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Renault Megane RS 250 Limited Edition 31
Aug
Posted by Kelly Levinsohn in Megane, New car review, renault on 08 31st, 2011

Renault have recently officially released the details of their latest limited edition Megane RS 250 Grand Prix model.  The French auto manufacturer pays homage to the Monaco GP circuit with this luxurious award winning Megane that is reflected in its looks and drive.

Renault has packed the hatch with a 2.0-litre turbocharged four producing 246 horsepower and 251 lb/ft of torque. Other features include  a panoramic glass roof, 19-inch alloys, red Brembo brake calipers and bi-xenon headlights. The interior shows off a black-and-white leather trim with white accents on the center console, dash-strip, and door handles.  The Pearlescent White paint, in which the car is currently only available, reflects its exclusive status.

Unfortunately the limited edition hatch is only available for the Australian market.

reanault Renault Megane RS 250 Limited Edition

Justin Hocevar, Managing Director Renault Australia has stated that “this incredibly luxurious version of the Mégane R.S. 250 will appeal to lovers of hot hatches who don’t want to compromise on their everyday creature comforts.”



Land Rover DC100 Penned As Defender Replacement 31
Aug
Posted by Kurt Ernst in Automotive, Frankfurt-Motor-Show, Kurt, Land Rover, Land Rover DC100 Concept, News on 08 31st, 2011

The Land Rover DC 100 concept. Image: Jaguar Land Rover

With apologies to Jeep, the Land Rover Defender is perhaps the world’s most iconic go-anywhere, do-anything vehicle. It’s the one vehicle in the Land Rover catalog that is most directly related to the original Land Rover, proven in the harshest terrain all over the world. It’s more pack mule than status symbol, and you’re more likely to see a mud-caked Defender in a British farmer’s field than you are to see a sparkling clean Defender parked outside of Harrods. Only in America is the now-banned Defender considered a plaything for the wealthy.

Land Rover has announced that a new Defender will hit the market in 2015, and they’ve provided these images of their DC100 concept as a starting point for the next Defender’s development. I’ll try not to be too critical, but the cute-ute pictured here has as much in common with the iconic Defender as Rosie O’Donnell does with Kim Kardashian. Take the wheels, for example, which would get caked with mud as soon as you hit standing water. They look appallingly fragile, too, as if one good impact on a rock would leave you with a shattered wheel, potentially miles from civilization.

Image: Jaguar Land Rover

On the plus side, the narrow front and rear overhangs ensure that you have the best possible approach and departure angles, and the short wheelbase should keep the DC100 from getting high centered on obstacles. It looks like the truck has a reasonable amount of ground clearance, too.

Maybe the biggest problem I have with the DC100 is it’s appearance. It looks about as rugged as Justin Bieber, and as pictured will appeal more to teenage girls than to those needing rugged and dependable transportation out where the busses don’t run. I know it’s just a starting point, but I hope the next images released by Land Rover show a truck with a bit less flash and a bit more attitude.

Source: Jaguar Land Rover



Ford’s Evos Concept Reveals The Future Of Ford’s Styling 31
Aug
Posted by Kurt Ernst in auto show, Concept Cars, Concept Vehicle, Ford, Ford Evos Concept, Frankfurt Auto Show, Kurt, News on 08 31st, 2011

Ford's Evos concept. Image: Ford Motor Company

I’ll give you the bad news up front: the stunning concept car you see here, the Ford Evos, won’t ever see production. No matter how badly you want to buy one, no amount of letter writing, begging or pleading will get this car into a Ford dealer any time soon. Ford is debuting the Evos at the Frankfurt Motor Show, and it will undoubtedly be making the global auto show circuit in the coming year.

Image: Ford Motor Company

Now the good news: the Evos is a styling exercise, meant to represent Ford’s new global design language. You can’t buy the Evos, but every Ford penned from this point forward will borrow (in some cases, heavily) from the styling pioneered on the Evos. The inverted trapezoid grille, dubbed the “new face of Ford,” has already been seen on the upcoming Ford Focus Electric and the much-anticipated Ford Focus ST.

Image: Ford Motor Company

Other design elements that Ford will use moving forward include minimized roof pillars and aerodynamic designs that make the car look “light on its feet,” silhouette innovation to distinguish Ford’s profile from competitors, refined surface styling to add subtle detail (and perceived quality) and minimized headlamps and tailights (which Ford calls “technical graphics”).

Image: Ford Motor Company

Since the Evos is a concept car, it also pushes the boundaries of existing automotive technology. It’s powered by a plug-in hybrid drivetrain (although no specifications for power or performance were given) and it uses cloud computing to ensure the driver has the same access to information as he would at home or in the office. The Evos monitors a driver’s health as well, and can remind you when you’re too tired to drive or alert you if a sudden medical condition is detected.

Image: Ford Motor Company

While some of the styling elements are a bit over the top (like the four gull-wing doors. for example), overall the Evos is a styling home run for Ford. It appears to be influenced by Aston Martin’s current designs, but copies none of them. Stare at the Evos long enough, and you’ll see new interpretations of existing Ford styling; the bold character lines used on the doors come from the Mustang, and you can see a bit of the current Ford Taurus in the front end.

