July 25, 2011

Dodge Charger R/T

                We are long time fans of The Dukes of Hazard.  When Dodge first brought the Charger back we were extremely excited because it meant more Chargers in the world.  But Dodge didn’t quite bring the Charger back with the style and panache that the Duke boys epitomized during the show’s run.  If Bo & Luke would have had this new Charger while filming, the show would not have lasted as long as it did.  The new Charger would just have eaten Boss Hog.
                This is another 4-door sedan around 30 grand.  The Charger was $33,065 and for that much money, they make this an interesting ride.  If you are in the process of a car search right now, swing by Dodge, let us know what you think, because we’re still not sure if this was a dream or not…

                The interior of this Dodge was impressive.  The control console is a touch screen.  There are manual controls for the climate control and the radio/CD, but we found ourselves defaulting to the touch screen to control them.  The display is easy to read and navigate, with a row of large icons at the bottom that direct you to the correct screen.  We could turn on the seat heaters, search for the cheapest gas in the area, and use the Garmin-powered satellite navigation with ease.  This control console did not take long to learn and was not a cause of distracted driving.
                The back seat legroom was brilliant.  With the freakishly tall driver’s seat left where he drove it , we all dipped into the back seat and fit with ease.  The rear doors open so wide that changing out a baby seat would be incredibly easy.  No awkward tilting that spills half-eaten Cheerios and crackers all over the floor.  This is refreshing after all the convertibles with cramped back seats or nonexistent ones.  We wouldn’t want to spend a great deal of time in the back, but it was survivable.
                This Charger came with cloth seats, even though leather ones are an option.  There was leather trim on the doors, but not on the seats.  The leather was standard on the Taurus.  It was awkward to see the cow-hide on the doors, but not on the seats.  For $33,000, we kind of hope that leather would be included.  We know a majority of the price isn’t in the interior, but under the hood.

                What can we say about the redesigned exterior?  Home run is the term we’re going to use for our American readers, rest of the world (we know you’re out there…), please read, “GOOOOOOAAAAALLLLLL!”  We were going to yell longer, but we’re fat and out of breath… Sorry… 
                The back end of the new Charger is so sexy that we asked for some time alone with it (The salesman wisely denied this request.).  The Charger now looks like the Charger of old, but with a little bit of work done.  The new indents on the doors and the new nose look fantastic.  The looks of this car attract us to it like the moth to the flame (attempt at real prose… foolish…).  The look and feel of this car caused us to use a deep Southern accent for the test drive.  Bo and Luke Duke would have been proud!
                The wheels that we drove were an option, but the ones of the R/T Plus have a look reminiscent of the Bullet Mustang's. 

                The performance of this car is hands down the best 4-door sedan around 30 grand that we’ve driven so far.  It is only the second one. 
The two cars are different types of car. The Taurus is a great touring cruiser, while the  Charger belongs on a test track.  This car could be utilized as the school carpool vehicle and then on the weekend take it to the track for some power laps.
                The salesman didn’t want to let this car out of his sight.  The only way he would let us take it alone would be when we had the numbers drawn up and were ready to sign.  Since we didn’t want a case of buyer’s remorse on a Tuesday, we let him tag along.  He was, again, a salesperson who encouraged us to drive the car faster than we would have by ourselves.  We don’t like breaking things that don’t belong to us!  The first corner had a sign posting the suggested speed at 20mph; we took it at 50mph with no tire squeal.  There was a series of these low speed corners and our average speed was around 46.3mph or so… 
                There was a little bit of acceleration lag at highway speed.  The salesman asked us to give it some gas at 70mph, so we did.  We floored this Hemi and the time lag between the pedal going down and the actual acceleration was…  Let’s just say it felt like we watched The Deathly Hallows, part 2, had a potty break, bought a soda, and then the acceleration hit.  This wasn’t an issue that we noticed for most of the test drive.  Dodge, if you’re out there, we would love to take one on a much longer test.  The acceleration on this car for most of the drive was fantastic.  Quick, responsive, and nimble.  For as large as this car is, it was surprising.  Dodge is selling the fact that they’ve got a 50/50 weight distribution for the Charger.  We know that the traction control was working hard because we were driving hard.  The traction control was so subtle that we couldn’t tell when it was activating.  While the 50/50 distribution improves the handling, we are having nightmares for the coming winter months already…  This car just has so much power. 
                The 5.7L V8 turns out 370 horsepower.  Off the line we felt all of them.  It didn’t have the distinct hurl you back in your seats that the Audi S4 had, but is very close to it.  The engine was subdued until we demanded more from all eight cylinders.  It would roar in acknowledgement of the pedal going to the floor.  We floored it off the line at a stoplight and controlled the left hand turn with just one hand on the wheel.  It was a good moment for the Charger and one we haven’t forgotten. 
                The V8 will average around 16 mpg in the city and 25 on the highway.  Not the worst we’ve seen, but not awe-inspiring either.  Acceptable would be a good way to phrase it.  The Charger, like many cars with V8’s, has Variable Values, which means that four of the cylinders come off-line when you aren’t pushing the car.  As soon as you want to go fast again, the car uses all of horses.  This might explain some of the time lag during the highway acceleration.

