Will the Ford Fiesta Change Your Mind About Small Cars?

Pundit after pundit has stated that Americans don’t like small cars. To that, I say hogwash. Take a look at the roadways around your town and you might come to a different conclusion. There are plenty of small cars on our streets and their numbers will quickly rise as the tightened federal fuel economy rules kick in.

The good news is that small cars can be a blast to drive. The new 2011 Ford Fiesta is a perfect case-in-point. Forget about the tin-can connotations of the sub-compact class. While the Fiesta’s exterior dimensions are tiny, it feels like a much larger and more substantial car when you’re behind the wheel. With an affordable price tag, an excellent cabin (including Microsoft SYNC), and fuel economy that beats many hybrid cars, the Fiesta is a compelling package.

Ford has taken a bold approach to marketing the new Fiesta, from the initial Fiesta Movement – where 100 Euro-spec Fiestas were loaned to “Fiesta Agents” for a six month social media experiment – to the latest 43 Fiestas promotion that wraps rally racing, NASCAR, and some Ken Block craziness into a reason to go out and try something new.

[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/yV0ZZasAWjw" width="350" height="288" wmode="transparent" /]

Reference: 2011 Ford Fiesta Review

Would You Buy a New SUV?

It might be argued that America has all the big SUVs it needs and that we needn’t build any more. But the times – and the SUVs – they are a changin’. Sport Utility Vehicles are rapidly giving way to Crossovers. V8 engines are on their way out, with V6 and four cylinder engines filling the void. The introduction of the new 2011 Ford Explorer is a case-in point … the old V8 is gone, as is the frame-based construction.

If you want to buy a new Explorer, you’ll have to choose between a V6 and a turbocharged direct-injected four-cylinder “EcoBoost” engine. Given the times, Ford’s move to smaller engines is necessary. Folks don’t want to give up their big vehicles but demand higher fuel efficiency.

Take a look at the numbers being put out by the new V6s and four-cylinder engines and you might just be surprised. Better yet, take a few test drives. You might just find that torque, horsepower, and fuel efficiency trump the number of cylinders.

Resource: New SUV Reviews

New Nissan Juke For 2011 Should Turn Heads; Which Way The Heads Will Turn Is The Real Question

Call it unique styling, but the Nissan Juke for 2011 is, well, different. The styling of the new car will turn heads. But the real question is which way will heads turn? Toward the new Juke or away from it? The new car from Nissan is scheduled for release this fall as a 2011 model with some kick-ass features like a 180 hp 4 cylinder turbo engine. The buyer will have the choice of a 6 speed manual or Nissan’s own CVT transmission, which I have in my Rogue. The CVT transmission is also unique since it doesn’t shift like a conventional transmission, and eliminates any feeling of gears up or down shifting.

The Nissan Juke also is going to employ 17″ tires, P215/55R to be exact, and with the available AWD promises some road hugging performance. But performance will not be the only thing that the Juke will be offering. Other toys will include hidden door handles for rear seat entry, Bluetooth, navigation system, Intellikey, and a moon-roof  just to name a few options that will be available.

Nissan states that pricing for the new Juke will start under $20,000 when first introduced.

I am still trying to decide whether I like the styling change. What do you think?

Comments welcome.

Source -Autoblog – Nissan Press Release

2010 GMC Terrain & Chevy Equinox SUVs: Downsized or Rightsized?

For many American families, giving up that treasured Sport Utility Vehicle (SUV) would be like swearing off apple pie. But change is clearly afoot, with the popularity of the 2010 Chevy Equinox and GMC Terrain marking a turning point. Although GM’s new fuel-efficient five-passenger twins might be marketed as Crossover Utility Vehicles (CUVs), many folks would simply refer to them as SUVs.

Fuel efficiency is key to the popularity of these two, with willing four-cylinder engines and slick aerodynamics that deliver highway gas mileage at the top of their class. For families trading out of a larger traditional SUV, the Equinox and Terrain can save a significant amount of money spent at the gas pump, without sacrificing interior space and comfort. (For families that have the need, a more powerful V6 engine is available.)

Like many GM vehicles in the past, the Equinox and Terrain share their underpinnings – engines, suspensions, and most mechanical bits – but present different faces to the world, with radical differences in exterior styling. The Terrain’s distinctive bulging fender and expansive chrome grille leave no question that it’s a GMC. The Equinox follows a more generic crossover design that fits in, rather than stands out from the crowd of current crossovers.

