August 25, 2011

Quick Ecoboost Thoughts

Okay, most of the way through the Ecoboost F-150 Challenge. Here's some quick thoughts:

1. The thing that hits me first every time I'm in the truck is how easy it rolls.  The 422 ft.-lbs. of torque is all there at 2,500rpm's.  I  haven't seen the tachometer over 2,000rpm's since last Sunday. 

2. The interior is spacious.  That might be an understatement.  The 3 year old was upset that he couldn't rest his feet on the back of my seat.  Needless to say, I loved it!

3. There is an enormous amount of power, but the truck itself doesn't weigh very much.  When you close the doors, the panels shake a little.  This means they eliminated some extra weight, but haven't compromised safety.

4.  The odometer numbers roll over the top.  I know, it has nothing to do with how the car drives, but I love it.  Digital numbers rolling over the top like old-school odometers!  It's fantastic!

A much more detailed review is coming.  I am struggling to find free time to write...  I wish I had a leprechaun to help out with some of the easy stuff like laundry and washing baby bottles...

August 22, 2011

Cadillac CTS

                We have always wanted to get into a Cadillac.  While we would have loved to get into a CTS V, the stars just didn’t line up.  We had to really look to find a Caddy that would fit the 4-door sedan around 30 grand series.  There aren’t a lot of Cadillac’s even near 35 grand.  We did our best and turned up a service loaner vehicle with 6,000 miles on it.  We thought it would be nice to have the salesman tag along this time, since we knew nothing about the CTS.  Turns out, we wished he would have stayed behind.

                The interior was comfortable, but didn’t blow us away.  The plastics were good quality, but the signal indicator knob didn’t feel as solid as the rest of the car.  As for the rest of the buttons and switches, it’s hard to know, since the salesman kept taking control of the radio and climate control.
                It was a very quiet ride.  Not too quiet that we couldn’t here emergency vehicles, but quiet all the same.  The headroom for the driver and front passenger seat was amazing.  We kept catching ourselves looking up to see how much space was up there.  
                Again with the analog clock…  We understand that this brand is not bought by young people.  A lot of those former young people have grown up and can’t remember how to read an analog clock.  We wonder how many cooler things could be placed in cars if the analog clock was eliminated.  The answer might shock you.
                There was leather on the dash and door trim that had matching stitching that wrapped the interior on three out of four sides.  The dash felt solid and the leather dash was better than most of the plastic we’ve seen lately. 
                The rear legroom in the CTS is almost the worst of all the sedans we’ve driven.  At only 35.1 inches, that’s a full 5 inches less than the Charger (That’s almost half a foot!),  4 less than the Passat, 3 less than the Taurus, and 2 less than the Legacy.  Sorry, Nissan, but the CTS does have about an inch more rear legroom than you…  The CTS would work if you have small children, but we can’t guarantee you’d have enough money to still feed them (Was that bad taste?  Oh, well…).
 
                The exterior look of the CTS4 feels like it would take time to grow on you.  At first it was a little off-putting, but by the end of the drive we could look at it without squinting.  The wheels weren’t as chromed out as the Charger and this car was more expensive even with 6,000 miles on it.
                There are nine exterior colors to choose from and two interior colors.  The chrome trim on the grill looks good, but the angular look feels like it’s trying too hard.  We would never disqualify a car on looks alone, but for the cost of this particular CTS; we just don’t see it.

