Tag Archives: Honda

Autobird Podcast – Esp 23: “CAFE Episode”

Episode 23 starts by discussing what CAFE standards are and also what the next generation standards will be along with when they are going into affect.  Moving into the garage we talk about the GMC Acadia I was in for the past week along with the Chevrolet Traverse Colin was in.  We then move along to the major news of the week segment.  This week included-

We then proceed to the clip of the week segment.  This week we featured an ad telling Canadians to stop urinating on the planet. (Link)

Next came our main topic which was discussing CAFE standards and solutions to meet those standards.  We mainly talk about different materials used in building cars currently and possibly in the future.

Last we discuss the past week on our respective blogs, Cheers and Gears,  AutoBird Blog and Accelerate Mpls.  The week in review included- my editorial on the Koreans Are Coming, and the first Mpls Cars & Cafe of the season.  Cheers and Gears had a post on the 2016 CAFE standards.  Colin had posts about Canadian sales numbers and a post about Engineering Speed by the one and only William Maley.

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Review – 2010 Chevrolet Traverse

Let’s be frank: I personally never felt Chevrolet had a great minivan. The Venture was ho-hum at best and the Uplander was a train wreck. In theory you are supposed to keep going until you get it right and I am all for that, but at some point, you need to cut your losses and refocus on something else. General Motors has done that exactly with the Lambda platform based CUVs and left the minivan behind.

The Chevrolet Traverse is the latest (and last to the market) of General Motor’s large CUVs. This is no small vehicle and, in fact, is pretty much the size of a Tahoe. The thing is, while it is almost as big as the Tahoe, it drives and rides completely differently. The ride is much more like a car-based vehicle and the reason for that is the unibody design and construction of the vehicle. The Tahoe is a body on frame design. The Traverse is an older truck style vehicle.

The sister vehicles to the Traverse are the Buick Enclave, GMC Acadia and the now dead Saturn Outlook. The Traverse launched with an upgraded motor from these other vehicles; a 3.6 liter V6 featuring direct injection technology. This engine puts out 281 hp and 266 ft-lb (288 hp in LTZ trim). The direct injection gave the engine both more power while maintaining acceptable fuel economy. The power is routed through the front wheels with all wheel drive as an option. The six speed automatic transmission does have manual shifting abilities via a rocker switch on the gear selector. The engine is rated at 17/24 in front wheel drive form, which is a decent rating for a vehicle of this size. I managed to average 17.6 mpg in mixed driving, although my city driving has lot of stop and go while going into work and really does kill the gas mileage. In the beginning of the week, when it was straight to work in downtown, I was averaging a mere 15.4 mpg. Once I started driving on the highways a more, my mileage crept up above 17 mpg.

I have driven a lambda based vehicle before but it is has been a while. Upon entering the Traverse, I looked in my rear view mirror and remembered just how big this vehicle is. Site lines are good with decent sized mirrors. Those mirrors each feature a refracted lens for your blind spot. Driving this big CUV was a pleasant experience. The steering was not overly light but more is more car-like than big SUV. The power is more than enough to overpower the front wheels on numerous occasions. Slamming the gas pedal will result in the tires trying to grip the pavement, but the traction control quickly kicks in.

The interior is styled very nicely. With a large amount of space to work with, the designers definitely tried their best to sculpt the materials to prevent the look of vast expanses of plastic and it is job well done for the most part. The dash has nice lines and fits well with the current Chevrolet styling theme. The interior was a very dark place with everything being dark charcoal (pretty close to black) and no sunroof option on this vehicle. The seats are wide and somewhat flat and, without question, these are seats made for Americans. I liked the front seatback design which is unique and looks nice. The second row tumbles forward to allow entrance to the third row which is not a place an adult will want to spend time, although a child will be comfortable and it folds flat at the pull of a handle. Another sign that this vehicle is made for Americans is the cup holders because they are literally everywhere.

