Archive for 2012
Note: This report supplements Consumer Guide Automotive’s full report on the 2012 Lexus IS C, a premium-compact car that starts at $41,190.
Test car came equipped with: F-Sport Package, HID headlamps with LED running lights, headlamp washers, front/rear obstacle detection, navigation system with premium audio, trunk mat, cargo net. Total MSRP with $895 destination = $55,399.
Powertrain: 306-horsepower 3.5-liter V6, 6-speed automatic transmission, rear-wheel drive.
Acceleration: The tester felt quite lively on takeoff and in passing sprints. I’d guess it does 0-60 mph in the mid-5-second area versus 8.4 claimed for the 2.5 V6 IS 250C. Typical of Lexus, the 3.5 engine and 6-speed automatic partner like Fred and Ginger. Each is responsive and refined on its own; together, they’re a treat. Acceleration is linear, hiccup-free, and strong, aided by smooth, progressive throttle action. In fact, power delivery is so satisfying that I never felt inclined to use the standard steering-wheel shift paddles.
Fuel Economy: Circumstances prevented logging as many miles as I’d have liked, but for the record this IS C averaged 17.1 mpg in mostly city driving (Phoenix), a fair bit of which was gas-eating, cold-start, short-hop, errand-type work. The EPA city/highway figures are 19/27 mpg.
Also check out Tom’s 5 Ugly Vehicles, Part 1: 1995-2004.
One sure way to load your inbox with nasty emails is to publish a list of ugly cars. I caught the most flack for selecting the Toyota Celica as one of five nasty-looking rides for my 1995-2004 list. Please be sure to check that out.
Here, I step backwards a decade to the era of sharply creased edges and faux aerodynamics. Normally, I wouldn’t drag exotic or limited-production vehicles into something like this, but there’s one pricey ride from the early to mid-’80s that really stands out as aesthetically challenged.
Note: I am aware that some of these rides don’t fit all that neatly into the 1985-1994 envelope, yet, when I look back, that’s when I best picture them.
Got your own list of eyesores from this era? Let’s hear ’em.
Aston Martin Lagonda
Sometimes I love this car; usually, though, I just hate it. Credit Aston Martin for taking a chance on something daring. Auction prices would suggest that this strange door-stop design has not warmed the cockles of car collectors, which means that if you want to buy a really ugly, more-or-less exotic used car, you can do so on the cheap. Be aware, however, that the car’s infamous electronic instrument panel—replaced in later models with a more conventional setup—is impossible to keep working.
While the badge may say your new car is a Buick or a BMW, there’s an excellent chance that many of its parts, or even entire assemblies, were built by a completely different company. I’d guess that most consumers are aware that many of their car’s parts are made by outside suppliers through the relatively recent phenomena of branded audio systems. Think of some of the brands that appear on new car stereos today: Bose, Sony, and Fender to name a few.
Beyond tire companies, suppliers of other components aren’t usually as well known as the brands mentioned in the audio system example, and some of these firms don’t sell their products directly to consumers. German supplier ZF, which is nearing its 100th anniversary, is one of these relative unknowns.
ZF traces its history to 1915, when it was founded to develop and produce transmissions for airships and other vehicles. The airships in question were the famous machines of Ferdinand Graf von Zeppelin. Yeah, like the Hindenburg. Today ZF is a privately held company that is largely owned by the Zeppelin Foundation. It remains the largest company to evolve from the Zeppelin airship project.
Cadillac’s V16 of the 1930s is fairly well known, as is its 2003 Sixteen (as in V16) concept car. But what is not generally known is that Cadillac toyed with the idea of a 16-cylinder car in the 1960s.
Back in the 1920s, Cadillac was seen as the top rung of General Motors’ ladder rather than a serious luxury car, such as Packard. Cadillac’s surprise launch of the world’s first production 16-cylinder motor car in 1930 changed that. The introduction of a powerful and efficient overhead-valve V8 after World War II cemented Cadillac’s position at the top of the American luxury heap, and it remained on top until imports started making serious inroads in the ’70s. In 2003, Cadillac displayed a Sixteen concept car at auto shows to burnish its luxury car image. Although enthusiastically received, the Sixteen wasn’t approved for production.
In the ’60s, America enjoyed a strong economy and cheap gas. Cadillac executives thought the time might be ripe for another multi-cylinder car. Two engines were contemplated: an overhead-cam V12 and a V16 composed of two V8s. Neither engine got farther than the prototype stage.
