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2009 LA Auto Show Focuses on the Future of Small Cars

Wednesday December 16th, 2009 at 3:1212 PM
Posted by: ggaillard

LA Auto Show logoLos Angeles’ Best in Show

By Greg Gaillard

Small, sporty and efficient are back. Overall, the American market continues to drift in the doldrums, but there are signs of life in segments that embrace these values. It’s no accident that during the ‘Cash for Clunkers’ program many of the trades were from large SUVs to much smaller vehicles such as Toyota’s Corolla, Ford’s Focus and Honda’s Civic. People are ready for right size cars and the 2009 LA Auto Show proved that manufacturers are ready to respond with a brace of efficient and exciting choices. If the industry can market these new cars properly, we won’t need another government subsidy to keep people in small and efficient vehicles.

As a show, LA feels like a return to reality from the preceding, concept-heavy Tokyo spectacle. While there were certainly a fair number of concepts at LA, the big news was how manufacturers were positioning themselves to take advantage of trends in the US market. CarReview is happy to report that it’s all good. There will be plenty of green tech to go around and a fair dose of sport to go along with it. Below are some of the highlights:

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Posted in Cadillac, Chevrolet, Ford, Mazda, Porsche, Press and News, Subaru |Tags:, , , , , , , || 2 Comments »


CarReview's Best Car Choices of 2009

Monday November 23rd, 2009 at 3:1111 PM
Posted by: ggaillard

New Year 2009-2010 SignpostContributing editors: Greg Gaillard, Alex Kramer, Kurt Gensheimer, Derek Mau

Despite 2008′s desperate measures to help auto manufacturers hold on to business as usual, 2009 brought only radical change leaving many old business practices and brands behind.

We have been spectators in this year of turmoil and watched the industry struggle to reinvent itself.  Two of The Big Three went bankrupt; one emerged with a global partner, the other became lean and focused.  Diesels are now faster than their gasoline counterparts. Nine out of ten EPA mpg champs are hybrids. VW bought Porsche while Porsche was buying VW.  Overall sales were millions of units short of expectations. Manufacturers now pin their hopes on the Chinese market, while Americans pray that the Volt is half as good as it needs to be. Somehow, during all of this turmoil Kia became cool.  What was once unthinkable has happened.

Amidst the mayhem consumer conservatism has redefined value to mean more than MSRP, monthly payments and residuals. Cars had better be good at what they do or people won’t buy them. The industry must meet the new expectation of great cars and real innovation. Tricky marketing and trend analysis will not build the product portfolios of the future.

While the industry was being shaken to its core, 2009 was a banner year for new technologies and remarkable products.  Read on to find out which cars persevered as CarReview’s best choices of 2009

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Posted in Acura, Aston Martin, Audi, BMW, Chevrolet, Dodge, Feature Articles, Ford, Honda, hybrid, Infiniti, Jaguar, Lexus, Mazda, Mercedes-Benz, Nissan, Porsche, Subaru, Toyota, Volkswagen |Tags:, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , || 3 Comments »


FT-86 Concept Video and Photo Gallery

Tuesday November 10th, 2009 at 7:1111 AM
Posted by: Derek

FT-86 Gran Turismo 5 screen shot

This video is a quick look at a new car and new tracks for Gran Turismo 5, featuring the Toyota FT-86 Concept car. The rear-wheel drive coupe that will be badged as a Toyota was co-developed with Subaru (who provides the engine) and will make its world debut at the 2009 Tokyo Motor Show. The name FT-86 is a nod to the popular RWD Corolla AE86 of the mid-1980s. The production version of the 2+2 FT-86 sports coupe, is due to go on sale towards the end of 2011. The engine is from Subaru and is a front-mounted, 2.0-liter four-cylinder boxer engine, a naturally aspirated version of Subaru’s 2.0-liter flat flour normally found in the Impreza that Toyota will massage to boost output closer to 200 horsepower. This is the same engine that, when turbocharged, cranks out 250HP and is found in Subaru’s much loved WRX.

View the video and photo gallery after the jump (updated 1/21/2010)

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Posted in Subaru, Toyota, Viral Video |Tags:, , , , || 2 Comments »


2010 Subaru Legacy Review

Monday October 19th, 2009 at 12:1010 PM
Posted by: bclark

2010 Subaru Legacy

By Bill Clark

Pros:

  • New styling looks great
  • It’s big
  • Very well-appointed – even in base trim
  • All things Subaru – affordable, practical, all-wheel drive
  • Very comfortable road car

Cons

  • Lethargic engine – especially at freeway speeds
  • Leans like a wet noodle when pushed hard around corners

Don’t tell the Editors, but let’s just say I was less than enthusiastic when I was told I would be testing the new 2010 Subaru Legacy sedan. While I reluctantly waited outside the house for the demo vehicle to be delivered, a number of cars drove by, including a very sharp, muscular, modern-looking sedan. The sedan slows in front of me while I am taking a long look at it – ‘nice’, I think to myself. Then I notice the Subaru emblem on the front grille. Wait… What? Is that it? That’s a Subaru? Well, things are looking up! Let’s just say the word ‘new’ does not do the car justice – I’d say transformed!