Image: Ford Motor Company

There’s more good news, too: J Mays, Ford’s group vice president of design, tells us to look for a new model release, heavily influenced by the Evos concept, in four months time. That’s just about the right timing for the 2012 North American International Auto Show, and it’s just about when we expect to see the introduction of the Ford Focus ST. We’ll be counting down the days.

Source: Ford



2011 Mini Cooper S Countryman ALL4 Review & Test Drive 31
Aug
Posted by Harvey Schwartz in Automotive, featured, MINI, mini cooper, Mini Cooper S Countryman ALL4, Test Drives on 08 31st, 2011

‘MINI MANIA GROWS TWO MORE DOORS’ 

The new Mini Cooper has been a phenomenon here ever since it first débuted a couple of years ago.  Mini owner car clubs have popped up all over the country as this fabled, small, ubiquitous two door was taken over, redesigned to modern day standards, and marketed around the world by BMW.

To expand its sales to families and active singles and couples, Mini introduces the four-door Countryman in 2011.  Two more seats for adults or children are in order, or you can fold the two seats down to increase cargo space.

More front and rear overhang is necessary on the new Mini since it has been transformed into a crossover/stationwagon.  The wheelbase has been lengthened to 102.2 inches, almost 2 inches longer than the Clubman’s and a solid five inches over the standard Mini Cooper hatch.

These new extra inches are going to good use as the 2011 Mini Cooper Countryman’s standard rear bucket seats have a 5.1 inch fore/aft range adjustment.  You can also order their three-place bench seat at no extra cost if you want your Mini Countryman to seat five.  The bench seat will also adjust fore/aft, similar to a 60/40 split bench, and like the bucket seats, it seatback cushions recline.

With all of the seats reclined you get 12.2 cu.ft. of cargo space.  If you drop the rear seats into the floor you can get up to 41 cu.ft. of cargo space.  You can also use the roof rack to store cargo to your needs.

The Mini Cooper S ALL4 Countryman that I tested only comes with the 1.6 liter inline four-cylinder engine that adds BMW’s Valvetronic variable valve lift to the twin-scroll turbocharger and direct injection systems.  This combination adds up to 181hp at 5,500rpm and 177lb.ft. of torque (192lb.ft. with the overboost) and more efficient fuel economy.  The base Mini Countryman features the normally aspirated 1.6 liter engine with no Valvetronic or direct injection systems and makes just 121hp at 6,000rpm and 118lb.ft. or torque.  You are better off with the optional engine that came with my test Countryman.

The new Mini Cooper S comes equipped with Mini’s familiar Getrag six-speed manual transmission allowing you to change gears as you like.  Mini’s six-speed automatic transmission is optional and includes paddle shifters for even more fun-to-drive action.

Front-wheel-drive is standard but the fun and extra traction needed in the snow, wet, or slick road surfaces is made easier and safer with the optional ‘ALL4’ all-wheel-drive system that is available only on the Mini Cooper S Countryman.

Even though it is touted as all-wheel-drive, it only indicates a clutch-pack coupling built into the final-drive unit.  An electrically driven hydraulic pump governs the pressure that reaches the coupling.  In dry conditions, you can expect most of the torque to go to the Countryman’s front wheels.

Up to 50% can be redirected rearward to promote proper cornering character, and in really extreme cases, up to 100% of engine torque can go to the rear wheels.  Also, an electronic limited-slip differential allows for side-to-side torque swaps between the car’s front wheels.

The suspension is fully independent with a MacPherson strut setup up front and a multi-link setup in the rear with front/rear sway bars.  It gets a slightly softer tune since the car is bigger and heavier, even with the sport suspension.  Turn-in is excellent but it tends to get a little loose at speed in S-curves as the sway bars try keeping the rear from hanging out as the new Countryman has a higher ride height.  I’d advise taking it easy when driving on continuous curving roads.  The electric power rack & pinion steering is nicely weighted with a great feel for the road and quick, precise response to your inputs.

The brakes are slightly larger to more effectively and safely slow this larger and heavier Mini Cooper S Countryman down from speed.  Up front are 12.1 inch vented discs clamped with dual-piston calipers and 12 inch solid discs in the rear clamped with single-piston calipers.  Keeping you in control are standard ABS, EBD, Corner Brake Control, Dynamic Stability Control and Dynamic Traction Control with EDLC.

The new Mini Cooper S Countryman ALL4 rides on big, 18X8 inch alloy wheels wrapped with 245/45R18 inch all-season run-flat tires for a smooth and quiet ride.

Inside the new, larger, roomier cabin is basically the same dashboard setup but for the addition of two more toggle switches for the rear door windows, larger air-vents at the ends of each side of the dashboard, new surfaces that are now textured grain and newly designed door panels that underline the specific shape of the body.

In addition to being the biggest and most rugged member of the Mini family, the Countryman promises to be the most tech-laden.  Adaptive HID headlights are optional, and Mini is promising full integration for iPhones and other smartphones that find their way into your Countryman.

While the all-new 2011 Mini Cooper Countryman is more useful and practical than any other Mini to date, be prepared to spend more money as prices start at $26,950.00, and my fully loaded S ALL4 model was stickered at $34,650.00 including destination.

