Category Archive:

2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee: One More Gear Tames the HEMI

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It was about a year ago when I first got my hands on the new-for-2011 model year Jeep Grand Cherokee.  Looking bigger, better and more refined than ever, the Grand Cherokee had a few nit picks that could have made it just the teensiest bit better.  For 2012, Jeep decided to make a few of these changes.  Let’s check ’em out.


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2013 Lexus GS … Less Kinder… Less Gentler

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For more than a few years Lexus has been working towards creating a more exciting driving experience. The LFA and IS F are certainly worthy vehicles for those inclined to a vehicle that generates passion. But those two vehicles are certainly the Lexus exceptions. While the LFA and IS prove that Lexus can make engaging vehicles, they don’t prove that Lexus is about engaging vehicles. The 2013 Lexus GS is designed to change that. With the age of a Lexus buyer knocking on sixty’s door, it makes sense that this move could help the brand in the long run. We had the opportunity to see first hand if Lexus’ mainstream GS could move the needle towards automotive passion.


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NHTSA Unfairly Burns the Volt’s Reputation

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If there is one thing that bothers me is the notion of guilty until proven innocent.  Go and visit other countries and this is the way of life there.  Not so in the U.S., unless you work for NHTSA.  Recent headlines have said that the Volt is basically a tinderbox on wheels…when you have a side impact with a light pole or tree.  Statistically unproven and contrary to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety findings that the Volt is a safe vehicle for the masses.


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2012 Audi TT RS: Money Can Indeed Buy Happiness

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There are two things that I have daydreamed about for years.  The first is an Audi RS 4 Cabriolet in my garage.  The second is to have a place to drive that RS 4, like, say, maybe, my own personal race track?  My dream got about as close to reality as it ever will a few weeks ago in a remote part of the Catskill Mountains.   


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2012 Kia Rio5: Another Great Small Car? Here We Go Again.

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This is almost becoming repetitive.  How many times have we reviewed a new small entry level car and declared it filled to the brim with style, features, performance, and personality?  It’s gotten to the point where I was searching hard for another angle with this all-new 2012 Kia Rio5 that I recently got to drive in Austin, Texas, but as it turns out, I’m going to have to essentially tell you the same story again.


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Over Twenty-One Million Served

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In car design, the redesign of an icon is always a challenge. The 2012 beetle, in showrooms this October, will be a test of just how far styling changes and overall sophistication can take a vehicle that’s original appeal was its retro character.


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2011 Chevrolet Volt: No Fear of the B.S.O.D. with this Tech-Laden Halo

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In November of 2010, General Motors delivered on a promise they made to start producing the Chevrolet Volt.  Just after production started I had the opportunity to spend a day with a Volt.  While it was a very interesting car to drive for a day, I wasn’t sure what it would be like to drive a vehicle that had the ability to be plugged in, so Chevrolet let me drive one for a week earlier this year.


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2012 Nissan Versa Sedan Lowest Price New Car, or Is It?

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There are no bad cars.  It’s been years since I’ve seen a really bad car to be sold as new in the USA.  Maybe the not lamented Chrysler Sebring came close before it evolved into the Chrysler 200 for 2011.  So, as the new V-Platform Nissan Versa is poised to be launched for the 2012 model year as the lowest price new car available in the USA you wonder if a new car priced so low is a bad car?  The answer is a resounding no.  But with the Versa and new Hyundai Accent arriving almost concurrently on the market it begs brief comparison.

2012 Nissan Versa Sedan

2012 Hyundai Accent Sedan


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2011 Hyundai Elantra: Breaking the Paradigm of Econoboxes

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First we had the Sonata and now we have the Elantra.  The Sonata was the direct hit to the gut but the Elantra is the uppercut that no one saw coming.  Gunning for the respect of Hyundai naysayers, the Elantra delivers the quality, fuel economy, and price tag that will change minds and make believers.

While other automakers have raised the price of their new c-segment vehicles to make them in America with a profit, Hyundai has changed the game again.  Hyundai seems to be bucking the trend these days of lofty price tags.  The Elantra is a stylish value package assembled in the good ol’ U.S. of A. that needs to be at the top of your test drive list.


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Just a Party?

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SEMA Floor.JPG
VehicleVoice just got back from the 2010 Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) Show in Las Vegas. Talk about a party. After two years of cautious optimism, this year’s show gave the impression that things are looking brighter. From Toyota’s Swagger Wagon Supreme to Audi’s V-10-powered R8 Spyder boasting 710 hp, the show reminded us of the glory days. No doubt, the SEMA show is less outrageous than in the past, and that’s a good thing. But this year’s show seemed to shrug off the negative vibes of consumer confidence, replacing them with a healthy dose of fun.
With significant OEM participation in the show, one has to ask, “Is this just about the aftermarket? Does the aftermarket fuel new vehicle sales?”
AutoPacific recently conducted research into this subject for SEMA and reached some interesting results.
• Modifiers are vocal: Over one-third of them give car-buying advice to five or more people in a given year.
• Modifiers are influenced by parts and accessories availability when they make a new vehicle purchase: Twenty-nine percent indicated that the availability of parts for their vehicle influenced them to buy that vehicle versus a different vehicle.
• Non-modifiers are influenced by customized vehicles: Eleven percent of non-modifiers surveyed indicated that a customized vehicle influenced them to purchase that particular vehicle.
When you add up the affect of aftermarket parts on both modifiers and non-modifiers, AutoPacific estimates that over 1.3 million new vehicle sales are positively influenced in a ten million year. That’s impressive. Perhaps the photos below tell a story that includes a lot more than a party.
SEMA Honda.jpg
SEMA AUDI.JPG
SEMA SCION.JPG
SEMA Off-Road.jpg

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