When I’m wrong I’ll admit it. Over the years we have had lots of great people involved in the Car Show. But none more fun than a producer we affectionately called “fish”. Fish is somewhat of a hardened metro-sexual. You know the kind of guy who pays someone to change the oil in his car but, drives a very manly car.
Last year, Fish starting talking incessantly about this new car Ford planned to roll out called the Focus ST. Having driven several examples of the Ford Focus I had a very hard time not picking on him on the air for this strange fantasy. “Just wait”, he would say. Everyone on the show would just kind of chuckle. You know, like a redneck chuckles at a truck with a sunroof.
Well, Finally the Focus ST showed up. I was lucky enough to draw the one tabbed the Tangerine Dream. I always thought tangerines were orange. Turns out, I was wrong. Tangerine is an electric yellow color. It’s not obnoxious, just obvious.
I do my standard walk around. Lowered stance, check, larger wheels, ok, maybe there is something to this Focus ST. I get in, fire it up and head out. Boom, I instantly understand that I am sitting in a very fun drivers car. Yes, the Focus is FWD but with the advanced torque steer system it drives great for a car with 252HP and 270lbft of torque.
When I was young the only people making fun to drive 5 door hatchbacks were the Germans. Now Mazda is in the game, Volkswagen still is, and Subaru can’t be left out. The competition in this segment is intense. Ford stepped up to the plate and blasted a homer with the Focus ST. It would have been a grand slam except someone decided to install the most uncomfortable seats ever produced for a driver and front passenger.
The seats I describe are an option that I would not order if you’re over the age of thirty. They are Recaro seats that are included as part of a 2,385.00 package. I would opt for the “normal” seats unless you posses the backside of a super model. While offering more support than an underwire bra, they are more uncomfortable than one of Dick Cheney’s hunting partners.
The jewel however is the 2.0L turbo. This engine is whisper quiet until you put your foot in it. When you mash the go pedal, it wakes up and screams. That’s by design. There is a valve that opens that makes the car scream, “ready to rally”. My nine year-old couldn’t be more impressed with the car. And, as I’m finding out more each year, want to know what’s cool, ask a ten year-old.
Putting that power to the ground is always tricky with a FWD car. No problem with the Focus ST. Ford uses a torque Vectoring Control system and an updated electronic steering system to keep the Focus straighter than a west Texas blacktop. This technology is backed up by a torque steer cancellation system. Helping the Focus ST hold the road as any self respecting sports car should are 235/40/18 Goodyear Eagle F1 tires.
Moving inside and ignoring the back breaking Recaros, you will find an expertly laid out series of gauges to keep track of everything from MPH to level of boost. Ah, Boost. Love me some boost! I’m a little disturbed at the technology present in the infotainment system but, my smarter friends tell me it’s impressive.
Fish, I’m saving the best for last. You were right. Ford did make and extremely fun to drive Focus. What next, bipartisanship in Washington?
The Ford Focus starts at $23,700 which is 300 dollars less than it’s ex cousin the Mazda. It’s priced perfectly for the first time buyer. Now maybe some of these twenty-something kids will have their mileage, 40mpg Highway, and infotainment-too much to list, and still find out what it’s like to pilot a driver’s car.Read More
It’s really difficult to choose the best truck, especially in Texas. We are, after all, in serious truck country. If you ever have any question as to how important Texan’s trucks are to them just attend the State Fair of Texas. Of course there will be no more appearances of Big Tex as he did his best Richard Pryor impression a few weeks ago. Thank God for cell phones.
The unique thing about the State Fair of Texas is that Big Tex is not the biggest attraction, trucks are.
Each manufacturer spends tons of cash to try and convince you their truck is the biggest, baddest, most fuel efficient model ever produced.
Truth is they are all impressive. So, if they all are good, what do you look for in a truck? Well that’s up to you. Me, I look for a sunroof and leather.