Inside the cabin, it’s difficult to tell the difference between the two … but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Both the Equinox and Terrain soak up the miles, with roomy, comfortable, and flexible interiors that are well suited to carrying large folks. A full range of entertainment is available with USB iPod integration and optional seat back LCDs.

Don’t stick a fork in the SUV just yet …


2010 Chevy Equinox Review

2010 GMC Terrain Review

Is A Buick SUV Crossover Hybrid Plug In On The Way?

GM may be in the process of gearing up for production of a Buick SUV crossover that will be a hybrid. The new vehicle is said to have either a 4 or 6 cylinder engine with an electric motor powered by a lithium battery pack, similar to the GM Volt.

Over at GM Volt they describe the new Buick as being:

Today GM has confirmed this and released a teaser image of the upcoming vehicle.

“Buick has always been at the forefront of new technology, so it is only fitting that the brand should debut our new plug-in hybrid technology in a beautiful new crossover,” said GM vice chairman Tom Stephens. “This will firmly put Buick, and GM, front and center in the advanced technology game.”

The plug-in hybrid version will follow in 2011 and is expected to be the first commercially available plug-in hybrid SUV produced by a major automaker.

The hybrid will have an 8 kwh lithium-ion battery pack, using the same lithium manganese spinel cells as the Volt, supplied by LG Chem, who will be building a lithium-ion battery factory in Michigan set to open in 2012.

“LG Chem – the supplier of our battery cells for the Volt – has also been selected to supply the lithium-ion cells for the new Buick plug-in hybrid, and its Troy, Mich.-based subsidiary Compact Power will supply the pack,” said Stephens.

The plugin hybrid can operate on either gas, electricity or both depending on the driving conditions. It differs from the Volt in that the gas engine can be in operation at any time, not just after 40 miles. Using this technology the vehicle is expected to achieve at least double the efficiency of a gas version of that car. This could amount to more than 70 MPG.

The engine for the plug hybrid will be a 3.6L V-6 flex-fuel, and the car will also contain two powerful electric motors and sophisticated electronic controls.

Here is a sneak peak:

It should interesting to see if Buick and GM can pull this off. It will also be interesting to see how much these electric hybrids will cost us.

Comments welcome.


What if an SUV Best Suits Your Needs?

There are some among the anti-SUV crowd that refuse to accept that a great number of folks actually do need the space that can only be found in a SUV or minivan. For those who eschew the minivan, an SUV is the only choice when there’s people and stuff to be hauled.

The trick is to find the best SUV to meet your specific needs. When you take both new and used models into consideration, there’s never been more choices.

Nevertheless, it’s pretty darn tough these days to justify a Hummer H2 over a less conspicuous SUV. (The wheels wont be long before they fall off that beast, whether or not a buyer is found.)

The good news right now is that dealers lots are bursting with unwanted SUVs. While gasoline prices have dropped considerably this fall, SUV prices are mired at bargain basement levels. Dealers are dealing and buyers wield leverage, given the raft of special offers and price reductions.

For those that don’t want to understand, tough luck.

Hauling a carful of kids around is a huge responsibility. It should never be a burden.

Do You Need A Bailout? I Do

As our congress struggles with a bailout bill, some are now calling it a rescue bill, it is interesting to note that others around the country are seeking assistance as well. Which makes one wonder. How many of us will get bailed out? If I go down and buy something I can’t afford, I would hope that I would get some help from the federal government. After all, I am a good taxpayer and have paid my taxes in a timely matter. Should I not receive the same courtesy afforded those who have mismanaged their budgets?

GM wants help since they now understand that an electric car is not such a bad idea. They have come to the realization that the days of the big V-8 in huge SUV’s or trucks is coming to an end. GM only wants $25 billion for their missteps.

In this mornings edition of the LA Times, California’s governor says his state may also need a bailout. The governor indicates that California may run out of funds to pay state employees and others. It’s only a $7 billion loan.

So in looking at my personal finances for this year, I may spend more than I take in. Next year I want to vacation in Europe and may not have sufficient funds to do so. I just have one question?  Where do I apply to be bailed out? :-)

What about you? Do you need some free cash?

Comments welcome.

LA Times article.

Do You Own A KIA?

