January 2007


H2 Hummer: Do You Need

Attention This Badly?

By The Car Family

For more reviews go to http://www.motorists.org/new/carreviews/index.html

THIS JUST IN…Large SUVs such as the Hummer are not legal on many residential roads. Most residential streets are limited to vehicles weighing less than 6000 pounds and the Hummer H1 and H2 weigh over this. Before you buy check you local ordinances or that vehicle you are considering buying may need a parking spot in the community storage lot.

http://www.slate.com/id/2104755/

This video of wrecked Hummer H2 shows how they collapse in accidents.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mFEhwwgT4Fg

Hummer shot up….more negative reactions to Hummer H2 ownership. http://www.wreg.com/Global/story.asp?S=6814344

The Sacramento Bee ran this story. 20 Cases of Hummer wheels falling off. This time in newspaper’s parking lot. Yet another danger of buying a Hummer H2

http://blogs.cars.com/kickingtires/2006/07/hummer_wheels_f.html

For more about problems with Hummer H2 ownership go to

http://www.motorists.org/new/carreviews/index.html

Hummer Recalls from Lemon Autos

http://www.lemonauto.com/complaints/gm/hummer_h2.htm

Hummer owner kills child: States Hummer too high to see youngster in crosswalk

http://www.streetsblog.org/2007/02/14/four-year-old-killed-by-hummer-shouldnt-have-died-in-vain

Consumer Guide Gives the Hummer H2 a 2 out of 10 on its value in class scale. The lowest listing.

http://consumerguideauto.howstuffworks.com/2007-hummer-h2-3.htm

Hummer drivers most likely than any to die in a roll over

http://www.lilith-ezine.com/articles/2006/SUVs-Dangerous-01.html

Videos of Hummer H2 Problems from wheels falling off, to front end collapsing, to lack of rear visibility problems resulting in thousands of dollars in parking lot crash and more.

More Hummer problems Government is investigating

http://www.yourlawyer.com/topics/overview/hummer_h2

Hummer stuck in Boston snowstorm. Despite four wheel drive traction lacking.

http://www.car-accidents.com/pages/accident_story/12-9-03.html

Watch Hummer H2 front-end collapses during off-road climb. Is the Hummer a tough truck? Watch this video and try to imagine how much they had to pay to tow it out.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v4R2TZhpbVA

Poor visibility causes this parked car accident

Notice attitude of Hummer driver. Was this hit and run?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HKhpHHLDW1A&mode=related&search=

Photo of Hummer that lost wheel on the road

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K7kveya46Jc&mode=related&search=

Hummer Owners go on trip. Five crashes

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OClIsm36ALo

Large SUVs to Avoid

http://www.ifcar.net/toppicks.worst.htm

More bad news on resale value

http://www.carlist.com/autonews/2005/autonews_145.html

Cars that are no longer hot.

http://autos.msn.com/advice/article.aspx?contentid=4025077&topart=sports

The headlines read, “The Hummer H2 gets close to the worst gas mileage of any civilian vehicle. The Hummer Receives More Complaints Than Any Other Car. The Hummer emits over 3 times more carbon dioxide than an average car.” And the list goes on and includes the fact that to replace the tires, good for about 20,000 to 30,000 miles costs $1000.In 20 years of testing we have never evaluated a vehicle that had so little going for it as the hulking, visibility inhibiting, H2 Hummer. The reason is simple; this is a road hoggish $52,000 glorified pick-up truck that gets horrible gas mileage, offers extremely poor visibility, and despite its enormous girth, has little passenger and storage space. Worse, its safety record is under investigation. Intellichoice has listed it in the poorest category based on ownership costs. You can run two or three regular vehicles on the non-renewable energy the H2 gulps at 8-10 mpg.

Getting in and out is difficult for children. The ride is soft and very little feel is provided through the steering wheel. There is simply nothing to like about this vehicle except its “Damn the rest of the world” stance. General Motors indicates that the H2 has a refined four wheel drive system that gives it the ability to push through 20 inches of water and crawl up a 60 percent incline. So, if those types of obstacles are on your way home the Hummer H2 would make sense, but the GMC Acadia can do the same with a much better ride, visibility, and affordability.

