Monday, October 31, 2011

Buick Unveils Verano Compact Sedan

Buick says its new 2012 Verano is the brand's first compact that will bring premium features and luxury characteristics, and after a day spent driving this model, it's hard to argue against that. 
The Verano is likely to continue the recent sedan successes that Buick has enjoyed with LaCrosse and Regal. It's got good looks, is exceptionally quiet and performs nicely enough to add a little driving excitement but not so much that it's over the top.
The Beat recently got to check out the Verano in New York City, and took it up the coast into Connecticut on a pleasant autumn day. 
On the inside, the Verano's dashboard is logically and neatly arranged. There's a color touchscreen, and an optional SD card-based satellite-navigation system with upgraded audio. 
The sound quality of the standard audio system is pretty good, and enhanced by the overall quietness of the car. The standard connectivity and infotainment features offer the best in technology, with Bluetooth for phone and audio being standard, as well as an aux jack plus iPod via USB, SiriusXM (free for 3 months) and the latest of OnStar (free for 6 months). Buick IntelliLink gives specific smartphone integration on the steering wheel and voice control of streaming audio from the phone through services such as Pandora and Stitcher.
The Verano defies easy classification, even though it is billed by Buick as a compact. It has 109 cubic feet of combined trunk and passenger space, pushing the limits of the EPA's "Compact" classification.
 So in many ways, the Verano feels more like a midsize sedan. That's very true up front where there's plenty of knee room thanks to the design of the center stack and dashboard. The headroom is good too.
But move to the back seat and you feel much more like you are in a compact, with little leg room. 
Trunk space is large, ranging between 14 and 15.2 cubic feet depending on whether or not you get the premium audio upgrade and/or tire inflator kit. The trunk has an open format without awkward niches or humps, and it has a relatively low (29-inch) lift-over height.
There are tons of sound-reducing measures like triple-sealed doors, laminated windshield and front side glass, a five-layer acoustic headliner, fabric-wrapped A-pillars, computer/robot applied goo throughout the body cavity and more.
On the road, the Verano is well-tuned and nice to drive.

The Verano offers a smooth, compliant ride. Not a bit of harshness here.
The Verano's naturally aspirated, direct-injected 2.4-liter 180-horsepower four-cylinder gives straight-ahead power. The engine matches the needs of the car wonderfully. 
But EPA fuel economy estimates of 22 mpg city, 31 highway are a bit disappointing.

Conveniences such as push-button parking brake, dual-zone climate control and keyless ignition are standard.
 The Verano carries a base price of around $23,470.

Be Safe and Have Fun This Halloween

It's Halloween, which means trick-or-treating.
So, with all those little ghosts and goblins walking around, it will be especially important for motorists to drive carefully.
Please slow down and keep your eyes focused on the road, especially in residential neighborhoods.
And parents, please make sure the youngsters are dressed with safety in mind -- using reflective tape is a good idea.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

2012 Hyundai Veloster: A First Look


With so much demand for greater fuel efficiency, Hyundai continues to deliver its 40 mpg standard with the Veloster.
The new sport-model is engineered and geared toward a younger audience with its focus on a centralization of portable electronics. Yet, the Veloster, as Hyundai puts it, “doesn’t judge”.
With its practical reinvention of the coupe and as a car built for “whatever,” this concentration on design with functionality expands the reach of Hyundai customers that have grown the brand.

