Tag Archives: Ford

Review – 2011 Ford F-150 Platinum: The Platinum Standard

Hey, remember the Lincoln Mark LT? It was a really nice Ford F-150 with a Lincoln badge and different grille. It didn’t sell well. Seems as if people didn’t want a Lincoln pickup truck.

So, how do you sell a high-dollar pickup truck with all the luxury amenities you can stuff into it? Ditch the Lincoln badge and label it the Platinum F-150. So the question is, is the F-150 Platinum the platinum standard? Let’s find out. Read More…

Review: 2011 Chevrolet Camaro Convertible: Topless Hot Wheels

America loves the new Chevrolet Camaro. You really can’t argue with the previous statement, as the new Camaro outsold the Ford Mustang in 2010. That was with one body style, the coupe. All while the Ford Mustang had both a coupe and convertible, along with a myriad of other speciality models. So what happens when you chop the top off the Camaro? Chevrolet has taken out the sawzall and handed me the keys to find out. Read More…

Review – 2011 Ford F-150 FX4

We’ve established more than once that I am not a truck guy. In all reality I don’t live in the country, I don’t work in construction, and while we have boats at my cabin, I only tow them a handful of times a year. So in essence, I don’t have a huge need for a truck on a daily basis.

Now that I’ve said all that, it is true that every time a truck lands in my driveway for a week I seem to get all excited. I like driving trucks. They are big, loud (comparatively speaking), and have ridiculous capabilities that I’ll never end up fully utilizing. But hey, those capabilities are there. Read More…

2011 New York Auto Show: 2013 Ford Taurus Video Walkaround

Ford introduced the refreshed 2013 Taurus sedan last week at the New York Auto Show. Sporting new wheel designs, a refreshed front fascia, and a new center stack, the new Taurus features Ford’s latest technology. Below is our video walkaround.

 

2011 New York Auto Show: 2013 Ford Taurus SHO Video Walkaround

2013 Ford Taurus SHO Video Walkaround

Last week the High Gear Media team invaded the Javits center in New York City. We were amped up on coffee and pretzels walking the show floor covering the latest in car news. Below is our video walkaround of the 2013 Ford Taurus SHO featuring….ME. Enjoy.

 

Review – 2011 Ford Edge SEL: One Sharp Edge

2011 Ford Edge SELWhen you have a vehicle that sells well, a redesign can keep product planners up at night. The Ford Edge is just such a vehicle. So is the second generation a sharpened Edge, or did Ford mess with a good thing?

I recently spent a week with the second generation Ford Edge SEL to see if it is even better than the first generation.
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2011 Minneapolis Auto Show

2011 Chevrolet Corvette Z06March brings many things to Minneapolis, melting snow, warmer weather, usually at least one large snow storm, and of course, the Minneapolis Auto Show. This year the automakers were in full force. Both Porsche and BMW returned to the show, sadly Infiniti was still notably absent. Without further delay, lets jump in and take a look at the winners, losers and just some general observations of the show. Read More…

Review – 2011 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution MR: A Snowmobile For The Road

 

 

When I was a kid, I drooled over cars like the Subaru WRX STI, and the Mitsubishi. Not for just for their high output four cylinders, but for their entire drivetrains. Those high output four cylinders combined with the rally bred all-wheel drive systems are just a marvel to behold. When given the chance to have a 2011 Mitsubishi Evo MR Touring in my driveway for a week, I jumped all over it. Is the little rally bred street racer all I hoped? After spending a week with it, I finally have some answers.

The exterior of the Evo is menacing. I mean really, the front looks like it is going to eat you. From the sculpted hood with heat extractors and air inlet, to the gaping mesh grille, it all works. And don’t forget about those scowling headlights.

More than one person during the week asked me what that big silver thing was towards the bottom of the front clip. That my friends, is a nice big intercooler. It helps keep the hopped up four banger cool.

My Evo MR test vehicle sported some very nice light-weight 18″ BBS wheels shod with Bridgestone snow tires. Peeking behind those great looking wheels were a terrific set of Brembo brakes that kept this little beast in control at all times.