The Hummer creates such hatred that one eco-terrorist burned them on a dealer’s lot. Name another vehicle that generates such actions and ask yourself if you want that type of attention on your daily trips. We have heard countless stories of people flipping off Hummer drivers, throwing garbage on them when parked, and even putting holes in the optional spare tire that mounts on the rear hatch because it takes up so much room inside.

The V8 engine produces 325 horsepower that can move the H2’s 6400 pounds to 60 mph in about 11 seconds. Just so you know that tonnage is about twice as much as a normal vehicle. Thus the braking distance it requires are the longest we have ever seen. Expect it to take from 30 to 50 feet longer to stop than smaller vehicles. If anyone stops short in front of a Hummer driver the next stop for the Hummer owner will probably be in court. It is not unusual to read about Hummers involved in rear collisions and thus the highest rating for insurance costs in the industry. A list of negative comments about Hummer ownership:http://4wheeldrive.about.com/od/highlightshummer/a/hummerhistory_3.htm

Mom’s view: This vehicle is totally irresponsible. You have extremely limited visibility in every direction. No wonder a poor child was run over by a Hummer driver who couldn’t see him in the crosswalk. Can you say class action lawsuit possible against Hummer? Even with a full 32-gallon tank you would be lucky to go 200 miles. You have to crawl into the seat, crawl over the fender to check the engine, crawl over the rear bumper to fetch groceries, and forget trying to wash the top.

I think it is anti-patriotic to drive a vehicle that burns so much fuel. I also think it is a danger to others as the bumpers are so high they overwhelm legal safety required steel guard beams in passenger vehicles. If I were a man I wouldn’t want to put my daughter, girl friend, or wife in a vehicle that draws so much negative attention. If you have a child good luck reaching into the rear seat to properly tether the car seat as the vehicle is quite high. And don’t forget to check those roll over rates. If you must have a SUV the new GMC Arcadia is much better in every way. Easily the best GM SUV.

Dad’s view: This is a very expensive off-road vehicle with lots of headroom, ground clearance, and torque. It would be perfect for a large ranch. In the city and as a commuter vehicle it is out of its element. The two major option packages are expensive and without the relocation of the spare tire the rear cargo area makes the third seat a joke. The spare tire eliminates most of your storage space and forces you to place the very heavy spare tire on the back of the Hummer in order for this vehicle to even carry a few days worth of family food supplies. Try and remove this tire before you buy it to see if this is an option you want and also try to open the rear hatch while parked on a hill. Driving in traffic is more like aiming. You have little feedback, a great deal of interior noise, are at the mercy of side winds and must live in fear of suddenly stopping traffic. It is not fun to drive, but is comfortable off-roading.

On the other hand, who is going to spend nearly $60,000 for a vehicle to go offroading? It also is much too wide for following small trails and the limited visibility makes the Hummer more of a reactive driver than the much better Jeep style vehicles. But let’s face it; people buy a Hummer because they want attention. It makes no practical sense if they don’t use it as it was designed for and that is for rough roads. General Motors new SUVs are much better than the Hummer H2 in every way. Even the new Hummer H3 at least gives you the look with 16 mpg, although it has serious visibility problems.

Young working woman’s view: The H2 is a clear example of conspicuous consumption. It is over 81-inches wide making it a garage hog as well as a road hog. Many Hummer owners are not aware of how dangerous large SUVs such as the H2 can be. They are involved in 37 percent of the fatal rollover crashes. They are far more likely to be involved in one-vehicle wrecks. What is more startling is that when these SUVs hit a normal sedan they cause more deaths. Can you say wrongful death lawsuit? The Hummer has been dealing with problems for steering design flaws, too. Plus, there has been a recall because of brake problems. For ladies, climbing in and out of the H2 is uncomfortable.

