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2009 Nissan Altima Hybrid

2009 Nissan Altima Hybrid

Baseborn Monetary value (using location): $twenty-seven,

345 Selling price since examined
: $33,855 Possibilities:
 Appliance Package - $1300 - Back end Pamperer
, Power Directors Seats, Intelligent Front lights,
 Buckskin-Covered Steering Wheel,
 Wood-Firmness Toned Finishers Link Parcel - $3100 - Leather-Appointive Seating & Switch Penis, Excited The front Seats,
 Bose vi Compact disc Changer,
 Wireless bluetooth Telephone system
 XM Satellite tv on pc Airwaves,
 Back Any/Hundred Ports Technological innovation Package - $2000 - Machine Nav Technique,
 Hybrid Muscularity Circulation Present,
XM NavTraffic,
Rearview Observe Floor Yoga mats Established - $cx Fuel Economy: thirty five / thirty three / xxxiv mpg (town/hwy/mixed) Motor: two.5 various Actu DOHC some-Cylinder Locomotive Horse power: 198 hp . p . (World wide web; Serp - 158 horsepower @ 5200 - 6000 rev)
 Torque: 162 pound-feet @ 2800 - 4800 rpm Electric powered Powerplant:
 Permanent magnet Air conditioning synchronous,
 40 h . p . Net Horsepower: 198 hewlett packard Transmitting:
 Digitally governed Consistently Adjustable Pounds:
 iii,471 single pound Bicycle/Exhaust Data: - 16" x 8.nought" Light weight aluminum-blend added wheels (measurement) - P215/60TR-xvi Just about all-season automobile

How to use luxury vehicle

Are you are you searching for a luxury car? You will require to discover how to detect one by exploring on models, brands, tolls and features. At the same time, it is critical to present your well being while using latest manners in gilded cars and trucks, choices that can be purchased to you, and contested units of measurement. You have to seek leasing choices as up against making a direct hire. As you can imagine, the fiscal panoramas will count found on your programmed financial position and entirely possible discounts. At this tip, you really need to get down looking around for the producer or bargainer who is able to bid the best deal to clients. 

Those things is barely your opening move?. 

Look at the state of the art home characteristics and controls condition. You we expect the bargainer to explain the roles of each and system of procedures in detail. This particular is absolutely not simply ordinary car so i0ensure to comprehend the ways bespoke in the manual completely. 

Get familiar your well being together with the engine. Majority of opulence machines have high performance engines. Nonetheless, the constituents will be rather perplexed so look up a pro who is going to point you with every modest item. 

This is during the time you should tackle the extraneous visual aspect. Sumptuousness cars look shiny and graceful. These individuals have become cooked up chiefly for grandness, speed, brilliant performance and lavish comfortableness. This design of trips is not really intended for functionality and convenience alone. 

Purchasing a luxuriousness vehicle imply that you'd like higher respect and identification in social lots. These cars are thought for the rich and reputable personalities in club. When you drive a opulence car ahead of a slogan constitution, you will sure enough purchase the nod of people around. 

The luxury car should be equipped with sophisticated safety gear such as traction and stability mechanisms, anti-lock brake systems and modern air bags. You should also look for changeable pedals, unique head support, telescoping steering wheels, and warning mechanisms for tire pressure. 

Expensive vehicles have pricey accessories and exquisite upholstery. You can compare the interiors of this car to the most modern, five-star hotel. Thus, you should look forward to reclining car seats, cooled storage bins, self-parking configuration, collision-warning device, and suspensions that have automatic adjustment.

2012 BMW 3 Series

2012 BMW 3 Series

Building a new BMW 3 Series is likely one of the more nerve-wracking jobs in the automotive business. On one hand, you start with excellent raw material and a simple corporate mandate: Don't botch it. Yet a new 3 Series must also push the edges of performance, redefine the market segment and excite the BMW faithful. It also has to persuade skeptical shoppers and seduce the cautious. All this is required of the 2012 BMW 328i.

BMW can't afford to miss with the 2012 version of the 3 Series, the sixth generation of the model. The previous car accounted for more than a third of BMW's sales in North America last year. Any serious miscue risks sending buyers into rival showrooms, where the Audi A4, Infiniti G or Mercedes-Benz C-Class sedans all merit serious consideration.
2012 BMW 3 Series

The good news is that BMW hasn't missed. The new 3 Series has evolved in ways both subtle and significant. But it's not without risk. The new 3 Series has grown a little bigger. It now offers a four-cylinder engine in this base model, the 2012 BMW 328i. The steering of the 3 Series has gone electric, the digital equivalent of a once sacred act now controlled by the demons of electricity. We'd even say that the 3 Series has traded some sport for luxury.

But so far we'd say that we're OK with that.

BMW has taken a gamble equipping the base model BMW 328i with an inline-4 engine instead of the inline-6 that has long been synonymous with BMW's heritage. And yet the new turbocharged four-cylinder engine for the 328i marks a return to the beginnings of the 3 Series; the BMW 3 Series arrived in the U.S. in 1977 with a 2.0-liter inline-4 and used different variants of this engine until an inline-6 was introduced in 1986. The inline-4 even made a brief return in 1988 in the beloved, high-performance M3, and then again in the unloved 318ti hatchback, sold in the U.S. between 1995 and 1998.
2012 BMW 3 Series

But where the 318ti's wimpy 1.8-liter engine deserved derision, the new turbocharged 2.0-liter in the 2012 BMW 328i might be one of the company's best yet. BMW claims 240 horsepower from the turbo-4, and Edmunds testing suggests that the actual output is even a little bit more.

The 2.0-liter turbo also makes slightly more than its rated 255 pound-feet of torque, which begins building from 1,250 rpm. This newfound low-end thrust makes the 328i even more playful on winding roads than many of its predecessors. Where previous versions of the 3 Series with an inline-6 thrilled us from the middle portions of the rpm range to the redline, the 328i with its turbo-4 does some of its best work early in the rpm range, making the car tractable and easy to drive around town while still contributing to an overall character of alertness.

In Edmunds testing, a 2012 BMW 328i with the standard six-speed manual transmission accelerated from a standstill to 60 mph in 5.9 seconds. More impressive is the new engine's ability to deliver excellent fuel economy. This 328i car is EPA rated at 23 city/34 highway mpg and 27 mpg combined, plus it recorded 25 mpg while in our hands.

This fuel savings carries something of a price in performance, however. The new 328i features electric-assist power steering, which improves engine efficiency while compromising communication from the front tires. Aficionados of the 3 Series might notice a little less feedback from the steering wheel — for them, the optional all-hydraulic, rpm-controlled variable-ratio system can help improve communication — but we think most drivers won't give the electric-assist, speed-controlled system a second thought.

While the 2012 BMW 3 Series comes standard with front and side curtain airbags, a more structurally rigid body and various optional safety systems (blind spot detection and lane departure warning among others), the braking performance of this 328i base model is a bit disappointing. It stops from 60 mph in 115 feet; it's not a bad result but still longer than the car's rivals (could these 225/45R18 Goodyear Efficient Grip tires be responsible?). The 328i also exhibited signs of brake fade, as repeated stops led to longer distances sooner than we would have liked.

The 2012 BMW 3 Series is nearly 4 inches longer than its predecessor, yet designers tucked the body in all around, so less metal hangs off the front and rear ends. And despite the growth, increased use of aluminum in the suspension and body panels helps reduce the 328i's weight by a useful 90 pounds.

Most important, larger dimensions give rear-seat passengers more room than before. Legroom is up by nearly three-quarters of an inch and knees gain an additional half-inch of breathing room. It's a slight but noticeable improvement in the rear-seat experience, reinforcing the ability of the 3 Series to perform as a multitasking compact sedan. Trunk space is also generous, with 17 cubic feet accommodating a few suitcases or a very impulsive shopping binge.

Up front, even the standard seats express the performance legacy of the 3 Series. Well-defined with side bolsters that embrace torso and thighs, the driver seat is a wonderful place for any stretch of driving. Opting for the Sport seats only improves the driver's sense of command over the car, so every long corner becomes an entertaining thrill.

