audi


Audi A7 vs. Lexus LS 460
by The Car Family
for more reviews go to https://www.motorists.org/tag/the-car-family/

Two expensive luxury vehicles with quiet energy, amply girth, and the newest in electronic aids offer buyers a radically different choice in sedans in the upper $70,000 range. For as much as the basics are the same, the manufacturers clearly have two different buyers in mind. The Lexus LS is lush with comfort and effortless performance in mind. The Audi A7 is ready to play and offers passengers a stunning interior and an exterior that are contemporary and eye-catching. The Audi is sleek with substance and style the Lexus LS is conservative with comfort and solitude in mind. So we have two exceedingly contrasting tacts on luxury sedans that offer consumers a rich choice.

Lexus LS

Lexus LS

Audi A7

Performance
We tested the Audi A7’s 333 horsepower, supercharged, V6 engine and it was very responsive, nearly turbine like in feel. The Audi came with with all-wheel drive and an eight-speed transmission. Acceleration to 60 mph came in under six seconds and delivered well over 25 mpg in mixed driving. Our rear-drive Lexus LS was powered by a 4.6-liter V8 engine that produced 386 horsepower, although all-wheel drive is an option. An eight-speed transmission is standard. The Lexus is a little slower and gets about 21 mpg in mixed driving. Both engines are serene and smooth. Advantage Audi 7 based on its better fuel mileage and quicker performance.

Interior
Audi has a knack for creating beautiful interiors and its infotainment system is easy to master with
a dash-mounted pop-up screen as well as knob and buttons on the center console and a touchpad that enables you to use handwriting. Not the easiest system, but works quickly. Audi Connect offers mobile WiFi for several devices. The best feature is a navigation system that uses Google Earth data. The GPS is fairly easy to operate. The slope of the sedan’s roof does limit rear headroom some, but legroom is generous. The trunk is large and the rear seats fold down. There are lots of storage areas and the interior is understated and useful without being garish. Audi has standard quad-zone automatic climate control, a sunroof, Bluetooth, a 10-speaker audio system, satellite radio, a rearview camera, front and rear parking sensors, blind spot monitoring, an 8-inch display screen, navigation, and two USB ports. The Lexus is quietly elegant with exceptional materials and fit. A computer mouselike devise controls a variety of functions displayed on the giant 12.3-inch monitor. It is a little complicated, but can be mastered easily with practice. Trunk space is a bit shy of the Audi’s but quite ample. The Lexus rear seats do not fold down. Advantage Lexus based on monitor size and improved electronics.
Safety features
We always recommend getting every safety feature you can afford and the Audi offers a plethora of items including adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist, a night vision camera, a corner-view camera, forward collision warning with automatic braking, antilock disc brakes, stability control, a blind-spot warning system, front and rear parking sensors, front-seat side airbags, full-length side curtain airbags, front knee airbags, rear side airbags, and a Pre-Sense Plus system that can tighten the seatbelts and apply the brakes in an impending crash. Good brakes just add to the secure feeling the A7 offers. Not to be outdone, the Lexus LS offers nearly identical safety features with rear cross-traffic alert and adaptive cruise control which can also prepare the vehicle for potential crashes. Good brakes and crash scores and even top scores for rear passenger whiplash protection are Lexus attributes Advantage: tie.
Driving
The Audi is very much a driver’s car with your choose of Comfort, Auto, Dynamic and Individual settings. The A7 has a great feel to it, handles well, and has enough grunt to make passing less stressful. Add to this its exceptional fuel mileage, ample trunk, and good looks makes it a top luxury car sedan pick. The Lexus LS is quiet, reassuring, and has an huge centrally located monitor. It isn’t as quick as the Audi, but plenty fast overall. The build quality, exceptional customer reviews and top ranking for Lexus owners make it a safe bet. If you want more “feel” just use the Drive Mode Select knob that can alter engine, suspension and steering settings to your mood or you can opt for the F model which offers a sportier feel. Advantage Audi.
Family conference: Comparing the Lexus to the Audi put us in a quandary because they are so different and yet appeal to the same socioeconomic luxury sedan buyer. The Lexus is quiet, spacious, and gentle. You want to sit back and relax during your travels, the LS can do that with ease. And with dealer service ratings at the top of the grid, it means ownership can be even more relaxing. If you want a bit more attention and a bit more sport in your daily drives, the Audi A7 can provide that dish and throw in some great gas mileage as well. Some notable differences are that the Lexus has a tidier turning radius making parking easier in tight situations. Audi has a shorter powertrain warranty, 50,000/4years to the Lexus 70,000/6years and the fuel tank is larger. The Audi’s hatchback design makes it easier to haul larger items and the variety of engines the A7 comes with can also alter its personality with your mood from the base 333 V6 to the optional Audi RS 7 that generates upwards of 560 horsepower, but that’s another story. Bottom line: The Audi A7 is trendy, exciting, and tempting. The Lexus LS 460 is old school, but not old. It does everything well and doesn’t make a fuss. Advantage consumer.