                Based on the vast back seat, the lightning fast jumps off the line, and the hypnotic rumble while approaching light speed, the Charger is a new beast.  We wouldn’t have given the Charger this much credit without seeing it for ourselves.  In fact, we are going to tour the Missouri Highway Patrol’s new detachment of Chargers soon.  We’re hoping to get some video and really blow your doors off. 

July 23, 2011

Fiat 500 sighting

Watch out, Mini!   They're coming for you...
We were trolling past the local Dodge, Chrysler, Jeep dealer last week.  We need to figure out where Fiat is going to fit into the D,C,J title.  The dealership has built a little out-building for the Fiat sales and service teams.  For a company that bought into Chrysler, Fiat is going to be in for a fight.  The last Fiats in the U.S. were on sale in the 70's and 80's.  Their reliability was horrible then... 

Fiat has used the last 25 years to improve their designs and reliability.  The 500 is a good little car.  We're going to drive one real soon, but we have some 4 door sedans demanding our attention first!  Enjoy your weekend!

July 21, 2011

Ford Taurus

Notice the scorched Earth!  Please, rain...  Please...

                The last Ford I drove was my mom’s 1987 baby blue LTD station wagon.  At the time, I was terrified because I was a few months from getting my license and I didn’t want to be cursed to drive the “Baby Blue Bomber.”  The car wasn’t the reason for the bomber moniker; it was more to do with the frequency of a certain someone passing gas in there (Might be true…).  This Taurus was an upgrade over the Bomber by light years.  We’re still not sure if we would pursue having one for ourselves, though.
Not blue, but the same shape...  Thank God, we live in the future!

                The driver’s seat felt like sitting in an organized cockpit.  It didn’t have a push button start like the Maxima or the Charger (reviews to come shortly), but one button doesn’t make a car.  The coolness of the push button start has worn off on us.  We get it and understand why some think it’s still cool.  The fact that it comes standard on the Prius makes it totally lame… 
                The driver’s seat feels like the Taurus is wrapping you in a perfect hug of comfort and convenience.  The steering wheel controls were simple and straightforward.  We even used the voice-activated Sync system to search for music on the salesman’s USB drive.  He did not have Indigo Girls, Green Day, Tiffany, AC/DC, or KD Lang.  We asked.  Asking for AC/DC got us Sting.  Not the same thing at all, but the computer can only do so much when the band we’re asking for isn’t there.  After asking three times, the Sync gave us four options.  We picked Jack Johnson and the music fit our mood very well.
That would be the Shelby GT 500 that they wouldn't let us drive in the background!
                For a car as large as this one is, we were underwhelmed with the rear legroom.  With the driver’s seat left in Chris’ extreme/all-the-way back driving position; it was a tight fit for a full-sized adult behind him.  This car would be great on a long road trip.  For a family, we think this car would work very well with two car seats in the back, plus luggage in the trunk.  If you are travelling with four full-sized adults, it would work, but it isn’t going to be as enjoyable.  We don’t know if there is a structural design feature in the way, but our first move would be to decrease the trunk space to add legroom.  Ford is amazing at finding ways to have impressively large trunks.  We could have fit at least four Steve’s (5’8”, 190lbs.) into this trunk.  One Steve fit with so much extra space around him that we were in awe of the vastness of trunk.  We went looking for the black hole that had to be in there; we didn’t find it…
We could fit 4 to 5 fun-sized adults in there!
                One feature we did enjoy on this 100 degree day was the ventilated leather seats.  That’s right; leather!  First car we’ve driven in the 4-door $30,000 series that had leather seats.  The seats are only ventilated for your bottom, but it still makes your rear comfortable and cool.  We wished that the upright portion was ventilated since we have so many issues with back sweat.  
One way to help keep the heat out
                This Taurus had the option of a sun shade in the rear window.  With the push of a button, a shade extends from the rear window to shade the back seat.  We really liked this feature and felt like the cockpit of the Taurus could almost double as our own little Star Trek helm.  The gear selector reminded us of the Warp drive handle, and we could even raise the “shields” in the back glass.   We are nerds, but Comic-con’s this weekend and we’re having withdrawal issues…