Although the 2012 BMW 328i marks an entrance to the BMW brand, there is nothing entry-level about the interior. Thick faux-leather material wraps tightly across interior panels that fit together as if by organic fusion. Compartment doors open and shut with muted, smoothly controlled action. The center stack with its audio and climate controls is canted 7 degrees toward the driver for better access. This level of detail makes the 3 Series feel solid to the touch, and it proves a daily reminder of money well spent.

The iDrive multimedia interface in the 3 Series has become one of the best in the business, a small array of control knob and complementary buttons just forward of the center armrest. Unlike a touchscreen, the iDrive system never requires a driver to avert his eyes to guide fingers to the display. Instead just steal a quick glance at the freestanding iDrive monitor on the dash — a high-resolution color unit similar to a large iPhone on its side — while wading through navigation, entertainment and system menus with your hand on the control knob, just like a home computer and mouse. Opting for the available Technology package and BMW Apps suite can turn your iPhone into a jukebox that can stream online music, or a tool capable of reserving a table at Ruth's Chris' Steak House while stuck in traffic.

Most of the exterior changes to the 2012 BMW 3 Series appear subtle from a distance. Revised taillights now more closely align with the design of those of the new BMW 5 Series, while pronounced ridges and depressions in the hood and along the sides of the bodywork offer visual distinction.

But the biggest change has had the 3 Series faithful sniffing in skepticism ever since BMW released the first photos of this car. The headlights now feature "corners" at the inside edges of the lamps that connect with the traditional twin-kidney grille. BMW says the new design highlights the wider stance of the new 3 Series. We agree there's some theoretical design unity in this choice, but we can't get over the new front end's almost comically aggressive furrowed brow.

Purists might bemoan the 2012 BMW 328i as too big and too soft. They'll say its electric-assist steering and fuel-saving 225/45R18 tires undermine the impeccable sporting legacy of the BMW 3 Series. We sympathize with their frustration, but ultimately the base model 328i delivers better power and drinks less fuel than before while retaining its quick wits.

Of course, the perennial charm of the BMW 3 Series comes with its perennial premium. The price of the 2012 BMW 328i begins at a reasonable $34,900, but it escalates quickly with just a handful of extra-cost items. Our test car was built as a showcase of 3 Series options, so it included the Technology and Cold Weather packages, plus the adaptive sport suspension. As a result, the bottom line came to $50,745. This isn't representative of the average transaction price for this four-cylinder BMW, but it does remind you that luxury has its price in the 3 Series, no matter what the engine might be.

As a consequence, some BMW 3 Series loyalists won't be persuaded that a four-cylinder engine merits their attention, even a turbocharged one. For them, there's the 2012 BMW 335i. The dimensions and dynamics are mostly the same, but where the turbo-4 starts to strain its vocal cords when pushed to the limit, the 335i's turbocharged inline-6 sings a resonant tenor all its own thanks to 300 hp and 300 lb-ft of torque.

2003 Ford Expedition

2003 Ford Expedition

As comparable as the Expedition was in terms of size, price and features, its sloppy suspension, vague steering and lackluster engine were sure to leave it trailing in the dust of the more powerful Tahoe and ultra-smooth Sequoia. In order to compete, the Expedition needed help. Thankfully, no one knew this more than Ford.

The relatively unchanged look of the 2003 Expedition hides the fact that nearly everything underneath is new. Significant enhancements to the frame, suspension, steering and brakes elevate the Expedition's driving dynamics to 21st-century standards, while numerous refinements and innovations in the cabin result in a more attractive and functional overall package. We'll reserve final judgment until we complete a full road test, but our introductory drive left us with the impression that the Expedition is now well equipped to compete favorably with anything in its class.
2003 Ford Expedition

Addressing the previous version's wobbly ride meant more than just adding stiffer springs and retuning the shocks a little. In this case, Ford used an all-new frame that's significantly stiffer than before along with a fully independent suspension to give the Expedition much improved handling dynamics. We pushed the hulking sport-ute harder than most drivers would ever care to and found it to be extremely stable during hard cornering. The stiffer structure doesn't translate into a harsh ride, however, as the Expedition smothers potholes and road hazards with little intrusion into the cabin. In fact, between the tighter overall feel and the quieter cabin, the Expedition conveys a sense of refinement rivaled only by Toyota's Sequoia.

An all-new rack-and-pinion steering system replaces what was one of the numbest, most detached setups we've ever driven, so to declare that it's a major improvement almost goes without saying. Variable power assistance gives the truck solid road feel at all speeds and a shorter turning radius helps with maneuverability in tight spaces.

2003 Ford Expedition
Larger, more capable brakes enhanced with an electronic Brake Assist feature are another welcome improvement for '03. Brake Assist senses a panic stop and helps apply full pressure more quickly for shorter stopping distances. Head-up driving kept us from having to invoke this important safety feature, but we did give the new binders a thorough workout while descending a steep mountain grade. Fade was minimal, pedal feel was much improved and except for one extremely steep section that required full effort, there was always plenty of power in reserve.

Unfortunately, we can't bestow similar praise on the powertrain, as the Expedition carries over both the 4.6- and 5.4-liter V8 engines from last year's models. Both powerplants received numerous enhancements geared toward quieter operation and more usable torque, but from our seat-of-the-pants perspective, the Expedition still lacks the punch of GM's V8s and the refinement of Toyota's iForce eight-cylinder. The maximum tow rating on 5.4-liter-equipped Expeditions has increased to a class-leading 8,900 pounds, but considering how easily it runs out of breath with just two people aboard, we wouldn't characterize the Expedition as our first choice for a tow vehicle.

Both two- and four-wheel-drive versions will still be available, with the latter getting a revised version of Ford's Control Trac four-wheel-drive system as standard equipment. In response to customer demand, this system now offers a two-wheel-drive mode that completely disconnects the front wheels at the hubs for better mileage and less driveline wear. For serious offroad duty, a new FX4 option package adds underbody skid plates, specially tuned shocks, steel wheels, a limited-slip rear axle and all-terrain tires.

Another new feature that's optional on top-of-the-line Eddie Bauer models and FX4-equipped XLTs is the AdvanceTrac stability and traction control system. Functioning as a type of electronic differential, the AdvanceTrac uses electronic braking to actively distribute power where it's needed most. We sampled the system on both a muddy forest trail and a snow-covered mountain road and found that it provided exceptional traction without feeling overly intrusive. The AdvanceTrac system also helps to maintain vehicle stability on perfectly paved surfaces, again using the brakes to help restore stability should the vehicle lose control during an abrupt maneuver.

Although much of the Expedition's overhaul took place under the skin, a revamped interior that adds numerous class-exclusive features gives the Expedition a fresh new look and improved family-friendliness.

The design team's intense focus on proper ergonomics resulted in a no-nonsense layout that places nearly every control within easy reach of the driver. The two-tone color scheme looks great in the decked-out Eddie Bauer models, but the lower level XLT trim can look a bit dour draped in multiple shades of gray. Most of the interior materials look and feel good, but a few of the door panels still look cheap compared to the Sequoia. If you've ever ridden in Audi's TT coupe, you'll instantly recognize the Expedition's identical vent design, a good steal in our minds, since they're as functional as they are good looking.

Interior space up front remains largely the same, although a redesigned center console and larger door pockets provide more storage than before. The Expedition remains the only full-size SUV to offer adjustable pedals that help drivers of all sizes maintain a comfortable and safe driving position. A CD-based navigation system is a new option for 2003, another first in its class. The screen is placed high in the dash for easy viewing, and we found the controls simple to use, but we're a little disappointed that Ford didn't opt for a more advanced DVD-based system, as those systems typically provide more detailed maps and only require a single disc to cover the entire country.

Second-row accommodations remain spacious, with plenty of room for three adults to ride comfortably. Buyers can also opt for captain's chairs in the second row that drops seating capacity to seven, but affords more room in the middle row and easier access to the rearmost seats. The Expedition's new independent rear suspension not only provides a much smoother ride, it also makes way for more room in the third row. Ford claims best-in-class leg- and hiproom, and, after a quick stint on the 60/40-split bench, we would have to agree that it's one of the more comfortable third-row seats available. The Expedition also offers best-in-class cargo space thanks to second- and third-row seats that fold completely flat, another one of the Expedition's exclusive new features.