Standard features in the 2011 Mini Cooper S Countryman ALL4 not mentioned above that I tested includes Tire Monitor, A/C with micro filter and air-recirculation, manual 6-way adjustable front bucket seats, adjustable tilt/telescopic sport leather-wrapped steering wheel with cruise-control buttons, sport button for quick throttle and steering response, Boost CD,AM-FM audio system wit HD radio technology, six speakers and auxiliary input jack, power windows all express up/down, power remote sideview mirrors, variable intermittent wipers/washers, rear wiper/washer, power door locks, remote keyless entry, center rail with eyeglass case and two cupholders, center console with two cupholders, low-profile aluminum roof rails, seven-airbags, 3-point safety belts for all four seating positions, side-curtain airbags, thick cut-pile carpeting with thick floor mats front/rear, cold weather package of power folding/heated sideview mirrors, heated front seats, leather seats, dual pane panoramic sunroof, automatic climate control, Harman-Kardon sound system, black stripes, Xeon headlamps, 18X8 inch alloy wheels, comfort access keyless entry, cargo net, center armrest, park distance control in the rear, and foglamps.

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COPYRIGHT:2011:HARVEY SCHWARTZ

SPECIFICATIONS

  • Price: Base Cooper S Countryman $26,950 As-Tested $34,650
  • Engine: 1.6-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder 181 horsepower @ 5500 rpm / 177 ft-lbs. torque @ 1600 rpm
  • Total length: 161.3in.
  • Total width: 70.4in.
  • Total height: 61.5in.
  • Wheelbase: 102.2in.
  • Track: f/r-60/61.1in.
  • Headroom: f/r-39.9/37.5in.
  • Legroom: f/r-40.4/33.8in.
  • Fuel tank: 12.4 gallons
  • Curb weight: 3,042lbs.
  • 0-60 mph: 7.3 seconds
  • EPA mileage: 25mpg/city, 31mpg/highway


Complete Perfection: Identity Designs’ Custom Matte-Silver 3M Vinyl Infiniti G37 Coupe 31
Aug
Posted by Malcolm Hogan in Automotive, Infiniti, Infiniti G37, Technical, Tuners, Vinyl wrap on 08 31st, 2011

Our good friends at Identity Designs in Jacksonville, FL, who happens to supply us with all of our graphics and printing needs, recently did a matte silver 3M vinyl wrap on a new Infiniti G37. The remarkable vinyl wrap job exceeds expectations taking today’s faddish matte colored exteriors to a new level.

The guys at Identity Designs took the extra time and effort to make this a unique wrap job. Not one seam, not one flaw, just plain perfection. Identity Designs utilized the best material in the business starting with 3M’s latest 1080 Matte Silver vinyl. They even took the liberty of wrapping the entire door jams making this project turn out better than one would with traditional painting. There is no doubt that the customer base for complete vinyl wrapped cars has increased to record levels. Luckily, you can still find a shop to do the job right. We welcome you to check out the photos of this project before and after below.

Vinyl work performed by:

Identity Designs
4533 Sunbeam Rd. Suite 803
Jacksonville, FL 32257
design@identitydesignfl.com
identitydesignfl.com/
Facebook Page
904.201.9727

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If you need a vehicle wrapped, be sure to check out Identity Designs and mention AutomotiveAddicts.com.



How To Die In A Road Rage Shooting 30
Aug
Posted by Kurt Ernst in Automotive, Automotive Help, Driving, Kurt, Road Rage on 08 30th, 2011

"Road Rage," by Tony the Misfit

Drivers in the great state of Florida have never been known for their prowess behind the wheel. It seems to me, though, that the roads are only getting worse: a few years back I could go weeks without someone making a concerted effort to kill me, but these days I can pretty much count on a near death experience every time I get behind the wheel. Short of trading my GTI in on a surplus deuce-and-a-half personnel carrier, there isn’t much I can do to make the roads any safer.

It’s not just me, either. I’ve had people from all over the country tell me how bad the roads have gotten in their area, which eliminates the possibility of mass hysteria, or something in the drinking water here in the Sunshine State. Maybe it’s the price of gas, or the tanking economy, or a real-estate market that’s about to reach critical mass; whatever the cause, other motorists seem to be driving with their heads firmly implanted deep into their colons.

With that in mind, I bring you five good ways to die in a road-rage shooting. Just as there are more drivers on the road these days, there are more armed drivers behind the wheel, too. Sooner or later, distraction meets rage, and a six-o-clock-news story is born.

Treat the left lane as your own personal sanctuary.
When you merge onto the highway, dive into the left lane as quickly as you can, earning bonus points for every driver you cut off in the process. Once in the left lane, set your cruise control for one mile per hour below the speed limit, or better yet, match the speed of the vehicle in the center lane precisely. If you don’t slow down all those those crazy speeders, who will?

Don’t let driving keep you from texting or talking on the cell.
All those studies that show driving while talking on a hand-held cell phone to be as dangerous as driving while impaired don’t apply to you, since you’ve got super 3lite ninja skills. Try to ignore that your speed is dropping while you chat with your BFF over nothing at all. Don’t worry about the cars passing on the right (or maybe even on the shoulder), flipping you off and honking. If other drivers have anger management issues, that’s their problem, not yours.