From the side view, the Evo MR almost looks like a normal Lancer, almost. The body kit has side skirts that extend from the rocker panels quite a bit, enough to make you pay attention when entering the car. If you aren’t careful, you’ll get a leg full of snow and slush.

My favorite part of the rear is definitely the taillights. Both during the day and even more so at night, they appear to be scowling at you. The MR deletes the big stupid boy racer wing off the trunk, and replaces it with a tasteful lip. Below the bumper lies an aggressive diffuser with two chrome exhaust tips protruding out.

Bottom line on the exterior of the Evo MR: it’s aggressive. The MR ditches the silly wing and makes the Evo almost passible as a car that doesn’t shout “Hey look at me Mr. Police man,” though I did say almost.

Before I get to the interior, lets get one thing straight….this car is about driving. The powertrain is what makes this car. This is evident in the interior.

If you read my review of the 2011 Lancer Sportback ES, you’ll know the interior materials on that car are a letdown. With hard plastics that can scratch easily, it just looks cheap. The Evo shares this interior because it is based off the Lancer.

The touring package blesses the Evo with terrific heated Recaro leather seats that are manually adjustable. These seats are terrific and also worth noting, absolutely not made for overweight Americans. I fit just fine, but many people will find these seats to be uncomfortable. They grip you in all the right places. When flying around a track, your body will not be moving around. That is exactly what you want from sport seats.

Sound was provided by the Rockford Fosgate Punch sound system. This system puts out 710-watts and is connected to 9 speakers and a 10″ subwoofer. In a word, it’s boomy. The highs are messy and the lows are loud, but muddy. In a car like this, how much does a sound system really matter anyway though, right?

Overall the interior is somewhat cheap, but hey, once you hit the go pedal you really don’t care. I assure you of this. Oh, and the seats make up for any problems you have with the crappy plastics.

Now what we have all really been waiting for: the powertrain and driving impressions. The Evo has one engine choice, a 2.0-liter inline four-cylinder that has a twin-scroll turbocharger. This is good for 291-horsepower and 300 lb-ft, which of course goes to all four wheels.

The base Evo has a 5-speed manual transmission while the MR model features Mitsubishi’s 6-speed TC-SST transmission. The TC-SST transmission is Mitsubishi’s dual clutch transmission.

The TC-SST transmission has three modes: Normal, Sport, and S-Sport (Super Sport). These modes can be changed via a toggle next to the shifter. One thing to note: you can change the modes while driving, but to put the car in S-Sport you must be fully stopped, and hold the toggle for a few seconds. It is almost like a hidden mode. Normal is what you would expect, normal. Though it does seem to do exactly what you want when you want it in most conditions. Sport takes things up a notch keeping the revs higher, and shifts are a little harder. S-Sport is really just ridiculous for street use, it keeps the revs nearly always above 5,000 RPMS , and hits redline every time. Oh, and it also shifts so hard that you feel like you just hurt the transmission. I almost felt bad for it.

All Evo’s have what Mitsubishi calls Super All-Wheel Control (S-AWC). The S-AWC system is a really sophisticated all-wheel drive system. It has more sensors than you can probably count. It also has an active center differential. Taking things even further, we have active yaw control in the rear. This is the part that makes the power go side to side in the rear. When you go around a corner, the power is being moved around to push and pull you, even when the wheels are slipping.

The S-AWC system has three modes which you change using a button near the emergency brake (how convenient). The modes are: Snow, Gravel, and Tarmac. Push the button and it will toggle through the modes. Each mode calibrates the S-AWC for the condition of which you selected. Remember, this is/was a rally bred car.

Driving the car is like piloting a go kart on the road. Though it is a really heavy go kart. At 3,500 lbs, it is surprisingly heavy! Turbo lag is here, but you realize it quick and plan accordingly. From a dead stop if you slam the gas it is a second of thinking “hmmmm” followed by “holy crap” once the revs hit about 3,000 RPMs.