The Veloster introduces an all new 1.6-liter GDI Gamma engine paired with two transmissions, Hyundai’s proprietary six-speed manual and Hyundai’s first EcoShift dual-clutch.
Upon the new arrival’s release, the Beat had a drive and a peek at each Veloster in the warm, seaside air of the sunshine state’s St. Petersburg.
Some of the features setting the Veloster apart from the mainstream are its third passenger side door, to avoid awkward rear-seat access, and a multi-function 7-inch touch screen that welcomes you with sound and a customizable image before starting your drive.
Functions provided on the LG display are Pandora internet radio for iPhone users, Gracenote advanced voice recognition and album cover art via iPod, photo slideshow, video playback, as well as two fuel economy games, “ECO Coach and Blue Max,” used to track the driver’s fuel efficiency when driving. Designed for modification, personalizations of themes are available for background colors, images and sound. The 7-inch LG display is simple to use and makes for a less distracting drive with this ability to centralize typically portable applications within the center console.
Its hidden passenger door (the handle is tucked into the window frame) and 7-inch screen of multimedia features makes Hyundai the first in innovating an “Advanced technology three-door coupe”.
The sport-bike inspired design, described as a “fluidic sculpture,” has a motorcycle visor feel from the front and includes features like wraparound headlights and taillights to give the illusion that the car is in constant motion. Inside, the standard cloth seating is comfortable and supportive, coming in full black or full gray. Adding the Style/Tech packages, seating comes in black, gray, or red/black leatherette bolster with cloth inserts.
Competing with the Honda CR-Z and the Scion tC, the Veloster has the best-in-class interior volume in the compact sporty car segment. Both models are very spacious for an all adult seating despite outward compact appearance, the passenger volume measuring to 89.8 cubic feet and the cargo 15.5 cubic feet. The Veloster also carries tons of storage space with front door pockets with bottle holders, front and rear cupholders with storage consoles, and a dual-tiered armrest storage box.
The Veloster provides three different packages: Base, Style, and Technology. Basic standard features consist of XM radio with USB auxiliary jacks, a hands free Bluetooth phone system with voice recognition, Blue Link telematics system, a seven inch LCD touch screen, and 17 inch alloy wheels.

While the base package is appealing in itself, it’s hard not to make an upgrade for the Style and Tech packages, especially when the Tech package requires the purchasing of the Style package.
The Style package, which completely enhances the car’s already impressive interior and exterior at an added $2,000, includes 18-inch alloy wheels, chrome grille, front fog lights, sunroof, a premium audio package, and leather steering wheel and seating. The Tech package, also after an added $2,000, offers 18-inch alloys with painted inserts, backup warning sensors, navigation system with rearview camera, push button start, and 115V outlet.
Currently, the base Veloster M/T starts at $17,300, but moves up to $21, 300 after adding the style and tech packages. While the base DCT starts at $18, 550 the additional style and tech packages move the MSRP up to $22, 550.
While the Veloster is aesthetically daring, its dual-clutch transmission (DCT) may appear to potential drivers as confused or cautious in its driving delivery, responding with slight hesitation at first foot-to-gas. And for those craving more horsepower the Veloster leaves buyers questioning when the model will offer an engine upgrade.
Nevertheless, the new direct-injected four-cylinder engine, producing 138 horsepower, paired with the DCT drives with confidence in its road gripping standard 17-inch alloys with EBD and Brake Assist. Hyundai’s first DCT also offers manual shifting as well as paddle shifters on the steering wheel.
Driving the six-speed manual is surprisingly smooth thanks to the model’s light clutch. Steering is more personalized with not just an adjustable steering for height but for width as well, with the option of moving the steering wheel forward or back from the driver’s seat.
The 2012 Hyundai Veloster offers a fun, unique ride and designs with its asymmetric three door entries, advanced multimedia technology and a fuel economy that’s nothing to sneeze at, creating an aggressive
new image for the coupe.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Kia Unveils New Rio, Refreshed Soul

Kia, the other Korean automaker that has been on a hot streak lately, is unveiling a new version of its Rio subcompact for the 2012 model year. A five-door hatchback will be rolled out first, then a sedan later this year.
Kia gave journalists a peek at the new hatchback, along with a refreshed version of its Soul wagon, in Texas last week.
Based on early impressions of both vehicles, Kia will continue its success, in the same way that sister brand Hyundai has been kicking tail and taking names.
The Rio5 hatchback will start at just $14,350 for the base LX with six-speed manual transmission model, or $15,300 if you get six-speed automatic. Those prices are lower than the 2011 models.
If you move up to the EX model, pricing starts at $16,500, and the SX top level begins at $17,700.
Pricing for the sedan has not been announced yet, but expect it to be even less expensive.
“The all-new Rio brings Kia's successful combination of world-class styling, outstanding fuel economy, advanced technologies and tremendous value to the smallest and most economical vehicle in the Kia lineup,” Michael Sprague, vice president of marketing at Kia Motors America, told reporters.

