Friday, March 30, 2012

Kia Rio5 Gives Great Fuel Economy and New Style

The rise in popularity of fuel-efficient subcompacts shows no sign of letting up, and that's good news for Kia, which has rolled out its terrific new version of the Rio5 hatchback.
This model has gotten some sporty new styling, comes with a very affordable sticker price and avoids the gas pump like a supermodel avoids the buffet line.
The Rio5 has a sibling vehicle, the Rio, that has also gotten a sporty design upgrade, in case you're not into hatchbacks.
The engine is a 1.6-liter four cylinder that makes 138 horsepower and is mated to a six-speed manual or automatic transmission.
The engine has direct injection and comes with an auto-stop feature as an option in the Eco Package model. That feature turns off the engine when the car is stopped, then re-starts it after the brake pedal is let up, functioning just like a hybrid.

Monday, March 26, 2012

BMW Recalling 1.3 Million Cars

BMW is recalling 1.3 million 5- and 6-series cars from model years 2003 - 2010, the Associated Press reports.
The recall is in response to a battery cable covering in the trunk that was incorrectly installed.
The problem could prevent the car from starting and potentially could cause a fire, but BMW says it knows of no accidents or injuries from the defect, according to AP.
The company said owners will be notified by letter and that the repair should take about 30 minutes.
The recall affects 290,000 cars in Germany and 1.3 million worldwide.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Kia Optima Hybrid is a Stylish Fuel Sipper

The 2012 Kia Optima Hybrid takes the Korean automaker yet a step further in its quest to offer some of the best-equipped and most affordable cars on the market.

This model matches a 30-kilowatt electric motor with a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine to make an impressive 206 horsepower.

The motor, mounted on the transmission, works with a six-speed automatic transmission, rather than an electrically variable transmission which is usually found in hybrids.

The Optima Hybrid can run on electric-only power with light acceleration and sufficient battery charge. For pedestrian safety, the Optima Hybrid makes simulated engine noise when the car is running on electricity, allowing people walking nearby to hear it.

Fuel economy is rated at a stellar 35 mpg city and 40 highway.
The electric motor gains power from a lithium-polymer battery mounted behind the rear seat, which affects rear seat space. Trunk volume also declines, to 9.9 cubic feet; a regular Optima has 15.4 cubic feet.

On the back, there is a hybrid badge, and other differentiating cues for the hybrid include aerodynamic 16- or 17-inch alloy wheels, small differences on the grille and front lights and a small rear trunk spoiler. Kia has added aerodynamic improvements such as lower bumper extensions and reduced ride height.
A power driver's seat, dual-zone automatic climate control and keyless access with push-button start are standard. Optional are heated and cooled front seats, heated rear seats, a heated steering wheel, a panoramic moonroof and a navigation system with a backup camera.

The test drive model had a sticker price of $27,250.

The Kia Optima Hybrid presents a great value in a midsize sedan, with wonderful fuel economy and attractive styling.  

Thursday, March 22, 2012

2012 Mazda3: Better Fuel Economy, Same Great Ride

The 2012 Mazda3 compact has a few exterior and interior changes, but the big news for this model is the SkyActiv technology that is aimed to offer optimal fuel economy.
The Mazda3 is offered as a sedan and a hatchback.
On the outside, the front bumper has been smoothed and some of the grille's detailing has changed. Mazda says the changes to the exterior and underbody were made to improve aerodynamics.

The Mazda3 with an optional SkyActiv engine gives a blue ring around each projector-beam headlight lens, extra badging and a blue engine cover under the hood.

The 16- and 17-inch alloy wheels have a new design, but the 16-inch steel and 18-inch alloy rims carry over from last year's model. 

On the inside, there is silver trim on knobs and vent pulls, providing a more upscale look. The gauge markings have backlighting, the dashboard LCDs are white and the sportier Mazdaspeed3 version has red gauge backlighting. 

The Mazda3 has three engines, including the base 2.0-liter four-cylinder known as MZR, which makes 148 horsepower and is linked to a five-speed manual or five-speed automatic. It gets 25 mpg city, 33 highway with the manual and 24 and 33 with the automatic.

In the hatchback and sedans that are Sport trim level or higher, there is a 167 horsepower, 2.5-liter four-cylinder linked to a six-speed manual or five-speed automatic. The fuel economy is rated at 20 and 28 on the manual and 22 and 29 on the automatic.

The SkyActiv 2.0-liter direct-injection four-cylinder makes 155 horsepower, gaining about 5 percent over the base 2.0-liter and 10 percent more torque. The sedan is rated at 27 mpg city, 39 highway with a SkyActiv six-speed manual or 28 and 40 with a six-speed SkyActiv automatic. The hatchback gets 27 and 38 with manual and 28 and 38 with automatic.

