Archive for June, 2012

Jun
30

BMW X1

The 2013 BMW X1 is not an SUV, BMW says. It’s a “Sub-Compact Premium SAV (Sports Activity Vehicle).” It’s unique—that’s for sure—and it’s new to North America.

It is also your chance to drive a BMW for around $30,000. It starts at $300 less than the 2012 BMW 1-series (the automaker’s lowest-priced car) and $6,200 less than the 2012 BMW X3, its lowest-priced SUV. Consumer Guide Automotive has more to say on the 2013 BMW X1.

Jun
30

2013 Buick Verano

The big news for GM’s Chevrolet Cruze-based compact car is the addition of a high-performance variant. Sporting a 2.0-liter turbocharged engine with an estimated 250 horsepower, the 2013 Verano Premium could be the spiritual successor to the dearly departed 2009 Chevrolet Cobalt SS sedan. Buick will offer buyers of this sporty Verano the choice of a manual or automatic transmission.

For more details, read Consumer Guide Automotive’s review of the 2013 Buick Verano.

Jun
30

2013 Buick Regal

What’s new for this premium-midsize car is what Buick is leaving out. The formerly standard 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine goes away in favor of a drivetrain that uses GM’s “eAssist” technology. The eAssist basically works like a “mild” hybrid. An electric motor and small battery pack allow the gasoline engine to shut off at a stop and restart when drivers release their foot from the brake pedal. This combination promises up to 36 mpg on the highway, according to the EPA.

For more details, read Consumer Guide Automotive’s review of the 2013 Buick Regal.

Jun
29
Tom Appel

Tom’s got a list of six bad-driving habits that really tick him off.

I am pretty sure that if, as a nation, we could assess and grade the driving skills of all our drivers—and we could subsequently keep folks earning D and F grades off the road during rush hour—our collective commuting times would drop by at least half.

Jun
29

Ted, Seth MacFarlane

“My bad!” Ted says. Don’t tweet and drive is the lesson that’s learned in this clip from the movie Ted, a Seth MacFarlane creation that is opening to sparkling reviews and raucous laughter this weekend. MacFarlane is the voice of the cute but crude little teddy bear.

Jun
29
MyFord Touch

Many current vehicles offer drivers a multitude of multimedia distractions.

Surely it’s not really the case, but I can’t help thinking that some boardroom brain trust had the following conversation.

“Okay everyone, it’s come to our attention that some city-dwellers don’t buy our cars, the ungrateful urbanites. And it’s not because they can’t afford them—it’s because they can’t park them. What can we do to change that?”

Jun
28
2012 BMW 3-Series Sedan

2012 BMW 3-Series Sedan

Note: This report supplements Consumer Guide Automotive’s full report on the 2012 BMW 3-Series Sedan, a premium-compact car that starts at $34,900.

Test car came equipped with: two-tone leather interior, Sport Line Package, sunroof, split-folding rear seat, heated front seats, satellite radio, BMW Assist with Bluetooth and USB connections. Total MSRP with $895 destination charge = $43,570.

Powertrain: 240-horsepower 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine, 6-speed manual transmission, rear-wheel drive.

Acceleration: Car and Driver clocked a 328i sedan with 8-speed automatic transmission at 5.6 seconds 0-60 mph. I’d guess my test manual model might be a click or two slower, as the transmission retains BMW’s traditional “high-inertia” action (my term), which frustrates truly fast shifts and quick launches; it also remains a bit notchy. At least clutch action is smooth, progressive, and agreeably low-effort. But the automatic swaps cogs faster than most people can, and it should probably be your choice.

Either way, the new turbo 4-cylinder feels punchy in most situations. It doesn’t have the effortless power delivery of the previous 328i’s non-turbo 3.0-liter six, but it’s not peaky either, pulling smoothly at lower revs even in 4th or 5th gear. Still, if you’ve got the manual, you’ll need to shift fairly often to get all the engine has to give.

Jun
28
Euro-spec Ford Focus

Don drove this Euro-spec Ford Focus with the 3-cylinder EcoBoost engine. “From a stop,” he writes, “it was quicker than I expected.”

I recently spent a beautiful summer day at Ford’s Dearborn Development Center at a media event. It’s a fairly surreal place since it is basically across the street from the Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village. The steam-powered train in the village is often heard, providing a bit of an audio link back to the time of Henry Ford.

Ford planned a full day of activities, and one of the more interesting ones was a chance to drive a European Focus with the new 1.0-liter 3-cylinder EcoBoost engine. Yes, a 3-cylinder engine.

Ford’s 1.0-liter three is a new design; it’s not based on a four with a cylinder removed. Engineers went with a cast-iron block because it allowed them to keep the engine as compact as possible. A powertrain engineer said the 1.0 weighs 213.8 pounds. Like other EcoBoost engines, it uses a combination of turbocharging, direct fuel injection, and variable valve timing.

In Europe the engine comes in two versions, which make approximately 98 and 123 horsepower. The cars I drove had the 123-horse engine and a 6-speed manual transmission. European fuel economy is rated at 56.5 mpg.

Jun
28
1971 Chevrolet Vega Coupe

1971 Chevrolet Vega Coupe

A bad rap can go a long way toward messing your legacy. Take the poor, ill-remembered Edsel. Rendered largely unsellable by a recession and some dubious marketing, the car is now recalled as a lemon, which is certainly not the case.

Jun
27
motorcycle lane splitting in California

While this motorcycle maniac can legally split traffic in California, your grandmother can get a ticket in that state for walking across the street.

Although I’ve visited California frequently over the past 20 years—and even lived there briefly back in the ’70s—it always takes a while after arrival to acclimate to the local climate. And I don’t mean the weather. I mean the driving climate. Which, like the weather, differs from that of the rest of the country.

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