The styling of the exterior is very conservative. The sides are very plain and almost slab sided. Upon looking further, you will notice a slight character line towards the bottom of the doors and one near the door handles. These are by no means strong lines, but rather soft. The lines all integrate with each other quite well, flowing from one panel to the next with no break. The front is the sharpest part of the vehicle. The dual port grille and the headlights show similarity to the rest of the new Chevrolet vehicles, while still being distinctly different. The overall exterior will not offend anyone and is by far the most conservative of the three other Lambda vehicles.

The Traverse I had was a 1LT with a sticker price of $31,745. The trailoring package, which included a heavy duty cooling system and trailer hitch, cost $525. The rear view camera system is a $450 option was done the right way, in my opinion. With no navigation optioned on this vehicle, the screen was integrated into the rear view mirror; very easy to use and convenient. The total sticker price after destination and options rang to $33,495, and while this is not cheap, it is competitive for its class.

The entire week I had the Traverse, I felt like I should be heading to the soccer field to pick up the kids. While the vehicle has more then enough power to get up and go, it is by no means sporty and that is not its intentions. The vehicle is a family hauler, designed and engineered to deliver the kids to soccer practice and make trips to Costco.

The competition is stiff in this segment and the Traverse is here for the fight. Naturally, the big blue oval is a competitor in the Ford Flex but actually, the Flex and the Traverse are completely different vehicles. I can not imagine someone that wants a Flex will even give the Traverse a second thought and vice versa.

In commercials, Chevrolet compares the Traverse to the Honda Pilot and, while both sport three rows of seating, the Traverse is the larger vehicle. Without a doubt, the Traverse is a highly competitive entry into a cut-throat segment and the vehicle I had at just over $33k is a decent alternative if you do not want a minivan. Chevrolet buyers finally have a vehicle that is not a minivan but can haul the family while achieving acceptable fuel economy

Full Disclosure- The review vehicle was provided by General Motors

AutoBird Podcast – Esp 16: “What’s In a Name?”

Episode 16 starts by introducing this weeks guest Nick Saporito joining us from GM Inside News.  Nick kicked us off by telling us a little about himself and how he came to be the managing editor.  I then for a moment, attempted to relive my experience driving the Corvette ZR1 which I had the opportunity to drive the day before.  We move along to the major news of the week segment.  This week included-

  • Honda and Ford gain retail market share from Toyota
  • Woman Gets $23.4M for a paralyzing crash in Ford Explorer
  • Former CEO Fritz Henderson now consults GM at $2,954 an hour
  • Mercedes-Benz F800 revealed

We then proceed to the clip of the week segment.  This week we featured Nissans newest commercial starring the Leaf at the end – We Make Them Better

Next came our main topics.  This week those topics included GM’s rear wheel drive program and the possibility of Mercury’s small car being named the Tracer.

Last but certainly not least, we discuss the past week on both of our respective blogs, AutoBird Blog and AccelerateMpls.  The week in review included- my write up on dealerships and how the game has changed along with Colin’s first impressions of the 2011 Toyota Avalon.


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AutoBird Podcast Episode 12

Episode 12 starts by discussing the past week on both of our respective blogs, AutoBird Blog and AccelerateMpls. The week in review included people buying old GM stock, and the social media at NAIAS along with the my take on the major reveals at NAIAS.  We move along to a new segment we are introducing talking about the major news of the week.  This week included-

  • Cadillac CTS Wagon gets a price drop
  • Audi suspending A3 production
  • The Mini Cooper Countryman
  • 2011 Mazda5

We then proceeded to introduce another new segment called clip of the week.  This week we featured the clip of Conan O’Brien using the Bugatti Veyron to get back at NBC.  This was truly a hilarious stunt pulled by Conan.

Last but certaintly not least, we discuss our three main topics.  This week those included the 2011 Buick Regal getting priced, the latest in the string of Toyota recalls, and Honda’s hybrids being behind sales projections.