More innovations come in the way of the optional Safety Canopy side-curtain airbag system that not only provides protection in the event of a side-impact collision, it also includes a segment-exclusive rollover protection system. If the vehicle's sensors detect an imminent rollover, the airbag curtain will remain inflated for up to 6 seconds to help protect passengers who may get thrown about the cabin. Ford's Personal Safety System provides frontal impact protection for the driver and front passenger through the use of dual-stage airbags, seatbelt pre-tensioners and seat-track sensors that match airbag deployment to driver size and crash severity.

The list of improvements goes on and on, but by now you probably get the picture. Ford claims that the Expedition is better in every way, and our initial test drive seemed to verify the company's assertions. It's not going to knock your socks off with its power, but it will certainly coddle you and your family with its refined ride, quiet interior and numerous features. Add in the advanced safety equipment, best-in-class passenger space and extremely capable four-wheel-drive system and the Expedition makes a strong case for itself as the best full-size sport-ute on the market.

2013 Subaru BRZ Limited Automatic

From the outside there's no apparent difference between a BRZ with the manual transmission and one with the automatic. So no one will make fun of you.
Some roads are built strictly for entertainment.
Everything a Subaru has never before been.
2013 Subaru BRZ Limited Automatic

They've been on the market only a few weeks, but already there's a high church of the Subaru BRZ and Scion FR-S sport coupes. The 200-horsepower twins are venerated as both saviors and saints: a sinless return to sports car purity. A purity that includes lightweight construction, a straightforward suspension, precise steering and, of course, a six-speed manual transmission. But heresy is on the option sheet in the form of a six-speed automatic.

From a strictly orthodox perspective, an automatic-equipped BRZ is a total betrayal of everything the 2013 Subaru BRZ is supposed to stand for. It interferes with the driver's communion with the road, cracks apart the shifting ritual and generally screws with the divine communication. A BRZ automatic may as well be a Buick, yet thankfully, it's not.
2013 Subaru BRZ Limited Automatic

Not Beyond Dual Clutch
With its quick manual shifts and aggressive operation changing gears on its own, it's natural to assume the BRZ's six-speed automatic transmission is a dual-clutch device like the setup found in various Audi, Porsche and VW products. It even feels
like a dual clutch. But it's not.
It's actually a rather ordinary automatic with an unremarkable torque converter. What makes it work so well are the algorithms embedded into its electronic controls that elevate it to a whole new level of responsiveness for this type of conventional transmission.

The software here is optimized for spirited driving. It's not trying to be squishy soft around town during commutes; even in its laziest setting it still shifts firmer and more suddenly than most average drivers would find comfortable. In reality, it's not very Buick-ish at all.

Bull Shift
The floor shifter sits just aft of the start button and looks impressively mechanical. It runs in a conventional PRNDL pattern down the right and tugs over to the left for manual operation — push forward for upshifts, pull back for downshifts. Not our preferred setup, but it does have a leather-wrapped shifter that's shaped to fit the driver's palm.

It may only be an electronic switch, but the shifter operates with a mechanical feel that matches its looks. The detents for each gear need to be muscled through, and when shifting manually it requires a firm push or pull. The only automatic shifter that feels better is the PDK in the new Porsche 911.

Paddles mounted behind the steering wheel can also be used to trigger shifts even when the transmission itself is left in automatic mode. The paddles are plastic but also well weighted, with quick positive action that simulates actual mechanical connection.

OK, it's all simulated mechanics. But it's solid fakery.

2013 Subaru BRZ Limited Automatic
The Differences It Doesn't Make
According to Inside Line
's scales, the silver 2013 Subaru BRZ Limited automatic weighs in at 2,800 pounds even. That's 66 pounds more than the blue BRZ Premium manual IL tested in March. Subaru's specifications have the two cars 60 pounds apart, with 46 or 47 pounds of that in transmission weight. The rest is the equipment — leather heated seats, dual-zone ventilation and such — that separates the Premium (which is the base car) and the Limited (which is the sole upgrade trim).
The additional heft of the automatic transmission does also slightly shift the weight balance of the BRZ. Once again according to IL
's scales, the BRZ Premium manual carries 55.7 percent of its weight on the front wheels and the BRZ Limited automatic has 56 percent of its mass on the front tires. A distilled and frozen concentrated version of Sebastian Vettel couldn't tell the difference.
Otherwise, except that the automatic adds $1,100 to the price, the manual and automatic versions of the BRZ are the same. That includes the 200-hp, 2.0-liter, direct-injection Subaru flat-4 under the hood, the perfectly stiff tuning of the all-independent suspension, the outstanding electric power rack-and-pinion steering and the 215/45R17 Michelin Primacy HP tires. It's all delicious stuff. OK, the tires aren't, but they work just fine.

The BRZ automatic's 117-foot braking performance from 60 mph, 0.89g skid pad orbit and 67.2-mph blast through the slalom are all close enough to what the manual-transmission car recorded to be within the realm of car-to-car production variation.

Torque Converted
This BRZ may have a torque converter, but it doesn't have a lot of torque. According to Subaru the engine peaks at a maximum of 151 pound-feet while spinning at 6,400 rpm. So it takes a moment for the engine to get that converter going for a good launch.

The result is a rather chunky 0-60-mph time of 7.9 seconds with the traction control off (7.6 seconds with 1 foot of rollout as on a drag strip). And that's with the driver doing the shifting. The best run through the quarter-mile was 15.8 seconds at 91.3 mph.

In comparison, the manual-transmission-equipped BRZ traipsed from zero to 60 mph in 7.3 seconds (7.0 seconds with rollout) with traction control off. Its best time through the quarter-mile was 15.3 seconds at 92.1 mph.

So drag racers ought to opt for the manual-transmission BRZ. Actually, they should opt for a different car entirely, but that's a whole other subject. If anything, a closer look at the acceleration times indicates that you should think twice before assuming the manual is always better.

For instance, with the traction control on, the manual transmission car uses 2.8 seconds to run from 45 mph to 60 mph, while under the same conditions it takes the automatic car 2.6 seconds to perform the same trick. Meanwhile, with traction control turned off, both the automatic and manual cars need 2.5 seconds to get from 45 mph to 60 mph.

Those intermediate acceleration times indicate that the manual transmission car's speed advantage isn't clear-cut once both cars are already moving. That was particularly apparent during the photo shoot on a California mountain road, where the automatic BRZ never seemed strained climbing through the tight corners. Or at least no more strained than the manual version. In fact with its firm shifts, for some drivers it may be easier and more fun to drive quickly in the automatic car than the manual.

Three-Way Tranny
Besides the traction and stability control systems every 2013 Subaru BRZ has, the automatic transmission can operate in three different modes of its own. There's a regular mode, which still shifts with satisfying heft, and Sport mode, which brings harsher, quicker shifting either when left on its own or shifted manually. The third mode, "Snow," is for gingerly slogging through grim weather and went untested by Inside Line
while driving during June and July in Southern California.
For the most part, the car felt most responsive when wired up with the Sport transmission setting. Dive into a corner with the nannies off, hit the left paddle to downshift into 2nd and the transmission holds the gear through the corner as the tail gracefully drifts out. Hit the right paddle to shift up and the BRZ straightens itself out and heads to the next corner as if it were actually fueled by apexes.

Around town, the Normal mode was better. It's not lazy, just a little less in your face. Sometimes a car just needs to be a car.

The Thrill of Agony
In an ideal world, every Subaru BRZ owner would have a second car for commuting and a third one for hauling the family. The BRZ would be saved strictly for those days when twisty roads beckon or the local road course is offering volume discounts on laps.

But it's likely that most BRZ owners will be buying it as their sole vehicle, and it's in that context that the BRZ automatic becomes so attractive. Except for the shifting, everything that's great about the BRZ with a manual transmission is the same with an automatic.

This is a tiny car that practically dances on its modestly sized tires; it has the best reflexes available on any car that costs less than $35K and is vastly more nimble than the 2-ton behemoths the German brands are passing off as sport sedans these days. It's so low that Civics tower over it, and with its flat-4 it has a center of gravity down beneath the Earth's mantle. There are plenty of anonymous front-drive boxes that will be more comfortable commuters, but none that come near the BRZ's athleticism.

