2011 Land Rover LR4 Review – Range Rover's competent little brother

Wednesday May 4th, 2011 at 8:55 AM
Posted by: D.Colman

2011 Land Rover LR4
By contributing editor David Colman

Hits:

  • Classic rugged styling
  • Foot in the country club door
  • Half the cost of a Range Rover, but not half the car

Misses:

  • Niggling annoyances from horn button to tailgate to seat latch
  • Thirsty for premium fuel
  • Third row seats more appropriate for monkeys and other agile creatures

In terms of the country club pecking order, the LR4 will get you onto the same putting green as the Range Rover, but you’ll be further from the cup than you might like. At close to a hundred grand, the Range Rover is a hole-in-one for the horsey set. The half-as-costly LR4 may be a two-put for par, but shares enough virtues with big brother to make it worthy of the family name. Both enjoy the same 375hp, all aluminum V8, the same two-speed electronic transfer gearbox for sublimely competent off road abilities, and similarly airy cabin space. The difference lies in price and attention to detail. If you can make do with simplified leather, lack of wood trim, and tighter packaging, than the all new LR4, base priced at $47,850, is a bonus bargain worthy of Costco.

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2011 MINI Cooper S Countryman ALL4 Review – Out and About in the Country

Tuesday May 3rd, 2011 at 10:55 AM
Posted by: gmchan_66

2011 MINI Cooper S Countryman ALL4
Review by Gary Chan

Pros:

  • Great fuel economy
  • Sure footed all-wheel drive handling
  • Sport mode that really increases responsiveness

Cons:

  • Center rail is intrusive and limits loading options
  • Engine noise from the turbo-4 when accelerating
  • Premium sticker price for a non-premium car

I finally had the opportunity to drive a MINI and this one had 4-doors and all-wheel drive! Boy was this car an attention getter. Wherever I went it garnered comments and stares: my neighbor remarked, “I’m jealous … yours looks more aggressive than mine [2-door Cooper S].” People at church stopped to assess the body and look at the interior, and one kid jumped in and said the interior was “cool”.

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2011 Audi S5 Review – A lot more than just a pretty face

Friday April 29th, 2011 at 2:44 PM
Posted by: twain

2011 Audi S5
By Twain Mein

Pros:

  • Timeless styling. This is a beautiful car that will age well
  • Steering and road feel
  • Rear wheel bias gives rear wheel drive feel with all wheel drive safety
  • Ride quality

Cons:

  • Rear seat room is tighter than Houdini’s escape coffin
  • You pay to play at the gas pump
  • Sunroof doesn’t slide back

The Audi S5 is the high performance version of the A5. It features 354hp vs. the A5’s 211, a whopping 67% increase. With this added horsepower, 0-60 times drop from over 6.5 to just under 5 seconds. This performance comes at a price premium, boosting base MSRP from $36.9k to $53.1k while dropping combined mileage (for the manual transmission variants) from 24 to 17mpg.

The model we tested had the upscale “Prestige Package”. The Prestige package adds the Multimedia Interface (MMI), driver seat memory, and parking assist with rearview camera. This car also had several additional options including the “Sprint Blue Pearl Effect” paint ($475), Navigation ($2,550), Sports Rear Differential ($1,100), and the 505-watt, 14-speaker Bang & Olufsen premium sound system ($850). These options, coupled with the base price of $53,100, Gas Guzzler tax and destination charge, brought the total to $60,250.

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Three New Cars That Achieve 40 MPG

Tuesday April 26th, 2011 at 11:44 AM
Posted by: AKramer

Lexus CT 200h - Chevy Cruze Eco - Ford Focus SFE

By Alex Kramer

Here we go again. Gas prices are climbing ever higher, but unlike a few years ago, they will probably stay sky high this time around. Luckily, the American car buyer now has an impressive array of choices when it comes to maximizing every gallon. From pint-sized sub-compacts to high-tech hybrids, there are plenty of ways to achieve 40 mpg, and some of them are even quite fun to drive.

We recently had the opportunity to test three of the newest entries into the gas saving game at the WAJ Media Days event held last month: the new Ford Focus SFE, Chevy Cruze Eco, and Lexus CT 200h. After an afternoon of test driving, we can honestly report that these three are the real deal, providing both excellent fuel efficiency and a surprising amount of driving excitement.

Click the image or navigation link below to read more details about each car.

