Thursday, December 27, 2012

Top 10 Vehicles of 2012

Atlanta Auto Beat is proud to present the 2012 edition of its annual list of top-ranked vehicles. 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 Acura RDX

The Acura RDX small crossover has been one of the sportiest little SUVs, when it comes to driving dynamics, since it first hit the market. It had a recent makeover, and while its looks have changed a bit, the snappiness of the ride is as present as ever.

No. 9 Subaru XV Crosstrek

Subaru seems to consistently fly beneath the radar screen in the U.S. auto market, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t still producing great vehicles that are famously reliable. The new XV Crosstrek is a compact crossover that can ride smoothly over streets or take on some light off-roading.

No. 8 Ford F-150

The Ford F-150, the world's most popular truck, picks up an enhanced four-wheel drive system, better performance in the SVT Raptor off-road edition and a gas tank that has been expanded to 36 gallons on the EcoBoost models.

No. 7 Lexus ES

The Lexus ES sedan has been one of the luxury brand's standard bearers for the past few years. The 2013 version gets a fresh look and a few styling tweaks.

No. 6 Toyota Yaris

The latest version of the Toyota Yaris subcompact restores the luster of this small economy car, giving it sporty new looks and better driving quality.

No. 5 Buick Regal

Attractive styling, good fuel economy and a nice list of standard features make the Buick Regal a great midsize sedan.

No. 4 Nissan Maxima

Nissan has long referred to its Maxima sedan as the “four-door sports car,” and if you’ve ever driven this model, it’s quite possible you see why. In the recent model year, the Maxima has a few changes in appearance and a few added features, yet its sportiness endures.

No. 3 Lexus GS 450h

The style and fuel economy of the Lexus GS 450h make it a wonderful choice for those seeking a hybrid luxury sedan. Lexus put the GS 450h on the sidelines for the 2012 model year so that it could reinvent them, and the results were brilliant.

No. 2 Acura ILX Hybrid

Acura's ILX Hybrid is a four-door sedan with a sporty but not over-the-top design. It's very affordable and has a small appetite for gasoline.

No. 1 Kia Rio

No vehicle symbolizes the remarkable turnaround of Korean automaker Kia more than the 2013 Kia Rio. This subcompact offers tremendous value with great styling, outstanding fuel economy and an impressive list of features.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

2013 Lexus GS 450h: Great Style

 What would Gangnam Style look like if it were a car?

Who knows, but it might be something akin to the 2013 Lexus GS 450h.

 The style and fuel economy of this car will get you up and dancing.

All silliness aside though, this hybrid sedan is truly terrific, inside and out.

Lexus put the GS 450h and its non-hybrid sibling GS 350 on the sidelines for the 2012 model year so that it could reinvent them.

The results were brilliant.


Monday, December 24, 2012

2013 Audi A4: Lots of Thrills a Minute

One of the best performance-driving luxury sedans on the mainstream market, the Audi A4 takes on some design refreshes for the 2013 model year.
The changes are most prominently up front, with the A4 getting a newly styled front bumper, new grille, hood, headlamps and LED daytime running lights.
The rear bumper has also been redesigned.
The A4 shares design language with its larger A6 and A8 siblings, with a small spoiler subtly placed on the lid of the trunk.
Standard features on the outside are the 17-inch alloy wheels (18- and 19-inchers are optional) and a glass sunroof.
Swiveling headlights are optional.
On the interior, you'll find classy new chrome accents along with redesigned controls.
This five-seat sedan still offers a pretty generous amount of room for a slightly less-than-midsize sedan.
The Multi Media Interface system has a mouse-like controller on the center console that lets you click on different menus and choose settings on the dashboard screen.
The A4 is powered by a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine that makes 211 horsepower. The base model has front-wheel drive with continuously variable automatic transmission. Audi's Quattro all-wheel drive system is optional and can be linked to a six-speed manual or eight-speed automatic transmission.
The test-drive model had the Quattro system and the six-speed manual transmission. As such, it really felt as if you were driving a rear-wheel drive sports car, thanks to a 40-60 front-rear power distribution in the Quattro and a buttery smooth shifting tranny.

Accelerating, whipping through curves and corners, downshifting and sharp braking were all among the thrills to be had driving the A4.
Audi adds nice safety options to the A4, including  Side Assist, which alerts the driver if a vehicle is in the blind spot areas on the sides of the car, along with a backup camera.

