Monday
Jan142013

Chevrolet Unveils The 2014 C7 Corvette

General Motors pulled the wraps off the all new C7 Corvette Sunday night, just before the opening of the 2013 North American International Auto Show. 

It was a huge event, and the car was very well received, we will have to wait till late summer or early fall to drive it though. 

My thanks to Ed Welburn, Mike Spinelli and Leo Parente for taking the time give us their thoughts on the C7.

Wednesday
Jan092013

Reviewed: 2012 Kia Rio SX

With fuel prices in the U.S. now consistently around $4/gal, more and more consumers are looking for good quality cars that return excellent fuel economy. The "B" segment has become highly competitive in the last 18 months in the U.S. with entrees from Ford, Chevy, Hyundai, Honda and Toyota, now Kia brings the Rio to fight, how does it faire? Have a look and find out.


Wednesday
Jan022013

First Look: 2013 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport

We had the opportunity to do a local media drive in the all new 2013 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport, this is the five passenger version of Hyundai's compact to midsized crossover.  There will be a seven passenger version coming out later in 2013 that will just be called the Santa Fe.

We put about 100 miles on the Hyundai on our local drive, and we like what we saw, we hope to have the chance to spend more time with it later in the year.

Thursday
Nov292012

2013 Toyota Avalon First Look: Toyota Comes To America To Build A German Sedan

If you were to rank all of the cars the Toyota builds and list them in order of “drivers car” the Toyota Avalon may rank at or near the bottom of that list. To most people, the Toyota Avalon was always the Buick Roadmaster that you would no longer built, a car for your grandparents. 

With the 2013 model Avalon, Toyota's looking to change the demographic for the Avalon buyers, as of now the average age of a Toyota Avalon buyer is 64, Toyota is looking to drop that to the mid-50s. How they are going to do that is by completely changing the nature of the car. In fact, as the title of this article suggests, the Japanese have come to America to build a German sedan.

The 2013 Toyota Avalon is the first car that Akio Toyoda oversaw from start to finish. When you drive this car, you will field his fingerprints all over it, in that his emphasis was to make Toyota's cars that people would enjoy driving. The Avalon was designed in California, engineered in Michigan, and will be built in Kentucky, and when it goes on sale, it will have the highest US content of any vehicles sold in North America.

There will be two versions of the Toyota Avalon available, a V-6, and a hybrid version. There will be several modes in which you can drive in both cars. In the V-6 model you have ego, normal, and sports, while in the hybrid version you get those 3 plus an EV mode. 

The V-6 model will definitely slant much more towards the “drivers car” then the hybrid. The V-6 will have 268 hp and 248 foot-pounds of torque, and can do a 0 to 60 run in 6.7 seconds. In eco-and normal modes the car feels very composed, switched into sport mode the steering firms up very nicely, the ride is just a bit more firm, and if you didn't know, you'd think you were in a German performance sedan, and that's no joke.

The hybrid version of the Avalon is geared much more towards comfort. It still handles well, steers well, but in driving them back to back, the differences are noticeable. The hybrid Avalon, while maybe not having the driving dynamics of its V-6 version, is still very composed, and does not feel like some boulevard cruiser.

There are some very interesting design dynamics going on with the new Avalon. It seems to borrow from quite a number of cars. In the front it has a trapezoidal grille reminiscent of some current Ford products, taken from certain angles in the rear, or the side, you can see design elements from the Mercedes-Benz S class, the Jaguar XJ, and even the Audi A7. All that amalgamation comes out very well and while some people may not care for the nose of the car, there can be few complaints about the design of the rest of the car, save the need for a larger wheel and tire package.

The interior gets a massive upgrade on the new Avalon from the previous model. Again with the German sedan theme, if you were familiar with the interiors of current Audi products, there are many similarities with the new Avalon. The use of materials textures and colors really make the interior standout, and give it a very high-quality feel. The stitching on the leather of the–Israel hand stitching. There are a select number of people in the factory in Kentucky who hand stitch these together on machines, there is no automation, and the attention to detail is obvious. The use of contrasting and complementary colors and materials again gives the car a very upscale look, in addition to a center stack that draws inspiration from modern midcentury design.