But, for the rest of you out there I know you tow boats and R.V.’s. And, if you listen to the Car Show on Saturday’s you probably also occasionally fill your truck bed with ice, and tailgate for all the Aggie home games.
The Denali has always been the exclusive brand for GMC. At first I wasn’t sure this would work for them but, years later it seems obvious they knew more about truck buyers than we knew about ourselves.
You see there’s no shame in admitting that you like to pull your hay trailer in absolute comfort or get out of the cold deer blind and enter an extremely well appointed cabin with heated seats. Of course if its summer and you are outside building fence in the Texas heat, you can jump in and cool your ass down with the air conditioned seats.
Yes, heated and air conditioned seats seem a little soft for a “truck man” but, you saw the elections we are evolving.
Let me assure you however the GMC Denali is not soft in any way. With the 6.2 liter with variable valve timing (E85 capable); and a Hyra-matic6L80 six-speed automatic transmission the 2013 Denali delivers 403HP and 417lb.-ft of torque. That is all you need to tow over 9,400 lbs.
The brakes were very impressive. The Denali offers standard powertrain grade braking through automatic downshifting. This feature will be extremely helpful when towing up and down hills.
Of course safety is not forgotten. The Denali has more air bags than the legislative branch, too many to list. Lets’ just say if you’re traveling down the newest Texas toll road between Austin and San Antonio and you have an accident, prepare to see lots pillows and powder. Ha, sounds like an early Rolling Stones album.
Mileage for the Denali could be better. Listed as 12/18, I was lucky to get that. I know it’s a big heavy truck but, GMC should deliver more on this front.
The best thing about the 2013 Denali is driving it. If you’ve never driven one expect to be blown away with the absence of road noise and the quality sound produced by the Bose sound system.
The pricing for the Denali starts at $48,635.00 but with Nav, sunroof and integrated trailer brake controller expect that number to increase to $53,694.00. I know, it’s a lot of cash but the 2013 denali is a lot of truck.Read More
When you chose your wife/girlfriend or your husband/boyfriend did you go safe or go wild? If you went wild, good luck. You’re in for a hell of a ride for a few months, a few years, or eternity. If you chose safe then be sure to buy the 2013 Honda CRV for all of your transportation needs.
I know, safety is important to us all. It’s just that I crave a bit of a challenge in my life, some excitement if you will. It’s why I chose my wife and why I remind myself everyday that, that choice was made for fun and not safety so, I chose an eternity of cooking and cleaning. Hey, there is always the ever present opportunity cost.
The opportunity cost of safe is usually excitement. That’s my overall impression of the 2013 Honda CRV. I can’t find one thing to knock about it except that it’s boring. I’m talking Bill Cates/code writer boring.
It’s quiet, efficient and comfortable but, so are Hush Puppies. With so many crossovers with angled bodies and peppy power-plants the CRV is forgettable in a crowd, but hasn’t that always been the case with Honda. I know, there are exceptions, the early CRX, the NSX and, whoops, that’s it.
The 2013 CRV gets respectable mileage, 22/30 and it doing this it achieves the highest fuel rating in its class. To get these impressive numbers in fuel economy Honda chose to put taller gears in the CRV which didn’t do much for the performance. However, if you buy the CRV you aren’t someone who’s into performance. You probably measure performance in longevity. I know it sounds sad but there are those out there among us that think like that.
Even though the CRV comes in available Four-wheel drive I wouldn’t take it past the closest State Park.
Here’s the deal, even though the Honda CRV is about as exciting as Betty White it’s also amazingly effortless to operate. There is something to be said for stability and reliability. Each time you drop behind the wheel and into the ten-way adjustable driver’s seat, turn on the 328 watt audio system and venture out into the world you feel a sense of comfort and adulthood.