Back dat up!
                The Taurus was redesigned in the 2010 model year.  The look that we see now reminds us of a cross between the Ford Five Hundred and the old Taurus.  From the front the Taurus looks poised and unconcerned like an English Duke who knows his serfs are being kept in check and will not impede him as he tramples them (Where do they get this crap…).  The back end is another story.  Having an impressively large trunk lends the Taurus to having a back side worthy of an Outkast video.  After popping the trunk (that sounded dirty…) we had some difficulty finding a place to lift.  We’re used to a handle or the license plate being around the middle to lift with.  This trunk is so big, that we had to go way down to lift up.  That does mean that it has a low load height, and that saves back muscles.  Right there, Ford, is your new campaign slogan.  “Buy a Taurus, save back muscles!”  We’ll keep working on it and understand if you don’t use it…
Seriously cool!
                The backup camera was great!  Not only was the view great from the camera, but the monitor was located up on the rearview mirror.  We used it twice to fit perfectly into a parking space.  The color coded lines help you know how close you are to something and the lines show where the edges of the vehicle will go.  Very well done!  Our only suggestion for the engineers is to have the lines curve, when you have turning while backing up.  We know that’s just software code and that you guys will nail it for the mid-cycle redesign!
                The Taurus is available in 8 different exterior colors and two different interior colors.   We took the Silver one because we really like Silver.  Gold is gaudy, while Silver is refined and effortless.  Sadly, we wear a lot of gold jewelry and can’t explain it.  Maybe we’re part Italian (please don’t hurt us, in-laws…). 
                Overall, we like the look of the Taurus.  It’s a modern look for a car that when we were younger was kind of an old-lady car; at least, most of the people we knew who had one seemed really, really old.  Now, though, it doesn’t come off that way at all.  Can you imagine your Gran using anything voice activated, a backup camera, or a push button sun shade?  

                We didn’t know what to expect on the performance side of this car.  To be fair, it’s a big car.  A touring car is the best way to describe its performance.  Something designed to go a long way and get you there comfortably.  There is an SHO model that is sportier with a twin turbo V6, but it is more expensive than the $30,000 range we put in place for this series.  As a touring car, it works well.
                The ride of the Taurus is smooth.  It isn’t the smoothest car we’ve ever been in (Porsche Cayenne), but it doesn’t have to be.  We just need it to be comfortable and it is.  We found some gravel roads and were impressed with the very small difference in ride between the tarmac and the gravel.  It rode smooth on both surfaces.
                The 3.5L V6 is not the most powerful engine we’ve driven lately, but it had enough power (263 horsepower) to get the job done.  Do you remember the 3.8L from Jeep that only turned out 202 horsepower?  Well done, Ford engineers!  The Taurus won’t be taking anyone off the line, but it won’t be jamming up traffic either.  Its power plant is suitable for the type of car it is; one that will take you a long way in comfort and style.  The 0 to 60 time is not listed on Edmunds.com.  We agree that the acceleration is a little slow and in fact aren’t really worried what the 0 to 60 time is.  This isn’t that type of car.  It is not a car for people in a hurry! 
The mpgs are 18 city and 28 highway.  We did watch our range increase as we drove.  The computer was doing some good math and kept re-calculating our speed and rate of fuel consumption.  Cruising at higher speeds help extend the life of a tank of gas.  This car should be able to average close to 28 and maybe almost 30 on the highway.  A thirty thousand dollar car that can almost get 30 mpgs on the highway…  That would be something!
We gone!
The Taurus feels like a cruiser and it does that very well.  We told the salesman we’d be back in 20 to 30 minutes and 55 minutes later came back with a dusty and dirty car.  At one point we were on I-35 headed north with the cruise set just over 70.  We didn’t consciously do this.  We think it was the car; ready to roll. 
Overall, the price gets in our way.  $34,950 is a lot of money and even with the dealer rebate that takes off 2 grand; it’s still a lot of money.  At least in the Taurus you felt like you received as much car as you were buying.  We’ve driven two other sedans around 30 grand lately and one of them didn’t justify the price tag.  The Taurus lives up to the price tag and if we had an hour long commute at highway speed, we would definitely consider this car!  We were very pleasantly surprised.

