Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Screw the rain, lets talk cars.

Screw this, I’m riding the rails today. In this rain, the lowlands that surround the East River crossings are highly susceptible to flooding. Like, and not little flooding either, like flooding on the CIP and Clearview that will shut down the road and sweep cars away.

Here’s a commuter tip for you. In a Gestapo type move, the fuzz always try to block the entrance to Penn station when its pouring and the tunnels start flooding. Don’t get caught in this. Go into MSG, and use the entrance through to bypass it all and get home.

But I Digress.

So there were a lot of hits on my last post about AAA’s top commuter cars, and with my recommendations. To that end, I would like to talk about what should be sought after in a perfect commuter car, and add to the list from last week. Here are some key things to look for:

  • Power – I am assuming if you are reading this you are a bit of a gear head. Slow cars are not only boring, they are depressing, and sometimes unsafe.

  • In-cabin – You have to keep yourself safely entertained while driving. In Cabin Bluetooth and Aux jacks / MP3 capability are probably the 2 best things to happen in cars in years. It’s easy to dismiss these features until you try them, but once you do, you never go back.

  • AWD or Front wheel drive – Yes, I kno0w RWD is better for handling and for enthusiasts. But try making it up a snowy or wet incline in traffic or pull emergency maneuvers ina  RWD car and you will understand the benefits to being pulled rather than pushed. AWD is even better, and offers excellent grip and confidence, but typically at the cost of weight and fuel economy. Just don’t be one of those people that think they are invincible with it.

  • Size – This is debatable. Too big and you can’t see what’s going on around you, and if it’s too small, you can’t be aggressive enough to drive in NY. Gypsy cabs are going to laugh at you if you try to muscle in to their lane at 20 mph in a Miata. 4 doors are also just more practical, but that’s IMHO.

  • Fuel economy – its very important especially considering gas prices will rise again, and soon.

So now I want to explain my choices, and unveil 107 Mile’ top 11 commuter cars for this month. Why 11? Because that’s how we roll.

  1. Infiniti G35X – it’s like the Altimas less girly big brother. The AWD comes at the cost of gas mileage, but it’s fun to drive, and the exhaust note is so sweet you can just turn off the radio. My biggest problem with this car though is the big, annoying analog clock in the middle of the dash.

  2. Suby Legacy GT – what it lacks in the interior, it makes up in pure fun. This little 2.5 four banger roars, and its fun when the turbo kicks in. it lacks any resemblance to me-too styling, andf the hood scoop is an extremely aggressive addition.

  3. BMW X5 Diesel – Only SUV on here and for good reason. It has insane torque, amazing handling, great features and is comfy.

  4. Nissan Maxima – It’s a very well balanced car with unique styling and attitude. The VQ35 is powerful and torque, yet bulletproof. Gas mileage is good, and CVT beats an automatic any day for city driving.

  5. New Ford Taurus SHO – I know, I can’t believe I am actually suggesting a Taurus, but have you seen this thing? The interior is full of goodies, the exterior is edgy enough to be cool, and who doesn’t love a turbo’d V6?

  6. Caddy CTS – Drive one. Its fun, its styling is out of this world, and it hauls ass.

  7. V6 Accord Crosstour – it is the reliability and practicality of an accord, with unique styling and a buttery smooth motor.

  8. Bigfoot – Because we have all wanted to just roll over everyone at some point or another

  9. Camry V6 – Its sensible and it has some cojones. And you know you can have one for a steal right now.

  10. Lexus GS – AWD, solid style styling if you don’t mind all the wood grain.

  11. Audi A4 / Jetta – You got either AWD or diesel take your pick to what’s more important. Audi worked out its electrical bugs a few years ago, and they are now quite reliable.

Broken Down: ’94 Civiv, 95 Grand Marquis, 96 Cherokee,  92 Taurus,

Thursday, March 25, 2010

AAA's 10 best commuter cars

I just read a great article on Autoblog – Apparently, the AAA has listed their 10 best cars for commuters.

The cars were judged on practicality, safety, comfort, fuel efficiency and affordability. Of course, if I were judging, I would have had to put “fun to drive” in there in addition to in-cabin amenities. Spend enough time in your car and you start to realize the benefits of a car with some pick up as well as Bluetooth mobile.

But the winners are…

  1. Honda Insight – It’s small, good on gas, and decent interior room, with legendary Honda reliability. It’s a great alternative to the hybrid.

