Monday, February 28, 2011

GMC Sierra 2500HD Can Get All Kinds of Jobs Done

You might call the 2011 GMC Sierra 2500 HD the truck's truck. 

This machine's enormous payload and hauling capacities, colossal horsepower and torque and sheer size make it truly a heavy duty pickup that can work like crazy.

The standard engine is a 6.0-liter V-8 that makes 360 horsepower  and 380 pounds-feet of torque and is linked to a six-speed automatic transmission. There's a new optional engine that's even bigger: a 6.6-liter Duramax V-8 turbo-diesel that makes 397 ponies and a jaw-dropping 765 pounds-feet of torque, tied to a a six-speed automatic Allison 1000 transmission with manual shift control. 
And with that added power comes, surprisingly, better fuel economy - an 11 percent improvement, GMC says. It also puts out fewer emissions. 

GMC says rear-wheel drive comes standard on all models, with four-wheel drive optional. 

A conventional floor-mounted transfer case is available, as well as an Autotrac knob-controlled electric transfer case that engages the system when it senses wheel slippage.

GMC has increased the towing capacity of the Sierra 2500HD to 20,000 pounds on the Duramax diesel with dual rear wheels by implementing a new fully boxed frame. The capacity is 14,500 pounds with the single-rear-wheel gas V-8.  

As for payload, GMC says 13 of the 22 2500HD models provide a payload capability in excess of 3,100 pounds.  
There is also less vibration, harshness and noise as a result of the new frame. Indeed, we found the ride to be fairly smooth for such a large, powerful vehicle - more SUV-like than truck-like. 

GMC also gave the Sierra 2500HD larger brakes for better stopping power. There's a standard trailer-sway control system that will assist in keeping towed gear on the straight and narrow, even when you're rolling at highway speeds. 

This truck offers a few different cab setups: regular cab (8 foot bed), extended cab and crew cab (6 foot, 6 inch bed). 

There are a few trim levels, too: base Work Truck, SLE, SLT and new Denali, which is what the tested model was. 
That trim offered pretty much everything you could ask for when it comes to luxury, such as a USB port, sunroof, navigation system, DVD entertainment system, Bluetooth connectivity, XM Radio, front leather-appointed heated bucket seats, 12-way-power seats and Bose premium speaker system.

The Sierra 2500HD's new three-bar front grille is set off nicely by the vented hood and revised chrome front bumper. 

The new 17-, 18- and 20-inch wheels appear massive and will grab the road and some attention.

The Sierra has a nice mix of safety features, including antilock disc brakes, hill-start control and stability control that come standard.  Optional are front-side and side curtain airbags and a rearview camera.  The new Denali trim has power-adjustable pedals and rear parking sensors, GMC says. Combine all that with that rugged and strong frame and you have a very safe vehicle.

The Sierra, depending on trim level and options, ranges from more than $28,000 to a little over $61,000.

If you're in the market for a truck's truck -- one that's sturdy, powerful, strong and can do a good day's work, check out the Sierra 2500HD.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Land Rover LR4 has Style and Off-Road Moxy

Off-road capability combines with elegance in the 2011 Land Rover LR4.
Last year, the LR4 replaced the LR3 in the Land Rover lineup and competes with other large luxury SUVs.

The LR4 has a hearty 375-horsepower, 5.0-liter V-8 engine that makes 375 pounds-feet of torque and is linked to a six-speed automatic transmission.  Four-wheel drive is standard, and there's a Terrain Response system that lets you change the vehicle’s characteristics to adapt to driving conditions such as mud, snow, and pavement. 
Land Rover says the LR4 has a towing capacity of  7,716 pounds and a payload rating of 1,670 pounds, which puts it ahead of a number of its competitors. Fuel economy is 12 mpg in the city and 17 on the highway.

The LR4 comes standard with 19-inch wheels, but 20-inchers are optional.  
Land Rover says halogen headlamps are also standard, but bi-xenon units are offered if you prefer a more high-tech oriented look. 
Ride height can be adjusted by using the electronic air suspension in case you need more ground clearance and there is a  hill start assist and hill descent feature that Land Rover says gives electronic assistance when navigating tough and slippery terrain.

