Jul 24, 2012
Chris Salamone

Leaf Armstrong Stretches For Comfort

Next time you’re lodging in the Nashville area, it might be a good idea to shoot for the Embassy Suites Nashville South. And, it might be an even better idea to ask for shuttle service – where the hotel’s stretch limo Nissan Leaf is currently in use.

That’s right, a Nissan Leaf that’s been converted into a limousine.

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Jul 16, 2012
Chris Salamone

Focus ST Grabs 32 MPG Per EPA

The shrewd folks in Dearborn seem to be batting 1000 lately, especially with regard to the company’s EcoBoosted lineup. Turns out the incoming 2013 Ford Focus ST is a good deal more fuel efficient than even hot hatch enthusiasts could have dreamed. The EPA estimates that the new 2.0-liter EcoBoost-equipped Focus ST will achieve 32 mpg highway, 23 mpg city and 26 mpg combined.

In case anyone is still interested in cross shopping, which seems sort of unnecessary at this point, that’s significantly better than the MazdaSpeed3 and slightly trumps the previous field-leader manual Volkswagen GTI.

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Jun 29, 2012
Chris Salamone

Cadillac ELR Details (And Weight) Add Up

The journalistic wizards at Car and Driver have uncovered a motherload of new details regarding the incoming Cadillac ELR, based on the current Chevy Volt. Originally billed as the Cadillac Converj Concept, at Detroit’s 2009 Auto Show, the Cadillac ELR has been the focus of rumors all over the blogosphere for years. ELR-related conversations have mostly involved concern that the Volt is already priced like a Cadillac – and already appeals to Cadillac’s consumer market.

But another potential issue has arisen as well. Cadillacs must be powerful, quiet, luxurious, and a long list of other features – which, in sum, amount to a heavy vehicle. The Volt’s mechanical guts, rated at 94 MPGe and powered by an uninspiring 1.4 liter engine plus 16.5 kWh battery, are simply not strong enough to accommodate the extra weight.

That’s why Cadillac will be adding a little fuel to the fire.

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Jun 22, 2012
Chris Salamone

eBay Listing Commuter Gold: 1972 Honda Z600

Since the first major US oil crisis, of the early 1970s, small cars have rolled into vogue. Of course, Americans still adopt a ‘bigger is better’ mentality, even today, but increased offerings in the subcompact and micro car segments are evidence enough to suggest that fuel efficiency remains to be a major selling factor.

But if purchase price is also an important characteristic, then car consumers must often broaden their search to the pre-owned lot – and economy cars of yesterday. Fortunately for Honda, the company was prophetic enough to produce fuel sippers from the get go.

Like this 1972 Honda Z600, listed on eBay, which is capable of a proclaimed 136 miles per gallon at 30 mph. That’s what we call commuter gold.

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Jun 15, 2012
Chris Salamone

Buick Verano Turbo, When Green Gets Groovy

Day after day, month after month, and year after year, US automakers unleash a seemingly unending stream of ‘eco-friendly’ products. Since the early 1970s and our first major oil crisis, green has become the new black. But the trouble is, for too long, we’ve had to sacrifice performance on the altar of economy.

This year, things seem different. For the first time the Big Three are making vehicles which perform on par with foreign competitors AND achieve greater mileage savings at the pump – case in point, Honda Fit vs. Chevy Sonic.

Buick’s latest debut, the Verano Turbo, brings the spirit of performance plus economy to a whole new level. Just months ago auto journos everywhere were criticizing Buick for brand identity issues. It seems GM got the message (hold your applause). Buick is becoming the premium US brand which checks all the boxes, a physical manifestation of having your cake and eating it, too.

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Jun 8, 2012
Chris Salamone

Fit EV Reigns MPG Supreme!

There’s no denying that consumers are fond of the Honda Fit. Time and time again, auto journos rank Honda Fit among the best subcompacts available on the market – despite a virtually un-updated design since 2007. But one of the major drawbacks of Honda’s popular people mover, especially relative to newer subcompacts, is fuel economy. The standard Fit achieves a mere 27 mpg city and 33 mpg highway, both woefully inadequate in a category of vehicles topped with 40+ mpg stars.

Interestingly, though, the Honda Fit’s mpg inadequacy did not carry over to the incoming 2013 Honda Fit EV. As of today, Honda released a press statement which summed up the findings of the Environmental Protection Agency’s MPG test.

2013 Honda Fit EVs are rated to achieve 118 MPGe with a range of 82 miles, or the highest ever fuel efficiency tested by the EPA.

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Jun 1, 2012
Chris Salamone

Consumer Reports Cuts Prius C (Video)

Just days ago, Consumer Reports posted a review on YouTube of Toyota’s 2013 Prius C. Back in March the all-knowing product evaluation company completed a First Drive analysis which left viewers with a hint of foreboding – the final Consumer Reports review might be less than stellar. And so, test day has come and gone, revealing that the 2013 Toyota Prius C hybrid falls short of a coveted ‘Recommended’ rating.

Using heavy descriptors like lackluster, small, dead, noisy, underpowered, Mike Quincy, an Auto Specialist for Consumer Reports, brought the thunder in the company’s most recent review – even suggesting that buyers consider pre-owned (normal) Prius models over the more compact Prius C.

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May 25, 2012
Chris Salamone

Back In Black: Escalade Pardoned From Death Row

Somehow, someway the Cadillac Escalade will reborn in early 2014, as a 2015 model. Coming right on the heels of a Consumer Reports study which found fuel efficiency to be the singularly most important factor in car shopping, GM has nevertheless decided to reboot the aging megalodon of fuel guzzling SUVs. Apparently the old brute was just too dang good at making money.

For years now industry analysts have speculated that large body-on-frame SUVs would slowly die off. And GM’s recent decision to axe the Chevy Avalanche, and ritzy twin Cadillac Escalade EXT, added wood to the Escalade’s impending funeral pyre.

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May 16, 2012
Chris Salamone

Honda Seeks “Harmonious” Mobility Device

Beginning in June 2012, Honda will start testing the company’s latest electric personal mobility device. UNI-CUB, a seated electric chair, stems from Honda’s originally famous ASIMO robot. But UNI-CUB is a whole different animal…er machine.

For starters, UNI-CUB is a balance controlled vehicle which relies on some fancy multi-directional hoodoo. Drivers can lean in any direction, while plopped down on UNI-CUB’s English-style saddle, and expect the wheels underneath to respond in an appropriately futuristic manner. Honda has pioneered a steering technology called Omni Traction Drive System which allows riders to travel forward, backward, side to side, and diagonally – instead of traditional forward/backward wheels. The system relies on rear wheels which move laterally to facilitate turning and front/rear wheel treads that are capable of different rotational speeds and directions.

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May 11, 2012
Chris Salamone

Subaru’s Rumored WRX Electric Turbo

Ever since the most recent generation Impreza rolled onto lots, buyers have wondered what the incoming WRX might look like. While we still have no idea what shape the next WRX will take, partly because Subaru refused to showcase a new design during last year’s Tokyo Auto Show, a recent article from Brisbane Times speculates that the vehicle’s turbocharger will have some pretty nifty technology.

For the time being, WRX enthusiasts will have to remain ‘enthused’ by imagining the improved fuel efficiency and reduced turbo lag associated with an electrically-powered turbocharger.

And although no official comment has affirmed the rumor, Brisbane Times cites an “unnamed source” and motortrend.com’s eagle eyes’ find of a Fuji Heavy Industries patent, taken out in 2007, on… you guessed it… an electric turbo.

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