Back in 1950, Nash—later one of the building blocks of American Motors—introduced the Rambler, a cute, little (for the time) 4/5-passenger convertible with a top that folded back on rails. It wasn’t the first time somebody would use this trick to make a sedan into ragtop, nor would it be the last. In fact, today’s Fiat 500 Cabrio is just such a car.
Weirdly enough, despite being decades apart, the Rambler and the 500 share something more than a little-used construction technique. The former Chrysler Corporation bought American Motors in 1987. Chrysler’s main aim was to get its hands on AMC’s profitable Jeep lineup, but it also became the holder of the history of its former carmaking rival, including the model names. Then, when Chrysler LLC found itself in bankruptcy in 2009, Italy’s Fiat stepped in to take over control—and get a renewed foothold for its own products in the U.S. That’s where opportunity comes knocking. With “global platforms” being all the rage at multinational car companies like the Fiat/Chrysler combine, it seems to me that the time is right to reintroduce the Rambler by using the 500 Cabrio as a starting point.
In some four and a half years with Consumer Guide Automotive, I have driven many different vehicles. Every time I get into a test car equipped with an auto-dimming rearview mirror, I cringe a little. These devices are intended to free the driver from the oh-so-difficult task of flipping a little latch on the bottom of the rearview mirror to save his or her eyes from the blinding effects of the headlights of the car trailing behind. However, these automatic devices (which are supposed to be smarter than the driver and save a tiny bit of effort) sometimes work poorly.
Recently, I drove a 2012 Volkswagen Passat and a 2013 Mazda 2 equipped with this “luxury” and “convenience” feature, and the mirrors in both cars failed to do their simple job correctly. Even my own car, a 2010 Hyundai Genesis Coupe, is equipped with one of these devices, and I have entertained the thought of tearing it out and replacing it with a standard flip-it-yourself mirror. Had I had the chance to order the car without an auto-dimming rearview mirror, I would have jumped at it.
Land Rover is a bit of a dichotomy. On the one hand, the name is virtually synonymous the world over with rugged off-road ability. On the other, it’s recognized as a luxury marque, at least in the U.S. Those may seem to be conflicting attributes, but the company—and its products—pull off the combination.
Although the classic Range Rover is probably what pops to mind when the Land Rover name is mentioned, as with many luxury makes, the company has lower-priced models intended to appeal to a wider demographic audience. In this case, they include the compact LR2, midsize LR4, and stylish Range Rover Evoque, introduced last year.
Some might be surprised to find that the entry-level Land Rover LR2 starts at well under $40,000, a price not far north of a comparably equipped “regular” compact SUV. That includes a lengthy list of standard equipment, which grows even longer for 2013.
Also new for the model year are some cosmetic changes that include restyled headlights, grille, taillights, and wheels. Inside, materials have been upgraded, the gauge cluster has been revamped, and the central control panel features a new 7-inch touchscreen. Newly available features include an 825-watt, 17-speaker Meridian surround-sound audio system, the “Say What You See” voice command system, and a rearview camera with “Hitch Assist,” which comes into play when hitching up a trailer.
There’s no arguing that the things most auto writers focus on—price, power, handling, comfort—aren’t hugely important. Lord knows I focus on that stuff when I evaluate a car. In fact, at Consumer Guide there are exactly 10 things, plus value, that we fixate on. You can see the list as a part of any of our regular reviews.
Still, I find that the more time I spend with a car, the more I focus on the little things. I suspect that my hellish commute contributes to the time I spend worrying about the finer minutia of motoring, or maybe it’s just the building crankiness that heralds my advancing years. Whatever it is, here a list of five simple things that, when handled well, contribute to a more pleasant driving experience. Got your own list? We’d love to hear it.
Buick’s new-for-2013 Encore is a genre-bending compact crossover that aims to stretch the boundaries of a traditional entry-luxury vehicle even further than the 2012 Buick Verano compact car did. You can check out our full review of the 2013 Buick Encore and take a quick walk-around of this unconventional new Buick in the pics below. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
From an early age, Ralph Gilles, Senior Vice President of Product Design at Chrysler, dreamed of becoming a car designer. “I’ve always loved cars,” he said. “I played with them. I didn’t have video games, we didn’t have iPhones, we didn’t have Macs. That was my thing. I would make model cars.”
Recently, Gilles recounted his life story at a Chrysler recruiting event at Northwestern University. During his speech to an assembly of students, he talked about his rise to the head of the SRT Brand and Motorsports department and to his post as Senior VP.
“I had big dreams,” he said. “I literally wrote a letter to Chrysler: I wanted to make cars. They were kind enough to say, ‘This is what you’ve got to do. There are four [car-design] schools in the U.S.’ The College for Creative Studies in Detroit was the closest one.”