Sunday, October 31, 2010

Reviewing the 2010 Suzuki Grand Vitara

Reviewing the 2010 Suzuki Grand Vitara, There are a dozen or more compact-sized SUVs on the market, but only a few have real (truck-type) four-wheel-drive - 4WD with Low range gearing. Suzuki's Grand Vitara is one of these - and it's got more going for it than just its off-road bona fides.


WHAT IT IS

The Grand Vitara is compact SUV (a real SUV) with four doors and room for 4-5 people. It's available in rear-wheel-drive or 4WD versions, with either a four-cylinder or V-6 engine. Prices begin at $19,099 for a base rear-drive, four-cylinder, manual-equipped model and run up to $27,199 for a top-of-the-line Limited with V-6 engine, 4WD and automatic transmission.

WHAT'S NEW FOR 2010

An interesting and unusual new feature is a removable/portable Garmin GPS navigation system, now standard on all trims - including base models. This could be the beginning of a new trend away from expensive and can't-take-them-with you factory in-dash GPS units.

WHAT'S GOOD

A real-deal 4WD SUV that can handle itself off-road. Price is a bargain compared to similar vehicles such as the Jeep Liberty. 4WD is available with four-cylinder engine (it's common in other models to make the buyer upgrade to the optional V-6 to get 4WD). Nicely fitted out and finished; does not look low-rent. Standard GPS.

WHAT'S NOT SO GOOD

Optional V-6 is automatic only. Four-cylinder's optional automatic only has four speeds. Some buyers may not like the side-hinged tailgate. Standard GPS has a fairly small screen (and controls).

UNDER THE HOOD

The Grand Vitara comes standard with a 2.4 liter, 166 hp four cylinder and your choice of five-speed manual or (optionally) four-speed automatic. A part-time 4WD system with Low range gearing is available with either transmission. Acceleration with the 2.4 liter engine is a little slow-pokey (about 10 seconds to 60 mph) but it's in the same ballpark as car-based, light-duty FWD/AWD compact SUVs like the Honda CR-V, which haven't got the off-road capability the rugged little Suzuki does.

Optional is a 3.2 liter, 230 hp V-6 that's teamed with a mandatory five-speed automatic. You can go rear-drive or 4WD with this combo, too. The GV's V-6 is significantly stronger than the Jeep Liberty's standard 3.7 liter, 210 hp V-6 and because the Suzuki also weighs considerably less (3,468 lbs. vs. 3,985 lbs.) acceleration/response is snappier in the Grand Vitara. A V-6 Grand Vitara can reach 60 mph in about 9.3 seconds vs. 9.5 seconds for the Liberty.

Gas mileage with the Suzuki's V-6 is better, too - 18 city, 24 highway (RWD) and 17 city, 23 highway (with 4WD) vs. the Jeep's 16 city, 22 highway (RWD) and 15 city, 21 highway (with 4WD). Four cylinder GV's are rated at 19 city, 26 highway. Maximum tow rating for the Grand Vitara is 3,000 lbs. - 500 pounds less than the Liberty's 3,500 lb. max rating.

ON THE ROAD

Though the Grand Vitara is a "real" SUV - with the chassis and the heavy-duty gear necessary to safely handle the rigors of off-road use - its on-road manners are noticeably better than competitors like the Jeep Liberty.

The GV's V-6 has more power, an extra gear in the transmission (the Liberty's top-of-the-line automatic is a four-speed vs. the Suzuki's much more up-to-date five speed) and the GV weighs an incredible 500-plus pounds less than the Jeep. It thus feels more athletic when you hit the gas - and less ponderous when you enter a turn.

It's also nice that you can get a four cylinder engine - and a manual transmission - and four-wheel-drive with that combo, too. There's decent fuel economy potential with the 2.4 liter engine (26 mpg on the highway is not at all bad for a vehicle that can go off-roading, which none of the four cylinder-equipped light-duty SUV competition like the Toyota RAV4 and Honda CR-V are built to handle) and the option of being able to shift for yourself adds a degree of sportiness, too.

In the Jeep, you have to buy the gas-hog V-6 engine - and there's no manual transmission option. The Liberty is a competent vehicle; but it's less fun to drive and doesn't seem nearly as happy on-road as it is capable off-road. My opinion: The GV is a much better-balanced vehicle, overall.

AT THE CURB

Another area where the Suzuki stays faithful to the real-deal SUV ethic is its side-hinged tailgate - and the full-size spare mounted right there on the door. I like both. The side-opening tailgate has a meaty, manly pull-handle and the door opens wide to give you full access to the cargo area More importantly, it can be closed easily and much more naturally, just by swinging the thing shut.

Other SUVs and crossovers have minivan-like lift-up tailgates that can be awkward to close if you're not more than six feet tall and have long arms and strong muscles. I really liked the accessibility of the spare tire - and that it's a real tire, not one of those next-to-useless minis.

You almost never see this layout - or a full-size spare tire - anymore. Most light-duty SUVs and crossovers have a mini-spare that's barely serviceable for even short-term use at low-speeds on paved roads only buried in the cargo area floor someplace - where it's not only hard to get at but what do you do with your full-size flat after you mount the mini-spare? The hole in the cargo floor is usually just big enough to accommodate the mini-spare (to save space). But that forces you to haul your muddy/dirty old tire/rim in the cargo area, where it's likely to ruin the carpet and make a godawful mess.

In the GV, you just mount the flat tire/rim on the tailgate and motor on. And since it's a real spare tire and not a "temporary use only" mini-spare, you can motor on, too - on-road or off. If you're out in the woods, camping or far from paced roads, that could be a very important lifeline.

Space/cargo wise, the GV actually has more room than the physically larger Jeep Liberty: 71 cubic feet vs. 64 cubic feet. That's impressive use of space given the Suzuki is about an inch shorter overall (175.8 inches vs. 176.9 inches) and rides on a wheelbase that's nearly three inches less than the Liberty's (103.9 inches vs. 106.1 inches).

The Suzuki also has more front seat legroom (41.3 inches vs. 40.8 inches) and virtually identical front-seat headroom (40 inches 40.4 inches). The Jeep does have more second-row head and legroom (40.3 inches and 38.8 inches vs. 38.2 and 37.2), which explains why the Liberty has a bit less total cargo-carrying capacity.

Still, there's enough room for a pretty big person (me - six feet three and 210 pounds) to sit comfortably in the rear seats without either legs or head knocking up against anything.

The optional part-time 4WD system has both 4WD High range Lock (which keeps the power split, front-to-rear, at a constant 50-50) as well as 4WD Low range for slogging through deep mud/snow and so forth.

The standard portable/removable GPS system is a neat feature; not only can you take it with you (as when camping or hiking or just walking around) but you can also transfer it to another vehicle. The unit comes with its own leather carrying case and it's small enough to easily fit in the pocket of your cargo pants or in a purse. Probably the weakest functional aspect of the Suzuki, though, is its not-so-great 3,000 lb. max towing capacity. There are mid-sized cars that can pull 3,500 lbs.and the Jeep's 3,500 lb. rating easily outclasses the GV in this one very important area.

THE REST

Suzuki is a highly respected name in the world of motorcycles but its four-wheeled offerings are less well-known. That doesn't mean they're iffy - Suzuki's just not a brand many people think of reflexively, like Honda or Toyota (or even Jeep) when it comes to cars. But the upside to that is a very aggressive pricing structure. The GV's base MSRP of $19,099 is $4,100 and change less than the Jeep Liberty's base price of $23,255. That's a huge difference - enough to keep you in free gas for two or three years.

Keep in mind you get standard GPS for that $19k, too. The GV also comes with an exceptionally long-legged seven year/100,000 mile powertrain warranty - vs. five years/100,000 miles for the Jeep. Both have the same three year/36,000 mile basic warranty.



Overall, the Suzuki is much more nicely finished and just comes off as the higher quality vehicle - especially interior-wise. The GV's cabin has nicer-looking, softer-feeling materials than the plasticky and ticky-tacky Jeep. For example, the inside door jambs and other parts of the GV that aren't immediately visible are still clear-coated, just like the rest of the vehicle's exterior panels. In some competitor models, you'll find that such areas aren't clear-coated (to save money during manufacturing) and while it's not a functional issue, it still looks low-rent. The GV's optional perforated leather (including door panels) is exceptionally nice for the price.

