Tag Archives: Lincoln

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…

Video – Overview of the 2011 Lincoln MKT AWD Ecoboost

I just realized that for some reason I was sitting on this video. Not sure why but here it is. A short video overview of the 2011 Lincoln MKT AWD Ecoboost.

Review – 2011 Lincoln MKT AWD Ecoboost: Is This What Lincoln Should Be?

If you asked me about Lincoln around five years ago, I would have said “Town Car what?”  Yes, the Navigator hit it big during the large SUV boom and the LS was an interesting car, but Lincoln has not revisited those old glory days in a while. And when I say a while, I am talking long before I was born.

Now,they are in the midst of what I would almost call a rebirth – or a reboot, if you will.  They are trying to build a brand identity and bring the team together.  So how does the MKT play a role in that?  Is this what Lincoln should be?  Lets find out.

Exterior

As I mentioned above, Lincoln is rebuilding brand identity.  There is no question the exterior of the MKT is polarizing.  Some will like it, some will not – few will be indifferent to it.  When the MKT first rolled up, I was on the fence but leaning towards liking it.  After spending a week with it, (are you sitting down for this?) in my opinion this is exactly how a Lincoln should look.  The front is bold, with a strong crease running up from the Lincoln emblem on the front clip into the hood.

The large (read huge) dual-winged grille sits on both sides of the Lincoln emblem, and two sculpted character lines run from the front fenders into the side of the MKT.  There is also slight sculpting down near the bottom of the doors to bring the sides in a bit.  I even like the window line dip on the side near the rear.  The rear features large light pipes that make up a big rear light.  It looks terrific and really unique at night.  For me the exterior is a huge win.


Interior

The interior in the MKT again makes a strong statement.  The perforated leather is thick and feels of good quality.  The seats are road trip comfy and are both heated and cooled (a great feature).  The touch screen navigation/climate control/infotainment/etc system worked quite well and never appeared washed out by sunlight.  Physical buttons get you around to the function screens you want quickly, and you then manage the details via the touch screen.  It was an easy system to learn and operate quickly, although it does lock you out of certain navigation functions while driving.

The THX sound system simply rocked! Everyone seems to agree this is one of the finer sound systems in the industry offered by an OEM.  With HD radio and Sirius satellite radio available, you have some great choices on board.  Lets also not forget about the Microsoft Sync system, which paired with my iPhone 3Gs seamlessly and operated easily.

The rear had the flowing center console option with a small fridge/freezer in between the rear buckets.  The third row was power-operated and folded flat when not in use.  The interior materials were first class all around.  Everything was soft touch with a nice finish, while all plasticsl felt of high quality.


Powertrain and Driving Impressions

This MKT was equipped with the (awesome) 3.5 liter EcoBoost engine, which pumps out 355 horsepower and 350 pound feet of torque to all four wheels.  The power goes through a one-choice six-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters.  The bottom line?  This thing is a rocket ship for its size.  Seriously, it is just silly! The torque curve is flat from 800 rpm to 5250 rpm.  That is nearly the entire power band.  That is thanks to the twin-turbo direct-injection set up on the V-6.  Essentially the concept is V-6 fuel economy with V-8 power.  Bravo!  The transmission actually played nice and I had no gripes with the programming.

The MKT Ecoboost rode on 20″ wheels and it can actually handle better then you would expect a vehicle of its size to handle.  The steering is light but not overly so.  The adaptive cruise control worked terrific on the highway all the way up north and the active park assist worked as advertised (though a little creepy the first time you do use it, and the second).

The EcoBoost engine is completely worth the $3,005 price.  The MKT with all-wheel drive and EcoBoost is rated at 16/21.  During my week with MKT, I averaged 17.2 in a mix of city and suburb highway driving.  That was without really trying to achieve the best mileage possible.  On the open road loaded down with four adults and the rear packed with gear, I averaged 21.2 with the cruise control set at 77 mph.  Neither of those numbers are bad at all.  I would call those good considering the MKT has three rows and weighs quite a bit.

Gripes? Well, the A-pillars are quite large.  I am not sure what it is with this recent trend, but it is almost a safety hazard on some vehicles.  Also that touch screen system I mentioned earlier – it had a melt down.  I am talking a 13-year old girl tantrum melt down.

