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2011 Kia Optima Hybrid First Impressions Review

Thursday June 23rd, 2011 at 8:66 AM
Posted by: AKramer

2011 Kia Optima Hybrid
By Alex Kramer

Pros:

  • Eye-catching exterior design
  • Roomy, well-apportioned interior
  • Smooth, quiet hybrid drivetrain
  • Solid handling and ride quality

Cons:

  • A bit slow for a car with over 200 hp
  • Brake pedal feels squishy
  • Untested fuel efficiency

The folks at Kia Motors are very optimistic. Having launched seven brand new models in under 2 years and with record sales growth over the past year, Kia is transforming itself into a major player in the car market.

Part of this success is surely due to an emphasis on value, which has resonated with buyers in these tough economic times. At the same time, a shift away from forgettable econoboxes and towards quality design and engineering has made for an almost unbeatable combination of high quality at a low price.

To keep the momentum rolling, Kia is now offering a hybrid gas-electric vehicle in the form of its Optima mid-size sedan. With gas prices looking to stay close to $4 a gallon, this could be the perfect time to make a case for fuel efficient motoring and take a bite out of the growing hybrid sedan segment.

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Posted in Expert Reviews, hybrid, Kia |Tags:, , , , || 1 Comment »


2011 Infiniti QX56 AWD First Impressions Review

Wednesday June 22nd, 2011 at 10:66 AM
Posted by: D.Colman

2011 Infiniti QX56
By contributing editor David Colman

Hits:

  • Feels invulnerable
  • Tour bus front seats
  • Swallows bikes

Misses:

  • Mismatched door-to-dash trim
  • Hard rear seats
  • Middling fuel mileage
  • Rearview mirror adjustment button inaccessible when seated

The QX56 comes alive when the sun sets. With its brilliant directional headlights scanning the countryside, its 3/4 overhead navigation tableau reeling off street names as you pass them, and the dual movie screens of the optional ($2,450) rear “Theater Package” blasting pixels into the dark, this Infiniti is the wonder of the digital age. While it’s not much to look at from outside, this boxy, heavy SUV gains all its momentum inside, where a palatial interior cocoons up to 8 occupants with Air Force One attention to detail. The BarcaLounger-sized front seats allow you to survey a jungle-like swath of Mocha Burl trim covering the outer rim of the steering wheel, the center stack of the dash, and the front quarters of all 4 doors. The driver’s seat adjusts in 8 ways, the passenger’s in 6.

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Posted in Expert Reviews, Infiniti |Tags:, , , || 1 Comment »


2011 Mazda CX-9 Grand Touring AWD Review – Zoom-Zoom for 7?

Wednesday June 15th, 2011 at 8:66 AM
Posted by: berrichondanny

2011 Mazda CX-9
By Danny Chang

Pros

  • Spacious interior for 7 passengers + luggage
  • Sliding second row seats that recline
  • Standard equipment list longer than Snoop Dog’s rap sheet

Cons

  • Exterior is too similar to the less expensive CX-7
  • Interior materials and designs are boring
  • The nav screen is hard to read in sunlight
  • Improved MPG, but not stellar

I always thought the pair of Mazda crossover SUVs, the CX-7 and CX-9, to be some of the most handsome ones on the market when they were introduced back in 2006 as 2007 models. Even in today’s crowded crossover SUV market, the Mazdas are still lookers although the styling is getting a little long in the tooth. While the larger CX-9 shares styling cues with the CX-7, it shares almost nothing else with its smaller sibling. The CX-9 is based on the same platform and shares the same 3.7 liter V6 engine as the Ford Edge/Lincoln MKX, an example of the long-term partnership between Ford and Mazda, which continues even after Ford reduced its stake in the Japanese car maker back in 2008.

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Posted in Expert Reviews, Mazda |Tags:, , || 1 Comment »


Video Review: 2011 Kia Optima by Driving Sports TV

Friday June 10th, 2011 at 12:66 PM
Posted by: Derek

2011 Kia Optima

Hyundai and Kia are getting better and better with each new model release and the latest from Kia is a prime example why they are gaining market share at a fantastic rate. The 2011 Kia Optima jumps into the one most heavily contested categories and does well competing against the heavy hitters such as the Honda Accord, Toyota Camry and Nissan Altima.

Designed at Kia’s studios in Frankfurt, Germany and Irvine, California, the all-new Kia Optima is longer, wider and lower than the out-going model it replaces and is based on an all-new midsize platform that allows for distinctive dimensions and proportions, while also providing a unique canvas for Kia’s global design team to pen a vehicle that stands apart from everything else in its segment.

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Posted in Featured User Reviews, Kia, Video Reviews |Tags:, , , || No Comments »


2011 Lincoln MKT AWD Review – Singing Along in the Family Wagon

Friday June 10th, 2011 at 11:66 AM
Posted by: peter

2011 Lincoln MKT distinctive split-wing grille
By Peter N.

Pros:

  • V6 engine that performs like a V8
  • All-wheel drive delivers acceleration and confidence
  • Advanced technology for the latest bells and whistles

Cons:

  • Restricted visibility
  • Some advanced technology was awkward and/or confusing

For this review, I had the unusual pleasure of testing a 2011 Lincoln MKT AWD on a snowy weekend trip up to Tahoe. What better way to test the cruising capabilities, the all-wheel drive for stability, and hauling capacity to pack a family for a ski vacation?