                The performance of the CTS4 was good.  The 4 stands for four wheel drive.  The system is mostly front wheel drive, until the front wheels start to slip and then the back ones get power to help push the car.  It was a secure feeling.  Not as secure as the feeling of the Audi TT that we took on the same roads, but it was still a good feeling.
                The V6 felt powerful (270 horsepower), but didn’t provide acceleration to push you back into your seat.  The engine would start to sound real good around 3 to 4 thousand rpms, but you would still be in the same spot.  You really had to plant your foot to get this car to jump.  It wasn’t that the car didn’t fly off the line; it was just that it seemed reluctant.  Think of an extremely conservative person at a club for the first time.  They might be frozen in place on the wall for most of the night, until they finally get “comfortable” enough to start enjoying the environment.  This is how the CTS felt at times; like a wall sitter that would finally explode into the mosh pit.
                The independent suspension was noticeable.  The right side tires drove through some wicked pot holes.  The passenger side of the car felt the force of the impacts, but the driver’s side didn’t feel anything.  It was impressive.  For as short of a wheel base the CTS has, the ride was really very smooth.  The four wheel independent suspension really smoothed out the ride in the rough patches. 
                This is our last sedan “around” 30 grand.  We really had to stretch the “around” on this one.  As with the rest of the six cylinder sedans it gets close to the normal mpgs of 18 city and 25 highway.  In fact it gets 18 city and 26 highway.  This CTS has a 3.0L engine and produces 270 horsepower.  The performance doesn’t outweigh the mileage.

                As expensive as the Maxima is, the Cadillac is just down right financial suicide.  If you can afford one of these cars, we think there might be better cars out there for the same price.  It’s hard to argue with the CTS-V version and its 6.2L supercharged V8.  We can see ourselves getting ticket after ticket in that one.  The dealer we visited does have a CTS-V coupe used for only $70,000 or so…  The best part is that the previous owner traded it in for the exact same car, except the new one had different options.  Must be nice to buy cars on a whim…  Stay tuned!  Same Bat time, same Bat channel.

August 20, 2011

Ecoboost Thoughts

My F-150 Ecoboost arrived this morning!  After knowing for a while now that a semi was actually going to show up and drop off an F-150 straight from Detroit, I still wasn't prepared for it this morning. 

I will definitely be doing some more in-depth posts later this week, but right now I love it.  It rolls great.  Just taking your foot off the brake and the torque starts the truck gaining momentum.  It's going to be hard to keep my foot out of it.

Here's some pics of the truck showing up this morning!

neighbor just bought a brand new F-150




August 19, 2011

Ecoboost Challenge

The Ford Ecoboost Challenge was announced Wednesday and our own Chris is one of the 8 drivers!  He will be competing against 7 other drivers in Houston, Louisville, San Deigo, Denver, Raleigh-Durham, Pittsburgh, and Orlando.  We're hoping that rush hour in all of those cities is worse than our's and Chris will have a fighting chance.

The competition is a three part process.  First is the mpg challenge.  All drivers must drive 25 miles a day (easy in KC, since everyting's at least 30 miles away from you).  The F-150 Ecoboost will report back to Ford each night that day's mpgs. 

The second part of the challenge is a service project.  Chris has chosen to help Heart to Heart International.  We are going to try and fill the bed of the Ecoboost with disaster care kits.  On Saturday, August 27th, from 10am to 3pm, Chris and the Ecoboost along with volunteers from Ford will be located in the parking lot of California Trail Middle School to collect the kits. There will be food for 50 people, so come early and grab something to eat.  There might be middle schoolers around, so who knows how long the food will last...  We are really excited to help Heart to Heart and want to have so many kits show up that we have to ask a local dealer to bring over more trucks!  It's good to have goals.

The third part of the challenge is Facebook voting.  Please vote for Chris!  This will be the tie breaker should Chris tie with the miles per gallon and the volunteer challenge.  The more votes, the better chance that Kansas City can win some free gas.
If Chris drives carefully, we get at least 50 volunteers, and KC dominates in the voting, then Chris receives a free year of gas from Shell and Shell will give away gas (15 gallons to each person, $50 value) at two stations in town for 2 hours and 22 minutes to honor the 22mpg highway of the Ecoboost on September 3rd. 

Let's help each other out, do some good, and get some free gas. 

Please leave a comment if you have any questions, concerns, encouragement, or critism (we probably won't read the critisms...  Just sayin'...).

P.S. If you see an F-150 wrapped in an Ecoboost sticker driving slowly, give Chris a toot, and understand he's doing it for you!