2011-lexus-ct-200h-driving-modes-thumb

2011 Chevrolet Cruze ECO

Ford Focus EcoMode

LEXUS CT 200h CHEVROLET CRUZE ECO FORD FOCUS SFE

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2011 Porsche Cayenne Hybrid First Impressions Review

Monday April 25th, 2011 at 3:44 PM
Posted by: D.Colman

2011_Cayenne_S_Hybrid_1_med
By contributing editor David Colman

Hits:

  • Be the first on your block
  • Incredible torque
  • Lavish interior

Misses:

  • Some drivetrain tremors
  • Pricey

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2011 Scion xB Release Series 8.0 First Impressions Review – Lets Do That Voodoo That You Do So Well

Friday April 22nd, 2011 at 11:44 PM
Posted by: D.Colman

2011_scion_xc_release80_1
By contributing editor David Colman

Hits:

  • 1 of 2,000
  • Utilitarian
  • Affordable

Misses:

  • Glacial acceleration
  • Alpine Premium iPod Ready stereo not ready for my iPod

Let’s say you’ve set yourself a price limit of $25,000 for a small, but fun-to-drive 5-place transportation module. You want something that’s minuscule enough to park anywhere, but large enough inside to forestall claustrophobia. In addition to those seemingly contradictory requirements, your ideal pick must also be sufficiently idiosyncratic to stand apart from anything else in the parking lot. Allow me to introduce you to the Scion xB Release Series 8.0.

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2011 Acura RL Review – More Than Just a Fancy Accord

Thursday April 21st, 2011 at 2:44 PM
Posted by: the911guy

2011
By Dan Tsuchiya

Pros

  • Unflappable SH-AWD system makes for a great poor weather driver
  • Smooth power delivery and very controlled in the turns
  • Interior features and details

Cons

  • Uninspired styling
  • User interface for radio and satellite not best in class
  • Rear seat leg room could be better

The sea of mid/large-sized luxury sedans has grown over the years, primarily because this is still a lucrative class of automobiles for manufacturers. Luxury car brands are fighting for those hard earned consumer dollars in the $45-$70k range and unlike their value oriented cousins, there is still a lot of margin in these vehicles.

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2011 Mazda MAZDA2 First Impressions Review

Wednesday April 20th, 2011 at 1:44 PM
Posted by: D.Colman

2011_mazda_mazda2_101
By contributing editor David Colman

Hits:

  • Great value
  • Exemplifies the virtue of simplified engineering
  • Spacious and comfortable

Misses:

  • Tinny doors
  • Correct gear selection crucial to acceleration

There isn’t a superbike worthy of the name that doesn’t have more horsepower than this Mazda 2. And most of those motorcycles cost as much or more than this $16,185 car. But what can you really do with a superbike besides wheelies and stoppies that scare you silly? This Mazda, on the other hand, will suffice perfectly well as your one and only family car. That’s right, for less than the price of a stellar motorcycle, you can acquire this do-everything sedan. Granted, its 100hp won’t scintillate your adrenal gland, but thanks to the Mazda 2’s light curb weight (just 2,306 lb.), the output of the 1.5 liter, 16 valve four banger is perfectly adequate in city and freeway traffic. Provided you choose the 5-speed manual transmission and not the 4-speed automatic that is optionally available. With just 98 lb.-ft. of torque, you can’t afford to lose that crucial 5th cog that the automatic lacks.

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2011 Chevrolet Volt Review – Our Weekend With Chevy's New EV/Hybrid and a Prius

Monday April 11th, 2011 at 3:44 PM
Posted by: the911guy

By Dan Tsuchiya

Positrons

  • Great Design and better looking than any Prius made to date
  • Electricity first; leading to 250-500 mpg if you have access an outlet
  • Feels safer and more substantial than it’s competitors
  • 0-60 acceleration faster than a Honda Civic

Electrons

  • Electric Vehicle (EV) range limited to 35 miles before gas motor has to recharge batteries
  • Interior has too many hard plastic surfaces
  • Soft-touch buttons are too sensitive
  • Navigation and radio are integrated such that you can’t have one on without the other

Living with the Chevrolet Volt is about making a green statement, but without the usual green sacrifices. It’s not a hybrid as defined by the Toyota and Honda camp, it’s an extended range electric vehicle (EV) that combines the gas saving benefits of pure electric cars with the range and convenience of conventional gas powered cars. While the Toyota and Honda camps utilize gas and electricity in parallel, the Volt takes a series approach, EV first then gas. The EV range fully charged is about 35 miles and once that power depletes, the Volt fires up its 1.4L engine to charge the batteries and provide juice to the electric motor, allowing for another 250-300 miles of driving under normal conditions.

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Posted in Chevrolet, Expert Reviews, hybrid |Tags:, , , , || 4 Comments »


2011 BMW Alpina B7 First Impressions Review

Monday April 4th, 2011 at 12:44 PM
Posted by: D.Colman

By contributing editor David Colman

Hits

  • Exotic but factory warranted
  • Limited production
  • Stable and comfortable

Misses:

  • Still large and heavy
  • Taxed as gas guzzler

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