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Meet CarReview’s panel of test drivers and contributing editors

Friday May 1st, 2009 at 1:55 PM
Posted by: Derek

CarReview strives to collect as many viewpoints as possible. We fully understand that different cars have different purposes and strengths. One person is not enough to recognize the brilliance (and sometimes shortcomings) built into today’s sophisticated vehicles. Thus, we assembled a group of people with a wide range of demographics. After searching far and wide, I was able to call upon some very enthusiastic individuals from different age groups, backgrounds, and most importantly gender.

Historically, the automotive world has lots of opinions from the he-man point-of-view, but we rarely get to read about a woman’s opinion. CarReview.com wants to acknowledge all of the female vehicle owners/drivers across the world by including a female perspective and her input when writing up our reviews. While the CarReview editorial team is substantially diverse and opinionated, the one common thread among us is our genuine enthusiasm towards cars and driving.

Thanks for letting us share our thoughts and opinions

Derek Mau
Site Manager & Editor-in-Chief / CarReview.com

derekName: Derek Mau
Height: 5′ 5″
Location: Sunnyvale, CA
Currently drives: 2002 Acura RSX Type-S
Prefer manual or automatic transmission? Manual, as long as I’m not stuck in traffic. A close second is a dual-clutch transmission ’cause they’re so dang quick.
Do it yourself (DIY) or professional mechanic to service your car? DIY whenever possible. Although, sometimes there are some jobs that are best left to professionals
Prefer convertible or hardtop? Hardtop. Wouldn’t want to muss up the hair.

Background: My passion for cars began back in high school. I remember many hours spent working on big block Chevys and helping my best friend modify his Camaro for street racing. The phrase “we can make it better” has always been a long standing motto and has been applied to every car I ever owned. From suspension and engine modifications to custom car audio installations, I’ve consistently found ways to improve upon the factory setup. Now I get to apply my experience and enthusiasm while sharing my thoughts and opinions with you.

Mary-EllenName: Mary Ellen Ash
Height: 5′ 0″
Location: Los Altos, CA
Currently drives: 2004 Subaru Outback Impreza Sport, 1998 Toyota Tacoma
Prefer manual or automatic transmission? I have one of each. It doesn’t really matter unless I’m in hellacious traffic.
Prefer convertible or hardtop? Hardtop
Do it yourself (DIY) or professional mechanic to service your car? Professional mechanic

Background: I have always loved cars, growing up my brothers loved the movies Grand Prix and LeMans and we were always guessing years of cool cars out on the road. My dad had a Buick with 3 on the tree that had gobs of power but I don’t think he ever really revved it up with us kids in the car. For a time I owned a 68 Dodge Charger but it was built for quarter miles and that’s about how far I ever took it. I still love looking at well built cars, well restored, and my all time favorite vehicle is a 1953 MG red convertible…someday…

Kirk Bell.Name: Kirk Bell
Height: 5′ 10″
Location: Chicago, IL
Currently drives: No personal vehicle. All test cars.
Prefer manual or automatic transmission? Manual
Prefer convertible or hardtop? Hardtop for performance reasons
Do it yourself (DIY) or professional mechanic to service your car? Full service

Background: Kirk brings 18 years of automotive journalism experience to the table. He spent 12 years editing Scale Auto Enthusiast magazine, and was most recently associate publisher for Consumer Guide Automotive. Kirk’s knowledge of cars includes both the old and the new. He has edited several books on automotive history and driven more than 100 cars per year since 2001.Kirk grew up around cars. His father raced Pontiacs, rather unsuccessfully, at Great Lakes Dragaway in Union Grove, WI, and his mother’s daily driver was a 1969 Pontiac GTO Ram Air IV.

Tony BorrozName: Tony Borroz
Location: San Francisco, CA
Currently drives: 1994 Mazda Miata R-Package; one of only 1100 made, this particular car was SCCA ProSolo national autocross champion in 1994 & 1995 (bought it from a friend I used to race against).
Prefer manual or automatic transmission? Generally manual … but if you’re stuck in traffic …
Prefer convertible or hardtop? Convertible
Do it yourself (DIY) or professional mechanic to service your car? I use a mechanic … I’m real good at taking things apart, but putting them back together? Well…

Background: This is all my dad’s fault. My father is a (now retired) tool and die maker. I grew up in a house full of sports and antique cars of one kind or another, but mainly British cars. Triumphs, MGs, Sunbeam Tigers, Kaiser Darrins, Jeepsters. Lucas electric jokes? Shoot I LIVED most of those punch lines. I’ve got car books by the ton (literally, I weighed them once) and car magazines stretching back into the 50s.Racing? I’ve never missed watching and an Indy 500, and since they’ve been broadcast, the same goes for F1 racing as well. Shoot, if Le Mans is covered, I’ll stay up all day and all night to watch that. I used to race myself, but I was pretty mediocre. I have a very understanding wife.