August 15, 2011

Subaru Legacy


                The Subaru lot is a lonely place, if you’re a Japanese car.  There were only four Legacies on the lot and one in the showroom.  This is the same dealer who maintains a policy of doing a credit check on anyone who wants to test drive an Impreza WRX.  We know it’s to discourage the “Play-Box” generation from hip-hopping and test driving on a whim, but it still irritated us.  We know we look young, but we could buy one if so inspired…  Stupid Play-box kids…
                The dealership did put on a show for us this time.  The wind blew the showroom door open and almost drilled an Impreza Sport, but a salesman caught it at the last second.  The same salesman then hurled himself down the showroom ramp to stop the golf cart, he had just vacated, that was rolling towards our Denali and a used WRX.  He stopped the cart at the last possible moment by diving into the cart and applying the brake with his hand.  It was quite impressive.  Too bad we didn’t get a video; a million Youtube hits would’ve been nice.

                The interior of the Legacy wasn’t anything that floored or “wowed” us.  It was acceptable, but didn’t feel luxurious.  The Passat, Charger, and Taurus all had better interiors.  The Legacy had wood trim, but it didn’t look like real wood.  The company Denali has some graphite colored wood-like trim, which has never felt like trim, but just patterned plastic.  The trim in the Legacy felt like that too.
                The rear legroom wasn’t horrific, but we didn’t run through the streets singing its praise either.  The Legacy had the least amount of rear legroom of all the sedans we’ve driven in this series, until next week’s surprise car…  Children fit with ease, but adults feel the squeeze after twenty minutes or so.  There’s never a BMW 550i GT (almost 42 inches of rear legroom) around when you need one…  Wait a sec…  There probably is!
                The media center matched the rest of the utilitarian interior.  It was easy to use, but like most of our test drives, we just turned it off.  We have never bought a car based on the stereo.  There are those out there that really care about the music, but it isn’t in our top five reasons on why to buy a car. 
               
                The exterior of the Legacy will not be winning any awards.  Most art schools would love to redesign this car.  It has a look that is very simple and functional, but you won’t make a splash at any parties.  If you took this car to a “happening shindig”, most people wouldn’t know you’ve arrived until you leave the vehicle.  Picture Harry Potter coming out from under the cloak of invisibility and that’s how you would appear at the party (only took ten minutes to think of that analogy…). 
                There are eight exterior colors and just two interior colors.  The 3.6R comes with leather all over the seats, not just specific areas (thinking of the VW guy selling micro-fiber as not cloth still makes us laugh).  The Legacy’s base price is lower than everything else we’ve driven in this series, but the inside line on this car is that you could get it for invoice ($28,500). 
This car blends in.  We notice when we overtake Subaru’s because we are car people.  Most people in America won’t know when they see one, unless it’s a crazy tuned-out Impreza WRX.  If you’re looking for a car that is a great drive, reliable, safe, and won’t make you look like pretentious, then this might be the car for you.
 

                The best part of the Legacy was the drive.  Plentiful power and all-wheel drive help this Subaru to be quick, agile, and incredibly stable. 
                After watching the salesman perform his golf cart heroics, we were eager to take the Legacy out; maybe a little too eager…  Going around a traffic circle near the dealer we applied too much power and the Legacy’s back end tried to swing around.  In other rear wheel drive sedans, we would have lost it.  The Legacy’s suspension and all-wheel drive made it simple to recover and then pull away from the fish tail.  It was great!
                Off the line, the Legacy is quick because of the all-wheel drive.  The 3.6L six cylinder engine is sufficiently powerful.  You are not going to be setting any land speed records, but you will not feel underpowered.  This Legacy  has 256 horsepower.  This is the least amount of power in the sedans that have at least six cylinders.  The Passat was only a four cylinder diesel and turned out 140 horsepower, otherwise the Legacy is the least powerful.  But while driving it, we couldn’t really tell.  The all-wheel drive cuts down on the feeling that you are being “yanked” through the corners.  This was an issue for us in the Maxima; the Passat wasn’t powerful enough to feel the "yanking".  In the Taurus, also front wheel drive, the atmosphere isn’t about punching it through the corners, so we didn’t notice it there either.
                The Legacy averages 18 city and 25 highway.  Here’s the list of the rest of the sedans and their mpg’s:
                Legacy 3.6R: 18/25
                Taurus Limited: 18/27
                Charger R/T: 16/25
                Passat TDI: 30/40
                Maxima 3.5S: 19/26
There is one more sedan around 30 grand next week and it also averages around 18 city and 26 highway.  There seems to be a theme developing here.  If it’s a V6 sedan, then it’s going to average around 18 in the city and around 25 on the highway. 
               
