you a message when it's done recharging.

So how much will this electrified runabout cost? About $32,000, but that's before a federal tax credit of up to $7,500. Many states will offer further incentives that could bring your net cost very close to $20,000. You'll also be able to lease the Leaf for $349 per month. An optional 220V home charging station, supplied by a company out of my home town called AeroVironment, will run you about $2,200 before tax breaks. (You can charge the Leaf from a 110V wall outlet, but - surprise! - it takes about twice as long.)

Will the Leaf fill everyone's automotive needs? Of course not. But sooner or later, cars that run on electrons and other alternative fuels instead of fermented dinosaurs will be the norm rather than the exception, and if you ask me, the Nissan Leaf seems like it will make that transition quite a bit more bearable.

For more on the  Nissan Leaf, check out the full-length article at sub5zero.com.]]>
http://www.lunch.com/carreviews/reviews/d/UserReview-2011_Nissan_Leaf-851-1442459-20456-Nissan_Leaf_An_Electric_Car_for_the_Rest_of_Us.html http://www.lunch.com/carreviews/reviews/d/UserReview-2011_Nissan_Leaf-851-1442459-20456-Nissan_Leaf_An_Electric_Car_for_the_Rest_of_Us.html Thu, 1 Apr 2010 05:09:44 +0000
<![CDATA[ Alfa Romeo's 8c Competezione: Glued to my Top 10 List]]>

"What's your favorite car?" is a question I hear more often than Larry King hears "Is he breathing?" I understand why the question gets asked, but people don't know that it can make my head explode. You're asking me to pick one car out of the thousands that have/do exist? Just one?? Ask a chef his/her favorite meal ever, or ask Roger Ebert what his favorite movie is, or Hugh Heffner which girl was the best at making his oatmeal, and you will probably get a similar response.

The problem is cars are like movies, what you like depends on your mood. If you want something funny you go to the comedy section, but sometimes you want to cry so you rent a drama. Similarly sometimes I love driving a huge, heavy muscle car with a huge cam, loud exhaust, and a steering wheel almost as big as Jupiter. It won't turn or stop, but there's nothing more fun for cruising around with the windows down, throwing in the occasional burnout to get the heart rate up. But if you want to julienne slice a race track, a Lotus Exige is clearly the better choice. So how could I possibly pick one car?

I can't. It's just impossible to do. But while my personal list of Top 10 cars tends to change each year, you will always find the Alfa Romeo 8C there; glued, bolted and padlocked down.

What is it?
Not everyone knows what the 8c is, so I will explain. The concept debuted in 2003 at the Frankfurt Motor Show. In was available to the public in 2007. It was to be a "halo" car for Alfa, a car to grab the public's attention and  show everyone what they are capable of. In keeping with that idea, only 500 were built, and only 84 came to the USA. It's a two door coupe, powered by 4.7 liter V8 which was built by Ferrari (and then given to Maserati, who then sold it to Alfa). It makes 444hp, hits 60mph in 4.2 seconds, and has a top speed of 181mph. That's all fairly impressive, but this car costs $241,000.

That is a lot of money, even in the super car world(The convertible is even more!). For that money you could buy 2 911 Turbos (base price), or for 10% more you could get the unbelievable Ferrari Scuderia, one of the fastest Ferraris and best driver's cars ever made. Or you could buy a Mercedes SL65 AMG, and have enough for a Lotus Elise. Both those cars have more power than 8c. They're faster ina  straight line, and the Scuderia will run circles around the 8c on any track, anytime, anywhere.

And I would buy the 8c. While neither the Mercedes nor the Ferrari are on my top 10 list, the 8c has it's own key to get in. Because the 8c is more than the sum of its parts. There's cars with more power, better handling or a better interior (no cupholders, a laughable stereo, no NAV). It has a trunk the size of your pocket and a terrible transmission, but I do not care.

Because look at it. Overall it is the best looking I've ever seen. While it's a safe bet that Italian cars will be pretty, this one simply trounces all challengers.. The shape is classic coupe, the lines are long and smooth, yet not so much that it comes off soft. The headlights are a modern take on an old design. Every detail on this car was designed to look as good as possible, no matter the cost. The headlights are both rounded and creased, to match the shape of the fenders, something neither cheapr nor common. Inside the aluminum pieces are machined from a block of aluminum. This isn't plastic with an aluminum finish. The door handles look like the bones of a skeleton were dipped in metal. 

And the sound is better than any CD I've ever heard (Click for a video). The V8 has both old school growl and the howl of an exotic. The band sounds like a familiar V8, but keep listening and it sounds like a whole orchestra was added. It's like Metallica playing with the SF Philharmonic, angry and heavy with undertones of melody and warmth. It's just amazing.

This is a complete exotic car. Ferraris perform incredibly, but some of their faces require a few beers to fall in love with. Lamborghinis are faster than ever, but the interiors seem lazy to me. Mercedes cars, even those with nuclear-powered AMG motors, have as much soul as a tack.

The 8C has it all; beauty, speed, sound and most importantly: heart. The car was built to show the world what the people at Alfa can do given the opportunity. They may not know how to make the fastest car ever, or a car that sets lap records, but they are passionate and thus know what passionate people want. There would be days I would want a track car, and days that I would want a soft luxury car, but there would never be a day that I would see the 8c in my garage and wish I had something else in its place.
 

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http://www.lunch.com/carreviews/reviews/d/UserReview-Alfa_Romeo_8C_Competezione-851-1442221-20263-Alfa_Romeo_s_8c_Competezione_Glued_to_my_Top_10.html http://www.lunch.com/carreviews/reviews/d/UserReview-Alfa_Romeo_8C_Competezione-851-1442221-20263-Alfa_Romeo_s_8c_Competezione_Glued_to_my_Top_10.html Sat, 27 Mar 2010 02:59:17 +0000
<![CDATA[Harry's Jaguar Quick Tip by jrjohnson]]> http://www.lunch.com/MBlocal/reviews/business/UserReview-Harry_s_Jaguar-53-1383348-55287.html http://www.lunch.com/MBlocal/reviews/business/UserReview-Harry_s_Jaguar-53-1383348-55287.html Sat, 20 Mar 2010 00:08:35 +0000 <![CDATA[Porsche 918 Spyder Quick Tip by devora]]> http://www.lunch.com/Sub5Zero/reviews/d/UserReview-Porsche_918_Spyder-11-1440478-54780.html http://www.lunch.com/Sub5Zero/reviews/d/UserReview-Porsche_918_Spyder-11-1440478-54780.html Fri, 12 Mar 2010 00:27:22 +0000 <![CDATA[ The Porsche 918 Spyder Concept: Automotive Perfection?]]>

It's only a concept car, but every time I think about the Porsche 918 Spyder Concept, the only thought is, "It's the only sports car I'd ever need." And I'm serious. Usually when someone asks what my dream car is, I have an aneurysm. Do I want a fast car? AWD? RWD? V8? Turbo? How many doors? Do I want any practicality at all or just go for the full insanity hyper-car package? 

But this car brings a calm to my mind usually only attained by a bald man chanting on top of a Himalaya. This car satisifies practically every urge and craving I have for an automobile.

The performance of this car is extraordinary. It has a 500hp V8, so it has plenty of power but it will also sound great, which is a prized possession of any good dream car. Now, a Porsche with a 500hp V8 is pretty good, right? Well this car is something special. In addition to to that V8, there are 2 electric motors that put out an additional 218hp. Yes, it's a hybrid. This is what hybrids can-and will-be. This is no Prius, a car so boring they had to add a computer screen showing which way the electricity is going, just to keep you awake. This is a glimpse at the future of hybrids. Hybrids that aren't only for people that talk about shakras, recycled dog poo bags and Al Gore. This is they type of Hyrbid that appeals to everyone. This hybrid will give you 78mpg, but it will also hit 60mph in 3.2 seconds and scream (hum?) all the way up to 198mph.

This is a hybrid for people like me.

You could put this powertrain in an old garbage can and I would probably buy it. 718hp and 78mpg? Sign me up.



But it's not in a garbge can. In fact, it resides in one of the most beautiful Porsches I have ever seen. The design is forward-thinking without being from the Jetsons. It's classic Porsche, without looking like a 911. It's good enough to sit next to a Carrera GT without being called, "the ugly one." It's like a Porsche with some Ferrari sprinkled in it. It's just fantastic looking.