The Mazda3 has antilock brakes and an electronic stability system. There are two airbags in front, seat-mounted side-impact torso airbags for the front occupants and side curtains along the side windows. New options for the model year include a blind spot monitoring system and active headlights.

The test drive model carried a sticker price of $24,970.

The Mazda3 remains one of the sportiest non-luxury compact sedans on the market, and its new fuel economy technology makes it an even more compelling buy.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

2012 Buick Enclave is a Glorious Family Hauler

The 2012 Buick Enclave remains one of the most popular full-size crossover SUVs, with good reason.
The 3.6-liter V-6 engine makes 288 horsepower and 270 pounds-feet of torque and provides terrific power and performance. There is a six-speed automatic transmission and four-wheel disc brakes.
The Enclave gives you 115 cubic feet of cargo volume and tows up to 2,000 pounds, providing versatility that comes in handy. There is an optional four-wheel drive system.

The Enclave takes regular unleaded fuel and is rated at 17 mpg city, 24 highway or 16 and 22 with four-wheel drive. 
The Enclave has striking good looks, with its large chrome grille and HID xenon projector headlights. The standard tire size is 19 inches, but optional are 20-inch all-season tires with chrome-clad aluminum rims. If you purchase the Premium Group trim you receive articulating headlamps that turn as the car does and power-folding, heated side mirrors. The rear power lift gate is standard.

You'll find plenty of room for passengers in the Enclave, with 154 cubic feet of passenger volume offered.  In the second row of seats, captain chairs are standard, but you can also get a bench that bumps up seating capacity to eight.

There are some nifty standard amenities too, such as the leather/wood gear shift knob, accessory power outlet, Bluetooth, cruise control, OnStar, satellite radio and a universal home remote.
 The optional Bose sound system gives 10 speakers that bring great sound quality and volume.

The Enclave has Buick’s “All-around air bag system” with frontal air bags, side-impact air bags and side curtain air bags in all rows. OnStar's safety features include automatic crash response and remote door unlock. The Enclave also has brake assist and hill assist.

The test drive model, a Premium Group trim edition, carried a hefty price tag of $50,970.

The Enclave's comfort, power and utility make it a terrific family vehicle.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Lexus GS350 is a Superb Sedan

When it comes to luxury sedans, it's hard to beat the refinement and performance of the 2013 Lexus GS 350.
The 3.5-liter V-6 engine that makes 306 horsepower and 277 pounds-feet of torque is perfectly suited to deliver great perfomance and decent fuel efficiency (19 MPG city, 28 highway).There is a six-speed automatic transmission with manual-shift capability.
But if you want even more power, you can step up to the V-8 in the GS 460. Or if you want better fuel economy, try the GS 450h hybrid.

Friday, March 9, 2012

First Look: 2013 Mazda CX-5

In the small crossover vehicle market, these days the rule is "innovate or die."
Well, nobody is in business to die, so Mazda has decided to innovate.
The company is unveiling the CX-5 crossover for the 2013 model year.
This sporty model is highlighted by SkyActiv, the company’s all-encompassing technology to raise fuel economy and reduce emissions, while still producing vehicles that are fun to drive.
When Mazda unveiled the CX-5 to a group of journalists at its Mazda Raceway at Laguna Seca in California, it announced that from now on, every Mazda vehicle will incorporate the SkyActiv technology, which involves powertrains, platforms, designs and all engineering.
Mazda's biggest step so far with SkyActiv (it's also found in some Mazda3 models) is with the launch of the CX-5, which is replacing the CX-7 crossover in Mazda's North American lineup. The CX-7 will still be sold overseas.
In this category, Mazda is competing with the Honda CR-V, Hyundai Tucson, Ford Escape, Chevrolet Equinox, Kia Sportage, Toyota RAV4 and Nissan Rogue.
The base model CX-5, the GX with front-wheel-drive, starts at a shade under $23,000. The model expected to be the most popular, the GS, goes for right around $28,000 and the highest trim model GT starts at around $32,500.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

First Look: 2013 Hyundai Genesis Coupe

The newest version of the Hyundai Genesis Coupe has long been anticipated. The first version of this V-6 engine-powered, rear-wheel-drive two-door machine was politely received by performance enthusiasts, but they weren't really blown away.
Now, the 2013 model has gotten some style changes as well as some technical modifications designed to enhance its driving capability.
The result is impressive, to say the least, and it should breathe new life into this model and attract attention from some who previously looked beyond it.

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