Using vehicles to create student interest in math and Language Arts
by National Hall of Fame Teacher Alan Haskvitz
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alan_Haskvitz

Using vehicles is an excellent way to motivate students and to help ready them for real life buying decisions. The following links deal with the various manufactures where students can write for information, obtain pricing information and to harvest compare and contrast data for Common Core related essays.

A listing of all DMV offices.
Finding the office that deals with your state and others can provide information on how old one needs to be to drive as well as the various license fee data that could be used for Common Core math problems. I have used driver manuals to motivate students to read.
http://www.dmv.org/

Data on fuel economy
This federal site would enable students to select a variety of vehicles and there fuel mileage. This could be used for math as well as to provide statistics for an essay on the best or worst type of vehicles in terms of fuel costs.
http://www.fueleconomy.gov/

A link site to manufacturers who sell cars in America
http://search.ezilon.com/united_states/business/automotive/auto_manufacturers/

A listing of vehicle websites worldwide
http://autopedia.com/html/MfgSites.html

National Motorists Association
A great source of information on driving and the law.
http://www.motorists.org/

A listing of car value prices
A good place to find statistics for math problems about the prices of cars and motorcycles.
http://www.nadaguides.com/

Where cars are made by location
Great way to teach geography.
http://www.caranddriver.com/features/a-graphic-representation-of-whats-really-made-in-america-feature

Audi Q5: Audacious and Loveable

 

by The Car Family

 

for more reviews go to http://www.motorists.org/carfamily/

 

 

When you test vehicles nearly weekly you become a bit jaded. We put cars through a workout schedule that includes daily commuting, highway travel, and runs up local mountain roads always on alert for the good while acknowledging areas that may concern potential buyers. Seldom do we dwell on a vehicle after an evaluation. That was until the Q5 arrived. A bit dear, yes, but as relaxing and competent a ride that we have found in the $35,000 price range.

 

 

The build quality, interior elegance, class leading fuel mileage, technology, ride quality and maneuverability are all exceptional. On the other hand Audi options are never inexpensive making it easy to add another ten grand to the base price. In addition, the interior space is limited, the stereo, information, and climate controls require a longer gestation period to master, and the engine requires premium fuel and, well, that’s it. This is a stellar vehicle for those who want an SUV with all wheel drive.

 

 

Mom’s view: You should be prepared for a fairly high step in height when entering the Audi and the area behind the rear seats isn’t that large compared to the competition, although there are a few cubby holes under the cargo cover. You can order the Q5 with a variety of engine combinations, of which the diesel might be the most attractive for those driving long distances. The Audi is easy to park and the rear view camera, with its unique aerial perspective, absolutely marvelous. This feature is a must have for mall hoppers as well as those with small children. The interior lighting is superb and the engine is immediately responsive. The crash rating were excellent. The ride and handling provide that rare combination that enables the Audi to inhale bumps and yet permits emergency maneuvers without the undue lean so apparent in many other luxury SUVs.