The Legacy was adequate.  It didn’t blow us away, but it didn’t disappoint us either.  With the all-wheel drive, the Legacy is ready for just about anything.  There are a lot of gizmos and features that are designed for mountain life, but we really enjoyed the performance of this car, especially when the snow shows up.  The interior is functional with leather and wood-like trim, but we’ve been in some plusher interiors since driving this car.  This particular car had 6,000 miles on it, but still smells brand new.  If you’re in the market for a Legacy, we know where you can get one for invoice.  Just give us a shout.

August 11, 2011

Running Back/Car Collector

Kansas City Chief's running back, Thomas Jones, is going to be featured on The Car Show on Speed tonight at 8pm CT (Here's the article).

Jones has a large collection of newer vehicles including Lamborghini's, Aston Martins, BMW's, and Bentley's.

We wish that we had the income to support our car fixation and are soooooo jealous of those who can feed this addiction.

Good Luck this year, Thomas, and enjoy the ride!

August 8, 2011

VW Passat TDI

                We haven’t tested a diesel before (insert awkward virginity joke here).  We drove the 2012 Volkswagen Passat TDI SEL.  This Passat had the premium package and had way better looking seats than the GTI’s plaid ones.  This was a four cylinder engine that we weren’t expecting. 

                The interior rivaled that of the Lexus IS250C that we drove during the convertible series.  The main difference being that the Passat had mostly leather seats.  The middle portion of each seat was a German engineered micro-fiber.  When the VW salesman said this we laughed out loud.  He was doing a very good job of “selling” the car, so we asked him if he meant “cloth” seats.  He used the phrase “micro-fiber” at least six times in the next three minutes.  Whatever…  Basically the outside three inches, sides, and back of each seat is leather with a cloth middle portion.  It didn’t bother us at all, since we had clothes on.  You can’t feel the micro-fiber stuff through your clothes and maybe being German engineered means the stuff will last longer.  Plus, we never drive naked, so don’t have to worry about not feeling the leather.
                The media center was what we would expect of a German engineered car and also seemed appropriate for $33,185.  It was a media center that you could spend more time fiddling with than actually driving the car.  We were disappointed that it wasn’t a touch screen.  The Charger ruined us.  We want them all to be touch screens now.  Motor Industry, take heed, please make this happen!
                The instrument panel looked fantastic.  The plastic was high quality, but the analog clock didn’t seem to be of higher quality stuff.  We don’t like analog clocks in new cars.  This is the future and if we drop 30 grand on a car, we want it to remind us that we are in the future, not make us feel nostalgic for third grade (last time we wore an analog watch). 
                This was an extremely roomy vehicle.  We again let Chris set the driver’s seat to his driving position and then took turns sitting behind him.  Even Chris had almost an inch of leg room behind the driver’s seat, which was very impressive.  Once Chris started to drive, he had to move the seat a little more forward adding to the back-seat nirvana.  It was really impressive.  The kind of leg room the Taurus should’ve had.  Well done, VW engineers.  Overall, we could have sat in this car longer than our test drive allowed.

