Thursday, July 28, 2011
Hyundai continues to stir the automotive world by releasing new and revamped models that offer value, quality and styling.
One of the company's newest projects is a refresh of its premium Genesis sedan. Genesis debuted in 2008 as a 2009 model, and captured attention for its luxury-like features accompanied by a reasonable price tag. And with the economic crunch that we've experienced since then, it seems that Hyundai had the right idea. Genesis sales rose 33 percent from 2010 to this year.
Hyundai unveiled the refreshed Genesis recently in beautiful Charleston, S.C., where automotive scribes got to see a car that has gained power, fuel economy and technology. And even with those improvements, it still carries a huge value compared with its luxury competitors.
For example, Hyundai says that the Genesis 3.8 liter costs $12,000 less than an Infiniti M37, and the R-Spec, a Genesis V-8 model, is priced about $17,000 below the BMW 550i (and Genesis has more power).
More buyers are becoming aware of this, because according to Hyundai, Genesis increased its market share for 23 straight months.
The R-Spec carries the most powerful engine built by Hyundai, a gasoline direct-injection 5.0-liter V8 that makes 429 horsepower. That engine links to an eight-speed automatic transmission.
The base engine on the Genesis is a V6 GDI, which now adds 15 percent more power to total 333 horsepower. But that gain doesn't hurt fuel economy, which actually improves by 1 mpg city and 2 mpg highway.
Keep an eye on this marvelous sedan.
Friday, July 22, 2011
With its newest version of the Focus compact, Ford takes a bold step forward, placing it in a leading position in this key segment.
The 2012 model year brings a redesign to the Focus, and the results are stunning.
Ford, after much speculation (and many requests), made this new version based on the European model. One look at the new Focus, and you'll see that this was a good move.
The Focus is available as both a sedan and hatchback, and has a sporty, aggressive design that belies its status as a modestly priced compact.
Another cool thing about this Focus, though, is the fact that it does more than just look the part when it comes to sportiness.
The new 160-horsepower, 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine cranks out 146 pounds-feet of torque, which makes it a leader in the segment that includes the Toyota Corolla and Honda Civic. The engine is linked to either a five-speed manual or a six-speed, dual-clutch automatic transmission.
Ford has increasingly become known for its commitment to fuel economy, and as you might expect, the Focus falls right in line. EPA estimated mileage numbers are strong, at 27 mpg in the city and 37 mpg on the highway with the automatic transmission and 26/36 for the stick. Also available is the Focus SE SFE, which boasts 40 mpg on the highway because of its aerodynamic tweaks and high-efficiency tires.
In addition to its sleek exterior, the Focus has a sharp, high-tech interior appearance. The materials used inside are top-notch and there is plenty of technology to perform a variety of tasks.
Ford’s SYNC system gives you the ability to communicate with the car verbally, and the MyFord Touch technology features an eight-inch touchscreen on the center console and a customizable LCD display in the instrument panel. Buttons on the steering wheel let you control these features conveniently.
Ford also says its list of standard and available features includes remote start, navigation system, backup camera, moonroof. The automaker says a self-park system which be available later this year.
For 2012, the Focus also debuts new airbag technology from Ford that is designed to protect against chest and rib injuries. Antilock brakes, traction control, and an electronic stability all come standard.
The Focus has a price range of around $17,000 to close to $23,000.
With the new Focus, Ford has taken a very good compact car and made it significantly better.
Tuesday, July 12, 2011
Buyers of large sedans generally want a car that is roomy, provides a smooth ride and gets at least reasonable fuel economy. With the 2011 Chevrolet Impala, buyers' desires are met, and at an affordable price.
The Impala is powered by a standard 3.5-liter, 207-horsepower V-6 engine that has flex-fuel capability, meaning it can run on E85 (that is, if you can find a station that's selling it). You may also choose a 3.9-liter, 230-horsepower V-6, but both power plants are linked to a four-speed automatic transmission. The front wheel-drive Impala gets 17-18 mpg in the city and 27-29 highway, which is certainly respectable for this size car.
The Impala seats five quite comfortably, and if you have a large amount of cargo to haul, you can fold the rear seat down to extend the trunk. Chevy says that will produce 18.6 cubic feet of trunk space, which is quite impressive.
Besides its roominess, there's not much that's remarkable about the interior of the Impala, as the materials and fit and finish are OK, but nothing special. Perhaps that's how Chevy is able to price the Impala so reasonably.
There are three trim levels, beginning with the LS, which features cloth seats, a one-touch power window for the driver, plus cruise control, dual zone climate control with air filtration, simulated wood trim, OnStar satellite communications, CD player and XM Satellite Radio.
Step up one rung and you have the LT, with an optional power glass sunroof, power front passenger seat and heated front seats.
On the high end is the LTZ, which has leather seats, heated power seats up front, leather-wrapped steering wheel and an eight-speaker Bose audio system that are standard.
Front and side safety ratings are good, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, while rear safety is rated acceptable. The Impala has dual front, front-side and two-row head airbags, antilock brakes and traction and stability control systems.
Styling is pretty straightforward - you might not find anything in the Impala's design to go crazy over, but you also won't find anything that's a big turnoff.
Pricing is modest, with the Impala ranging from around $25,000 to just about $31,000.
Overall, the Impala presents a pretty good value for those seeking a traditional family car at a reasonable price.
Friday, July 8, 2011
At the risk of sounding hyperbolic, the Honda Accord will probably always be one of the best cars on the market, for as long as it is made.
The 2011 version comes with a few improvements that keep it on top.
You can now get the Accord with your choice of three engines. There's a 177-horsepower, 2.4-liter four cylinder engine on LX and SE sedans. The LX-S coupe and EX sedan and coupe engine power goes to 190-horsepower. You can also have a 271-horsepower, 3.5-liter V6 for more power and sharper driving dynamics. The V6 with a six-speed automatic transmission includes Honda’s Variable Cylinder Management system, which shuts down cylinders in the engine when they are not needed to conserve gasoline.
Speaking of fuel economy, the Accord has better aerodynamics, lower engine friction and adjusted transmission gearing ratios, which contribute to improved mileage. But you won't sacrifice any power or displacement from the prior year version. The Accord gets 17-23 mpg in the city and 26-34 mpg on the highway.
Honda has also redone the front and rear styling of the Accord.
In both the coupe and sedan, the Accord has a new grille and bumper in the front, with new wheel designs. Honda says the sedan comes standard on 16-inch steel wheels, but 17-inch alloys are available. The 17-inch alloys are standard on the coupe, which offers 18-inch alloys as an option.
The interior is impressive, with quality materials and a clean design that really looks like it's straight from a luxury brand. Standard features include air conditioning, cruise control, stereo with auxiliary input jack, and a tilt/telescoping steering wheel. The SE sedan trim level has leather seating, heated front seats, and a leather trimmed steering wheel. And if you get the optional navigation system, you'll also get a backup camera.
The Accord's safety features include side-impact and side curtain airbags, an electronic stability system, four wheel disc and antilock brakes, and active front head restraints.
Pricing ranges from around $21,500 to just over $30,000.
It's hard not to like the Accord, and we'll probably say that for as long as the car is around.