I started the MKT after leaving it in the sun for four hours.  It was approximately 92 degrees outside.  Upon entering the car, I went to input a destination into the navigation system.  The entire screen/system froze up.  After restarting the vehicle and realizing that was not going to fix it, I had no choice but to drive using my iPhone as my navigation.  I was going to be late for a meeting.  About five minutes into the drive the screen changed to a inform me a system fault has been detected and I would have limited functionality of the screen.  Terrific.

It also informed me I should head to my dealership.  Luckily for me, my appointment was at a client that happened to be an auto repair shop.  They pulled codes and found the yaw control sensor and something to do with the cruise control sensors had both faulted.  After resetting the sensors, we could not get the system to malfunction again.  I will note that Ford reached out immediately to try and resolve the problem, without me prompting them or making contact, Seeing as I only had the vehicle for a week and cannot fully determine what happened or how it was caused, I am saying it was a fluke. However, it did happen and I wanted to note that incident.

The MKT I was in was pretty much fully loaded.  The total sticker price rang in at $56,980,which included $7,780 in options.  The bottom line is this segment (like many of the luxury segments now) is packed with great options.  I would put the MKT right next to the Audi Q7 TDI (along with other competitors) and say drive both.

They are very different vehicles both in personality and execution.  The Lincoln MKT is most definitely a winner.  You would be missing out if you did not consider it when purchasing a vehicle in this segment.  I truly believe this is what a Lincoln should be.

Full Disclosure- The review vehicle was provided by Ford

AutoBird Podcast – Esp 31: “Full Spectrum”

Episode 31 starts with introducing this weeks guest Jeremy Sally from Cheers and Gears.  Moving into the garage we talk about the 2011 Lincoln MKT I was in for the 4th of July weekend, along with the 2010 Chevrolet Corvette Grand Sport I was in the past week. We then move along to the major news of the week segment.  This week included-

  • New 2011 Nissan Quest Minivan Images (Link)
  • Wall Street Journal believes Kia isn’t long for the U.S. (Link)
  • Mitsubishi plans on selling electric car for under $30,000 (Link)
  • California ends HOV lane access for Prius and other hybrids
  • 19 year old steals bus and crashes it (Link)
This week we continue with the new segment called car spotting.  Justin spotted a Model A Ford convertible and a Corvette ZR1 in Yosemite.  I spotted a Cadillac CTS-V sedan.
Next came our main topic which was discussing the top 20 vehicles for June 2010 (Link)
Last we plug our respective blogs, Cheers and Gears,  AutoBird Blog and Accelerate Mpls.

Download this episode (right click and save)

AutoBird Podcast – Esp 29: “The Luxury-Like Redux Episode”

Episode 29 starts with introducing this weeks guest Drew Dowdell owner of CheersandGears.  Moving into the garage we talk about the Chevrolet Camaro Colin was in for the past week.  We also take time for a special report on the Local Minneapolis Fisker Karma unveiling that I attended last week.  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 Toyota, finally, although indirectly, is now acknowledging their safety failures for the first time in an ad  which Features their new Star Safety System. This system includes ABS, Electronic Stability Control, and the much needed brake over-ride system. (Link)

Next came our main topic which was discussing Mercury’s death and Lincoln’s future.

Last we plug our respective blogs, Cheers and Gears,  AutoBird Blog and Accelerate Mpls.

Download this episode (right click and save)


Ford Kills Mercury – The World Didn’t Know Mercury Still Existed

Mark this down next to Pontiac, Saturn, Hummer and the rest of the fallen brands (Oldsmobile and a long list we will not go over). Today Ford announced that Mercury is dead. They will wind down by the end of the fourth quarter this year. Remember how Mercury was going to bring back the Tracer based off the new 2012 Ford Focus? Yea that is not going to happen. More attention will be focused on Lincoln and that division will get seven all new or severely refreshed cars. Ecoboost will spread throughout the Lincoln lineup including the next generation Navigator. That essentially just confirmed there will be a next generation Navigator. Ford went on to say that Lincoln will become a technology powerhouse, with more features and better fuel economy than the competition. It also confirmed that a C segment car based off the 2012 Focus will come to Lincoln now. I actually believe that something can be made of Lincoln is Ford really works at it. Ford will have to either really do something and put its weight behind Lincoln like they say, or else it too will probably have to be on the chopping block at some point. Time will tell.