The automatic ultimately lets the $29,365 2013 Subaru BRZ Limited more convincingly pretend it's a normal car, that it's just another corpuscle in the traffic stream. But it's a pretense. This is one of the world's best sports cars, even when it's shifting itself.

This car, with this transmission, is still that good. The faith is restored.

The manufacturer provided Edmunds this vehicle for the purposes of evaluation.

2013 Subaru BRZ Limited Automatic

2013 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport

A new, lighter chassis helps with fuel economy.

Black cladding reduces visual bulk, a neat stylist's trick.

New sheet metal makes for a familial look...

Hyundai's product assault has been incessant over the past few years. In rolling out the new third-generation 2013 Hyundai Santa Fe, the company completes a product overhaul as comprehensive and logistically complex as the recent Mars rover landing.

The launch of Hyundai's new midsize tall wagon-cum-CUV is, appropriately, no less convoluted. After all, this compact SUV will serve double duty in the automaker's lineup, poised to do battle with roughly a dozen competitors. Here's how the Santa Fe plans to do it.

2013 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport
Several Variants
The 2013 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport, seating five, replaces the current Santa Fe. In a few months, a longer-wheelbase version of the Santa Fe with three rows of seating will replace the larger Hyundai Veracruz.

Like the existing Santa Fe, the new Santa Fe Sport will be available with two engines. A 2.4-liter normally aspirated direct-injected four is the base engine, while a turbocharged and direct-injected 2.0-liter four replaces the V6. Either engine can be had with front- or all-wheel drive, while a six-speed automatic is the only transmission offered. The long-wheelbase version of the new vehicle — known simply as the 2013 Santa Fe, sans Sport designation — will be available only with a 3.3-liter V6. Clear as mud?

Generating 264 horsepower at 6,000 rpm, the 2.0T cranks out 10 fewer ponies than this same engine in the Hyundai Sonata. The difference is chalked up to revised intake and exhaust routing and a unique engine calibration. More importantly, the Santa Fe delivers 269 pound-feet of torque between 1,750 and 3,000 rpm, so the shove is in the right place for a family hauler such as this one. In fact, the turbo engine generates more torque than the outgoing V6.

Though the new Santa Fe Sport carries nearly the same dimensions as the outgoing trucklet, it's stiffer and weighs considerably less — some 266 pounds were shaved by sweating the details of the chassis' design and expanded use of high-strength steels. Struts underpin the front end and a compact multilink suspension is found at the rear so as not to intrude on cabin space.

No Shortness of Breath
We drove a 2.0T-equipped AWD Sport through woodsy, hilly Park City, Utah, notable for its power-sapping 8,300-foot elevation. The thin air didn't faze the Santa Fe. Turbocharged engines generate their own atmosphere, so there was plenty of reserve thrust and immediate response any time the car was in motion. The 2.0T is a capable engine, doing its business without a lick of fuss or noise, convincingly nailing the coffin shut on the idea that a V6 is a requirement. As for the 2.4-liter engine, well, we didn't get to drive one of those, or a front-drive 2.0T.

On our drive, the Santa Fe was notable for its quietness. Aside from a faint wind rustle at the A-pillars, little noise comes between you and a conversation with passengers while at freeway speeds. The new chassis feels solid on the road, though the wide C- and D-pillars form a blind spot the size of Oklahoma. A caveat — the roads in this area are generally smooth, so we'll withhold final judgments on ride and noise suppression until we've wheeled this new CUV locally.

Curiously, the electric power steering has three calibrations that can be selected via a button on the steering wheel, all of which are fairly numb. While it could be argued that steering feel isn't high on the priority list of shoppers in the Santa Fe's bread-and-butter segment, we'll point out that the steering-feel-havin' Mazda CX-5 exists and feels considerably more precise from behind the wheel.

Part of our drive route included a loose gravel dirt road to show off the Santa Fe's new more capable AWD hardware. It operates transparently, aiding corner entry and exit by adjusting the amount of torque apportioned to the rear wheels. Still, like most modern crossovers, the Santa Fe is pavement-biased and will be found almost exclusively on freeways and in parking lots. It's no rock crawler, and that's OK.

More Efficient
Fuel economy is the payoff of the lighter chassis, improved aerodynamics and engines. Base 2.4-liter models return 22/33 city/highway mpg (21/28 with AWD), while the 2.0T models deliver 21/31 mpg (20/27 mpg with AWD).

The 4-5 mpg drop for AWD models in freeway conditions is odd, as the AWD system can completely disconnect power to the rear wheels in such conditions and adds just 137 pounds over the front-drive model. Nevertheless, the fuel economy of the new Santa Fe improves on that of the outgoing model in every guise and is among the more frugal in its class.

More Than Clever Math
Inside, the cabin is similarly sharply styled, with improved appointments. There's plenty of space in either row of seating, and the front seats offer respectable long-haul comfort, though the sliding, tilting backseat is on the flat side to accommodate its 40/20/40 folding ability.

In typical Hyundai fashion, features abound. Beyond the long list of standard equipment, options include navigation, a heated steering wheel, panoramic sunroof, dual-zone climate control, a rearview camera, even heated rear seats.

Prices with destination start at $25,275 for a base 2.4 and $28,525 for the 2.0T — add $1,750 for AWD — and rise quickly from there. Adding navigation or the panoramic sunroof to a 2.4-liter model requires three packages totaling $6,600 (or two packages totaling $5,350 on 2.0T variants). There are a lot of other features included in the packages, but flexibility is not one of them.

At this price point, the 2013 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport lines up directly with segment leaders like the Ford Escape and Honda CR-V. The former also offers a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder, while the latter simply does everything well. The newer, cleverer 2013 Santa Fe measures up favorably to both. If it can deliver on its excellent mileage numbers and remain as quiet as it did on the roads of rural Utah, this Santa Fe could be yet another well-executed piece of Hyundai's grand plan to compete head on with its foreign and domestic rivals.

Peugeot Hatches a Competition Version out of its New 208 Supermini

Peugeot Hatches a Competition Version out of its New 208 Supermini
Peugeot Hatches a Competition Version out of its New 208 Supermini

Aiming at those looking to race in the lower formulas of rally, Peugeot has introduced the first competition version of its new 208 supermini.
The new 208 R2 was developed for the popular R2 rally category and features a raft of upgrades over the regular model.

These include the driveline that combines a 1.6-liter naturally aspirated four-cylinder engine tuned to deliver 185hp at 7,800rpm, linked to a five-speed, manual, sequential gearbox with the lever mounted on the steering column.

Peugeot's engineers also made changes to the suspension, the brakes and switched the standard car’s electric power steering to a hydraulic unit, while the car rides on specially developed racing tires from Michelin.

“With the 208, Peugeot has given itself the means to create a new motoring icon,” noted Peugeot’s Range Director Laurent Blanchet during the R2 model’s launch.

“The 208 carries over the spirit of the 205 and the 206, plus the functionality of the 207 in a thoroughly modern package,” added Xavier Peugeot, the brand’s Product Director.

The 208 R2 will make its first public appearance in full racing livery when it serves as ‘zero’ car for next week’s Tour de Corse (May 10-12), the fourth round of the 2012 Intercontinental Rallye Challenge.

Peugeot said that the gravel and asphalt versions of the 208 R2 will both be available in kit form including the engine with prices starting at €37,500 (US$49,500) as well as in fully built form for €57,500 (US$76,000).

View the original article here

Ferrari F12 Berlinetta 2013

Ferrari F12 Berlinetta 2013 front

Ferrari F12 Berlinetta 2013 side

Ferrari F12 Berlinetta 2013 headlights

After weeks of whispers, teasing, and leaked images, Ferrari has finally unwrapped its latest 12-cylinder gran turismo. The new 2013 Ferrari F12 Berlinetta effectively replaces the aging 599 GTB Fiorano, and will make its first public debut at the 2012 Geneva Motor Show.

Styling/ Construction
While the F12 Berlinetta's general profile roughly resembles that of its predecessor, there's not a single bit of sheetmetal shared between the two cars. Styled by longtime design partner Pininfarina, the F12 Berlinetta is an interesting amalgamation of strong, flowing surfaces and existing design cues.