Inside, you'll find plenty of luxury, such as heated leather seats and a heated steering wheel, door inserts and center console trim pieces made of straight-grained walnut wood and a 240-watt Harman Kardon audio system with nine speakers and an auxiliary input. If that's not enough, opt for the 480-watt Harman Kardon stereo with 14 speakers, or you can choose  HD and satellite radio, navigation system, and a DVD entertainment system.  Land Rover says a wireless cell-phone link is  standard for 2011.

There is a good list of safety features on the LR4, including front and rear parking aids and a rearview camera. Land Rover offers a five-camera system that gives full 360-degree visibility for tight maneuvering and has trailer motion prediction to help backing up when you are towing.  Other safety features are antilock brakes, an electronic stability system with trailer stability assist, and a slew of airbags.
The LR4 ranges in price from around $48,000 to around $60,000.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Cadillac Issues CTS Recall

General Motors is recalling more than 50,000 Cadillac CTS vehicles to repair a loose joint that the automaker says could lead to a rear wheel being unstable, creating difficulty for drivers to steer.

GM says no injuries or fatalities have been caused by the flaw, which affects 2009 and 2010 model years. 
The company said nuts in the rear suspension could become loose, creating a rapid change in the vehicle's handling or causing the driver to lose control of the car.
Owners can contact Cadillac at 866-982-2339 for more information.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

You Can Get a Sneak Peek at the All-Electric Nissan Leaf


            Nissan LEAF tours country offering public first chance
to drive the world’s first affordable all-electric vehicle on city streets

WHAT:      -A dynamic consumer experience that includes interactive
displays and a test drive of the world’s first affordable
all-electric vehicle, the Nissan LEAF
                -Media test drives and interviews available
WHEN:      Friday, February 18                7 am – 5 pm
                Saturday, February 19            7 am – 5 pm
                Sunday, February 20              8 am – 4 pm   

WHERE:    Atlantic Station
                240 20th Street.
                Atlanta, GA 30363
                *To avoid waiting in line, consumers can register online at

CONTACT: Steve Parrett, Nissan Corporate Communications
(O) 615.725.1448 (C) 615.306.9599

Lexus LX 450h Delivers Good Fuel Economy and a Whole Lot More

Not all trends are bad, even though it might seem that way sometimes.
The trend of carmakers producing big vehicles that still do pretty well on fuel economy is taking shape, thankfully.
You can add to that list the 2011 Lexus LX 450h hybrid crossover.
It has the refinement that you would expect in a Lexus, but also gives versatility and very good fuel economy, thanks to its hybrid technology.

The powerful 245-horsepower, 3.5-liter V-6 engine is mated to a hybrid battery for a total horsepower of 295.  The RX 450h comes with standard front-wheel drive, but all-wheel drive is optional. The transmission is a six-speed continuously variable with manual shift mode.

For a vehicle this size, the RX 450h does quite well when it comes to gas mileage, getting a 32 mpg city rating and 28 mpg  highway. Lexus says the RX 450h emits just 6.1-6.3 metric tons of carbon dioxide per year, further boosting its greenness.

When it comes to technology, Lexus touts the intuitive voice-recognition navigation system with Heads-Up display and Remote Touch.  An eight-inch LCD screen is perched atop the center dash and is controlled by a mouse-like device on the center console.  The speed of the vehicle and turning directions can be displayed on the windshield above the tachometer so that you can focus your eyes on the road. 
As long as the RX 450h is in park, you can view DVDs on the navigation screen. 
For commuting convenience, you can use the NavTraffic feature to get real-time driving conditions, locate restaurants and other businesses and utilize Bluetooth hands-free calling.

As an option, buyers can select the Mark Levinson Premium Surround Sound Audio System with 15 speakers, 7.1-channel architecture and 330 watts of power.  Or you can select the Dual-Screen Rear-Seat Entertainment System to keep passengers in the back entertained. 