Q5120106_large__int

 

 

Dad’s view: You need to do your homework before looking at this Audi as it is available with a variety of powertrains and options. Regardless, what you get is a premium interior and markedly agile handling. The seats were very comfortable and the suspension is well balanced for those not into serious off-roading. We tested the base model with its 220 horsepower turbocharged four-cylinder engine that drives a world-class eight-speed automatic transmission. It levels mountain passes, but if you need more propulsion there is an optional supercharged 272 horsepower V6. You pay at the pump for this big boy engine as well as at tune-up time. Look for mileage about a ten percent reduction in fuel mileage with the supercharged engine. The turbocharged base engine has plenty of poke for most users and there is also a hybrid version for those who face heavy traffic daily. The mileage rating for the four cylinder engine is 20/28 mpg city/highway, but you can expect about 23 mpg in everyday use. The hybrid improve that figure to 24/30. The standard all-wheel drive works seamlessly, but there isn’t a low range so this vehicle is not meant for extreme trekking. Although the Q 5 comes with leather upholstery, three-zone automatic climate control, Bluetooth, iPod integration, and a 10-speaker stereo as well as Audi’s MMI infotainment system, you must consider the optional rearview camera, parking sensors, and blind spot monitoring system package. Add to that choosing between the hybrid version, the supercharged option, and the diesel and you have a Rubric’s cube of decisions.

 

 

Young woman’s view: Difficult to assess a vehicle that is so comforting to the soul. That feeling is augmented by exceptional braking, a roomy feel that includes the ability to slide the rear seats to assist in loading, and its snappy performance that belies its horsepower rating. I won’t recommend this for a large family, but for others that appreciate the high seating position and are willing to pay for all-wheel drive this is a vehicle not to be ignored. Looks great in black and absolutely no one got in and didn’t complement the interior. Let’s see, if I skip Starbucks….humm.

 

 

Young working male’s view: One of the few test vehicles I truly would like to own. The two drawbacks were the ergonomics and the extensive option packages that extends from a panoramic sunroof to running boards. Round-trips of 400 miles are possible without stopping to refuel thanks to the Q5’s nearly 20 gallon fuel tank. In fact, I can’t think of a better SUV to make this trip.

 

 

Family conference: This Audi isn’t fore everyone, but if you are making above the average income this Audi a strong vehicle for consideration for those looking for a luxury vehicle. The Lexus RX and the Audi Q5 have been rated as the top two in their segment, but they really appeal to two different users. The Lexus is softer, offers more room, can be ordered with front wheel drive only, and runs on unleaded fuel. The Audi is sportier and more nimble. Both have high resale.

 

For more free education resources go to http://www.reacheverychild.com/

 

 

Audi allroad: You Can Have it All

 

by The Car Family

 

for more reviews go to http://www.motorists.org/carfamily/

 

First, don’t leave the dealership without a complete explanation of all the electronics on this handsome station wagon. There is so much technology built into the $40,000 bank vault on wheels that you sometimes question whether it can drive itself. Although we dearly love the Audi Q5 SUV, this station wagon is much more sleek and clearly intended for a different buyer. It is the perfect ski car and always a treat to look at and drive. The ride is uneventful. The only downside was that the option packages are dear so take the time to do your homework before you shop. For example, the allroad Prestige package adds $9000 to the tab. However, you do get a plethora of very important features such as lights that illuminate corners as you turn, an elaborate audio and information system, and a powerlift gate, just to name a few.

13allroad_18_hrgb__mid

 

 

Audi selected the allroad name based on the vehicles slightly raised stance and four wheel drive, (quattro) system that enables the wagon to take on inclement weather and mild off-highway excursions with ease. There is little competition for this unique vehicle and one look at the glamorous interior makes those with the need and wherewith not to look elsewhere. It is a classy, family friendly, and sophisticated package that offers the opportunity for buyers to show that they are marching to a different drummer, one who performs in an orchestra and not a band.