Whether they build this or not (bet you $100000 they do.) what Porsche has done is show us what hybrids can be. They don't have to be designed in a wind tunnel first, with aesthetics as an afterthought. They don't have to be built with tunnel-vision, looking only at the efficiency of the engine, thinking that's all people care about. This car would draw a crowd of car geeks, gear-heads, moms, dads, hippies, and oil barons.  Everyone can appreciate a beautiful car, but it often comes with a caveat, like, "It's a gorgeous Lamorghini Frederick, but 11mpg is just offensive nowadays." Not with the 918. This car can get on the freeway at the same time as a Honda Insight, and the Insight will be pulling into a gas station first. It's the supercar of the future, that could preserve the future. If I had a car that did 200mph and got 78mpg, I don't think I would need anything else.




http://www.sub5zero.com/green-autos/2010-gen...ug-hybrid-concept-video]]>
http://www.lunch.com/carreviews/reviews/d/UserReview-Porsche_918_Spyder-851-1440478-19418-The_Porsche_918_Spyder_Concept_Automotive.html http://www.lunch.com/carreviews/reviews/d/UserReview-Porsche_918_Spyder-851-1440478-19418-The_Porsche_918_Spyder_Concept_Automotive.html Tue, 9 Mar 2010 08:12:10 +0000
<![CDATA[ 2012 Lexus LFA Supercar is a True Anomaly]]> 2012 Lexus LFA were announced. This vehicle is one of the most difficult cars to truly wrap your head around. At $375,000, it's more than any of the base models in lineups from Ferrari and Lamborghini, the first two companies that come to mind when thinking about supercars. It can sprint from 0 to 62 mph in 3.7 seconds, which is not particularly fast among its competition. In fact the $70,000 Nissan GTR can perform the same feat in just 3.5 seconds. And Lexus doesn't exactly have supercar credentials. Their last attempt at a high-performance car was the IS-F, which just didn't make any waves.

Even with its 552 horsepower 4.8-liter V10 I just wasn't sold on this new halo car until I came across the Lexus  LFA at the 2009 SEMA Show in Las Vegas, where it made its US debut. I didn't even need to drive it to know that it was truly special. The car has all of the styling and design cues to let you know that it's a supercar but still fits with the Lexus brand aesthetic somehow. There are scoops, inlets, spoilers and skirting everywhere and yet it just works somehow. The interior is sublime and the cockpit laden with dark carbon fiber along with bright red leather and suede.

So, what is the Lexus LFA all about? For starters, the car tips the scales at only 3,263-pounds, truly lightweight for a luxury sports car. Toyota managed to create the LFA using 65 percent composites and 35 percent aluminum. There is no steel anywhere to be found. Almost all of the components were manufactured in house. Which leads us partially to the answer to the question of why? Why now, why this car? 

Toyota knows that the next generation of cars will need to rely on the use of stronger and lighter exotic materials. And there will need to be plenty of technological breakthroughs along the way. Only 500 Lexus LFAs will be produced, all at a loss, but Toyota will be able to offset a portion of their overall R&D costs while creating a platform that gives them plenty of buzz, a strong showing in the motorsports arena and a very different face then they had before its creation.]]>
http://www.lunch.com/carreviews/reviews/d/UserReview-2011_Lexus_LFA-851-1439018-18941-2012_Lexus_LFA_Supercar_is_a_True_Anomaly.html http://www.lunch.com/carreviews/reviews/d/UserReview-2011_Lexus_LFA-851-1439018-18941-2012_Lexus_LFA_Supercar_is_a_True_Anomaly.html Sat, 27 Feb 2010 00:06:40 +0000
<![CDATA[ 2010 BMW 135i; Great as is, amazing potential]]>
Starting at $36,000, the 135i comes with BMW's new and amazing 3.0 liter, twin-turbo inline 6 cylinder. It produces 300hp, and 300ft lbs of tq at an incredibly low 1,450 RPMS. That means the powerband is wide and smooth, making it feel like any powerful naturally aspirated engine, and thus very easy to drive. It has the same DNA as BMW's 3 series, which has been on the Car and Driver Top 10 list for 10 years straight. Better yet, you get that DNA is a package that's much lighter than a 3 series, 3250 lbs to be exact. All of this adds up to a small coupe that costs almost 10 grand less than a base 335i, is almost as fast a $60,000 M3, and has room for 4 inside. Not too shabby.

But what makes this car good, so good it landed at #3 on sub5zero's Top 10 Sports Cars of 2010 Under $50,000 is it's potential. In stock form it's a very fast car, keeping up with BMW's flag-ship sports car (the M3) is a very big deal. But that turboocharged engine comes from the factory with a very conservative tune. It doesn't take much to take this car from sports car to supercar. And that is not an exaggeration. For a few thousand dollars, with simple bolt-ons and engine mapping, 500hp is easily achieved. M3s are merely a warm-up to battling 997 Turbos and Ferrari F430s. And you can do it with a proper trunk and still have room to scare 3 of your friends. Not everyone is open to modifying their cars, but for those that are, the potential of a car has a big influence on what you buy. People are just starting to find out what this motor is capable of. And with a curb weight of only 3,250lbs, it holds just as much promise as a track car.

I'm honestly surprised this car rolled out of the factory as good as it did. I would have thought someone at BMW would have said, "Wait! Wait! Stop that car! We made it too good!" But they didn't. The 1 series is supposed to be an entry-level car, aimed at younger buyers who can't quite afford the 3 series, but want a BMW. Like a free cigarette, it's meant to get you hooked on BMW early. Well mission accomplished. The only problem is that if you buy a 135i, you might like it so much, you never see a reason to buy a more expensive BMW down the line. Fine with me, that's just more money for mods.]]>
http://www.lunch.com/carreviews/reviews/product/UserReview-2010_BMW_135i-851-1438872-18932-2010_BMW_135i_Great_as_is_amazing_potential.html http://www.lunch.com/carreviews/reviews/product/UserReview-2010_BMW_135i-851-1438872-18932-2010_BMW_135i_Great_as_is_amazing_potential.html Fri, 26 Feb 2010 22:37:06 +0000
<![CDATA[ 2010 Honda Civic Si w/ Honda Factory Performance Package]]>
Blending performance and practicality is something all automakers are trying to do nowadays. The term "Sport-tuned suspension" is in ads for minivans and Evos alike, and has lost all meaning. Automakers will drive their newest ginormous people-mover around a cone in the parking lot, just so they can call it "track-tested." I understand why. We the consumer want everything. My perfect car would go 240mph, look like a coupe, carry 5 people, sound like a top fuel drag car and get 50mpg. 

That is, of course, impossible. But automakers are trying to feed our simultaneious appetites, and we have to appreciate that. Honda has been doing this for years now, with the SI model of it's popular econobox; the Civic. A normal Civic is as powerful as a toddler, but the SI models have generally been quick, agile little cars that make your commute a helluva lot more fun without compromising quality or efficiency. 


This year's Civic SI is no different. For $22,000 you get a well-equipped 4-door sedan, with loads of creature comforts and a 200hp engine that still returns over 30mpg. It's roomy inside, it will still run long after your turtle dies, and the materials-on the touch points at least- feel more expensive than they are.

There's only one problem; In 2010 giving your "performance model" 200hp is like sending your kid to buy a new video game with pelts. It's outdated. Right now a base Accord has more power than that. Normal family sedans are creeping toward 300hp as a standard offering, and still return good MPG. Now, for $22,000 a Civic SI is ok. It's the cheapest sport sedan on the market, sitting a few thousand underneath a base WRX or GTI.

But that's very, very close. And the Civic Si I drove had the HFP Package, which stands for Honda Factory Performance. And that package costs an extra $4,900(with dealer install), raising the price to $27,000. Add the Sat/NAV the car had (which is horrible) and I was sitting in a $29,000 Honda CIVIC.

Sure, the HFP pack gave me better suspension, brakes, exhaust and a nice bodykit, but at it's core it still had the same 200hp engine the Civic SI comes with. I'm sorry but spending $29,000 for 200hp, bad NAV, and FWD is a bad decision. For that money you can get a fully loaded Subaru WRX, which has 265hp, tons of torque, and AWD. It's cheaper, faster, safer, more versatile and still gives you 28mpg. The MSP3 or GTI are also better, faster and cheaper choices.

