Ford has announced that it is rolling out a collision warning system on its mainstream models, including the newest version of the Taurus. The collision warning with brake support system works in conjunction with the adaptive cruise control, a drive-assistance feature that Ford introduced on the 2009 Lincoln MKS, the company said. Ford said it will be the first to offer this technology on mainstream models that many families can afford.
Mazda has one of the sportiest overall lineups in the auto industry.
And the company's latest version of its Mazda6 midsize sedan is a shining example of its "Zoom-Zoom" commitment to making athletic, good-looking, fun vehicles.
The Mazda6 is larger and more powerful than its previous version, and is more agile as well.
And Mazda might not be known as a luxury brand, but this sedan, at the top of its trim levels, is as much of a luxury car as many other competitors in that field.
The Mazda6 comes with a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine or a 3.7-liter V-6.
This version is four inches longer, giving the sedan more rear-seat room and a larger trunk.
Mazda also said it wanted to enhance the quality of contruction, body rigidity and refinement.
And, the handling is now even sportier and the rigidity is more firmly grounded.
Mazda says it used high-strength steel to stiffen the body.
Mazda says it used seven design teams in four studios to come up with the new Mazda6.
The company said it tuned its handling at Mazda Laguna Seca race track -- the track it owns in Monterey, Calif.
The track is known for its thrilling twists and turns, including one section appropriately called the Corkscrew.
Most people who drive this car won't encounter anything quite that challenging, but it's nice to know that when you do encounter switchbacks and other road drama, the Mazda6 will be more than up to the task.
The four-cylinder engine makes 170 horsepower and 167 pounds-feet of torque, while the 3.7-liter V-6 cranks out 272 horsepower and 269 pounds-feet.
Both engines are mated to a six-speed automatic transmission with manual shifting capability.
In the four-cylinder, there is also a six-speed manual transmission.
Mazda says it expects the four-cylinder to account for 75 percent of the sales, and we can see why.
The power is terrific and the gas mileage is very nice.
Our tester posted EPA numbers of 20 mpg city, 29 highway.
Spend a little more, though, and enjoy the thrills of the bigger engine, without a huge hit taken in mpg.
The four-cylinder model starts around $18,550, and increases to about $20,250 with the Sport edition.
Other trim levels include the Touring and Grand Touring, which our tester was, and it carried a sticker price of $29,340, but was fully loaded and quite luxurious.
Each Mazda6 comes standard with traction control and stability control.
While Mazda faces lots of formidable competition in the midsize sedan category, from vehicles such as the Chevrolet Malibu, Ford Fusion, Honda Accord and Toyota Camry, for value and, yes, sportiness, it's hard to beat the Mazda6
Chrysler showed off four all-electric Chrysler Town & Country minivan concepts to the U.S. Postal Service as part of the USPS Earth Day celebration last week. Chrysler, in conjunction with the USPS and select energy service providers, also announced that the company intends to apply for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Transportation Electrification stimulus program for a federal grant, which would enable Chrysler to establish a nationwide demonstration fleet of zero-emission electric minivans that could be used by the U.S. Postal Service for mail delivery. “With more than a 40 percent market share, our Chrysler and Dodge minivans continue to lead the segment we created more than 25 years ago,” said Frank Klegon, Executive Vice President—Product Development, Chrysler LLC. “Our ENVI electric minivan concepts illustrate Chrysler’s innovation with electric vehicle technology and show what the future could hold.” Chrysler’s ENVI group leveraged the flexibility of its electric-vehicle strategy to demonstrate an all-electric version of its best-selling minivan. These electric minivan concepts are targeted specifically for use by the U.S. Postal Service for mail delivery.
You might think of the 2009 Dodge Ram 1500 Laramie crew cab pickup as a great work truck that also offers spiffy luxury features.
Or you might think of the Ram as a spiffy luxury vehicle that can also serve as a great work truck.
But once you move beyond that "Tastes great/less filling" debate (remember the old Lite beer commercials?), you can just appreciate this truck for what it is: a bountiful, versatile, powerful machine.
When you first behold the Ram, you'll be struck by its size.