Fiat Uno Cabrio Concept Participate Attend Sao Paulo

Fiat Uno Cabrio Concept Participate Attend Sao Paulo, One more vehicle manufacturer Fiat output that has been declared ready to take part in the biggest automotive event in Brazil call it Uno Cabrio. Concept cars including one of the 30 cars that Fiat output events enliven the Sao Paulo Auto Show, we need to know on these precious moments Fiat lose at least 30 units of this car is intended as preparation for Fiat to celebrate 35 years of age in Brazil next year. Fiat Uno Cabrio mengendong rumored to be the same machine as Punto T-Jet.

Uno Cabrio has the outer appearance of an aggressive design and sporty impression shows, the more solid with the addition of a set of 17-inch diameter alloy wheels. Machinery is the most important part of the car, for this affair Fiat has plans to instill the same machine as sudaranya Punto T-Jet in the form of 1.4-liter turbo engine with gusts as strong as the energy produced 152 horsepower and capable of penetrating the highest speed up to 200 km / h [124mph ].


Plan ahead, Cabrio Fiat Uno was not the place of origin that is manufactured in Italy but in South America and will soon be marketed specifically for Brazil only, unfortunately there is no certainty when Fiat began producing mini-cars are finished for a while Cabrio only a concept vehicle only and right- really become a showcar. Fiat also take this precious opportunity to introduce the latest Sporting Uno designed capable of removing power from the 85-horsepower 1.4-liter engine work

Audi R8 Razor PPI GTR-10 Garapan Show More malignant


Audi R8 Razor PPI GTR-10 Garapan Show More malignant, Last time I saw Razor GTI produced by PPI is 2009 and, at the time the power generated 580hp Audi R8 redeem figures. This time the tuner exclusively for Audi vehicles derived from the German PPI Automotive Design re-dispensing machine for more gahar GTR. PPI will make a limited edition version of the GTR-10. For this limited edition, GTR will diasup more power, look more stylish and passionate.

Razor GTR-10 will be present with new front bumper design, a larger air holes drilled in the main light LED lamp. This sport sedan models also have side skirts and new roof and door pillars diasup carbon fiber material. On the aft side of GTR using carbon rear wing Gurney-flap model which can be set. Carbon materials are also used in some other parts such as GTR engine cover, side blades, rear fenders and rear bumper. Interior package with more ciamik intake MAG11 19-inch aluminum alloy wheels alerts PPI.


By the PPI, this limited edition sports car will be strengthened more power. V10 engine can be formulated to give off more power than 601hp at 7400 rpm rotation with a maximum torque of 565Nm at 6400 rpm rotation. Not only is the antecedent engine up grade but the weight of GTR has been reduced to 250 kg. With specs like this Razor GTR-10 can do a sprint from 0-60 mph time of 3.2 seconds with a record of course after the R-tronic gearbox which has been modified. This car can drive with a maximum speed of 335 km / h (208 mph)

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Good Luck Finding a Performance Tire for Your Classic Muscle Car


Good Luck Finding a Performance Tire for Your Classic Muscle Car, If you own a '60s or '70s-era muscle car, you've probably become aware of an ironic problem: It is virtually impossible to find high-performance tires for these high-performance beasts.


The BF Goodrich Radial T/A is about as good as it gets - and though it's a good-looking tire, with handsome raised white lettering, the Radial T/A is not really a performance tire. It's pretty much a basic all-season radial with a standard passenger car "S" (112 mph) speed rating and tread designed for normal street driving. And that's about all there is.

You can find standard radials, some with white lettering, some blackwall. But if you want a sticky-compound performance tire with an H (130 mph or better) speed rating, you're going to find the cupboard's pretty bare.

So how come no one makes performance tires for old muscle cars? Well, they do make them - just not for the factory 14 and 15-inch steel rims those cars originally came with. You can get the same super-aggressive Michelin Pilots (or whatever) that come on a new Corvette or Mustang GT - provided you use modern large-diameter wheels.

At minimum, you'll need to change up to a 16x8 rim in order to have access to modern performance tires for your old muscle car.

But that changes both the look of the car (for sure) and (very likely) will dramatically alter the way the car rides and handles - possibly not for the better, either. At least, not without making appropriate changes to the rest of the car's suspension.

Keep in mind that the typical '60s-era, 70s-era performance car was designed for 14 or 15 inch wheels (and tires appropriate to wheels that diameter and width). Just because a 17 or 18 inch tall rim physically fits doesn't mean it's right - or even safe - for the car. Before you contemplate such a swap, consult an expert or you could end up with a car that handles worse than it did with the factory 15x7 steelies and a set of 225/70-15 Radial T/As.

Much larger (taller/wider) wheels and tires will probably also increase rolling resistance as well as the car's unsprung mass. Steering feel could become very screwy. Overlarge wheels/tires may end up rubbing inner fender wells or bottoming out whenever the car hits a pothole or dip in the road. It may be necessary to completely modify the factory suspension set up (springs, coils) and alter the geometry/camber, caster and all the rest of it - in order to get modern-sized wheels and tires to work right. And they will never look right. Not to me, at least.

As with '60s and '70s-era suspension geometry, the relationship of the car's body lines and proportions to the size of the wheels and tires was based on the look of 14 and 15 inch rims - considered "large" back in the day. You can get away with a 16 inch rim, but 17 ad 18 inch wheels just look awkward on a classic-era muscle car - like colorizing classic movies from the '30s.

The fact that it can be done doesn't mean it should be done. Sure, there's a possible performance enhancement to be had - both in terms of handling and traction (a big issue for V-8 muscle cars). But modern large diameter rims all look pretty much the same. Can you think of a modern wheel that really stands out - is part of the car - in the way that something like Pontiac's '70s-era Honeycomb wheel or Chevy Rally rim stands out?

Most muscle cars came with factory wheels that defined the package and contributed greatly to making the car what it was. What is a Shelby GT500 without its factory Magnum 500 wheels? Or a '71 GTX sans its Hurst mags? These wheels may be small by modern standards, but they have a style - and history - that you throw into the dumpster when you take them off the car in favor of a set of look-alike chromed-generic ree-uhms that every other pimped-out Escalade is also riding on.

But that brings us back to the dilemma of finding a decent tire - for the factory wheels - that's worthy of the capabilities of a classic muscle car. Coker and other suppliers are remanufacturing OE-type tires for numerous classic cars, including classic muscle cars. This is a relatively small potential market, but apparently, there's enough interest to make it economically worthwhile. I think there are probably enough of us out there with muscle cars we still like to drive (as opposed to just trailer to high-end car shows) to make it worthwhile for an outfit like Coker (or maybe even BF Goodrich) to make us some decent tires to fit our cars' stock/factory rims.

But we need to make our wants known for this to happen. So, if you feel like I do and would like to be able to buy a performance tire to fit your muscle car's factory wheels, drop 'em a line and let 'em know. The two most likely prospects are BF Goodrich and Goodyear, both of which used to make great tires for American muscle cars but don't anymore.

Mitsubishi ASX Outlander Sport concept

Mitsubishi ASX Outlander Sport concept, After IIMS 2010, we tried the car in the country of origin is called the Mitsubishi RVR. Our test is currently the Mitsubishi ASX with Middle East specifications equipped 2.0-liter MIVEC engine gasoline, combined with 6-speed automatic transmission CVT and four wheel drive system (4WD).

From design, the ASX is looking sports saloon combines design with Mitsubishi Lancer Mitsubishi Outlander SUV aggressive. Yes, it is technically all three were sharing the same platform. ASX has the same wheelbase with the Outlander, but with a total length of cut 25 mm, and a lower height 65 mm.

Proper driving position can be easily obtained thanks to the seating arrangements and a wide wheel. Press the 'start-stop' on the dashboard, and quiet engine running in idle condition. Hit the gas pedal and start moving aggressively ASX show his best. Peak power generated from the 2.0 liter engine to 150 hp at 6,000 rpm and maximum torque of 197 Nm at 4200 rpm. This car ran pretty quiet at speeds slightly above 100 kpj, with little road noise that penetrates into the cabin.

As quick maneuvering, four-wheel drive system make this car more firmly planted on the asphalt, without oversteer or understeer feels symptoms are excessive. This drive system also helps control taste enough, considering this car basically has a fairly soft suspension. Facing the bumpy road surface, suspension 'McPherson strut' in front and 'multi-link' in the back able to absorb shocks to the steady and keep the stability of the car. Informative steering light enough to continue the road, but the rotation was too light at high speed.

6-speed automatic transmission CVT technology provides driving pleasure when operated manually via 'paddle shift' behind the wheel. Switching gear it feels soft and sprightly, both when raising and lowering gear to pass up 'engine brake'.