A regular Honda Civic SI is a decent performance sedan. It's handling is crisp, and the acceleration is acceptable. But Honda is been using the same formula for too long, while the rest of the field took the idea and ran with it, passing Honda years ago. If you want a daily driver that can also reward you in the canyons or on a track, your better off shopping down the street.
 

For a detailed review or this car, with more pictures, click here.
 

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http://www.lunch.com/carreviews/reviews/d/UserReview-2010_Honda_Civic_SI_with_HFP-851-1439009-18928-2010_Honda_Civic_Si_w_Honda_Factory_Performance.html http://www.lunch.com/carreviews/reviews/d/UserReview-2010_Honda_Civic_SI_with_HFP-851-1439009-18928-2010_Honda_Civic_Si_w_Honda_Factory_Performance.html Fri, 26 Feb 2010 21:29:35 +0000
<![CDATA[ A surreal account of the rivalry between Ford and Ferrari in the 1960's]]> Adam Carolla Carcast.   I was a really big fan of the GT40 race car from playing Gran Turismo 3 on the Playstation due to the car's aggressive styling, impressive handling, and unique exhaust note (again...all from playing the game).  I decided to pick up this book to get the backstory on the GT40 having no idea just how entwined this story was to all of auto racing.

The names of the real-life characters in this book resonate today even for people like me who aren't really even into racing:  Enzo Ferrari and Henry Ford II play the antagonists, while the supporting cast of Lee Iacocca, Carroll Shelby, Bruce McLauren, Mario Andretti, and more show just how far reaching the events from the 60's affect today's brand recognition.  Even Ralph Nader plays a role in steering the American automobile industry from a battle for top speed to an emphasis on safety.  Meanwhile, the setting of the 1960's plays an important role in and of itself as baby boomers come into driving age, WWII pilots and engineers  shift their focus to the cars, and the space race becomes more intense.

What I enjoyed the most about this book was theme of David vs. Goliath reflected in Ford II and Ferrari.  However, depending on which chapter you were on, your perception of who was Goliath changed.  On one hand, Ferrari was untouchable in auto racing, and Ford's upstart into European racing was attempting to dethrone the giant.  On the other hand, Ford's near limitless financial resources could also be seen as the unstoppable Goliath while Ferrari constantly teetered on financial instability.  Either way, both mens' passion and teams of amazing engineers fueled an epic battle.

The story also focuses much of its attention on the drivers themselves.  In a time before safety regulations and unfettered desire to go faster, these men literally risked their lives every time they stepped into these powerful prototype cars.  The are numerous recounts of fatal crashes that not only took the lives of the drivers, but spectators as well.  The drivers were not paid very well, but they took on these risks for fame and national pride.

You don't need to be a racing fan to enjoy this book.  Some of the events that took place were so fantastic that you wouldn't believe it if it weren't true.  This is a story of highly motivated men who pushed themselves and others to accomplish the unimaginable.]]>
http://www.lunch.com/carreviews/reviews/book/UserReview-Go_Like_Hell_Ford_Ferrari_and_Their_Battle_for_Speed_and_Glory_at_Le_Mans-851-1438960-18922-A_surreal_account_of_the_rivalry_between_Ford_and.html http://www.lunch.com/carreviews/reviews/book/UserReview-Go_Like_Hell_Ford_Ferrari_and_Their_Battle_for_Speed_and_Glory_at_Le_Mans-851-1438960-18922-A_surreal_account_of_the_rivalry_between_Ford_and.html Fri, 26 Feb 2010 18:43:29 +0000
<![CDATA[ 2011 Toyota FT-86: Start Saving Now]]> So, you like cars, but don't have enough money to buy something from Italy or some Swedish super-car that has 254 letters in it's name. What do you do? Well there's lots of cars available right now to choose from. If you don't mind FWD (front-wheel drive) the Volkswagen GTI is an easy choice, or to save a little money you could get a Honda Civic SI. If you think FWD is awful, which it is for true performance driving, you might consider a basic Subaru Impreza WRX, which gives you 265hp with AWD, a good combination.

But if you want to get the most fun from a car, and learn about driving, RWD is the way to go. And entering the competition next year with be the 2011 Toyota FT-86, and I have already started a piggy bank for it. Here's why: 

Starting at $20,000, it will be one of the cheapest RWD coupes on the market. Subaru and Toyota are teaming up to build the car, meaning it will run until I'm too old to drive. It will have a flat-four 4 cylinder engine, similar to the Impreza, so it will be light and get good gas mileage. If it is offered with a turbo engine (from the WRX probably) it will be the only turbo RWD coupe in that price range. For those of you not keeping up, it will be a very fast, light, RWD coupe that costs about as much as a Honda Civic. If the Civic is the dinosaur, the FT-86 may be the ice age.

It's also a damn fine looking car. I wouldn't put it up against the 8C, but the concept is very slick. It's got an aggressive face, sharp curves and a wedge shape that makes the car look pissed. The interior is still in concept form but it will probably come with NAV, Bluetooth, a stereo, a place to put your latte and some seatbelts. I think that all adds up to a very good package.

And if it's offered with a turbo (it had better be!) the tuning potential will be incredible. Parts will carryover from the WRX market, so reflashes and downpipes will be in the mail the second someone gets their keys. For example, if the car comes with the WRX's current engine, a reflash and turbo-back exhaust will give you over 300hp. That means you have almost as much power as a 370Z, which is twice as expensive.

The FT-86 will have the drivetrain that driver's want, an efficient engine that is powerful in stock form but has huge mod potential, wrapped up in a sexy coupe body. For $20,000, that is a hard combination to beat. The ONLY concern I have is if it turns out nothing like the concept. Yes that's a fairly big concern, but the response to the concept was so positive, you'd have to be a vegetable to change it too much. This car will not only give Toyota it's spine back (sorry Prius, you're as boring as dead air), it will give the driving enthusiast a great option if they're looking for cheap, yet practical, fun. This has "bargain of the year" written all over it. Now go look for change in that couch.

For a full-length article and more pictures on the FT-86, click here: sub5zero.com

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http://www.lunch.com/carreviews/reviews/d/UserReview-2011_Toyota_FT_86-851-1438840-18861-2011_Toyota_FT_86_Start_Saving_Now.html http://www.lunch.com/carreviews/reviews/d/UserReview-2011_Toyota_FT_86-851-1438840-18861-2011_Toyota_FT_86_Start_Saving_Now.html Thu, 25 Feb 2010 06:36:04 +0000
<![CDATA[ 2010 Nissan 370Z Convertible Review]]> really fast but are insanely expensive, 4 that look fast but are actually slow, 5 that can actually take a corner and the rest fall somewhere in the middle. Throw in the fact almost all of them are available with a convertible, and you're probably feeling overwhelmed and ready to give up.


Well don't, because what the 2010 370Z Roadster is is the Neapolitan of sports cars. It's fast enough, plenty agile, and looks fantastic whether the top is up or down.

When I heard I was going to be driving the soft-top version of the new 370Z, I will admit I was disappointed. Convertibles usually don't do justice to the original coupe's design, they're noisy they're soft in the corners and pigeons have the option of bombing you and your passenger. Some people are drawn to open-air motoring as if it's some magical fountain of youth. I am not that person. So when I grabbed the keys, I thought I was going to be driving a heavy, ugly car with the moves of a manatee.

I was wrong. This car has so much grip and poise, that even on a racetrack with quick elevation changes-mid-corner mind you-it never missed a step. High speed corners are taken with complete confidence, and body roll could only be measured with a carpenter's level. Strucutural rigidity is usually the biggest comlaint about a soft-top, but you can erase that term from your dictionary. That's because Nissan planned to have a convertible from the start, so they put the right bits in to make sure it drove as good as the coupe and by achieving .94g (a mere .03 less than the coupe) is proof that Nissan did. It just feels planted.

It's also powerful, with a 3.7 liter V6 producing 332hp and 270 ft lbs of torque, it reaches 60 mph in under 5 seconds. That kind of acceleration is on par with far costlier, uglier convertibles. The powerband is high, with power peaking at 7,000RPM, but the thrust feels smooth and endless. You're not waiting for that big push right before redline, the 370Z urges you forward continuously, as if being pulled forward by an electro-magnet. It's also buttery smooth, with zero vibration, more proof of the exceptional build quality. The only complaint I have is the lack of a proper exhaust note. It looks and feels like a sports car, so it should sound like one.

