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48 posts categorized "Give Some Expert Advice!"

March 06, 2013

2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee and Grand Cherokee SRT Take on the Texas Hills and the new Circuit of the Americas

Jeep-frontAustin, Texas: Jeep’s update of its 2014 Grand Cherokee model makes it new; there are new drivetrains, more luxury and a bevy of options for off-road prowess define it and its sizzling sibling- the high-performance, lap-of-luxury 2014 Grand Cherokee SRT. One of the original mid-sized luxury SUVs to come to market in 1992, the newest version seats five and is an authentic competitor to VW, Land Rover, BMW, and other high-end sport utes. It’s priced from $28,795 to $50,995; the Grand Cherokee Limited with Jeep’s new EcoDiesel V6 is the lowest priced diesel SUV in the market at $40, 295, says Chrysler.

The exterior strikes a nice visual balance between refinement and ruggedness, with a grille that has been redesigned to give more luxo character overall, with distinguishing trim around each of the signature vertical slots. Slimmer headlamps and a shorter upper grille put a check in the “more refined” category, while 17-inch all-season tires (standard on base Laredo models) and a beefy lower grille have “rugged” cred – plus, depending on the trim level, tires get as big as 20 inches. The rear has new, larger tail lamps with smart LED lighting, a larger, more aerodynamic rear spoiler, and a re-sculpted tailgate. Dual exhaust tips are standard on all Limited, Overland and Summit models. Front and rear LED lighting, including bi-xenon high-intensity discharge (HID) headlamps on higher end models, make Grand Cherokee grandly bright on the road.

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February 20, 2013

The 2013 Chicago Auto Show: The Windy City’s Annual Show is Top for Consumers

CAS_2013_LOGO_330Auto shows have a personality and the Chicago Auto Show is described by automakers and autowriters as a “down-home” show—and they love it! There’s even an event sponsored by all the automakers for the press and other early attendees called “Sweet Home Chicago”! But, don’t let its slower pace and more comfortable setting make you think it’s small. In fact, the Chicago Auto Show is the largest auto show in North America and this year’s show marked the 105th annual event, which makes it the longest-running and one of the best-attended shows in the world. Sponsored by the Chicago Automobile Trade Association dealers, the show is held at the McCormick Place Convention Complex where the enormous amount of space on hand brings an ease for car makers to offer free concerts and set up experiential test tracks. There’s also a ‘social media day’ now held annually that draws a wide variety of presenters and consumers to come together to evaluate and promote this new landscape and its effect on the automotive industry. was one of the presenters this year, helping to showcase the exciting and rapidly-growing arena of Marketing to Women.

But, at the end of the day, an auto show is really about new sheet metal and the introductions of new models soon to hit the streets along with the unveiling of concept vehicles that are experiments in design and technology and are meant to take the temperature of the audience, plus help automakers make decisions about whether to move forward with a particular model or technology. There were a number of both-new models that will be in dealerships soon and a few hot concepts. My personal favorites were the 2014 Toyota Tundra, the 2014 Ram Promaster, the 2014 Nissan Juke NISMO and Nissan NV200, and the Kia Crossover CUT Concept.

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February 04, 2013

2014 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 and GMC Sierra 1500: The General’s Next-Generation Pickups

IMG_0331General Motors says that today’s pickup truck buyers don’t just use their trucks from 9-5, but also from 5-9, too! They want trucks that have the DNA or core technology of toughness for work, carrying payload, and hauling trailers, but also comfort and room for taking their kids to ball games and ferrying their family around town, as well as connectivity and good gas mileage. Listening to their customers, who are also buying more extended cab models, GM has just taken the wraps off of its next generation Chevy Silverado and GMC Sierra 1500 that have been updated and renovated for 2014.

Scheduled to go on sale later this year, the stablemates have a refreshed exterior, a completely redesigned interior and upgraded powertrains for more power—but also improved fuel economy. We took a ‘first look’ at the new models recently in Detroit; pricing has not been announced. While General Motors played it safe with this model year update, and kept some familiar exterior design cues and, in some areas made modest changes, there are also some significant improvements, particularly with some technology features – the improvements offer a welcome change and are clearly a sign of many new and good things to come from The General.

