Thursday, January 28, 2010

A Post that's not about the iPad.

I think the happiest people in the world to see all the media hype over the iPad launch yesterday was not Mac. It was Toyota, because for a day the spotlight was not shining on the clusterfuck that is their massive recall and legally implemented sales halt. I feel bad for them, really I do. If you haven't been following the story,  Toyota calls it "pedal entrapment problems caused by floormats". This means the pedal was slightly too long, and floormat cut slightly too generously. If you have one of the 4.2 million cars affected by this problem, you should immeditately do the following complex process to ensure the safety of you and your family:

1. Pull out the floormat.

But then there is that other recall, the one where the accelerator pedals actually are sticking due to worn components. This is a bit of a problem for the 1.7 million owners of recent models, and to the dealers who have them on the lot. Luckily, Scion and Lexus models are not affected. But, it does include the Pontiac Vibe, which is basically a Matrix with the General's badge.

The following models are affected by the recall

• 2009-2010 RAV4
• 2009-2010 Corolla
• 2009-2010 Matrix
• 2005-2010 Avalon
• 2007-2010 Camry
• 2010 Highlander
• 2007-2010 Tundra
• 2008-2010 Sequoia

But this is also a bigger blow to Toyota - it's not like the company can rely on its edgy styling, sporty performance or individualistic appeal. Toyota's sell well because they are solid, reliable transportation, and this is no doubt going to tarnish the image in the mind of many consumers.

But, if you find yourself in the horrifying situation where your accelerator sticks, remember the following advanced driving techniques that could save your life:

1. Hit the brakes, idiot. If that doesn't work, shift into neutral.

Heres a link to the press release with some FAQ's:

Broken Down- early 90's Mistubishi Eclipse, 97 Mercury Grand Marquis

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Quota Time - How to Spot an NYPD Unmarked Charger

Last night, I counted no less than 10 cops on my way home patrolling for speeders. This includes NJ State Troopers, NYPD, NY Staties and a Nassau Sheriff. So apparently, its quota time.* Mostly, they are using the newer Dodge Chargers to replace aging Crown Vic interceptors. The Dodges have the 5.7 liter V8 that’s pretty badass, but with a governor.

Before we go any further, let me say to always obey local speed laws and respect law enforcement, because they are just out there making the roads safer, getting idiots off the roads, and putting money in the municipal coffer. Speeding or any unsafe driving is not safe, and is not condoned.

But you should probably know what you're up against out there.

This is what the Police package Dodge Charger Interceptor is packing:
• Zero to 60 mph: 6.0 sec
• Zero to 100 mph: 15.4 sec
• Zero to 130 mph: 32.4 sec
• Street start, 5-60 mph: 6.4 sec
• Standing ¼-mile: 14.6 sec @ 97 mph
• Top speed (governor limited): 148 mph
• Braking, 70-0 mph: 179 ft
• Roadholding, 300-ft-dia skidpad: 0.82

That being said, here’s how to spot an unmarked Charger. See the below photos, but here’s where not to look:
• Exhausts – Dual exhausts used to mean unmarked. Now, even the V6 chargers have the dual exhaust.
• Light package – If you are close enough to spot hidden lights in the grill, its already too late
• Headlights – They are the same, but never HID or projector
• License plates – there no discernable special codes for law enforcement on unmarked’s
• Suspension –even though its beefed up, it’s not a discernible difference by glance

Note: taxi companies and liveries often buy used police cars for use as Taxi's. In NY, if it has an orange reflector in the back, its always a taxi.

This is what to notice: (numbers correspond to photos)
1. Rims – usually police departments use cheaper and easier to maintain black steelies with center caps
2. Antenna array – most will have 3 stubby antennas or a center mounted CB antenna
3. Spotlight on the river side is a dead giveaway. some taxi cabs leave them on
4. Brushguard / Pushbar
5. It’s what is missing here- the trim designation badge
6. Fog lights. Cop cars won’t have them, as they are always an optional accessory
7. License plate frame - only civilian vehicles from dealerships will have this
8.  Grills - typically, the body painted grill is on the SRT-8 and other higher end packages for the charger, so its pretty rare. you can bet that if the grill is not plastic chrome, it might be the fuzz.


Creative common license, photo by AEMoreira042281

- photo from"

The civilian model– images from



* disclaimer - According to Police, quotas do not exist.