The transmission in the car is a wonderful 6 speed manual that has a great mechanical feel, without feeling clunky or coarse. The throws are short, and I never had a problem finding a gear. It's fitted with Nissan's new Synchro Rev Matching system, enabling perfect throttle-blip downshifts every time. Heel-and-toeing is fun, but this system is so flawless it allows you to give all your attention to the driving at hand, be it hitting an apex or passing a truck. And to keep your "purist" friends happy, a simple button turns the system off. Altogether the drivetrain on this car is perfect for the car.

Nissan must have spent as much time on the interior as they did on the drivetrain, because it's laid out very well. It's a very driver-oriented cabin, with every button you might need inches away, and the ones you need the most often (stereo volume, bluetooth, NAV) mounted right on the steering wheel. The cabin is a mix of leather, Alcantara, feaux aluminum and quality plastic. A center-mounted tachometer reinforces the sporting nature of the car, as do the auxiliary gauges aimed at the driver. There's enough stowage for your gadgets and drinks, and even space behind the trick-looking, well-bolstered seats. The only problem arises when you try to look in the rear-view mirror with the top up. You can see cars behind you, but I wouldn't rely on looking over your shoulder to parallel park. That aside, the interior looks the part and plays it well.


Lastly, there's the view of the car itself. As I said above, I almost always prefer the look of a coupe to a convertible. The 350Z is a perfect example why; it's hideous. What happened is they designed a great coupe, then simply erased the top half of the car, leaving a belt-line as flat and boring as Arizona. This time around, as I said, Nissan planned to build a convertible all along, so the designers figured out how to make a car with no roof look good. And boy did they succeed. The long bulging hood leads back to high rear fenders and a wrap-around trunk. Long hood, short deck, prominent fenders; classic sports car. The metal has been sculpted into a shape filled with flowing lines and sexy curves and is easily one of the best looking drop-tops around.

This car exceeded my expectations, and not just those of a convertible, but of a sports car. For $44,000 it has every option available, a well-equipped, smart-looking interior, plenty of power, and grip that many AWD cars strive to attain. For that money you can only get a bare-bones Porsche Boxster, or a Miata that has have the power and isn't nearly as pretty. With the gorgeous sculpted body and a build quality on par with NASA, and you have one of the best sports cars, hard-top or soft, available today. In fact this car is so good, I would - and I can't believe I'm saying this- pick this over the coupe.

 
For the full test-drive, with specs and more info: 2010 Nissan 370Z Roadster

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http://www.lunch.com/carreviews/reviews/d/UserReview-2010_Nissan_370Z_Convertible-851-1438258-18833-2010_Nissan_370Z_Convertible_Review.html http://www.lunch.com/carreviews/reviews/d/UserReview-2010_Nissan_370Z_Convertible-851-1438258-18833-2010_Nissan_370Z_Convertible_Review.html Wed, 24 Feb 2010 08:40:09 +0000
<![CDATA[ The power of collective integrity]]>
Throughout her lively and eloquent narrative, Bernasek examines a number of situations in which everyone involved benefits because they do what is right and do it right, who abide by rules that "set people free to do the right thing, rather than holding people back," rules and values that encourage activity and create more wealth. What is required to deliver a gallon of milk offers a case in point. Here's the supply chain: farmer (serviced by feed supplier, co-up, vet, hoof trimmer, and nutritionist) > milk hauler > second driver > milk plant > distributor > store > consumer. Prior to point of sale, everyone involved must be both worthy of trust (i.e. honest, following the rules, being careful on the job) and trusted by everyone else. These relationships of trust throughout the process require an integrity that produces value for everyone involved.

The other examples that Bernasek examines include the ATM value and supply chain, what the Federal Reserve is and does, Toyota's production system (whose integrity has recently been rigorously questioned), L.L. Bean's total trust in its customers, W.L. Gore & Associates obsession with quality, and eBay that provides a mini-case study of mutual trust within a multi-dimensional structure. When eBay was launched, its backbone was a feedback that subsequently underwent several modifications. "Users if eBay get feedback on how they conduct themselves from other users. This was critical for two reasons. First, the feedback system provided users with an incentive to behave well." Misbehave and you cannot be associated with Ebay. "Second, the feedback system effectively brought everything out into the open." In terms of behavior lacking integrity, Martha Reeves and the Vandellas said it best:

"Nowhere to run to, baby
Nowhere to hide
Got nowhere to run to, baby
Nowhere to hide"

In Chapter 8, Bernasek explains how to create an integrity system that will achieve and then sustain mutual respect and trust, one that is characterized by transparency (i.e. full disclosure), open communication systems, attractive incentives and significant rewards, carefully developed and clearly explained rules, and self-regulation to eliminate cheating. In the next chapter, she examines the "DNA of Integrity" that is comprised of "basic building blocks" that enable an investment in collective integrity one that possesses three assets: "the genetic code for the system of trust: disclosure, norms, and accountability," all of which are already widely utilized but using them together with an economic objective, to sufficiently create a self-reinforcing system producing repeated increases in integrity, is an exciting new prospect."

I agree with Bernasek that the potential ROI from a commitment to personal integrity will be substantial for an individual and even greater in direct proportion to the number of people who share a commitment to collective integrity. The potential applications and benefits of the principles that Anna Bernasek affirms are unlimited. I share her hope that our nation will adopt the economics of integrity even as I fear that the "legions of entrenched interests eager to protect their turf," seeking its own advantage through special pleading and sophisticated public relations," will once again prevail. How can we expect them to demonstrate integrity when they do not possess it?

I urge those who share my high regard for this book to check out two books by Bill George, Authentic Leadership and True North, as well as Saj-nicole Joni and Damon Beyer's The Right Fight, James O'Toole's The Executive's Compass, Michael Ray's The Highest Goal, and Alan Deutschman's Walk the Walk.]]>
http://www.lunch.com/carreviews/reviews/book/UserReview-The_Economics_of_Integrity_From_Dairy_Farmers_to_Toyota_How_Wealth_Is_Built_on_Trust_and_What_That_Means_for_Our_Future-851-1552690-107731-The_power_of_collective_integrity.html http://www.lunch.com/carreviews/reviews/book/UserReview-The_Economics_of_Integrity_From_Dairy_Farmers_to_Toyota_How_Wealth_Is_Built_on_Trust_and_What_That_Means_for_Our_Future-851-1552690-107731-The_power_of_collective_integrity.html Tue, 23 Feb 2010 12:00:00 +0000
<![CDATA[ Some fun trips down memory lane with this book...]]>
For a VW fanatic, this would be a must-have book. The authors go into detail about how the idea of the Transporter came about, the struggles to get it out the door, and the personalities that shaped the vehicle over the years. For those of us who just fondly remember the "happy face" design, the images can take you down memory lane if you ever had the opportunity to ride in a VW Bus or go camping in one.

I personally didn't realize just how influential and groundbreaking the Transporter design was at the time it was introduced. It was a vehicle designed for a specific purpose... carrying cargo. No luxuries, no frills, just basic function with unique cargo-carrying design at the time. Over the years, VW added additional models to expand the line and target audiences. I didn't know there were specific models designed to be ambulances, hydraulic lift platforms, tipper trucks, and mobile work stations. And of course, the addition of passenger seats turned the Transporter into what was probably the original mini-van.

When you look at the models of today, they're sadly lacking in that distinctive look that made VW so easy to spot and recognize. But with this book, you can relive the glory days of the Volkswagen Transporter, Almost makes me want to put on a tie-dye shirt and play some Grateful Dead music... :)

Disclosure:
Obtained From: Library
Payment: Borrowed]]>
http://www.lunch.com/carreviews/reviews/book/UserReview-Volkswagen_Transporter_The_First_60_Years-851-1542668-98863-Some_fun_trips_down_memory_lane_with_this_book_.html http://www.lunch.com/carreviews/reviews/book/UserReview-Volkswagen_Transporter_The_First_60_Years-851-1542668-98863-Some_fun_trips_down_memory_lane_with_this_book_.html Sat, 20 Feb 2010 12:00:00 +0000
<![CDATA[ 2010 Hyundai Genesis Coupe 2.0T Track Edition Reveiw]]>
The budget sports car wars are starting to heat up again... From Japan, we have the new Nissan Z, Honda Civic Si, Mazdaspeed3, Subaru WRX and Mitsubishi Eclipse. The Camaro and Mustang have both revitalized and reinvigorated the American muscle car craze. And now, from South Korea, the Hyundai Genesis Coupe is fast making a name for itself. I had an opportunity to test drive the 2.0T Track model for a week and came away both thoroughly impressed and somewhat disappointed. 