Up front, the F12 Berlinetta's long headlamps bear a resemblance to those of the 458 Italia, while a large egg crate grille -- much like that used on the four-wheel-drive FF -- dominates the lower half of the fascia. The F12's front fenders quickly taper to a narrow point, allowing the hood surfaces to wrap down and around the side of the car, terminating in a large V-shaped swage that curves upward into the rear fenders.

While the F12's rear quarters are rather conservative, they're not without some dramatic flair. The lower edges of the rear valence curve downward, forming a surface that intersects the rear diffuser and neatly wraps beneath the bumper.

The F12's look will undoubtedly inspire heated debate among Ferrari aficionados and purists, but the automaker says the form is actually functional. Active shutters on the brake cooling ducts help reduce drag, while the so-called "Aero Bridge" scoops, located between the front-wheel arches and the cowl, channel air from the front of the car to its sides. Ferrari says the F12 Berlinetta boasts a 76-percent increase in downforce, along with a surprisingly slippery drag coefficient of 0.299.

If you think the F12 Berlinetta appears a little smaller than the outgoing 599, your eyes aren't deceiving you. Preliminary specifications indicate the F12 is about 2 inches shorter, 7/10 of an inch narrower, and 2.5 inches lower than its predecessor. The F12's body is also lighter than the 599's, thanks in part to a new aluminum-intensive spaceframe. An estimated curb weight of 3363 pounds means the F12 is not only 360 pounds lighter than the 599 GTB, but it's also about 176 pounds lighter than the hard-core, performance-tuned 599 GTO. As was the case on the 599, the use of a transaxle -- a seven-speed dual-clutch unit, in this instance -- allows the F12 to shift 54 percent of its curb weight to its tail end.

Although Ferrari has previously dabbled with hybrid systems and forced induction, the F12 Berlinetta sticks to a time-tested tradition: a big, normally aspirated 12-cylinder engine.

The new F12 uses the same basic 6.3-liter V-12 as the FF wagon, but the engine appears to be much more powerful in F12 guise. According to Ferrari, it provides the FF with an incredible 730 horsepower at 8000 rpm, along with 508 lb-ft of torque at 6000 rpm. Early claims of the F12 Berlinetta becoming the most powerful (road-legal) Ferrari appear to be accurate. Not only does this mean the F12 Berlinetta eclipses the 599 GTB (600 hp/448 lb-ft) and the 599 GTO (660 hp/494 lb-ft), it also surpasses the original 599xx racer (720 hp/506 lb-ft) and comes close to the track-focused 599xx Evoluzione (750 hp/516 lb-ft).

Coupled with the lightning-quick seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox, Ferrari claims the 6.3-liter V-12 is capable of launching the F12 Berlinetta from 0-62 mph in a scant 3.1 seconds, and suggests a top speed just over the 211-mph mark. Ferrari is equally proud of two other performance metrics: When packaged with an optional start/stop system, the F12 can deliver a 30-percent increase in fuel economy, along with a 16-percent decrease in carbon dioxide emissions.

As is expected of such a machine, the F12 Berlinetta is equipped with Ferrari's full suite of performance-enhancing features, including E-Diff, ESP Premium, F1-Trac, and high-performance ABS algorithms. Carbon ceramic brakes are standard, as are Ferrari's revised adaptive magnetorheological dampers.

Still Sumptuous Within
The F12 Berlinetta may be quick, but as Ferrari's premiere gran turismo, it can't skimp on interior amenities. Subsequently, we're not surprised to learn the cabin is covered in liberal amounts of Frau leather and carbon-fiber trim. Photos show an attractive saddle-hued interior, but as always, interior schemes are left to the customer's discretion (and budget).

The F12's dashboard largely resembles that of the FF, but there is one significant difference: It no longer packs a large, clunky-looking navigation unit into the center stack. Instead, the F12 displays all infotainment-related screens through the digital Human Machine Interface gauge cluster, controlled by a small bank of switches located to the right of the steering column.

On Sale: Late 2012

Engine: 6.3-liter V-12
Power: 730 hp @
Torque: 508 @ 6000 rpm

Transmission: 7-speed dual-clutch automatic
Drive: rear-wheel

Length x Width x Height: 181.8 in x 76.5 in x 50.1 in
Curb Weight: 3363 lbs

0-62 mph: 3.1 seconds
Top speed: >211 mph (est)

Ferrari 458 Spider 2012

Ferrari 458 Spider  2012 back

Ferrari 458 Spider  2012 dashboard

Ferrari 458 Spider  2012 on the run

Without question, the Ferrari 458 Italia is the best car I have ever driven. You might assume the Italian supercar earns that distinction on sheer performance and sex appeal, but the truth is that the 458 is a much more complete car. Its excellence is in how it combines measured balance with raw capability unlike any other vehicle. The 458 Italia is sophisticated but visceral. Aggressive yet refined. Elegant and brutish. With the Spider, Ferrari aims to add one more contradiction to the 458's achievements: a convertible that's also a coupe.

Ferrari's task in building a Spider is not quite as intuitive as it sounds. The open-air 458 is certainly a predictable and modest evolution of the Italia, but the buyers of the two cars are very different. The average 458 Italia will see most of its action on the weekend, without a passenger, and on shorter trips. Spiders, on the other hand, are more likely to be daily drivers exposed to city streets, often with a passenger in the right seat. More notably, Ferrari asserts that Spider owners drive with a sporty -- not aggressive -- style.

Even with buyers using their cars in an entirely different manner, Ferrari won't compromise any of the intensity in its mid-engine coupe to deliver a droptop version. Despite the fact that the Spider is 30 percent less rigid than the coupe, the spring rates are unchanged. And while the magnetorheological dampers are specifically tuned for the Spider, you won't notice a difference in the ride quality between the two cars. The Spider is every bit as firm, controlled, and focused as the Italia. The steering is just as sharp, the throttle pedal just as responsive, and the suspension just as poised. Twist the manettino to Race mode, however -- perhaps an unlikely move for the less aggressive convertible buyers -- and the Spider can't hide the fact that it's missing a major structural component. With the dampers firmed up, the bumps aren't just felt through the seat. They're seen in a small wiggle of the windshield and heard in the muted rattle of the aluminum chassis. Nothing unusual, but this is the one clear difference between coupe and convertible.

The 458 Spider's retractable roof is a two-piece hardtop inspired by the 575 Superamerica. Like that car, the roof rotates -- rather than folds -- into its stored position. Unlike that car, the 458 Spider uses an aluminum skin instead of glass. Ferrari claims that the 458's hardtop assembly is actually some 55 pounds lighter than the 430 Spider's fabric roof. It adds roughly 110 pounds to the Italia's 3400-pound curb weight.

The additional weight hasn't made the 458 any less graceful or beautiful. The Spider preserves the proportions and elegant surfaces that make the fixed-roof car so stunning. Buttresses behind the rear seats create a classic profile reminiscent of prior mid-engine convertibles, but they are taller so that the folding roof is flatter and easier to store. With the roof raised, the Spider could pass for a fixed-roof coupe, showing some resemblance to the Lotus Evora in the greenhouse. Unfortunately, the air ducts that feed the engine just behind the coupe's passenger compartment couldn't be adapted to the Spider. Instead, the intakes have been moved to the top of the decklid and pushed all the way to the rear of the car, resulting in much shorter plumbing. Because the roof is stashed directly above the mid-mounted engine, Ferrari also had to abandon the glass panel that shows off the 9000-rpm gem in the coupe.