This thing is a giant.
But when you get inside, it's all about the amenities and technical features.
The Ram has gotten larger for this model year, and that means more interior space.
This thing now offers at least as much living space as a double-wide mobile home. (Well, not quite, but it seems like it.)
The added size brings more towing power and hauling capacity, too.
But what you don't get with the increased size is a loss of nimbleness; the Ram moves as gracefully as it ever has.
All that size has advantages, such as the great road visibility that accompanies the high riding position and the feeling of confidence that you could come out Ok in case of a minor collision.
But truthfully, there are some disadvantages, such as inability to fit into tight parking spots and having to be extra careful to overcome a few blind spots when you're parking or pulling out of spots that have objects within close proximity.
But to assist you with those situations, the Ram is available with a backup camera or a proximity sensor that beeps to alert you when you are getting close to something behind you.
Other features that score the Ram some impressive luxury points are the comfortable power seats upholstered in leather, the heated steering wheel and seats, the Uconnect multimedia system with USB port and 30GB hard drive and Bluetooth capability and the Sirius Satellite TV.
That feature, also available on the Dodge Grand Caravan and Chrysler Town & Country minivans, offers Disney, Nickelodeon, and Cartoon Network to entertain the younger members of your crew who will be seated in the back seat.
You can also connect a DVD player or video game console to play on the rear seat screen.
Additionally, the multimedia system can rip music to the hard drive from CDs or from a USB port that's on the faceplate. On the outside, the feature that got the most notice from observers was the Ram Box storage area.
These bins, located on either side of the cargo bed, are lockable areas that are fairly deep and can store anything from tools to beverages.
That's an excellent innovation.
When it comes to on-road performance, our tester had the 5.7-liter Hemi V-8 engine, so power was quite abundant.
The engine, mated to a five-speed automatic transmission, makes 390 horsepower and 407 pounds-feet of torque.
The Ram comes with a multilink coil suspension that enhances stability and delivers generally a very smooth ride.
All that power and size will, of course, mean not so stellar fuel economy numbers; 14 mpg city, 20 highway, according to EPA.
But Dodge did equip the truck with a colossal 32 gallon fuel tank, figuring that it's better to stop one very painful time at the pump rather than lots of uncomfortable ones.
The Ram's ride, for a pickup truck, is very refined, and its handling and power are outstanding.
A Ram configured in the way that our tester was sits at the high end of the Dodge offerings, but there are many others, including different bed sizes and single or crew cabs.
Then, you can choose from two- or four-wheel drive and up to four trim levels.
The Ram 1500 starts at a little more than $22,000 for a low-end trim model.
But our tester carried a sticker price of $48,315.
If you want to work in luxury, or have luxury that can work, Ram offers an excellent choice.
The Garmin 255w 8956338 is perfect for local or vacation travel. Never get lost with this widescreen gps. One GPS works in two cars with two of each accessory included.
Q: Have consumers cut back on their spending on car accessories because of the recession, or have they just opted to buy less expensive items?
A: Car accessories are still a hot purchase item, it's just that customers are especially paying attention to the value the accessories add. No matter the price, customers want their purchase to add value to lives of family and friends who travel in the vehicle. I think people are so busy that they don't get to travel as much for fun, so when they do, they want to enjoy the ride, which is where car accessories come in. For that reason, I'm seeing a lot of families coming in to buy the Garmin 255 Nuvi.
There are 3.5" and 4.3" screen versions, and the 4.3" is selling out continually.
Q: Who is the typical consumer? Usually when you think of buyers of car accessories, you think of young guys, maybe age 16-24. But is there a large market outside that demographic?
A: You would mainly think that it's the Gen Y guys who are coming in to the store to upgrade their vehicles, however, car accessories have grown beyond stereo systems, so all different age groups are coming by to check out how they can make their car more high tech.
For example, I'm seeing a lot of families stopping by to purchase security systems and empty nesters buying GPSs. Also, nowadays, the people who are coming in to buy new radios are folks who are looking to have a system that can integrate all their tech (e.g. cell phone, iPod) more so than improve their stereo sound quality. This encompasses all age groups.