  2. Ford Fusion – It is no secret that Ford has been kicking ass and taking names in the auto market lately. The fusion is decent styling, decent power, and offers the SYNC system for entertainment

  3. Volkswagen Jetta TDI: This Vdub has great gas mileage and a motor that captures the heart of torque lovers.

  4. Hyundai Elantra – Huge warranty, little price makes for a great combination and peace of mind.

  5. Subaru Legacy/Outback – In any weather, both of these cars are phenomenal. I prefer the Legacy, it’s just a bit more refined, yet still bad-ass in its GT iteration. Super

  6. Honda Civic – I drove one of these once. Despite a great interior, it felt like an economy car. But amazing gas mileage.

  7. Chevrolet Malibu – I have had more of these for rentals than I can count. Average in every way shape and form.

  8. Honda Accord – My 89 accord died on me due to a timing belt when it had 350,000 miles on it. Accords are a hallmark of reliability, and the 6 has some real get-up-and-go.

  9. Mazda3 – unique styling and handles like it’s on rails. Awesome interiors make you feel like you are in the game.

Here is what the 10 best should really be…

  1. Infiniti G35X

  2. Suby Legacy GT

  3. BMW X5 Diesel

  4. Nissan Maxima

  5. New Ford Taurus SHO

  6. Caddy CTS

  7. V6 Accord Crosstour

  8. Bigfoot

  9. Jaguar XF

  10. Camry V6

Care to debate me?

Click here for the article on Autoblog

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Austin Vs. NY

Well I'm back from SXSW. I was out there on shooting assignment for the week, and had a great time. Of all of the auto manufacturers, Chevy by far dominated the social media space. They had a slowly building production Volt Display, a lounge and a showroom ready Cruz. But the best part is the rides that they were offering to show attendees in a Camaro SS or new Corvette. They also are totally rocking augmented reality into their advertising campaigns, which is going to be big in the future.

But what about driving in Austin? For this little excursion, we got ourselves a Chrysler Town and Country Mininvan. Not my first choice, but hey, it carried everyone and my gear, so I cannot complain. But my conclusion is this - Austin drivers are the most similar to NY drivers I have ever seen, but they have an extreme lack of awareness.

I think the oddest thing about Austin drivers is that a majority do not use turn signals. more than one time, i had a car next to me on the highway that was inching over, and when i didn't alter my speed to let them in, they got visibly angry. I didn't know they wanted to lane change. If I saw a turn signal, I would have let them over.

But getting there is half the fun right? As a hardcore commuter, I frequently find myself on planes. And I have a rule - I know I sound like s snob, but I always fly direct. It’s not that I’m impatient, or don’t like connections. It's just that every single time I take a connection; my bags never make it with me. Of course, this happened again, as the Delta flight From JFK to ATL to Austin was lacking my luggage for the week. But no worries, I carried my camera gear in my carry-on.

Anyways, see the gallery for my really terrible shots of some of the car stuff at SXSW 2010


Upcoming – I am actually working on a really good article, as a PR guy’s perspective of Toyota’s current crisis.

Broken down: 90’s Crown Vic, 94 Maxima, 97 Corrola, a couple of vans

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Coming soon

Right now I am out in Austin shooting SXSW. Chevy has a dominance here from can manufacturers, as they display the Cruze, Volt and offer rides in the Camaro SS. Of course i have pics I'll upload later.

But I'll be updating soon. not being home for nearly 3 weeks make it hard to update my blog. But rest assured, whenIi come back, the focus will be on Austin,and its comparison to NYC drivers.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Potholes and other roadblocks

The pothole situation is insane right now. I have been straddling obstructions like the Russian chick from Goldeneye every day on the road. At least once every 5 miles on all roads, I see someone pulled over with a flat tire due to potholes. I wont even take the upper level of the GW inbound right now because its so bad. The surface streets are even worse.

Its all because when the heavy rains and freezing temperatures mix, we get cracks that form and expand into potholes. combine this with drastically cut local budgets, we get roads that look like they were recently came under mortar attack that we will be lucky if they get fixed by Autumn.

But let me tell you why there hasnt been any posting. I have been really busy at my real job as a PR guy. I just got back from California, and I am shipping out to Vegas this weekend, and then to Austin for a week.

While i was in SoCal, they gave me a 2009 full size Suburban of all things to drive. the thing was a boat. i had to cut the turns wide, and had to make sure all of the kids were clear of the front of the vehicle before taking off anywhere. I also drove it clear across the greater LA area for a trip up to Valencia. I also learned on this trip that California drivers are a lot nicer than NY drivers. turn signals actually serve a purpose out here besides confusing fellow motorists.

Anyway, thats my rant for now. I'll be back in a week or so.