Here's why: 
 
The Genesis Coupe has a great look with sleek lines and aggressive stance. The red Brembo brake calipers peaking out behind the 19-inch wheels immediately let you know this thing means business. And the aesthetic feast continues on the interior with attractive seating and trim and a cockpit which provides  easy acclimation. 

It has all of the features and functionality someone would want  from a late model sports car including full power accessories, sun roof, Bluetooth connectivity, satellite radio, keyless entry, start/stop ignition, automatic headlamps as well as fog-lights. The 360W Infinity audio system has 10 speakers and is very easy to operate. Strangely enough, however, it just doesn't have much fidelity or power and sounds similar to a factory system from the 90s. 

The engine is a turbocharged 2-liter inline 4-cylinder engine good for 210 hp and 223 ft-lbs of torque, controlled via a six-speed manual that delivers power to the rear-wheels. This sounds like the perfect formula for exhilaration but here's where things take a turn. This engine is just not that powerful. And the transmission is a little antagonistic.  Unfortunately, you spend too much time trying to make sure you keep it happy and less time on actually driving. 

But that said, Hyundai has still managed to create a great car that provides a lot of fun, and you can get enough out of the engine to keep things exciting. In fact, for typical city driving, this thing is a blast. It's rev happy and just having rear-wheel drive and a 6-speed gearbox makes you feel like you are doing big things. 

Besides the criticism of the engine and transmission, the Track edition lives up to its potential. Body roll is absent, there is no perceptible under- or over-steer and the suspension is tight and stable. The brakes are excellent and there is very little fade, even after they have heated up. 
 
So, the long and the short of it is that this really is a solid sports car. It does have some things which detract from its appeal but overall it's a solid offering. The real beauty of the Hyundai Genesis Coupe 2.0T Track is its tuning potential. Its four-banger engine is ripe for an ECU reflash, bigger turbos and a host of other performance mods. The car looks and handles great but could use just a little more power and a few gearbox tweaks. 

For the full review: Hyundai Genesis Coupe 2.0T Track Edition Road Test ]]>
http://www.lunch.com/carreviews/reviews/d/UserReview-2010_Hyundai_Genesis_Coupe_2_0_Track_Edition-851-1437975-18364-2010_Hyundai_Genesis_Coupe_2_0T_Track_Edition.html http://www.lunch.com/carreviews/reviews/d/UserReview-2010_Hyundai_Genesis_Coupe_2_0_Track_Edition-851-1437975-18364-2010_Hyundai_Genesis_Coupe_2_0T_Track_Edition.html Sun, 14 Feb 2010 21:45:03 +0000
<![CDATA[ Plain Vanilla For Me Thanks!]]> Pros: Dependable, Safe, Good For Touring
Cons: Middling Gas Mileage, Dated Concept, Mediocre Interior
The Bottom Line: If they still made these--I'd buy another when this one wears out.

Let's face it--this design is no longer novel. But--2008 is the last year that this model will bare the moniker--"Daimler Chrysler." That's important to me, because my first PT---a 2003 model is a car that asked only for the basic maintenance as prescribed by the manual. That was good enough for 130,000. She burned no oil (unlike the earliest models), and was set to go for 250,000 miles after a little investment in the usual long term maintenance. Sadly, I had a heart attack atop the local dam. I'll be damned if that PT didn't save my life after a fun little round of pinball with the guardrails. After walking away without so much as a scratch, while leaving  a mangled mass of a PT behind I did what any other sane person would do--I bought another one!

My 2008 PT is a Plain Jane model. Even the paint job is Vanilla White. When I bought her 6 months ago, she had 21000 miles on her. In 6 months I've added 12,000 more miles, and once again, only changed the oil, air filter, spark plugs, and rotated the tires. She won't need another set of plugs till she hits 60,000, and if she's like my other PT that'll be the first time she'll need brake work, and a new set of tires. Similar to my other PT, she has already been in an accident, and proved to be indefatigable. There's a touch of paint on my rear bumper, but the Chevy Silverado Pickup that hit me?????--- what a mess. I guess anything that sports the old "Daimler" name means it is made to Panzer Tank specifications. Perhaps that is secretly what PT stands for.

INTERIOR

Everyone knows the story of the interior on these--it's typical Chrysler Neo-Soviet Gray Plastic Galore. It may not be pretty--but it's functional. There are more cupholders than one knows what to  with and, unlike lots of wannabe cupholders, they are large enough to hold a full size Sonic 44 Oz. Drink. The seats are firm--neither soft nor harsh--firm. The dashboard isn't as stark looking on the newer model. It even sports a clock. The dials (Speedometer, Tachometer, Gas and Temp Gauges) now have the white background instead of black. The speedometer/odometer allows you to track overall miles, as well as Trip "A" and Trip "B". With the push of a knob you can monitor outside temperature, gas mileage, elapsed time, or miles till empty.  The Radio/CD is decent sounding, though the big plastic knobs are definitely a throwback/tribute to the old "K" Car days.

One can't argue with the multitude of seat arrangements as the passenger seats fold down, and can be removed if so desired. There are plenty of Lighter/Laptop plug ins, and the trunk is roomy as can be. This was, afterall, designed to be a panel truck in disguise. I've been known to fit several full sets of golf clubs in this thing as I motor about town.

POWERPLANT and RIDE

It's no secret that the 150 HP powerplant leaves a little to be deired as far as get up and go is concerned. Still I have no problem getting on and off the freeways, and due to the gearing ratios, I never really feel the car straining, though I think 25 more horses would've really made this a cool car. Unfortunately, these cars still suffer from middling gas mileage (23.5 MPH mixed driving), and I'm sure that put the kibosh on any plans to juice the horses on this baby. The feel of the road is solid, never mushy, and I find this to be a great car for long trips. She recently did a 3000 mile round trip from the flat lands of North Central Texas to the Ozark Mountains of South East Missouri. Nice little touring vehicle.

DEPENDABILITY

These cars are the most dependable I've ever owned. In my 50+ years I've owned a heck of a lot of them too. If you will simply  maintain one of these to specs, it will last forever. It was a shame that the Daimler Chrysler marriage was a failure. Each company brought a lot to the table, and this car, though stodgy, plain, no longer inspired looking, etc...is one of the best buys I've ever made. I payed $9,000 for this car with 21000 miles on her. She's already showing signs of behaving as well as my 2003 model. If that holds true to the same performance I got from my other Daimler (Mercedes 450 SEL), I fully expect this car to go 500,000 miles. So far it's been oil and filter changes--the standard stuff.

OVERALL

There are cars out there that are far more exciting than this one. There are cars out there that get better mileage. There are cars out there that are better looking. This car, however, gets my blessing  for many reasons. Mileage is acceptable if not stellar. Safety, from personal experience and not some lame-o crash test, is above and beyond the call of duty. Dependability, from over 160,000 miles of personal experience between the two I've owned, is also above and beyond the call of duty. She may be ugly, but if you want a car that will save you a bundle on repairs, and may even go so far as to save your life--you need to getcha one of these.
Amount Paid (US$): 9000
Condition: Used
Model Year: 2008
Model and Options: Plain Vanilla]]>
http://www.lunch.com/carreviews/reviews/product/UserReview-2008_Chrysler_Pt_Cruiser-851-1654259-189252-Plain_Vanilla_For_Me_Thanks_.html http://www.lunch.com/carreviews/reviews/product/UserReview-2008_Chrysler_Pt_Cruiser-851-1654259-189252-Plain_Vanilla_For_Me_Thanks_.html Sun, 14 Feb 2010 12:00:00 +0000
<![CDATA[ If you can't stop a car with a jammed accelerator, you shouldn't be driving.]]>
Toyota's responsible approach is starkly contrasted by the federal agency involved. It's really thrown a spanner in the works (that hopefully doesn't get lodged under the brake pedal) with an alarmist "don't drive" reaction. This was completely unnecessary, and one wonders how much is motivated at keeping Toyota sales down to help US car makers (ooo, conspiracy theorists unite). If we all stop driving cars due to infinitesimally small risks, then there would be no vehicles on the road.