Once inside the seats are very soft. The instrument panel is fine; the gauges are easy to read, but very little room for storage. It is an extremely high lift over when you want to put packages in the back and if they fall over you are probably going to get your outfit dirty trying to fetch the escaped items. The fuel tank cap is excessive and usually dirty so carry a rag to wipe your hands should you need to refuel. By the way, it can easily cost $100 to fill up the Hummer and for that you can travel a little over three hours. For all that money you get an engine with a lot of torque making it feel faster than it is as the accelerator pedal is set so that it gives you a lot of fuel at first. After you reach 4000 rpm it isn’t so swift. High speed passing is best practiced on an empty road. You have a feeling of isolation from the highway leaving you in an awkward position in an emergency. Parking this block is interesting.

The high seating position means finding a parking spot is easy. However, even with the overly active power steering it takes courage to park when you can’t see any corner of your car. That’s right; the Hummer H2 offers no visibility in the front or rear. Backing out of the parking place is equally risky. The good news is that you can see if cars are coming down the lane or street. I sincerely wonder why anyone would buy a vehicle with so many negatives, but what makes me most unhappy is the reaction of one owner who told me, “No one can tell me what to drive.” In other words, she bought the car knowing full well its limitation but being rational didn’t matter. She wanted to say to the world, “I’m different. Look at me. I don’t conform.” And, she was right. Another owner in Florida used on in her real estate business. She got heaps of hate mail, but the big tax right off was more of a benefit for her. Remember, that for every Hummer H2 that is owned by a business, your tax dollar is helping them pay for it. So whether you like the Hummer H2 or not, every taxpayer in America is paying for them one way or another thanks to the Bush administration and the Democrats who supported him.

Family conference: Not much to add. The Hummer H2 is easily the worst vehicle we ever evaluated, but we don’t live in the mountains or go deeply off road where its capabilities could be used to advantage although the Sierra Club has complained that such heavy vehicles can damage even legal off-road trails. President Bush has seen fit to give buyers of vehicles that weigh over 6000 pounds a tremendous 25 percent tax break despite the call for a more energy aware America. Thus a businessperson can write off a significant portion of the Hummer’s cost, write off the gas, maintenance, and insurance. General Motors has better SUVs that have more room, more features, and are lighter on the environment. The biggest offense might be to the buyer’s wallet as resale continues to plummet with the rice of gas prices and potential buyers do more research on customer satisfaction. Of course, some people may just need the attention. At present the price of a new Hummer H2 has been discounted $12,000 as more buyers ponder the long-term negative environmental, political, and financial impact of buying this vehicle. And, remember that once they are on the road and the price continues to spiral downward they are going to end up in the hands of those who probably can’t afford insurance. In other words, unless you live in Saudi Arabia buying a Hummer H2 is like spitting in the face of common sense. General Motors has many SUVs that are far better in every way.

Major problems with Hummer ownership

http://www.codepink4peace.org/article.php?id=86

For a list of all vehicle manufacture websites go to

http://www.reacheverychild.com and click on business

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Mercedes CLK 63 AMG Convertible: Is this the world’s fastest convertible?

by The Car Family: Internationally Syndicated

 

For more car reviews and free educational links go to

http://www.reacheverychild.com/

http://www.motorists.org/new/carreviews/index.html

 

What has god wrought?

 

Sit down, shut up, and hang on are all a passenger is the new CLK 63 AMG convertible needs to know because riding in this vehicle is a life changing experience that, well, needs to be experienced to be believed.

 

With the air-conditioning on, this four passenger convertible can easily get to 60 miles per hour in under five seconds without even having to use the steering wheel mounted shift paddles to manipulate the seven speed, absolutely seamless, automatic transmission. There is no doubt that this big engine is the best in the business, but at a cost. Can you say $90,000 (US) for the CLK 63 Cabriolet with its 6.2-liter engine motivating 475 horses to produce 465 pound-feet of torque? If you want a little more horsepower (503) at less cost order the CLK in coupe form if it is available in the country where you reside.