                The exterior of the new Passat looks like the old Passat, with all models of cars refining their lines.  There seem to be fewer cars with curves or swoops, and more with angular, sharp edges.  The leading edge of the Passat has a sharper edge to it.
                There are eight exterior colors and three options for the micro-fiber stuff on the inside.  We liked the look of the Passat, but wouldn’t have picked black as our choice.  The dealer only has two Passats that they are using as “show cars” right now, but should have received their order to sell this last week.  The salesman said that there weren’t any back-up cameras on the new Passats because those were made in Japan and they aren’t taking delivery on a lot of Japanese components lately.  Stupid Tsunami… 
                The lower front grille looks like it came straight out of the GTI parts bin.  It is the same black honeycomb look and we love it.  The grille makes the otherwise sedate Passat look just a little bit tough.  No one would buy this vehicle based on this, in fact most of you will struggle to see it in the pictures, but we still liked it.

                We had never driven a diesel and expected this one to be slow, boring, and irritating.  That wasn’t the case. 
                Off the line, the Passat will not be winning a race ever, unless the other driver is narcoleptic and sleeps through the start.  This car wasn’t underpowered though.  It redlined around 5,000 rpms, which seemed a little low, but the transmission always shifted before it got close to that number. 
The mileage was some pretty fantastic numbers.  Getting 30 mpgs in the city and 40 on the highway, makes buying a diesel a reason for doing some math.  If you have a long highway commute, we would suggest a turbo diesel.  It’s hard to argue with 40 mpgs.  Edmunds has the mileage working out a little better than the sticker states.  They have the TDI SEL getting 31 in the city and 43 on the highway.  The price of diesel plus the price of the Passat only makes the math work with a long highway commute. 
The 2.5L five cylinder gas engine (170 horsepower) only achieves 22 city and 31 highway, and the V6 (280 horsepower) achieves 20 city and 28 highway, which is better than the Taurus, Maxima, Legacy, and Charger.  We have concerns about the V6 being similar to the Maxima, in that it will be in sport sedan and touring cruiser limbo, but we haven’t driven it yet.

The TDI Passat was nimble and well-powered.  Off the line is where our disappointment lies; then again, it is a diesel...  The Passat compares to the Taurus in the style of vehicle.  The Taurus is wider (4 inches) and more powerful, but the Passat has a more welcoming interior and has an inch more legroom in the back seat.  The voice activated system in the Ford beats anything the Passat had to offer.  The Taurus also has the sweet back-up camera located on the rear view mirror; the Passat doesn’t have it even as an option.  If you like your bells and whistles and most guys do, we will let you decide.
The four cylinder turbo diesel turns out 140 horsepower.  That’s 123 less horsepower than the Taurus, but the Passat weighs 618 lbs. less than the Taurus.  Both vehicles based around $25,000 for a comfortable sedan.  The Taurus seemed to have more bells and whistles, but the extra legroom in the back of the Passat and better mpgs with all engine options would be something to consider.
Overall, we were happy with the Passat.  The ride, gear changes, and interior were smooth and stylish.  The look of the car doesn’t detract from its performance and had us looking at a diesel in a new light.  We wonder when VW will make a GTI diesel…  Hopefully, never!

August 1, 2011

Nissan Maxima


                The Maxima is a car that has always held some nostalgic appeal for us.  There was a college road trip taken in a Maxima (Doesn’t quite come close to the Sentra trip, but still good.).  Seeing older Maximas tends to send us back to those glory days.  The newer models are much better than the one from our past, but they don’t stir our emotions the same.