Remember, we aren’t taking any money from Ford, GM, or anyone really…  Remember to “like” us on Facebook, so we can justify our opinions!  Please pass us on to everyone you know, so we can eat!  Gas is getting close to unbearable…  Hehe, bears...

July 18, 2011

Mazda MX-5

We have heard how great and reliable the MX-5 can be.  BBC’s Top Gear drove one across a war zone in the Middle East.  We didn’t quite get this one to a war zone, but the pot-holed road of our community lake was as close as we were willing to get.  The saleslady told us about a 1990 MX-5 that has over 400,000 miles on it.  WE take everything with a grain of salt from salespersons, but even if it’s half true, it’s still impressive.  We didn’t drive this one that far, but we see how someone could.

The interior of this MX-5 is truly hideous. It is a Limited Edition from 2008 when metallic sky blue paint and mocha brown interior on top of black interior was supposed to be a good idea.  We are not fashionistas, but we balk at this hideous sight. Maybe the Japanese designers didn’t get the memo that said no to this package.  Seriously, the brown wrapped steering wheel and the silver/black dash just make us cringe. The leather on the seats was high quality stuff and the seats themselves were comfortable and came with heaters for our chilly hinnies on an unseasonably cool summer’s day. 
The radio, 6 disk cd changer, and ipod jack were all easily accessible and easy to understand.  There was no console control, media center, or confusing interfaces to distract us from the main goal; driving.  We even changed some of the preset radio stations to our favorites without wrecking it or even driving in the wrong lane.
One feature we did enjoy was the cup holder built into the door frame.  There are only two seats in this car, but there are four cup holders, which says to us that MX-5 drivers pee a lot.  We also noticed that most MX-5 owners are at an age when peeing might not be the easiest task to accomplish (Prostates can be bothersome).
The window controls are in the middle console, but at least there are two unlike the one switch in the Mercedes SLK 350.  They are auto down switches, but you have to hold them to get them all the way up.

The exterior of the MX-5 has not changed since we were pre-teens, which was a while ago.  We drove a 2008, but the styling of the 2011 is the exact same, the only real difference between the two is a tweaked interior and one more horsepower in the ’11.
The convertible roof is completely manual and took 3.5 seconds to take down and put up, assuming you were already stopped.  We did drive into a couple of rain showers and didn’t receive a drop in the car (Partly because of our speed.  Thank you for proving that, Mythbusters!).  We love the wheel flares over the front tires and the chrome head supports behind the seats. 
                The sound of the MX-5 is like a swarm of angry wasps.  We found ourselves searching for stoplights just to go through the gears again!  It wasn’t the guttural shout of the Mini, and if you kept the rpm’s low you wouldn’t even notice the sound of the exhaust.  We spent most of the test drive with the rpm’s around 4 and 5 thousand, which helped in the noise department.  It’s interesting how the sound of a vehicle can be as big a selling point as the ride and feel.  Then again, the sound can always be altered, *cough* Glasspack. 

Drove it so hard, the gear lever went crooked!
                The Mini has been accused of having go-kart like handling and the MX-5 could be in this category as well.  The analogy we have been leaning towards is a go-kart with airbags.  We loved the rear wheel drive and even turned some doughnuts in a gravel parking lot (The sales person did not go on this drive with us.).  The MX-5 was quick, light, and agile.  We headed for the nearest twisty roads to see what it could do and were not disappointed.  This car kept finding its way to the apex of each corner.  We were really pushing the car, but were driving with a light fingertip touch.  There was not a lot of torque in the lower range, but once you got it to 3-5 thousand rpm’s the MX-5 jumped.  We turned off the DSC (traction control) because it wasn’t activating when we were hurling ourselves off the line, and let’s face it, we’re good enough to handle accelerating the four cylinder 166 horsepower engine without spinning the tires.