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Social Media and NAIAS

It is widely known that General Motors paid for my travel and accommodations for the Detroit Auto Show.  In fact they even asked me in writing to disclose it on anything I write about the show.  This was part of the new full disclosure rules the FTC has imposed on all bloggers beginning at the end of last year.  General Motors was quick to mention that by them paying for my travel and accommodations I was in no way obligated to write about them or anything for that matter.

I was one of over 10 bloggers brought to NAIAS as press by General Motors.  Most manufactures bring certain people but General Motors put a specific emphasis on bringing social media people.  Both General Motors and Ford have been the “poster child” automotive companies in the social media industry.  Sure Honda made a “splash” when they did the striptease of the Crosstour on Facebook.  Most would have called that a colossal failure when the burn it with fire comments started pouring in.  As I mentioned Ford and General Motors in general are really using social media though they are taking vastly different stances with it.  General Motors does have it’s social media team on Twitter but really it is the brands and products that have accounts.

It was very interesting to witness how the “traditional media” reacted to all the social media people being around.  I am fairly certain the game is changing and they are not exactly happy about it.  Traditional media people have yet to figure out how to play nicely with social media types.  The funniest part is many of the traditional media will write their information once back at work yet the article and or pictures will not be published for days/weeks/possibly a month.  Yet they must get that picture before me or anyone else there for social media.  Social media buffs are publishing this stuff live on the spot using our phones and laptops.  We are connected (when we have signal) and are reporting live and on site.

That leads to another issue that has cropped up with the use of social media at an event such as NAIAS.  Live and on sight I was reporting the information as it was literally being spoken.  People on Twitter following me were getting the information as I received it including pictures.  The challenge was that the ten other people sitting around me are tweeting the information out at the same time.  How do I differentiate myself from these other people.  Sure we all took different pictures and different angles, but the information, specifications, general information, is all the same.  Social media types run in similar circles, many people that follow me also follow the people I was with.  Realizing this early on I had to differentiate myself on Twitter while I was there.  I could report what others were sure, but I had to have something else.   I realized how lucky I was to have been afforded this opportunity.  I decided I would try and make it so others that were not there could get whatever they would want.  I tweeted numerous times asking what people wanted to see.  When requests came in I obliged and took the corresponding photos.  Some other blogs actually asked me privately to take photos for them and I did.  Many people asked me to take a look at certain things and report back which of course I did.  Then something else happened.  General Motors set us all up with small round table sessions with some of the executives.  I instantly saw an opportunity and tweeted out who I would be meeting with and when.  I told my followers that if they had any questions for these people to let me know, and I would be happy to ask.  I took video of all the round table sessions and have already up loaded this.  Of course I asked the questions that came in off Twitter.

Fiat Twins

On Monday evening I realized that many pictures I had taken included the models posing with the cars.  I decided to tweet out a bunch of the photos and hash tag them with the keyword #EyeCandy.  This quickly turned into a “series” and people loved it.  The last thing I decided to do was simple.  There were plenty of models posing with cars and at the Fiat stand they had two girls to go along with the two 500′s.  On the second day the two girls in the morning appeared to be twins.  When I over heard someone saying they were I tweeted this.  Soon I heard Jalopnik saying they were not in fact twins.  Seeing that my eye candy series had been such a hit I decided to go and put an end to this debate.  I walked up to the “twins” and simply said there was talk about whether they were in fact twins and asked if they were.  They immediately said they were and I tweeted “BREAKING- The Fiat twins are in fact twins!”  Of course this tweet started a whole new discussion.  I also happened to learn that the twins live in Minneapolis about 15 minutes from where I live.  After having a conversation I left them to continue modeling and went back to the business of walking the show.  All of this gave me personality.  It was something different then just reporting the specifications/information about the cars.  When I got into the Lotus Evora I tweeted about how it felt like a glove when sitting in it.

The Ford area was one of the best consumer booths of the show.  They have everything from interactive computer simulations to transmissions torn apart, just about anything.  The booth itself is utterly huge.  Ford also had some customized Fiesta’s strewn about so people could get an idea about the level of customization these cars will have.