When trying to sit in the rear passenger seat, flexibility is obtained thanks to the leg and head room are relieved. Use Oultander platform seems to be very influential here. Unfortunately, the position of sitting in the back was too upright. This is potentially exhausting time to travel long distances, let alone no backrest arrangement, although it made postifnya hand luggage room feels airy. In fact, the luggage capacity behind the ASX reached 442 liters, and terdongkrak up to 1193 liters when the rear seats folded.

New Look Nissan Juke


The first challenge for Nissan to market the Juke is an unusual-looking. Yes, Nissan Nissan's design studio design Juke in Europe (inspired by the concept Qazana), and built at Nissan's plant in Oppama, Japan, does have a bold design: the result of cross breeding between the off-roader with a coupe. But unlike the Murano and Qasqai, Juke look unusual. Look at how to pull the lines as 'extravagant' and even extreme, or how to handle door opener hidden in the pillars so the Juke looks like a two-door coupe.

Bold exterior theme carry through to the interior. where a center console that is inspired from the fuel tank of a motor provides traction on this five-passenger crossover. The attraction increases with the presence of kemera retreat, Bluetooth capability, USB connectivity / iPod, remote steering, navigation (the model in Indonesia may be present without navigation).

Head and leg room for front passengers are very good. This is caused by the curved roofline. Unfortunately, the head room for rear passengers is limited. Transport capacity (trunk) can be increased to 830 liters by folding the rear seat. Juke does not have a regulator sliding rear seat (sliding back seat).

Juke B-based platform which is also used for the Nissan Versa, Cube, and the Renault Clio. Nissan Juke HR15DE engine equipped with powerful 113 hp at 6,000 rpm with maximum torque of 150 Nm at 4,000 rpm. Juke machines equipped dual injector system of the world's first mass production. This system has two injectors per cylinder, each with a nozzle to inject fuel into the cylinder for a more complete combustion. Also attending Variable Valve Timing (CVTV) for intake and exhaustnya thus more efficient fuel consumption, Nissan claims.

Juke also apply the latest designs that combine Xtronic CVT Continuous Variable Transmission inefficient sub-system with 2-speed gearbox. This system is believed by Nissan is able to improve the gear ratios than conventional CVT systems. In addition to the sub-gearboksnya, there is a pulley design new, more sweat and a small, flexible damper lock up, and a more efficient oil pump. Combined all this makes Juke's new CVT is more minimal friction by 30%.

Now it's time to try Juke. Button start / stop our press gently over the roar of the engine from behind bonnetnya welcome. Juke sitting position is high enough to make us free to cast a glance, and control the direction of the car. In the center console there is the Nissan Dynamic Control System (NDCS) is integrated in the dashboard (indash). This tool serves to set the AC and the characters driving the car (normal, sporty or eco), steering and throttle response.

This tool is so easy to be enabled. Simply press and the computer will arrange everything. As the opening menu, we press the normal button, and emerged bearing torque graph is an indicator overflow of torque to the front wheels. In this mode, the quality of mediocre performance (hence its name). To obtain optimum engine response, you must often stomping foot to the accelerator pedal (pedal to the metal).

Not for long with a normal mode, we then choose the sports mode. Well, in this mode, the graphical display on the monitor screen changes from torque to power with a red background. Looking at the graphics and the writing power, adrenaline were mounting, and we press the accelerator pedal deeply. The result is satisfactory. Torque feels more kick and steering response is sharper, though not significant.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

2011 RedLine Dodge Charger

Redline 2011 Dodge Charger Carbon Fiber Love, Not to be outdone by Ford and General Motors, Chrysler Group is preparing a special vehicle parade as this year's edition to appear at SEMA that will take place in Las Vegas 2 to 5 November 2010. One of the star attractions of this company emanated from Redline Dodge Charger models in 2011 based on a redesigned version of the custom.

"We let the designers of automobile production and their friends at Mopar rip," said Ralph Gilles, CEO of Brand Cars Dodge and Senior Vice President of Product Design. "I want them to show us what they would do with this vehicle if it were their own dream car" said Gilles in a statement.

Hiding under a unique aluminum hood, Charger redline engine equipped with a capacity of 5.7-liter Hemi V8. This machine is enhanced with various Mopar upgrades including new headers, exhaust system and intake air cooling. Dodge says this upgrade gives benefits to increase horsepower and torque, but does not give any figures.

Charger Concept also gets a re-suspension of extreme driving one inch [25 mm] to be closer to the ground. Embedded is also a strut tower brace Mopar, and 22-inch alloy wheels wrapped chunky tires 265/35/22 on the front and 295/30/22 in the rear. On the outside, designers Charger car body dip into the carbon fiber as the material that the majority are found in almost all parts of the new bodykit, roof, hood, mirrors and side scoops new was said to recall the charm of the Dodge Charger R / T in 1970.

We do not have a picture cabin, but Dodge said the sedan sported-up will get a red-black interior with Mopar racing seat combined accents Katzkin leather of Nappa Radar Red color with bright red stitching. In addition there are also console bezels and a unique steering wheel equipped SRT prototype features paddle shift controls

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

It's Not the Teens, It's the Lack of Training


It's Not the Teens, It's the Lack of Training, According to a recent study by the American Automobile Association (AAA) 30,917 fatalities over the past ten years were the result of crashes involving drivers ages 15-17 years old.


A third of those killed were the teenage drivers themselves - while another third were passengers riding with the teenage driver. But a third of the fatalities were occupants of other cars - or pedestrians who just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

AAA says that makes teen drivers the single most dangerous group of motorists on the road - to others as much as to themselves.

The most lethal combination of all is a teenage driver with a bunch of teenage friends along for the ride. According to AAA President Robert Darbelnet, the risk of a potentially fatal accident involving a teen driver more than doubles when there is a teenage passenger in the car - and quintuples with the presence of two or more teen passengers.

Any former teen who made it safely to adulthood probably understands the connection immediately. Most of us can remember being 16 - and the sense of liberation that accompanied that first-time access to a car. For a lot of us, the first thing on the agenda was to pick up some of our friends and do what comes naturally to teens - go out and have a good time.

And having a good time often meant not paying attention to our driving - or trying to impress our friends with our driving prowess, or to see what the car can do.That often leads to a teen's first fender-bender (and sometimes worse).

Several states have tried passing laws forbidding teens from driving other teens (inconvenient for them, but with solid reasoning behind it) as well as curfews and other limitations. AAA also wants every state to require a 6-12 month probationary license for all teen drivers (which could be revoked for bad behavior) as well as at least 50 hours of adult-supervised driver training during the learner's permit stage. This is a step in the right direction - but really, just a baby step.

It's not teens, per se, that are the cause of so much trouble. It's inexperienced teens allowed onto the road before they've been properly trained - and adequately tested to ensure they're skilled enough to drive safely.

A great many of the accidents reported by AAA, for example, are single-vehicle crashes resulting from driver error such as over-correcting after an outside wheel inadvertently dips off the road onto a gravel shoulder. Instead of smoothly maintaining control and easing the car back onto the pavement, an inexperienced teen driver will jerk the wheel hard to the left, which in turn causes the car to skid back onto the road, over the double yellow line - and right into the path of oncoming traffic.

Teen drivers are also just beginning to develop their sense of spacial relationships (the ebb and flow of traffic around them) and often have not yet come to appreciate their own limits behind the wheel or the physical limits of the car they're driving, including such basic things as how much time/room it needs to come to a complete stop, its grip threshold - and how it will behave when traction is lost, as on snow or ice-slicked surfaces.

A late-model car equipped with all the latest technology "feels" perfectly safe at 85 mph (or going into a turn posted 45 mph at 60-something) so it's easy for a teen to get way ahead of himself before he has any idea he's pushing his luck. And by then, of course, it may be too late.

Unfortunately, many parents aren't prepared, willing - or qualified themselves - to properly instruct their own kids. And proper driver training gets into money.

A good 2-3 day accident avoidance course costs around $300-$500 or so, depending on where you go. The superb vehicle dynamics/handling courses offered by former race car drivers such as Bob Bondurant and Skip Barber can cost two or three thousand dollars - but confer potentially life-saving skills on the new/teenage driver.

In Germany and some other countries, this type of intensive (and expensive) new driver training is mandatory - on the theory that thehigh "up front" costs are justified by much-improved public safety. Unskilled, marginal drivers (teens and others alike) are kept off the road until they've proven they can operate a motor vehicle at a certain (and much higher than our own) level of skill. Germans view a driver's license as a hard-won privilege - not an entitlement.

