Tuesday, December 2, 2014
Over the past few years, some car industry observers, including this one, have surmised that Honda has been somewhat neglectful of its luxury brand, Acura. Recent offerings from the higher end of the Japanese automaker have been greeted less than enthusiastically.
So, enter a brand new sedan.
The TLX replaces the TSX and TL, both of which had their own merits, but neither of which made enough of an impact on the market to survive.
The 2015 TLX doesn't take a radical departure, appearance-wise, from recent Acura styling conventions.
But it has its own brand of attractiveness, which is to say that it's neat without being gaudy.
It assumes a role in the Acura lineup smack between the ILX, an entry level sedan, and the RLX, which has become the big Kahuna for Acura in cars.
It's a bit shorter than the outgoing TL, and its reduced size is most noticeable on the interior.
Not to say that the TLX is cramped, though, because front passengers can be seated reasonably comfortably and rear passengers will be alright if they aren't above average size.
The TLX has a 2.4-liter four-cylinder base engine that makes 206 horsepower and is linked to an eight-speed dual clutch automatic transmission.
If you choose to upgrade, you get a 3.5-liter V-6 with a nine-speed automatic.
Fuel economy is rated at 24 mpg city and 35 highway for the four cylinder and 21 and 31 for the six-banger.
All models get the all-wheel steering system, which Acura introduced on the RLX. Acura touts its benefits as gaining improved handling in corners by moving the rear wheels counter to the front, but letting the rear wheels pivot just a tad on high speed lane changes, allowing for smoother movement.
On the V-6 models, all-wheel drive is optional.
The interior design of the TLX is understated, but pleasant. You won't find anything that will make you oooohhh and aaaahhh, but neither will you find anything that will make you wretch.
Enjoy the mellowness.
Standard technology includes Bluetooth connectivity with audio streaming, USB/iPod port, Pandora Internet radio, an auto-dimming rearview mirror and Siri Eyes Free technology which combines with an iPhone to give the driver command over certain functions via voice commands. If you choose, a navigation system with Zagat restaurant review, real-time traffic and rerouting and GPS-linked climate control are optional.
The TLX doesn't radically change the luxury sedan market. But it adds an intriguing element of wonder to it. So check it out.
It starts at around $32,000 and ranges to around $45,000.
For a nice, practical midsize sedan, the TLX is worthy of much consideration.
Wednesday, November 26, 2014
The subcompact car market used to seem as if the automakers were sending buyers to the penalty box, making really small cars that didn't have much to offer in the way of comfort or style.
Those days seem to be over, thankfully, and it may be due in large part to the Honda Fit.
When the Fit made its debut a few years ago, it seemed to boldly state that it wanted subcompact drivers to have some practicality, and a little bit of fun, with their cars.
Since then, the Fit has only gotten better.
For the 2015 model year, it gets a full makeover, most notably with its new styling. The Fit now has a much more aggressive and sporty exterior appearance.
In fact, during our weeklong test drive, we noticed a few folks turning their heads to check out the car.
There are sharp, curving lines at the car's rear and a black grille and more pointed headlights in the front. There's also a more aerodynamic shape to the car, which aids fuel efficiency.
It's a nice move by Honda's designers, who have developed a reputation for being rather conservative. Or, who knows, maybe the designers have been coming up with cool stuff like this all along, but the Honda honchos have quashed their efforts at creativity.
The body of the new Fit is shorter, but the wheelbase has actually been extended and widened, with the end result being an increase in overall passenger room. Honda says the new Fit includes an added five inches of rear passenger leg room. That change might have shaved a bit of space from the front passenger area, and it did rob a little from the rear cargo area, but those decreases are minimal and not detrimental.
Plus, for more cargo space, you can fold the back seats up to carry taller items. When the seats are folded, the Fit has 52.7 cubic feet of cargo space, which is grand.
A backup camera is standard in the Fit, and optional is the LaneWatch system, which gives the driver a dashboard screen view of what's going on in the right lane when the driver turns on the signal to make a right.
Honda has what it calls its Earth Dreams engines, which are aimed squarely at touting their strong fuel efficiency. The Fit has one of these, a 1.5-liter four cylinder that makes 130 horsepower and comes with a six-speed manual or a continuously variable transmission.
The manual model gets 29 mpg city, 37 highway and the CVT gets 32 and 38. The LX trim model, thanks to some engineering tweaks, gets 33 and 41 with the CVT.
One minor issue we had with the Fit is that it's a bit noisy. Sonically, it reminds you a bit of driving in a jeep or a small truck. And truthfully, the ride is not the smoothest you'll find.