The roof disappears in a swift 14-second routine and the rear window lowers into a wind-stop position about an inch above the decklid to limit the buffeting in the cabin. That window can be raised another inch or lowered completely and functions as a third window when the roof is closed. The Spider's interior is the same hyper-modern, overwhelmingly driver-centric cockpit found in the Italia. The steering wheel is dotted with control buttons and the radio and navigation system rely on too few buttons with too many shared functions to be intuitive. Headroom is unchanged, so the Spider retains a spacious feel with the top up. Only the shallow passenger footwell feels restrictive; the right seat is best left to those 5'8" and shorter. Specs for the Spider are identical to those of the Italia: A 4.5-liter V-8 generates 562 hp and 398 lb-ft of torque, which travels through a seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox to meet the pavement via the rear wheels. Performance claims remain impressive -- the sprint to 62 mph can be done in less than 3.4 seconds and the top speed reaches 198 mph -- but those numbers do little to communicate how enchanting the 458 really is. It remains a rare normally aspirated screamer that swells to a riotous rpm to make peak power. Its soul mate is the dual-clutch gearbox, delivering instantaneous action and absolute confidence in response to pulls of the column-mounted paddles. Along with the new intake, there's a reworked exhaust, though it does little to change the Italia's symphonic arrangement of burbles, shrieks, and growls. No complaints here. A roofless 458 set to race mode and run through the gears in a tunnel makes for the ultimate amphitheater to enjoy one of the best automotive performances in existence.

Ferrari 458 Spider
Base price: $257,000 (est.)
Engine: 32-valve DOHC V-8
Displacement: 4.5 liters
Power: 562 hp @ 9000 rpm
Torque: 398 lb-ft @ 6000 rpm
Drive: Rear-wheel
Transmission: Seven-speed dual-clutch automatic
Fuel economy: 11/18 mpg (city/highway, est.)

Ferrari FF Shooting Brake 2012

Ferrari FF Shooting Brake 2012 back

Ferrari FF Shooting Brake 2012 seats

Ferrari FF Shooting Brake 2012 front

All-wheel-drive? Wagon? Those two adjectives are commonly paired when describing Subaru’s best-selling models, not the latest gran turismo to roll through the factory gates in Maranello. Still, Ferrari says rolling those two features together -- as unconventional as they may be in the world of traditional V-12-powered luxury sports cars -- produces a vehicle that “effortlessly melds extreme sports car performance with the versatility and usability of a genuine GT.”
Admittedly, the FF looks much like a genuine Ferrari GT, albeit with a modern twist. The exterior design, executed by longtime styling partner Pininfarina, blends cues from the company’s recent 458 Italia with those of the FF’s forebear, the outgoing 612 Scaglietti. The long, upright headlamps and oblong fender forms bear some resemblance to the company’s latest mid-engine sports coupe, while the expansive eggcrate grille apes those used on modern Ferrari GT models.
Although the FF’s elongated roofline and hatchback may rankle the most traditional of Tifiosi, the car’s rear quarters aren’t as ungainly as previous coachbuilt attempts to craft Ferrari station wagons. The roof dramatically curves down towards the car’s trailing edges, but the D-pillars are neatly sculpted into the already muscular rear fenders. If nothing else, this design does afford considerable space within. Not only are rear seat occupants treated to commendable headroom, but there’s nearly 15 cubic feet of cargo space to swallow their belongings (that volume swells to 30, should you fold the second row flat).
Like beauty, innovation is more than skin deep, so it isn’t surprising to learn the FF’s mechanicals are as groundbreaking as its exterior. Its 660-horsepower, direct-injection, 6.2-liter V-12 is certainly a welcome new addition, but the true party trick lies with the driveline itself. Although the rear-mounted, seven-speed dual-clutch transaxle may be identical to those used in other rear-wheel-drive GT models (including the 599 GTB), the addition of a driven front axle is truly newsworthy.
Instead of developing a transfer case for the transaxle and running a prop shaft to the front end of the car, Ferrari’s 4RM system actually drives the front wheels from the engine’s crank itself. A separate gearbox for the front axle has two speeds, with ratios similar to those used for the transaxle’s third and seventh gears. When the FF’s stability system detects a loss in traction, computers select the proper gear in the forward gearbox, and then manipulate an electronically controlled clutch pack. between the crank and the gearbox. Doing this allows the system to vary the amount of slippage, and subsequently, vary the power sent to the front wheels. An unusual approach, but the system allows Ferrari to craft a rear-biased all-wheel-drive without disrupting the FF’s near-perfect weight distribution or developing an all-new driveline. Better yet, the company says the 4RM system is roughly half as heavy as a conventional AWD configuration.

Unimog Mercedes Benz

2011 Nissan Quest

Nissan has not had an easy time of it in the U.S. minivan market. The original Quest, codeveloped with Ford and sold also as the Mercury Villager, was undersized. Nissan's next Quest was a solo effort that featured avant-garde design -- too avant-garde, as it turned out -- and which was built at the company's brand-new U.S. factory in Mississippi. That Quest was dogged by quality problems, and sales were disappointing. Nissan has now given up engineering a minivan specifically for the American market, and its latest Quest is instead an adaptation of the Japanese-market Elgrand minivan, and is imported from Japan.
The styling of the new Quest is 180-degrees out from the previous one. Where the last Quest was all wavy and swoopy, the new one flaunts its slab-sided boxyness. The oddball interior of the previous Quest is only a fading memory, as the new model is conventionally configured. My test example was leather-lined and nicely padded just about everywhere -- as well it might be for $43,750. That's for the top-spec LE, optioned up with dual, opening sunroofs (the kids can control their own). Otherwise, the LE comes with pretty much everything, including navigation, a backup camera, the aforementioned leather, and a rear-seat DVD player. Kids loved the wide (11-inch diagonal) flip-down video screen, which powers open at a touch of the button on the remote. It's standard on the LE and optional on the SL. In addition to DVDs, the system can play movies or other media contained on a flash drive, which you can plug into a USB port.
This big box feels huge from the inside. The second row has plenty of space, but accommodations in the third row are somewhat dependent on the generosity of those in the second-row seats, which can slide fore and aft and which also recline. If spiteful older siblings are in row two, the third row can be tight; with more magnanimous passengers in the middle seats, the third row can be fine, even for adults. Cargo space behind the third seat -- in important measure for families that often travel full-up -- is 37 cubic feet, including the extra-large well beneath the two removable floor panels.
From the driver's seat, the Quest feels dead conventional. The ride is fairly comfortable, and the chassis does nothing to encourage high-speed cornering through the subdivision. The steering earns points for being reasonably direct and not overboosted. Nissan's 3.5-liter V-6 has been much maligned for its coarse nature, but it's barely audible here, and it's certainly powerful enough to get the team to soccer practice on time. It plays well with the continuously variable automatic transmission, as it's torque arrives low enough in the rev range that there's none of the rubber-band throttle response you get when a CVT is paired with the small four-cylinder engines more typically used with this type of transmission. Fuel economy is quite good in the city (19 mpg) but the highway figure (24 mpg) can't match the class-leading Honda Odyssey. [A side thought: Shouldn't the EPA come up with a new test cycle, suburb, for minivans?]
So, the grown-ups' verdict is that the Quest has finally achieved the normalcy that should enable it to grab a decent slice of the minivan market. But what's the kids' point of view? Well, we asked one young lad who is a keen -- bordering on obsessive -- observer of cars. His parents just bought a Toyota Sienna minivan, but upon seeing the Quest, young Johnny was smitten. "I love your Quest," said the boy, who is 5. "I'm going to buy one tomorrow.

Standard Equipment
- 3.5-liter V-6
- CVT automatic transmission
- Front seat active head restraints
- 4-wheel disc brakes with ABS and panic brake assist
- 18-inch aluminum wheels
- Automatic climate control with air purifier and auto recirc
- First- and second-row power windows
- Auto-dimming rearview mirror w/Homelink
- Blind-spot warning system
- 8-way power driver's seat w/memory
- 4-way power passenger's seat
- 2nd-row sliding and reclining captain's chairs w/removable center console
- 60/40 split-folding and reclining 3rd-row seats
- Quick release 3rd-row folding seatbacks with power return
- Leather seating and door trim
- Heated front seats
- Leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob
- Wood-tone trim accents
- Tilt and telescoping steering column
- Illuminated steering-wheel-mounted controls for cruise control, audio, and navigation
- 13-speaker Bose audio system with AM/FM/XM/CD, USB and aux. inputs, and 9.3GB hard drive
- Navigation w/XM traffic and weather, and Zagat survey results
- Rear-view monitor and 8-inch color display
- 2nd-row 11-inch DVD screen with remote and two headphones
- Power sliding doors
- Power liftgate
- Xenon headlights
- Power mirrors w/turn signals, memory, heating, and auto-tilt in reverse
- Keyless ignition
- Bluetooth connectivity
- 2nd- and 3rd-row sun shades
- Roof rails
- Chrome-accented side sill spoilers, door handles, and license plate finisher

2012 Nissan Altima 2.5S

The Nissan Altima is a quietly competent vehicle. There's no flashy design, no fancy dual-clutch automatic transmission, and no high-performance pretensions here. But there's also nothing really wrong with the Altima, which is why it's always near the top of the all-important mid-size-sedan sales charts.
I've consistently found Nissan's continuously variable transmissions to be well suited to torquey V-6 engines but significantly less enjoyable when paired with a modest four-cylinder. This four-cylinder Altima proves the exception to that rule. The 2.5-liter engine is powerful enough that the car can move quickly without requiring stratospheric revs. Running between 1000 and 4000 rpm keeps the engine from feeling strained or bellowing like Chewbacca while squirting through traffic. The CVT also brings the benefit of supreme powertrain smoothness -- no surprise since there aren't any gear changes. In terms of handling, ride quality, and noise, the Altima drives quite well.