Finally, I'm actually shocked that in the tiny, tiny chance of a stuck gas pedal that so many people don't know what to do. Are drivers so disconnected from the mechanics of the machine that they can't take avoiding action? Is the driving test too easy or has nobody ever driven stick? Have modern cars kept us so abstracted from what's really going on that if the cruise control button fell off, we'd just keep going in a straight line forever? For anyone who doesn't know, if your gas pedal is jammed: (1) use the brakes with both feet, (2) move into neutral and (3) turn off the ignition. This shouldn't be a life-threatening event (unless you're texting or smoking pot).]]>
http://www.lunch.com/carreviews/reviews/d/UserReview-2010_Toyota_Vehicle_Recalls-851-1436953-17853-If_you_can_t_stop_a_car_with_a_jammed_accelerator_.html http://www.lunch.com/carreviews/reviews/d/UserReview-2010_Toyota_Vehicle_Recalls-851-1436953-17853-If_you_can_t_stop_a_car_with_a_jammed_accelerator_.html Wed, 3 Feb 2010 22:39:12 +0000
<![CDATA[ A bit overrated, if you ask me]]> I had the opportunity to drive a rental Toyota Pious, er, I mean Prius in Los Angeles over Christmas weekend as part of my Holiday Inn package.  After all the hoopla over this particular hybrid, I admit that I was a little excited to see what it was all about.  Enterprise delivered a grey 2007 base model Prius to my hotel parking lot.  Save for the standard rental car door dings, scratches, curbed wheels, and bumper nicks from previous renters who just don’t care, it was no worse for wear than most other cars in the West LA landscape.

Despite a brief introduction on how to operate this video game, er car, by the rental car agent, it still took me a little while to get used to the stupid silly little “shifter”.  The rental agent appropriately called it a joy stick which I agree to be a very suitable word for it aside from the fact that it doesn’t bring me much joy.  Like a joy stick, the shifter always returns to the central position.  For those of us who truly DRIVE cars, we are familiar with this placement as being in neutral. Toggle it into drive and it slides right back into the central position.  Same with reverse.  While in reverse, an annoying chime beeps incessantly until you put it in park or back to drive.  Now park is a whole other issue.  It’s a button with a green light on the dash above the joy stick where you would normally find the hazard button on most other cars.  The other oddity is the “B” on the selector which I learned was engine braking after finding the owner’s manual in the glove box.  Hey Toyota, if it ain’t broke, DON’T FIX IT!  There is simply no reason why the gear selector can’t operate like any other selector.  I absolutely hated having to look down (and towards) the dash display to see if I were in park, neutral, B, or drive.  No need to worry about reverse unless the car is screaming at me.  Again, for those of us who DRIVE, I’m used to going by feel to determine what gear I’m in so I don’t have to take my eyes away from what’s outside the car.

Now onto the dash board display.  The digital read out is pretty clear to read, but it seems like it’s a football field away from the steering wheel.  Again, going back to the school of if it ain’t broke don’t fix it.  Why is the display not centered in front of the driver, but centered on the dash?  Probably to save money on left hand drive and right hand drive models, but there’s no need to aggravate the ergonomics of it by make the display so far away.  Not only is the entire display far away, but the speedometer readout seems to be about 2 inches further away than everything else.  For those of us who DRIVE, we prefer to have as few points of focus as possible to decrease the amount of time your eyes are off the road.  The Prius has at least four points of focus when you throw the LCD touch screen display into the mix.

The touch screen display is pretty neat.  It’s very large and very clear to use.  With a basic interface, the controls for temp, radio, trip info, and power distribution can all be quickly found.  If the car was equipped with navi, it would be found here too.  Since all the attention is drawn to this display, perhaps Toyota was hoping that most people would overlook the cheap hard plastics that surround it.  The dash and door cards were all cheap hard plastic.  For a car intended for long distance commuters, I would think that Toyota would want to make the interior a little more aesthetically pleasing.  There was also no standard auxiliary audio jack (it’s an option).  Even Hyundais have standard auxiliary jacks.  As I mentioned earlier about points of focus, the large display can be a large distraction too.  I enjoyed setting it on the power distribution screen to see when it was running on electricity and/or gas since I do appreciate the mechanical and technological aspect of the Prius very much.  The down side is that it’s a little too entertaining sometimes to watch the arrows change directions.  I can also see how some hypermillers can get completely absorbed by the numbers and charts.

I was a bit disappointed in the gas mileage (roughly 35-40mpg).  It just wasn’t all that impressive.  There are plenty of other cars that are much more attractive and drive much better that can achieve pretty much the same real world mileage.  For the commuter who travels 100 miles a day and is religious about mindlessly hyper milling in the center lane, I can see the Prius as being an attractive option.  I must confess that I was not trying to get the most MPGs, but rather just driving it like a normal car.  In fact, there were times when I wanted to see what this baby could do.  The Prius is very technologically advanced, but I feel as if it’s making too many compromises.  With modern diesels lighter cars with manual transmissions, these compromises don’t need to be made.  I was literally surrounded by Priuses (highest count was four all around me on the 405) so it’s obvious that Toyota has tapped into the hippie market very successfully which I’m sure is one thing that ain’t broke and they aren’t fixing.  In fact, if I were running the show at Toyota, I would toss around the idea of putting in the market a Prius doesn’t even have the hybrid drive train for $7000 less.  I bet I would find a good number of buyers.  There is no doubt that the reputation of the Prius far exceeds its abilities. 

The Prius is loaded with quirks both on the outside and the inside.  At least the exterior shape is functional as it has one of the lowest coefficient of drag for production cars, but a lot of the inside stuff is just silly.  Like a hipster, it’s trying so hard to be different, but it’s useless.  The handling was lackluster at best.  It felt like a Corolla.  And like a Corolla, what is the deal with the high nonadjustable seating position?  Why do boring cars always have to sit so high?  The braking took a little getting used to due to the slight regenerative braking vibration.  Perhaps if I drove the Touring model with slightly sportier suspension and larger wheels, my opinion would be a little different, but as the saying goes…you can polish a turd, but it’s still a turd.  The one thing that the Prius did prove to me is how useful a hatchback can be.  The visibility is excellent and the cabin felt very spacious.  The hatch opens up very high and with the 60/40 split folding seats, I was able to stuff two large moving boxes, two medium boxes, 4 bags of packing peanuts, and a back seat passenger with ease.  I don’t know why our society is so obsessed with “needing” SUVs to fit all of our crap when it’s much easier with a hatchback.  The Europeans have figured this out long ago.  I would take a diesel VW Golf 5 door hatch over a Prius any day.

]]>
http://www.lunch.com/carreviews/reviews/d/UserReview-Toyota_Prius-851-1130919-17455-A_bit_overrated_if_you_ask_me.html http://www.lunch.com/carreviews/reviews/d/UserReview-Toyota_Prius-851-1130919-17455-A_bit_overrated_if_you_ask_me.html Mon, 25 Jan 2010 18:29:45 +0000
<![CDATA[ A good lesson for children in the consequence of uncontrolled anger]]> There is an announcement about a giant car race and the red, red car enters, fully confident that he can win. Since the red, red car never follows a rule; he started after the other cars and in his attempt to catch them, grew hotter and hotter. Refusing to slow down after red-warning lights flashed on, he continued until he was on fire. Eventually, he was forced to stop and the rescue vehicles came and put out the fire. It was at this time that the red, red car came to realize that he was the only one at fault for his problems. He then vowed to change his ways, which he did. From that point on he was able to keep himself under control and he was able to begin winning races.
Given the weakness of their emotional development and control, children have a natural tendency to have a problem controlling their anger. The fact that it is natural does not mean that it can be left unchecked; learning to control anger and other emotions is one of the biggest steps in achieving adulthood. This book is a very good lesson, written at the level of the child it is neither too weak nor too strong in presenting this very important lesson.]]>
http://www.lunch.com/carreviews/reviews/book/UserReview-The_Red_Red_Car-851-1515600-76897-A_good_lesson_for_children_in_the_consequence_of.html http://www.lunch.com/carreviews/reviews/book/UserReview-The_Red_Red_Car-851-1515600-76897-A_good_lesson_for_children_in_the_consequence_of.html Wed, 23 Dec 2009 12:00:00 +0000
<![CDATA[ Euroautospot San Diego BMW Service Center Review]]> Review for:

Euroautospot San Diego BMW Service Center
8680 Miralani Dr. Suite 124
San Diego, CA 92126
(858)635-9063


I have a bmw 325i and after being screwed with high cost repairs at the dealerships. I went from  shop to shop looking for a repair shop to take care of my bmw. I overheated recently and a local bmw shop replaced a radiator. Not but 6 miles later I overheated again. That bmw shop refused to repair it. They stated that I would need to take the car to the bmw dealer. I was not reimbursed for this issue also.  The shop is small, their lot was packed full of bmw's and they had me up and running within 2 hours. I cannot praise this company enough for the work, it ended up being a thermostat and not the radiator. The mechanic got my old radiator back from the prior repair shop and installed it so that I could at least ebay my part since it was considered used but still new now.
]]>
http://www.lunch.com/carreviews/reviews/d/UserReview-San_Diego_BMW_Service_Center_EuroAutoSpot-851-1432824-16063-Euroautospot_San_Diego_BMW_Service_Center_Review.html http://www.lunch.com/carreviews/reviews/d/UserReview-San_Diego_BMW_Service_Center_EuroAutoSpot-851-1432824-16063-Euroautospot_San_Diego_BMW_Service_Center_Review.html Sat, 19 Dec 2009 15:07:01 +0000
<![CDATA[ A Fit Load of stuff]]>
I've seen these things hold a drafting table, sets of tires, multiple bikes, an entire tailgate with full size grill and lawnchairs, and countless other things, often with a full load of passengers. I originally hated the tagline "The Fit is Go," but over the years, I've caught myself saying it over and over again. This thing never ceases to amaze me.

Bottom line: safe, versatile, efficient, and affordable. A fantastic all-around car. ]]>
http://www.lunch.com/carreviews/reviews/d/UserReview-Honda_Fit-851-1428057-15167-A_Fit_Load_of_stuff.html http://www.lunch.com/carreviews/reviews/d/UserReview-Honda_Fit-851-1428057-15167-A_Fit_Load_of_stuff.html Wed, 25 Nov 2009 00:48:31 +0000
<![CDATA[ A First-Class Ride]]> Buying a new car can be intimidating, especially when you don’t know much about cars or the process. It’s a big investment and you have to do your homework before making a decision. Two years ago I was in the market for a new car. The possibilities seem endless. I started my research online, milling through websites featuring everything from fantasy to sports cars, convertibles to SUV’s. I have to admit I was stumped. Yes, I wanted a cool car (no minivan, please), but also wanted safety, utility, good gas mileage and something compact enough to function well in a city.   After much research I purchased an Audi A3. It was the best choice I could have made and I couldn’t be happier with my car. Here’s why:

   Great Design:

  • The A3 is a hatchback. You can fold down the back seat and still have plenty of room for ski’s, bikes, a dog, etc. However, the car is still small and compact. This makes parking easy and also allows for decent gas mileage.
  • Two sunroofs allow for a semi-convertible feel in the summer and lots of light in the winter.


I feel in control:

  • The car is low to the ground and hugs the road like a race car. It’s not top heavy like an SUV. I have astonishing control even at high speeds and never feel off balance. This has proven especially useful in the many road trips I take and makes driving much more relaxing. I worry less about heavy winds or drafting from other vehicles or trucks pushing me around on the road.
  • All wheel drive – super important for winters in the Midwest. I don’t worry about sliding off the road.
  • Clear vision. The front window is huge and gives me almost panoramic view. The windows towards the rear are position for a minimal blind spot.
  • The steering wheel is taut. If you move it, the car reacts immediately. This is useful in traffic and when passing other cars.  You don’t feel like you’re fighting the road or the car.
  • Power on Demand. This car has instant acceleration. If I need to move fast, it goes. This definitely secures a sense of confidence.  My A3 is the sports version, so it also has a Sport Setting with Tiptronic controls (paddle shifters) located on the steering wheel. This allows for more speed and control, essentially allows you to control the car manually without grinding the clutch.
  • The A3 comes with an Electronic Stabilization Program which improves the vehicles general stability and helps you maintain control when the car is having problems gripping the road. This helps during acceleration, cornering, and especially evident in inclimate weather conditions like heavy rain, ice or snow.  There is nothing scarier than hydroplaning and this prevents the car from skidding out. 

Maximium comfort:

  • The interior seats are awesome…all leather with adjustable seat warmers.
  • It has a great stereo that includes a radio, tape player and 6 disc CD player. The sound system can also be controlled using the buttons located on the steering wheel.  In other words, the driver is King!
  • Power everything: windows, locks, side mirrors.
  • Cruise control (again great for long trips).
  •  The front and rear windshield wipers react automatically to debris or liquid. If it starts to rain I don’t even have to hit the wiper lever, it comes on for me.
  • It’s BlueTooth enabled- which honestly I never use, but would be helpful for those who talk on their cell phones while driving.
  • Heat:  Dual heat control. Both the driver and passages have their own temperature switches. I love this, because I usually tend to be cold when others are warm. Makes everyone happy.

Cons:

  • The only con I can think of is that the back seats are a bit snug for passengers. The roof of the car tends to be low and this can be a bit uncomfortable for tall men.


    One of the best purchases I've ever made! Highly Recommended!
]]>
http://www.lunch.com/carreviews/reviews/d/UserReview-Audi_A3-851-1421027-14250-A_First_Class_Ride.html http://www.lunch.com/carreviews/reviews/d/UserReview-Audi_A3-851-1421027-14250-A_First_Class_Ride.html Tue, 27 Oct 2009 15:15:49 +0000
<![CDATA[ Chevy HHR - form over function, but not by much]]> I'll admit, the HHR is a decent looking car.  I was not embarrassed at all to end up in one on a recent trip to the car rental counter.  The rental fleet special was the base LS with 155hp, but it was fairly adequate for a car that looks big, but really isn't.  The chopped top hot rod look gave the impression of sitting low which I like.  It puts you a little more connected to the car.  Just look at race cars drivers, they sit high up.  If you feel like you need the high-rise feel of a SUV, look elsewhere.  Even though the HHR looks kind of SUV-ish, it's not.  On Chevy's website, it's clearly classified as a car...not even a crossover.

The only similar vehicle I can compare the HHR to that I've driven is the PT Cruiser.  The two are very similar.  The HHR loses in the visibility category though as the narrow windows compromises the view of the outside world whereas the PT has a very large greenhouse.  The HHR does have the advantage in the looks department though.  While the PT has a bit of a cuteness too it, the HHR is a little more aggressive.  The interior material quality is not bad for a sub-$20K car although the more popular alternatives such as the RAV4 and CRV have it beat. 

Of all the similar cars in it's class, I do think the HHR is the most visually appealing.  It's different, but not so different as to be quirky ugly.  I like that it sits low to the ground instead of pretending to be some poser off roader.  For handling purposes, the lower the better.  It's easier to maneuver out the way than to roll over on your side.

Would I ever buy/own a HHR?  Probably not, but I can see how it deserves buyers.  If GM manages to fix it's image, they should definitely keep the HHR as part of it's line-up.  It's much better than garbage like the Aveo. ]]>
http://www.lunch.com/carreviews/reviews/d/UserReview-Chevrolet_HHR-851-1419211-13071-Chevy_HHR_form_over_function_but_not_by_much.html http://www.lunch.com/carreviews/reviews/d/UserReview-Chevrolet_HHR-851-1419211-13071-Chevy_HHR_form_over_function_but_not_by_much.html Fri, 18 Sep 2009 16:34:52 +0000
<![CDATA[ 2009 Hyundai Sonata - impressive bargain]]> When I walked up to the white one in the rental car lot and saw that they put me in a Hyundai, I was depressed.  Especially since there was a Mustang right next to it.  As I loaded my stuff and got inside, I noticed how much everything reminded me of circa 2000 Honda Accord.  This was the base GLS trim with fabric seats, but the fit and finish of everything was pretty nice.  I also noticed that this $20K car has satellite radio, traction control, ABS, and 6 air bags...all standard!

The power delivery was surprisingly good too.  So good in fact that at my first stop, I popped to hood to see what was under there as I was pretty sure it was a four banger, but felt like it could have been a V6.  It was indeed a 175hp 4 cylinder with a pretty impressive 168 lb/ft of torque.  If I were to buy one, I would definitely go with the V6 rated at a 249hp and 229 lb/ft of torque as there were a few times when merging that the Hyundai could have used a little more umpf.  The one thing that REALLY impressed me was the fact that the hood actually had a gas charged hood strut!  No hot and dirty hood prop rod! 