Q: What kinds of services does Best Buy offer for folks who want to buy accessories, but don't know a whole lot about the products or how to install them?
However, it's always fun to help a customer out in person and understand what he/she is really looking for. Then, a BlueShirt like me can figure out what products and services are needed to accomplish the customer's goals.
Q: Have shows like "Pimp My Ride" helped the popularity of accessorizing cars?
A: Definitely. Car shows have made everyone aware of the fact that they can add entertainment-features to their vehicles. From stereos to video game systems, any car can go from a simple mode of transportation to an entertainment super center on four wheels. These shows help expand people's imaginations.
Q: Do you have any cool accessories on your car? What do you have?
A: I have a 2005 Dodge Magnum with nice subwoofers and an amplifier. Whether you're in to classical, jazz or other kinds of music, subwoofers really bring the music to life. I also have a Garmin GPS that has a 7-inch screen and can play CDs/DVDs in the deck.
Toyota announced manufacturer’s suggested retail prices for the all-new 2010 Prius midsize hybrid, scheduled to go on sale beginning in late May at Toyota dealers nationwide. The third-generation Prius will be available in one grade with a starting MSRP of $21,000. The Prius will be offered with five levels of popular standard equipment combinations. “The 2010 Prius delivers outstanding mileage, performance and advanced technology at a great price,” said Bob Carter, group vice president and general manager of the Toyota Division. Carter sees the most popular model starting at an MSRP of $22,000, equipped with a high level of standard features, “This model provides more than $2,000 added value, including the features most buyers want, at the same price as the current base model” he said. A new base model with a lower level of standard equipment is scheduled to be available later this year. It is designed to appeal to the most cost-conscious businesses and consumers.
It is interesting to note how Toyota's SUVs just keep getting bigger.
Case in point: the 2009 Toyota Highlander.
First launched for model year 2001, the Highlander started as a midsize SUV that would be more refined and car-like, rather than truck-like.
Toyota was on to something, because crossovers, as they are now known, have soared in popularity in the years since.
The Highlander was redesigned last year, and now shares a platform with the Avalon full-size sedan.
That resulted in the Highlander growing in length by 3.8 inches, in width by 3.3 inches and in height by 2.8 inches.
Its wheelbase is 2.9 inches longer.
On the interior, there is an added 41 cubic feet of space.
Highlander has packed on 300 pounds in vehicle weight.
The engine is a powerful yet smooth 3.5-liter V-6, also found in the Camry and Avalon.
It makes 270 horsepower and 248 pounds-feet of torque.
The horsepower is up 55 from that of the previous model's 3.3-liter V-6.
The RAV4 and Sequoia, two other Toyota SUVs, have also gotten larger in recent redesigns.
The RAV4, remade in 2006, is now nearly as big as the older version Highlander.
The Highlander's fuel economy ratings are 18 mpg city, 24 highway, which is an improvement over the previous version's V-6 numbers of 17 and 23.
The Highlander also is available as a hybrid , with that model having a smaller V-6 engine and an electric motor and posting numbers of 27 city, 25 highway.
That model starts at more than $32,000, which might make it hard to justify, financially anyway, surpassing the traditional model.
Standard features on the Highlander include five-speed automatic transmission, electronic power steering, side-curtain air bags for all three rows of seats, a driver's side knee air bag and larger alloy wheels.
The safety features, besides the airbags, include a more-rigid cabin design that allows for better absorption of crash energy, and new active head restraints.
The Highlander's electronic stability control, brakes and steering also were improved, Toyota said.
The Highlander's exterior styling was changed to make it more SUV-like, rather than looking so much like a big station wagon.
Toyota says the Highlander's typical buyers are couples, empty-nesters and busy families, and that this version should draw younger and more-affluent customers than the last model.
Toyota thinks that some new features will be appealing to more buyers, such as the second-row seat that can be converted from a bench configuration to bucket seats so that you can walk through to the rear. When you take out that section, you can put it in a floor compartment under the front console.
The Highlander has three trim levels: base, Sport and Limited.
All-wheel drive is optional on all three.
