Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Top Ten Vehicles of 2011

Atlanta Auto Beat is proud to present its annual list of its top-ranked vehicles of 2011. Rankings are based on vehicles tested by The Beat, and measure traits such as affordability, fuel economy, functionality, looks and predicted reliability.
We hope you enjoy this list, and as always, feel free to add your comments.

No. 10 Chevrolet Camaro Convertible

2012 Chevrolet Camaro Exterior

Chevrolet rolled out a convertible version of its Camaro muscle car for the 2011 model year, and thank goodness it did. This car is great looking and fun to drive.

No. 9 Ford Focus

With its newest version of the Focus compact, Ford takes a bold step forward, placing it in a leading position in this key segment.

No. 8 Scion tC

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.

No. 7 Infiniti G37

With the 2011 Infiniti G37, scintillating driving performance comes standard.
It features three body styles: sedan, convertible and coupe, which the test drive model was. There's also an all-wheel drive version, the G37x, which has enhanced handling.

No. 6 Lexus LX450h

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.

No. 5 Nissan Juke

The Juke offers a sporty ride in a compact crossover package.As Nissan's smallest crossover, the Juke occupies a unique position, not only because of that status but also because of its unusual looks.

No. 4 Acura TSX Sport Wagon

The 2011 Acura TSX Sport Wagon is true to its name, offering sporty driving dynamics in an attractively designed wagon package.

This model arrives two years after the redesign of the TSX, and seems to be right on time, as sporty cars that can double as family vehicles seem to be growing in both supply and demand.

No. 3 Chevrolet Cruze

The 2011 Chevrolet Cruze is the bow tie marque's latest entry in the compact market, and it is a solid one.
Replacing the Cobalt, which wasn't all that impressive, the Cruze has better styling and a higher quality of materials.

No. 2 Buick Regal

Buick seems to have made all the right moves over the past few years. 
First of all, it has focused on making quality products.
The 2011 Regal, is no exception. This midsize sedan offers luxury and performance.

No. 1 Hyundai Elantra

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.

Need a Ride Home After Drinking Too Much? There's an App for That

Georgia authorities have created a smartphone application that aims to reduce drunken driving during the coming New Year's Eve and Super Bowl celebrations.
The Governor's Office of Highway Safety has made a list of free sober ride operations in the new app, called Drive Sober Georgia.
The office said it hopes to make getting a ride as easy as possible for motorists who are impaired by alcohol.
Drive Sober Georgia can be downloaded free of charge on the iPhone and Android markets. For more informa
tion, see
 Ga. offering smartphone app to cut drunk driving

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

It's the End of the Year - Here are Tips for Getting a Good Deal on a Car

The end of the year presents a good time to go car shopping, as dealers will be looking to clear their lots of leftover inventory and trying to meet their final sales goals. 
So, check out these tips and head to the lots if you're in the market for a new ride. 
    Locate New Car Inventory with the Most Competitive Pricing
  • Model year matters
    Dealers are trying to get rid of 2011 model year vehicles, because they are getting in more 2012 models. So why not help them out? There's likely a good deal to be had for you.
  • Get schooled on rebate/incentive offers
    Some automakers are giving more generous financing rates and rebates at this time of year. Check out's Rebate Center for the latest offers from all of the manufacturers and see where you can save even more money.
  • Scope out the inventory
    If you want a particular model, seek out a dealership that has plenty of them in stock. has a very useful tool for this, called New Car Locator, which will display the inventory of a particular car at dealerships in your area.
  • Make them show you the money
    Most people don't like the haggling involved in car buying, but a little bit of pain can save you lots of dough. For some tips, visit's How-To section with articles and videos that cover all the parts of the car buying process.
  • Don't shy away from pre-makeover vehicles
    A car that has been redesigned gets the most attention, but if a dealer still has models leftover from the previous design, you might be able to get a nice discount. 

Infiniti EX35 is Fun Luxury Crossover

It seats five, has plenty of power and offers great safety and technology features. Plus it's pretty fun to drive.
It is the 2012 Infiniti EX35 crossover SUV.

The EX comes in base or Journey trim levels and features a 3.5-liter V-6 engine that makes 297 horsepower and is linked to a seven-speed automatic transmission.
As a crossover, the EX sits on a car-based chassis and gives a sharp, almost sports car-like ride with its four-wheel independent suspension.  The standard drivetrain is rear-wheel drive, but all-wheel is also available.
The EX gets 17 mpg in the city, 24 highway.
The interior of the EX is comfortable and neatly designed. Leather seating is standard. Infiniti says there is 88.5 cubic feet of passenger volume and 18.6 cubic feet of cargo space behind the back seats. Passsengers in front should have plenty of head and leg room, but those in the back might be just a bit cramped.
Standard features are automatic dual-zone climate control and heated and powered front seats.
The Infiniti EX35 seats five, drives nicely and has plenty of safety features.
Read more:

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Scion IQ - Small Wonder


In a downsized economy, less is more and sometimes big things come in small packages, 10-foot-long packages. Standing not so tall, measuring at just over 59”, Scion’s 2012 “premium micro-subcompact” is just that, a big step to downsizing for American consumers.

At a whopping 66.1” wide and weighing in at 2,127 lbs, the newest addition to Scion’s family geared to young buyers and urbanites is all about “intelligent quality,” appropriately titled the iQ.

Simple and straightforward, Scion’s subcompact creation adds new “IQ” to the generation of smart cars with its concentrated design for intelligence, innovation, individuality, and quality.

The Beat was there in refreshing Palm Beach, Fla., for the iQ’s press preview and there are a lot of cool features about this little bundle.