The steering wheel is a nice diameter and the metal paddle shifters that lurk behind the steering wheel are great. They are mounted (correctly) on the steering column instead of on the steering wheel. You always know where they are.

Steering is direct and very responsive. It almost does what you are thinking, literally. With only 2.7 turns lock-to-lock, it does not take a ton of input to direct the Evo. It almost feels like a precision tool meant to listen to your every command.

When you take a corner, it almost doesn’t matter your speed. The S-AWC has a little graph that you can display in the information cluster. This shows you where the power is going in relation to the wheels. Hit the gas and take a corner fast, you’ll see the power go to the front inside wheel and rear outside wheel.

The suspension is somewhat harsh. When I say harsh, some will find it a bit ridiculous. I found it tolerable, though many will not.

With a 14.5 gallon gas tank I will recommend you watch the gas gauge closely. The Evo is rated at 17/22 mpg, but good luck getting that. I averaged anywhere from 14 to 18 mpg. As you might imagine, I went through quite a few tanks of gas. A high-output turbocharged 4-cylinder pulling that much weight literally chugs premium gasoline.

Along with your gas tank issue, make sure you pack light. The trunk has less than 7 cubic feet of cargo space. Between the rear mounted battery, windshield washer fluid tank, and the subwoofer, you will not be taking the kids stroller to the park along with that picnic basket.

So after spending a week with Mitsubishi’s halo car, was it everything I had hoped and dreamed? In a word, yes. I was disappointed that it was so heavy, and while I expected the low rent interior (man you should have see the last generation), the Evo is hard to argue with. At $41,995 as tested, it is not a cheap ride, but it starts at a little over $34k and you can choose how you option it from there.

The the Evo is a ton of coin; heck you are in small premium car territory at that price. You could even buy a Camaro SS or Mustang GT for less money, but they are a different type of performance. Those are brute power kind of cars.

At the end of the day the Evo is a ton of fun, and much more refined than past generations. You just need to know what you are buying for that kind of money. An expensive small car that chugs premium fuel and has little to no cargo room in the trunk. Did I mention the Recaro seats, TC-SST transmission and the mind bending all-wheel drive?

Full Disclosure – The review vehicle was provided by Mitsubishi

Some Photography – Alex Bellus

Review – 2011 Chevrolet Cruze: GM Finally Builds A Competitive Compact Car

Back in September I had the opportunity to attend the press drive for the new 2011 Chevrolet Cruze. At the time I was enamored with the fact that Chevrolet might have built a compact car that didn’t suck.

You see in my lifetime (that I can remember), Chevrolet hasn’t had a class leading compact sedan. Heck, not even a really competitive compact sedan. The Cruze is set to change all that. But is it really class leading, and if it is, how long can its reign last?

The exterior of the Cruze is a mix of good and bad. The front is aggressive with swept back headlights and Chevrolet’s dual-port shield grille. The hood has a nice crease that runs down the center and around the sides. This adds to the aggressive look of the swept back headlights.

Below the headlights sit two black blank pieces of plastic. This is where the fog lights would go if you optioned for the RS package. It seems downright silly that even an Cruze LTZ (the highest trim level) wouldn’t have fog lights without an optional RS package. The front is aggressive, but they could have taken it even further.

The sides have a strong character line that sweeps from the front fenders back into the rear taillights. The bottom of the doors also have some sculpting that visually make the Cruze look less slab sided.

Around back is the most disappointing part of the Cruze exterior. Visually it will not offend anyone. The flip side of that is the rear is quite boring. It is like the designers of the front ran out of energy. Maybe they got tired one night and said, just call it good and be done with it. While I’m not sure exactly what happened, at the end of the day it’s bland. The rear blends in with the sea of cars on the road.

At one point I stated that the current generation Malibu might be the tightest screwed together car GM makes. The Cruze definitely is giving the Malibu a run for its money. It also has tight panel gaps and a solid overall feel.