However, the Nissan Altima lacks character, which I consider synonymous with a reason to buy. The majority of mid-size sedans possess the same qualifications as the Altima with more compelling reasons to own them. The Volkswagen Passat has a massive rear seat and the option for an efficient, entertaining diesel engine. The Ford Fusion is actually quite entertaining to drive with great connectivity inside. The Kia Optima is the style leader in the segment with impressive fuel economy from the base engine. All three of these boast reasons to own that are more than rational justifications. They have character that reflects the lifestyles and personalities of the people that buy them.

Traction control
Stability control
Tire pressure monitoring system
60/40 split folding rear seat
Tilt-and-telescopic steering column
Cruise control
Air conditioning
Rear floor vents
Keyless entry and ignition
Two 12V DC power outlets
Center console w/three cup holders and sliding armrest
Rear armrest
Dual power mirrors

2.5 S premium audio package
Bose audio w/nine speakers
4.3-inch display w/rearview camera
USB port w/iPod integration
Satellite radio
Splash guard
Convenience package

16-inch aluminum wheels
Eight-way power driver's seat
Automatic headlights
Leather-wrapped steering wheel w/audio controls

2012 Nissan NV200

2012 Nissan NV200 dashboard

2012 Nissan NV200 side review

2012 Nissan NV200 inside

The announcement shouldn't exactly come as a surprise. Nissan first started rolling out its commercial vehicle aspirations in 2009. While most media outlets were fixated on the big, Titan-based full-size product developed explicitly for North America, officials were indicating there was a possibility the small NV200/Vanette, which was concurrently launching in overseas markets, could find its way stateside in the future. That possibility grew even stronger last year, when a modified version of the NV200 was selected by New York City as its chosen successor to the venerable Ford Crown Victoria taxi.
Unlike its larger siblings, the NV200 lives up to the compact van moniker Nissan uses within its press materials. In fact, it's actually built upon a modified version of Nissan's B-segment architecture, which underpins other Nissan small cars like the Juke, Cube, and Versa hatchback. NV200s still utilize MacPherson-type struts up front, although the torsion beam rear suspension is ditched in favor of leaf springs in order to boost payload to an estimated 1500 pounds.
North American NV200s are relatively compact, but they will be slightly larger than those sold in other corners of the globe. For instance, the 115.2-inch wheelbase is about 2.6 inches longer than in other markets. Overall length, which measures in at 186.2 inches, is about 7.9 inches longer than before. That stretch pays dividends not only for the NV200's livery aspirations, but also for commercial clients. Nissan says there's roughly 123 cubic feet of cargo space behind the front seats; though exact cargo dimensions have yet to be announced, the automaker says there's enough space between the wheel wells to lay a standardized 40-by-48-inch cargo pallet.
Although NV200s are offered with a wide variety of engine choices (including a few frugal diesel options), those sold in our market will be locked down to a single powerplant and transmission. Power comes courtesy of a sixteen-valve, DOHC 2.0-liter I-4, similar to that offered in most Sentra models. Nissan's preliminary specifications suggest the engine may be slightly detuned to about 135 hp and 145 lb-ft of torque. As is the case in so many of Nissan's B-segment offerings, that power is sent to the front wheels by way of a continuously-variable transmission.
Nissan's larger NV vans drew praise for a functional cargo area and a renewed focus on the driver, and it appears the NV200 may follow in their footsteps. Dual sliding side doors are standard, as are 40/60 split-opening rear doors that open as far as 180 degrees. Integrated mounting points in the body structure facilitate installing shelves and racks, while floor-mounted tie-downs provide anchor points for securing cargo. Nissan touts the functionality of a low load floor; if similar to European-spec NV200 models, expect liftover to be around 20 inches.
Up front, the driver is treated to an upright seating position, along with a six-way, manually adjustable bucket seat (the passenger seat is only adjustable in four ways). A tall center console provides two cup holders, storage for a laptop and hanging file folders, a pen/pencil tray, and -- if so equipped -- a second 12-volt power outlet. The passenger seat can fold flat to serve as a work surface, and also hides a pull-out storage bin beneath its cushion. Power windows; anti-lock brakes; and front, side, and side curtain airbags are standard on all models. The upgraded SV trim adds niceties like keyless entry, cruise control, a rear cargo floor mat, and wheelcovers. Depending on the trim level, buyers can add optional extras including body-colored bumpers, Bluetooth hands-free phone connectivity, a navigation system, XM satellite ratio, and a back-up camera.
Nissan's correct in suggesting the compact cargo van market -- in North America, at least -- is a relatively new segment that's growing fairly quickly, but it's far from the lone contender in the market. Ford's Transit Connect, which arrived on our shores in 2009, is currently one of the only players in the segment, but Chrysler's Ram brand did recently announce it would sell a version of the Fiat Doblo -- a similar-sized commercial vanlet -- by 2013 at the very latest.
Though the NV200 may soon be afloat in a sea of similar competitors, expect what you see here to remain but the tip of the iceberg. The taxi-ready variant is expected to hit city streets by 2014, and Nissan's also hinted that an electric version, powered by the same driveline used in the electric Leaf hatchback, could likely go into production in the near future. For now, the cargo van is just the first step in Nissan's big plan for small vans. Expect production to begin in Cuernavaca, Mexico, later this year with deliveries beginning in early 2013.

Nissan eNV200 Concept

To covert the NV200 van, Nissan borrowed heavily from its groundbreaking Leaf. The eNV200 uses the Leaf's 24-kW-h battery pack and 80-kW, 107-horsepower, 207-lb-ft AC synchronous electric motor and single-speed reduction gearbox to drive the front wheels. Nissan claims it will have a driving range similar to the Leaf's, though given the van's larger size and weight and less aerodynamic form, that will be difficult.
That's not to say that Nissan has fitted a new drivetrain and called it a day. The company has also modified the front end of the standard NV200 with a covered charging port similar to the Leaf's, and dressed it up with the Leaf's blue Nissan badge and Leaf-like headlights. Inside, the eNV200 features a new dash with an EV-specific gauge cluster with features like remaining range and other telematics. The center stack features a large touch-screen display designed to mimic a tablet computer such as the iPad.

The eNV200 Concept is, for now, a "potential mass production vehicle." Nissan's already begun real-world testing with a prototype, placing it in the hands of the Japan Post Service and FedEx's London operations to gain feedback. While the van hasn't been confirmed for production, Nissan has made a strong commitment to increasing its EV portfolio, and with competition from Ford's Transit Connect EV prototype, we expect the eNV200 to find its way to the market in the near future.