But if you're looking for an economical car that also is practical, do not let those issues dissuade you from looking at the Fit.
The Fit starts at around $16,000 and ranges to around $21,000.
This car proves that in some cases, you really don't have to pay a lot to get a lot.
Monday, November 24, 2014
The Honda Accord is among the most popular sedans of all time, and the 2015 model year version gives no indication that the car will lose that status anytime soon.
With solid fuel economy, a roomy interior and a great range of safety features, there is a lot to like about the Accord.
There aren't many changes for this model year, after the big overhaul the Accord got for the 2013 version.
The exterior of the Accord retains its understated styling, avoiding the bolder, more sweeping lines of some of its sedan competitors. But that's not to say the Accord is unattractive. It has a neat, simple style that has its own appeal.
The Accord comes with standard 16-inch wheels, or you can opt for 17- or 18-inch alloys.
The interior is where the Accord really scores some points. It is roomy and comfortable for passengers in front and rear.
And thanks to the remodeling of a couple of years ago, the quality of materials on the dash and on trim areas is better than ever.
Cargo space is also plentiful, at 15.1 cubic feet.
Standard features include Bluetooth connectivity, USB/iPod port, an 8-inch color touchscreen, Pandora Internet radio compatibility and dual zone climate control. Navigation system, leather seats and heated front seats are optional.
The Accord is a big winner in the safety department, being named a top safety pick by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and getting five stars, the most, from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
It's top safety feature, in our opinion, is LaneWatch, which is making its way through the Honda lineup. When you put on your turn signal to make a right turn, the dashboard screen shows what's coming from behind on the right side, thus eliminating the blind spot problem there.
There is also a standard backup camera. Options include lane departure warning and forward collision warning systems.
The Accord's base engine is a 2.4-liter four cylinder that makes 185 horsepower (189 in the Sport Sedan model) and is linked to a six-speed manual transmission or a continuously variable transmission. A 3.5-liter V-6 is also available; it makes 278 ponies and has a six-speed automatic.
Fuel economy is solid, with the four-cylinder with the CVT getting 27 mpg city, 36 highway.
The Accord starts at a little under $23,000 and ranges to about $34,000.
For a reliable, safe and fuel efficient sedan, the Accord is a splendid choice.
Friday, November 21, 2014
Ford is giving the public a sneak peek at its newly refreshed F-150 pickup at venues across the country. Ford is calling the truck the toughest, smartest, most capable F-150 ever.
The F-150 has a military-grade aluminum alloy body construction with a lighter frame that includes a greater amount of high-strength steel.
The truck offers four engine choices, including a new 2.7-liter EcoBoost V-6.
There is also a BoxLink system that lets users secure ramps, storage bins and bed dividers that they are hauling.
The tailgate remote lets users lock and unlock the gate by pressing a button on the key.
Ford says the truck has a best-in-class 3,300-pound payload capacity and 12,200-pound towing capacity.
If you want to check out the F-150 this weekend visit this site to find an event near you.
Thursday, November 13, 2014
When it's freezing outside, a breakdown could become far worse than a mere inconvenience. To help prevent car trouble, the Federal Emergency Management Agency suggests you or your mechanic follow these 12 checkpoints to winterize your vehicle:
Friday, November 7, 2014
Thursday, November 6, 2014
Electric vehicle sales have risen rapidly in the past couple of years in Georgia, thanks to tax incentives and the money that is saved from not having to visit the gas pump.
In the first six months of 2014, electric vehicle sales accounted for one out of every 60 vehicles sold in the state, according to Solar Energy USA.
The group cited the increasing number of electric vehicles on the market (think Nissan Leaf, Toyota Prius plug-in), the ability to drive in HOV lanes regardless of how many passengers you have, an increase in the number of charging stations and a $5,000 state tax credit that, when combined with a $7,500 federal tax credit, makes electric vehicles very affordable.
READ THE GROUP'S ARTICLE HERE
Wednesday, October 22, 2014
Each year in Atlanta’s 13-county metro region, more than 2.5 million cars are tested for emissions. Georgia’s Clean Air Force (GCAF), a partnership with the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (EPD), offers five key tips for motorists to help them ace their next emissions test.
Thursday, October 9, 2014
Friday, September 26, 2014
The 2015 Volkswagen Passat comes with impressive driving dynamics, a few engine choices and a roomy interior.