Never use your directional signal.
If you actually signal your upcoming intentions, other drivers will know what you’re going to do, and that’s an invasion of your privacy. So what if the other driver has been sitting at the stop sign for five minutes, waiting for a break in traffic – that’s his problem, not yours. Besides, it’s damn hard to use your turn signal indicator when you’ve got a cigarette in one hand, a cell phone in the other and you’re trying to slam a 32 ounce Big Gulp.

Try to drive in someone’s blind spot as often as you can.
Let’s face it: new cars are expensive, and the easiest way to get one is to have someone else wreck your car for you. An excellent way of doing this is to pull slightly alongside another car on the highway, then camp out in the driver’s blind spot. You’ll have to pay attention, since many drivers will either speed up or slow down to get away from you. If you aren’t careful, the driver may even get away, forcing you to find another driver to stalk.

Courtesy is for pussies.
See that guy up ahead, wanting to merge into your lane? Slam the door on him, otherwise he’ll be in front of you (and any racer can tell you that second place is first loser). When exiting a highway, try to wait until the last possible minute before crossing five lanes of traffic. Remember, there’s bonus points if you put someone off in a ditch. Also, when traffic is merging down to a single lane, pass as many cars as you can before diving into the flow, millimeters off of someone’s bumper. Waiting in line is for chumps, and you’ve got important places to be.

So there you have it: five ways to maximize your chances of getting gunned down by a driver with anger management issues and a newly purchased handgun. Of course if you were to do the opposite of what I suggest, chances are you won’t be making the six o’clock news any time soon. The choice is yours.



Is Infiniti Changing To FWD For Future Models? 30
Aug
Posted by Kurt Ernst in Automotive, Infiniti, Infiniti JX, Kurt, News on 08 30th, 2011

Infiniti's upcoming JX luxury crossover. Image: Infiniti

One of the things that’s led to Infiniti’s success in the luxury market is the handling of its automobiles. Although a few previous models (like the I30 and I35) were built on a front wheel drive platform, the bulk of Infiniti’s cars have been built with a front engine, rear drive configuration. That’s given the automaker the semi-official designation as “the BMW of Japan,” but now Autoweek is reporting that a change may be in the works.

Infiniti, it seems, wants to adopt a front engine, front drive layout for future vehicles. Per Infiniti’s VP of Product Planning, Larry Dominque, “customers really don’t care about the platform beneath the car;” in other words, Infiniti customers are more concerned with styling and interior room than with how their cars handle. I’m not sure I buy into that logic, since every Infiniti customer I’ve ever met knows perfectly well the difference between front wheel drive, rear wheel drive and all wheel drive. Take away one of the things that makes Infiniti unique, and you’ll remove a lot of potential customers from showrooms.

If you guessed that profit was one motive behind the move, you’d be correct. Front engine, front drive platforms are cheaper to build, but they do offer the buyer greater interior room since FWD vehicles can be built with a flat rear floor. They can generate better fuel economy, too, which is a critical concern of all automakers thanks to the pending CAFE standards. Dominque insists that “the performance they need” can be delivered via a front wheel drive platform, but I’d caution him on that point. The performance Infiniti thinks it needs and the performance that Infiniti’s customers expect may be two different things.

Before you start flooding Infiniti with e-mails and phone calls, Dominque insists that Infiniti’s G series and M series, its staple sport sedans, will remain on a front engine, rear drive platform, which leaves the FWD door open for vehicles like the new JX crossover. We’d fight the switch to FWD on sport sedans to the death, but if Infiniti decides that front drive is best for their largest luxury crossovers, I don’t think fans will be storming corporate headquarters with pitchforks and torches.

Source: Autoweek, via EGM Car Tech



2011 Toyota Venza V6 Review & Test Drive 30
Aug
Posted by Harvey Schwartz in Automotive, featured, Test Drives, TOYOTA, Toyota Venza, Toyota Venza AWD on 08 30th, 2011

‘SLEEK, LUXURIOUS AND FUNCTIONAL’ 

When the Toyota Venza first debuted last year I couldn’t wait to test it out and photograph its beautiful shape.  Here was a new crossover that broke from the traditional boxy styling while still maintaining its very luxurious, refined, functional and versatile interior for both passengers and cargo.

Venza was the firstToyotavehicle to include the STAR Safety System as standard equipment.  Other firsts include a multi-information display that can be customized to adjust the fond size and content and navigation voice instructions available in Spanish, French or English (XM Traffic is only available in English).

The 2011 Venza offers a choice between four-cylinder and V6 engines, both with excellent responsiveness and fuel economy.  Both the four-cylinder and V6 models are available in front-wheel drive and all-wheel drive versions.  Venza’s standard 2.7 liter four-cylinder engine delivers 182hp at 5,800rpm and 182lb.ft. of torque at 4,200rpm.  The four-cylinder Venza is EPA rated at 21mpg/city and 27mpg/highway for the FWD model.