 

kevin b.Name: Kevin Bowe
Height: 6′ 0″
Location:
San Francisco, CA
Currently drives: 2004 Subaru WRX

Background: I am twenty-seven years old and used to be an avid triathlete. Now I am just an every other weekend “weekend warrior”, but I am still looking for excitement, which is what brought me to carreview.com. I hope you enjoy my honest and light hearted reviews and have as much fun reading them as I did driving them!

 

francisName: Francis Cebedo
Height: 5′ 8″
Location: Saratoga, CA
Currently drives: 2005 Mini Cooper S, 2002 VW Passat
Prefer manual or automatic transmission?
Manual
Prefer convertible or hardtop?
Hardtop
Do it yourself (DIY) or professional mechanic to service your car? Yes to both

Background: I appreciate cars that support my lifestyle as a family man and a cyclist. I like cars that are roomy and are well designed for my activities.My passion is with sports cars. I like cars that exhibit great balance in terms of power and handling. Driving a great car on a curvy mountain road should be a religious experience. In addition, I like to tune and modify cars to optimize the performance for my driving preference.

 

gary c.Name: Gary Chan
Height: 5′ 7″
Location: Redwood City, CA

Background: I’m a self-professed car nut living in the SF Bay Area, and have loved cars (and now motorcycles) for almost 30 years now. In high school, my buddy and I would take off and go “performance driving” in the hills above Woodside. What a blast! Attending Cal Poly San Luis Obispo for college, I studied Mechanical Engineering, and loved every automotive-related course. To support my habits now, I’m an engineer at a wireless company in the Silicon Valley.

 

danny c.Name: Danny Chang
Height: 5′ 10″
Location: San Jose, CA
Currently drives: 2007 Infiniti G35 S
Prefer manual or automatic transmission? Either
Prefer convertible or hardtop? Either
Do it yourself (DIY) or professional mechanic to service your car? Professional

Background: I am a car design enthusiast. I can name almost every single car on the road at a single glance, be it day or night. It’s kind of a useless talent, and it bugs my wife to no end. I’ve worked on projects at Ford and Jaguar, so I have some insight into the OEM world. I love doodling cars and designing my own cars. I am very opinionated about car designs, and I generally hate designs from Honda, Toyota, GM, Hyundai, Mercedes-Benz and I don’t care much for Renault either. Disclosure: I love my Infiniti G35 S sedan.

Check out my blog! http://peopleagainstuglycars.blogspot.com/

 

Greg GName: Greg Gaillard
Height: 5′ 11″
Location: Albuquerque, NM
Currently drives: 2009 Porsche Boxster
Prefer manual or automatic transmission? Manual
Prefer convertible or hardtop? Convertible
Do it yourself (DIY) or professional mechanic to service your car? Professional mechanic

Background: As a teenager I had the good fortune to attend an exclusive private school.  Much to my parents dismay, my focus quickly became the student parking lot instead of my studies.  As the only person in my class that still rode a bike, walks through the lot were painful reminders of my pedal driven plight, especially when my path took me by ‘Senior Row’ which held the latest trophies for the anointed son. Porsche and BMW were standard fare with the occasional Maserati, Lancia and Jaguar to break the monotony. Everything I read in car magazines was always just outside the window of history class; so close, yet forever away.  Thus I knew my life was changed when a friend tossed me the keys to his 911 and said, ‘You know more about it than I do. Have a drive and get me a Dr. Pepper from 7-11.’ After that trip (with only one stall) I swore that I would never pass on a chance to drive something new and different.  For me driving became the activity of understanding a car for what it is rather than a way to get someplace. From Civics to Camaros; Cordobas to Corvettes; Pintos to Porsches, there is virtue in every car and I intend to find it.

 

kurtName: Kurt Gensheimer
Height: 6′ 0″
Location: San Diego, CA
Currently drives: 1997 Toyota 4runner Mallrunner, 1985 Toyota 4runner Rockcrawler, 2004 Mazda RX-8
Prefer manual or automatic transmission? Manual…always. Now I just have to convince my wife.
Prefer convertible or hardtop? Depends upon the vehicle
Do it yourself (DIY) or professional mechanic to service your car?
Do it myself 99% of the time…unless its covered under warranty of course!

