Tuesday, October 29, 2013

2013 Ford Focus: A Pairing of Style and Great Fuel Economy

Ford is on a roll, and one of the vehicles that is moving it in the right direction is the Focus.
This compact gets high marks for fuel economy and styling, and last week, Ford announced that it is the best-selling car in the world.
For the 2013 model year, the Focus added an ST high performance model, and put an available five-speed manual transmission on its highest trim model.
The sporty-looking Focus has large grille openings and flowing crease lines along the side to give it a motion-like appearance. The rear also has an aggressive and flowing look, and when you add the spoiler, you've got a humdinger of an economy car in sports-car clothing.
The Focus is powered by a  2.0-liter four cylinder engine that makes 160 horsepower and 146 pounds-feet of torque. The engine is mated to a five-speed manual or a six-speed automatic transmission.
The Focus is rated at 27 mpg city, 38 highway. And if those numbers aren't impressive enough, get the Super Fuel Economy package and you get 28 and 40.
The Focus might not gain a lot of acclaim for its interior space, though. Head- and leg- room up front are adequate, but the back seat is pretty tight. It comes standard as a bench, optional as a 60/40 split seat.
Ford says there is 13 cubic feet of cargo space available in the sedan, with hatchbacks having almost  24 cubic feet with the rear seat up and 44 cubic feet with it folded down.
As for technology, the Focus is no slouch, offering optional park assist, which can measure up parallel parking spaces and guide the car into place pretty much on its own. The Focus also can be had with Ford's SYNC and MyFord Touch technological controls. 
The Focus starts at around $17,000 and ranges as high as about $27,000.
For a stylish small car that gets great fuel economy, the Focus is a terrific choice.

Friday, October 18, 2013

2014 Mazda6: One of the Best Got a Little Better

For a few years, the Mazda6 midsize sedan has won acclaim as a sporty, athletic and good-looking car, even if it has flown under the radar of some consumers and auto enthusiasts.
Well, if you're among those who hasn't paid much attention to this model, the 2014 Mazda6 is serving notice that it is one of the best midsize sedans in the business.
This Mazda6 gets a makeover that gives it a slightly more upscale look, while retaining the sportiness that characterized the prior version.
The styling now emphasizes aerodynamics and has touches such as an elongated hood and revised headlight presentation, which optionally can include LED lights.
And though you wouldn't know it at first glance, the new model is a tad smaller than the previous one, but retains the rear leg room, thankfully.
The most exciting development, and the thing that makes the Mazda6 one of the best cars on the market, is its commitment to great fuel economy.


Friday, October 11, 2013

2013 Mitsubishi Outlander: Affordable and Versatile

Small SUVs, which offer some of the functionality of their larger counterparts but are cheaper to fuel and easier to drive, remain popular among consumers.
One entrant in this market is Mitsubishi's Outlander Sport, the top seller for this brand, which has been mostly an also-ran for the past few years.
The Outlander Sport seats five and is powered by a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 148 horsepower and 145 pounds-feet of torque. The engine is linked to either a five-speed manual transmission or continuously variable transmission. All-wheel drive is also available.
The test model had the stick shift.
Driving the Outlander Sport is not unpleasant, but don't expect any thrills.
The gear stops in the manual transmission seemed rather vague, and in fifth gear, it really felt like it needed a sixth to reduce strain on the engine.
Noise from the engine is fairly intrusive also, despite the fact that Mitsubishi says it has improved sound insulation.
The manual version gets 24 mpg city, 30 highway, while the CVT with front-wheel drive gets 24 and 31 and the CVT with all-wheel gets 24 and 29.
This year's model has a few exterior design tweaks, and overall, the Outlander Sport is not a bad looking vehicle.
There's a new front and rear bumper with matching side sills, standard 18-inch alloy wheels and a revised grille.
 A rear spoiler and heated, power side view mirrors are standard as well.
Two trim levels are offered, ES and SE.
The ES has voice-activated mobile phone and iPod control and audio control buttons on the steering wheel, among other features. The SE includes heated front seats, automatic climate control and smart key with push-button start.
The Outlander Sport starts at around $19,000 and ranges to around $25,000.
If you're looking for a small SUV with a reasonable price tag, the Outlander Sport might be worth a glance.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Luxury Vehicles, Vintage Planes on Display

Lexus teamed up with organizers of the Great Georgia Air Show to display a nice collection of planes and luxury cars and SUVs at Atlanta Regional Airport Falcon Field in Peachtree City this week.
 The vintage airplanes had been used in World War II and celebrate the heritage of American military aviation.
The Lexus vehicles included the IS 350, IS 350C and IS-F sedans and the GX 460 SUV.
Visitors got to fly in some of the aircraft and take the cars and SUVs out for test drives.
Safe to say that it was a fun day for transportation nuts.
The Great Georgia Air Show takes place at Atlanta Regional Airport this Friday through Sunday.
Click here for more information.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

First Glance: 2014 Kia Soul

MINNEAPOLIS -- The Kia Soul is perhaps best known to many people as the vehicle endorsed by a bunch of hipster hamsters in TV commercials.
But if you're an automaker, you can only ride rodents so far. You must have a vehicle that delivers the goods to consumers.
Since its debut in 2009, the Soul has done that.
And the new version, the 2014 model, even gets a bit better.
Kia bared its new Soul to the media in beautiful Minneapolis, giving auto reviewers a chance to drive in both urban and rural settings.


Tuesday, October 1, 2013

South Korean Parts Maker to Build Georgia Facility

Georgia officials announced that South Korean autoparts maker Hyundai Dymos will open a $35 million manufacturing plant in West Point, Ga., that will supply automaker Kia, which operates its North American plant in the town. The new facility is projected to create 350 manufacturing jobs.
The plant will make seats for the Kia Sorento crossover SUV.
Hiring for the facility will begin in January, with construction expected to be finished by July, and normal production slated to start in November 2014.
Hyundai Dymos was founded in 1994 and manufactures manual transmissions and axles in addition to seats.