 

Is it worth the price is the question? We asked ourselves that question repeatedly during our test and the answer was always yes when you consider that for the less than $20,000 difference between the 6.3 and the non-AMG CLK you get an all-world performer that just might be the fastest four-seater convertible on Earth.

 

Okay, we were smitten as we always are when testing AMG. We had reservations at we only got 14 mpg in heavy traffic. But once on the open road the big engine was turning over 1800 rpm at legal highway speeds. Our gas mileage topped 26 mpg. We never averaged less than 24 mpg until we started to explore its acceleration and handling when the figure dropped to the 14-15 mpg range on premium fuel and the government has added a whopping gas tax penalty. Oh, the aluminum shift paddles got very hot in the sun and, for the price, there was no GPS or other extras associated with luxury vehicles of this type. That’s it. We want one and we want it badly. In case you need something a bit more practical, Mercedes is stuffing this V8 bad boy into nearly every car in its fleet including the station wagon.

 

Dad’s view: What a week. Beautiful weather, an unassuming Mercedes convertible in the garage, and a new gas credit card. We have been testing vehicles for decades, but seldom has one left us truly wanting to spend our own money on one. There was the Subaru WRX, the Toyota Prius, the Lexus RX, the Audi A4 CVT, the Bentley GT, Ford’s Escape hybrid, and the Honda Odyssey. Strange mix, but each one turned out to be a winner in the long term. Now comes the CLK with its AMGized engine and modifications and our list of favorites has been extended by one. The main reason is the relaxed nature of the engine. The 6.2 is built by an individual who signs the nameplate affixed to the engine. The powerplant has vertical intake and exhaust ports, a variable intake manifold with two internal throttle flaps to encourage cylinder charging, bucket tappets in the cylinder heads to make 7000 rpms a reality, all aluminum block and components, a variable camshaft adjustment, and a low-friction twin-wire-arc-sprayed coating on the cylinder walls, an extra-rigid closed-deck crankcase and cylinder walls with a Mercedes new coating, and the fact that this is an entirely new motor with little shared by the company’s other V8s. But the proof is in the pudding and we couldn’t get enough. The power comes on in a linear and forceful fashion. It isn’t the turbocharged all or nothing feeling, but a jet engine like force. It is in a word, magnificent. Especially considering that even though it is rated at a poor 14-18 mpg figure in reality gets much better when driven sensibly.

 

Not enough can be said about the seven speed automatic transmission that goes about its job so well you don’t even need to use the AMG Speedshift version of the 7G-Tronic seven-speed automatic wheel-mounted shift paddles. It is clearly more refined and easier to operate than BMW’s SMG unit. You can control the speeds at which the vehicle shifts by simply selecting a Comfort, Sport, or Manual mode.

 

The main driving problem is the significant weight on the front wheels making it nose heavy. This is no lightweight at over 4000 pounds and your notice it when driving over poor road surfaces. There is virtually no cowl shake and the ride has the rare combination of stiffness and suppleness. A Porsche convertible has nothing on this Mercedes when it comes to ride quality and the BMW convertible, although possessing better steering feel, does not do at well at smothering road imperfections.

 

The car is nearly indistinguishable from less expensive CLKs with only some small 6.3 AMG emblems to announce its intentions. The brakes are composites, the rims 18-inch alloys, the suspension developed specifically for this car by AMG sport suspension, and the entire package done in an inoffensive manner. Even the interior with its leather-covered sport seats, a driver’s computer, and a removable wind blocker don’t reveal the Jeckle and Hyde character of this convertible.

One warning is to never turn off the stability control. If you do the tremendous torque of the engine can make short work of your rear tires. Just like driving the hot rods of old, you can feel the car chassis working to handle the torque and a little quiver can be felt whenever you accelerate hard. That gentle movement and the bad boy exhaust note is so intoxicating that you quickly forget you are in a Mercedes convertible and my senses took me back to the days when my AC Cobra used to terrorize the population. Remarkably, I would rather have this CLK than my old Cobra for three reasons. First, the Cobra was an uncivilized beast that ran hot, had no creature comforts, and didn’t like traffic. Secondly, it had an aluminum body that could be dented just by having someone lean on it and you couldn’t lock it up. Lastly, it wasn’t any faster than this CLK, although it could use its powerslide abilities to corner faster. Top speed for the CLK is limited to about 155 mph which is more than enough despite the fact that this car is more about the trip than the arrival.