Background: As a child, every morning when I woke up for grade school my mom would ask, “What did you dream about last night?” My answer was the same each day – “cars and trucks.” I drew sketches of cars, built car models, had remote controlled cars, and my Hot Wheels collection? I’ll spare you. Instead of reading Ranger Rick and Highlights magazines, I read Car and Driver and brochures from the local Porsche dealership. It was clearly evident that one day my profession would revolve around cars. I am now a freelance copywriter and journalist specializing in the automotive industry, and yes, I still dream about cars and trucks…every night.

Read more musings from Kurt at http://www.blackpagepress.com/

 

adrienneName: Adrienne Gruben
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Currently drives: 2001 Volkswagen Jetta
Prefer manual or automatic transmission? Depends on the car. Who needs a manual tranny in a rented Previa?
Prefer convertible or hardtop? Both? Several years ago, I was in a convertible going to a Radiohead concert with the fella I’d later marry. He had no idea we’d end up together, but I’d finally found the right moment to tell him. Our hair was blowing, the sky was starry and the AM station crackled with 40′s crooners. Then he started telling me how great his new girlfriend was. Come to think of it, I prefer the hardtop
Do it yourself (DIY) or professional mechanic to service your car? While I did adjust my Honda Accord’s valves when I was in college, I go to a mechanic. He is a Buddhist and closes his eyes while I tell him what is wrong.

Background: I have worked in the film business for my entire professional career. But the same thing you get from a movie – escape, thrills, tears, joy – you get from a car. When my Mom went into labor with me, my Dad fixed them both daiquiris to drink in their 1967 Bronze Mustang Coupe on route to the hospital. It was the first car I fell in love with. My first car was a Honda Accord, which I drove back and forth from college in California to my home in Texas. It broke down on the Golden Gate Bridge once and they towed me to this hidden city underneath.

The next was a tiny Isuzu pickup – the only zippy one of its kind. Too many people wanted to borrow it, so I got a Miata. It was a chick car, but I sped around like a roadrunner and parked anywhere. My Miata saw me through hovering bosses, drunken landlords and boyfriends who wore 50/50. I cried when I sold it. I bought my Jetta recently, so our relationship is new. The seller accidentally left a few playing cards in the side pocket – including the queen of hearts and a joker. I think we’re off to a good start.

 

john gName: John G.
Location: Tahoe, CA
Currently drives:
compact pickup
Prefer manual or automatic transmission?
Manual, unless I’m working or stuck in traffic.
Prefer convertible or hardtop? Hardtop
Do it yourself (DIY) or professional mechanic to service your car? I leave it to the professionals

Background: At various times in my life I have been an engineer, designer, project manager, entrepreneur, and burger flipper. I have driven everything from a BMW M6 to a Geo Metro to a Defender 90 to a 25 foot box truck, and have toured the country both on a motorcycle and in a car. I judge cars by their intended use, and appreciate good engineering, solid construction, and functional ergonomics in any vehicle…but there’s nothing like dropping the clutch on something low and fast.

 

alex kramerName: Alex Kramer
Height: 5′ 10″
Location: Sunnyvale, CA
Currently drives: 2009 Ford Escape Hybrid
Prefer manual or automatic transmission? Depends on the car. Sporty/Compact car = manual tranny, Minivan/SUV/Luxury Sedan = Auto tranny
Prefer convertible or hardtop?
Hardtop
Do it yourself (DIY) or professional mechanic to service your car? Used to be DIY, now mechanic (darn hybrids!)

Background: Ever since I learned to drive stick in my parent’s 1980 Honda Civic Wagon (which has to be one of the least performance oriented cars in history!), I’ve been fascinated by cars, both in terms of how they drive and how they work. My first car, bought through hard earned money from an after school job, was a used 1987 Honda CRX Si. That car taught me so much, including how to spin a 360 on highway 9 (scary!!) and how to drill-out a stripped bolt on the exhaust manifold (oops!!). After going through several more fun little compacts, I’ve grown up a bit and placed my faith in the engineers with a hybrid SUV, and so far I’m impressed. Sure, it’s more practical than fun, but with gas at $3.50 a gallon, squeezing out every mile has become it’s own reward!

