Friday, May 28, 2010

Tips for Improving Your Mileage

[] Check tire pressure. There's a 1percent loss of fuel efficiency for every 2 PSI under maximum pressure (usually in the 35-psi range). So if you're running at 26 psi, you're giving up about 5 percent fuel efficiency.

[] A synthetic motor oil can improve fuel efficiency. You can realize a 5 percent to 10 percent gain by switching to a synthetic motor oil such as Mobil 1.

[] Drive slower. Most modern automobile engines are most efficient at below-highway speeds. Around 55 mph gets maximum efficiency. The gas mileage difference between 60 mph and 80 mph is going to be in the 15 percent range.

[] Take out the added weight from your vehicle. For every 100-pounds in cargo, you're burning about 2 percent more gas. Avoid putting cargo on the roof, which diminishes gas mileage.

Fuel Economy Myths

  • Hitting the road this holiday weekend? If so, you surely will want to get the best gas mileage possible. Here are some fuel economy myths from, the federal Web site for gas mileage information.

    --It takes more fuel to start a vehicle than it does to let it idle.

    People are really confused about this one and will leave a car idling for half an hour rather than turn it off and restart. A group of youths recently started an anti-idling campaign in the suburbs and are shaming parents into shutting down their cars.

    Idling uses a quarter- to a half-gallon of fuel in an hour (costing you one to two cents a minute). Unless you're stalled in traffic, turn off the car when stopped for more a few minutes.

  • Vehicles need to be warmed up before they're driven.
    That is a long-outdated notion. Today's cars are fine being driven off seconds after they're started.

  • As a vehicle ages, its fuel economy decreases significantly.
    Not true. As long as it's maintained, a 10- or 15-year-old car should have like-new mileage. The key thing is maintenance -- an out-of-tune car will definitely start to decline mileage-wise.

  • Replacing your air filter helps your car run efficiently.
    Another outdated claim, going back to the pre-1976 carburetor days. Modern fuel-injection engines don't get economy benefits from a clean air filter.

  • After-market additives and devices can dramatically improve your fuel economy.
    There's not much evidence that these "miracle products" do much more than drain your wallet. Both the Federal Trade Commission and Consumer Reports have weighed in on this. There are no top-secret 100-mpg add-ons out there.

  • Using premium fuel improves fuel economy.
    You might as well write a check to BP if you believe this. Only use premium if your car specifies it.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Infiniti Restyles its Big SUV

The 2011 version of the Infiniti QX56 gets a restyling that certainly adds an extra element of luxury and fashion. This large SUV formerly shared a platform with the Nissan Titan pickup and Armada SUV, but now is based on the Nissan Patrol, a vehicle built and sold in Japan.

The QX still comes with a 5.6-liter V-8 engine, but it has been made more fuel efficient and been given more power. In fact, it's the same powerplant as found in Infiniti's M56 sedan.

Infiniti recently showed off the new QX at an unveiling event in Louisville, Ky., at which it acknowledged that the large luxury SUV market isn't so, well, large anymore. However, Infiniti officials said, it is still somewhat substantial and probably pretty lucrative.

The officials said that it's common now for this segment to produce sales of around 105,000 vehicles per year, compared with the peak year of 2006, when more than 290,000 vehicles were sold.

Remember those days, when we really didn't give the price of gas much of a second thought?

Well, most folks do think about it twice, maybe even three times now. So back then, when everyone who wanted to sport a little bling was buying a Cadillac Escalade, other manufacturers wanted to, shall we say, enrich their big SUV offerings.

But Escalade remained the market king, and still does.

But there is room for other players in the segment, Infiniti officials say, because the market has changed.

The bling isn't the thing anymore, they say. Meaning that those buyers who just wanted big and gaudy are gone from this segment.

The segment now, Infiniti says, is made of high-income family buyers, who have two, three, maybe even four kids, possibly a pet or two, and maybe a boat to haul around on weekends.

They need the functionality of a big SUV, but also want the niceties that come from a luxury brand.

If that's true (it probably is), then those buyers will find a nice piece of machinery in the QX. The sleeker looks are very appealing, the inside is designed well (check out the huge legroom in the second row) and it drives smoothly.

The QX56 comes with a base price of $56,700 for a two-wheel drive model and $59,800 for a four-wheel drive.