Broken Down - 2001 Mitsubishi Galant

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

So let me get this straight - Pontiac dies, but Saab lives?

Where is the justice in this world?

But I digress. Most people my age have no soft spot for Pontiac. the late 90's gave us a deluge of poorly sheet-metaled POS's powered by the Quad Four, arguably the worst motor in history. They had poor styling, C-grade interiors, and an exhaust note that just sounded like it was about to die. But then a drove the newer GTO. Whoa. Sure, it was a Holden. Sure it looked like a Dodge Neon. But damn that thing moved, and it was a great ride. The G8 was posed to be the renaissance of the car maker, as GM gets back on it's feet with a slew of good platforms.

Anyway, todays story comes to us via Jalopnik and the WSJ.

Spyker, makers of such fine motors as the C8 Cab has rescued Saab from the inevitable doom. The Dutch car maker will receive a majority of the right to the company while GM reserves a 1% voting stake. Personally, I hate Saabs, and I always have. The windshields make them feel like driving with the visibility of Kanye West sunglasses. But its really their styling and image that irks me - I have no real driving background in them. I think the only high point in the entire automakers history was the short lived "Saabaru" hybrid monstrosities that were understated and badass, yet still pretentious.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Why do I feel guilty about liking the Accord Crosstour?

Lets face it, the wagon is cool again. Some of us need the practicality, combined with the versatility that only a wagon can offer, yet do not want the footprint or gas guzzling-ness of an SUV. Need more convincing? Suby Outback Turbo, Audi S4 Avant, Stagea, and the Hemi powered Magnum. OK, the latter is debatable, but you catch my drift. Even though there was about 20 years there between 1980 and 2000 where the wagon had no love, automakers and buyers alike are now beginning to discover what they were missing. It got so bad for a time, automakers even came up with new names. Who would buy a Toyota Matrix if it was badged a "Corolla Wagon"? And then a funny thing happened to the segment - The crossover.
The term crossover is used very loosely, from everything to CRV's, to the Crosstour, which is basically an Accord thats a hatchback and jacked up. But the bottom line is, I'm diggin' this thing. First the styling - It screams form and function, but in a good way. The front says aggressive, but the rear says utility, with a little bit of attitude. Keep in mind though; I am totally judging all of this from the photos. The lines on the car are aggressive, and thoughtfully arranged. This car was not just throwing a hatch on the back of a sedan, which was a plan that worked well for so many years for Japanese automakers. The wheels are aggressive, but aren’t big enough to dampen ride quality, and the black trimmed projector headlights let you know that this is a modern car. The ass is nicely done with dual exhaust pipes, but I think some LED tails will be a nice touch. The interior is also the epitome of ergonomics in typical Honda fashion. Reviewers complain of too many buttons in the Accord sedan. Screw you, I like buttons.
But now let’s talk about the motor. I was surprised to see thing thing equipped with a peppy V6, which is a great move on Honda’s behalf. This move keeps the CR-V relevant while appealing to a new crowd. The marketing materials claim enhanced suspension, which I am sure, is a bit tighter than a stock Accord. The 3.5 V6 sounds good on paper - 271 horsepower, but bolted only to a 5 speed slush box. Not even a CVT option. This is still very commendable performance, and should be well suited to the daily driver enthusiast no doubt. But with available AWD, it becomes a lot more utility and foul-weather friendly.
Pricing is between $27K and 37K depending on how you load it up. EPA #’s are 17/25, making this a decent commuter car that gets typical gas mileage, good performance and excellent utility.
But we do know one thing about this car – its success will certainly be a measure of many things to come. For example, if successful, we will certainly see the return of the Camry wagon, and perhaps an Altima variant of a different namesake. We could also expect to see a hybrid option for this car in the near future if sales are good, because hippies love them some wagon. There are also talksof a TSX wagon variant, which we all know as the Euro Accord.
Check out some pictures. All from Honda. I eagerly await the review from

Thursday, January 21, 2010

A bit about tradeshows...

I am no stranger to trade shows. On Friday I'll be shooting the IMS show at Javitts in NYC. For those of you aren't familiar with IMS, its a motorcycle show, put on by Cycle World Magazine. Now before you think I'm going to get all preachy on you about the joys of motorcycles, I just wanted to bring up a point about trade shows in general, and point you toward an awesome blog making the rounds on the interwebs.

