Author Archive

2013 Chevrolet Malibu Eco

September 8th, 2012 No comments

2013 Chevrolet Malibu ECO

 Rental Car No More

     Several years ago, 2004 to be precise, GM began to unload the original front wheel drive Chevrolet Malibu as a rental car by stripping it of its Malibu nameplates and slapping the vague Classic lettering on the deck lid. Having worked as a rental car lot attendant, I can attest that this car was the backbone of the rental car world. Unfortunately, its reliability and non-descript styling were its best points. It seemed Chevrolet had decided to join the Japanese in offering a forgettable midsize sedan except every facet was executed with mediocrity resulting in unsupportive seats, carpet that separated from its rocker sills and a completely lifeless driving experience. The revised 2004 Malibu that went to retail customers rather than fleets was hardly an improvement with its numb electrically assisted steering. If the outgoing Malibu/Classic’s styling could be described as vanilla, its replacement was nothing more than French Vanilla. GM finally stepped up to the plate with the well-received all-new Malibu for 2007. Five model years have passed, and though it was hardly looking old, GM realized that a timely replacement would be necessary to maintain the Malibu’s newfound competitiveness.  Read more…

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Video: 2012 BMW X3 xDrive 28i Preview

March 13th, 2012 No comments

      Spring has sprung and just as the last traces of snow disappeared from the landscape BMW handed us the keys to a 2012 Alpine White BMW X3 xDrive 28i. No matter, because even without snow there is still plenty of fun to be had testing the X3’s new 8-speed automatic transmission mated to that wonderful 3.0-liter inline-six engine.

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First Drive: 2013 Toyota Prius c

March 7th, 2012 No comments


Latest Addition to the Prius Family Goes Conventional

     Having narrowly escaped a late February snow storm in Michigan and finding ourselves stepping off of a plane near the Atlantic beaches of lower Florida seemed like a dream come true. Certainly a trip to the beach town that curiously shares its name with a 1958 base model Chevrolet had a catch. Yes, that catch was that we were to sample Toyota’s newest and, as executives stressed, last planned member of the Prius family. While having earned a reputation in the industry as the leading hybrid, we have never been overly excited about the Toyota Prius. The Prius has managed to win over fuel misers and environmental advocates, but to say it has been generally disliked by driving enthusiasts would be a gross understatement. We were expecting that the smallest member of Toyota’s hybrid lineup, the Prius c, would be more of the same and figured our drive of the 98 hp fuel sipper would be the low point of our stint in Florida. Read more…

2012 Toyota Prius v

March 6th, 2012 No comments

Can a Bigger Hybrid Actually Be Better?

      Toyota has had an enviable problem on their hands; how to capitalize on the brand equity that the Prius hybrid has gained. Last year Toyota announced plans to offer more Prius hybrids and introduced the world to the pluralization of the model with the designation Prii. With the Prius v, the world has gotten what seems to be a contradiction: a larger Prius. We drove a Barcelona Red Prius v to find out if bigger could be better. Read more…

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What’s Old is New Again

February 10th, 2012 No comments

2013 GMC Acadia Denali

      The grumblings coming out of the Windy City this auto show season have been clear. The GMC Acadia is aged and is barely getting a facelift after 6 model years on the market. But look closer folks. That large crossover you see with the gleaming red GMC badge is hardly an Acadia. No, that my friend, is a facelifted Saturn Outlook. Read more…

2012 Infiniti M35h

February 8th, 2012 No comments

2012 Infiniti M35h

A Hybrid After Our Own Hearts

     We’ve been putting our share of hybrids to the test over the past year. We’ve sampled Toyota’s offerings in the form of the popular Prius and their luxury brand’s Lexus CT 200h. We’ve sampled the family wagon Prius v as well as Chevrolet’s extended range plug-in electric car, the Volt. While each of these vehicles delivers varying levels of reduced consumption of gasoline, not one of them truly puts the electric motor to use for the full benefit of the driving enthusiast. When hybrids first happened on the scene, the enthusiast community couldn’t help but notice that the electric motors that assist (or in the Volt’s case, exclusively provide) propulsion had mountains of instantly available torque. We enthusiasts have had to settle for varying degrees of improved fuel economy with barely any fun thrown in. Finally, an automaker has stepped up to the challenge to use hybrid technology to actually make a sport sedan more sporting. Enter the Infiniti M35h. Read more…

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Video Review: 2012 Toyota Highlander Limited

January 31st, 2012 No comments


      Toyota’s Highlander has never been a vehicle to grab the attention of our automotive hearts. Its subdued styling and midsize packaging just doesn’t stand out in the crowd. Our all-wheel-drive test example was even painted a nondescript shade of beige. But setting out with low expectations can be good, because it’s then hard to disappoint. Read more…

2012 Toyota Highlander Walk Around

January 23rd, 2012 No comments


      Toyota dropped off an all-wheel drive Highlander Limited at the Automotive Trends garage this week. Timely since Mother Nature also stopped by with about two inches of snow for us to play in. Watch as Design Editor Gernand gives us a quick walk around of this beige family crossover. 

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2011 Scion tC

October 10th, 2011 No comments

Scion’s Basic Coupe Fails to Meet Some Basic Expectations

     The low priced sporty coupe segment has been creeping upward in price during the last decade. The market used to be speckled with the likes of the Saturn SC, Ford Probe, Chevrolet Cavalier Z24, Mitsubishi Eclipse and Toyota Celica. Not one of those models exists today, but Toyota thinks it has an answer for the niche with the Scion tC. Starting at $18,275 the tC isn’t the cheapest coupe one can find, but does it offer enough sport to lure youthful car enthusiasts from straying to the used car market for their budget minded thrills? We tested a completely base tC to find out just how the Scion fares. Read more…

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2011 Chevrolet Camaro Convertible

September 27th, 2011 No comments

Not Your Typical Drop-Top Rental Car

     A trip to Key West, Florida will confirm it. There is a market out there for flashy convertibles with high style and little need for performance. The number of rental-grade pony car convertibles in the southernmost point of Florida is nearly enough to make one decide to rent a white Camry sedan just to be different. Certainly Ford and Chevy don’t expect normal customers to buy a base convertible. Or do they? Read more…

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