                The interior of the 2011 that we drove was camel-colored.  It didn’t spit or smell horrific, but it still reminded us of a camel (We don’t recommend camels as a mode of transportation.  Every Man’s Top Tip of the Week).  The seat covers were cloth.  We didn’t mind that they were cloth. Being asked to pay $32,885 to own cloth seats in a Maxima was a stretch for us.  In the Charger 30 grand got you cloth seats, but you also got a 5.7L V8 with a touch screen, and in the Taurus there was less horsepower, but a sleek and innovative interior.  We wished that we hadn’t known the price of the Maxima up front.  A lot of what we struggled with on this car was due to the fact of how much it cost.
                The media center was easy to use.  It’s a “no brainer” as media centers go.  Then again it wasn’t really a media center.  In the Maxima you get AM/FM stereo, a CD player, and an auxiliary input for your iPod.  We reset most of the radio stations in the first couple of minutes.  Easy to use vs. 30 grand… 
                The sunroof is situated farther behind the driver than we’re used to.  When we opened it up, the driver didn't feel the warm rays.  We actually turned a couple of times to get more direct light on the driver and couldn’t pull it off.  We enjoyed it after a while; the sun didn’t hit us in the face and we received a light breeze.  This is the first 4 door sedan that we’ve tested with a sunroof, so maybe that’s where some of the money goes.  The Taurus and Charger both have options for it, but the ones we drove didn’t have them.
The atmosphere inside of the Maxima was quiet.  We could hear the angry hum of the V6 when we gunned it, but otherwise it was calm and tranquil inside.  We drove with all of the auto up/down windows lowered to really get a good listen of the V6.  It sounded angry when coaxed to, but otherwise was a normal sedate sedan engine.
The back seat of the Maxima has the least amount of legroom compared to the other vehicles.  It's listed at 34.6 inches with the Charger coming in at 40.1 in and the Passat (coming soon) at 39.1 in.  This doesn't ruin this car, but it makes it more difficult to pack and take a family vacation in the Maxima.  Everyone needs room between the kids on a long family trip.  The Maxima just offers less.

                The Maxima isn’t a bad car to look at.  Then again it isn’t going to be winning any awards for aesthetics either.  You could probably lie and tell someone that it’s German and they’d probably believe you.  It is a functional exterior.  We’ve always thought that the hood not coming to an edge of the car looked weird.  Almost all other manufactures bring the edges of the hood all the way to the font or to the back.  The Maxima’s hood is like a cookie cutter traced it out of the front end.  None of this changes the car, just an opinion we’ve formed…  We’re not really sure why either…
                There are nine different exterior colors and two interior colors.  We would have gone with the black over the camel every day, forever, if it’s a choice. 
               

The 3.5L V6 turns out 290 horsepower.  It’s quick.  We accelerated all the way to 70mph in third gear.  The transmission starting in second and only shifted once off the line before getting us all the way to 70mph.  It had the manual drive option and was more responsive in this mode.  If you have it in sixth and the car can’t respond to the pressure on the accelerator, it chooses a gear it thinks you should have picked and shifts for you.
                The ride was smooth.  You could feel the suspension smoothing out the bumps.  In some places on our drive it felt like we were on a mini roller coaster.  The whole car seemed to be making little up/down motions.  Chris gets sea-sick very easily and this was starting to feel like that.  We didn’t in fact get sick, but it was a weird sensation for a brief period. 
                In a straight line, torque steering wasn’t an issue.  We floored it and the steering wheel didn’t move.  We wished the steering was actually tighter than it was.  We had to really work the wheel around to get it through the tight corners.  The front wheel drive had so much power and the car would yank us through the corners.  We wished for a rear wheel drive version of this car at times (How old and lame is rwd?)
                The mileage for the Maxima was good.  It averages 19 in the city and 26 on the highway.  For those of you following along at home that’s 3 more in the city, but the same on the highway as the V8 Charger.  The Ford gets one less in the city, one more on the highway, but has 27 fewer horsepower. 

                Overall, we would put this closer to the Charger in style of car.  It’s more of the take the “kids to school during the week and then take the car to the track on the weekend” kind of car.  We liked the way the Maxima handled and the test was fun.  It just feels a little in between the sport sedan and the cruiser.  You would think the 290 horsepower would make it a sport sedan, but it just doesn’t feel that fast.  The Charger isn’t getting that much worse of mileage and feels insane compared to the Maxima.  The Maxima is faster than the Taurus, but the Ford is more refined and smooth.  The Maxima is in limbo.  We want it to lean towards the insane sport sedan side.  Nissan, please, try and drop a V8 in or use rear wheel drive, just don’t raise the price that much…  It’s a business, but we know you guys are creative enough to pull this off.