Mom’s view: I really lost my heart to this silver beauty and why not. Here is a vehicle that looks good, misbehaves on command, and doesn’t mind loafing around when the sun is warm and the road is clear. Okay, the gas mileage was atrocious once you pounded the accelerator into the floor pan, but if you drove it as a conventional vehicle it rewarded you with great fuel mileage. I did note that the interior was a little, no, make that a lot, less luxurious than I would have expected. The dull black plastic and leather don’t excite the senses and the seats are a bit firm, too. The glove box is small, but at least Mercedes offered some netting along the center console to hold the manuals. The cupholders were okay, but nothing more, and the radio just isn’t up to snuff. So if you love interiors get the Lexus SC or Audi coupe. As for me, this is all a girl really needs until the insurance premium arrives.

Young working male’s view: I wasn’t allowed to set foot near this Mercedes, but at least I got a chance to check the electronics and this car is loaded except in the area of communications and stereo. No Bluetooth, forget your bass adjustment, and the speakers are hard pressed to carry the sound quality the satellite radio provides let alone a good CD. I would much rather have the station wagon with this engine so I could take my dog to the vet in a hurry.

Young working woman’s view: Very, very nice. A bit plain inside and badly in need of some lighter leather colors as the black gets quite hot in the sun, but essentially, a smart looking smart aleck of a car meant to tease and please. Usable backseats and a small trunk give it a ring of practicality, too.

Family conference: Easily one of the best vehicles we have tested in our 20 years in the business, but not without some concern as to its fuel consumption. Overall, a blast from the past from of all people, Mercedes.

For a list of all vehicle websites go to http://www.reacheverychild.com and click on business.

2007 Honda CR-V

By The Car Family

For more car reviews and free educational links go to

http://www.reacheverychild.com/

http://www.motorists.org/new/carreviews/index.html

 

New, but not really bigger, Honda’s $20,000 (US) CR-V certainly is a better vehicle than the one it replaces. That being said, it still lacks an optional V6 engine, three rows of seats, or the dynamic interiors the competition offers. Thus this Honda must be loved for what it is; reliable transportation for those who relish its safety, resale, and low maintenance. On the other hand, the 166 horsepower engine is noisy, there is more road noise than we expected, and the transmission works overtime to keep the engine on task and thus there can be significant gear hunting around 50 miles per on level ground.

Mom’s view: The table between the front seats is a love-hate affair. It is handy, but everything slides off it when cornering or when stopping. In addition, if you have short arms and have to move the seat forward it is difficult to reach the coin and cup holders on the table. On the love it side it is easy to fold the table up so you can have access to the backseats without having to get out of the vehicle. Fortunately, you can order the optional standard center console instead of the table. There are plenty of drink holders, an underseat drawer, and an optional back shelf that doubles the usability of the rear hatch compartment and is a must have. The rear hatch did not have a remote opening function, but the low mounted handle was very easy to reach and opening and closing it was, well, a snap.

On previous CR-Vs the rear hatch swung to the side and had a heavy spare tire attached. The new model does not have this drawback and is a joy to load and unload. We tested a base version the CR-V and found it pleasingly equipped. I would have liked more horsepower and was surprised a V6 engine was not an option. I was disappointed at the gas mileage as we could barely come close to 22 mpg in mixed driving. I also found the seats a bit thin in the padding department and would have liked a few more features such as inexpensive grocery bag holders.

Safety wise Hondas appear to do very fine. The CR-V comes with four wheel ABS disc brakes, dewpowered airbags, child safety seat connections, stability control, brake assist, a tire-pressure monitor, front-seat side airbags and full-length side curtain airbags. You can order a camera backup monitor on the top-level model and there are parking sensors available. Overall, a nice young person’s car for someone how is practical, frugal, and reliable.