Friday, May 21, 2010

VW Tiguan Might be a Big Hit

If you are reading this, you can punch the nearest person because you are seeing a Volkswagen.
Of course, that might not be socially acceptable -- despite those popular VW commercials.
But the VW Tiguan, a small SUV that has some neat features, might make you a little punchy anyway.
Well, the 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine is powered nicely, producing 200 horsepower.
It is linked to a six-speed automatic or manual transmission, and all-wheel drive is available in addition to the standard front-wheel configuration.
Fuel economy is OK; 18-19 mpg city, 24-26 highway.
And it has pretty decent looks - nothing too radical, just a nicely styled small SUV, inside and out.
With all of those good qualities, you'd like to say that it is also value priced.
Uh, not quite.
At the lower end, a Tiguan can be had for around $24,000, but if you add on a few things, you can go as high as $33,000.
That's a little steep for this type of vehicle.
The tester, which did not have a sunroof or satellite radio, was priced at a little north of $26,000.
While that's not terribly expensive, you might expect a bit more goodies at that price point, and you can certainly get them from competitors such as the Hyundai Tucson (almost fully loaded at the VW tester's price), Kia Sportage (fully loaded for a couple thousand less) and Chevrolet Equinox (better styling and performance for around the same price).
But that's not to say that the Tiguan is without positive attributes.
That four-cylinder engine, for instance, is very strong, with a towing capacity of 2,200 pounds and a payload rating of 1,352 pounds, according to VW.
The 16-inch alloy wheels are attractive, and 17- and 18-inchers are available.
There are three trim levels: S, SE and SEL.
The S has an eight-speaker sound system, step up to the SE and you get heated front seats and touch screen audio system and the SEL has leather seats, optional sunroof and upgraded interior trim.
The Tiguan also drives rather spiritedly, as you might expect of a Volkswagen.
It handles curves nicely, accelerates smoothly and brakes assuredly.
For convenience, the tire pressure monitoring system keeps an eye on whether tires are properly inflated.
And for safety, the Tiguan includes front and front-side airbags that are standard and the vehicle receives a five out of five star rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
So, if you are impressed by all those features, and you don't mind forking over a few extra dollars, go ahead and drive a Tiguan.
And watch as bystanders punch each other in the arm.


Thursday, May 13, 2010

You are Hereby Ordered to Drive the New Sonata

Hyundai continues to dazzle the automotive world with great-looking products that are affordable, reliable and fun to drive.
Its latest masterpiece is the 2011 Sonata midsize sedan.
This model has, over the past few years, been a fine competitor among sedans.
Now, with a substantially redesigned body, it is one of the most compelling vehicles on the market.
That's right - it almost should be mandatory that everyone test drive this car.
The most notable thing about it is its striking beauty.
Sleek lines and dramatic design language now dominate the Sonata's exterior.
It certainly was not a bad looking car before, but it wasn't highly distinguished among competitors such as the Honda Accord or Chevrolet Malibu.
Now, it stands out like a beautiful, athletic, healthy thumb (it certainly could not be referred to as a sore thumb).
Its chrome trim and grille, tapered roof and contoured side panels make it look like a car that easily costs around $40,000.
But it's not even close - more on that in a second.
Another thing you'll love is the fuel economy.
Hyundai has been quite insistent about touting the 35 mpg rating it gets from EPA, and as well it should.
Because the engine, a 2.4-liter four-cylinder that makes 198 horsepower, is plenty strong - not puny like some other cars that boast high mpg numbers.
The Sonata gets 22-24 mpg in the city.
There is no six-cylinder offered, and none is needed.
The four-banger is direct injection, creating fewer emissions and added power.
Coming later this year, though, will be a hybrid version and a turbocharged four-cylinder.
After being thrilled by the exterior, you won't be disappointed one bit with the interior.
There are quality materials throughout, and luxury options include power sunroof, heated leather seats, premium sound system, touch-screen navigation system and rearview camera.
You can also get 16-inch steel wheels or 17- or 18-inch alloys.
If safety is a concern, check out the Sonata's top-safety-pick rating from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
That group must have been impressed by the six airbags, traction control and electronic stability system.
So this beauty must be kind of pricy, eh?
Think again.
The Sonata has three trim levels: GLS, SE and Limited.
Pricing starts around $19,200 and tops out at about $26,000.
That is remarkable for what is basically a premium sedan.
With this kind of beauty, fuel economy and affordability, you must drive a Hyundai Sonata.
Right now.
And if you don't like it, you must never be permitted to drive anything else again, ever.
If you do like it, you probably won't want to drive anything else again, ever.


Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Friday, May 7, 2010

Nissan Aiding Post-Flood Efforts

Nissan today announced an immediate $200,000 cash donation to the American Red Cross in Middle Tennessee and a $50,000 cash donation to Second Harvest Food Bank to assist with flooding relief efforts in Tennessee. Nissan also will match employee donations to American Red Cross and Second Harvest Food Bank, dollar-for-dollar up to $50,000.