Americans, for the most part, don't think serious driver training is worth the cost. And so long as that's true, we can continue to expect teen drivers to be a looming danger to themselves - and to everyone else on the road.

Fiat will launch Roadster Series


Fiat will launch Roadster Series, Italian manufacturer, Fiat plans to launch his newest output Fiat Uno car roadster version. The concept of the new variant will be exhibited for the first time in the event the Sao Paulo Auto Show in Brazil which will be held from 17 October to 7 November. The event is really going to be utilized by the manufacturer Fiat to introduce a new theme concept Fiat Uno is thick with the smell of sporty.

Although still a concept but the manufacturer promises to showcase real cars that only charged two people. The car is scheduled to be produced is limited in the near future gasoline engine equipped with 1.4-liter turbocharged 152 horsepower capacity. It has a sturdy chassis that can support a more responsive suspension performance. Fusion body kit and 17-inch diameter lightweight alloy wheels make the look more aggressive

The roadster is also not combined with the standard model and also trim the suspension application 'flat' which is lower than 20mm from its normal size. Exclusive color orange will be presented in a special complete with front and rear spoiler. Same with the series roadster, sporty touch will be given to this exclusive variants as well as on the trim and dashboard panels and chair seats

Monday, October 25, 2010

How Do You Prepare For a Driving Emergency?


Defensive Driving - How Do You Prepare For a Driving Emergency? The answer is surprisingly simple: Have a plan. Planning is the key to success in everything we do in life, and defensive driving is no different.


Defensive driving starts with having a plan. Experienced drivers prepare for emergencies by leaving themselves room for error. Masters of defensive driving never tailgate, never bump into the curb by turning too sharply, and rarely have to slam on the brake to avoid a collision. Keeping a safe distance between your car and everything around it—on all four sides—allows you to avoid potential hazards that pop up in the normal course of a day’s driving.

Defensive driving means that you carefully monitor your own physical and mental state before you hit the road. If you’re tired, ill, or just having a bad day, your reaction times can be seriously affected. When you know you’re not as alert as you normally are, you consciously plan to maintain a little extra space between your car and everything around you.

Experienced drivers make hundreds of minor adjustments during a drive that constantly allow them to avoid collisions. Good drivers make adjustments so smoothly and routinely that their reactions are scarcely noticeable to other drivers around them. A good driver sees potential hazards before they turn into emergencies. Constantly scanning the road, other cars, and pedestrians allows good drivers to smoothly turn away from hazards or slow down as the need may be. These minor adjustments are the heart and soul of good defensive driving.

What about a life-threatening driving emergency?—the kind of situation that the best drivers in the world can’t possibly anticipate? Is it possible to plan for that? It’s not only possible—it’s absolutely vital. And it’s when you’re most in need of a plan, because it’s the kind of situation that reduces your reaction times to the bare minimum.

Imagine this scenario: You’re driving on a two-lane highway at night. Suddenly an oncoming car swerves into your lane. You have only a split second to react. What do you do? If you have to think about, it’s already too late to avoid a collision. If you slam on the brake, you relinquish whatever control of the situation you may have. That’s a dangerous thing to do; it means that you’re placing your life and the lives of your passengers in the hands of another driver. That’s the worst decision you can make.

Good drivers know they can always get out of the way of an oncoming hazard faster than they can stop. Here’s how to handle the above scenario:

It’s always better to leave the road than hit somebody head-on. Keep one set of wheels on the paved surface if possible. Don’t slam on the brake; hard braking on a loose surface can cause you to skid out of control. Wait until your speed goes down, and gently brake. Then turn sharply to get back on the road. Trying to gradually work your way back onto the paved surface can cause your tires to grab the edge. As soon as both front tires are back on the road, counter steer at once.

Defensive driving doesn’t mean that good drivers constantly think about an emergency scenario while they’re actually driving. But experienced drivers have rehearsed these worst-case scenarios often enough in their mind that they can react quickly and safely when the threat arises. Defensive driving is never about expecting the worst. It’s about having the confidence and experience to manage any situation that appears.
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Sunday, October 24, 2010

2010 VW Golf Review

Reviewing the 2010 VW Golf, It's easy to like the VW Golf. On the one hand, it's an economy car - with an available turbo-diesel engine that can return more than 40 mpg on the highway. On the other hand, it's powerful and quick - with a standard 170 hp gas-burning engine that still manages to get 30 mpg on the highway. No one else offers anything quite like it, which goes a long way toward explaining it popularity despite its slightly higher price relative to competitors.


WHAT IT IS

The Golf is VW's entry-level model. It's a compact, front-wheel-drive sedan/coupe available with either gasoline or diesel engines. Prices start at $17,965 for the base 2.5L coupe and top out at $24,535 for a TDI (diesel) sedan.

WHAT'S NEW FOR 2011

The 2010 model was essentially all new, with updated exterior and interior, features and equipment - including the optionally available TDI diesel engine. The 2011 model is more or less the same, with a minor uptick in prices across the board

WHAT'S GOOD

Athletic performance/superior handling - even from base model. Almost-hybrid fuel efficiency (42 MPGs on the highway) with optional TDI diesel - without the complexity or hassles of owning a hybrid, including down-the-road issues with the batteries.

Feels solid as the rock of Gibraltar. Can be equipped with luxury-level amenities, including hard drive music storage and Bluetooth wireless. Available as a coupe (a chief competitor, the Mazda3 isn't). Available as a sedan (another competitor, the Mini Cooper isn't).

WHAT'S NOT SO GOOD

Fairly pricey to start - and can get downright expensive if you add some of the available options. Superb, high-economy TDI diesel engine currently only offered in higher-trim/more expensive version.

Base model interior materials can be a bit bleak-looking. Exterior styling a bit bland compared with Mazda3 and Mini Cooper. VW has had some issues with quality control.

WHAT'S UNDER THE HOOD

Two engines are available in the '11 Golf. Standard is a 2.5 liter, 170 hp gas engine teamed with either a five-speed manual or a six-speed automatic.

This engine is quite powerful for the class. Compare it, for example, with the 2011 Mazda3's standard engine (2.0 liters, 148 hp). To get equivalent power/performance (2.5 liters, 167 hp) you have to step up to the more expensive Mazda3 Sport, which starts at $19,185 - or about $1,200 more than the base model Golf. The base model Mini Cooper, meanwhile, comes standard with just a 1.6 liter, 118 hp engine (for $19,400) while the optional Mini S with turbocharged 1.6 liter engine (172 hp) produces virtually the same power as the Golf's standard engine but costs a lot more ($23,000).

The VW's 2.5 liter engine is also quite economical. EPA rates the Golf equipped with this engine and five-speed manual transmission at 22 city, 30 highway. The base Mazda3 (with smaller, less powerful 2.0 liter engine) does only slightly better: 25 city, 33 highway. The flyweight Mini is cuter than your high school girlfriend and beats them both with an exceptionally thrifty 28 city, 37 highway - but its acceleration (0-60 in about 8.5-8.7 seconds) is borderline Prius-like.

The Golf, meanwhile, is significantly quicker than the base Mini or the base model Mazda3: 0-60 in about 7.7-7.8 seconds with the five-speed manual.

But the Golf has another really strong selling point neither of its rivals can answer and that is the optional 2.0 liter turbocharged, direct injection (TDI) diesel engine. It produces V-6 levels of torque output (236 lbs.-ft., almost all of it available in the lower RPM range where most everyday driving is done) and can deliver 42 MPGs on the highway - by far the best mileage you'll get in anything short of a gas-electric hybrid (or a motorcycle).

The TDI engine has the additional attraction of being inherently more durable than gas-burning engines. A diesel engine, assuming proper care, can be expected to run reliable for many hundreds of thousands of miles - which means your total ownership costs could end up being much lower, since you may not need another new car for the next 15-20 years.

Maybe 25 or 30.

The TDI Golf comes with a six-speed manual (standard) or (optional) a six-speed dual-clutch automatic (DSG). The DSG version is the one that gets best-case mileage of 42 highway (and 30 city) but manual versions still achieve a very impressive 41 highway (and the same 30 mpgs in city-type driving).

The TDI-equipped Golf isn't as quick as the 2.5 liter Golf, but it's 0-60 time of about 8.6 seconds is still almost exactly the same as the less fuel-efficient Mini Cooper and Mazda3 with 2.0 liter engine. All Golfs are front-wheel-drive.