The Venza’s available 3.5 liter V6 produces 268hp at 6,200rpm and 246lb.ft. of torque at 4,700rpm.  The V6 FWD model has EPA-estimated fuel economy ratings of 19mpg/city and 26mpg/highway.

Both engines are mated to a six-speed sequential-shift electronically controlled automatic transmission with intelligence (ECT-i).  The six-speed ECT-I provides a very engaging driving experience and helps optimize fuel economy.  Uphill/downhill shift logic selects the proper gear for driving conditions and helps provide moderate engine braking during downhill driving.

If needed, Venza’s optional Active Torque Control AWD system optimizes torque distribution between the front and rear wheels to help ensure stable acceleration and smooth cornering on all road surfaces.  AWD offers enhanced traction and helps provide excellent overall handling in inclement weather.

Venza was designed with a lower center of gravity than a typical CUV to enhance cornering capability and provide more dynamic handling which is further enhanced by the large, 20X8 inch alloy wheels wrapped with 245/50R20 inch all-season radial tires.  These large wheels and tires are a ‘Toyotafirst’ for a passenger car.

Venza’s body structure relies on high tensile-strength steel, gussets and crossmembers for its strength, rigidity and optimized lower weight.  The front suspension is by rigid L-arm MacPherson struts with a stabilizer bar.  The rear independent suspension is a dual-link MacPherson strut setup with stabilizer bar.  Driving the Venza is more like driving a sport sedan with its lower chassis height, fully independent suspension and large tires and wheels.  Turn-in is quick and precise thanks to the electric power steering with its ideally weighted steering effort.  It also provides and more direct steering feel at both high and low speeds and provides just-right assist when maneuvering the vehicle into tight parking spaces.

Quickly and safely slowing the Venza down from speed are large, power-assisted steel disc brakes.  Up front are 12.8 inch vented discs clamped with dual-piston calipers while 11.7 inch solid discs are clamped with single-piston calipers in the rear.  Standard ABS, EBD and BA ensure you have enough braking power and control during severe or emergency maneuvers.

The Venza is built on a generous 109.3 inch wheelbase and has an overall length of 189 inches and height of 63.4 inches. Toyotaengineers minimized vehicle height while maximizing head room.  The Venza design team’s development focus was to create a new vehicle that shifted away traditional SUV styling themes.  Calty designers leaned toward a sleek sedan-like concept with a lower, wider stance that features a sporty exterior, but also included important SUV attributes, such as cargo space, towing capability and available all-wheel drive performance.

The Venza sports an aerodynamic shape with short overhangs, a forward A-pillar, crisp character lines and a low roofline.  Continuous brushstroke lines run from the signatureToyotafront grille to the D-pillar.  A bold front end features the distinctive grille, headlights and foglamps for a sporty yet refined appearance.  From behind, Venza’s sophisticated and confident appearance is completed with an angled rear hatch, spoiler on top, and wide, wraparound taillight clusters that interconnect with the hatch door.  Tight tire-to-body gaps contribute to its sophisticated, refined appearance and appeal.

The Venza design also offers much practicality.  For example, the rear load-in height is almost as low as that of the Sienna minivan.  An available power liftgate with jam protection detects obstruction in the door’s path and reverses the motor.  Venza’s sweeping rocker panels provide a lower step-over height for improved ergonomics.  The generously sized liftgate opening enhances loading and unloading of cargo.

Venza features a single model grade strategy with an extensive roster of standard equipment including dual-zone automatic climate control with air filter and second row seat vents, a tilt/telescopic adjustable steering wheel with integrated audio controls, an overhead console with map lights, rear seat adjustable personal reading lamps and three 12-volt power plugs.

Venza’s generous utility includes several clever storage locations and lighting.  The adjustable center console features a sliding cover and armrest, three MP3 player holders with wire concealment features, and a larger storage compartment.  The compartment is also equipped with an auxiliary audio jack and 12-volt plug.  The upper portion of the center console houses the gearshift lever for easy and comfortable driver access.  An on/off switch on the overhead console enables front seat occupants to operate all four personal overhead interior lights.

Interior storage is further complemented by a total of 10 front and rear beverage holders

(six bottle holders and four cup holders).  These include dual-illuminated sliding front cupholders in the center console, two in the rear seat armrest, and front and back door bottle holders. The lighted glovebox also has excellent storage of important papers.

Three different audio systems are available for the 2011 Venza.  The standard system includes an AM-FM-six-disc, in-dash CD changer with integrated satellite radio, Bluetooth, MP3/WMA playback capability and six speakers.  The optional JBL Synthesis surround sound audio system includes an AM-FM six-disc in-dash CD changer with integrated satellite radio, MP3/WMA playback capability, Bluetooth, and 13 speakers.

The third system includes a touch-screen DVD Navigation system with 4-disc in-dash CD changer with integrated XM satellite radio, MP3/WMA playback capability, Bluetooth, and 13 speakers.

The Venza interior is designed to enhance driving enjoyment and offer premium comfort.  The available interior colors, ivory and light gray, are available in both leather and fabric.  The flow of the center console creates a unique 60/60 design that gives both driver and front passenger the feeling that 60% of the space is accessible from each of their seating positions.  The front bucket seats are very comfortable and supportive for short or long drives.