The Chevrolet 100

The Beginning
In the freewheeling auto industry at the dawn of the 1900s, the maestro who created, then lost, General Motors bounced back to create his greatest automotive endeavor yet.
In the year Chevrolet was born, there were 270 auto companies operating in the United States. Although Chevrolet was started by one of the best-known and most prolific names in the fledgling industry, its survival was not ensured. But Chevrolet not only endured, it prospered. It went on to become one of the few American auto brands to reach the century mark, and it was the number-one-selling brand in the United States in the majority of those years. Herewith, a look at the 100 cars, people, technologies, events, and milestones that have marked Chevrolet's 100 years.
1. Billy Durant
Chevrolet was the creation of William C. Durant, who founded General Motors but by 1911 had been tossed out. Looking to get back into the car business, he incorporated the Chevrolet Motor Car Company on November 3, 1911. (2) He started two other car companies that year and two more the next. Those other makers were soon subsumed by Chevrolet, which Durant envisioned as a low-priced brand that would take on Ford. By 1915, Durant and his proxies had succeeded in acquiring enough General Motors stock that Durant regained (tenuous) control of GM. He then engineered a stock swap which meant, in effect, that the Chevrolet company acquired General Motors (3). Back in the saddle at GM, he went on a buying spree (Fisher Body, Dayton Engineering, and Frigidaire, among others) but was caught out by the 1920 recession. He left GM and Chevrolet forever in December of that year.
4. Louis Chevrolet
Born in Switzerland, Louis Chevrolet spent his boyhood in France before emigrating to North America at age twenty-one. Chevrolet earned a name for himself working on the Buick racing team, and he drove Buicks to victory at the nascent Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 1909 and 1910. Billy Durant wanted to tap Chevrolet's racing notoriety for his start-up car company. In addition to lending his name to the enterprise, Chevrolet would design the new car. He finished the design and demonstrated the car for the press in late 1912, after which he departed for France and an extended vacation. When he returned, he was upset with the cheaper models that Durant had added, but the breaking point was his smoking. Durant hated Chevrolet's habit of smoking a cigarette and letting it hang on his lip. He thought Chevrolet, as an executive, should take up cigars. Enraged at being told how to live, the hot-tempered Chevrolet quit the company. He later designed a couple of Indy-winning racing cars and started the short-lived Frontenac Motor Company.
5. 1912 Chevrolet Six Type C Classic
The first-ever Chevrolet was the only one designed by its namesake. Riding on a 120-inch wheelbase and powered by a 299-cubic-inch six-cylinder engine, it was a premium vehicle (costing more than $2000) and not at all what Billy Durant had envisioned for Chevrolet.
6. The Bow-Tie emblem
The now-familiar logo was first applied to a Chevrolet in 1914. As Durant told it, he'd seen the design on the wallpaper of a hotel room in Paris.
7. The Chevrolet Four-Ninety
In 1915, Chevrolet at last had a direct competitor to the Model T: the Four-Ninety. It cost $490, which also happened to be the price of a Model T. (Henry Ford retaliated by dropping the T's price by $50.)
8. The first Chevrolet truck appeared in 1918. Trucks slowly became an important, if not highly visible, aspect of Chevrolet's business. It wasn't until decades later -- 1989, to be exact -- that Chevy trucks began outselling Chevy cars and accounting for an outsize majority of the brand's profits.
9. Formed in 1919, GMAC greased the financial wheels of the auto industry. Financing allowed dealers to have more cars on hand, and it freed buyers from having to save up the purchase price of a car -- a significant sum even for buyers of low-priced cars. Chevrolet's ability to let customers buy a car "on time" gave it an important advantage over Ford, where the very idea was anathema to Henry Ford.
10. The Detroit-based Campbell-Ewald advertising agency placed its first ad for Chevrolet in 1919 and became the brand's agency of record in 1922, beginning an agency/client relationship that would continue until 2010.

2014 Chevrolet C7 Corvette

You may think that southeast Michigan, home to General Motors’ proving ground in Milford, gets plenty cold enough in winter. Yet for true cold-weather testing, GM engineers subjected the next-generation C7 Corvette to the extreme chill of northern Canada. That gave our spy photographers a chance to snap photos of this prototype version of the 2014 Chevrolet Corvette as it is readied for production.
It’s no secret that the C7 will be a 2014 model launching in fall 2013 -- Chevrolet recently launched special-edition anniversary packages and a 427 convertible model for the 2013 Corvette to serve as a sort of swan song for the C6-generation car. In addition, GM last spring announced $131 million of upgrades to its plant in Bowling Green, Kentucky, to prepare for assembly of the new Corvette. Almost every other detail on the new car, however, has so far been shrouded in rumor and obfuscation.
Two things are certain with the C7 Corvette. For one, it won’t resurrect the split rear window design cue of the 1963 Corvette, as had been suggested by earlier concept cars and rumor mongering. The mule spotted here continues to use one solid rear window that slopes sharply into the decklid.
Second, even though the promise of a mid-engine layout is the most enduring Corvette myth of all time, it seems clear that Chevrolet will stick to a front-engine design for the C7. Multiple executives have denied that the Corvette would reposition its engine, and the proportions of this mule suggest the engine will indeed stay under the car’s long hood.
Familiar Coupe Body
Our spy pictures reveal that the C7 Corvette won’t look drastically different from the current model. As on the current car, the new Corvette will feature a wide rectangular grille opening, a long and low hood, center-mounted quad exhaust tips, and generous rear haunches able to fit wide on the drive axle. A traditional coupe will likely go on sale first, probably joined by a convertible at a later date.
It is clear that the new Corvette is slightly longer, in part because the wheelbase seems stretched a few inches. That move would probably improve the car’s ride-and-handling mix; recall that the new, 991-generation Porsche 911 also received a longer wheelbase, in order to improve comfort and high-speed stability. In the Corvette, increasing the wheelbase might also marginally improve interior and trunk room.
Reports suggest the Corvette may use an aluminum spaceframe, with the body composed of a mix of carbon fiber and fiberglass. That would be expensive, but it would cut weight -- possibly below 3000 pounds in some models. Like all automakers, GM will try to cut weight from new cars, in part because that improves fuel economy, and also because trimming mass will improve the Corvette’s dynamic performance.
Two Powertrain Options?
The Corvette will certainly retain its signature V-8 engine, though it remains uncertain as to whether a V-6 engine also will join the roster. The V-8 mill will be an evolution of GM’s small block design, with the fifth generation of the V-8 family adopting direct fuel injection for the first time. GM has already promised that the fifth-gen small block engines will produce more power and torque, while using less fuel than current engines; the company has invested about $1 billion in preparation for building the new V-8s.
The new Corvette V-8 will almost certainly continue to use pushrods, and may feature some sort of cylinder deactivation. There are indications it will be downsized to as little as 5.5 liters, compared to the 6.2-liter LS3 in the current base Corvette. Those moves would further cut fuel consumption, while retaining the car’s signature torquey nature and eight-cylinder heritage.
Although many executives have denied it, there are hints that the C7 Corvette will also receive a single- or twin-turbocharged V-6 engine. That might strike the Chevrolet faithful as heresy, but doing so would help bump the Corvette’s economy ratings so that GM could better meet stricter CAFE and emissions regulations. If such an engine is offered, it could be a version of GM’s popular 3.6-liter direct-injected V-6. But don’t place bets on a Corvette V-6 just yet -- such a model would be a hard sell to Corvette purists. Perhaps this engine will have to wait for the C8.
As to transmission choices, we’re told the Corvette will score a new seven-speed manual transmission, again keeping up with the 2012 Porsche 911, which offers a new seven-speed stick. Despite rumors of an optional dual-clutch automated transmission, it seems more likely Chevrolet will stick with a regular automatic for the clutch pedal averse. GM is currently developing its next generation of full-size trucks, so it’s possible that automatic transmissions could be shared between the pickups and the Corvette. Expect seven or eight forward speeds, up from six in current Corvette automatics.
Few Chassis Changes
Few details on the C7’s suspension setup have leaked so far, leading us to believe there are no drastic changes. Chevrolet will probably endeavor to make the new Corvette somewhat easier for novices to drive quickly, while retaining the car’s world-class grip and overall driving dynamics. Reduced overall weight and the aforementioned wheelbase stretch should help with this.
In the face of increasing oil prices and tightening government regulations, it’s no secret that Chevrolet must make the C7 Corvette even more fuel efficient. At the same time, executives have made clear that they don’t want the car to neglect the huge levels of performance and fun on which the Corvette has built its name. When the 2014 Corvette goes on sale in fall 2013, we firmly believe it will continue to be one of the best -- or perhaps the best -- best American-made sports cars available.


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