The 0-60 time is 7.5 seconds and we believe every bit of it.  The MX-5 felt strong throughout the test.  We found ourselves approaching the speed limits quickly.  We went on a search for some deserted tarmac to really see what the MX-5 could do.  If only “The Loneliest Road in America” was closer…  The mpgs are around 22 city and 28 highway and it showed.  The dealer accidentally left a full tank of gas in it when they turned the car over to us.  We tried to drain the tank, but didn’t really put a dent in it after almost an hour of hard driving.

Even the front end looks serious and concentrated.
All in all, a great value and the best convertible we’ve driven.  The price was right around $20,000 for the ’08, $23,000 for the base ’11, and $30,000 for the limited hard-top convertible ’11.  This is economical common sense; the least amount of money for the most car, that is going to last the longest with the fewest trips to the dealer.  When we started this, the MX-5 was not our top pick.  But now if there was garage space, this is definitely a car we would keep around for those perfect spring/fall days!

July 17, 2011

Glow Balloons

The hot air balloon festival was in town last week.  We did not actually attend, but a fan of ours (Yes, Virginia, they do exist!) sent this over to us.  We'll give them that these balloons look really cool as they light up.  Think really big night lights...  Enjoy!  Let us know your preferred type of transportation.  We vote cars, but we'd have to hurt ourselves  if we picked any thing else!

July 15, 2011

Blue Angels Mustang

Blue Angels Mustang to be sold at charity auction in support of the Experimental Aircraft Association's Young Eagles Organization.  Words themselves do not do justice to how cool we think this car looks.  Richard Hammond, eat your heart out!

Trying Too Hard!

This just has to be shared!  Enjoy!  We usually think these are stupid, but this one made us chuckle.  We are huge Calvin & Hobbes fans though, we just hope that some of these residuals are getting back to Bill Watterson.  Enjoy!

Locked Up!

We appreciate creativity and ingenuity!  In fact, without those two ideals, we could have been riding turbo-charged horses...  Imagine calculating the mpg of oats...  Not the point of this post, but still creepy to conjure.  Today's post is just to show you a couple of pictures of someone who's used their creativity and ingenuity to do some problem solving.
 There isn't anything in this engine compartment that we want to steal.  The locks are probably just to keep the hood from flying up, but they still make this Grand Wagoneer look that much tougher!

July 12, 2011

Audi TT

Second to last of the Summer Car Series!

The Audi dealer did not have a new TT on hand.  Something about people wanting new TT’s…  We weren’t really listening…  There was a ’08 on hand, so we gave that a whirl.  The dealer tells us that the main differences would be body styling, interior features, and less power.  The overall ride and feel of the vehicles should be the same, except for the less power.  We appreciate Audi for not making us ask to test drive by ourselves.  They know the product will sell itself. 

The interior of this particular Audi was a color we did NOT enjoyed.  It is Amaretto and is a reddish brown color.  It didn’t quite remind us of vomit, but it was very close.  The width of this Audi was noticeable for how large it was.  Our main issue is that the center console restricted our legs from spreading comfortably.  This is the same issue we had in the Volvo, and it was just as uncomfortable.  We would definitely have noticed this cramped feeling on a longer test drive.  For car that appears very wide, we still felt cramped.
                The media center in this particular TT was more difficult than the ones that had the satellite navigation packages.  It took a little getting used to, but eventually we figured it               out.  We found a radio station we could tolerate and left it there.  Driving is almost always more important than the music, unless the music sucks.
                One aspect of the interior that we noticed immediately was we couldn’t see traffic lights without scrunching down to see up or raising up over the top of the windscreen.  With the convertible top down, we looked like certain species of birds trying to find a mate, just bobbing up and down.  We eventually went with ducking as we felt less stupid this way.  Still had to look cool when you feel like you look stupid…
                There was a wind deflector that could be raised between the headrests.  We tried it up and down and didn’t really notice a difference.  This is probably due to at least my head sticking up over the windscreen.  (I had bugs in my hair.  I’m not THAT tall, but felt self-conscious the rest of the day).   