It is clear to me that social media is making an impact both in how manufactures are advertising and how they are handling themselves at autoshows.  It says something to me that the two auto manufactures most involved in social media are Ford and General Motors.  The point of all this is embracing new ways to communicate is something that forward thinking companies are doing and we should all take note.

Phil Colley, Nicole Carriere, Me, Chris Barger (from left to right)

Full Disclosure- My NAIAS travel and accommodations were provided by General Motors

AutoBird Podcast Episode 11

Episode 11 starts by discussing the past week on both of our respective blogs, AutoBird Blog and AccelerateMpls. The week in review included gas pump prices, and the major reveals at Detroit along with the videos from NAIAS.  We move along to talk about NAIAS (the Detroit Auto Show) and the things we saw at the show.  That list includes

  • 2012 Ford Focus
  • 2011 Lincoln MKX
  • Chrysler Delta concept
  • Chevrolet Spark
  • Chevrolet Aveo RS concept
  • Buick Regal GS concept
  • Cadillac XTS concept
  • Cadillac CTS-V Coupe
  • GMC Granite concept
  • Honda CR-Z
  • Volkswagen New Compact Concept.

The last two topics were the North American Car and Truck of the year awards and the upcoming Chrysler Super Bowl ad.


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Major Reveals from the Detroit Auto Show

Aveo RS Concept

The current Aveo is pretty much less then competitive. Seen as the joke of the line up, no one really wants to like the current Aveo, which it is not hard to fault them. GM is serious about the next generation Aveo, and the Aveo RS concept gives a glimpse of what we will be getting. Of course the show car stuff, neon lights, center exhaust, huge wheels and brembo brakes probably will not make production.  I suppose the center exhaust on the Cadillac CTS Coupe concept made it to production, so who really knows. Hopefully an Aveo RS model will come along with the normal, “plain Jane” model. This is something a “tuner” could enjoy and maybe even have it be fun to drive.

I had the opportunity to look at the concept Aveo RS on stage up close. I was somewhat impressed with the details. The interior did have a “leather covered” dash though we will all be realistic knowing that it definitely will not make production. The seats were very well bolstered, and I am not sure that those particular seats will make production either. The gauge cluster will definitely make production and the center stack is more then likely the real deal. I actually had the opportunity to see the production exterior at the product technology event last August. The front facia on the Aveo RS Concept is very close. The exposed headlight bezels, dual port grill and sharp front clip are all there. The neon lights and other extras are more show than go and probably will not be in the production model. I will note, when we spoke with Ed Welburn it was asked if the RS model would get the show cars neon halo’s around the headlights. It would make sense for them to make it to production on the RS model due to the Camaro RS model having neon halo’s. It was suggested to Ed Welburn that all RS models should have the halos. I personally think this would be a great idea. We will see as the production Aveo should hit the sales floors in late 2010.

Buick Regal GS

The new Regal is not even on sale yet but Buick knows it needs to be a ringer. The LaCrosse started bringing in lower age customers and GM is hoping the new Regal for Buick will continue that trend to an even further extent. The new Regal will be hitting show rooms this spring, and this is certainly a preview of a production Regal GS to come. This is merely a rebadged Opel Insignia OPC, but with a different engine (according to the paperwork). I got some seat time in the Regal GS concept and the Recaro seats were phenomenal. The back seat was not quite as spacious as I thought it might be. I was comfortable in the car, but getting in and out was not an amazing experience. The C-pillar in the rear was quite close to my head, and I would have easily whacked my head upon exiting the rear had I not been paying attention. The rear has just enough head room with a fast roof line that cuts it close. The interior roof is sculpted out so you are not hitting your head. The front was very nice with the aforementioned seats, a flat bottom steering whee, and the six speed manual transmission, which felt like short throws.

