Monthly Archives: February 2013

2013 BMW X1 combines versatile form with great function

BMW has attempted to sidestep the dreaded “W word” in marketing and designing the 2013 X1 xDrive28i that recently rolled into the Car Tech garage, but have no qualms about it, the X1 is a wagon. Granted, it’s a tall wagon that perhaps skirts the lower boundaries of what could be considered a crossover, but, even with the slightly increased ground clearance of a crossover, everyone who approached me about the X1 while I was out for a spin referred to the vehicle as a big blue wagon. So, I’ll be referring to it as a wagon for the duration of this review, BMW’s nomenclature be damned.

There are advantages, of course, to the X1′s straddling of the wagon-crossover divide. The higher-than-your-average-wagon seating position gives a more commanding view of the road. And the taller roofline of the hatchback form lends increased headroom to the 40/20/40-split rear bench seats, which fold flat to open up a rather spacious storage area. You won’t be able to help your friend move a couch with the X1, but it may be possible to fit a few pieces of flat-packed IKEA furniture behind the front seats.

BMW’s smallest crossover is a canyon carver (pictures)

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Nissan gives Juke the performance treatment

Nissan announced it would put the Juke NISMO into production.

(Credit: Nissan)

Oft-criticized for its appearance, something about the Nissan Juke appealed to gearheads, enough so that the company created the Juke-R, a high-performance, and costly, version of the compact SUV using the GT-R’s engine. For those of us lacking the funds for one of those custom-built rocket sleds, Nissan comes out with the Juke NISMO.

The Juke NISMO was first shown as a concept at the 2011 Tokyo Motor Show.

NISMO is Nissan’s sport brand, which in the retail market covers performance parts and a version of the 370Z. The introduction of the Juke NISMO should be the first sortie in Nissan’s efforts to expand its performance brand.

Red accents abound in the Juke NISMO.

(Credit: Nissan)

As applied to the Juke, NISMO means revised aerodynamic features, a stiffer and lower suspension, 18 inch wheels, tightened steering tuning, and higher output from the engine.

Nissan changed the front fascia of the car t… [Read more]

Car Tech: An automotive blog from CNET

2013 Hyundai Elantra Coupe Review

The 2013 Hyundai Elantra Coupe was introduced early in 2012. It became available for purchase in July 2012. A base model starts out with an MSRP of just $18, 220, making it affordable for nearly any budget. The interior is designed to be comfortable and roomy, with enough space to fit five adults total in the vehicle. The outer design is sleek and modern. It is designed with aerodynamics in mind to glide over the road as you drive. The fuel efficiency for this vehicle is outstanding. The automatic transmission gets an estimated 29MPH in the city and 40 MPG on the highway. The manual transmission is just 1 MPG less in both city and highway estimates.

Body Styling

Several upgrades to the design of this all new 2013 Hyundai Elantra Coupe are what make it attractive. It has a high-end design without the high-end price. The larger head and tail light assemblies ensure that drivers on the road see you at all times. It was both a style and safety decision to redesign the look of the lights, not to mention it makes the car look more sporty. The sculpted rear spoiler adds a bit of flair to the design. Plain Jane is not an option. The sides are bolstered to add more appeal to the overall look of the car. It helps to give the overall design a little depth and be more pleasing for potential buyers to look at.

The Benefits and Engine Performance

Hyundai Elantra 1.8L four that develops 148 hp and 131 lb-ft

Hyundai Elantra 1.8L four that develops 148 hp and 131 lb-ft

The engine of the 2013 Hyundai Elantra Coupe is designed for efficiency and performance. Either a 6-speed manual or 6-speed automatic transmission is available. The 1.8 liter engine packs in a total of 148 horsepower at 6500 rpm. This does not mean that power is not there.  Because of the low low vehicle weight and well balanced chassis, this car will get up and go when you tell it to. The economic engine design allows users to drive worry free with several warning systems in place to alert drivers of a potential problem. High-tech is what to expect out of a somewhat compact engine. One of the huge benefits of purchasing the automatic transmission model is that you can turn on the ECO system. This system is specially designed to allow you to control the efficiency of both the engine and transmission with just the touch of a few buttons.