The area where this car is lacking is the handling.  The 16" wheels were way too small for this large sedan.  There was way too much travel on the suspension too and the front felt very floaty.  In fact, I turned the wheel over to my wife for one leg of our trip so I could take a nap and she almost lost control of the car as she began swerving at which point I woke up and grabbed the wheel to hold it steady.  This is another big reason why I would step up to the SE trim with a V6 engine.  The SE has 17" wheels standard which would be much more appropriate for this car and the extra weight on the front should increase stability somewhat.  Aside from that little incident, I did not experience any other issues.

Anyone in the market for a Camry or an Accord should definitely give the Sonata a look first.  Hyundai continues to make leaps and bounds in improvements and are very motivated to do so to gain market share whereas Toyota and Honda have pretty much been stagnant and just riding on brand recognition.  Just look at the new Hyundai Genesis and you can tell that Hyundai is determined to improve their product.  You can score a fully loaded Limited model for around $26K.  Good luck getting that deal with a Camry or an Accord.  Don't forget about the famous Hyundai warranty too. 10yr, 100K mile drive train warranty and most importantly, 5yr, 60K mile bumper to bumper warranty.]]>
http://www.lunch.com/carreviews/reviews/d/UserReview-Hyundai_Sonata-851-1419151-13045-2009_Hyundai_Sonata_impressive_bargain.html http://www.lunch.com/carreviews/reviews/d/UserReview-Hyundai_Sonata-851-1419151-13045-2009_Hyundai_Sonata_impressive_bargain.html Wed, 16 Sep 2009 21:38:20 +0000
<![CDATA[ Impala - ruining a legend]]> I recently had the displeasure of renting a 2009 Chevy Impala.  This was a rental fleet standard 1LT trim level with the anemic 211hp 3.5L V6.  This car weighs over 3500 lbs mind you.  This was one of the worst handling cars I've ever driven.  Every time I took a turn 10mph over the suggested posted speed, the tires would squeal in protest.  The steering was absolutely numb and provided no feedback.  The engine barely has enough power to lug the bloated pig of a car that it's attached to up to highway speed.

The interior was all cheap plastic.  The plastic "wood grain" was particularly embarrassing.  Here's one interesting "feature": a folding center console that becomes a front bench seat.  I haven't seen a bench seat in a car since the 80's.  Is there really a market for this?  Why is GM wasting the tooling costs to make this available? Strictly for rental fleet duty?  Because of this bench seat option, this particular car came a steering column shifter.  I had fun pretending I was driving a cop car for about 2 minutes until I got tired of missing drive and putting it into 3rd gear all the time because of how sloppy the shifter was.

How did Chevy manage to destroy an automotive icon by making it an anemic, bloated, front-wheel-drive rental fleet staple?  The Impala was something people used to dream about.  After a long absence, Chevy came back with a mean Impala SS in the late '90s that was essentially a cop car spec Caprice with meaty tires and then a later-added-on floor shifter.  Yay, they got it right!  But then came the crappy Impala that was favored by the NYPD because of it's FWD layout which is easier to handle in snow/ice, but universally despised by automotive enthusiasts.  The current iteration is the second generation of the FWD mistake but now just heavier and more boring looking.

The current top of the line Impala is the 303hp V8 SS, but with this platform, I doubt Chevy could have polished a turd enough to make it respectable.  I don't see how do much better besides consume more gas  Hey, GM, you suck because you make crappy cars.  I'm NOT some an-American car hater.  It's simple supply and demand laws.  The Pontiac G8 (built and designed in Australia) was an affordable sedan with balls and you go and ax the brand yet you let garbage like the Impala destroy a namesake that used to mean something.  Keep these bloated and boring sedans under the Buick nameplate if you want to make them so badly.  Look at Ford.  They managed to figure it out and build a Taurus that looks sharp both inside and out and have a base output of 263hp also from a 3.5L V6.  The top line model even has a 365hp turbocharged V6 and all-wheel-drive.  Next time I rent a full-size car, I'm requesting a Taurus.]]>
http://www.lunch.com/carreviews/reviews/d/UserReview-2009_Chevrolet_Impala-851-1418672-13005-Impala_ruining_a_legend.html http://www.lunch.com/carreviews/reviews/d/UserReview-2009_Chevrolet_Impala-851-1418672-13005-Impala_ruining_a_legend.html Mon, 14 Sep 2009 22:49:15 +0000
<![CDATA[ Not always safe at any speed]]> On The Wealth of Nations (Books That Changed the World)), actually works better than it does here when applied in mostly and decidedly non-serious style, to cars. The shock of O'Rourke's ribald and manic humor actually enlivens that potentially dead subject, while here reads too much like a fawning student of the Hunter S. Thompson school of writing.

Not that "Driving Like Crazy" is bad, just that much of it seems too much a product of its time and place--the70s and early 80s when O' Rourke made much of his living writing features for car magazines like Car and Driver. His accounts of running the Baja 1000 in a customized truck with Mike Nesmith (parents: yes, the Monkee's Mike Nesmith. Kids: ask your parents) then later with a couple of company-provided Jeep vehicles take up a big chunk of the book, and serve as a fascinating word-picture of a wrecked (literally) landscape (no actual pictures provided, more's the pity). The tour across India in a pair of Land Rovers is also fun reading, and I wish we had politicians with the moxie and political (and tax) capital to take seriously O'Rourke's call for a drivers' national park: "a road, or network of roads, where we can drive the way we'll be allowed to drive in heaven after we succumb to apoplexy caused by being stuck for six hours on I-95 when a Prius full of vegans swerves in front of a livestock truck and an oil tanker, causing America's least wanted barbecue to be hosted at the off-ramp to the Washington beltway." (p. 229)

But the writing style can be tedious, and the glorification of drugs and drunken driving, even when tongue-in-cheek, just isn't funny any more. Sorry, O'Rourke, I guess I've become one of "them."]]>
http://www.lunch.com/carreviews/reviews/book/UserReview-Driving_Like_Crazy_Thirty_Years_of_Vehicular_Hell_bending_Celebrating_America_the_Way_It_s_Supposed_To_Be_With_an_Oil_Well_in_Every_Backyard_a_Cadillac_of_the_Federal_Reserve_Mowing_Our_Lawn-851-1541580-122164-Not_always_safe_at_any_speed.html http://www.lunch.com/carreviews/reviews/book/UserReview-Driving_Like_Crazy_Thirty_Years_of_Vehicular_Hell_bending_Celebrating_America_the_Way_It_s_Supposed_To_Be_With_an_Oil_Well_in_Every_Backyard_a_Cadillac_of_the_Federal_Reserve_Mowing_Our_Lawn-851-1541580-122164-Not_always_safe_at_any_speed.html Sun, 6 Sep 2009 12:00:00 +0000
<![CDATA[ Not your average coming of age novel]]>
How to Steal a Car is funny, smart, and compelling read that is different from many coming-of-age YA stories out there. Pete Hautman sets up the book so that everything you learn about Kelleigh and her friends and family is staggered throughout the book. There aren't any lengthy explanations or character histories to wade through before you dive into the action; it's all combined together, making for a more interesting and entertaining book. Kelleigh doesn't really understand why she steals cars at first, all she knows is that she hates the disjointed feeling that's taken up residence inside her, and stealing cars gets rid of it. Her journey is every bit as surprising to her as it is to the reader. From the funny moments to the tense ones to the affecting ones, Kelleigh is an authentic, confused character, and her tumultuous feelings are completely relatable to many readers.

How to Steal a Car is a novel about growing up and learning to deal with life's more unpleasant issues, getting along with family and friends, and juggling the many confusing, conflicting emotions that usually accompany the teenage years. Hautman has a talent for being concise in his writing, yet every word is affecting. How to Steal a Car is one book that will entertain you just as much as it will make you think.]]>
http://www.lunch.com/carreviews/reviews/book/UserReview-How_To_Steal_A_Car-851-1545547-115703-Not_your_average_coming_of_age_novel.html http://www.lunch.com/carreviews/reviews/book/UserReview-How_To_Steal_A_Car-851-1545547-115703-Not_your_average_coming_of_age_novel.html Thu, 3 Sep 2009 12:00:00 +0000