GM is saying the GS model of the Regal would come with the optional 2.0 liter engine from the CXS trim variant but with more boost going through the turbo. GM is pegging the numbers at 250 hp and 295 ft-lb. This is all very interesting because the Opel Insignia OPC has a 2.8l turbo charge V6 putting out over 300 hp and 300 ft-lb. The problem with that engine is it is thirsty for gas. I think GM is trying to gauge the publics reaction to maybe a I4 instead of a V6 in the Regal GS variant. I asked if I could open the hood and was instantly told no! The press photos of this car showed a V6 engine cover which was the same engine cover in the Opel Insignia OPC. My guess is this was an Insignia OPC with swapped out badges, so the V6 was still under the hood. While we really do not know what engine will come, one thing is for sure, the Regal GS variant will probably be coming sooner then later. I for one am definitely ready to see if this can be a budget Audi S4 because that would really help stick Buick on the map. Afterall, that is what the Regal GS is supposed to do anyways.

2012 Ford Focus

The embargo was up and the pictures/specifications were, for the most part, out in the public view. That did not stop Ford from throwing one heck of a reveal for the upcoming 2012 Focus. Coming in both hatchback and sedan form, the new Focus gives us style and class, things the current Focus is sorely lacking. Let us not forget the awesome technology that will be available in the new Focus. That latest generation of Microsoft powered SYNC will be onboard and the new MyFord interface will of course be an option. Ford had one sedan and one hatch on display. I was given the opportunity to see the interior of the sedan up close. The quality of materials was terrific, though I was told this was a hand built one off vehicle. They are not even in preproduction, so I was not allowed to sit in it. The hatchback was off limits, so I was not able to touch that either. The wheels on these two at the show were 19 inches, but I would be surprised to see something that large even as an option. Interesting note about the gas cap on the hatch back, it is well integrated with cut lines and it somewhat blends in. That is just one example of how Ford stressed about the small stuff on this car. The new Focus will go into production late this year and hit dealerships in early 2011.

2011 Lincoln MKX

The refreshed 2011 Lincoln MKX made its debut at the Detroit Auto Show and it was truly a great spectacle. Ford had the woman who sings the song in one of the most recent Lincoln commercials on stage signing as the MKX came on stage. Of course the rest of the current Lincoln line up rolled onto stage with the exception of the Town Car. That was not a real shock, but notably absent nonetheless. The updated MKX gains the split wing grill that is quickly becoming Lincoln’s signature mark again. The rear has new tail lights and finally a back up camera is along for the ride. I note the back up camera because on the last generation it was not even an option! The interior materials get a major upgrade as does the design. The technology is all new with this being the first vehicle to get the now standard MyLincoln. This is the same thing as MyFord with the dual 4.1 inch screens on either side of the speedometer and an 8 inch touch screen on the center stack. The luxury crossover market is heating up and this is just another player that is helping to change the game.

Cadillac XTS Concept

Cadillac rolled out a concept they are calling the XTS. This vehicle foreshadows what we will see from GM as a replacement for the aging (not gracefully I might add) Cadillac STS and DTS. Riding on a stretched Buick LaCrosse platform, the XTS would come in both front wheel drive and all wheel drive. The concept is a dual mode plug-in hybrid featuring a direct injection V6 and an electric motor. It is supposedly putting out 350 hp and 295 ft-lb. There is definitely a good chance this powertrain, along with a regular gasoline engine, will make production for this vehicle. Technology is a high point for this car and it is very well connected. The center stack is essentially void of most buttons and mostly touch. The gauges are all virtual and everything is “connected.” The interior was gorgeous, and I am definitely interested to see what details from the concept make it to production. Speaking of production, we should see the XTS in showrooms for 2012/2013.

Honda CR-Z

Honda released the first hybrid in America to have a manual transmission. Many were hoping for a remake of the CRX, and to be frank, many have said they are disappointed. I think the main thing people are not happy about seems to be the lack of rear seats. The car itself does not even post amazing mileage numbers. The power will be provided by a 1.5 liter making 122 horsepower while estimated to get 36/38 mpg. This is all mated to the CVT (continuously variable transmission). The manual transmission seriously kills the gas mileage, taking it down to an estimated 31/37 mpg. The CR-Z will come in two trim levels and will probably have a base price around $18,000 when sales start later this summer.