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Posted in Expert Reviews, Subaru |Tags:, || 5 Comments »


Toyota FT-86: The Toyota/Subaru Sports Coupe Breaks Cover

Wednesday October 7th, 2009 at 7:1010 AM
Posted by: tonyb

Toyota/Subaru FT-86

The on again/off again/on again for real Toyota/Subaru sports coupe is certainly on for real now. Official pics and specs of the upcoming two-company joint venture are out, and it looks to be a pretty impressive car on a number of fronts.

The rear-wheel drive coupe that will be badged as a Toyota was co-developed with Subaru (who provides the engine) and will make its world debut at the Tokyo Motor Show later this month. The name FT-86 is a nod to the popular RWD Corolla AE86 of the mid-1980s. The production version of the 2+2 FT-86 sports coupe, is due to go on sale towards the end of 2011.

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Posted in Press and News, Subaru, Toyota |Tags:, , || 2 Comments »


Subaru Impreza WRX STI Carbon Rolls Out at Tokyo Show

Wednesday September 30th, 2009 at 7:99 AM
Posted by: tonyb

Subaru Impreza WRX STi Carbon

It’s still car show season, and although Frankfurt is in the past, The Tokyo Motor Show is looming on the horizon. Of interest is a limited run WRX from Subaru called the Subaru Impreza WRX STI Carbon. Clearly, a car slathered with this much of the wonder material is not aimed at moms toting around the kids or the junior level business exec who wants to tell people he’s “made it”. No, that’s not who the WRX is for to begin with, let alone the WRX STI, let alone a show car special like the WRX STI Carbon.

No, the WRX STI Carbon is aimed at the boy racers out there. The Fast-n-Furious set, if that’s not too dated of a reference. Unlike a lot of older car guys, I’ve never had that much of a problem with the import tuner crowd. ‘Hey, at least they’re into cars’, was what I normally thought. I was a little puzzled by someone who’d drop that much money into an Evo or a Civic to go drag racing with it (V8s are a LOT more cost effective). But cars like the WRX STI Carbon I can sort of understand.

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Posted in Press and News, Subaru |Tags:, || 1 Comment »


Top Gear goes for a ride with Ken Block

Monday July 6th, 2009 at 1:77 PM
Posted by: Derek

James May (Top Gear) visits Ken Block

Ken Block has achieved Internet fame with his gymkhana drifting practice videos. For guys (and gals) who aren’t afraid of having a little grease embedded in their fingerprints, Ken Block’s videos are simply visual artistry in motion.

Well, it seems that the producers at Top Gear were impressed with Ken’s skills and promptly send James May across the pond to the U.S. for a lesson in drifting – Ken Block style. Unless you’ve been camping out in Outer Mongolia or are still using a 56k dial-up Internet connection, you’ve probably seen Ken Block’s gymkhana practice video. As an added bonus, Ricky Carmichael (10 time motocross champion) literally jumps in and “BAM!”, kicks it up a notch Emeril-style.

YouTube Preview Image

Posted in Press and News, Subaru, Viral Video |Tags:, , , || 1 Comment »


Diesel Subarus On Their Way?

Monday June 15th, 2009 at 8:66 AM
Posted by: tonyb

Subaru

According to reports in the green blogosphere, Subaru, maker of fine, boxer powered all wheel drive cars, will soon be adding diesels engines to its range of engine choices, at least in the home market. Odd really, because Japan was never that into diesel cars. Sure, delivery trucks, but very few private individuals buy diesels.

Subaru introduced its first diesel engine in Europe in 2008, naturally, a boxer, and has sold over 30,000 examples, but that makes sense since oil burners are very, very popular there. So popular in fact that 54.1 percent of Legacy sales in Europe have been diesels.

