Thursday, May 31, 2012

When We Hit the Lottery...

The Beat saw this delightful Ferrari in the parking lot of a park recently, and just had to snap a picture.
Maybe one day, eh?

Chrysler Saying Goodbye to Town & Country, Compass

Chrysler reportedly will end production of its Town & Country minivan and its Jeep Compass crossover, as it continues to adjust its product lineup to meet the demands of consumers.
Phasing out the Town & Country will leave the Dodge Grand Caravan as Chrysler's only minivan.
Chrysler invented the minivan when it launched the Dodge Caravan back in the early 1980s.
The Compass was an often overlooked competitor in the small crossover market.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

GM is Ready for Some Football

General Motors is set to announce a marketing and sponsorship deal with Manchester United, one of the most famous soccer teams in the world, according to a report in the Detroit Free Press.
GM appears to be shifting its advertising strategy, having announced recently that it won't purchase ads on the Super Bowl broadcast or on Facebook.
GM has been trying to establish a more global presence for three of its key brands,  Buick, Cadillac and Chevrolet, and this deal would appear to align well with that strategy.

The Free Press reported that Joel Ewanick, GM’s global chief marketing officer, is expected to discuss the Manchester United deal with reporters Thursday.

Read the Free Press story here


Monday, May 21, 2012

Chrysler Recalling Jeep Wranglers

Chrysler is recalling some 68,000 Jeep Wranglers from model year 2010 to fix a skid plate problem that can lead to fires.
The skid plate in Wranglers with automatic transmissions trap debris near the catalytic converter, which heats the debris to temperatures high enough to pose a risk for igniting into flames.
Chrysler acknowledged to federal regulators that it has received reports of 14 such fires.
Chrysler will ask Wrangler owners to return their Wranglers to Jeep dealers to have the skid plates replaced with skid bars, which won't trap debris.

2012 Nissan Versa Gets a Style Upgrade

While its styling might still be rather plain, the 2012 Nissan Versa has gotten a new look that is a big improvement over the previous version, while still holding onto a very modest price tag.
You hear some car folks occasionally refer to economy cars as a "penalty box," and frankly, that certainly appeared to be the case with the previous version of the Versa.
You want a fuel-sipping small car that doesn't cost too much?
OK, but we must penalize you, you silly frugal consumer, and put as little as possible into this ride. You're lucky you're getting a steering wheel.
But thankfully now, the Versa gets a little more standard equipment and it remains surprisingly roomy, both in its sedan and hatchback versions.
The new look is less blocky than before, with a lower profile.
The hatchback retains its 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine, generating 122 horsepower, with a four-speed automatic or six-speed manual transmission.
The sedan gets a 1.6-liter four-banger, generating 109 horsepower. The engine is mated to a continuously variable transmission or a five-speed manual.
The hatchback with automatic gets 24 mpg city, 32 highway, while the sedan with the CVT gets 30 city, 38 highway.
Nissan added a cubic foot of cargo volume to the sedan, but that move reportedly cost four feet of passenger room. But even with that change, the Versa still has one of the roomiest interiors among subcompacts.
There are six standard airbags in the Versa, as well as traction control, LATCH to help protect child passengers and a tire pressure monitoring system.
The Versa starts at around $11,000 (although you really won't get much at that level) and ranges to around $19,000.
For affordability and practicality, the Nissan Versa makes a pretty strong case.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Honda CR-Z is a Sporty Little Hybrid

If you're driving the 2012 Honda CR-Z, you'll be forgiven if you have to keep telling yourself that it's a hybrid.
That's because this little two-seater looks and drives more like a sports car.
And while it may not be the most practical car if you need storage space or to ferry passengers, it is a terrific choice if you want something small, fuel-efficient, sporty and fun to drive.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

First Dart Rolls Off the Line

Chrysler said that on Monday, the first model of the new edition Dodge Dart came off the assembly line at its plant in Belvidere, Ill.
It will be Chrysler's first compact car since the utterly forgettable Dodge Neon, and is built on the same platform as the Alfa Romeo Giulietta - which comes as the result of Chrysler's affiliation with its owner, Fiat.
Chrysler says the first Darts will be hitting showrooms in June, carrying a sticker price that starts at around $16,000.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Acura ZDX Dares to be Different

The 2012 Acura ZDX is among the segment of sedan/coupe/crossover vehicles that automakers have created in the past few years to address multiple consumer needs.
These vehicles have drawn both strong praise and heavy jeers for their appearance.
But regardless of how you think it looks, you'd have a hard time arguing that the ZDX is not a versatile, roomy, sporty-driving machine that offers nice luxury features.
This five-seat vehicle shares a platform with Acura's MDX large crossover SUV, and while it is a bit longer than that car, it is also shorter.

Read more:

Friday, May 4, 2012

Got a Young Driver in the Family? Don't Miss This Event

WHAT: On May 5, 2012, the Safe America Foundation will hold its seventh annual SafeTeen Georgia Driving Academy at the Atlanta Motor Speedway. This year’s event will feature two young racing stars, Tia Norfleet the first African-American woman licensed by NASCAR and 16 year old Tristen Nunez, the youngest race winner in the history of IMSA Protoype Lite Series.

Tia will address the importance of focus and practice in becoming a good driver. Tristen’s message, as the driver of the No. 16 “Dnt txt n DrV” car is on the dangers of texting and driving.