The standard Optitron speedometer and tachometer and multi-color center instrument panel display and door switch plates can be paired with optional satin mahogany wood-grain style trim.  Dual-zone automatic climate system controls are centrally located on the upper console, providing easy access for both you and your front passenger.

Personal space lends overall comfort to the vehicle’s interior.  Measurements for head room, shoulder room, hip room and couple distance surpass the competition.  Cargo area utility is enhanced with fold-down 60/40 rear seats, one-touch fold-down seat levers and a tonneau cover that adds security.

Venza’s comprehensive array of standard safety features provides seven airbags, including a driver’s knee airbag, driver/front passenger seat-mounted side airbags, and front and rear side curtain airbags.  Front seat belt pretensioners and load limiters ensure that you and your front passenger will not be injured from the seat belt tightening in the event of a collision.  Driver and front passenger seats employ active headrests.  If the vehicle is struck from behind, a cable-actuated mechanism will move the headrest upward and forward to help limit movement of the occupant’s head.  The LATCH system for child seats is also standard as well as 3-point safety belts for all seats and tire pressure monitoring.

Standard features not mentioned above include 8-way power adjustable driver’s seat, auto-dimming rearview mirror, power-remote sideview mirrors, all express up/down power windows, power door locks, dual lighted vanity mirrors, cruise control, intermittent speed wipers/washers, rear wiper/washer, grab handles above each door, remote keyless entry, Homelink garage door opener, thick cut-pile carpeting, and floor mats.

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COPYRIGHT:2011:HARVEY SCHWARTZ

SPECIFICATIONS

  • Price: Base Venza V6 $28,300.00
  • Wheelbase: 109.3in.
  • Total length: 189in.
  • Total width: 75in.
  • Total height: 63.4in.
  • Track: f/r-64.2/64.6in.
  • Turning circle: 39.1ft.
  • Step-in-height: 15.3in.
  • Headroom: f/r-38.7/39in.
  • Legroom: f/r-40.2/39.1in.
  • EPA passenger volume: 198cu.ft.
  • EPA cargo room: behind 1st. row-70.1/behind 2nd. row-34.4cu.ft.
  • Fuel tank: 17.7 gallons
  • Towing: 3,500lbs. when properly equipped
  • Curb weight: 3,870lbs. FWD/4,045lbs. AWD
  • 0-60mph: 6.7 seconds
  • EPA fuel mileage: 19mpg/city, 26mpg/highway FWD


Video: EVO Magazine Pits Lexus LFA against Ferrari 599 GTO in Top Speed Run 29
Aug
Posted by Malcolm Hogan in Automotive, Evo, Ferrari, LEXUS, video on 08 29th, 2011

Considering how Lexus has placed their LFA at the upper echelon of the exotic car breed we think it would only be a fair battle to pit it against the Ferrari 599 GTO in a top speed run. Luckily for us we don’t have to haggle with a new owner of an LFA or 599 GTO to accomplish this test but rather go to the pros at EVO magazine.

EVO magazine recently did a short on-track film of the Lexus LFA and Ferrari GTO for a top speed run at the helm of Richard Meaden and Roger Green in the passenger seat. Check out their exclusive video of the two and see which comes out on top.

[source: EVO Magazine]



Tampa Mayor Rolling In Former Pimpmobile 29
Aug
Posted by Kurt Ernst in 2005 GMC Yukon Denali, Automotive, GMC, Kurt, News, Tampa on 08 29th, 2011

A similar vintage GMC Yukon, not the mayor's. Image: IFCAR

Call it “the spoils of war:” Tampa, FL mayor Bob Buckhorn is now driving a 2005 GMC Yukon Denali formerly owned by Charles Melvin Fox. Fox, it seems, gave up his ride when he was arrested on five counts of sex trafficking and numerous other charges. When mayor Buckhorn wanted a sensible SUV to haul his family around, the Tampa police offered up Fox’s old Yukon.

The mayor’s swapped the truck’s spinners for a set of factory alloy wheels, and we’re guessing that the interior was (relatively) unmodified. While a free car is always a good thing, grabbing a ride that was previously owned by a pimp isn’t our idea of ideal family transportation. Did anyone from the motor pool inspect the interior with a black light? How thoroughly was the inside scrubbed with disinfectant before the mayor got the keys? Would you want your kids sitting in the back seat?

We have no idea how much the mayor of Tampa earns each year, but we’re pretty sure it’s more than an automotive journalist. If we can afford to buy our own family vehicles, I’m sure Tampa’s mayor can, too. Would you want to roll in a former pimp’s Yukon, with over 100k miles on the clock, even if it were free?

Source: Tampa Bay



When ‘Attention to Detail’ becomes an Understatement: eGarage 1950 Mercury Coupe Project 29
Aug
Posted by Malcolm Hogan in Automotive, eGarage, Mercury, Tuners, video on 08 29th, 2011

Our good friends at eGarage have finally launched their new site which was well worth the wait and consistent Facebook teasing. eGarage is all about creativity and they leave virtually nothing else to be desired after viewing some of their exclusive automotive video and image content. “Simply stunning” sums it up nicely. One particular project video that caught our eye is a 1950 Mercury Coupe project. This one-of-a-kind project takes attention to detail to another level.