Booths have spokes models, and a constant source of entertainment is to watch the advances of show attendees who actually think they have a shot with the woman. Typically these women can be models, PR reps, or marketing execs. But I found through Jalopnik the other day this blog started by one of these spokeswomen called "Do you come with the car".

It is priceless, and worth a few minutes to read.

Oh, and broken down today: First gen Ford Focus, 95 Toyota Avalon

Monday, January 18, 2010


So I have been doing some work in the city this week, and sometimes you just can't beat the LIRR. Except of course, when I want to park somewhere where my car doesn't get hit, but thats a story for another day.

But heres what I love about the LIRR - if you are awake all night with a teething baby like me, you can appreciate the fact that you can just sleep the hour and 20 minutes all the way into Penn station.

As I am dozed off though on the 6:42 out of Babylon, I woke up to realize, I think I was snoring. and loudly. I kinda felt bad for the other morning commuters around me, but most of them had headphones on.

So my question is, what is the etiquette for a situation like this? Say your the one reading your paper on your way into the city, when some ass in front of you is sounding like a chainsaw. Do you kick the back of their seat? Accidentally drop your briefcase on top of them? Move? If you know the answer, please let me know. Personally, I will just put on a pair of headphones and ignore them.

But here's the point. If you were sitting next to me, yeah, i was that guy. I'm sorry.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Rumors of new Infiniti 2.5

Heres the thing about the cars we will talk about here - they need to have some sort of practicality. No one is going to drive a corvette or a GT-R to work everyday, and we need to focus on whats actually going to be used by commuters.

So I want to talk about a new rumor (via Autoblog) concerning a new infinity platform. But first, heres a little disclaimer. I am a total Nissan nut. I love their products, and the VQ motor is absolutely bulletproof. I came very close to buying a G35x because it was a phenomenal ride, but didn't pull the trigger because of gas mileage.

The reports say that the 2011 G series will be available with a turbo 2.5 V6, which is the same motor found in the Japanese Skyline coupe (not GT-R). I am predicting something different.

Anyone remember the Infiniti G20t? It sold well and was very cost effective for Nissan to build an Infiniti on the Altima platform / motor. I think we will be seeing a G25 and G25s variant very soon, but without the turbo. I think it will use the same motor as the current Altima to achieve maximum efficiency, (2.5 four-banger) and ride on a slightly tweaked Altima body. This was the exact same strategy for the G20t.

This is a safe play on Infiniti's part. With Audi and BMW bringing smaller, more fuel efficient luxury cars to the states, Nissan's luxury division will need something to compete, and the answer is a platform variant that costs a minimum to produce, but could possibly be a best seller in the entry luxury category.

[caption id="attachment_102" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="96 Inifiniti G20T (Image from Consumer Guide Auto)"]96 Inifiniti G20T[/caption]

Broken down today: '01 VW Beetle and a 92 Honda Civic coupe

Saturday, January 9, 2010

From CES 2010 - The Cars

Here i am, sitting in McCarren airport three hours early waiting for my flight. I expected security to be a nightmare, but apparently everyone is leaving tomorrow instead. Between all of the tech industry trade shows, me and the D terminal of this airport have spent many, many hours together.

Bit I digress. Today I finally was able to walk the north hall, where all of the car exhibitions were, and will post some photos. This year there was no one dominant model that companies tricked out. In years passed, it was 300C's as far as the eye could see, but this year, the range was all makes and models. And did i see the GT-R I was searching for? you bet. See you in a few months, Vegas.

Apologies for the point and shoot images, I couldn't lug my big camera out here.


Out west for the week

This week, I am braving the traffic of a different city, Las Vegas, NV at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES). This is my seventh year at CES, and it seems to be more congested every year.

Traffic wise, Vegas is a very interesting place. I speak to a lot to the cabbies who know the town and its odd traffic patterns. Its a town full of one ways and confusing hotel back lots, and cabbies blame 90% of the accidents on out of towners renting cars. I saw this first hand today when an erratic Sebring seemed to take every turn, change their mind back into traffic, and even stop a few times and hold up traffic.

But anyways, tomorrow I'm going to the North hall to check out the rides, and report on whats hot, whats next, and what looks really useless.