The A4 starts at around $34,000 and ranges close to $42,000.

As stated above, the A4 truly is one of the best driving affordable luxury sedans on the market. It's hard to beat the fun you'll have tossing this around twisty roads.
However, the thing that remains somewhat of a sticking point for recommending the purchase of an Audi continues to be its persistent difficulties in reliability ratings.
While you've got one of the four-ring marque's products and it's working well out on the road, it's a joy.
But far too often, you hear tales of woe from owners who have spent many dollars and hours at the mechanic's shop, getting the Audi healed.
Mind you, the German brand has taken steps toward improvement in the past few years.
But there's still a way to go.
If you're willing to take the risk, though, you might have many enjoyable miles ahead of you.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

First Look: 2013 Buick Encore

Buick continues its foray deeper into the premium vehicle marketplace by introducing the Encore, which it describes as the only luxury subcompact SUV.

The new offering was recently unveiled by Buick in Atlanta.

So, how does it stack up?

Well, it has a nice exterior design that is not much of a departure from Buick’s hugely popular Encore large crossover SUV. As such, the styling incorporates the traditional Buick design language including the waterfall grille and the portholes on the hood.


Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Toyota Draws Hefty Fine on Recall Laxness

Toyota will pay more than $17-million to settle allegations that it did not report a safety defect, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said Tuesday.

The government said the fine is the largest civil penalty paid to NHTSA for recall violations and is related to unexpected acceleration blamed on floor mat entrapment of the accelerator pedal in some Lexus models.

Toyota earlier in the year had revised its recall of 2009 vehicles to include more than 150,000 2010 model year Lexus RX vehicles. NHTSA suggested the recall delay was improper, stating that automakers must inform the agency within five days of determining a safety defect exists.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Ford Closing Out Year Strong, COO Says

Ford is posting solid sales in December so far, despite the looming "fiscal cliff" and continued slow pace in economic recovery, the company's chief operating officer said Tuesday.
Speaking to journalists in Detroit, Mark Fields said that he hopes congressional leaders and the White House can reach a deal that will avert problems that would come from the financial deadline passing with no agreement.
Despite that, though, he said Ford continues to benefit from a resurgence in popularity of its vehicle lineup and from pent-up demand for new vehicles that was created through the worst years of the recent economic recession.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Ford Unveils New Fiesta

Ford has unveiled the redesigned 2014 Fiesta with the face of a Fusion and engine choices ranging from a fuel-sipping 1-liter engine to a high-performance Fiesta ST.

Ford recently unveiled the new version of its Fiesta hatchback, which wil be sold in the spring as a 2014 model.

Among the trim choices for the the Fiesta will be the ST, which features a performance package with a 1.6-liter four-cylinder EcoBoost turbocharged engine. It can make 197 horsepower and 214 pounds-feet of torque and is rated at 34 mpg.

The ST comes with a six-speed manual transmission, sport-tuned suspension and enhanced brakes. The ST willl have a new grille and spoiler and a back end with a rear diffuser, dual-exhaust pipes and spoiler.

Ford will also offer a Fiesta with its newest 1-liter EcoBoost engine and first-ever three-cylinder. The engine makes 123 horsepower and mileage is expected to be anywhere from 40 - 50 mpg.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Hyundai to Offer Larger Version of Santa Fe Crossover

Hyundai announced recently that it will introduce a longer version of the Santa Fe crossover utility vehicle that will include a third row of seating.

According to news reports, the new long-wheelbase Santa Fe for six or seven passengers will replace the loss of a large family vehicle after Hyundai discontinued the Veracruz crossover this year.
Hyundai will continue to sell a mid-size Santa Fe - the Sport model went on sale in August and seats five.

Hyundai posted sales of nearly 57,000 Santa Fe vehicles through October, but sales are down about 10% from a year earlier, according to news reports.

The stretch Santa Fe will hit showrooms early next year. Pricing has not been announced. 

The Santa Fe features a 3.3-liter direct-injection V6 engine that makes 290 horsepower and can tow up to 5,000 pounds. It is equipped with all-wheel drive and a six-speed automatic transmission.

The 7-passenger model has a folding second-row bench seat . The 6-passenger model has two captain’s chairs in the second row.