The Mercury coupe project, slammed and chopped at the hands of Zane Cullen and his Cotati Speed Shop cronies, has had about two years of work put into it. We are certain that the finish project will be a complete masterpiece. For now, check out the ‘full’ exclusive eGarage 1950 Mercury Coupe project video (on eGarage.com) and be sure to visit the rest of their site.

Video Preview

PREVIEW: 1950 Mercury Coupe – The Answer from eGarage on Vimeo.

[source: eGarage]



Driven: 2012 Ford Explorer 2.0 Liter EcoBoost 29
Aug
Posted by Kurt Ernst in 2012 Ford Explorer EcoBoost, Automotive, Explorer, featured, Ford, Kurt, SUV, Test Drives on 08 29th, 2011

The 2012 Ford Explorer. Image: Ford Motor Company

It’s easy to explain the allure of mid-size SUVs. They can haul up to seven passengers in relative comfort, tow a boat or a trailer, haul stuff from the local mega-mart and even take you far off the beaten track for some fly fishing in the back country. The trade-offs for such capability have traditionally been truck-like handing and poor fuel economy, but American drivers were willing to live with that when gas was below $3 a gallon.

While SUVs may be the most versatile vehicles in the automotive world, the truth is that most consumers don’t take them off-road, don’t tow heavy trailers and in most cases rarely use four-wheel-drive. Ford’s research prior to the redesign of the Explorer backed this up with hard numbers, which is why the new Explorer is a little less capable in towing and off-roading than the model it replaces. On the plus side, it’s a much better on-road vehicle, and it doesn’t give up any ability to haul passengers and cargo.

Image: Ford Motor Company

The new Explorer gets better fuel economy than the model it replaces, thanks to Ford’s 3.5-liter V6. Front wheel drive Explorers with the V6 will get 17 mpg city and 25 mpg highway, but that’s still not exactly compact car fuel economy. Enter the new for 2012 2.0-liter EcoBoost Explorer, which represents a huge gamble on Ford’s part. It’s got the best possible fuel economy (20 mpg city and 28 mpg highway), but the trade off is capability: you can only tow up to 2,000 pounds and you can’t get the EcoBoost Explorer in an all wheel drive version.

Image: Ford Motor Company

On paper, the Explorer EcoBoost sounds like like a viable option. The technology-rich 2.0-liter EcoBoost engine produces 240 horsepower and 270 ft-lb of torque, which is more torque (by 15 ft-lb) than the 3.5 liter V6. The power and efficiency come from things like variable valve timing and direct fuel injection, and oil spray under the pistons and a durable timing chain help to ensure maximum engine life.

Image: Ford Motor Company

All the statistics and data points in the world won’t matter if the engine doesn’t drive well under real world conditions, so we’re happy to report that the new Explorer EcoBoost drives very much like a small-displacement V6. There’s virtually no turbo lag, so flooring the accelerator will produce wheel spin, even on dry pavement. Thanks to the pairing with a six speed automatic transmission, even climbing steep grades doesn’t pose much of a challenge for the EcoBoost engine. In fact, if you failed to notice the EcoBoost badge on the liftgate, you’d probably think you were driving a V6 instead of a turbocharged four.

Fuel economy comes at a price, and the Explorer EcoBoost costs $995 more than a base Explorer V6. At $3.61 per gallon (the current average price for regular gasoline), you’ll need to save 276 gallons of gasoline to reach a payback. Comparing the Explorer EcoBoost to the Explorer V6, it’ll take you around 64,000 miles to reach payback, but that’s really beside the point. You’ll fill up the Explorer EcoBoost less often, which translates into more money in your bank account each month.

Image: Ford Motor Company

In all honesty, the Explorer EcoBoost is probably an ideal fit for the majority of Explorer buyers. It’s got great on-road manners and it’s comfortable enough for the longest of road trips. You can’t take it far off-road, and you won’t be towing a large boat or trailer with it, but Ford’s research shows that most buyers don’t do this anyway. Will the Explorer EcoBoost’s fuel economy and drivability be enough to attract customers? We’re betting the answer is yes.

Ford Motor Company provided me with transportation, lodging and meals in order to drive the 2012 Ford Explorer EcoBoost at its Michigan Proving Grounds facility.



Video: 2012 Porsche 911 Driven On The Road 29
Aug
Posted by Darryl in 2012 Porsche 911 Carrera, Automotive, porsche, Porsche 911 Carrera, Porsche-911, video on 08 29th, 2011

We already got a taste of the all-new 2012 Porsche 911 Carrera in several hi-res images from last week. Now Porsche quenches our thirst for some live-action shots in the latest promotional video of the new Porsche 911. Check out the 2012 Porsche 911 stretching its legs on the open road. Be sure to turn your speakers up to listen to one of the most remarkable sports cars ever created. Enjoy!