 

natasha m.Name: Natasha M.
Height: 5′ 1″
Location: San Bruno, CA
Currently drives: 2003 GMC Yukon Denali

Background: Growing up with an appreciation for cool cars and an enjoyment for driving, I’m excited writing reviews for CarREVIEW.com. From the days driving an old ’64 Ford Mustang without power steering and A/C to now driving a large SUV packed with goodies, I’ve come to truly appreciate all the minor and major features and conveniences a car has to offer.

As a busy working mother of 2, I find myself constantly running errands and relying heavily on my car working with me and without question. I even enjoy quiet, relaxing drives because they become an escape from the bustle of life.My husband is also a huge auto enthusiast and has exposed me to races, car shows and since he subscribes at least two auto magazines I am constantly hearing about the newest cars and latest updates. I am slowly learning more about cars in general, but certainly love beautiful and powerful cars.

 

TwainName: Twain Mein
Height: 5′ 11″
Location: Redwood City, CA
Currently drives: 2000 Audi A6 4.2, 2006 Toyota Highlander Hybrid

Background: I’ve been a car nut since high school and, until recently, kept every Car and Driver since 1982. My first car was an ’84 Honda CRX; wonderful handling and so fun to drive. Have also owned ’86 Audi GT coupe, ’89 Audi 200 Turbo Quattro Wagon, ’98 Audi A4 Avant 2.8 Tip/Quattro, ’90 Jeep Wrangler, ’95 Jeep Grand Cherokee, ’64 Toyota FJ-45 land cruiser, ’00 Jeep Grand Cherokee, and ’98 Toyota UZ100 Land Cruiser.

 

Peter NewtonName: Peter Newton
Height: 6’0″
Location: San Jose, CA
Currently drives: 2002 Acura MDX
Prefer manual or automatic transmission? Automatic for everyday commuting, but manual for weekend driving
Prefer convertible or hardtop? Hardtop
Do it yourself (DIY) or professional mechanic to service your car? Let the pros deal with the dirty work

Background: Like any red-blooded American boy, I loved the thrill of speed. Growing up, that was fed by roller-coaster rides and downhill skiing. Once I earned that teenager ticket to freedom (a driver’s license), driving was added to the list. It probably saved my skin that my first car was a Volkswagen Beetle older than I was. Zero-to-60 was measured in minutes. Over the years, I have matured and drive a bit more safely, evaluating cars from a more practical, toddler-in-the-back point of view. That said, I still enjoy the adrenaline rush from tight corning or acceleration that sinks you into the seat.

 

no photoName: Tamir Orbach
Height: 5′ 8″
Location: Gaithersburg, MD (outside Washington D.C.)
Currently drives: 2007 Infiniti G35x and 2007 Acura MDX (wife’s car but I drive it a lot)
Prefer manual or automatic transmission? Generally manual, but with traffic being what it is in Washington, I finally gave in and got an auto this time around with the G
Prefer convertible or hardtop?
hardtop because of better performance, but I like convertibles too
Do it yourself (DIY) or professional mechanic to service your car? Professional mechanic

Background: I learned to drive in a friend’s VW Rabbit with a 1.8l carb fed engine and a 5 speed stick shift in 1990. Ever since then I’ve been hooked on cars. I love the feeling of rowing through the gears and the steering feedback you get from a (good) sporty car. A test drive of a ’97 M3 got me hooked on rear wheel drive and I’ve been driving either rear or all wheel drive cars since then. I love driving and particularly enjoy winding country roads and the feeling of accelerating out of curves. I often go on afternoon drives just for the sake of driving. I’m subscribed to four car magazines and read every article in each one. My friends and family contact me for advice on what car to get any time they need to get a car including advice on how to get the best price and which dealers to buy from.

 

Edsel RollinName: Edsel Rollin
Location: San Francisco, CA
Currently drives: 2006 Infiniti M35
Prefer manual or automatic transmission? I am a manual transmission guy, especially because I live in San Francisco with all these hills.
Prefer convertible or hardtop? I love a convertible top (who doesn’t)
Do it yourself (DIY) or professional mechanic to service your car? I hire a mechanic, except for basic stuff like oil changes, which I will do myself if I have the time.

Background: Edsel is a 50-year-old automotive journalist with 30 years experience. He lives in San Francisco with his lovely wife and two dogs. His love of cars began in the mid-‘70s, when he was lucky enough to own a 1968 Mustang, a 1976 Corvette Sting Ray and a 1974 VW bug. One of the biggest thrills of his life happened earlier this year when he got to drive the original Batmobile.