Tesla Model S

The Tesla Model S was there along with two Roadster Sports. The Roadster Sports start their lives as a Lotus and get gutted by Tesla to receive the battery pack and electric drivetrain. The Model S is the next production vehicle we will see from Tesla. This four door “sedan,” the Model S, has a rear hatch instead of a traditional trunk which allows room for the optional jump seat. This would make it so the sedan can seat seven, though the extra two in the jump seats will be small children only. The interior has almost no buttons or switches. The center stack is one large touch screen with virtual switches to flick and swipe. The door handles are flush with the car and slide out when you touch them. The whole thing is quite impressive. Some call this car vaporware, meaning it will never see production or be on sale. The honest truth is those same people said that the Tesla Roadster was vaporware and that car has been on sale and is already in the hands of many happy owners. Tesla says the Model S should see production in the next few years.


Full Disclosure- My NAIAS travel and accommodations were provided by General Motors

2011 Hyundai Sonata- Game Changer

2011 Hyundai Sonata

2011 Hyundai Sonata

The midsize sedan segment is one of the most competitive and is the largest volume class of vehicle.  The perennial kings of this segment have for a long time been the Toyota Camry and Honda Accord.  The Ford Taurus once played in this segment but then faded away.  The Hyundai Sonata has been making moves and gaining market share for years now.  Each revision getting better and more refined.  Having sold over 1.2 million Sonatas, it is safe to say Hyundai is getting the swing of things.

The U.S. version of the 2011 Sonata was shown at the LA Auto show.  The car is radically different then the current generation.  With a fluid design and crisp lines, the new Sonata looks terrific.  The cars overall shape somewhat mimics the higher end Volkswagen CC four door coupe styling.  An up swept character line runs from behind the front wheel well through the door handles, and through to the top of the taillights.  The car’s overall stance is somewhat sporty and aggressive.  The rear trunk has a slight spoiler built in.  The rear tail lights look like a mash up of a BMW 3 series and the brand new 2011 Infiniti M.

2011hyundaisonata001

The interior of this new Sonata is going more up scale.  The hvac controls are similar to those found in new Fords and Volvos.  Do not worry about the lower roofline in the rear, rear headroom has decreased by a mere 0.4 inches.  Hyundai worked with the headliner and put the rear seat cushions slightly lower to keep the headroom.  The car is actually 130 pounds lighter then the outgoing model.  Hyundai accomplished this weight decrease with the increased use of aluminum in the frame and high strength steel for some of the body parts.

2011hyundaisonata021

Three trim levels will be available, GLS, SE, and Limited.  The SE and Limited trim levels will have a chrome grille.  The GLS model will have a body color grille.  The new Sonata will be available at launch with a one choice 2.4 liter direct injection four cylinder.  This engine will push out 198 hp and 184 lb-ft to the front wheels through either a six speed automatic or a six speed manual.  Those who opt for the SE model, which is going to be the sportier model, will get dual exhaust along with paddle shifters, and 2 more hp along with 2 more lb-ft of torque.  Hyundai did announce a turbo four cylinder and a hybrid model are both coming but did not release details.  No V6 is being offered (for now).  Hyundai was heard saying the V6 in midsize cars will go the way of the dinosaur.  While final numbers are not in yet, Hyundai expects the Sonata to be rated at 23/35 mpg with the automatic transmission.  That is 2-4 mpg better then the competition.

So what just happened?  Well Hyundai is setting the stage to try and over take the crown from Toyota and Honda in the midsize segment.  With a base price under $20,000, the new Sonata just became the best value and fuel efficient non hybrid in the midsize class. Pretty much, when no one was looking Hyundai got serious.  Your move Toyota and Honda.