ON THE ROAD

From an enthusiast driver's perspective, the Golf is a real pleasure to drive. It is quick enough to be sporty and has plenty of reserve power to execute fast passing/merging maneuvers comfortably and without straining. It has quick steering response, too - and will corner with athletic poise at pretty high speeds.

But from a normal, everyday driver's point of view, it is also comfortable and smooth. The ride is firm, but not stiff (it is stiff - and bouncy - in the Mini Cooper and to a lesser extent, the Mazda3). Though the Golf is a small car, it feels extremely solid - a characteristic trait of German-built cars. Even cruising along at close to 90 mph, there is minimal road/tire/wind noise transmitted into the cabin and the car seems completely at ease and ready to go much faster (which of course it is designed to do, given Germany's high-speed Autobahns). At legal U.S. speeds, the Golf feels understressed - like a powerful bodybuilder just warming up.

TDI versions launch with forcefullness, too. If you want, you can even squeal the tires. Few 40-plus mpg cars can do that. It is also quiet - whether idling in traffic or running 75 on the highway.

I could find no fault with either of the Golf's available engines, both of which manage to be strong performers as well as very fuel-efficient. The transmission choices are also top-drawer. Manual enthusiasts will like that both engines can be teamed with a stick-shift, while going automatic involves no compromises of either performance/driving fun - or economy (DSG-equipped Golfs get the best mileage).

AT THE CURB

As mentioned above, the Golf's two bodystyles (hatchback coupe and four-door sedan) gives it a selling advantage over its two chief rivals, the Mini Cooper (no sedan version) and Mazda3 (no coupe). It's also nice that both versions have about the same interior space (more on this follows below).

The interior of the base Golf comes off as a little on the Spartan side in terms of initial impressions but the car is well-equipped as it sits with AC and most power options (windows, lock, cruise control) plus a very decent eight-speaker stereo with MP3 player. The bland-looking materials (dash cover/door panels, etc.) are however substantial-looking and panel fitment is superior.

Though you might expect the TDI version to be low-budget/economy-oriented it actually has more standard stuff than the base Golf - including 17 inch alloy rims, a premium audio system with touchscreen interface, Bluetooth wireless, fog lights - and a firmer-riding, sport-tuned suspension.

You can further dress out your Golf with leather, heated seats, GPS (bundled with music storage hard drive) Xenon HID headlights, a sunroof and other stuff - but be aware that some of these options are expensive and if you're not careful you can end up with a Golf that's pushing $30k.

Space-wise, the Golf (both versions) has more front-seat headroom (39.3 inches) than either the Mini (38.8 inches) or the Mazda3 (38.9 inches) and virtually the same front-seat legroom as the Mini (41.2 inches vs. 41.4 inches.) The Mazda3 has significantly more front seat legroom (42 inches) but the Golf beats the Mazda on rear-seat headroom (38.5 inches vs. 37.5 inches), while the Mazda has a bit more rear-seat legroom (36.2 inches vs. 35.6). The bottom line is that it will depend on your body type as far as which car feels roomier in the back.

The big point, though, is that the VW has useable back seats. The Mini, on the other hand, doesn't.

While the Mini has surprisingly generous room for front seat occupants its rear seats are Adult Unfriendly (just 29.9 inches of legroom) which severely limits its practicality relative to the VW (or the Mazda).

The VW's trunk/cargo capacity is 12.4 cubic feet - better than the Mazda3 (11.8 cubic feet) and vastly better than the Mini (5.7 cubic feet). Although to be fair the Mini has the most potential cargo room, 24 cubic feet - but that's with the second row seats down and the Mini transporting no more than two people.

A nice touch in the Golf are the standard eight-way manual-adjust seats, which can be ratcheted up and down to accommodate shorter or taller drivers and which really improves the day-to-day usability of the car.

My only gripe is that VW doesn't offer the excellent TDI diesel in a "basic" version of the Golf - perhaps even without power windows - which would lighten it up as well as lower its cost. An $18k TDI Golf capable of 44 mpg on the highway would be incredibly appealing.

THE REST

There are pros and cons here. On the one hand, the Golf - especially the TDI-equipped version - is one of the most economical cars you can buy in terms of everyday fuel economy as well as potential down-the-road longevity. On the other hand, the VW's base price is fairly steep relative to other economy-type but still-sporty cars you might buy, including the $15,450 (to start) Mazda3.

Also, VW has had a somewhat spotty record in recent years as far as minor gremlins such as problems with electrical systems. The New Beetle, in particular.

That said, the current Golf is an all-new model and VW has hopefully worked out whatever issues plagued some its earlier models. And to be fair, the Mini has had its own issues with quality/reliability, too.

Warranty-wise, the Golf comes with a standard three year/36,000 basic and five year/60,000 mile powertrain warranty. Mazda offers exactly the same coverage on the Mazda3 and Mini offers a bit more basic coverage, with a four-year/50,000 mile standard warranty (but a less substantial four-year/50,000 mile policy on the powertrain).

The only extra-cost safety feature is back seat side-impact airbags (for the sedan; they're not available in the coupe). Both coupes and sedans come standard with ABS, traction and stability control, front seat side-impact air bags and first and second row head/curtain air bags.

The Golf costs a bit more than other entry-level sporty-economy cars but it offers superior power/peformance and (in TDI versions) simply outstanding fuel efficiency, which washes away much of the difference in up-front expenses.If you can afford to spend the extra grand or three necessary to get into one, you'll be much happier when you're driving one.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Bring Back the Old Beetle!

Bring Back the Old Beetle!, What's needed in these economically tough times is a return to a true "people's car" - something that's not only priced in line with our downsized buying power but also something we can keep running with a $50 set of basic hand tools, duct tape and RTV.


That car is the Old Beetle. It may have been the perfect car. In continuous production for nearly 50 years, largely unchanged - on the order of 40 million of them made.

The only reason they're not still being made is because (drumroll, please) our friends in the government outlawed them - albeit in a roundabout way.

For our safety, government passed laws that require all new cars meet certain crashworthiness standards. The Old Beetle - a car conceived in the mid-1930s - could not be made to meet standards invented by American bureaucrats 40 years later. This is one reason why the Old Beetle could no longer be sold here after 1979 - the last year it was offered new in the United States. (The car continued to be built in Mexico until 2002.)

Reason number two for the Old Beetle's demise had to do with emissions. Our government once again decreed that all new cars could only produce so much pollution - and not a puff more. The Old Beetle's air-cooled horizontally-opposed "boxer" engine was simple and rugged and cheap - but it couldn't make the emissions cut.

This is why the Old Beetle was finally dropped from the rolls in Mexico, too. There was no way to make the by-then 70 year-old design comply with modern emissions requirements without completely redesigning the engine.

These two things - acceptable crasworthiness and low emissions - are of course desirable. But they're not free - or even cheap. An Old Beetle's Solex 1-barrel downdraft carburetor was the basic component of its entire fuel system (the rest being a gas tank, some fuel lines and so on). The carburetor cost less than $100 for the whole thing, brand new. Your ten-year-old kid could install the thing, too. Literally. (It was secured by two bolts that could be turned out with a set of pliers.)

How much do you suppose it would cost you to replace the electronic fuel injection system on a New Beetle - or even to do a major repair? Think you could do it yourself?

An Old Beetle has no ABS - or even disc brakes. The "electronics" consist of a map light and the battery that's under the backseat (assuming the floorpans are solid). There are four forward gears, no hydraulic-assisted clutch, skinny tires on stamped steel 15 inch wheels and a bodyshell that weighs less than 2,000 pounds - which let you get by with an engine that makes not much more power than a good-sized garden tractor.

The thing runs on the cheapest, lowest grade fuel (think Mexico) and can be swapped out for a new (or junkyard) replacement, when the time comes, with a floor jack and for a couple hundred bucks.

No radiator, no coolant, no hoses, either. Heck, there wasn't even an oil filter. Just a screen you cleaned! That and about three quarts of new oil and you were done. Less than $10 and five minutes or so to change the oil.

It was, briefly put, the distilled essence of "car" - perhaps the best four-wheeled appliance ever created. It got you there. Maybe not quickly; maybe not especially comfortably. But it got you there - most of the time, at least.

And ultimately, isn't that what it's all about? Getting to work and back efficiently and economically? The rest - air bags, GPS, leather, 400 hp engines - it's all very nice but it's also very expensive. Such features jack up the price and commit us to debt-slavery in perpetuity. Very few people can afford to buy a new car in cash anymore. Six year car loans are common. In the days of the Old Beetle, average people could and did buy them cash on the barrel. Or maybe they financed for two or three years. But it was manageable. You weren't economically crippled by a $400/month payment for the next half-decade.

