By Chris Haak
What’s the deal with with new cars today? In spite of uncertain fuel prices – which some experts feel are likely to spike again above $4 USD per gallon sometime during the next few years – when new cars are redesigned, they often times turn out to be larger and heavier than the model they have replaced. There are occasional exceptions, of course. Nissan’s 370Z weighs less than its 350Z, and its current Altima shrunk slightly from its predecessor’s size and weight. The 2011 Mazda2 and Ford Fiesta weigh less than did their non-US predecessors thanks to careful engineering and the application of high-strength steel. And now the 2011 Hyundai Sonata – the company’s volume model – is larger, more comfortable, more powerful and more attractive than the 2010 model. But somebody forgot to tell Hyundai that when cars gain size and power, they’re supposed to gain weight. This car weighs more than 100 pounds less than the model it replaced – and gets better fuel economy.
We’re not going to spill much digital ink re-hashing the Hyundai story, but the company made its US debut in the 1980s with the Yugo-competitive throwaway Hyundai Excel econobox, but has steadily improved the quality, engineering, performance, and design of its vehicles over the ensuing quarter century to the point that the company’s vehicles (as well as those of its Kia subsidiary) have made their way onto the shopping lists of many US consumers. As we noted recently, Hyundai-Kia has outsold Nissan-Infiniti in the US so far in 2010.
By Kevin Miller
Labor Day weekend marks the unofficial end of summer in the US. The three-day weekend is a time of year when millions of Americans hit the road for one last summer getaway, clogging our nation’s interstates and highways with traffic. Imagine my dismay, then, to learn that I would be reviewing the 2011 BMW Alpina B7 over Labor Day weekend.
Oh wait; maybe that didn’t come out right. While I may have been challenged to find an open road during my week with the Alpina B7, my week with the car was not fraught with dismay. Far from it- when the car was put on my review schedule, I was nearly euphoric – and then I had to start researching the specifications and provenance of this very special BMW.
By Charles Krome
It’s obvious you’re in for a maudlin minute or so as soon as you hear the tinkling piano and see the melting ice drip-dropping on your screen—you know, sort of like tears. Then, after a quick shot of dirty ice falling from a calving glacier, you finally get to see the star of the show: A sad-looking polar bear alone on a shrinking ice floe, paws crossed beneath his chin like a six-year-old who’s been sent for a “timeout” for reasons he doesn’t understand.
I really feel kind of sorry for the bear, too: Not only does he have to deal with a shrinking habitat, but he’s also been stuck into one of the cheesiest commercials currently on the air today, the new spot for the Nissan Leaf.
By George Straton
Techshake recently attended the first of what national parking facility operator InterPark claims is the dawn of a new era in vehicle parking facilities. That era is the development of a charging infrastructure for the plug in electric vehicle.
Hints coming from Nissan are that the Chicago market, where the event was held, isn’t likely to receive its first allocation of the Leaf, the first plug-in electric vehicle to be “mass” produced for the U.S. market, until the end of 2012.
By Kevin Miller
Since witnessing the Cadillac CTS Sport Wagon make its debut in Detroit in early 2009, I’ve wanted the chance to get behind the wheel. I’ve got a soft spot for wagons, especially ones whose tail lamps trace the vertical shape up the car’s D pillars. In that regard, the CTS Sport Wagon doesn’t disappoint. Based on the second-generation Cadillac CTS Sedan that went on sale for the 2008 model year, the CTS wagon is Cadillac’s first production wagon for sale in North America.
Fortunately, the CTS sedan is a great starting point for this wagon. In addition to being the first Cadillac wagon ever in North America (aside from funeral cars), the CTS is one of GM’s few non-crossover wagons in this market. (The Saab 9-3 based BLS was Cadillac’s first passenger wagon, but was only offered in European markets, and was unloved by buyers). Cadillac’s shapely Art and Science design language translates very well to the CTS Sport Wagon, and the car looks great with the 19” wheels that are a part of the Summer Tire Performance package. I’d call its appearance powerful, sporty, and purposeful.