One of the beauty parts about blogging, is not only the information I get to share with my readers, but also your comments and observations. Since I started here at LG back in October 2006, I have covered a variety of subjects, most of which have been about computer technology. Once in awhile I toss in a subject that is of interest to me and in which I solicit your comments and opinions. I have been extremely fortunate in that I feel I have gained just as much information from my readers as I have presented.

With this in mind I want to share a piece of my life as it relates to automobiles.  During my existence on planet Earth I have owned some 19 different makes of cars, 17 of which have been American made. So in February 2007 when it came time to replace the family chariot, I was extremely excited with the prospects of car payments once again. I think we will all agree that owning a car, while a necessity in our lives, is one of the biggest money wasting items we can ever purchase.  I always say if I had all of the money I spent on cars, gas, auto insurance, maintenance and so forth, I could of bought a villa in Monte Carlo. :-)

So my wife Jackie and I were making the rounds of car lots, looking at the new beauties available. We happened to stumble into a KIA dealership and were looking at the different models.We wanted something that was luxurious, stylish, sporty, bottom line, something that was CHEAP! She spotted a KIA Sportage that she liked and felt she could maneuver easily around town. Priced at about $18K it had everything we needed. We went home to contemplate our purchase. I wasn’t sure if a KIA was right for us. I was concerned since it was so inexpensive, how well it would be built. I was impressed with the 10 yr./100,000 mile warranty as well as six airbags and ESC [Electronic Stability Control].

I was looking on the Internet on the KIA site and noticed they had a special lease for the Sportage. We could lease it for 30 months and if we didn’t like it bring it back.  Why not. So we ended up with a new SUV for 30 months that we had the option to either give back to the dealer or buy when the lease ended.

Well after 16 months of ownership we are still enjoying driving our KIA. The fit and finish of the vehicle is great. Our KIA is a well built vehicle that is easy to drive and the mileage is respectable, but not great. 21/29 m.p.g. The ECS is a nice feature but a little suprising when it kicks in, which has only happened once. Last winter I made a turn onto a street with black ice, The ass end started to swing around and bang, in kicked the ECS which straightened out the vehicle and also slowed the speed until control was gained.

Overall I give our KIA a 10/10. But what about you other KIA owners? What do you think?

Comments welcome.

Where Are the 35 MPG Cars and SUVs? Never Mind, They're Here…

I waded into the chat room last night to talk with Chris about an article I’d just written about 35 mile per gallon (MPG) cars and SUVs. The article’s a bit of an eye-opener in these economically troubled times, but it comes down to some little known facts and a strange twist of market fate. How strange, you ask?

Did you know that there are half a dozen diesel-powered 35 MPG vehicles that are manufactured here in North America right now, but cannot be sold to Americans? That’s 35 MPG combined …

Needless to say, the conversation caught fire. I didn’t have the faculties to follow the rapid fire stream of chat … the topic spurred quite a bit of controversy, it was late, and my eyes were just about done for the day. There was no way I could keep up with the comments.

So I copied and pasted the log, in order to more fully understand where folks were coming from.

While it seemed like a good many folks fully understood the benefits and realities of modern diesel engines – perhaps because of the international crowd – there was still an undercurrent of misunderstanding from the portion of the American audience that may have lacked the exposure to clean diesel technology.

Truth be told, I had never driven an diesel-powered vehicle (other than a backhoe, once or twice) until earlier this winter, when I spent two wonderful weeks with a diesel-powered Jeep Grand Cherokee. That experience only served to pique my interest in diesels, which lead to my doing the research on said article.

Needless to say, I’m sold on diesel. Hybrids can be fantastic in town, but out on the open road, over long distance, diesel is king …

Article: 35 MPG – Why Wait Until 2020?

Which SUVs Get The Best Gas Mileage?

It’s not news that the common SUV carries the stereotype of gas guzzler … but not all SUVs are created equal. Some SUVs are far more fuel-efficient than others. While some SUVs get absolutely dreadful gas mileage, others are downright thrifty, considering the loads they can carry … pulling down as much as 26 – 29 miles per gallon on the highway. That’s not too shabby … nor is 31 MPG in the city …

Do you know which SUVs get the best gas mileage?

Only a handful are hybrids and believe it or not, the most thrifty models aren’t even imports.

While the majority of SUVs use conventional gasoline engines, a pair of the most fuel-efficient imported luxury SUVs have long-lifespan diesels under the hood. But these aren’t your funny uncle’s diesels, by any means …

Resource: 2007’s Best Gas Mileage SUVs

[tags]SUV, hybrid car[/tags]