You won’t be blown away by the Passat’s looks. It has understated styling, on the outside and inside. But in that sense, it sets itself a bit apart from other midsize sedans, which in recent years have rushed to embrace the sweeping, slanting body style that has become so popular.
The Passat’s base engine is a 1.8-liter turbocharged four cylinder that makes 170 horsepower. Another choice is the 3.6-liter V-6 that makes 280 horsepower. And there’s a 2.0-liter four cylinder turbo diesel that makes 150 horsepower.
The base engine gets a very solid 24 mpg city, 36 highway, with its six speed automatic transmission. But if you want really great efficiency, get the diesel and its 30 mpg city, 44 highway with a six-speed manual or 30 and 42 with the automatic.
Clearly, Volkswagen continues to demonstrate a penchant for fuel economy.
Safety ratings favor the Passat as well.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gives it a five star rating and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gives it a top safety pick plus award.
On the outside, you’ll find 16-inch wheels standard, with 17 and 18-inchers optional.
The headlights and tail lights get a nice bit of angular styling, but other than that, there are just clean lines and no dramatic slopes to the Passat’s body style.
On the inside, the roomy Passat seats five comfortably. Optional amenities include push-button start, dual zone climate control and navigation.
The Passat starts at around $22,000 and ranges to about $37,000.
If you’re looking for a midsize sedan that’s fun to drive yet practical, the Passat is worth a look.
Friday, September 19, 2014
If you’re looking to carry your crew or your cargo in style, the seven-seat Infiniti QX60 is a good choice.
This crossover SUV made its debut in 2013, when it was called the JX35.
But as Infiniti made the questionable move to identify each of its vehicles with the letter Q, this one gets the new moniker.
What remains is a choice of front or all-wheel drive, a number of technology features and distinctive styling.
The QX60 is powered by a 3.5-liter V-6 engine that makes 265 horsepower and 248 pounds-feet of torque. That is mated to a continuously variable transmission, with front-wheel drive standard, all-wheel optional.
Front-wheel models get 20 mpg city, 26 highway and all wheels get 19 and 25.
The safety technology of the QX60 is outstanding. There is a backup collision intervention system that senses objects that are sitting low behind the vehicle or other vehicles that may be crossing the rear path and warns the driver or applies the brakes when needed.
There’s also an around view monitor that gives an overhead view of the vehicle to reveal any objects that may be to the sides or in the blind spots of the driver.
And as you might expect there is blind spot warning, lane departure warning and adaptive cruise control, which slows the vehicle when it closely approaches a vehicle ahead of it.
· For exterior styling, the contoured rear window is a nice touch, giving it an imaginative design feature that goes a step beyond the usual SUV look.
· A power liftgate and moonroof are standard.
· The interior is comfortable and nicely appointed. Front and second row passengers get a decent amount of head- and leg room, while the third row is a bit more snug, but not bad for children.
· The rear cargo area has 15.8 feet of space, which isn’t huge, but is certainly serviceable.
· Three zone climate control, heated front seats and leather seating are standard features.
· Available options include cooled front seats, heated steering wheel and second-row seats, a navigation system and two-screen rear entertainment system.
· The QX60 starts at around $43,000 and ranges to about $45,000.
· For great safety technology, distinctive styling and nice amenities, the QX60 is worth a look.
Wednesday, September 10, 2014
Car buyers face the decision of whether it’s worth it to purchase an extended vehicle warranty. Some say the prolonged protection is worth it, but others say that it often does not pay off.
If you’re facing this choice, there are a few factors you should keep in mind.
Some extended warranties are better than others. Factors such as who is selling the warranty, when you purchase it and its particular terms can make a big difference.
Beat The Press
When you’re signing all that paperwork at the dealership, don’t be pressured to buy the warranty at that moment. You might do better to find a third party, or after-market, seller. That’s because dealerships frequently
substantially mark up the cost of their warranties.
Try To Anticipate
If you think there’s a good chance that the car you’ll buying will have a problem that will cause a major repair bill, and that you’ll have difficulty handling that bill, an extended warranty might be a good idea. Of course, it’s very difficult to predict such occurrences.
If you’re buying a new car, which typically is covered by a three year/ 36,000 mile warranty, think about your plans for after that period. If you think you’ll be getting rid of the car at about that time, don’t buy an extended warranty. If you might hold onto it for a long time, the warranty might be worth it.
A major auto maker or a highly regarded financial services company are probably the best places to buy warranties, if you choose to do so. Local dealers and other third parties might not be as reputable.
Know The Terms
It’s important to get a full accounting of what’s covered and what’s not, and to know the payment terms and conditions.