Continue reading on Kia unveils an all-new Rio and refreshed Soul - Macon Automotive |

Monday, October 17, 2011

2012 Hyundai Elantra is at the Head of the Class

2012 Hyundai Elantra Exterior
The 2012 Hyundai Elantra remains one of the best compact cars on the market, thanks to its great styling, superb fuel economy and very reasonable sticker price.
The Elantra, which got a redesign in 2011, now has a new Active Eco System that smoothes the throttle response and boosts fuel economy by as much as 7 percent.
The steering has also been enhanced. 
The common design language used by today by Hyundai, which the Korean company calls "fluidic sculpture," is found on the Sonata and Accent, as well as the Elantra. 
It's a beautiful body styling that makes each model look luxurious and far more expensive than the car actually is. 
The only question Hyundai will have to deal with in using this styling is what it will do for an encore and when will it have to do it. There is likely to become a point at which this bold styling will look dated, but that might be a few years off yet. 
On the interior of the Elantra (and its other models), Hyundai gets more praise for the quality of materials and the spaciousness and comfort. In fact, Elantra has enough size to be classified as a midsize sedan by the EPA.
The highly fuel-efficient engine is a 1.8-liter, four cylinder that makes 148 horsepower and is linked to a six-speed manual or automatic transmission.
The Elantra gets 29 mpg in the city and 40 highway, and as Hyundai is fond of pointing out, that 40 mpg figure comes with no asterisks, meaning you don't need a particular engine or trim level. 

Speaking of trim levels, there are two -  GLS and Limited, and each has plenty of goodies. 
Hyundai says it offers as standard equipment power windows and locks, USB/iPod input jack, satellite radio, remote keyless entry, and premium cloth seating. For options, you may choose a high-res navigation system and Bluetooth connectivity. And for comfort, you can get rear heated seats, front heated seats and leather upholstery.

There are plenty of safety features such as all-disc antilock brakes, six airbags, an electronic stability system and a tire pressure monitoring system. Elantra was made a top safety pick by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
Elantras range in price from a little more than $16,000 to almost $23,000.
This is one of the best cars on the market, worth every penny that you'll spend on it.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Transportation Roundtable Lacks State Backing

It all boils down to this.

All the hand-wringing that’s going on this week with the Atlanta Regional Transportation Roundtable can be traced back to one player — the State of Georgia.

The Roundtable has until Oct. 15 to submit its final list of projects that will be included on a penny sales tax referendum that will be presented to voters next year. The tax is estimated to generate $7.2 billion over 10 years with 15 percent of that will go directly to local governments, leaving $6.1 billion to be divvied up by the Roundtable.

The leaders in the 10-county region are agonizing over whether it should add $80 million (in addition to the current $100 million) to fully fund the Georgia Regional Transportation Authority’s Xpress buses over the next 10 years by taking away from four other transit investments.

The Roundtable will meet on Oct. 11 to try to find consensus on the four toughest amendments that must be addressed before the Oct. 15 deadline.


Monday, October 10, 2011

Gas Prices Far Lower Than They Were a Month Ago

Average retail gasoline prices in Atlanta have fallen 3.4 cents per gallon in the past week, averaging $3.22/g Sunday, according to CBS Atlanta.
The national average fell 2.1 cents per gallon last week to $3.42/g, according to gasoline price website
Gas prices are 32.6 cents per gallon lower than a month ago.
But even though prices are dropping, prices Sunday were 56.9 cents per gallon higher than the same day one year ago.
The national average has decreased 24.0 cents per gallon during the last month and stands 61.8 cents per gallon higher than this day one year ago.
"After oil prices briefly dropped to $75/bbl in the last two weeks, we've seen a mini-rally take place, driving prices up to a more recent mark of $82/bbl. The volatility we continue to see in oil prices isn't surprising, and will likely continue as a fragile economy and some upbeat investors play the market," said Patrick DeHaan, Senior Petroleum Analyst. "What this means for motorists is a continued roller coaster ride at the gas pump. While I don't expect a huge of movement in either direction, these up and down fluctuations in gas prices will become the norm ahead of a volatile spring 2012 time period," DeHaan adds.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Soap Box Derby Coming to Southside