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January 28, 2013

The 2012 Los Angeles International Auto Show: Automakers Keep the Sport in Sport Utes

IMG_0277Although southern California is celebrated as a sports car mecca, sport utility vehicles of every size and type were among the biggest hits at the 2012 Los Angeles International Auto Show. More than 40 different brands parked their new models and concept renditions on the ‘red carpet’ at the Los Angeles Convention Center, as 50 new vehicles made their premier entrance or global debut. The LAIAS is among the most significant shows in annual big-city show season in the U.S. and the home of the Greater Los Angeles Auto Dealers Association (GLANCDA), the umbrella organization for local and regional dealers. The LAIAS is followed by 2013 auto shows in Detroit (January), Chicago (February), New York (April) and other cities across the nation.

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January 21, 2013

First Drive: The 2014 Ford Transit Connect Van and Wagon

People need to move—and carry things. Adding some all-new and updated game-changing, people-and-cargo-movers to its line-up, Ford has recently expanded its truck brand in the U.S., with new models that go on sale later this year. The Blue Oval is already the best-selling truck maker in North America and now adds two new vehicles for 2014-an updated Transit Connect Van and an all-new Transit Connect Wagon.

We recently took a look and climbed aboard the two new vehicles in Detroit, with Ford’s designers, engineers and marketers on hand to educate us about the new models. First, let’s take a closer look at the van, which came to the U.S. in 2010 as a creative solution for small business owners and others that had the need or desire to own a somewhat utilitarian, compact panel van. If you’re not familiar with the first-generation version that came stateside from its popular run in Europe for close to a decade, you might think of a bulky, rectangular box with four wheels and the “Airport Shuttle” image, or the name of your electrician painted on the side of a van. You might even think back to the velour swivel seats and dastardly fuel economy of vans in the 1970s and 1980s.

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January 16, 2013

The 2012 Los Angeles International Auto Show: RACY CARS ARE THE STARS in The City of Angels

LogoIt was a cornucopia of cars that glistened and twirled at this year’s 2012 Los Angeles International Auto Show (stay tuned for our “trucks’ piece that follows soon!). Hundreds of models from 42 brands were parked under the bright lights of the Los Angeles Convention Center, 50 of which took the runway and shed their nighties to make a global debut, kicking off the annual big-city-auto-show season in the U.S. Upcoming are auto shows in Detroit, Chicago, New York and other cities across the nation.

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December 19, 2012

2013 Toyota Avalon: Grandma’s Car No More-It’s named for Camelot Lore

San Antonio, Texas: One of my favorite car stories is about my friend Bob’s elderly grandmother, who drove a Toyota Avalon. She would take four right-hand turns to avoid a left. For a number of years, I thought of this driver as the demographic for this four-door, full-sized sedan. I surmised that this Toyota model was designed to appeal to older, more cautious drivers who loved rolling along in large and long lumbering boats. Times have changed, cars have changed, and so have my impressions of Toyota’s flagship Avalon. I have an all-new impression of the all-new 2013 Toyota Avalon which, by the way, is named for a mythical island in Camelot lore.

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December 10, 2012

The 2013 Jetta Hybrid Adds Miles with Smiles

IMG_01232013 Jetta Hybrid: By Sue Mead Santa Fe, New Mexico: Introduced at the 2012 North American Auto Show, the updated four-door Jetta Hybrid is Volkswagen’s second hybrid offering, following the Touareg SUV, and it both looks and drives like a success. We recently drove the 2013 Volkswagen Jetta hybrid in the trendy high country of New Mexico and parked overnight at Santa Fe’s luxury-appointed Four Seasons Resort Rancho Encantado. The new Jetta Hybrid is most fuel-efficient car in this German automaker’s U.S. lineup, and gets up to 45 mpg. It will travel at speeds of up to 37/44 mph on electric power alone. The SE model starts at $27,785, including a $795 destination charge, while the SEL has a sticker price of $30,120; a base hybrid model, which is only available by special order, stickers at $25,790.