Additionally, Nissan will offer employee pricing and delayed finance payments on Nissan and Infiniti vehicles to eligible individuals who lost their vehicles due to flooding. Employee pricing and payment delay will be extended through June 30 to any resident of Tennessee and bordering Kentucky counties whose vehicle was damaged by flooding. Customers are required to show proof of damage and should work with area dealers to apply this offer. More information can be found by following a special link at

Thursday, May 6, 2010

High Museum Features Auto Exhibit, Movies

As Atlanta’s High Museum of Art is showing its automotive exhibit, TheAllure of the Automobile: Driving in Style 1930-1965, the museum is also planning a few auto-related movie showings. The four-movie series,“Races, Chases, and Classy Chassis: Cars on Screen,” are:

May 7 - Ronin

May 14 - It Happened One Night

May 21 - Bullitt

May 28 - American Graffiti
To buy tickets, click here.
“The Allure of the Automobile” runs through June 20 and features 18 vehicles that were made in that time period. The exhibit examines the evolution of the automobile in Europe and the United States, and traces how cars' engineering has changed over the years.
For more information on visiting the High, see the museum’s website.

Audi Q7 TDI is a Clean, Green, Diesel Machine

When Audi introduced its Q7 SUV a few years ago, it was notable because of its attractive styling and very good (for a large SUV) driving characteristics.
The good news is that for the 2010 model year, those qualities are retained.
The better news is that now, the Q7 is available with Audi's TDI diesel technology, which brings greatly improved fuel economy.
If you're familiar with Audi's recent products, you probably are aware of the LED headlights that resemble a bejeweled necklace, and you probably like it.
Well, you can like it on the Q7 also.
Another thing to admire on the Q7 is the optional 20-inch wheels that give a boost to the exterior styling.
The wheel base, more than 118 inches, provides a nice, smooth ride.
The engine, a 3.0-liter, six-cylinder, is powered by Audi's turbo diesel technology, which gives power that will make you think you've got a V-8 under the hood.
Audi says the engine makes 280 horsepower.
But you will certainly realize you don't have a thirsty V-8 when you look at your fuel economy.
In a week of city and highway driving, the Q7 TDI tester got around 23 mpg.
Sure, these days you'll pay a fair bit more for diesel fuel than you will for gasoline, but with a cruising range of around 600 miles, you won't seem to notice because you'll go so long between fill-ups.
That's admirable for a vehicle this size.
And speaking of size, the interior of the Q7 is quite roomy.
There are three rows of seats, and while the middle row offers a pretty good amount of legroom, the third row is pretty tight and therefore would really only work for kid seating.
But the cargo storage capacity of the Q7 is ample. With the middle and last rows of seating folded, you could haul almost as much as you could in a pickup truck.
There is also storage space under the floor.
For convenience, the power hatch door opens and closes with the push of a button, and does so quicker than on most vehicles, which is handy.
Audi says the Q7 receives a five-star safety rating, which helps give you peace of mind for hauling the family around.
The Q7 TDI is priced at right around $60,000, but for a big, luxurious, green-friendly vehicle (remember, diesels have lower emissions), it's not a bad deal.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Lexus HS250h is Understated Style in a Hybrid

Lexus has established itself as a leader in the hybrid vehicle segment, and its HS 250h sedan shows why.
This car is a neatly designed, smooth-operating luxury vehicle that gets outstanding gas mileage.
The first thing you'll notice about the HS is how when you turn it on, it doesn't really seem as if you've turned it on.
After starting the ignition, the car remains as quiet as before you hit the button.
For newcomers to hybrid driving, this will throw you for a loop, but those who have been in green machines before will probably not be surprised.
After that, the smooth ride and comfort of the HS remind you that you are in a Lexus, and that's not a bad place to be at all.
The HS features a 2.4-liter, four-cylinder engine that makes 147 horsepower and is linked to two electric motors.
Lexus says the first electric motor controls the starter, generator and continuously variable transmission, while the second is responsible for propulsion.
The result of all this whiz-bang stuff?
How about a whopping 35 mpg city, 34 highway, according to EPA.
In a week of mixed city and highway driving, the tester vehicle got close to 37 mpg combined.
How's its power, you may ask?
Not too shabby.
While 147 ponies might not sound so robust, the HS had no trouble at all merging onto crowded highways and passing vehicles cruising the slow lanes.
Its external styling is certainly not flashy, but is attractive nonetheless. You won't find dramatic lines or bold styling, but you will find a nonpolarizing shape that isn't too trendy.
On the inside, things are nicely proportioned and well-placed, and the styling says understated luxury.
The leather on the steering wheel, seats and door panels provide a rich look that is bolstered by the optional wood trim on the dash.
Comfort and convenience features include automatic dual-zone climate control and optional heated seats and USB/Bluetooth connectivity.
Lexus says the electronically controlled brakes with antilock function and brake assist, paired with the stability control system, provide the driver with outstanding control in challenging road conditions.
LexusInform, the company's infomatics system (similar to General Motors' OnStar), gives crash notification in the event of an accident or communicates the car's location if it gets stolen and can offer other roadside assistance information.
The HS250 is priced from around $34,700 - $37,500.
With its outstanding fuel economy and pleasant interior and exterior, Lexus shows how you can be keen on green.