In an effort to establish a south side hub for the Dunwoody Kiwanis Club’s Soap Box Derby, Allan Vigil Ford Lincoln, in Morrow Georgia, has partnered with the Dunwoody Kiwanis Club to create Soap Box on the South Side.
On Saturday October 22 and Sunday October 23, Allan Vigil Ford Lincoln will host The Soap Box on the South Side Rally Race for local children to earn points to qualify for an Akron race. The race will be held at the Morrow dealership and entry fee will be $25 per person with all proceeds going to CURE Childhood Cancer, an Atlanta based non-profit which raises money for childhood cancer research. In addition to the Stock, Super Stock, and Master’s division races, the event will also include activities for Super Kids, involving some special children from CURE Childhood Cancer. Participants will be invited to wear costumes in honor of Halloween weekend. Food and drink, as well as other fun activities for the kids will be available throughout the weekend, including a cook out to follow the Saturday race activities.
Whether you’re an experienced soap box racer or are brand new to the sport, all kids (ages 8-17) are welcome to participate. Here are a few simple steps if you would like to get involved:
1. Register for the race
Registration costs $25 per person and all proceeds will be donated to CURE Childhood Cancer, an Atlanta based non-profit which raises money for childhood cancer research. Contact Michael Rabern  at or 678.708.5792 678.708.5792 to register.
2. Order your derby car kit
Click here to order your regulation Super Stock car kit. The kit takes approximately two weeks to arrive, so plan ahead.
3. Attend a Soap Box Derby Clinic at Allan Vigil Ford Lincoln in Morrow
Allan Vigil Ford Lincoln of Morrow is offering two different sessions in October to learn about the Soap Box on the South Side Rally Race and receive assistance in assembling your derby car. Especially planned for beginners, these sessions will feature an expert on all-things soap box derby who will make sure that you are assembling your car to regulation-standards. Clinics are optional and non-progressive, so you may attend as few or as many sessions as you would like. All sessions take place at the Morrow location from 11 am – 12 pm.
October 8, 2011
October 15, 2011
4. Learn about the AASBD World Championship Race
For the more experienced participants, the Soap Box on the South Side can earn you qualifying points for the AASBD World Championship Race in Akron, Ohio. 
Click here to learn more about the World Championship Race.
5. Tell your friends
Help spread the word about the Soap Box on the South Side Rally Race by downloading this form and sharing it with your friends who may be interested in participating.
On the weekend of the Soap Box on the South Side Rally Race, participants, family, and friends will be invited to enjoy additional activities. Wear your Halloween costume, play games, tour a fire truck, and enjoy a Saturday cookout.
For any additional questions, or if your business is interested in sponsoring a child, please contact Michael Raburn at or 678.708.5792 678.708.5792 .

Monday, October 3, 2011

GM Foundation Donates to Atlanta University Center

The General Motors Foundation recently announced a $75,000 donation to the Atlanta University Center Consortium in support of AUC Dual Degree Engineering Program students, the Spelman College SpelBots Robotics team, and faculty and curriculum development.
 “This funding will strengthen the tutorial program, provide scholarships and assist the development of curriculum on the campuses of Clark Atlanta, Morehouse, and Spelman,” said Tracey Martin-Toomer, director of the AUC Dual Degree Engineering Program. Dr. Andrew Williams, Spelman College’s SpelBots coach, said the donation represents a nice addition to the SpelBots program, supporting its mission to promote computer and robotics education and research by competing in the International RoboCup 4-Legged competitions.
The GM Foundation has provided more than $26 million since 2005 to support education initiatives in engineering, manufacturing, design and business across the country.