Our tester was a base model with a V-6 engine, which starts at around $27,600.
Five-passenger models, with no third row of seats, are available in the base and Sport trim levels.
Today, wagons just make sense, because of their ability to haul people and cargo, while not being too big and chugging too much fuel.
Also, with models such as this one, you get sporty driving dynamics.
The car comes in two versions: Audi A3 Sportback 2.0 T and A3 Quattro.
The A3's engine, suspension and braking systems are wonderfully engineered.
But it also offers pretty good fuel economy, with our 3.2-liter six-cylinder engine coming in at 18 mpg city, 25 highway.
The practicality that you get from the A3 does not come at the expense of luxury.
The interior design is handsome and classy, and there is plenty of room, so you won't feel cramped while enjoying the sports-car driving experience.
The quality materials and effeciently placed controls are exactly what Audi has become known for.
But it's on the road where the A3 really distinguishes itself.
It is sensational on the open lanes, is perfectly suited to long-haul trips and is versatile enough to be used for your in-town needs.
The A3 delivers great balance and strong acceleration response, which we really enjoyed taking advantage of on some rural western Georgia roads that meandered through farm land.
The A3 2.0 T is front-wheel drive with a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine rated at 200 horsepower. Two transmissions are available on that one: six-speed manual or optional Direct Shift Gearbox (DSG) automatic.
The 3.2 Quattro, our tester, comes with all-wheel drive, a 250-hp 3.2-liter V6, and the DSG.
The A3 has quite a collection of standard features such as automatic climate control with sun sensor, windshield wipers with four-position intermittent control, four-spoke steering wheel, electronic cruise control with coast, aluminum trim on center dashboard air vents, power windows with power retention when ignition shut-off, power remote keyless entry with trunk release and electric rear window defogger with automatic shut-off feature. The car has a strong lineup of safety features, too, such as electronic stability program with antilock brakes and electronic brake differential, driver and passenger next-generation front airbag, 3-point safety belts with automatic pre-tensioners, side-impact airbags and adjustable headrests for front and rear seats.
Audi has sold nearly 2 million A3s worldwide, including other body styles, and has earned accolades for its high levels of technology and sporty driving dynamics.
Our tester carried a sticker price of $41,650.
But it's money well spent, certainly better than blowing cash on leisure suits and Village People albums.
If there is such a thing as a no-brainer purchase in merchandise that is $50,000 and above, this is it. The 2009 Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid gives you pretty much everything you could ask for. Good gas mileage? Check. We got a little over 22 mpg in city and highway driving, which is great for a huge, eight-passenger SUV. Towing ability? Check. How about 6,200 pounds, only 1,300 pounds less than the regular Tahoe. Luxury? Check. The interior feels like you're riding in its cousin, the Cadillac Escalade. Now of course, for all the terrific engineering and utility you get, you do pay a premium; the hybrid runs about $5,000 more than the regular Tahoe. But for driving a huge SUV without the added cargo of guilt that you would get from driving a regular huge SUV, maybe it's all worth it. The Tahoe Hybrid uses General Motors' two-mode hybrid system, a wonderful creation that allows it to move again after being stopped without restarting the gasoline engine. Plus, it can run solely on electric power up to 30 mph if you don't accelerate too rapidly. The Tahoe, like most hybrids, has a gauge that lets you see how eco-friendly you are driving. Avoiding hard acceleration keeps that needle in the heart of the green zone. In fact, driving that way on the more urban routes we used, we got somewhere in the ballpark of 28 mpg, which is superb. The hybrid battery pack of this 5,617-pound vehicle is based under the middle row of seats, which prevents them from folding flat. But despite that, there is still an abundance of cargo space. The Tahoe Hybrid comes with a 6.0-liter V-8 gasoline engine that makes 332 horsepower and is mated to a continuously variable automatic transmission.The variable cylinder management feature lets the engine shut down to four cylinders when it can get by with less power, thus adding to fuel efficiency. Also contributing to the hybrid's fuel efficiency are the lighter seats and aluminum body panels, although the hybrid still weighs almost 400 pounds more than the regular Tahoe. One little thing you'll have to get used to in the hybrid is the little whirring noise that it makes as it slows down or accelerates. But that noise is soft enough not to disrupt the otherwise silent conditions that you'll encounter. There are subtle differences in exterior design between the Tahoe Hybrid and the regular version, such as the slightly altered front end, lack of a roof rack and lower tires. There is a not-so-subtle difference, too - the huge Hybrid labels that are pasted on the body.On the inside, the family can enjoy such options as the premium audio system, DVD entertainment system, navigation and back-up camera. Plus, as we thirsty Americans have come to expect, there are seemingly dozens of cupholders. To ensure safety, this big tank comes with lots of airbags, including up front, on the sides and at the head curtain. There are also rollover sensors. If you want to take your green machine off road, four-wheel drive is available. We weren't able to check that feature out, but GM says its system is comparable to most trail-rated pickup trucks and offers superior stability and traction. Probably safe to say that most of this vehicle's buyers won't go off road much. But be assured that the time they will spend on road will be quite pleasant, thanks to the Tahoe Hybrid's smooth ride and great amenities. The Tahoe Hybrid's base price is around $50,500. Our tester went for a little more than $53,000.