Review – 2010 Buick Enclave

We have heard time and time again that Buick is in a renaissance.  Some told us that the movement started with the Lucerne.  They were misinformed dearly.  The real renaissance movement began with the Enclave.  Buick debuted the Enclave concept at the Detroit Auto Show in January 2006.  That concept came to reality less then a year later debuting as a production vehicle at the L.A. Auto Show later that year.  So the question is simple: is this every bit the car Buick claims it is?  Lets find out.

The outside of the Enclave is really stunning.  From the front fenders that flow into the body to the rear fenders, which pick up and flow into the rear taillights— the lines are stunning.  The headlights are unique and look great both during the day and when lit up at night.  The twenty-inch chrome clad wheels were met with more chrome strewn about the exterior, from the door handles to the rear taillight surrounds.  Chrome was all over the exterior of this vehicle.  I did have one person tell me it was a little flashy for their tastes.  I however think it was tastefully done and not overdone in the least bit.  The traditional Buick waterfall grille still resides in the front reminding you that yes, indeed this is a Buick.  Though you might be shocked to find this out by looking around the vehicle.

Inside the stunning looks continue.  Wood is literally everywhere.  Well when we use the term wood we use that generously.  The wood is actually plastic with only the wood on the steering wheel being real mahogany.  With that said, it does not look bad.  The design is aesthetically pleasing and very upscale.  The center stack has an analogue clock at the top.  The climate control set up and the radio/navigation is shared with the other lambda-based vehicles (Chevrolet Traverse, GMC Acadia and the now dead Saturn Outlook).  The second row seats can be had in either a three-person bench seat or two captains chairs.  This is a no cost option and I personally liked the captain seating option, though it is not quite as practical since you lose a seat.  The third row folds flat and is standard.  This is mainly a space for children though an adult could manage for a quick trip across town.  The dual laminated glass keeps things extremely quite inside even on the highway.  Even with the third row up you still have room for luggage or groceries.  The interior—like the exterior—is definitely tastefully done.

The powertrain is shared with the other lambda vehicles as well.  Equipped with a 3.6 liter direct injection V6 that puts out 288 hp and 270 ft-lb to either the front or all four wheels.  The power is handled by a one-choice six speed automatic transmission, which does have a manual shift capability.  The steering is noticeably boosted and is light to the touch.  This is not a barnburner but it has enough power to get up and merge onto a freeway.  Though I would not suggest racing your next-door neighbors Porsche Cayenne to the country club for pinks, for you will lose.

The Enclave I had was  CXL-2 which is the top trim level.  Equipped with every option other then the all wheel drive the sticker price rang in at $47,355 including destination.  This included such options as the audio system with navigation and DVD, power sunroof with second row skylight and the twenty-inch chrome clad wheels.  The navigation system is the older touch screen unit supplied by Delphi, which is DVD-based rather then hard drive based.  This is a tad slower then the new hard drive based unit supplied by Alpine in the new Cadillacs.  I am hoping this gets upgraded soon.  Also the rear seat entertainment, which as part of the audio system package mentioned earlier, drops down from the roof that puts the screen right in the way of your rear view mirror.  The newer models from GM are using dual flip up monitors on the back of the front seats.  This too hopefully will be upgraded sooner rather then later.  Another feature that was missing was auto up windows.  Only the driver’s window was equipped with the auto up feature.  In this price range that is almost commonplace and a little strange.

One of the biggest downfalls of the lambdas is their weight.  They are almost obese, weighing in at almost 5000 lbs (4780 to be exact).  You can most definitely feel the engine pulling all this weight around.  The EPA rates the fuel mileage at 17/24 for the front wheel drive model I was in.  I did manage to average 17.3 mpg in the city and did not have the chance to truly test the highway rating.  These are fairly decent numbers especially compared to some of the competition.

In this price range you are deep in luxury SUV territory with players such as the Acura MDX and the Lincoln MKT, among others.  The question is simple: is the Enclave a worthy competitor?  I would say it is definitely a vehicle I would recommend, but it will not be for everyone.  The Enclave to me feels bigger then the MDX and is really just a different personality than MKT.  All three are really nice vehicles and the Enclave is definitely class competitive.  While some upgrades are needed as time has passed, the Enclave is still the competitive looker it was when it made its debut.


Full Disclosure- The review vehicle was provided by General Motors

Review – 2010 Cadillac SRX Turbo

After my first run in with the SRX I had strong opinions, both good and bad.  The new SRX is a valid contender in this automotive segment and pushes the envelope for Cadillac both in quality and as a class competitive product.  My largest gripe was that the base powertrain is weak and affected the driving experience.  A simple question: would the optional turbo V6 engine fix the driving experience?