Lexus lists other amenities, including 10-way driver’s and front passenger’s power seats, auxiliary iPod port and XM Radio, as standard. Leather-trimmed heated and ventilated seating, USB inputs and a power rear door are optional. 
Lexus did away with the Sport Package that was offered on previous years' models.

Safety features are impressive, including a 10-airbag system, anti-lock braking system with brake assist, active front headrests and vehicle stability system with traction control, all of which are standard. 
Lexus last year introduced the radar-based Pre-Collision System, which retracts the front seatbelts and preps the Brake Assist when it senses that a frontal collision is imminent.

Lexus has priced this model from around $44,000 to around $48,000.

The RX 450h is loaded with features for comfort and convenience and gets great fuel economy.

You can't ask for much more than that. 

Monday, February 14, 2011

Top 5 Most Romantic Cars

The Beat recognizes Valentine's Day with this list of most romantic cars.

Enjoy, and smooches!!

No. 1 Audi A8

A three-quarter front view of a black 2011 Audi A8

The A8's engineering will make your heart skip a beat, and since this is a nice-sized luxury sedan, there is plenty of room for special moments in this car. Ahhh, yes.

No. 2 Jaguar XKR Convertible

A three-quarter front view of a 2010 Jaguar XKR Convertible

With tremendous speed and great looks, the XKR is a real head-turner.

No. 3 Mercedes-Benz SLK 350

A three-quarter rear view of a red 2005 Mercedes-Benz SLK350

The stunning lines and the luxury in this package make the SLK easy to love.

No. 4 Nissan 350Z Roadster

A three-quarter front view of a 2008 Nissan 350Z Roadster Touring

The 350Z has always been fun to drive, and with its great looks, this ride oozes sex appeal.

No. 5 Audi TTS Roadster

A three-quarter rear view of a 2009 Audi TTS Roadster

The TTS Roadster seats two and is perfect for romantic rides with the top down.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Sing for the Relay For Life

March 5, 2011 
Fundraiser to benefit the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life

9:00 am - 10:00 am     Ages 8-15 
10:00 am - 11:00 am     16 & up 

United Community Bank 
119 Maple St. 
Carrollton, GA 

Before March 5 is $15 
Walk-in fee is $20. 


A cappella 
Bring a non-returnable photo 

Finals are April 29, 2011, at Carroll County’s Relay For Life. 
For more information contact United Community Bank, 770-830-5130 
or email: 
Member FDIC  | 
Copyright © 2011 United Community Bank 
CARROLLTON  |  119 Maple St.  |  770-838-9608 
DOUGLASVILLE  |  6670 Church St.  |  770-942-5681 
VILLA RICA  |  485 W. Bankhead Hwy.  |  770-459-3100

A Ray of Sunshine from the Lexus IS 250C

Sure, it's been a tough winter, even in Atlanta. But  some recent time spent with the 2011 Lexus IS 250C convertible gave us a nice moment of sunshine and reminder that spring is just around the corner.

This entry-level luxury model is a sweetheart, thanks to its 204-horsepower, 2.5-liter V-6 engine. That power plant is tied to a six-speed manual transmission or an optional six-speed automatic with paddle shifters, which the tester had.
Lexus says the engine is all aluminum and has direct injection and variable valve timing, which maximize efficiency and performance. 

Fuel economy is rated at 21 mpg city, 30 highway with the automatic, and 19 and 27 with the manual. 

The IS 250C, which is the cabrio version of the IS 250 sedan, has a new appearance up front, with a redesigned grille and front bumper. The rear styling has gotten a few tweaks also. 

The end result is a very well-crafted, handsome vehicle, inside and out.
On the inside, the 250C is technically a four-seater, but the two rear seats are pretty tiny. The leather seats do have 10-way power adjustability, though, making at least the front passengers comfortable.

Plus, Lexus designers had the presence of mind to make the driving experience with the top down practical. 
The retractable hardtop takes only 21 seconds to open or close. 
There are anti-glare gauges that let you still see the dash despite the sunlight when it's open, as well as audio and climate systems that adjust for the added wind noise and temperature change.
And for pleasant sounds, enjoy the 13-speaker, 194-watt stereo with six-CD changer that comes with the Lexus Premium Audio System.  
If you want more goodies inside, there is a Premium Plus Package that features perforated leather seating that heats and cools, a Mark Levinson Premium Surround Sound system with 14 speakers and 10 amplifier stations, a DVD-based navigation system and wood trim. 

