Friday
Apr132012

Best in Class 2012 Ford Focus SE

By Ted Orme

With gas prices staying ugly, I’ve made it a point over the past year to drive several small, high gas mileage cars from Honda, Toyota, Mazda, Subaru, Hyundai, Kia, VW, Fiat, Chevrolet and my latest ride, the 2012 Ford Focus SE sedan. What most surprised this veteran car guy with vivid memories of on-the-blink Vegas, Pintos, Le Cars, early Beetles and the like is you can’t go wrong in this modern class of compact and subcompact vehicles. Way gone is the “tin can” feel of old. Today, there are simply no losers. In fact, it’s tough to pick a winner…but Ford is definitely in the running.

 Redesigned for 2012, the Focus is a quantum leap forward in every way over its predecessor. It’s sharply styled and finely finished, inside and out, with a level of refinement and comfort that I never thought I’d see in a small car – maybe best in class. Most Focus shoppers will likely first be drawn to its EPA rating of 26 mpg city/36 mph highway for the SE sedan fitted with a 5-speed manual transmission that I tested. But they will get so much more.

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Thursday
Apr122012

1959 Triumph TR-3A

By Vern Parker

Triumph sports cars have always held an appeal for Dan McGrath. While serving in the Air Force he thoroughly enjoyed the raucous voice from the exhaust of a Triumph he once owned.

After he moved to Falls Church, Va., he longed for another Triumph. His search for a Triumph lasted the better part of a year before, in the summer of 1987, he saw a newspaper ad offering for sale a 1959 Triumph TR-3A. It was on a farm in nearby Vienna, Va.

He went to see the then 28-year-old sports car and found it parked in a garage. The TR-3 models were produced from 1956 to 1961.

The tale McGrath was told by the woman selling the car was that her father had purchased it for her a decade before and since then she had driven the car about 1,000 miles – not in a year, but in total. The odometer had recorded only a total of 56,000 miles. She evidently preferred cars with roll-up windows.

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Thursday
Apr122012

2012 Hyundai Azera

By Brian Armstead

Rarely do automobiles that are not assembled in Europe excite me.

Yes, there are exceptions of course, as Lexus and Infiniti have some powerhouses in their lineups.  And the domestic brands have made great strides to the point that buying American, which used to mean you were buying the best, means quality again.

At an early spring cookout, one of my VW/Bimmerphile friends dropped his jaw when I told him about my recent test drive of the 2012 Hyundai Azera.  He asked if I would consider the Azera over the Volkswagen CC, and I told him “absolutely!”  He rephrased his question – “I know it has a better warranty, but I’m talking from a driving perspective.”  “Absolutely” was again my answer.  Not only should VW worry about the “Rise” of the Planet of Hyundai, the rest of the industry should as well. From top (Equus) to bottom (Accent) this South Korean carmaker is building extremely impressive products.

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Wednesday
Mar282012

1955 Dodge Power Wagon

By Vern Parker

Doug Bonaro has discovered the most profitable – and some say best – way to acquire an antique vehicle. Buy it already restored.

The Air Force veteran had already reworked a vintage muscle car and although he turned a profit selling it, he decided to get smart. His next car was going to be an already restored pickup truck.

On the way to his Waldorf, Md., home after visiting his parents in Myrtle Beach, S.C., Bonaro stopped at a gasoline/restaurant/rest stop on Route 95 in North Carolina. It proved to be a fateful rest stop.

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Thursday
Mar222012

2013 Lexus IS350 AWD

By Edward R. Noble

In Michigan you learn that an all-wheel-drive vehicle is a necessity. In the old days we called them “4 wheelers” and almost all were trucks. Who would have ever guessed that someday not only family sedans could be bought with this option, but they would become somewhat common even on luxury brands such as the tested Lexus IS350 AWD sedan.

After a mild first half of winter we got a blast of snow and ending with plenty of ice covered roads. AWD was not just a useful option it becomes a necessity if you want to get to town.

The IS350 is one of the more sporty sedan models from the Lexus stable. It has plenty of power from the 3.5-liter, V-6 24-valve dual overhead cam engine. It spits out 306 horsepower and 277 lb.-ft. of torque.

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