Atlanta’s Auto Advisor and founder of the Women’s Automotive Connection, Gail Dunn, encourages women to take control of their automotive service and repair transactions by empowering and educating them to come out ahead.
In conjunction with National Car Care Month, “Automotive Boot Camp for Women,” is an entertaining program educating women on vehicle service, maintenance, mechanical and collision repair.
The event will be at Parc Alpharetta on Saturday, April 18 at 2:00 pm.
This fun afternoon will feature hands-on learning and the chance to give back to those in need.
Tickets are only $15 and two cans of food for North Fulton Community Charities' Food Drive.
Why should you go? Well, if you're a woman (or a man, for that matter) looking for creative ways to cut costs in today’s economy, you could be financially devastated when facing a major problem with your vehicle.
So learn how to not get taken for a ride when you visit a mechanic.
Women purchase 60% of all new and used automobiles and influence over 85% of all car purchases (J.D. Power and Associates).
Additionally, women spend $300 billion annually on used car sales, maintenance, repairs and service (Road & Track Magazine, Female Buyer Study).
CHECK OUT A LITTLE OF WHAT YOU WILL LEARN AT BOOT CAMP HERE:
The 2009 Toyota RAV4 is a small-to-midsize SUV that offers a nice ride, good handling and available all-wheel drive and can carry seven passengers in some configurations.
Our tester had a V-6 engine; a four-cylinder is standard.
While it was nice to have the extra power offered by the six banger, most people who drive this type of vehicle really don't need it, and in fact would benefit from the improved fuel economy from the four cylinder.
If you are doing hauling, towing or off-roading, you probably would not select a RAV4.
But if you just need to shuttle the family around, occasionally pick up some stuff at the home improvement store and a few groceries, and want something bigger than a small sedan, this is the vehicle for you.
The RAV4 of today is far superior to its ancestor, a little two-door odd-looking thing that came out in the mid-1990s.
But give Toyota credit, though; that little RAV4 created a whole new category, crossovers, that is thriving today.
Today, the RAV4 has a much more conventional style, and is more of a family vehicle than the one that was originally targeting active, young single folks.
For 2009, the Sport and Limited trim models get new options that include a lower-cost navigation system, and a rear backup monitor.
Also on the Limited, you can get a Smart Key entry system standard.
There is a new uphill/downhill shift control system that eases the strain on the transmission.
Overall, Toyota has done an excellent job of combining the best attributes of its cars with the functionality of an SUV.
Toyota says it uses high-strength steel to raise the body rigidity and improve steering, handling and ride.
Also improved as a result of the frame enhancements is the crash energy management, vehicle weight, vibration and noise.
The four-cylinder engine makes 179 horsepower, while the V-6 makes 269.
Gas mileage is 22 mpg city, 28 highway for the four-cylinder with two-wheel drive, and 19 and 27 for the V-6 2wd.
The RAV4 starts at just under $22,500 and goes all the way up to about $37,000.