 

 

Mom’s view: Taking the roads in inclement weather or even the high Sierras in winter has never been easier. What is most unexpected is that at altitude the turbocharged four-cylinder engine never feels oxygen deprived and the eight-speed automatic transmission is so seamless that the canyons and passes just melt away. Very reassuring. But the real pleasure is the interior with a more is more approach. Nappa leather, and a choice of walnut, ash, oak or aluminum trim, are eye candy, but the way the dash lights up at night is the real treat. From a practical viewpoint, there are 17 cubic feet behind the second-row seats and 51with the rear seats folded. The liftover isn’t too high despite the Audi’s seven inch raised suspension. The motorized rear hatch is a must have as it easy to operate and so useful when you have your hands full. Safety wise there are antilock brakes, traction and stability control, airbags most everywhere, and a blind-spot warning system. The handling and braking were fine, but not sporty. My opinion; one sharp mall mobile.

13allroad_28_back

13allroad_23dash

 

 

Dad’s view: I didn’t think I would enjoy this vehicle with its turbocharged, 2.0L 4-cylinder engine and mild ratings of 220 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque, but the exceptional transmission kept the engine on task in impressive fashion. Indeed, this was the perfect package for high terrain driving and the 20/27 gas mileage was a plus. We registered 24 in mixed driving. The higher center of gravity does promote some lean that the lower to the ground A4 Avant doesn’t exhibit, but the higher stance does improve visibility. The steering is well weighted and the brake are confidence  builders. A good alternative to the Audi SUVs, but it is much more responsive and draws attention from fashion minded folks.

 

 

Young working male’s view:

 

The MMI infotainment system is complex and the myriad of control systems enables you to custom tailor this five passenger wagon to your own needs. When you use the Prestige’s Drive Select system you can adjust the steering, accelerator, and transmission settings. If you want to pay a monthly fee you can have Audi’s connect feature that has a navigation system tied in with the Internet and Google, and that means you can achieve a Street View of your destination. Impressive, and you can even communicate with your car from your computer as well as use a number of Wi-Fi devices at the same time. And, you can use voice activation. That is what I am talking about. For a few more shillings, make that Euros, you can let your ears feast on the Bang and Olufsen Audio option audio system. Too rich for my demographics, but it has a certain elan.

13allroad_09_hrgb__mid

 

 

Young working woman’s view: You can order the allroad in three version Premium, Premium Plus and Prestige. Even the base model Premium, a term really not appropriate for any Audi, provides 18-inch wheels, a panoramic sunroof, automatic headlights, cruise control, leather upholstery, automatic climate control, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, power front seats with lumbar, 10-speaker system with CD player and satellite radio. The top of the line Prestige comes with adaptive headlamps, a blind-spot warning system, a more sophisticated sound system and you can opt for adaptive cruise control, and rear sunshades. You get the idea. This is one vehicle you need to do your homework on before you shop. Now for the important part, it is wonderful to look at, drive, and feels sure footed in all types of weather and I loved it, but the MSRP requires reflection. Pricing starts at $40,495 for the Premium, $43,795 Premium Plus and $57,170 for the Prestige model loaded. The warranty is four years/50,000 miles. Sharp looking, easy to love and a car that makes you feel good inside and out.

 

 

Family conference: There is no doubt that the vast price range of this Audi and its high value option packages are going to challenge potential buyers, but one drive in the allroad as it is unique, fun to drive, gets good fuel mileage, and its outstanding looks make this a first choice for those wanting the versatility of a station wagon with the utility of all wheel drive.