Overall Impression of the 2013 Hyundai Elantra Coupe
Hyundai got it right with this car. It has a smart design with plenty of clear cabin room for tall individuals. One of the most impressive inclusions on this vehicle is the bulletproof side panels on the doors. This is just one additional safety measure taken by Hyundai. It already has six interior airbags, but adding in the bulletproof panels takes it up a few steps above the rest. For a safe and highly efficient family vehicle with a few perks, such as a great sound system, XM satellite radio, and heated rear seats, it is driving in luxury for the middle-class family. Comfort, style, affordability, and efficiency are all tied together into one attractive vehicle.


MyFord Mobile app finds open EV charging stations data added to MyFord Mobile shows real-time status of nearby EV charging stations.

(Credit: Ford)

Drivers of Ford’s new plug-in hybrid vehicles, the Fusion Energi and C-Max Energi, will not only get to view their vehicles’ state of charge and other information from their smartphones, but also get to see the nearest available charging station. Ford partnered with, which shows the location and gives realtime information for electric vehicle charging stations.

The MyFord Mobile app currently works with the Focus Electric, letting owners schedule remote charging and pre-heat the car. Ford’s two new hybrid plug-in vehicles will also get the benefits of the MyFord Mobile app.

The addition of’s data adds considerably to the apps usefulness. The site shows a wealth of information for each charging station, such as whether it’s free and the type of charger. More useful to drivers in areas with a concentration of electric cars, the site shows whether the charging station is in use or not.

A nice feature of the MyFord Mobile app is its ability to not only show a destination, such as a restaurant, but also to locate the nearest charging station from Plugs… [Read more]

Car Tech: An automotive blog from CNET

Convertible Toyobaru concept to debut in Geneva

(Credit: Toyota)

It looks like Toyota’s looking to rebuild buzz for one of the hottest cars launched in 2012 by dropping the top on a convertible concept variant of the GT86 coupe at the 2013 Geneva Auto Show.

We've seen open-topped Scion FR-S customs at the SEMA show, but now Toyota's getting in on the drop-top fun.

(Credit: Antuan Goodwin/CNET)

The FT-86 Open revives the “FT” concept designation and hints at a possible, future open-air version of the GT86 coupe. The 2.0-liter, RWD coupe (which is sold in the US as the Scion FR-S and has been nicknamed the “Toyobaru” thanks to its co-development with Subaru) has been compared on many occasions to Mazda’s MX-5 Miata, which boasts a similar power-to-weight ratio and emphasis on handling, so a roadster variant does make a bit of sense. We’re expecting a power-retractable top, because (unlike the Miata) the GT86 has a back seat to reach over. However, it is unclear if the retractable roof will be a hard or soft type.

Accordin… [Read more]

Car Tech: An automotive blog from CNET

2013 Nissan Murano Review

As one of the first mid-sized cross over SUV’s released in the north American continent, Nissan has been able to identify and pinpoint the exact areas of what consumers are looking for. On its initial debut, the Nissan Murano became an instant hit thanks to its alternative looks to traditional SUV’s while maintaining a typical car-like feel, versatility, room and comfort.

The 2013 Nissan Murano has been following its successors since its second generation; but with a few genetic tweaks. The new 2013 Nissan Murano offers more luxury qualities and comes equipped with a more responsive transmission.

The Nissan Murano in general, is very generous in its offer with a good balance of both performance and comfort. All trim levels can be purchased with either an all-wheel drive system, or just front-wheel drive. The busty 3.5-liter V6 produces a good 260 hp and 240 ft-lbs of torque. This power is coupled to Nissan’s well acclaimed continuous variable transmission (CVT).
The Murano can be purchased in four different trim levels. The lower base S model includes dual-zone automatic climate control and a six-CD changer; however, there are a few desirable features that can only be purchased in the upper models. The SV adds a panoramic sunroof and a rear-view camera. The SL trim offers leather upholstery. Finally, the top line LE model jumps the gun with almost every purchase option equipped as standard.

