Note: Read Consumer Guide’s complete review of the 2013 Nissan Pathfinder.
Normally, the staffers here at Consumer Guide Automotive switch cars twice a week. A few days in a car is enough for an editor to observe all of the car’s behaviors, use all of its features, and spend an adequate amount of time driving it to make a good objective report. Most cars stay with us for about two weeks, meaning that four editors have the chance to thoroughly drive a vehicle, compare opinions, and come up with a verdict, which becomes the review we post on our website.
However, our long-term test cars stay with us for as few as three months or as long as a year in most cases, so we can spend more time with them. Additionally, having a vehicle for a long period allows our editors to test the vehicle in several different situations, in varying weather conditions, and while performing myriad tasks.
Drop the top and drink in that raspy exhaust note. The fun-to-drive nature and great sounds of the Fiat 500 Abarth will soon be available without a roof. Get ready for the 2013 Fiat 500 Abarth Cabrio (meaning cabriolet; i.e., convertible). The 500 Abarth Cabrio, also known as the 500c Abarth, will go on sale in the second quarter of 2013. Meanwhile, here it is in pictures.
Click here to listen to the snarky exhaust note of the 500 Abarth.
Despite being an electric car, the 2013 Fiat 500e looks very much like the conventional Fiat 500 upon which it is based. Your average citizen will likely never guess it runs on electricity instead of gasoline.
Also check out Tom Appel’s “Senior-Year Lust: The 5 Coolest Vehicles of 1983,” Ed Piotrowski’s “Senior-Year Lust: The 5 Coolest Vehicles of 1998,” and Rick Cotta’s “Senior-Year Lust: The 5 Coolest Vehicles of…1974.”
In my senior year of high school, the auto industry was finally pulling out of the 1990s and moving away from all of the jellybean car designs produced during that period of time (*COUGH* FORD ASPIRE *COUGH*). While many other desirable cars were available, these were my favorites from my graduation year of 2002. Though I had to settle for driving Mom and Dad’s Volvo 240 sedan and station wagon (vehicles I learned to love and still do), these were the ones I lusted after. I put pictures of them on my bedroom wall and on the inside of my locker door at school to show the world that I was a car enthusiast, and had damn good taste in vehicles.
In this edition of “The Keymaster,” we take a look at the key fob for the 2012 Porsche 911 Carrera S.
Unlike the last Keymaster post on this blog, which focused on the Jaguar XJL Supersport’s fob (which looks like a square with rounded corners), the Porsche’s key is much more imaginative. About as long as your index finger, the 911’s key is loosely shaped like the sports car to which it’s married. The Porsche shield is a textured badge set into the hood. The buttons on the “roof” have a rubbery feel and, when pressed, activate a blinking red light above the “Unlock” button. Though heavier than the average “smart” key, it won’t put a strain on your key ring. Its weight simply imparts a feel of quality and substantiality.
Like all transponder key fobs, the 911’s has a metal key hidden within its body. Its purpose is to allow entry to the car in case of a dead battery in the vehicle, the fob, or both. Turn the fob over, slide the switch on the bottom end, and voila!
After a 13-year absence, Cherokee is returning to Jeep’s model lineup.
The 2014 Jeep Cherokee will be a midsize SUV, likely positioned below the company’s Grand Cherokee midsize SUV. The company claims the new Cherokee will boast “best-in-class capability,” which we interpret to mean a certain amount of off-road prowess. Also mentioned were good on-road driving dynamics. Jeep touts a 45-percent improvement in fuel economy “versus the outgoing mid-size SUV model,” which we assume refers to the Jeep Liberty, last produced for model-year 2012.
It will be built at Chrysler’s Toledo, Ohio plant. That plant has been used in the past for Jeep’s body-on-frame vehicles, such as the Liberty and Dodge Nitro. The plant now builds Jeep Wrangler and Wrangler Unlimited models. From this information, one could assume that the 2014 Cherokee will be a body-on-frame vehicle, but it is also understood to borrow Fiat architecture, suggesting otherwise.
The 2014 Jeep Cherokee will arrive in dealer showrooms in the third quarter of 2013. It will debut at the 2013 New York Auto Show, which we will cover on March 27 and 28.
At the 2013 Chicago Auto Show, Toyota unveiled the 2014 Tundra.