 

For all vehicle websites go to http://reacheverychild.com/business/index.html

 

 

Notable 2013 Cars

With an improving economy and the desire for many to own more fuel efficient vehicles a schism is between the practical and the look at me crowd is emerging. The result is more sophistication and a more difficult choice for buyers. It is no longer simple to buy a vehicle of your dreams without doing significant research. That is why sites such as this are so valuable in helping you winnow out the wheat from the chaff. Here are some of the most significant new cars at this point.

Acura ILX

The ILX is a more refined Honda Civic with upgrades nearly everywhere from the suspension to the interior to the engine. You can also get it as a hybrid or a hot rod version with 201-hp, 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine with a six-speed manual. Look for prices to go into the mid $30,000 range and start ten grand less.

Acura RDX

Small families in a hurry will like the RDX with a 3.5-liter V-6 creating 273 hp that uses a six-speed automatic. There is an available all-wheel-drive system. Priced between $35,000 and $41,000.

Acura RLX

For around $50,000 you can own all all new RLX that come with front wheel drive or as a hybrid with all drive. Lots of technology and fairly good fuel mileage as well. Pricing will most likely be around $50,000.

Audi Allroad

Audi Q5

Back again and this time a bit tame compared to the previous version. A tough looking little wagon with a turbocharged four cylinder engine. Figure $40,000, but not nearly as rugged as its older brother.

Audi RS5
The RS5 coupe has a V8 that makes 450 hp and is mated to a even-speed transmission and all wheel drive. This slippery two door is going to make friends quickly with the highway patrol as the rear spoiler deploys automatically at 75 mph. Perhaps a performance bargain at $80,000 or so.

Audi S6
Now with a twin-turbo V-8, eight-speed automatic transmission and a plethora of high end goodies, this Audi combines both performance and luxury.

Audi S7

Similar in nearly every way to the S6, except it costs more and is a hatchback.

Audi S8
The S8 is a big, fast sedan with power from a twin-turbo V-8 trumps and an abundance of technology and performance features. Oh, this 520 horsepower version is going to cost you well over $100,000.

Bentley Continental GT V8

We thought the GT was a bargain at $150,000 when it came out ten years ago. It now $177,000 and up, and you are reduced to just eight cylinders. Oh, you still have 500 horsepower and are driving one of the world’s most expensive gas hogs.
BMW 640i Gran Coupe

It is all about looks with this sort of new model with previous mechanics and a sculptured four door design. If you like it and have close to $80,000 you won’t have to worry about some of the impractical elements such as a small trunk and reduced visibility, You also need to control your impulses when deciding on options. but you are going to be seem in one of the all time family friendly babe magnets.
BMW M6
Seriously expense with a turbocharged V-8 places 560 hp at your disposal. For about $107,000 this is a very fast machine that handles well. Best advise, pay an extra seven grand and get the convertible. Rich speed demons will love it.

BMW X1

BMW X1

A small SUV with the BMW character for those with over $30,000, this model looks a lot like its sister, the X3 with the same engines, all wheel drive availability, the availability of a M Sports package. A plethora of options, but most important was the fact that this just might be the most useful and “inexpensive” BMW you can buy.

Buick Encore

A small Buck, who would have thought. Nevertheless, GMC is on a roll and this is one luxury placed small car, but far from tiny. The 1.4-liter turbo four-cylinder has plenty of pep and the interior r is very upscale, Look for pricing I the $20,000 plus range. Going to be interesting to see if this model brings the younger fold to the dance.

Buick Verano Turbo

The news this year is the turbo and, honest, you can order this Buick with a manual transmission. Add the usual Buick reliability and interior treatments and you have a fun, fast, family vehicle for about $30,000.
Cadillac ATS

The American BMW, this line of Cadillacs has a vast array of options from turbocharged four and six cylinders power plants to a manual transmission to all wheel drive and sophisticated suspensions. Starting prices around $34,000.
Cadillac XTS

This bigger cad is big and filled with luxury features as those of olden days. A 300 hp plus engine makes it a highway cruiser. With options the $45,000 price sprints to nearly $60,000 for this front wheel drive model. The Cue system takes voice cues and runs the information and entertainment controls. Huge touch screen. A lot of car for the money.