2011 Ford Fiesta Revealed- 40 MPG!

2011 Ford Fiesta Hatchback

2011 Ford Fiesta Hatchback

For years people have been begging Ford to bring the same quality vehicles they are selling in Europe to the U.S.  Ford has listened and is doing just what was asked.  The 2011 Fiesta is heavily based on the European version, which is a highly regarded car in Europe.  Many people worried that the U.S. version of the Fiesta would be changed drastically by becoming watered down.  Fear not, slight changes were made due to differing safety standards, but over sixty percent of the European Fiesta made it to the U.S. version.

2011 Ford Fiesta

The Fiesta will be powered by a 1.6 liter DOCH I-4 to the front wheels.  The engine is estimated to provide 119 hp and 109 ft-lbs while achieving an estimated 40 mpg.  Two transmissions will be offered.  The first being a 5 speed manual and the second, a class exclusive six speed dual clutch transmission.  Ford’s dual clutch transmission will go under the “PowerShift” moniker.  The transmission is “sealed for life” and never requires any maintenance.  When asked if the clutches could be replaced, Ford did say yes.

2011 Ford Fiesta Sedan- note the chrome 3 bar grille

2011 Ford Fiesta Sedan- note the chrome 3 bar grille

2011 Ford Fiesta Light Pipes

2011 Ford Fiesta Light Pipes

The Fiesta will come in both sedan and five door hatch forms.  The hatch will have a grille similar to the European model while the sedan will get a chrome, three bar grille.  The three bar grille aligns with other U.S. models such as the Focus, Taurus, and Fusion.  The grille in both the sedan and the hatchback are the exact same size, theoretically making them interchangeable.  The fog lights from the European Fiesta have been replaced with light pipes such as those on the new Taurus SHO.  The Fiesta will be the most customizable Ford to date, with tons of optional dealer installable accessories that are not bug shields.  Everything from body wrap graphics to wheel packages will be optional in order to make your Fiesta unique.

2011 Ford Fiesta

The Fiesta is composed of over fifty percent high strength steel.  This makes for a lighter, safer car.  Ultra strong boron steel is used in several critical areas.  Boron steel is even stronger than high strength steel.  Fiesta will boast class leading safety with features such as standard electronic stability control, seat belt pretensioners, rear door child safety locks, and Safety Canopy (side curtain air bags essentially).  Ford made sure to mention, “Fiesta is proof that a small car can deliver big safety.”  Fiesta offers a segment-exclusive driver’s knee air bag, developed to help reduce lower leg injuries in the event of a frontal collision and to work together with other safety features.

2011 Ford Fiesta Interior
2011 Ford Fiesta Interior

Many class exclusive features will be available on the Fiesta.  Everything from keyless entry and push button start, to Ford’s SYNC will be offered.  Also unique within the segment will be a tilt and telescoping steering wheel.  Standard will be Ford’s innovative EasyFuel capless fuel filler.  Ford did make one major change on the interior which is somewhat disappointing.  The U.S. Fiesta will only be available with manual climate control.  I understand meeting a price point, but the European Fiesta has available automatic climate control.  Worse yet, the controls felt somewhat cheap.

2011 Ford Fiesta

The features and technology in this vehicle is definitely class leading.  I would say the Toyota Yaris and Honda Fit were just put on notice.  With 15 class exclusive technologies and the estimated 40 mpg fuel economy rating, the new Fiesta will be a force to be reckoned with.

Optional Leather Interior Package

Optional Leather Interior Package

2011 Ford Fiesta2011 Ford Fiesta

Review- 2010 GMC Terrain

2010 GMC Terrain

2010 GMC Terrain

Many people have asked me why Pontiac and Saturn are being killed and GMC gets to live.  To many on the outside it does not make perfect sense though the answer is quite simple.  GMC makes money while Pontiac and Saturn do not.  The response I got to that was about how GMC products are mostly rebadged Chevrolet products so how can they make money.  Again a simple answer with two parts.  GMC is not really cross shopped with Chevrolet according to GM.  Also GMC is aimed to be one step above Chevrolet “offering more premium content then Chevy” according to Annalisa Bluhm who works for GM, so that means slightly higher base prices.