There comes a time when we all grow up and realize that there is value in modesty. Honda has always driven this point home and nothing has changed with this year’s CRV.Read More
I drove the Hyundai Genesis not long ago and was unimpressed with the 2.0 turbo. Granted the Genesis with the six cylinder is quite fun, but, the 2.0 turbo was just no fun to drive at all. In fact the Genesis 2.0 lowered my expectations for the 2013 Veloster.
One of the guys I do the radio show with has been making more noise than a broken rod about this car for over a year. He’s a euro dude, if not geographically, then mentally. He drives a BWM and covets small fun to drive cars. He also wears low top Chuck Taylors with no socks. See, told you so.
When I came down stairs to pick up the Veloster every expectation I had of the car changed. First off, I love the styling. The front end is blunt, like very blunt, like blunt like me. The wheels fit perfectly in the oversized wheel wheels. Then, there are the huge fenders, square back and a great stance, the Hyundai Veloster had everything I covet in a rally inspired car.
Granted, it’s one door short. Well, no, actually if you count the hatch back there’s four. The Veloster actual has one back door on the passenger side it’s just the right ingress opportunity for a young adult. It’s not the door I would choose to enter the car. It’s much more fun to enter through the driver’s door
Jump in and you will find a comfortable cockpit with extremely functional, sensible easy to use gauges and controls. The seats are firm and very supportive. The interior lay out is very sporty with sport accents on the front seats of the turbo. One of the best ideas Hyundai had was putting the start/fire it up button, in the center of the dash. It feels great to reach up and slightly to the right to bring anything to life.
Once fired up and on the tarmac the Veloster turbo shines more than Lil’ Wayne’s grill. The turbo version of the 1.6 liter offers 201 HP and 195 pounds of torque. That’s more than enough to propel the 3700 pound car. What also surprised me was the stiffness of the chassis. Where the Genesis felt like it couldn’t handle anymore boost, the Veloster almost screams, “give me more”. The six-speed manual was smooth and tight. And the clutch engages at just the right point.
I know I should point out a weak point. That could have been the mileage but, it wasn’t. The Veloster turbo gets 26 city and 38 Hwy. I’m beginning to wonder if the manufacturers are understating their mileage, as Ford has done for years under estimating their horsepower on the Mustang GT’s. I was able to easily coax 40mpg out of the Veloster turbo on the highway.
Hyundai manages to place all of this fun in an affordable package. The MSRP on the 2013 Veloster is 21,950. It feels like it could sell for up to eight grand more than that before you would start to hear complaints.Read More
If you’re the kind of commuter that could care less if you take the train, bus or any subcompact on the road, I’ve found the car for you. With as much edge as Sinbad set, the 2012 Toyota Yaris gets the job done. At forty-six years of age I’m starting to understand the benefit of proper tools.
Gas prices are going to continue to rise no matter what party you choose to be conned by in the fall elections. I for one do get tired of filling my truck up at 80-100 bucks a pop. Truth be told, I rarely use my truck for truck duty. It spends most of its life empty, with no dead weight dragging behind it. Sounds like Tom Cruise. So, what’s wrong with me seeing the sensibility of owning a high mileage subcompact for daily commutes around town? As far as style, style cost money, money that could be used on gas. That reason alone could justify throwing down the small amount of jack required to purchase a new Yaris. The Yaris pricing starts at $14,115.00. That seems very reasonable considering Toyota is happy to include their reliable reputation in the deal.
Just don’t expect an exhilarating driving experience. Not that it’s boring; let’s just say you have about as much sex appeal Andy Dick on a three week bender. But, automotive sex appeal can’t always take center stage. At some point we all have to realize it’s just a commuter car.
One of the things that really appeals to me is the radio. Instead of all these crazy teeny tiny little buttons to control everything but nuclear fusion, there is one giant button, one for volume and for scanning. Brilliant. Of course, you can still connect your iPod. The 2012 Yaris includes iPod connectivity plus AUX and USB ports.
There no optional NAV system but, that’s ok ,they still make maps, right?