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2011 Nissan Leaf Review – Driving into the future with Nissan’s EV

Thursday June 9th, 2011 at 2:66 PM
Posted by: jlora

2011 Nissan LEAF
By Jessika Lora

Positrons:

  • Roomy and flexible interior space
  • 100 mile range on a single charge
  • Solar panel converts sunlight into power to charge essentials without draining the battery
  • Turning heads and changing the minds of even the old-timers

Electrons:

  • Limited number of places to plug-in and recharge
  • Only a 100 mile range on a single charge
  • Using 110V household current, you can fly to Hong Kong in as much time it takes to charge a drained battery
  • Blind spot caused by rear hatch pillar

Driving up the 101 my dad saw the Nissan LEAF billboard next to the 4th street Bay Bridge on-ramp, “That car doesn’t use ANY gas?” At $4.25 a gallon and with no indication of a price ceiling he encouraged me to look into this car, “You know, you’re driving up and down the bay 120 miles each day, this could pay for itself in gas savings.”

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Posted in Expert Reviews, hybrid, Nissan |Tags:, , , || 3 Comments »


2011 Mercedes-Benz E350 BlueTEC Sedan Review

Wednesday June 1st, 2011 at 7:66 AM
Posted by: mtan

2011_MercedesBenz_E350_13
2011 Mercedes Benz E350 BlueTEC Sedan
By Ming Tan

Pros:

  • Efficient fuel sipper averaged over 34 actual mpg over the course of a week, with a boasted total range of about 600 miles per tank of diesel
  • A great highway cruiser with a quiet and smooth ride. It’s serene cabin made for peaceful and pleasant road trips.
  • 400 lb-ft of torque made virtually any maneuver seem easy for this relatively small 210 hp 3.0 liter turbo diesel V6

Cons:

  • Hint of a 1978 Mercedes 240D diesel rasp at startup
  • Somewhat flat seating surfaces
  • More complicated SAT NAV unit that requires a semester at DeVry before becoming fluent with the system
  • Only 210 HP for a car of BBW proportions

The Evolution of the Diesel Car Has Come a Long Way
I remember as a young kid seeing and hearing those early diesel cars rattling down the road, usually closely followed by a plume of dark, smelly smoke. Diesel super duty trucks notwithstanding, the appeal for diesel cars remained slim for years. Not until recently has the clean diesel concept begun to take off. We’re now seeing even race cars like the Audi R18 TDI performing at extremely high levels in rigorous conditions. As a result, it only seems logical that the evolution of diesel performance trickles down to normal every day driving cars.

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Posted in Expert Reviews, Mercedes-Benz |Tags:, , , , || 1 Comment »


2011 Infiniti G37 S Review – The consummate wolf in sheep’s clothing

Tuesday May 31st, 2011 at 9:55 AM
Posted by: bclark

2011_infiniti_g37_sedan_03
By Bill Clark

Pros:

  • Blazing acceleration
  • Sports-car-like handling and braking
  • Comfortable seating for four adults

Cons:

  • Sports-car-like ride all the time
  • Sluggishly-programmed paddle shifters
  • Addicting to drive fast

With a penchant for sports cars and a baby on the way, what’s a guy to do? I do love my 2007 350z, but how practical is it? Is there anything out there with 4 doors that could take its place? There really wasn’t anything I could think of with four doors that would foot the bill. That was, until I spent some quality time behind the wheel of a 2011 Infiniti G37 sedan. That’s right – 4 doors and a lot of fun!

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Posted in Expert Reviews, Infiniti |Tags:, , , , || 2 Comments »


2011 Ford F- 250 Super Duty Diesel Review

Thursday May 26th, 2011 at 9:55 AM
Posted by: D.Colman

2011 Ford F-250 Super Duty
By contributing editor David Colman

Pros:

  • Enough torque from the diesel-powered dinosaur to move mountains
  • Super comfy interior

Cons:

  • 8 grand extra for the diesel engine option
  • No 4-wheel-drive

There are still a few escapees from the LaBrea Tar Pits roaming our highways, and this brutal Ford is one of them. At over 20 feet long, and 7 feet high, this F-250’s skeleton ought to be on display at the Museum of Natural History. Joking aside, though, if you plan to tow a big boat or mobile home, the Super Duty Diesel is just exactly what you need. The F-250, with a minimum tow rating of 11,800 pounds, will rise to meet any occasion, especially if you equip it with the new 6.7 liter Turbo V8 Diesel, which produces an amazing 735 lb-ft of torque at just 1,600 RPM. With that much grunt on hand so low in the RPM spectrum, you need to take extra care not to spin the rear wheels, especially when the eight foot cargo bed is empty. In fact, the F-250 really needs 4-wheel drive to maintain traction in damp conditions, because it’s way too easy to get this rig sideways in the wet in rear wheel drive.

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Porsche World Roadshow USA Offers Enthusiasts a True Test Drive

Saturday May 21st, 2011 at 12:55 PM
Posted by: AKramer

2011_Porsche_World_Roadshow_24

For many new car buyers, heading over to the local dealership for a test drive is part of the shopping routine. Unfortunately, going for a 10 min. spin around the block with an over-eager sales-person sitting shotgun doesn’t really help in evaluating a car, especially if it’s a high-performance vehicle.

Recognizing this flaw, Porsche has decided to hit the road this year and make its world-class cars available to the public, and allow for much more than just a brief test drive. The Porsche World Roadshow program will be stopping at 6 US cities this summer, offering extended test drives and a performance driving experience that allows prospective buyers to put select models to the test.

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Posted in Porsche, Press and News |Tags:, , , , , , || No Comments »


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