For performance, try the new F Sport Package, featuring a sport suspension, 18-inch wheels and front and rear spoilers.  Seventeen-inch alloy wheels are standard.
Rain-sensing wipers and a backup camera with front and rear parking sensors are optional.

 There are good safety features, such as vehicle stability control, antilock brakes, brake-force distribution and brake assist.  Lexus offers a Pre-Collision System with Dynamic Radar Cruise Control, which keeps a pre-set following distance behind the vehicle in front of you and prepares the seatbelts and brakes for a collision when necessary.  

Lexus features its Enform system with Safety Connect to give satellite communications in the event of an accident or if the car is stolen. 

The IS 250 C starts at around $40,000 and ranges to a little over $48,000. 

With its sharp looks, snappy handling and reasonable price, the IS 250C provides a breath of fresh air in the luxury coupe/convertible field. 

Monday, February 7, 2011

Nissan NV is Good, Does Good

Nissan, which recently unveiled its NV commercial vehicle to journalists in Miami, put the vehicles to good use during the media preview. 

The automaker announced it is donating $35,000 worth of building materials to Habitat for Humanity of Greater Miami. The materials were carried to the Habitat warehouse in the new vans driven by journalists.

Habitat will build affordable homes for low income families with the materials.

Nissan says the NV comes in three models, NV1500, NV2500 HD and NV3500 HD, and in two roof configurations – Standard Roof and High Roof.  The NV is the first commercial van to offer rugged body-on-frame construction combined with a High Roof, Nissan says.

That roof is designed to let people as tall as 6'3" walk, stand and work in the cargo area.  The vehicle is built at Nissan's plant in Canton, MS.

The new 146.1-inch-wheelbase chassis rests on 17-inch wheels. 

The front end is styled similarly to Nissan's Titan pickup truck.

Nissan also says it provided wide doors on the vehicle to meet customer demand for roominess, improved visibility and a less-intrusive engine location - many similar vehicles put the engine right between the driver and passenger seats.
For practicality, Nissan included thicker side bolsters on the seats to fight entry/exit wear and tear, predrilled reinforced mounting holes for roof racks or interior shelving, floor-mounted D-rings and 243-degree swing-away rear doors. The center console can serve as a filing cabinet and laptop compartment.
Nissan says it has partnered with vendors to offer shelving and exterior graphics at no charge.
Engines offered include a 4.0-liter, 261-hp, 281-lb-ft V6 and a 5.6-liter, 317-hp, 381 lb-ft V8, both with five-speed automatic transmissions. Nissan says no diesel is planned at this point.
For a commercial vehicle, the NV drives nicely. Speed-sensitive steering and four-wheel, 14-inch disc brakes and a tight turning radius can make driving in urban areas easier than you might expect in this type of vehicle. 
Nissan has priced its NV very competitively against rivals such as the Ford E-series and General Motors' Chevrolet Express and GMC Savana cargo vans.
The NV starts at $24,590, with its highest level 3500 high roof being $30,590.
But the most impressive thing about the NV's unveiling was the mission of helping Habitat. 
“Nissan is helping to put low income families in decent, affordable homes,” said Habitat CEO Mario Artecona. “More than that, Nissan is contributing toward the revitalization of an entire community.”

Nissan’s in-kind donations will be used to construct homes in Liberty City, one of Miami’s most blighted urban areas, under the non-profit’s Liberty City Shine campaign. Miami Habitat is currently working with partners like Nissan to build and refurbish more than 250 homes over three years in this once-thriving neighborhood.

“Nissan values our relationship with Habitat for Humanity,” said David Reuter, a Nissan spokesman, in a news release. “We are proud to partner with them to help revitalize Liberty City and we’re proud that the new Nissan NV2500 can demonstrate its outstanding capabilities.” 