The Jetta Hybrid has modernized and sporty-practical styling as the other models in the Jetta lineup, has a narrow front grille and, by today’s big-badge standards, relatively modest “VW” logo in the center. The sedan’s overall profile looks lower, sleeker and coupe-ier than past Jettas, which have tended toward the boxy. A low front air dam, side skirts and an integrated spoiler help to lower the car’s drag to 0.28 – lower than a standard Jetta by 0.02. Fifteen-inch steel wheels, featuring a windmill-like design unique to the hybrid, are standard, with 16-inch and 17-inch alloys available on higher end models. Up-market Jetta hybrids also come with standard fog lights. Inside, Jetta hybrid is comfortable and somewhat spartanly-dressed.

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November 28, 2012

The 2013 Nissan Sentra Gets Style, Content and Performance Makeover

2013 Nissan Sentra: With a sleeker profile, lighter footprint and a more upscale interior, the 2013 Nissan Sentra has been completely redesigned for this model year – and it could give dominant players in this category a run for their money. Boasting up to 40 mpg on the highway, this compact sedan also answers the continued demand for fuel efficiency in an era of continually-rising gas prices. On sale now, starting at $15,990, this is Nissan’s seventh generation of this popular, value-priced model.

SENTRA-2833A gleaming chrome-framed grille defines the front end, which is capped by arrow-point headlamps accented with LED bulbs lined up dot-to-dot under the larger lights. A lowered beltline and more aerodynamically shaped roofline cut a sophisticated profile; the rear end is a bit chunky and low-slung, with wraparound taillamps and a liftgate with an integrated spoiler (on some trims). Chrome also accents the door handles and windows. Compared to the previous version, the 2013 Sentra has a longer wheelbase but shorter front overhang (and longer rear overhang), for a modern sports sedan look; it is five percent lighter and its drag coefficient is 0.29, down from 0.34 last year. Sixteen-inch wheels and tires are standard; 17-inch wheels are available, as are a few other exterior premium features, such as integrated rearview mirror turn signals.

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November 19, 2012

Smooth, Sexy, Sporty and Smart:The 2013 Lexus LS

The 2013 Lexus LS: Lexus has given its flagship sedan a complete redesign and added a new sport version to the lineup. The all-new 2013 Lexus LS 460 is unapologetically big, smooth and sumptuous-both inside and out. Plus, there’s an updated version of its LS 600 hybrid that brings increased fuel efficiency and added plushness. Since it came to the market in 1989, its designers and engineers have set the tone for the Lexus brand by endowing its top-of-the-line model with a high level of craftsmanship, technology and refinement. The newest LS has a more bold exterior; an interior that has been updated with a higher level of quality and technology; there is improved safety and upgraded driving dynamics—along with more than 3,000 new parts! The base LS 460 rear wheel drive version starts at $71, 990 and the LS600 hybrid starts at $119,910.

Lexus-1We came to Tucson, known as “The Real Southwest” and parked overnight at the sumptuous Ritz Carlton Hotel, with accommodations befitting this updated opulent auto. Lexus isn’t shy about its achievements and wants its success to be recognized, so has tailored its ride and drives and media campaign to heighten the prestige of the LS. For its first introduction this summer, Lexus revealed the new model as the centerpiece to an international photo exhibit in San Francisco called the “Lexus Laws of Attraction”, at an L.A. Food and Wine event and at the legendary Pebble Beach Concours d’ Elegance, in Monterrey, California. The new LS F Sport model was unveiled by renowned designers Jonathan Adler and Simon Doonan to a global audience during a live webcast on and Facebook. Looking at the exterior of the new iconic LS, you’ll notice it has an aerodynamic sweep of a profile, with short overhangs front and rear and a relatively long midsection.

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