Now, for the power numbers. I was going to make a joke here but, the power is actually ok. You get 100HP and 100 pounds of torque. Offering old school port fuel injection –vs- the more modern diret injection the Yaris still claims fuel mileage of 30/38. Did I mention it’s under $14,500.00?
If I was a gen-Y and wanted to make a break from my parent’s house before I was thirty I would strongly consider the 2012 Yaris.Read More
Just like Madonna all men seek their inner masculinity. Whether its big guns like hers or, big guns that can blow thing up, most guys like stuff that makes us think or, look like we can tackle anything. But while tuff will always be in for guys, we live in a new age that allows us to be tuff and groomed at the same time.
That’s really my impression of the 2012 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 2WD Crew Cab LTZ. Tuff and well groomed.
Powered by the little LS that could, the 5.3 liter version of Chevy’s now iconic small block series, the 5.3 liter offers more torque than I could imagine, out of a motor with limited cubic inches. I could probably do this whole review as an ode to the LS but I won’t. This power-plant has been overly documented in reviews of everything from trucks to Corvettes. And much like Madonna they seem to continue to get stronger as they age.
As much as I love the power-plant, I love the styling of the 2012 Silverado even more. Unlike Madonna the lines are smooth and clean. Ok, ok, I’ll lay of Madge. The front fascia appeals to me with its straight “truck” lines and a new slit just above the bumper actually makes the Silverado look related to the Corvette and Camaro.
I will tell you that until this last little tweak of the exterior sheet metal I preferred the looks of another manufacturer over the Silverado. No longer, the designers at G.M. seem to have hit on all of my personal styling preferences.
With its active fuel management technology the 2012 Silverado gets a very respectable 15 city, and 21 miles to the gallon on the highway. Estimated annual fuel cost is $3,263.00.
The ride of the Silverado is almost car like. The steering is responsive and handling around corners if very flat for a several thousand pound vehicle. Coil over shocks on the front suspension is my guess as to how Chevrolet accomplishes this. Also, the boxed frame offers rigidity that helps with not only handling but towing. Speaking of towing the 2012 Silverado helps you handle that with- STABILITRAC- stability control with trailer sway control.
With the LTZ package comes a very plush interior that includes a leather wrapped steering wheel, power, heated front bucket seats w/ driver memory and a Bose system that sounds fantastic. This however is also one of my gripes about the Silverado. To change the station on the radio anyone under six feet tall has to really lean to the right- which is of course tough for me-to change the station. This requires you to take your eyes off the road. With all of the unintended distractions already brought aboard we don’t need any factory distractions.
One gripe is pretty good in my book; however, you pay for all of this grooming. Total vehicle price for the 2012 Silverado 1500 2WD Crew Cab LTZ is as large as its full name, $45,319.00 to be exact.
But again masculinity has never looked so good. Sorry Madonna
Got some bad news last week, I found out I would have to keep the 2013 Mustang GT an extra day. Instead of the usual Tuesday delivery, Ford wanted to deliver the Mustang on Monday because of the Fourth of July holiday.
I don’t know if a color can make a car faster but, if it could Grabber Blue would be it. I know Ford has done the Grabber Blue before but, not like this. I’ll do my best to describe how this color looks, so blue and so light and so tuff at the same time. It’s like a twenty-two year old at a party for middle aged folks. It stands out. You know how Steve Martin had that line about never being able to sing a sad song to a banjo. Well, it’s just as hard to be sad driving a light blue muscle car. I mean its BLUUUUUE.
When you open the door you can’t help but notice how the dark blue, accented black leather seats call your name. Slide in and grab the billet cue ball shift knob. OUCH! My God, That thing was hot. Ford, right now, you need to put leather on all of the shift knobs on cars destined for the Southwest. Seriously, I’ve never touched anything that hot in a car before. I had to use a napkin to put over it. But, man it looked great.