The iQ starts at less than $16,000, an MSRP of $15,995 (which includes delivery fee).
It has a 1.3-liter, 94-hp engine and a combined mpg of 37, which is economically savvy in today’s gas consumption but a little low for a car of this size.

The modern look of the iQ, described as “Techno-Organic Design,” is slick and spunky. The exterior is clean and simple including elongated front headlights that give the illusion the nose of the car extends beyond its compact size.

Alloy-finish side mirrors with mounted turn signals, an LED brake light mounted above rear window wiper and extended A-pillars to help create an open passenger cabin modernize its design. Inside, the less-is-more motto continues with a black dash and door tops.

Front seat bottoms are form fitting and covered in a deep gray cloth patterned with light gray ovals. The leather-wrapped manual tilt steering is lined with red-stitching and features a flat-bottom for optimal leg room with audio controls and mode button.

Interior features include front console cup holder, two rear cup holders, four 25 oz. drink bottle holders, remote keyless entry, auxiliary 12v power outlet, first aid kit, rear window wiper, sun visor mirrors, and electric rear hatch release.

One possible disadvantage of the sleek look is the speedometer display, which is challenging to read with its positioning slightly tilted on its side and can be a bit distracting when trying to gauge speed while driving.

The Scion drive monitor, placed left of the speedometer, is a little cluttered to read, displaying fuel level, instant/average fuel mileage, average speed, outside temp, resettable trip meters, odometer, digital clock, and CVT indicator.

The iQ’s interior is also modified to accentuate the theme of “Big Ideas Concentrated” with an asymmetric dashboard and seating design. Center console is clean and simple with a single air conditioning dial, an LCD display, and audio CD slot. The 3+1 seating, driver, two adult passengers, and the fourth seating position behind driver ideally intended as room for a child, makes the iQ the world’s smallest four seater.

Engineering behind the iQ relies on the idea that “a car should not be any bigger than it really has to be.” With this idea in mind, six engineering innovations make the iQ possible, such as a flat gas tank housed beneath the floor reducing rear overhang and slim-back front seats for optimal rear legroom.

These innovations also allow for Scion’s new subcompact to maintain as much extra space as possible for a car of its size. A mini storage bin is placed under the front passenger seat and the 50/50 folded seatbacks give the option of riding with a third passenger as well as storage space.

The rear cargo floor is formed by the lid of a removable storage tray, hiding the second storage area formed in Styrofoam that holds owner’s manual, first aid kit, and tire repair system. The backseat completely folded forms a flat cargo surface. iQ’s maximum EPA cargo capacity is 16.7 cubic feet and with rear seats upright the iQ has just over 3.5 cubic ft of cargo space.

Still, for claustrophobics and urbanites traveling outside of the inner city, the-little-car-that-can isn’t a realistic option to pack enough storage space for anything that requires extra room for three or more passengers and luggage such as camping equipment.

Nevertheless, for those driving a local distance with little baggage the iQ is easy to drive and easy to park with a turning radius of 12.9 feet with electronic power steering.

As part of the personalization options the iQ offers three audio systems, Standard, Premium, and Navigation.
Standard Audio includes Bluetooth hands-free and audio, HD radio, scion sound processing, USB/AUX, steering-wheel mounted controls, CD player with mp3 and WMA capability, four speakers, two in center console and two full range mounted in doors.

Premium Audio includes all standard features plus 200 watts max power, 5.8” TFT touch screen, Pandora internet radio capability, album art, iTunes Tagging, and six RCA outputs.
Scion Navigation System Audio includes all standard features plus 7.0” touch screen, iTunes tagging, six RCA outputs, DVD player, ipod video via USB connector, full navigation system GPS based on SD card, and video input for connecting with aftermarket backup camera.

iQ owners also have a choice of two wheel covers, 16-inch steel wheels, or 175/60R-16 all season tires. More dealership accessories available are fog lights, alloy wheels, lowering kit, rear spoiler and whatever personalizing ideas the buyer can imagine.

With its “mini-me” capabilities, the iQ stands apart from the subcompact prototype, making the iQ a unique city car of its kind.
Driving the urban minded car is a quiet ride, especially for a car that looks like it’d be swallowed up by the road. This is thanks to an acoustic windshield built to decrease sound frequencies.

As far as safety features for a little car in a big world, the iQ’s Star Safety System includes anti-lock braking system, brake assist, electronic brake-force distribution, smart stop technology, traction control, and enhanced vehicles stability control. It also boasts the most airbags in the industry with 11 standard airbags, including the world’s first rear window airbags.

The micro-subcompact car segment is redefined by the iQ as Scion introduces its concept of “New Urbanism,” a vehicle for a more progressive buyer whose transportation needs and desires are changing
with today’s evolving concerns like consumption control and the environment. This will launch Scion’s niche for innovation into another element of authenticity, community and personalization for the rising generations of buyers and although a few tweaks may prove necessary, the iQ is definitely a big step for subcompact kind.

Be sure to look out for the iQ, which will be released in waves starting on the West Coast, dipping down into the Southeast and Gulf states area, followed by New York, then completing its sweep in the East Coast and Midwest in March.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Chevy Facing Volt Cord Woes

Chevrolet appears to have a problem on its hands with its Volt plug-in hybrid. It seems as though many owners of the sedan have reported overheating and melting of the cord used to charge the car from standard 120-volt household electrical sockets. While GM says the cords are safe and blames the problems on the owners’ wiring, it has replaced an unknown number of cords and made changes to its design, Yahoo News reports.

The cord that plugs into household outlets is an alternative to charging stations that Chevrolet suggests Volt owners install at their homes.