Chevrolet has been bragging about the interior in the new Cruze quite a bit lately, and I must say, they have every right to do so. The materials all feel high quality and look terrific. While there is quite a bit of hard plastic inside the cabin, it all looks nice with low shine and nice graining.

ThefFront seats are very comfortable, and are highly adjustable for being manual seats. It is easy to find a comfortable driving position with the tilt and telescoping steering wheel.

Chevrolet is touting midsize sedan room for the Cruze, even though it is a compact sedan. That extra room is felt in the rear seat. Foot and leg room is more than ample and it also has a decent seating position.

The center stack features black high gloss plastic in the shape of a flux capacitor. The buttons all have a high quality feel to them. I found it notable that the climate control knobs had no wiggle and that they felt solid.

Chevrolet knows that Ford has been touting its Microsoft SYNC system loud lately, so they had to do something. The new Cruze might be one of the most tech savvy cars out of GM in recent years. The Bluetooth system downloaded my phonebook, so every time someone called, the screen showed the callers name. You can also scroll through your contacts on the screen. The USB port will read almost any device that you plug-in – my iPhone 4 worked seamlessly with the sound system.

I found it unique that the dashboard featured cloth that matched the material on the seats. The Cruze I was in featured red cloth both on the seats and on the dash. All models that have leather feature a leather-like material on the dash instead of cloth. If GM had not added this unique touch, the dashboard would be a sea of hard plastic like most of the competition. It is clear that a ton of thought was put into the design and quality of the interior.

Two engines are currently available in the Cruze, but most will be sold with the 1.4-liter turbo inline four-cylinder. This engine produces 138 horsepower and 148 pound-feet of torque to the front wheels. This powertrain is rated at 24/36 mpg but I averaged 25 mpg in mixed urban suburban driving and a disappointing 29.4 mpg on a holiday highway trip.

Sadly, as it stands the only transmission choice is a six speed automatic. The transmission is fine, but I would’ve liked to have seen a manual option for those that like to row their own gears. Initially, reports flowed out that the transmission was poorly programmed. Chevrolet has since performed a firmware upgrade to the transmission that helps with these issues.

Overall I found transmission to be fine, though it hesitates to downshift. Acceleration is acceptable but don’t go street racing a Cobalt SS at the stoplight. Passing is its one weakness. The power just isn’t there to fling you forward, it builds slowly. Also, that manual shift capability? Don’t bother. It takes about half a second to register before it will perform the shift.

Cruze features electric power steering to help improve gas mileage. The application is probably one of GM’s best to date. Steering is light at parking lots speeds, but firms up once on the highway.

The Cruze 1LT I tested featured: connectivity plus package, 16″ alloy wheels, crystal red metallic tintcoat, and a compact spare tire. The total sticker price on this particular Cruze 1LT was $20,240 after destination. That places the Cruze at the high end of the compact car class. The Cruze isn’t a cheap compact, but it is a substantial compact car.

Back to the beginning, I was initially impressed with my first experience with the Cruze. After spending an entire week with a 1LT model, am I still as impressed? In one word, yes. I was slightly disappointed with the gas mileage, but the engine is smooth and quiet.

As for the question about the Cruze being class leading, the short answer is yes – for now. The competition is all getting refreshed and the Cruze has been on sale across the world for over a year. The new Hyundai Elantra is rated at 40 MPG on the highway across the board, the new Focus has some impressive technology available, and we don’t even know what the new Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla will bring. At the end of the day, the new Cruze is currently one of the most competitive compact cars on the market.

Full Disclosure- The review vehicle was provided by General Motors

Review – 2011 Mitsubishi Lancer Sportback ES: The Shark Of Hatchbacks

When I told my friends that I was reviewing a Mitsubishi Lancer Sportback ES, many responded with, “wait, Mitsubishi is still in business?” See that right there that is a problem. No car company wants to have that question asked by consumers.

The Lancer is Mitsubishi’s foray into the compact car segment. The question is, is it competitive or is there a reason many consumers don’t know Mitsubishi still sells cars in the United States?

