Archive for December, 2012


2013 Lexus IS C

Note: This report supplements Consumer Guide Automotive’s full report on the 2012 Lexus IS C, a premium-compact car that starts at $41,190.

Test car came equipped with: F-Sport Package, HID headlamps with LED running lights, headlamp washers, front/rear obstacle detection, navigation system with premium audio, trunk mat, cargo net. Total MSRP with $895 destination = $55,399.

Powertrain: 306-horsepower 3.5-liter V6, 6-speed automatic transmission, rear-wheel drive.

Acceleration: The tester felt quite lively on takeoff and in passing sprints. I’d guess it does 0-60 mph in the mid-5-second area versus 8.4 claimed for the 2.5 V6 IS 250C. Typical of Lexus, the 3.5 engine and 6-speed automatic partner like Fred and Ginger. Each is responsive and refined on its own; together, they’re a treat. Acceleration is linear, hiccup-free, and strong, aided by smooth, progressive throttle action. In fact, power delivery is so satisfying that I never felt inclined to use the standard steering-wheel shift paddles.

Fuel Economy: Circumstances prevented logging as many miles as I’d have liked, but for the record this IS C averaged 17.1 mpg in mostly city driving (Phoenix), a fair bit of which was gas-eating, cold-start, short-hop, errand-type work. The EPA city/highway figures are 19/27 mpg.


Aston Martin Lagonda

One sure way to load your inbox with nasty emails is to publish a list of ugly cars. I caught the most flack for selecting the Toyota Celica as one of five nasty-looking rides for my 1995-2004 list. Please be sure to check that out.


ZF manufactures the Interactive Drive Control System (IDCS), which is standard on the Buick Regal GS.

While the badge may say your new car is a Buick or a BMW, there’s an excellent chance that many of its parts, or even entire assemblies, were built by a completely different company. I’d guess that most consumers are aware that many of their car’s parts are made by outside suppliers through the relatively recent phenomena of branded audio systems. Think of some of the brands that appear on new car stereos today: Bose, Sony, and Fender to name a few.

Beyond tire companies, suppliers of other components aren’t usually as well known as the brands mentioned in the audio system example, and some of these firms don’t sell their products directly to consumers. German supplier ZF, which is nearing its 100th anniversary, is one of these relative unknowns.

ZF traces its history to 1915, when it was founded to develop and produce transmissions for airships and other vehicles. The airships in question were the famous machines of Ferdinand Graf von Zeppelin. Yeah, like the Hindenburg. Today ZF is a privately held company that is largely owned by the Zeppelin Foundation. It remains the largest company to evolve from the Zeppelin airship project.


A proposal for a multi-cylinder Cadillac was completed in 1961. It had a sweeping roofline reminiscent of Cadillac’s fastback coupes of the late ’40s.

Cadillac’s V16 of the 1930s is fairly well known, as is its 2003 Sixteen (as in V16) concept car. But what is not generally known is that Cadillac toyed with the idea of a 16-cylinder car in the 1960s.

Nash Rambler; Fiat 500 Cabrio

A fan of the old Nash Rambler (white), Frank suggests that the Chrysler Group create a new-style Rambler (yellow)—a convertible with a top that folds back on rails (like the Rambler and the 2012 Fiat 500 Cabrio).

Back in 1950, Nash—later one of the building blocks of American Motors—introduced the Rambler, a cute, little (for the time) 4/5-passenger convertible with a top that folded back on rails. It wasn’t the first time somebody would use this trick to make a sedan into ragtop, nor would it be the last. In fact, today’s Fiat 500 Cabrio is just such a car.


In some four and a half years with Consumer Guide Automotive, I have driven many different vehicles. Every time I get into a test car equipped with an auto-dimming rearview mirror, I cringe a little. These devices are intended to free the driver from the oh-so-difficult task of flipping a little latch on the bottom of the rearview mirror to save his or her eyes from the blinding effects of the headlights of the car trailing behind. However, these automatic devices (which are supposed to be smarter than the driver and save a tiny bit of effort) sometimes work poorly.


2013 Land Rover LR2

Land Rover is a bit of a dichotomy. On the one hand, the name is virtually synonymous the world over with rugged off-road ability. On the other, it’s recognized as a luxury marque, at least in the U.S. Those may seem to be conflicting attributes, but the company—and its products—pull off the combination.

Although the classic Range Rover is probably what pops to mind when the Land Rover name is mentioned, as with many luxury makes, the company has lower-priced models intended to appeal to a wider demographic audience. In this case, they include the compact LR2, midsize LR4, and stylish Range Rover Evoque, introduced last year.

Some might be surprised to find that the entry-level Land Rover LR2 starts at well under $40,000, a price not far north of a comparably equipped “regular” compact SUV. That includes a lengthy list of standard equipment, which grows even longer for 2013.

Also new for the model year are some cosmetic changes that include restyled headlights, grille, taillights, and wheels. Inside, materials have been upgraded, the gauge cluster has been revamped, and the central control panel features a new 7-inch touchscreen. Newly available features include an 825-watt, 17-speaker Meridian surround-sound audio system, the “Say What You See” voice command system, and a rearview camera with “Hitch Assist,” which comes into play when hitching up a trailer.


This 2013 Subaru BRZ has a nice, big knob for volume but not channel selection. On SiriusXM, getting from ’70s on 7 to Krishna Das Yoga Radio on Channel 360 is going to be a pain in the butt.

There’s no arguing that the things most auto writers focus on—price, power, handling, comfort—aren’t hugely important. Lord knows I focus on that stuff when I evaluate a car. In fact, at Consumer Guide there are exactly 10 things, plus value, that we fixate on. You can see the list as a part of any of our regular reviews.


2013 Buick Encore

Buick’s new-for-2013 Encore is a genre-bending compact crossover that aims to stretch the boundaries of a traditional entry-luxury vehicle even further than the 2012 Buick Verano compact car did. You can take a quick walk-around of this unconventional new Buick in the pics below. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . .   . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


Ralph Gilles with a Dodge Charger SRT8

From an early age, Ralph Gilles, Senior Vice President of Product Design at Chrysler, dreamed of becoming a car designer. “I’ve always loved cars,” he said. “I played with them. I didn’t have video games, we didn’t have iPhones, we didn’t have Macs. That was my thing. I would make model cars.”

Recently, Gilles recounted his life story at a Chrysler recruiting event at Northwestern University. During his speech to an assembly of students, he talked about his rise to the head of the SRT Brand and Motorsports department and to his post as Senior VP.

“I had big dreams,” he said. “I literally wrote a letter to Chrysler: I wanted to make cars. They were kind enough to say, ‘This is what you’ve got to do. There are four [car-design] schools in the U.S.’ The College for Creative Studies in Detroit was the closest one.”

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