Wednesday
Jul252012

2013 Mercedes-Benz GLK: Better in Every Way

By Brian Armstead

When Mercedes-Benz launched the then new GLK in 2009, the auto industry was still in a bad way. Sales were down in every segment, and some questioned the sanity of Mercedes for launching a premium, small, SUV.

But hindsight is always 20/20, and the segment is now rife with competitors, most notably the BMW X3 and Audi Q5. Both are solid vehicles, but both need to be very afraid of the 2013 GLK 350, which is better in every way than its predecessor.

Let’s start with styling. Where the 2009 GLK looked like a mini G Wagen (which Mercedes says is the bloodline vehicle for the GLK), the 2013 model still has the G’s rugged appeal, but also features the swoopy look that now adorns many Mercedes, including the SL550 sports car. The front of the GLK features new headlights with LED daytime running lights, a new bumper and grille. Redesigned roof rails and sculpted door panels enhance the side profile. At the rear, LED tail lights are now standard, and chrome plated tailpipe trim adds design flair. New 19” wheels are also standard, while 20” wheels are optional and part of two packages – the Appearance Package and the AMG Styling Package. The AMG package also adds AMG front and rear skirts, AMG grille with two chrome louvers, AMG LED daytime running lights and aluminum roof rails.

 

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Monday
Jul022012

2012 ┬áKia Rio EX is No Bottom Feeder

By  Ted Orme

Boy,  the jokes we used to make about small cars not long ago. They were bottom  feeders in every way. Not anymore. As I have exclaimed in earlier reviews, the quality, performance, reliability and content of the modern class of  compact and subcompact vehicles are a quantum leap over the tin cans of old. And  there is no better example of that evolution than Kia.

How far has the  company come? Well, the U.S. Supreme Court just refused to hear  an appeal of a $5.6 million verdict against Kia Motors Inc. in a class-action  lawsuit brought by 9,400 owners of ill-fated 2000 Sephia sedans over allegedly  faulty brakes. (The  company changed the brakes starting in the 2001 model year.) A neighbor of mine took a chance on a 2001 Kia and ended up turning it  back in under Lemon Laws. And a Texas Ford dealer told me he gave up his Kia  franchise after a couple of years because, as he put it, “ I can’t fix them.”

He should have hung in there. Under the Hyundai umbrella, both Korean brands have not only righted themselves but they are steadily creeping up the Consumer  Reports and J.D. Power quality ratings and are aggressively and successfully looking to become best sellers in all small and midsize vehicle  segments.

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Friday
Jun222012

Please excuse the misguided photographs


This website has recently encountered some mysterious difficulties concerning pictures of cars that seemingly drift about and eventually settle, sometimes on the correct story and occasionally on a totally unrelated story.  We are struggling to correct the matter and trust that your patience will not be too tried.

Wednesday
Jun132012

2013 Chevy Malibu Eco

By: Ted Orme

My first real impression of the modern day Chevrolet Malibu came in 2009 in a rental car used for a 1,000 mile desert scoot through Arizona and Utah. I was impressed. It was quiet, tight, comfortable for three with lots of luggage, and easy to drive. What surprised and pleased me most was consistent 30 to 33 mpg fuel economy from a willing four-banger that never lacked umph at open road speeds and through some mountainous terrain.

Now comes the eighth generation of a nameplate dating back to the 1960’s. The 2013 Malibu is Chevrolet’s first global midsize sedan which will be sold in nearly 100 countries on six continents. It’s already on sale in South Korea and China, where it is also built, as well as in the U.S.A.

Oddly, at least to me, Chevrolet has chosen to debut the Eco version, a mild hybrid, before the rest of its 2013 non-hybrid Malibu lineup hits U.S. showrooms. An all-new Ecotec 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine will be offered later this summer and a hotter, turbocharged 2.0-liter mill is coming this fall, either of which may offer more excitement and a better value.

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Tuesday
Jun122012

2012 Mercedes-Benz S550 Dream Machine

By Ted  Orme

I’ve been test  driving and reviewing all manner of cars and trucks on a regular basis for more than 30 years. You can get a little jaded. But a scheduled week in a Mercedes-Benz  flagship S550 is still like a high school dream date with the prom queen. It  just doesn’t get much better than this.

The S-Class  comes in diesel-powered (hope to get my hands on that one soon), hybrid,  12-cylinder and AMG high-performance versions. The subject here is the new  twin-turbo, direct-injection, rapid-fire multi-spark 4.6-liter V-8  that boasts 429 horsepower and 516 lb-ft. of torque. It replaces a 5.5-liter V8, thus the  retention of the 550 nomenclature. 

The new mill is  20 percent smaller than its predecessor, 20 percent  more fuel efficient (EPA rating of 15 mpg city and 24mpg highway) yet 32 percent more powerful. It’s paired with a new seven-speed automatic transmission with an  advanced torque converter lockup clutch for quicker shifts, more responsive driving and quieter operation. The result is enough power to  hurl this 5-passenger 4,740-pound luxo sedan to 60 mph in AMG-like 4.9 seconds, or cruise the autobahn at a governed 130 mph. As expected, the  S550 has all the road manners of a fine German luxury automobile. There’s  surprisingly good road feel from the speed sensitive rack and pinion power  steering, superb ventilating disc braking, and excellent ride and handling  thanks to the very capable four-wheel independent active Airmatic suspension  that constantly monitors and adjusts to road surfaces and speeds. There is even  a  crosswind stabilization feature that makes split-second adjustments to the servo pistons at each wheel strut to change wheel load distribution and stabilize the  car. And 4MATIC all-wheel drive improves go in all kinds of weather. Oddly, though,  the S550 was decidedly clunky over speed bumps.

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