We've forgotten something very important: Unlike a house or a decent stock portfolio, a car is not an "investment." It is a depreciating asset and very often, a money pit. And the expenses associated with cars is arguably one of the reasons why so many of us are so broke right now.

We bought into the spin; we wanted to be that guy (or girl) in the commercial. We liked to jangle our keys, drop brand names and sit self-satisfied in traffic, luxuriating in our perforated (and heated!) leather seats.



But just think how much richer we'd all be if, instead of having frittered away $30,000 or $40,000 on the new Whatsit (which five or six years down the road is going to be worth $15k, if that) we'd purchased something like an Old Beetle - a car that cost maybe $5,000 brand-new, inflation adjusted - and put the rest in the bank. Or paid down the mortgage. Or some other productive thing. We'd be a lot less pinched now, for one thing. We can't cry of over spilt milk, of course. But we can learn from the past. And we could have cars like the Old Beetle again, if we wanted. It's just a question of telling six-figure bureaucrats in DC to shove off - and of course, giving our own selves a reality check. Wouldn't it be great?

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

What About Radar Detector Detectors?


What About Radar Detector Detectors?,The article I wrote a few weeks back about the value of buying (and using) a radar detector prompted several replies pointing out that in Virginia and DC - where detectors are still illegal - I ran the risk of being nailed by a "radar detector detector," specifically, the Spectre III/Elite used (apparently) by many police.


I looked into it a bit - and also have my own real world experience using the Valentine 1 (highly recommend this model; see here: http://www.carmild.com/) for about three years now in Virginia and thought I'd post what I know - or what seems likely - based on that.

First, I am pretty confident that the Virginia State Police and most local police in Virginia do not have the Spectre III or similar radar detection equipment. Either that, or the Valentine 1 is not detectable by them.

I have gotten away with using the V1 every single day for almost three years, on highways and secondary roads all over the state. Every time I drive - literally - the V1 has alerted me to a cop running radar, either coming at me from the opposite direction (moving car) or from a stationary unit parked off to the side of the road. Each time, I have slowed down - and sailed right past the cop without incident. The cops don't even look at me.

I don't turn the V1 off, either. I usually just snatch it off the dash, where I "stealth mount" it using quick-release Velcro (which makes the unit much less visible since there's no dangling power cord) before I get close enough to the cop for him to easily see the V1 sitting on my dashboard. However it is still on - so if the cops have a Spectre or other type of detector detector that is capable of picking out the V1, I would assume that by now at least one of them would have come after me to check for a radar detector. But that has not happened.

It's possible I've just been very lucky, but I doubt it. I drive a lot (probably 20,000 miles a year) in multiple different vehicles, all over the state.

My conclusions:

* Given that most people obey the law - no matter how unfair, stupid or even evil the law happens to be - the cops in VA assume that most people do not have radar detectors and so are not actively looking for them.

* Probably most departments - especially local ones, with more limited budgets - quite rationally conclude that there's no real justification for spending $2,500 or more per unit to buy detector detectors, since most people will not buy/use a radar detector if its illegal to do so.

The side benefit here for people who use radar detectors anyway is that we have the element of surprise on our side. Since cops assume most people don't have detectors, they don't use tactics that assume most (or even many) drivers do have them. They just "paint" traffic with K or Ka, without much if any attempt to hide what they're doing. This gives the handful of us with radar detectors a real advantage - in Virginia and DC, anyhow.

* While police may be looking for them visually, they do not have effective radar detector detectors. I've read that the newer, top-of-the-line radar detectors such as my Valentine 1 and the Bell STi either can't be picked out by detector detectors or their ID range is not enough for the cop to get the drop on you. If you read the technical specs. published by the manufacturer of the Spectre radar detector detector, you'll see the effective range is somewhere around 1,000 feet out (from the cop to you). But the V1 (and, apparently, the Bell STi) is effective at much greater distances than that, so even if the cops have the Spectre, odds are you will detect them before they detect you. This jibes with my personal, real-world experience using the V1 in Virginia.

Bottom line - It appears pretty safe to run with a radar detector in Virginia (can't speak to the situation in DC) provided you use a high-end unit (forget about the cheap units; they're a waste of money) and you're careful to keep your unit low-profile by using the Velcro-on-the-dash mounting system, as mentioned earlier - which camouflages the unit and makes it virtually invisible to any lurking cop unless he's literally right next to you. Always snatch the unit off the dash (and out of sight) when near cops or in urban areas/slow-moving traffic where your "piece" would be more visible.

Most important of all - maintain high situational awareness. Be aware of your surroundings. Learn to recognize the signs of a cop. Become familiar with the types of cars they usually drive; where they typically run radar traps - and so on. Pay attention to the behavior of traffic around you. Etc.

To further stack the odds in your favor in places like VA and DC where radar detectors are illegal, do the following: When the unit goes off (especially Ka band, which is a guaranteed cop), slow to the speed limit, pull the detector off the dash and disconnect the power plug. Once the unit is off, it cannot be detected - so you're absolutely sure of flying under the radar. Enjoy the ride!

Friday, October 15, 2010

New Faces More Elegant Audi A6

This luxury sedan comes with new display includes parts exterior and interior. On the exterior the new design can be seen in sectors such as front headlight equipped with an LED, bumper, fog light rectangular shaped, equipped rear view mirror Turning LED Lights, Side Molding chrome and chrome wheels that make it appear more luxurious sedans. On the stern side also marked a new design like the LED rear lights are equipped, the curve of the trunk (Trunk Lid), instantly integrated bumper air diffuser and the exhaust pipe.

While the interior of the Audi A6 equipped with Driver Information System to facilitate the driver in driving. Also 7-inch screen MMI dashboard decorate the front. Side of the entertainment at this luxury sedan more so when the CD player equipped with an SD card reader, just below the screen. Changes in the interior gives the impression of luxury, attention and perfect impression Audi A6 cabin.


Besides changing the look of the kitchen include pacemaker that uses 3.0 TFSI engine is equipped with quattro technology, which is the latest innovation from Audi. Quattro technology is capable of super drive system provides power from the engine to a two-axle. Distribute power to four wheels, giving the best performance for vehicles in all conditions. Audi A6 was the latest engine produces power of 213kW (290hp) with composition and is equipped with a V6 engine supercharger. Audi A6 in the tag of USD 953 million off the road with brilliant color options black, phantom black, quartz gray, night blue, white ibis ice silver dab

2011 Maybach 62 expensive four door car

This is the most expensive four-door car. Maybach 57 and 62 is the first car from the Maybach model since the company merged with Mercedes-Benz. This car was born from Mercedes-Benz Maybach concept on display at the Tokyo Motor Show 1997.

Both models are variants of ultra luxury. Figures on the model shows a car in the decimetre long. Maybach 57 is a car that is designed to be driven solely by the owner, while the Maybach 62 for owners who use the driver. The engine is picked from the Mercedes Benz 5.5-liter, twin-turbo V12 that generates 550 PS.


Lha what about Rolls-Royce Phantom, Lamborghini Murcielago and Aston Martin Vanquish? All that remained included in the supercar category. However, the prices are still less than the cars that have been mentioned above!

2011 Scion tC (base price $18,800)


The tC coupe gets a full makeover for 2011, centered around a brand-new 2.5 liter, 180 hp engine (vs. 2.4 liters and 161 hp previously). The engine features electrically-driven power steering to cut parasitic drag and boost performance and economy. Eighteen-inch wheels and a six-speed manual transmission will be standard - along with a large, panaroma-style sunroof.

This will be the most aggressive Scion to date and marks the evolution of Scion from "sporty Toyota" to emerging performance brand in its own right.


Thursday, October 14, 2010

Cars Are Safer Than Ever, But What About Us?


Cars Are Safer Than Ever, But What About Us?, Air bags and crumple zones certainly make a car more crashworthy. But they don't make it less likely we'll crash the car. That's still up to us, to a great extent. Here are a few common-sense tips that will help keep you from crunching the sheetmetal:


* Staying awake - Some of us can stay alert longer than others, but eventually, we all get tired. The trick is making a pit stop before fatigue begins to seriously degrade our ability to drive safely.

The general rule is at least one stop/leg stretch/cofee/bathroom break for every four hours of driving time - and a stop for the night after eight to ten hours of driving in any given 24.