Chevrolet Corvette 427 convertible

Convertible, that is all you need to know. Over 500 horsepower and the wind in your hair for $77.000 or so.

2013-Chevrolet-Corvette-427-054-medium

Chevrolet Impala
A fresh face, underpinnings, and a 2.5-liter engine, a 2.4-liter hybrid and a 3.6-liter V-6 with 303 hp to keep face with the competition. Priced well under $30,000. Much more youthful looking then Ford. I family oriented winner.

Chevrolet Malibu

A couple of engine options including a form of hybrid for his well priced and equipped model.
Don’t pay more for the competition until you check it out. Prices starting around $22,000.

Chevrolet Sonic RS

A sporty compact, this sleek model has upgraded appearance and suspension and brakes. . The turbo engine creates excitement and at $20,100 it does that.

Chevrolet Spark
This is a price leader with great fuel mileage and room for four adults. Prices too low to mention here. Just kidding. About $13,000.

Dodge Dart
Built on a sporty Alfa Romeo platform and sharp looking, the Dart is a a low priced, well finished car that should draw people back to the dealerships who are looking for value and looks. Starts under $17,000.

Fiat 500L

Bigger may be better. We love the Fiat for what it is, fun-to-drive and cute. The new version is bigger and more expensive. If you need four doors this Fiat may be just right.

Ford C-Max
The C-Max hybrid can be ordered as a standard hybrid or a plug-in. We tend to wait a while before buying new vehicles laden with technology.

Ford Escape

Ditto, the Escape is all new in design and look for prices to be higher as well. A lot of competition in this segment and the trick rear hatch that opens by detecting your foot passing under the rear part of the vehicle is interesting, but what about just hitting the remote keyfob?

Ford Fusion

Well, it sure looks different and comes with a variety of power train configurations. Look for competitive pricing, but check out Ford’s quality ratings first. The are now 23rd, according to J.D. Powers.

GMC Terrain Denali

More is the operative word here. More safety features, comfort and good fuel economy with the base engine. If you must have a SUV, this one is highly recommended with great fuel economy and interior room. Priced in the mid $20,000 range for the base version.

Honda Accord
Honda does not let us test their vehicles. As such all we can say is that there is a lot of competition in this category and we highly recommend you drive them all before making a decision. Do your homework first, because there are a lot of options. As for hybrids, Honda has lagged behind Toyota in this regard for years after getting a headstart with its terrific, but small, Insight. If you are considering this type of power train take the time to see the price of replacement battery packs, too. We can recommend three Honda models based on past experience. First, the expensive Odyssey van. Next the CRV crossover. Finally, the Fit with the latter being the best value overall.
Hyundai Elantra GT

Elantra GT

Elantra GT

An exceptional combination of sporty, fuel frugal, and family friendly features makes this bargain priced Hyundai a great choice for those on a budget or who just like to have fun. Prices under $19,000 to start. Remember, if you don’t want the sporty model the base Elantra is a winner, too. Hyundai is clearly providing good looking vehicles with superior gas mileage and warranty. If you have a dealership near check out the line.

Hyundai Santa Fe

With room for seven in some versions, the Hyundai is loaded with features and priced right starting at $23,000. Expect gas mileage to be in the low 20 mpg range. The Sport model has two rows of seats. If you choice to go with front wheel drive and the smaller engine your mileage could easily be 30 percent better.

Hyundai Veloster Turbo

Looks and features are the reason for the Veloster. Good fuel economy, reasonable performance and interesting options for about $23,000.

Infiniti JX35

A three row SUV, this well equipped luxury model is an extensive list of safety items and enough goodies to entertain the family as well. Prices start at $41,000.