Safe America’s goal is to give every teen in the metro Atlanta and Macon area additional education about safe driving. Teens and their parents will learn about Georgia Driving Laws, Distracted and Impaired Driving, Trauma Care, Car Maintenance, Railroad Crossing Safety and much more in a series of “pit stop” classes, exhibits and demonstrations.

New components to the 2012 Driving Academy will include:

- Tia Norfleet and Tristen Nunez talking about safe behavior behind the wheel
- US Army participation demonstrating military leadership opportunities;
- A Junior ROTC recommitment ceremony of High School Seniors
- New interactive exhibits showcasing skill and safety equipment

WHO: Tia Norfleet, First African-American woman licensed by NASCAR
Tristen Nunez, youngest race winner in the history of IMSA Prototype Lite Series
More than 1,000 Metro-Atlanta teens and parents are expected to attend
Police, fire and EMS professionals from 7 metro Atlanta counties
US Army

WHEN: Saturday, May 05, 2012
8 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

WHERE: Atlanta Motor Speedway infield
1500 Tara Place, Hampton, GA

Gas-Saving Tips

Gas prices have gone down some in the past couple of weeks, and some forecasts say they won't rise sharply again for quite some time.
But you never know.
And even at this price, gasoline ain't exactly cheap.
So here are a few tips to help you save at the pump.

1. Not so fast

Although each vehicle reaches its optimal fuel economy at different speeds, gas mileage usually drops dramatically at speeds above 60 mph. As a general rule, every 5 mph you drive above 60 mph is like paying an extra 30 cents per gallon of gas.

2. Take it easy

Avoid jack-rabbit starts and sudden stops, which can lower your gas mileage by 33 percent on the highway and by 5 percent around town.

3. Get rid of the dead weight

Try not to keep unnecessary items in your car, especially heavy ones. Each 100 pounds of extra weight can reduce fuel efficiency by up to 2 percent.

4. Shop around

Avoid gas stations in affluent areas and near major freeway exits. In major metropolitan areas, outlying suburbs tend to have the lowest gas prices, according to If you're not in a hurry when traveling, drive a few blocks from the freeway exit to find lower gas prices. Also, avoid service stations with on-site auto repair shops, which often charge more for gas. Download the app on your mobile device to locate gas stations near you and see their current gas prices. If you don't see a download for your device, just go to, which can be used from any mobile device.

5. Find alternative pumps

Check out wholesale clubs, grocery stores or department stores with gas stations onsite. These businesses often sell gas at discounted prices and may offer credit for in-store purchases when you fill up with gas.

6. Keep the hoopdie hoppin'

While traditional tune ups are becoming a thing of the past for newer vehicles, older cars with worn spark plugs, low transmission fluid and dragging brakes can suck your gas tank dry. Check your owners manual for recommended maintenance schedules and get regular engine checkups. Fixing a car that is noticeably out of tune can improve its gas mileage by an average of 4 percent. Fixing a serious maintenance problem, such as a faulty oxygen sensor, can improve your mileage by as much as 40 percent.

7. Don't be an American idle

For every hour a car idles, between a quarter-gallon to a half-gallon of fuel is consumed. Restarting your vehicle only takes a few seconds’ worth of fuel. However, restarting your car excessively can cause starter wear.

8. Treat the tires right

Keep your tires properly inflated and make sure you have them aligned periodically. You can improve your gas mileage by around 3.3 percent by keeping your tires inflated to the proper pressure. Plus, properly inflated tires are safer and last longer.

9. Toil over your oil

All oils aren’t created equal. That's especially true when it comes to engine oil. Using only the manufacturer's recommended grade of motor oil cited in your owners manual can improve your fuel efficiency by 1percent to 2 pecent.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Atlanta Food Truck Park is Open for Business

The Beat loves to eat, so you can only imagine how excited we were to learn the news that Atlanta now has a full-time, seven-day-a-week food truck park.
It's located at 1850 Howell Mill Rd., right off of Interstate 75, and is open for lunch and dinner.
Also, on weekends, it will offer a farmer's market from 9 a.m. - 1 p.m.
You'll be able to purchase fresh local produce, as well as merchandise from other vendors.
Plus, there will be entertainment, such as live music, and you can bring your Frisbees or other fun accessories and just come and hang out.
And there is plenty of free parking.
For more information, check out the website
And be sure to Like the park on Facebook , which will let you see which vendors are showing up on any given day.
Soon, you can expect to see one of The Beat's cool test drive cars rolling up into the spot. And when you do, feel free to offer to buy lunch or dinner for the driver.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Good Sales Month for Chrysler, Toyota; GM, Ford See Declines


Chrysler and Toyota posted impressive sales increases in April, providing more signs of an improving economy, even as figures reported by General Motors and Ford were not as positive.
Chrysler said sales grew by 20 percent compared with the same time a year ago, on the strength of its Chrysler 200 sedan and Ram trucks.
Toyota reported a 12 percent boost, having recovered from the destructive earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan last year and disrupted production.
GM sales slid by 8 percent and Ford lost 5 percent.
GM's fleet sales, or sales to rental companies, took a steep drop, the company said, which hurt overall sales figures. But individual buyer sales were about the same as a year ago, according to GM. GMC was the only GM brand to post a gain; Cadillac, Chevrolet and Buick saw declines.
Ford said its Fiesta subcompact slid in sales, but that its Focus compact did fairly well. The Escape small SUV, which is about to be revamped, and Ranger small pickup, which is being phased out, also had slower sales.