As far as appearance goes, they’ve done more tweaking than Bruce Jenner’s plastic surgeon. If you put a 2006 Mustang next to a 2013 you will be shocked at the subtle changes. For one, the rear fascia is now far more understated, especially with the spoiler delete. All of the changes give the Mustang a much more refined appearance. Even the “mood lighting” was tolerable.
Slide around to the front of the car and open the hood and you’ll see one of the most attractive engine compartments in the industry. Yea, it’s all plastic on top of the Coyote motor but, at least they made it look great.
Oh yea, the Coyote motor. Ford says it puts out 402 on regular gas and 420 on Premium. Save your money. My guess is they’re lying and it’s actually about 420 on regular. This motor is strong. It’s giving the Camaro lovers fits. Four hundred pounds of torque at 4205RPM gets you under way faster than MTV’s Teen Moms get arrested.
I know the Mustang is up for a huge design change, and there have been rumors of distancing from the retro styling. I’m whole heartedly on board. I think the newest version of the Mustang GT looks far less retro than the 2005 model.
That shift knob heating up is a problem. So is the fact that you now pay forty thousand dollars for a Mustang GT. But, it’s ok. Order one in Hugger Blue and you’ll be way too happy to care about the price.Read More
The world has officially shifted on its axis. Tom Cruise plays a ROCKSTAR and I like a Volvo station wagon.
First I’ll just touch on the many things that are wrong with Mr. Cruise playing a ROCKSTAR. Wait, there’s just not enough space. So, we’ll move onto the Volvo C30 Turbo.
I’m getting to be a huge fan of the “Rally” style cars. It started with an STI that a friend of mine owned. Ryan, from the show had a 700HP Subaru that both scared and attracted me at the same time, kind of like Rihanna.
I’m not sure Volvo intended the C30 to be seen as a rally car but, to me a turbo hatchback is a rally car indeed.
Starting with its very peppy power-plant, a 2.5 liter turbo that puts out about 235HP and 230ftlbs of torque the C30 offers a very upbeat driving experience. I was lucky enough to get the “R” package which includes a lower stance, huge wheels and tires and a handling package. This car should not be fast or even quick. You see it has a weight problem. Weighing in at 4,300lbs-that’s only a few pounds shy of my truck- the Volvo c30 won’t be winning any bathing suit competitions.
This is what I find fascinating about cars. It’s all about the set up. In the normal world I would become uninterested very quickly in this cars horsepower to weight ratio. On paper it looks like a slug. On the road the C30 feels like a fun little slot car.
What really sets the Volvo apart from the rest of the-yawn-hatchbacks is the exterior styling. The C30 is the most stylish car I’ve been given this year. It looks like nothing else on the road today. There is a body line that starts at the headlights and continues to the rear of the car. The line gets more pronounced as it goes farther back. Just above the rear wheels this body line turns into about a four inch shelf. For those of you that are confused, the C30 has a Donkey Butt. Wow, never thought I would use that in a review.
The dash is a thing of beauty. All of the controls are on a pod about fourteen inches tall, six inches wide and one inch deep. It literally looks like a big i-phone. However, even though it looks really cool, the extremely small and cramped buttons make it almost impossible to operate while driving. I guess its ok since the Volvo has always been a very safe car to crash.
The C30 has two doors and four seats. There is no room in the back seat for anyone large enough to ride the roller coaster. I don’t care because the C30 is so much fun to drive I don’t want the car full of people.
It is so rare to find originality in our world. The C30 is to cars what the Red Hot Chili Peppers are to rock.
With a price ranging from $25,000.00 TO $32,000.00 THE C30 is very reasonably priced. If you’re looking for a cool hatchback to infuse your daily commute with style, fun and safety there is no better choice out there. As for the fuel economy, it was great. I averaged 30mpg over my week of automotive bliss.
I just wish Tom Cruise didn’t play a ROCKSTAR.Read More