Toyota’s large pickup truck receives new features as well as new exterior and interior styling. Exterior changes include a unique front grille and lower bumper design for each trim level, a new tailgate with “Tundra” embossed directly into the sheet metal, and a new look for the pickup’s bed sides. Also, a built-in rear spoiler is expected to help with fuel economy. Regardless of trim level, the grille and hood are 1.6 inches higher than the outgoing model. A big change for the 2014 model is the introduction of new three-piece front and rear bumpers that are less expensive to replace.
The interior is also changed for 2014. The central control panel has been moved 2.6 inches closer to the driver, and seats have been redesigned for better passenger comfort and improved front-seat ventilation. Moreover, the rear seats in CrewMax models now fold upward for better use of the area’s cargo space. All models are available with front bucket seats or a bench seat. Standard features include a rearview camera, a wireless cell-phone link, and a display in the center of the instruments.
At the 2013 Detroit Auto Show, Bentley showed off its 2014 Continental GTC Speed, the high-performance version of its popular Continental GTC exotic convertible.
The GT Speed Convertible is powered by a turbocharged 616-horsepower W12 hooked to an 8-speed automatic transmission. (Non-Speed Continentals with the W12 engine have 567 horsepower). The Speed treatment includes a lowered suspension, a unique black intake manifold, retuned steering, 21-inch wheels (available in silver or dark-tinted), dark-chrome front grilles, and the “Mulliner Driving Specification,” which includes drilled accelerator and brake pedals, diamond-quilted upholstery on the seats and door panels, a knurled gear lever, and optional embroidered emblems in the seat backs. Options include carbon-fiber or wood interior trim, dark-colored machine-turned aluminum panels on the dashboard, and a high-end “Naim for Bentley” audio system.
The transmission shifter is equipped with a Sport mode gate, and it conjures up quicker throttle response, higher-rpm shifts, and faster kick-down shifts. Just like all other Bentley Continentals, the 2014 GT Speed Convertible is all-wheel drive.
All told, this droptop reaches 60 mph from a stop in 4.1 seconds and peaks at 202 mph. Not that Bentley buyers typically care, but the 2014 Bentley Continental GT Speed Convertible is rated to get 12 mpg city/20 mpg highway.
Hyundai used an opportunity at the 2013 Detroit Auto Show to show off an ultra-premium car called HCD-14 Genesis Concept.
This concept car reflects the carmaker’s aspirations in the high-end car market. The concept has new styling and rear-hinged back doors. They open to an interior divided down the center by a center console that starts at a dashboard that is devoid of a traditional central control panel. All of the driver’s instruments have been incorporated into the instrument panel ahead of the driver and a heads-up display projected onto the windshield. The “passenger comfort” functions are shown in a screen that is tilted toward the front passenger seat.
This flight-of-fancy includes such technological advances as a heads-up display paired with sensors that interpret the driver’s eye and hand movements. It also includes thumb controls to perform most vehicle functions, such as navigation, infotainment, audio, climate control, and the functions of a connected smartphone.
The HCD-14 Genesis Concept is powered by Hyundai’s 5.0-liter V8 engine connected to an 8-speed automatic transmission. It uses an electric-powered steering system and a drive-mode system that changes the characteristics of the suspension and other components. No key is needed to start the vehicle because sensors scan the driver’s eye to identify the driver and then start the car.
At the 2013 Detroit Auto Show, Toyota showed off the Corolla Furia Concept, a vehicle that forecasts the look of the company’s next Corolla compact car.
The Furia Concept is a compact-size vehicle. The concept is about 2 inches longer than the current Corolla, and the wheelbase is about 4 inches longer. To achieve that wheelbase, the wheels were pushed to the corners.
The exterior of the Furia Concept boasts 19-inch wheels, a blacked-out grille, and LED headlights and taillights. It also has some very odd body parts. Those include carbon fiber body panels in the wheel wells, rocker panels, rearview mirror covers, and sections of the front and rear bumper, with metal exhaust outlets integrated into the bumper.
Since the Corolla Furia is a concept vehicle, it will not go on sale. Also, Toyota did not announce pricing or an approximate on-sale date for the next Corolla, but expect prices to be in line with those of other compact cars.