Since it’s initial release, we’ve always admired Nissan Murano’s bold styling, comfortable interior, and its powerful V6 However, there have always been concerns with how reasonable the fuel economy of the Nissan Murano’s and limited rear-view visibility also suffered by many cross-over SUv’s. The EPA-estimated fuel economy is rated at only 18 mpg city/24 mpg highway and 20 mpg combined with front-wheel drive and 18/23/20 with all-wheel drive. These numbers can only be described good at best when comparing with other competitors in the same sector. Nevertheless, the roominess, leather quality material used in the higher end model, and its performance capability makes the Murano a great choice in the cross-over SUV realm.

There isn’t much that will catch your eye in the interior space of the Nissan Murano. What you will appreciate though, is the elegant and aesthetics with high quality materials used throughout the interior cabin space. The gauges are also fairly generic, but the subtle color combination and simplicity helps calm down excess information and complexity to the driver. The map navigation, climate control, media and phone access on the built-in LCD display is also very user intuitive.

Rear-seat passengers will enjoy a plethora of head and legroom with the added bonus of reclinable rear seats in the Nissan Murano. The cargo space in the Murano measure 31.6 cubic feet with both sections of those 60/40-split seatbacks up and 64 cubic feet of room with them folded down. These numbers are respectable, but fall a bit short compared to other crossover SUV’s on the market

The 2013 Nissan Murano’s is equipped very well-tuned suspension resulting in excellent ride quality. The 3.6 liter V6 engine provides respectable power and the Nissan CVT transmission coupled to the power train delivers both drive-train smoothness while aiding in lower fuel economy. All things said, We most enjoyed both the performance and comfort offered by the Nissan Murano.

Infiniti’s 420-hp sedan is the opposite of efficient

The Infiniti M37 sedan starts at $ 48,700, but our 2013 M56 sedan starts at a base price of $ 63,700. What do you get for the extra $ 12,500? About 1.9 extra liters of displacement that’s about a Honda Civic’s worth of engine size and power. That’s an impressive little source of bragging rights there, but does it really make this flagship sedan better than its more modest sibling?

420 horsepower V-8 The 5.6-liter V-8 engine that spins its crank under the M56′s hood outputs 420 peak horsepower and 417 pound-feet of torque. The engine is mated to a seven-speed automatic transmission, the only gearbox available on the M56, which sends power to the rear axle. Users have the option of upgrading to an all-wheel-drive system, but our vehicle was not so equipped. The transmission features a manual shift mode that is activated by moving the shifter to the left and rocking the lever back for rev-matched downshifts and up for upshifts.

On the center console, drivers will find the Drive Mode Selector knob, with which you can select one of four different driving modes. Sport puts the gearbox into its most aggressive mode, holding each gear longer for peak power and blip-downshifting when braking in preparation for a corner. Eco slightly detunes the output and throttle map and short-shifts each gear for smooth, economical driving. The Eco mode also activates an optional feature called the Eco Pedal, which we’ll return to momentarily. Normal is, of course, the baseline perf… [Read more]

Car Tech: An automotive blog from CNET

Kia builds jumbo concept for Chicago

Kia says this new concept, which looks like a hatchback from the picture, is bigger than its Sorento SUV.

(Credit: Kia)

The trend for crossover vehicles grew over the last five years, so it is not surprising that Kia’s newest concept, set for an unveiling at the Chicago Auto Show, bears the name Cross GT. The big surprise from this concept is that Kia says it is bigger than the 2014 Sorento.

The Cross GT bears a little resemblance to the concept Kia will unveil at the Geneva auto show. It uses similar slim headlight openings and a hatchback-style body. However, the Cross GT’s grille looks more like those on Kia production cars and the roofline extends all the way back to the rear of the car, somewhat like that of the Hyundai Veloster.

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