 

Dad’s view: This Honda does not like roughed up roads. It becomes darty when confronted with a variety of highway patches, ruts, and bumps. We had the front wheel drive model and so the all wheel dive version might not have this problem, but I recommend you take the CR-V over some poorly maintained sections of road to check it out yourself, as our test vehicle might have just been an anomaly. Regardless, would consider an upgraded tire and rim package for more stability. However, it does handle quite admirably for what it is around corners when the surface is smoother. As for the suspension it has been tweaked with new alignment settings, a larger anti-roll bar, and a quicker rack and pinion steering set-up. Braking is adequate, but the pedal pressure feels right. The CR-V is based on the excellent Civic underpinnings.

The 2.4-liter inline four-cylinder engine provides 166 horsepower at 5800 rpm and 161 pound-feet of torque at 4200 rpm which is why the five speed automatic transmission is so busy keeping the power delivery smooth when the engine is going slightly up or down hill. If you have the four-wheel drive model the power goes to the front wheels until there is slippage when the rear wheels receive the torque. Fuel mileage for both is listed as being nearly the same for both versions by the government with 23/28 average ratings. We got less. As for speed, look for 60 mph to appear in about 10 seconds.


College going male’s view: Real windows that actually open and close were a real plus and the backseat room was fairly good for the size of this vehicle, but, as the front, the seats weren’t all that comfortable even with fore and aft adjustments. The stereo was subpar and the reception was the same, but at least there is a standard input jack for MP3 players. If you opt for the GPS you also get a PC card reader and a back-up camera. You can also order heated outside mirrors, leather upholstery, heated front seats, XM Satellite Radio, upgraded stereo amplifier, and a rear subwoofer. The optional CD changer moves from the dash to the center console on GPS equipped models and there is a single CD slot behind the screen.

 

Interior lighting wasn’t as bright as I like considering vehicles such as this frequently carry bags that can spill and their content roll into the most inaccessible places. The doors open very wide and front visibility is excellent, but the larger C pillar does create a blind spot to the rear and side of the Honda. Once I got used to the shifter mounted at the bottom of the dash near the stereo I found it quite easy to use. The headlights were adequate, but the horn was useless. Only the horn on Honda’s natural gas (CNG) Civic was less likely to draw needed attention. Finally, the turning radius is quite large for a vehicle of this length probably owing to the front wheel drive nature of the drive train. I really enjoyed the new CR-V and owners should be happy with their high resale, usability, and quality record.

Working woman’s view: This is clearly a woman’s car and Honda knows this with 60 percent of its sales going to women. Thus they have made it easy to enter the CR-V even when wearing a shorter dress thanks to Honda’s wide opening doors. In one move you get slide in with your purse. The rear doors open a full 90 degrees making it easy to put in a baby seat or a large package strain free. The lightweight rear hatch and the CR-V’s handy size, it is shorter than a Civic, make it easy to use in crowded mall parking lots. There is also a LATCH set-up for those babyseats to be properly secured in all the rear seats. If you have older children the front sunglass holder mounted near the front dome light has a wide-angle mirror to keep track of who is winning the battle in the back seat. The rear seats have a 60/40 split and they fold flat. By the way, Honda does not offer a third row seat option.

The CR-V has a modern look and the much improved rear hatch means you can actually open and close it when parked on a steep hill. The interior is a bit spartan for my taste, but everything there was easy to use, read, and manipulate. You should also note that with certain hairdos the headrests could become uncomfortable. The 15 gallon tank enables you to travel about 300 miles without refueling, although the government rates the CR-V’s range in the 400 mile category. Although the CR-V is marketed right at my demographics I find it just too plain and uneventful. There is no sense of play about it.

Family conference: Honda has a loyal following and this CR-V will not disappoint. It is much better than the previous model and should offer continued excellent resale and quality. If you want more room and power you need to look elsewhere and we would highly recommend the Honda Pilot. For a list of all vehicle websites go to http://www.reacheverychild.com and click on business.