The TT has had a very unique look for a while now.  You could go as far as to say that it is an iconic look.  One of our fondest TT memories comes from the movie, About a Boy, starring Hugh Grant.  His charm helped us enjoy the movie, but there’s a scene where he races through the streets of London following an ambulance.  The scene is sad, but the TT is fantastic. 
The rounded bulbous ends make it difficult to tell whether the TT is coming or going.  The nose is almost an exact match to the back end.  Raising the spoiler helps identify the back end.  This is a car we would not pick for looks.  The ride and performance of this car more than make up for a questionable exterior.

The all-wheel drive of the Quattro was fantastic.  Where the SLK, Lexus, and Mini had to fight with the traction control to really get moving when you floored them, the TT does not have that issue.  In every corner it stuck. We would really slow headed at interstate entrance ramps to then explode around the corner and be at highway speed while most cars were just getting going.  This TT felt quick.  The 3.2L naturally aspirated V6 turns out 250 horsepower.  For a car that isn’t very big with a transmission that’s ready to go, the V6 makes the TT feel like a pseudo-rocket ship.
We drove the S-tronic automatic transmission with the ever-present paddle shifters (our arch-nemesis).  These paddles weren’t as clunky as the Volvo’s and would let us select whichever gear we wanted.  The Lexus never gave us the gear we wanted exactly when we wanted it.  Like the car didn’t trust us (We don’t believe in lying.)!  If you are at 70mph in this car and tap the down-shift paddle three times, you are very quickly going to be slowing down from 70 in 3rd gear.  It treats the driver with a sense of respect.  Plus, if you thrash the transmission, Audi gets to make a buck fixing it.  It’s good business…  There was the usual lag time with the paddles, but the TT is quick enough to overcome this setback.
We did find ourselves at a stoplight next to a Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG.  For those of you following along at home, this is a C-class Mercedes that produces 451 horsepower with a 6.2L V8.  We were glad we had the top down because the C63’s rumble was hypnotic (Top Gear U.K., series 10, episode 10 you'll hear for yourself).  While we were trying to figure out whether to look over the wind screen or scrunch down to look through it, the light changed.  The TT with its Quattro all-wheel drive jumped off the line.  We won the first 34.6 ft.  After that, our wanting for more horsepower caught up with us.  Having 200 horsepower more really helped the C63 in the straights (most obvious statement written on this site to date).  We took a quick corner to get away from the rumble of the C63 to really appreciate the find-tuned hum of the TT.  Tight, twisty roads are a TT playground.  Only on the really tight doughnuts we pulled in the church parking lot (Yes, it was the same church.  No, we didn’t get caught by a human.  Sorry, Jesus, Volvo talked us into it.) did we notice the steering start to bunch.  On four wheel drive and all-wheel drive cars, when you crank the steering really tight, the front drive train doesn’t like it and you get some lunges out of the front end as it tries to lessen the pressure and straighten up.  This did happen in the TT, but it was very small and light.  Plus, we didn’t leave any rubber on the church parking lot.  We have some respect…

                In the long run we would probably search for a 2008 or a 2009.  The ’10 and ’11 models only come with a turbo-charged four cylinder that turns out 211 horsepower.  That’s 10 more horsepower than the Civic Si we drove earlier this year…  The overall width of the TT was impressive, but didn’t translate to driver comfort.  This is still a great convertible that could handle all seasons.  The all-wheel drive was great to jump us off the line and stuck at the apex of every corner.  We are still TT fans, but we want the new body styling on the old V6 engine.  Maybe Audi will build us one special…  Maybe…

July 4, 2011

Volvo C70

Happy ‘Merica Day! (Thank you, Nerdist Chris Hardwick.)  We are back in the land of good wireless Interwebs and less hybrids.  At least we don’t live in LA where hybrids come with a California driver’s license.  Anyway, happy 4th!  Be safe and don’t blow any body parts off!  To the good stuff.

            Who knew that Volvo made a sporty hard top convertible? 

We didn’t. 