IMG_1299

The last generation Chevrolet Equinox had a brother and it was the Pontiac Torrent which was about as class competitive as the last generation Equinox was, which was not very.  With Pontiac dead and gone spreading the development costs of the new Equinox with another vehicle was key.  GMC has been successful with the Lambda based Acadia and thus it was logical to make the new Equinox’s brother a GMC.  The new 2010 Terrain, moves GMC into a new segment and gives another vehicle to add to the now empty Pontiac showroom floor space.

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Being the brother to the Equinox has its advantages.  The interior of the new Equinox is already more then class competitive it is class leading and so changes were not really necessary to compete in this area.  With a few upgraded materials here and there and some different graining and texture on some dash panels the interior was a nice place before the switch from Chevrolet to GMC.  The exterior styling is what really differentiates the Terrain from the Equinox.  With bold, blocky, in your face looks, the Terrain is much more controversially styled then the Equinox.  With a blunt front end and squared off fenders, the Terrain is much less curvaceous and soft compared with the Equinox.  The huge overly exaggerated fender flares continue this blocky bold styling down the side and towards the rear.  Speaking of the rear again much blockier and more bluntly styled then the Equinox.  The styling seems to be a love it or hate it with everyone having a opinion.  Many people on Twitter seem to thing this is not a good looking rig with one person even saying they thought it was the ugliest vehicle on the road today.  I would not personally go that far but it is definitely in your face and styled differently.

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During the Terrain’s stay this week I had a road trip down to Hudson, IA to visit some friends and family.  With the cruise control set the Terrain was a comfortable highway cruiser lugging along at 75mpg I was averaging 26.3 mpg.  It is worth noting that it was chilly here during the trip and this probably affected the gas milage slightly.  The Terrain utilizes the same exact engine choices as the Equinox either the 2.4L four cylinder or the optional 3.0L V6 both engines are feature great new technology.  Utilizing VVT (variable valve timing) and direct injection both these engines are class leading in gas milage ratings.  The Terrain I had was rated at 20/29 mpg due to the all wheel drive.  Without the all wheel drive ratings would have been 22/32 mpg.  The Terrain also utilizes the great six speed automatic used in the Equinox.  Since I had the four cylinder it had the “eco” button which changes shift points. The Terrain drove smoother and I enjoyed the way the transmission worked while in eco mode much more then when not.  According to GM eco mode earns you one mile per gallon more in gas milage.

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The Terrain I had was a SLE2 with a few option packages including the convenience package, trailering equipment package, cargo management package, and 18″ machined aluminum wheels.  The sticker price on this particular vehicle was $29,630.  This vehicle was far from stripped yet is only one step above the base SLE with a few option packages.  The convenience package put in heated seats which were great when the temperature dipped into the low 30′s during the week. Also in that package was the remote vehicle start which again was great when the temperatures got into the 30′s.  Bluetooth was another great standard feature in this particular vehicle.  In this writers opinion bluetooth should be standard in every car for safety reasons.  Many cars have fog lights but not many do much for the driver.  The fog lights on the Terrain surprised me adding a lot of extra light on the ground in front of you.  Much more then you would expect especially considering how tiny they are.

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At the end of the day we have a platform mate to the Equinox.  It is more controversially styled and is priced about $1,810 more in base price.  I feel the styling is good but then again I think the Mercedes Benz GLK is good looking and that thing is a chiseled block, so blocky does not bother me.  With a premium look and feel this classy vehicle has what it takes to beat the competition.  The looks are polarizing which gets you noticed and that is exactly what GM needs for the GMC Terrain, people noticing it.  Like the Equinox with better fuel economy and overall execution then the main competition mainly Toyota Rav4 and Honda CR-V the Terrain is a great option in a crowded segment.  My recommendation, if the Equinox is not your taste in style check the Terrain before you look else where.