Pushing it beyond that is almost asking for trouble.

* Staying reasonable - When another motorist cuts you off or rides your bumper, the temptation is to flip them the bird or otherwise make your displeasure known. But that can (and sometimes, does) just escalate the situation. Two drivers hurling insults at each other and using their cars as tow-ton projections of their rage can lead to tragic - and 100 percent avoidable - results.

Even if you've been objectively wronged, the best policy is to give the inconsiderate/rude/dangerous driver as wide a berth as you can. Use your cell phone, if necessary, to call the cops if the other driver is genuinely being reckless. Let the cops deal with it. And drive on.

You have no way of knowing how far the other driver might take things. You could be ready for a shouting match. He might have a gun.

* Stay polite - Extending common courtesy to your fellow motorists eases tension on the road and makes for a much more civil - and safe - experience.

So, let merging traffic merge. Don't park your car in the fast lane with the cruise control set at 1 mph over the speed limit. Pay attention to what's going on around you - and be ready to move when the light turns green - not too busy chatting on your cell phone to notice. And if you inadvertently do something you shouldn't have or didn't mean to do - such as pulling out in front of someone - a smile and "I'm sorry" hand signals can defuse tensions quickly. We all make mistakes - and most people are quick to forgive - provided the mistake is acknowledged.

* Stay focused - If you are the driver, your focus should be on the road at all times; everything else - the kids, what's on the radio, fiddling with the GPS or making a call, etc. - ought to be secondary. As cars have grown in complexity, potential distractions have multiplied - and the number of accidents attributable to "distracted driving" continues to increase.

Though it's very tempting to multi-task behind the wheel - especially when you spend two or three hours per day in your vehicle - it's a temptation you should try to resist.

* Stay prepared - Though modern cars are exceptionally reliable it's still smart to anticipate potential problems - and try to be prepared for them. That might include keeping a can of emergency tire inflator/sealant in the vehicle - especially when you are headed out on a long trip (or are someone who might have difficulty changing a tire by yourself). A cell phone, pad and pencil (not pen; they can leak or just stop working), emergency flares, loose change (for using pay phones when cell service is unavailable) are good things to have in the glovebox or trunk, too.

Most important of all: If you're traveling alone, it's smart policy to let someone know where you're headed - and when you expect to get there. Just in case.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Female Drivers are Better Than Male Drivers - A Proven Fact


Female Drivers are Better Than Male Drivers - A Proven Fact, A title like that can get you lynched in our house but I honestly believe lady drivers have achieved a driving competence a country mile ahead of men. My husband is a superb driving technician. He understands every cog and wheel in the engine and knows exactly how the pistons should work and how the engine should sound if it is working efficiently, and all that sort of depressing stuff.


Behind the wheel of a car he is absolutely the most obnoxious character who ever applied rubber to tarmac. Two tiny, almost imperceptible horns pop up on his head, and a cute little spiky tail sticks out from his bottom as he drives along, screaming obscenities at pedestrians and tail-baiting other unfortunate motorists in an attempt to intimidate and dominate the road.

Whenever I am unfortunate enough to be the front seat passenger during these excursions into insanity, I hang onto the nearest armrest for dear life and hope the end will happen quickly in the event of the unthinkable. As soon as the car is parked again and the seatbelts are off, my husband returns to his nice normal, affectionate squishy self, just like an episode of Jekyll and Hyde.

My most dreaded scenario is one in which an elderly lady might accept a lift from him, innocent of risk to her emotional health.

In the course of taking the passenger seat I have come across at least half a dozen such drivers, at least four of them being male and the other two female. One enterprising lady, not satisfied with verbal abuse, wrote a series of obscenities on large white cards and would select an appropriate one and hold it against the window of her car as she raced past the poor driver she imagined had offended her. In spite of such appalling behaviour by a minority of females, abusive women on the road are still outnumbered two to one by men.

Of course it is pointless to attempt to dissuade these drivers from behaving in this way. They are psychologically compelled to act out aggression on the road and any argument you might submit to them about test driving a gentler approach meets with more aggression and usually a request that you mind your own business, couched in offensive language. Without fail, this person will always end the conversation by reminding you that he or she is a better driver than you are.

A particular hate of my husband’s is the female driver as an entire species, whom he has decreed to be incompetent down to the last gear crunching, clutch burning, lipstick toting, over-coiffed air-head. Yet my own experience of lunacy in cars definitely indicates the male is the more reckless, and of course we cannot both be right.

Men are unable to drive a vehicle unless they rely on the horn and flashing headlights to warn us, more grounded lady drivers of their imminent arrival in the space three inches off our front bumpers.

Men with a particular addiction to road abuse like my husband will fill every journey with a running commentary on what the driver in front is doing; how fast he is travelling, how slow he is travelling, how much faster his car could go if he only knew how to drive it, and his or her parentage being called into question at frequent intervals.

Drivers travelling beside and behind us are also subjected to a forensic character analysis but the driver directly ahead is usually the target of the worst expletives. Should that driver be towing a caravan he is consigned to that part of my husband’s imaginary filing cabinet reserved for the mentally deranged, pedestrians and people who encourage multiple births. Such people are treated with a little more consideration by him, however - one of many facets to his compassionate, endearing but undeniably looney personality.

Women enjoy more favourable insurance premiums than men, and why? The reason is plain to see – women are not only more careful, they are more considerate, more intuitive and more able to stay calm when provoked by the many aggravations present on the roads today. They also have fewer accidents but you cannot remind my husband of that because it makes him go purple.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Will The New Hybrids Save the Day, or Just Make Driving More Expensive?


Will The New Hybrids Save the Day, or Just Make Driving More Expensive? A new generation of hybrid gas-electric and all-electric cars - including the 2011 Chevy Volt and Nissan Leaf - has arrived, with much hype attending their launch.


There is the promise of dramatic increases in fuel economy - but less mention of real-world downsides, including high purchase price and total operating costs. Here's a look at what's on deck - including both the Good and the Bad:

* 2011 Chevrolet Volt - Though technically a hybrid because it has both a gasoline engine and a battery pack/electric motor, it differs from current hybrids in that its gas-burning engine does not directly propel the vehicle at any time. Instead, the gas engine functions as a portable, onboard generator - providing electricity to power the car's electric motor when the batteries run low. The battery pack and electric motors are what actually move the car down the road. The Volt also has "plug-in" capability, meaning its batteries can be charged up via common 110 Volt household outlets when it is parked, such as while you are at work or overnight at your home.

The Good: By carrying around its own charging source, the Volt won't be dependent on fixed charging stations; nor will owners have to wait for hours while the battery recharges - two of the biggest practical/commercial problems with all previous electric-powered cars. The Volt's small gasoline-burning engine is also extremely fuel-efficient, mainly because it doesn't have to actually power the car directly. GM claims the Volt will be capable of "triple digit" fuel economy - perhaps as high as 230 miles per gallon, according to early press materials. Finally, the Volt is roughly about the same size as current Chevy Malibu sedan - so it will be suitable as a family car.

The Bad: Sticker price for the Volt is a whopping $40,280 or about the same price as luxury sedans from BMW and Mercedes-Benz. Even with federal subsidies in the form of tax breaks equivalent to as much as $7,000, the up-front costs of the Volt are likely to be prohibitive to cost-conscious buyers. The Volt's high purchase price will also take many years to amortize in the form of down-the-road savings on gasoline - unless the cost of fuel dramatically increases over the next few years.

Buyers should also keep in mind that the electricity used to power up the Volt's batteries from 110 Volt plug-in outlets isn't free. Recharging will increase consumers' utility bills, though the actual amount will depend on how often the Volt is recharged this way - and also on whatever the kilowatt cost per hour of electricity happens to be in your area (and at that time of recharging).

* 2011 Nissan Leaf - The Nissan Leaf is a 100 percent "pure" electric car, meaning it has no internal combustion engine of any kind, either to propel it or to power its batteries. It is propelled entirely by its electric motor, which in turn is powered by onboard batteries.

The Good: Owners will never have to worry about rising gas prices or filling up again. And because it has no internal combustion engine, the Volt qualifies as a Zero Emissions Vehicle (ZEV), entitling its owner to special privileges such as use of restricted roads in states such as California as well as federal (and possibly state) tax breaks.

Nissan says the Leaf has an "everyday average" range of around 100 miles on a full charge, which means it should be practical enough for daily use by most drivers. The hatchback sedan layout is practical and versatile. Nissan claims acceleration/performance will be comparable to a conventional V-6 powered family sedan.