The main highlight of the SRX Turbo is larger engine which is funny because the engine in not actually larger because it is a 2.8 liter while the base V6 is a 3.0 liter.  The extra power in the this V6 really comes from the turbo, putting out 300 hp and 295 ft-lb to all four wheels all with max torque coming at 2000 rpm.  The all wheel drive system is the torque vectoring unit from Haldex.  This is the same unit that made its debut in the now dead Saab TurboX a few years back and can transfer up to 90% of the torque to the rear wheels at any given time.  The torque can also be distributed between the wheels side to side.  All of this gets put to the ground through a six speed automatic transmission with manual shift capabilities.  So the question still remains:  does this extra power fix the SRX driving experience?

The answer is yes and no.  Yes, the driving experience is much better.  In fact, leaps and bounds better.  In normal and spirited driving the car does not feel strained like the base 3.0 liter V6.  Even pulling away from a stoplight, you notice the difference.  In normal driving the engine does not feel like it is working hard.  The revs are easily kept under 3ooo rpm’s unless pushed.  When pushed, the engine responds quickly with no noticeable lag.  The turbo is going almost constantly whenever you have your foot on the gas.  Something to note is that you cannot put the needle into the red on the turbo gauge.  Why would you have the red there when you cannot put the needle in that zone?  The first thing people said to me was to put it in the red and I had to respond sadly, “It does not go that high.”

The downside to this engine is the gas mileage.  Rated at 15/22, this engine could definitely be described as thirsty.  I cannot decide what is worse about the mileage;  the fact that it is just terrible for this vehicle class, or that it is coming from the engine putting out the power that this vehicle really needs.  That mileage is no joke either.  I averaged 15.3 mpg during the week and it is worth noting that the gas it is guzzling requires premium.  I did not really stretch the SRX Turbo’s legs so I cannot comment on the highway mileage though I can assume that it matched the EPA rating pretty close to dead on.  Again, that city mileage is really not good and is so bad that it starts to dip into body-on-frame SUV mileage.  For example, the much larger body-on-frame Chevrolet Tahoe is rated at 15 mpg in the city with a V8.  If SRX Turbo engine had direct injection it would post better fuel mileage numbers and would be more competitive.

As mentioned in my previous review of the SRX, the interior styling is very well done. The materials all look and feel great. It uses the center stack from the CTS (minus the tiny climate control screens on each side) and the door handles are uniquely shaped.  These little details help set it apart. That said, the back seat is somewhat short on leg room with a taller driver.  The cargo area has a terrific cargo management system with sliding tie down brackets and there is a decent sized storage cubby below the rear floor that can hold items away from public view.

The styling is terrific.  I am still undecided about the front air dam being so low and whether it makes it look better or worse.  The rear taillights hark back to the “tailfins” on older Cadillac’s and play nicely with the overall design.  The rear diffuser finishes off the rear while integrating the exhaust into the overall design.  The A-pillars in this vehicle are ridiculously huge and they make sight lines a problem in a few instances and the rear window is tiny and makes visibility awkward so the back up camera is definitely useful in a parking lot.  The twenty inch wheels fill out the wheel wells nicely and look great because they are painted aluminum wheels instead of chrome plated.  Another thing that still bugs me is the GM chiclet.  I mentioned this in my original review, and again, I assume the tooling was already set before the decision to ditch this “Mark of Excellence” was made.

The SRX Turbo I had was a premium model with almost all of the bells and whistles.  The rear seat entertainment system package with dual rear screens and wireless headsets with remote adds $1,295 to this package and  I like the way this system is set up with screens in the back of the seats and separate video inputs for each.  The second option was the crystal red tintcoat which will set you back $995.  All said, including destination fees, the total sticker price of this particular SRX Turbo came to $54,475.

I want to take a second to talk about the competition.  The SRX is really going head to head with the Lexus RX. It was developed and bench marked against that vehicle and the marketing pitches it that way.  As I mentioned earlier, the price on this SRX Turbo was close to $55,000 and that is a lot of coin while there are a lot of other great vehicles for that price.  The SRX Turbo starts under $50,000, for that price you can get a nicely equipped Acura MDX or an Ecoboost Lincoln MKT and, while the Ecoboost MKT is a much larger vehicle, it just goes to show the breadth of this segment and price range.