Lexus ES
The bread and butter car of the Lexus line-up along with the RX, the new ES is longer and better and improved in every regard. Excellent fuel mileage and performance make this a dominate player in this market segment. Also available as a hybrid and you can average nearly 40 mpg in mixed driving with this option.

Lincoln MKZ

Interesting looking and using a variety of engine combinations that are shared with the Ford Fusion, the MKZ can be ordered with all wheel drive and as a hybrid. Prices around $36,000. A direct competitor to the Lexus ES so check resale values, too.

Mazda CX-5

Mazda5

A tremendous value in base form, this SUVish hauler gets a class leading 25 to 31 mpg and plenty of technology and standard features. There isn’t much downside on this model, and it even is available with all wheel drive. Prices start in the low $20,000 range, but don’t expect luxury, expect a useful people mover that will probably be invisible to the highway patrol.

Mercedes-Benz GL
The GL can be order with a Bluetec’s turbo-diesel, a V-6 a V8, a 4.7-liter turbo, or an AMG 5.5-liter twin turbo V-8 so be prepared to spend some time test driving a variety before buying. The new model can hold seven passengers. Prices start around the mid-$60,000 range and escalate to well over $100,000 depending on your need for speed.

Mercedes-Benz GLK250 Bluetec

It is here, a diesel SUV, and with prices below $40,000 and fuel mileage in the 22 mpg range it might make sense, but be aware the higher diesel fuel costs must be considered in comparison to the premium fuel recommended for gas engined versions.

Mini Paceman

Interesting looks is what this Mini offers. Priced around the mid $20,000 depending on options.

Nissan Altima

Believe it or not this Nissan is catching on with those who like value, performance and features. Only the Toyota Camry sold more in this market segments. It is fun to drive and if you are easy on throttle with the base engine you can easily get 35 mpg. A best value if you are looking for a family car that doesn’t take away driving enjoyment.

Nissan Pathfinder

Now a crossover, the Pathfinder gets better fuel-economy, a better ride, and treats inhabitants better. Priced in the $30,000 area, the model has a lockable all wheel drive option and third row seating. It also has the great Nissan’s Around View monitor that must be seen to be believed. That alone is worth a drive to the Nissan dealership.

Porsche Boxster

All new and sharper looking and more expensive, this Porsche is no longer the poor man’s 911, but now stands alone as a top performing sports car. The S model is the one to have, but the extra horsepower will cost you over $10,000 more. Base price is about $50,000.

Scion FR-S and Subaru BRZ

Scion_FRS

The Scion is less expensive, but both sporty cars are back to basics funmobiles. The reason we compared them together is that they were developed together. In a way, they are the new Mazda Miata with a starting price in the mid $20,000, a long list of extra cost options, and Subaru’s four cylinder, 200-hp boxer engine. As close to a thrill ride is you are going to get for this price and and it has a 25 combined mpg to justify the purchase.

SRT Viper

Priced about $90,000 and with enough horsepower to challenge most anything this side of a drag strip, the modernized Viper is no longer so touchy to drive with electronics to help control the power.

Subaru XV Crosstrek

The XV Crosstrek is a more outdoor friendly Impreza. Cute, gets exceptional gas mileage for an all wheel drive vehicle, and with a starting price around $20,000 well equipped, this crossover might have the right combination to attract more buyers the same way the Outback did for the Legacy.

Tesla Model S

Tesla is a sporty electric motor powered sedan that is sexy and handles well. Driving range between charges depends on speed and the use of other features such as air-conditioning. The best thing about this model is that it is available. A tribute to tenacity. If you have the money this is a car you want to be seen driving.

Toyota Avalon

Bigger, no. Better, yes. This is a far sportier, more fun to drive, and still roomy sedan. Same engine options as the Camry. A great family sedan starting above $30,000 and more eager to please. Passengers will never know it isn’t a Lexus.

Volkswagen Beetle Convertible

_VW_Beetle

Sleeker, but retaining its charm, the new Beetle has the same engines as its hard-top VW sisters. Prices should hoover around the $30,000 range. And wait till you see the option packages that date from previous decades. Cool. You just have to go.