The Bad: The Leaf requires special 220 Volt recharging stations. Unlike universal 110 Volt outlets, 220 Volt outlets are not yet common, which will impose a practical limit on the Leaf's real-world range until such outlets are commonly available.

In addition, an actual 220 Volt charging station will be needed (as opposed to just the existing 110 Volt outlets already available in virtually every home and business). This will add another layer expense, especially if the home or business requires updates to its existing electrical service to accommodate the new 220 Volt line and recharging station.

The final negative is initial purchase price. Nissan hasn't released final pricing information yet but has indicted that the Leaf will cost about as much as a "typical family sedan" - which implies an MSRP in the high teens/low $20k range. As with the Chevy Volt, it will probably take many years of driving to work off the higher up-front costs in the form of savings on fuel.

* 2011 Toyota Prius - The "next generation" Prius is more or less the same as the current (2010) version, with one important difference: It offers factory-equipped plug-in capability so that owners can recharge its battery pack via any common 110 Volt household outlet. This will significantly increase the car's ability to run on electric/battery power alone, as well as increase the maximum speed the 2011 Prius can be operated solely in electric mode. In the current Prius, the gasoline engine automatically kicks on at speeds of about 40 mph; in the plug-in Prius, it should be possible to operate the car at speeds of more than 40 mph in electric-only mode, making it possible to drive it on major secondary roads and possibly even highways without using the gasoline engine at all.

The Good: Of the three models under discussion, the plug-in Prius will be the most affordable in terms of up-front costs, with an expected starting price only about 10 percent higher the base price of the current (2010) Prius. It's also proven technology. The Prius has been in production for more than 10 years and has an excellent track record as far as the reliability/durabilty of its hybrid components. The addition of plug-in capability will improve efficiency without requiring the buyer to take a gamble on potentially iffy, unproven technology. The Prius is also a roomy, comfortable car that can serve as a family's primary vehicle.

The Bad: At the time of this writing there are unresolved questions about the Prius' braking system and potential problems with unwanted acceleration. Both issues may be the result of some defect within the software that controls these systems.

Buyer concern about the safety of the Prius is very real and even when the problem is identified and fixed, the negative perception may affect resale values, including those of the 2011 plug-in model. Cost - both up-front and total operating cost - remains a question mark, too. The current (2010) Prius has a base price of $22,800 so if the estimates of the cost of the 2011 plug-in version (about 10 percent higher) are accurate, the base price of that model should be about $2,280 higher, or just over $25,000.

The additional $2,280 could buy about 844 gallons of gas at current prices (about $2.70 per gallon). In a standard (non-hybrid) economy car capable of averaging 35 miles per gallon, 844 gallons of fuel would propel the car about 30,000 miles, or the equivalent of three years' worth of "free" driving. When you factor in the lower purchase price of a standard economy car, it might take 6-8 years of driving before you reached "break even" in a plug-in Prius.

The bottom line: These next generation hybrids boast amazing technology but the economics are murkier. Consumers should factor in total operating costs, not just the touted miles-per-gallon, before coming to any decision.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Cars (and Concepts) That Deserved to Be Crushed

Cars (and Concepts) That Deserved to Be Crushed
Cars (and Concepts) That Deserved to Be Crushed, Automotive good ideas gone bad range far and wide, whether it's a classic like the exploding Pintos of the early '70s - or a late model gem like the Pontiac Aztek.


Here are ten epic failures that will be remembered for as long as the warranty claims (and class-action lawsuits) linger:

* The entire American Motors Corp. (AMC) lineup - From dreadful dreadnoughts like the malformed Matador to demented detritus like the Gremlin and Pacer, no other automaker ever managed to build such a seemingly endless conga line of bizarre, poorly conceived (and often, poorly built) cars within such a short span of time (from the late 1960s to the early-mid 1970s). Only bankruptcy eventually succeeded in stopping the madness.

* Chrysler's "lean burn" engines - While Honda was developing highly efficient combustion chambers to lower engine emissions via engineering advances (the Compound Cortex Combustion Chamber, or CVCC cylinder head used in the first-generation Civics in the mid-70s) which allowed the cars to meet federal exhaust emissions standards without catalytic converters, Chrysler was duct-taping its obsolete V-8s with leaned-out carburetors that mainly made them even harder to start than they were before - and prone to stalling in the middle of busy intersections. The added plus was wimpy performance and terrible gas mileage.

Now you know why "rich, Corinthian leather" (and Ricardo Montalban) never made a comeback.

* General Motors' diesel V-8 - Imagine a luxury car that was both slow and inefficient as well as prone to early and catastrophic engine failures and you have a taste of the bitter flavor that was the diesel-powered Oldsmobiles and Cadillacs of the late '70s and early '80s. These "diesel" engines were in fact converted gas engines, which lacked the strength to deal with the high-compression combustion of diesel operation.

The resultant debacle not only soured an entire country on the otherwise perfectly sound concept (real diesel engines), it helped hustle Oldsmobile to the boneyard of automotive has-beens - and nearly killed off Cadillac, too.

* The Sterling - Here's an oldie but still a stinkie. Japanese automakers rarely make big-time mistakes, but this was pretty close. Back in the late 1980s, in collusion with British car-maker Land Rover, Acura Legends were re-sold as "British" Sterling 825s and 827s. The alliance was as enduring as the Hitler-Stalin non-aggression pact - and just as awkward. Parts for these cars - especially interior pieces - are all but impossible to find. Dealer support is nonexistent. Resale values are lower than a well-worn Yugo.

If Truman had had another bomb left to drop, the childhood home of the dude who would grow up to create Sterling would have been a worthy target.

* Pontiac Fiero - A great idea ruined by upper management cheapskates, who thought it would be an amusing con to use Chevette-sourced underthings (front suspension, engine) in a car that looked sporty but couldn't live up to its billing. First-year sales were great - until the word got out. They then nose-dived like the Concorde, forcing the car's cancellation just four years after it came out and just in time to hand over the entire market for a car of this type to Mazda, which brought out the Miata a year after the Fiero was sent to the crusher.

* "Cab forward" design - Remember? When Chrysler Corp. hawked this layout in the '90s, it was supposed to be an automotive Great Leap Forward. But after a succession of belly-flops ranging from the luckless LHS to the Dodge not-so-Intrepid, the whole works was discretely packed up and shipped off the land of unwanted toys. Chrysler reverted back to front-engine/rear-drive ("cab normal") vehicles like the current 300 series and Charger - which, not surprisingly, actually sell well.

* Geo - Circa Ronald Reagn's first term, and desperate to rehabilitate its image, GM figured the only way to get people to consider buying a GM small car was by giving their crappy little economy cars a new name. Hence the "Geo" nameplate. Sold alongside Chevrolets, some Geos were ok (at least, the ones like the Prizm that were just re-badged Toyotas). But others were far from fabulous, notably the depressing three-cylinder Metro and the sad-sack Storm "sports coupe" - both of which may sometimes still be glimpsed on seedy used car lots in rural backwaters to this very day.

* The "new" GTO - The Holden (GM's Australian subsidiary) Monaro was a perfectly good car - powerful as well as fine-handling. But it was neither a Pontiac nor a GTO. Tacking on the badges didn't make it so.

It didn't help that the resurrected "GTO" was blandly styled (it looked a lot like a hot-rodded Cavalier) and close to Corvette expensive - making it all but impossible for even the handful of rednecks who might have wanted one to be able to afford one.

* Firestone's Wilderness A/T tires - Mix marginally competent drivers, top-heavy SUVs, high-speed driving and defective tires - and let the barrel-rolling (and endless litigation) begin! This late 1990s debacle all-but-ruined the reputation of what had been the country's best-selling SUV - the Explorer - even though the root cause of the problem had more to do with improper use and sketchy tires than with the "Exploder" itself.

* Chevy SSR - What's heavy, ugly, top-heavy and clunky? No, it's not your mother-in-law. It's the SSR, or Super Sport Retractable hardtop. Blechh! GM built this Frankenstinian atrocity for a few years in the early-mid 2000s. It looked like a '40s pick-up and had some interesting features - including a "torque-o-meter" gauge to let you know how much power the huge, Corvette sourced V-8 was putting out. But like the even more execrable PLymouth Prowler, it was a fake hot rod - a factory-built, store-bought Guidomobile for guys who want to be seen as sporty car-crafter types but who probably couldn't find the dipstick on a dare. With a base price of almost $50,000 it was the perfect accompaniment to a tract-home McMansion.

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