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Posted in Press and News, Subaru |Tags:, || 1 Comment »


2009 Subaru Outback Review – the car that loves the outdoors, no matter the conditions!

Thursday March 5th, 2009 at 9:33 AM
Posted by: hollyrrr

2009 Subaru Outback
By Holly R.

Pros:

  • Really decent acceleration in “sport” and “sport sharp” mode
  • Lots of room in the seats and back of the car
  • Drives great in off-road type conditions (grass, gravel, dirt), and handled a terribly stormy day (wind and sideways rain) with aplomb
  • Tinted windows were a nice touch both for security and curb appeal

Cons:

  • No built-in Bluetooth®
  • Tinted windows limit outward vision

Introduction:

I’d rented an Outback on an out of town trip before, but that was before I started writing car reviews! I was curious about how it would stand up to a real test, and knew that if the weather sucked, the car would certainly not let me down. It was like the weather knew too… So I was able to test this car in some pretty crappy conditions. Excellent!

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Posted in Expert Reviews, Subaru |Tags:, || 3 Comments »


2009 Subaru Forester Review – The right tool for the job

Tuesday February 10th, 2009 at 11:22 AM
Posted by: AKramer

2009
By Alex Kramer

Pros:

  • Boxer engine provides plenty of torque
  • All-wheel drive traction
  • Lots of interior room
  • Huge panoramic sunroof

Cons:

  • Dated 4 speed transmission
  • Suspension is a bit soft
  • Bland interior/exterior design
  • Too many rattles and buzzes

Step into some cars these days and you think you’ve entered some high tech penthouse, with LCD screens everywhere, more buttons and knobs than a recording studio, and leather upholstery as far as the eye can see. With all this technology and creature comfort it is easy to forget that a car is still fundamentally a tool. We use them to do a job, whether it be driving to and from work every day, or hauling a bunch of gear to the game, or navigating safely through a nasty storm. Preferably they do these jobs efficiently and reliably, with little fuss or muss.

Subaru has long made cars that are meant to be more practical than posh. With lots of interior room, all-wheel drive standard on every model, and gutsy boxer engines, Subarus are the go-to choice for hikers, mountain bikers, and other outdoor enthusiasts. One of Subaru’s best selling and most practical models is the Forester, a car that can’t quite figure out if it is a station wagon or an SUV. Revised for 2009, we took the new Forester out for a week of bike hauling, back roading, and even grocery getting to see if this practical car would be the right tool for the job.

Driving Impressions

2009 Subaru Forester - Subaru symmetrical AWDLike every Subaru, the Forester comes standard with symmetrical all-wheel drive, which is fully active and provides power from the engine to all four wheels simultaneously. Due to a week of sunny skies and record warm temperatures, we weren’t able to drive the Forester in conditions that would put the system to the test, but a few hard launches in a dirt lot did demonstrate its ability to distribute thrust to all four wheels without even a hint of wheelspin. Although the Forester still drives more like a car than most small SUVs, the new model rides taller than before and provides outstanding ground clearance, a plus for those who plan to take it off-road.

Performance

Like previous model years, the Forester comes with 2 engine options: base X models come with a 2.5 L boxer 4 cylinder that produces 170 hp and 170 lb-ft torque, while XT models feature a turbocharged version of the same engine that ups the power to 224 hp and 226 lb-ft torque. Our tester came with the regular engine, which although not a powerhouse, still provides plenty of thrust for driving around town. The torque curve is also nice and flat, so much of the power is available at low RPMs. The engine does come up a bit short when accelerating hard (0-60 takes over 10 seconds) or driving in the mountains, so speed freaks should definitely order the turbo.

2009 Subaru Forester - 2.5-liter SOHC Subaru Boxer engine

Unfortunately, Subaru decided to also carryover the 4 speed automatic transmission from last year. Although this is a functionally competent slushbox, the dated design definitely limits the potential of the engine. Driving in the mountains means lots of lurching between 2nd and 3rd gear, as the engine tries in vane to respond to the inputs from the gas pedal. Even on flatland the lack of available gear ratios means that at certain speeds the engine will be caught flatfooted if you need to accelerate suddenly, such as when merging onto the freeway. The transmission does feature a sport mode that allows for manual shifting, but this does little to make up for the lack of gears.

Handling

Take the Forester out for a spin and it’s immediately apparent that the suspension has been tuned more for ride quality than handling. The rear shocks are especially soft and almost wallow in their travel, causing the car to pitch back and forth a bit after hitting larger bumps. Once you get used to the soft suspension, the Forrester will reveal itself to be a fairly capable car in the twisties. Grip from the 17” all-season tires is quite good and braking is solid, but steering response is vague, which makes it hard to precisely position the car through a corner. Although the Forester is not as top-heavy as most SUV’s and is definitely more agile, those looking to tear up the backroads would probably be better off in a WRX.

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Posted in Expert Reviews, Subaru |Tags:, || No Comments »


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