The front of the Lancer Sportback ES features Mitsubishi’s current design language, which has a sharp and forward slanting grille. It looks as if the front clip is about to eat you. My girlfriend thinks it looks like a shark and I can see that resemblance. The sides have a strong crease that run from the front fenders to the rear fenders and there is some slight sculpting is down by the rocker panels. The rear has a very steep slope to the glass and this cuts into the cargo room slightly. An integrated rear spoiler extends to the rear roofline and gives the rear glass a little cover during rain and snow storms. The optional 15″ alloy wheels look decent but have large tires that fill out the wheel wheels. Side repeaters for the turn signals are a nice touch in this class. Overall, I like the exterior for its uniqueness. It doesn’t look like any other compact car on the road.

The interior is a little more of a let down. A few years ago this interior would have been standard fare, but now the competition has upped its game. The plastic on the dash is all hard and somewhat cheap looking. The switches and knobs all feel fine, and the HVAC controls have a nice solid click to them on each interval. The cloth seats do feature a unique pattern, though the bottom bolsters are farther apart then I would like.

The radio display is red and inset into the dash slightly. This looks fine, but in sunlight the entire display gets washed out. The auxiliary inputs use red and white pigtails instead of the normal auxiliary input jack. That is somewhat annoying if you do not have the right cables. Once you have the correct cables it gets more confusing, you must hold the MP3/CD button on the radio for 2+ seconds to switch to the auxiliary input. I’m creative, but even I had to go to the owners manual to figure that one out.

The steering wheel has a voice command button along with hang up and answer buttons for the Bluetooth. The only issue is, this particular Sportback didn’t have Bluetooth. It seems all Sportbacks are pre-wired for Bluetooth and have the buttons. So, if you do not select the option for it, you will be stuck looking at the buttons every time you drive the car. Just a reminder that you kind of skimped on the options. Not exactly sure why they are there but hey, they are.

I wanted to comment on the seating position; it was more rally car than compact car. With an adjustment for up/down, forward/back/and a back adjustment, it was easy to find a comfortable driving position. The steering wheel did tilt but does not telescope.

The engine is a 2.0-liter MIVEC inline 4-cylinder that pumps out 148 horsepower and 145 pound feet to the front wheels. The power is put down through either a five speed manual or Sportronic CVT automatic. The Sportback I had featured the Sportronic CVT, which I will say wasn’t as bad as I initially expected it to be. Personally, I am not the biggest fan of CVTs due to their rubber band nature, but this one seemed to mimic a six-speed automatic fairly well. Only when really pushing the engine did it start to have a rubber band feel. The Sportback was actually fun to drive, when going around a corner it felt more like a rally car than a typical compact car. While the two higher trim levels are definitely sportier, this base Sportback was able to throw a smirk or two on my face.

Aside from the interior material quality and radio display, I do have one major gripe. The price of the Sportback ES seems reasonable, until you realize what you can now get for that same kind of money. Starting at $17,775 with a manual transmission and no options, this is not exactly a cheap compact car. The model I was in had the CVT and alloy wheel options bringing the total to $18,955. The EPA mileage ratings are 25/32 mpg, while I averaged 23.5 mpg in the city and 27.6 on the highway. Not exactly class leading on the gas mileage either.

So what did we end up with? A compact hatchback that has some sharp styling and sport driving characteristics. That sounds like a somewhat unique combination. With vehicles like this, it really isn’t a surprise to me that my friends didn’t know Mitsubishi was still around. This is a unique and almost niche vehicle. Your top priorities can’t be fuel economy or interior material quality. It also isn’t the best value based solely on price, especially when compared to a Mazda3, Ford Focus, Chevrolet Cruze, or a myriad of other compact car options. No, to buy this car means you want to be different and stand out from the crowd. With a fun to drive factor that is surprising and a fair bit of utility, this shark is in crowded waters but deserves a fair shake if you want to stand out from the compact car crowd.

Full Disclosure – The review vehicle was provided by Mitsubishi