Many modern cars that have a swoopy rear end styling to give the illusion of a coupe, sacrifice rear seat head and leg room in the name of style. This is not the case with the Avalon. Toyota have done a nice job of creating space for rear seat passengers so that even those well over 6 foot will have plenty of room. Toyota feel so strongly about this design, that they are pursuing the livery market with the Toyota Avalon.

 

The 2013 Toyota Avalon is a major change in direction from its past models. No longer a Boulevard cruiser for the retirement community, the Toyota Avalon is now an upscale luxury sedan ready to challenge the Germans, but with the quality, dependability, and reliability that you would expect from a Toyota.

Please have a look at the full gallery of pictures from the shoot.

Wednesday
Oct102012

Lexus Refreshes Flagship LS

Over the last 18 months, Lexus has updated most of their entire lineup, with the exception of their flagship car the LS. Now, as we close out 2012, Lexus is ready to reveal the update to their flagship luxury sedan.

While the 2013 LS is a midcycle refresh, over half of the parts involved in building this car are completely new. There is a substantial rework of the exterior, which features Lexus’ signature spindle grill up front along with significant sculpturing throughout the body from nose to tail to greatly reduce aerodynamic drag.

In a market segment that puts a premium on perfection the new LS is positioning itself to once again be the standard by which others are measured. Not only is the exterior refreshed, the interior gets a complete makeover as well. The design concept 1st seen in the interior of the new GS is now brought in to the flagship LS sedan.  One of the features of the interior is the 12.3 inch  center display which can be organized into 3 different columns of information.

Interior materials also get an upgrade including a unique wood trim called Shimamocu. This unique wood trim takes 38 days and 67 different processes to complete. It has a horizontal grain pattern which helps to emphasize the with an interior space of the LS. If you choose to go with the hybrid version of the LS you can choose the bamboo wood option which gives a very nice look and feel to the interior.

Something else that is also unique in the LS is the analog clock in the center of the dash is linked via GPS to automatically update times, even when crossing into different time zones. So, let’s say you’re driving from Detroit to Chicago, where you go from the Eastern time zone to the central time zone, the clock will automatically update to the local time.

There will be several trim levels available in the  LS, including the ultra-lux package which will have 4 different climate zone controls. All cars, 16 way power driver seat,” way adjustable passenger seats. Opt for the 600 L, or 460 L, and you will have rear seat that will recline, as an ottoman, and also massage functionality. It truly is an “Executive” sedan. The driver and passenger seats also have a unique climate control system integrated into them the seats sense body temperature and bring the temperature of the seats to the desired temperature, until the rest of the cabin can reach that temperature.

Depending on which trim level you get, the LS can have a sportier feel, but the emphasis of the LS has been, and always will be, that of late luxury sedan. As such, the emphasis is on a quiet interior and a smooth and comfortable yet very controlled ride. The LS will never be a Canyon Carver, but on tight twisty roads it can hold its own.

Powertrains are a carryover, a 4.6 L V-8 with 386 hp combined with an 8 speed automatic transmission will be standard. Elect for the hybrid version and you have a combined power rating of 438 hp between the gasoline motor and electric motor. The hybrid model also gets a redesign regenerative braking system which aids in recharging the batteries much quicker and more efficiently.

Available for the first time in the LS is the F-Sport trim.  With the F-Sport you will get a deeper drill with other aero treatments, cooling ducts for the brakes, suspension lowered 10mm, Alcantera headliners, larger side bolsters in the seats,, paddle shifters and a Torsen limited slip differential.

You also get 19” BBS wheels that are unique to the F-Sport along with massive six piston Brembo brakes.

Pricing will be announced at the end of October and the LS’s will begin to go on sale in November.