In fact we had to Google: Volvo convertible, just to see which model we needed to ask the dealership to test.  Volvo is known for vehicle safety and the dealership presented this mantra at every chance.  The salesman’s cubicle was sealed with a glass door and locked.  They informed us that they would not give away our information when they took our license and insurance information.  They even had us sign a form saying we had been notified that they wouldn’t sell our info.  As always we asked to take the car out by ourselves and that didn’t happen this time.  We loved that we drove the car harder with the salesman in the vehicle, encouraging us to “push it.”  The C70 T5 with its five cylinder turbo-charged safety-conscious aluminum engine responded very well.

                The Interior of this particular Volvo was sparse.  All of the switches, buttons, climate control, etc. are located on a floating center console.  To show off, Volvo has compressed all the wiring in the middle portion of the vehicle to create a slim casing for the climate control and media center.  It didn’t bother us that much compared to the frustration we felt from the tiny buttons located there.  The interior felt very utilitarian.  There isn’t any elaborate stitching on the seats and steering wheel like the BMW and Mercedes, but at the same time, which Swede isn’t practical and to the point.
                The media center was straight forward as long as you wanted the station that was already on. We pretty much ignored it, but thought it looked like something that Fisher Price could market to parents as mobile media for toddlers; durable over-engineered plastic. 
                One thing that we noticed is the width of legroom for the driver.  We’ve got long legs and when we can’t move the seat back any more then our legs tend to bow out.  In this car though, every place we went to rest our knees was surrounded by hard plastic.  Normally in most cars there is some soft type material there, but this Volvo feels like it was designed by short people who don’t understand this leg issue (First world problems!)
                The seats were comfortable for the front passengers and the non-leg owning occupants in the back.  If you’ve got legs, you won’t be comfortable in the back (Is anyone else sensing a theme?). 

                The C70 has a retractable hard top roof that stows away quickly (around 20 seconds), but Volvo demands that the car is stopped in park and that the sun be in the right position.  It took the salesman a couple of tries before we could get the top down.  The radio antenna is found on the trunk hood, instead of on top of the windscreen like the IS250C.  There are a number of color options and the color we drove is hideous, like metallic baby blue, just not easy to look at. 
                The sound of the C70 was nothing that we noticed.  We didn’t notice an absence of sound either, but it was one of those weird in between areas where you think you can hear something, but it keeps escaping you.
                The front of the C70 looks pretty tough, while the back has the offset taillight configuration that is a Volvo standard.  None of it made us nauseous, but we weren’t thrilled with the overall look.  We did like the wheels.  It had nice wheels (Pulitzer here we come…).

                The performance of the C70 was great compared to the Lexus and Jeep.  It was about the same as the Mini, but wasn’t as powerful as the Mercedes.  The ride of the Volvo and its five-cylinder 227hp turbo-charged engine made it a fun and comfortable ride.  The Lexus has a great ride, but the power of the Volvo moves it ahead of the Lexus in our rankings. 
                We did notice a considerable amount of wheel spin and the traction control having to activate just leaving regular traffic lights.  We fully embrace wheel spin, but the traction control was really working hard when we were not driving the car very hard.  In fact the salesman kept telling us on the push it harder and even had us turn some tight corners in a church parking lot (Yes, we know, Jesus is always watching.  Peer Pressure sucks.).  The five speed automatic transmission that has manual shift control had a lot to do with this.  Even though it’s an automatic, when you start using the manual shift control, it starts to feel rough and jerky like a true manual transmission driven by an inept teenager.
                There was some torque steering too.  Since this is a front wheel drive car, the front wheels are supplying the power to move the vehicle.  If you take your hands off the steering wheel and hit the gas, the force of the acceleration will pull the car one way.  It wasn’t so bad that we had to fight it, but we did notice that it was there.  Torque steering is almost always an issue on powerful front wheel drive cars.  Most people don’t tend to drive hard enough (or with their hands off the wheel) to experience it.

                The C70 was a breath of fresh air after the Lexus.  We drove them both on the same day and were grateful for the Volvo.  The Lexus had a great ride, but the Volvo had a pretty good ride too.  The Volvo moved ahead in performance and exterior appeal (mainly because the Lexus was so hard to look at), while the Lexus dominated with the plush interior.  The C70 was priced around $44,000, or overpriced as we saw it.