There must be something about the SRX because each time I have had the vehicle we have gotten whacked with lots of snow here in Minneapolis.  The SRX Turbo handled it like a champ plowing through the white stuff with the all wheel drive sending power to the wheels with traction.  It felt weird but sometimes I thought the electronic stability control was slow to kick in.  The front wheel drive SRX handled the snow with its low profile, all season tires better than expected, so this all wheel drive version had absolutely no issues.

As with the other SRX I reviewed, I do like this vehicle.  When you compare it with the direct competitor, the Lexus RX, you see the SRX is a more engaging and dynamic vehicle.  The optional turbo powertrain definitely fixes the anemic feeling but at the large expense of gas mileage and in reality, the bulk of the SRX’s sold will be equipped with the base 3.0 liter V6 and that engine will be fine for those who are more concerned with the gas mileage.  For those who really want to take the SRX to its full potential, you will have to take the hit on the gas mileage and option for the turbo V6.


Full Disclosure- The review vehicle was provided by General Motors

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 Lincoln MKX Revealed

2011 Lincoln MKX

The current Lincoln MKX is not a bad vehicle.  It is just not an outstanding vehicle.  It has decent looks on the exterior with a nice interior but lots of hard plastic.  The engine is nothing to write home about and nothing really stand out overall.  Lincoln is looking to change all that with the new 2011 MKX.

The 2011 MKX will be the first vehicle to feature MyLincoln.  This is the system that was revealed last week at CES.  It works in conjunction with the latest iteration of Microsoft SYNC.  The MyLincoln system takes the MyFord system one step further with sliders.  Customers can swipe their finger along the screen to change stereo volume or fan temperature.  In addition to the standard HD radio, you now have iTunes tagging which is a first in a factory installed HD radio.  When you hear a song you like you can push the TAG button.  The songs information is then stored on the cars stereo.  When an iPod is plugged into the SYNC system it transfers the song information (up to 100 songs can be stored at a time).  When the iPod is plugged into a computer with iTunes next it will transfer this new playlist and you may purchase the songs.

MyLincoln

Other technologies included in the new MKX include adaptive cruise control and collision warning with brake support.  A blind spot information system along with Cross Traffic Alert is a feature that can help detect vehicles in your blind spot.  The cross traffic alert system can help detect traffic approaching from the sides when reversing out of parking spots.  Lincoln’s MyKey and Easy Fuel Capless fuel system are also standard.

The exterior of the 2011 MKX is modern with flowing design.  The design is embracing the signature Lincoln split-wing grille.  The body has new brightwork and the treatments for taillamps and exhaust tips finish off the new look.  18 inch wheels are now standard while 20 inch wheels are optional.  The new rear taillamps are now two distinct pieces that are employing an indirect LED system which hides the light source while still allowing light to shine through.  The exhaust tips are now 4-inches in diameter.

Ford’s internal preliminary data show the 2011 MKX scores better in speech recognition, wind noise and sound package than competitors from Lexus and Audi.  Lincoln is utilizing sound pack and acoustic glass the reduce noise levels inside the MKX.

Larger brake rotors are included in the refresh for enhanced braking power.  Also included are key brake related features.  Hill Start Assist which helps reduce rollback on hills while Trailer Sway Control helps with towing stability.

The 2011 MKX is getting more power and better efficiency which is never a bad combination.  Power is being supplied by a 3.7 liter Duratec V6.  This 3.7 liter is not low tech, featuring Ti-VCT (Twin Independent Variable Camshaft Timing) which helps increase horsepower and torque while improving fuel economy.  The 3.7 liter will provide best in class power over other competitors V6’s while achieving best in class 25 mpg on the highway all on regular fuel.  Pushing out 305 hp and 280 ft-lb to either the front wheels or through optional all wheel drive.  The power is handled through a six speed SelectShift automatic with manual shift capabilities.  The manual mode the transmission does not over ride the drivers selection.  Upshifts will not come at redline if the driver does not request them.

“Everything about the 2011 Lincoln MKX is vibrant and luxurious,” said Bannon. “Our MyLincoln Touch system will draw people in, helping them discover that the new Lincoln MKX delivers a total driving experience not found anywhere else.”

More power, luxury refinement are things that are necessary to stay in the game.  Lincoln is playing for keeps and bringing all of the necessary changes.  It seems the luxury crossover market keeps heating up and it looks like things just got a bit hotter.