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January 16, 2013
It 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.
December 19, 2012
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.
December 10, 2012
2013 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.
November 28, 2012
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.
A 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.
November 19, 2012
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.
We 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 Lexas.com 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.
November 02, 2012
Santa Monica, California: The view from my panoramic window took in the sun’s orange globe setting over the Pacific, a small cluster of beachgoers relaxing on the golden-colored sand, a parade of strollers and bikers along the boardwalk, and the famed Santa Monica Pier with its trademark Ferris wheel spinning its riders high into the salt air above the ocean punctuated by ribbons of neon lights.
I was in trendy Santa Monica, staying at the upscale and amiable Casa del Mar Hotel—to drive the redesigned 2013 Ford Fusion over the course of two days. Not long ago, it would have been a fairly-short, one-day drive, but Ford has expanded the offerings of Fusion models to three model types, and there are now three powertrain choices to select from, as well. The mid-sized sedan market today is a new, highly-competitive arena and the Blue Oval automaker has stepped up to the plate loading the bases with good product and also bringing seven new whiz-bang technology features to the game. It’s bound to pay off!
October 23, 2012
San Francisco, California: It’s been on sale since July in 18 metro markets with success that has outpaced expectations and General Motors has now ordered more from Korea, where it is produced, to meet the increased demand. It is the new 2013 Chevy Spark, brought to the U.S. to join the ever-growing list of micro-compact cars now available in America. This little wedge of a four-seater has a sporty look, with more cargo room than you might expect from a mini machine. With a MSRP that starts at $12,995, Chevy hoped this new model that has sold in global markets since 2009 would ignite its home market—and it already has!
While many come to San Francisco for the charm of its cable
September 25, 2012
When I received an invitation to attend Bridgestone’s Indy Racing Academy (Driver Development Center) in Toronto Canada I felt electric excitement (and a little disbelief) that I had been invited (along with nine other female journalists) to attend what to me, was my ultimate dream come true.
After receiving the invitation the first two people I would have loved to share this exciting news with was my father and my grandfather – unfortunately both had passed within the last year. My dad and grandpa loved cars, were pilots, and both would be really proud (and just as excited as I was) to have heard about my invitation. My dad would have been especially stoked because he loved to race cars – more specifically drag race.
So in an effort to honor my dad I decided to put on a special piece of jewelry and call my step mom. I not only wanted to tell her the news about my racing school (dream) invitation but to also inspire her. “In honor of dad I am going to wear my butterfly (pendant) necklace (he gave me a few Christmas ago) while driving the Indy car,” I told her. “That way (when I’m driving) it will be like dad is flying around the track with me,” I added. Of course an emotional female moment ensued - but it was all good..
August 13, 2012
The old adage of “Art mimics life” can be used in just about any category when used in contrast or comparison to life. Whether in professional or personal circles, just about any situation or circumstance can be used as a learning tool of what to do in life and at times what not to do.
In the story of Indy driver Katherine Legge, she has found that in both her personal and professional life her obstacles in both scenarios have allowed her to learn, grow, and at times propel her towards reaching her goals and dreams. There are many choices we contemplate and make, sometimes they occur on a minute-by-minute basis. Legge has lived her life believing that time is of the essence both in life and in the seat of a race car - so it’s imperative to always make the right choices since we only live once.
Legge started racing during her childhood in Europe at the age of 15. While following her dream to race she usually made good decisions. At time’s she faltered and lost a little faith in her abilities. For awhile Legge was racing in the U.S. but after a scary accident in 2006 she went back to racing on European tracks (which took her a few steps away from her dream). A few years later Legge returned to the U.S. and broke through many obstacles and barriers (some of which were personal) to achieve her dream of racing on the Indy circuit.
August 06, 2012
Infiniti’s G37 IPL (Infiniti Performance Line) Coupe's 3.7-liter 24-valve V6 features 348 hp and is equipped with many enhancements to increase horsepower, performance and over-the-top capabilities. The IPLs enhancements, “Intensify the feel of acceleration, delivering a more exhilarating driving experience,” per Infiniti specs. The vehicle’s advanced high-flow dual air intake allows the engine to breathe more freely while reducing air resistance and improving output. The vehicle also features specially coated low-friction pistons to reduce resistance and side body vents to reduce drag. The G37 IPL is also equipped with Infiniti’s Variable Valve Event and Lift (VVEL® ) intake technology to additionally boost performance and horsepower while improving emissions and fuel efficiency.