 

hollyName: Holly Roberts
Height: 5′ 6″
Location: Sunnyvale, CA
Currently drives: 2008 Volvo Cross Country
Prefer manual or automatic transmission? Yes! No preference.
Do it yourself (DIY) or professional mechanic to service your car? Professional mechanics only
Prefer convertible or hardtop? Hardtop

Background: Washington State native (till I moved here), lifelong competitive athlete, and odd duck amongst my work peers. Apparently a socially adept, healthy, athletic computer geek is a rare occurrence in nature. Go figure. I’ve been pretty car knowledgeable for as long as I can remember, even giving a demonstration speech in college on: How to change a flat tire. I got an “A”. When I was little, my step-dad owned a service station.

I later babysat for the owners of the local Nissan (then Datsun) dealership. They’d always let me drive back to their house (I was 14!). I learned to drive when I was about 13, driving up and down our driveway in the country. Since I couldn’t “legally” drive onto the road, I’d have to back up all the way back up the driveway, so I became a pretty stellar driver in the reverse direction. The only fatality was a sawhorse than I ran over and killed (I had to dismantle and then bury it in the woodpile) when trying to learn how to park.

My first car was a ’69 Dodge Polara, 4-door. That car was a tank. I could fit 9 of my friends in there and we’d drive around after football games or track meets, blaring the AM radio (ha)! Since then, I’ve driven a tractor (not recommended), a Honda Civic, Ford Mustang (SVO), Toyota Tercel, Mitsubishi Eclipse, Nissan 300ZX and now my second Cross Country. The 300ZX was still my favorite car, by far, but I feel much safer now in the Volvo, especially in the SF Bay Area!

 

tonyName: Tony Souza
Height: 5′ 9″
Location: Castro Valley, CA
Currently drives: 2008 BMW 335i
Prefer manual or automatic transmission? Manual. Makes me feel involved with the driving experience
Do it yourself (DIY) or professional mechanic to service your car? DIY whenever time allows
Prefer convertible or hardtop? Hardtop

Background: I’ve loved fast cars as far back as I can remember. My dad tells me that I used to yell, “Faster, faster!” whenever he would get into the throttle of whatever car we happened to own at the time (all “lightly” modified with go-fast parts)….and this was before I started kindergarten! I cut my teeth on American-built V-8 muscle cars, building and drag-racing them on the back-roads of Oklahoma during the 1980’s. I’ve also owned more than my fair share of performance-oriented motorcycles. I’ve since moved on to high performance driving events at local raceways and now own a 1995 BMW M3 modified for track use.

 

ansonName: Anson Tse
Height: 5′ 8″
Location: San Francisco, CA
Currently drives: 2005 Chevy Tahoe
Prefer manual or automatic transmission? Manual
Do it yourself (DIY) or professional mechanic to service your car? DIY because mechanics that can do good diagnosis and electrical work are far and few between. I’ll use a professional mechanic once I know exactly what’s wrong and needs to be fixed.
Prefer convertible or hardtop? Convertible for nice scenic cruises, but hardtop for day to day driving

Background: I’ve been taking things apart about since I was 8 years old, so I went to school to be a Mechanical Engineer and focused on Automotive Engineering. I worked in the auto industry for over 9 years starting as a co-op engineer at GM in 1996 doing all types of engineering things. I lived in Germany for half a year and worked on advanced platform design at Opel. In 2000, I went to over to Ford where I was a new product launch specialist and responsible for the product launch of some great cars like the 2003 Lincoln LS and Ford Thunderbird, and 2006 Ford Escape Hybrid. One of the best parts of that job was all of the competitive benchmarking and vehicle evaluation activities. I’ve literally driven several hundred different cars from all manufactures. I left Detroit in 2005, but I’m still involved in the automotive business.

danName: Dan Tsuchiya
Height: 5′ 9″
Location: Los Gatos, CA
Currently drives: Porsche 911, BMW 330i, Spec Miata
Prefer manual or automatic transmission? Track: Manual, Street: Automatic
Do it yourself (DIY) or professional mechanic to service your car? 90% DIY, except for things that require big/expensive machinery (alignment, tire change, etc)
Prefer convertible or hardtop? Hardtop

Background: Native San Franciscan and into vehicles from childhood. Too small for football, baseball, or basketball. Couldn’t hit a tennis ball straight but could ride a skateboard, snowboard, surf, and BMX with precision. Driving is really just another balance sport – just stay on edge, stay calm and you go fast. Now I work at eBay in the Motors group–livin’ and breathin’ vehicles and parts!

 



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