[source: Porsche YouTube Channel]



Porsche 911 Turbos Make Poor Submarines 26
Aug
Posted by Kurt Ernst in Automotive, Kurt, News, porsche, Porsche 911 Turbo, video, Wrecks on 08 26th, 2011

Warning: the two minute tilt-shift video below will be hard to watch if you’re any kind of car fan at all. In it, authorities fish a Porsche 911 Turbo out of the Rhine River in Zurich, not once, but twice. It turns out the original lifting strap was too long, so the Porsche was sunk into the mud of the Rhine a second time, while the rigging company set up a shorter sling. We suppose the car was a write-off after it hit the water the first time, but that doesn’t make the second dunking any easier to watch.

We can’t tell you much about the accident, but we do know the 24-year-old owner wasn’t behind the wheel when the car hit the water. Instead, it was his 29-year-old friend who drove the car off a boat dock, and will undoubtedly spend the rest of his life trying to live this incident down. The moral to the story is this: be careful who you toss the keys to, especially if you live near a river and drive a $150,000 Porsche.

Source: Axis of Oversteer, via Autoblog



Driven: 2012 Ford Mustang Boss 302 Laguna Seca Edition 26
Aug
Posted by Kurt Ernst in 2012 Ford Mustang Boss 302, Automotive, featured, Ford, Kurt, Test Drives on 08 26th, 2011

Boss 302 Laguna Seca Up Front, Boss 302 in the background. Image: Ford Motor Company

Ever since the 2012 Ford Mustang Boss launched, I’d been feeling like the red-headed stepchild. Despite having a great relationship with Ford, I didn’t get an invite to the launch of the car, and hadn’t had the opportunity to beg, borrow or steal one since. That’s why when Ford invited me to their Michigan Proving Grounds to drive various 2012 models, my first question was whether or not that included the Boss 302. It did indeed, and when Ford gives you the chance to go to its test track and use up its tires, gas and brakes, the only possible answer is “hell yes.”

Perhaps the most subtle Boss 302 color combo. Image: Ford Motor Company

To be fair, the Boss 302 was only part of the program, but Ford was kind enough to set up a demonstration of the Boss 302’s “Launch Control” feature (part of Ford’s TracKey option), as well as giving us the chance to autocross the Boss 302 side by side with the Boss 302 Laguna Seca edition. The difference between the cars is instantly noticeable on the tight confines of an autocross track, and the advantage in handling of the Boss 302 Laguna Seca over the standard Boss 302 is significant. More on that later, but here’s the bottom line: if you plan on regular track days with your Boss 302, the Laguna Seca package is a must have, if you can find one. If your Boss 302 will primarily be a street car, with the occasional track day thrown in, the standard model will do just fine.

Ford's TracKey option – you want the red one. Image: Ford Motor Company

My first driving exercise was testing the Boss 302’s launch control feature, which is part of Ford’s TracKey option. The launch control feature was programmed in direct response to customer feedback: Mustang owners who race their cars wanted an adjustable launch control to take the guesswork out of starts and allow for various track conditions and tire options. Programming the launch RPM is fairly simple, and is done via the cruise control buttons on the steering wheel. Once the system is active, you dial up the launch RPM via the cruise control “+” button, then lock it in. Mat the accelerator, and the engine revs to the preset RPM; dump the clutch, and you’ve got the perfect launch.

Recaro front seats are standard on the Laguna Seca; a rear seat isn't. Image: Ford Motor Company

To allow for different track conditions, launch control allows you to dial in the engine speed anywhere from 2,500 to 5,000 rpm. On an overcast but warm day, 4,200 rpm was just about perfect to get a little wheelspin before the Boss’ rear tires hooked up and shot me forward with an impressive amount of thrust. If you track your car in competitive events, this feature alone makes the $302 key reflash worth the price of admission; after all, $302 is a whole lot cheaper than a new clutch.

The gauge package comes standard with Laguna Seca models. Image: Ford Motor Company

Next up was the autocross in the Boss Laguna Seca. Even on moderately cold tires, the car had an impressive amount of grip. Still, with the traction and stability control disabled, it was easy to hang the back end out in corners with the throttle. Catching the back end was equally easy, as I found out in a sudden-and-tight right hand corner. Throw in some opposite lock and just a bit of throttle, and the Boss Laguna Seca quickly regains it’s composure. Acceleration is impressive, as is the stopping power from the Brembo brakes.

A cross brace takes the place of the back seat in Laguna Seca models. Image: Ford Motor Company

After my run in the Boss Laguna Seca, it was time to drive the “standard” Boss 302. The car felt noticeably looser in the corners, but was no less predictable in its handling than the Laguna Seca version. In some ways it was even more entertaining, since the lower handling limits of the “plain” Boss 302 made tail-out driving effortless. I didn’t get course times for the two cars, but I suspect the Laguna Seca was a few tenths of a second quicker through the cones than the regular Boss; still, the regular Boss had a higher “hoon factor,” and would be plenty entertaining for the occasional track day.

Image: Ford Motor Company

As much as I love the new 5.0 liter Mustangs, the Boss 302 is an improvement in every way. The graphics and paint schemes are a little bright for my tastes, but that gripe aside the Boss 302 is probably the most fun you can have in its price range. Finding one may prove difficult, but Ford assures me there’s still inventory (of the regular version, at least) in the pipeline. All I have to do now is hit the lottery before they’re all gone.







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