Nissan said its contribution is in addition to the $1 million annual donation to Habitat for Humanity International, a partnership with Habitat begun following the devastation of the 2005 hurricane season.  Nissan said its disaster-relief efforts resulted in the donation of 50 Titan pick-up trucks, with a value totaling more than $1 million, to support rebuilding efforts in the Gulf Coast region.

 Nissan has provided over $5 million in grant money and in-kind donations to Habitat for Humanity, and over 5,000 Nissan team members have volunteered in more than 25 home builds across the United States. 

Friday, February 4, 2011

Early Look: 2011 Hyundai Elantra

The Beat recently got a look at and test-drive of the redesigned Hyundai Elantra compact sedan in Montgomery, Ala., home of a huge manufacturing plant for the Korean company. Executives with Hyundai presented the new features of the updated model.

The key element of the redesign is some styling that makes it look more similar to Hyundai's wildly popular Sonata sedan.
The new Elantra went into production at the Montgomery factory in November. The Sonata also is built in Montgomery and has helped Hyundai break sales and production records.
Another key point of emphasis for the Hyundai officials is the Elantra's great fuel economy. It gets an EPA rating of 29 mpg city, 40 highway. 
And Hyundai emphasizes that those numbers come with no asterisks, a reference to the fact that some other cars that tout high fuel economy numbers can only do so if you choose certain engines or fuel-saving packages. 
Pricing starts at $14,830.
Every new Elantra hits the 40 mpg EPA rating on the highway. 
We enjoyed driving it around Alabama. It gives a smooth, solid ride, without much road noise.
Plus, the interior looks great -- like a luxury car.
Stay tuned: when we get it for an extended period, we'll have more to say about it.

Scion tC is Worth a Good Look

A sporty design meets affordability and great fuel economy in the 2011 Scion tC. 

This vehicle has undergone a full makeover that brings more modern concepts and a stronger yet less thirsty engine to this five-seat coupe.

The tC debuted in 2004 as an alternative small car aimed at young people.

Now, with its 180-horsepower, 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine it is nearly a value version of a sports car. 
The tC has a new six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission with manual-shift mode.  
This front-wheel-drive car has added 19 horsepower from a year ago, but fuel economy is now 23 mpg in the city and 31 mpg on the highway, which puts it ahead of last year's model. 
The front fascia looks more serious now, and the redesigned headlights, larger, lower grille, blacked-out A-pillars and sedan-like side view give it a sporty and more upscale look.
If last year's tC was a pair of Converse Chuck Taylor All Stars, this year's version is a pair of Nike Air Zoom running shoes.
Toyota, Scion's owner, says the 2011 tC comes with a standard panorama moonroof, which means that there are two moonroofs—one up front and one in the rear.  Both flow into the rear window to provide an open-air feel.  
Toyota also says the new 18-inch alloy wheels and chrome exhaust tip and mirror-integrated turn signals come standard.

On the inside, the tC's cabin has been slightly lengthened, fortunately for us. An attempt at driving the previous model failed because frankly, we couldn't fit into it. The fit continues to be a quite snug one for taller drivers, but at least there is a bit more space. 
The new telescoping steering wheel gives a bit more leg room. On the wheel, you'll find controls for the audio system. 
 A CD player, USB jack and a new stereo with eight speakers all come standard, Toyota says.  Cargo volume is pretty good for a small car, at 14.7 cubic feet (two more than the 2010 tC) behind rear 60/40-split seatback and 34.5 cubic feet total with the seat folded flat.

For simplicity's sake, the tC has one trim level but has numerous factory-available parts that let you create your own car.  Those include front and rear spoilers, LED light enhancements, navigation system, custom 18-inch wheels, ground effects kit, and a dealer-installed supercharger.

The safety features on the tC are plentiful, such as seat-mounted side-impact airbags, side curtain airbags for the first and second rows, driver’s knee airbag, four-wheel antilock brakes, electronic stability system with traction control, front head restraints, and electronic brake assist.

The tC is actually pretty fun to drive, too. It takes corners well and accelerates crisply. 
The tC is priced from around $18,300 to just under $22,000.
For modern concepts and a cool new design, the tC deserves a good look.