Family conference: Our favorites are the new Audi sedans with diesel powerplants, the BMW X1, Scion FR-S and Subaru BRZ, Buick Encore, and Elantra. We think Buick, Subaru, Nissan, Audi, Toyota, and Kia/Hyundai are on winning streaks.

Audi Q5: A Luxury Gas Sipper

by The Car Family

For vehicle reviews go to http://www.motorists.org/carfamily/home/most-reliable-vehicles/

For vehicle websites go to http://www.reacheverychild.com/business/index.html

If you relish the challenge of roads such as the Ortega Highway, Rim of the World Drive, Angeles Crest, and Highways 243 and 74, the Audi Q5 could be your best friend. Fun on the run whether carving canyons or battling inclines, this five-seater’s handling is going to remind you of why they came up with the term sport utility vehicle. It also is going to befriend you when you refill with excellent fuel economy combined with a 20 gallon gas tank and you have the ability to easily get to San Francisco without refueling.

 

The Audi is easily the class of the luxury SUV class if you like sporty handling. For those who want a soft ride stick with the Lexus RX. If you need more cargo room the domestic manufacturers have a multitude of good choices. And, if you can afford the gas try the other German entries. But you aren’t going to find a better combination of handling, safety, and energy efficiency in one, albeit, somewhat expensive, package. We were smitten, but we are pushovers for good mileage, a perky engine, and a sport suspension.

Mom’s view: This is an interesting vehicle. It looks big on the outside, but is a bit tight inside for cargo space. I liked the Q5, but for the price it should have more standard features. What it does have in abundance are safety features. It comes standard with ability and traction control, front side airbags and side curtain airbags. I always recommend ordering the optional safety equipment. In the Audi’s case that includes must have items such as rear side airbags, a backup camera, a lane departure warning system, xenon headlights and even a braking system that warns the driver of a problem ahead. Crash scores are exceptional.

 

The Audi’s step-over is a bit high due to the nearly 8 inches of ground clearance and the rear hatch is also very difficult to reach if you are under 5’4”, but everything else from the interior lighting to the leather seats provide reassurance that those payments are worth it. Our first pit stop with the Audi was after four hours of tedium, better known as the Interstate 5. When we stepped out of the Q5 nothing. No stiffness, no fatigue, no dreading another four hours on the road. High praise indeed. Overall, a little too much car for my domestic needs. The A4 is what I crave.

Dad’s view: It cost just $43 for gas to drive from Upland to San Jose and the six hours flew by as it simply squashed the Grapevine. We listened to the free satellite radio, watched the driver’s computer mpg readouts escalate, and let the cruise control do the work. The Q5 got 32 mpg on Interstate 5 while keeping pace with the other bored drivers. The secret is a combination of a smallish, turbocharged 2.0-liter, inline-4 engine creating 211 horsepower and an eight-speed automatic transmission. The transmission does hunt a bit for the right gear, but most of the time is a smooth workaholic. Visibility to the sides is quite good thanks to large mirrors, but there is clearly a need for the optional rearview camera as visibility in that direction is limited. I liked the AudiQ5 due to its just right size, ability to tow more than many other competitors, and the eight-speed transmission. This is as close as you are going to get a a continuous variable transmission and its attendant fuel saving attributes without having to sacrifice the ability to shift for yourself if you feel the need. And, I felt the need a great deal as the turbocharged engine has very little lag and was eager to please.

 

Young working woman’s view: The steering is interesting. It has an electric assist that adjusts to the situation. When you are parking in a tight spot it is light and when you hit the highway it is heavier. The tight turning radius makes parking in crowded mall lots less dramatic when people are watching.

 

I did notice that the sun washed out the monitor readings and the dash instrument fonts are quite small. It is a good thing Audi also offers a digital readout for your speed because the analog speedometer is arranged so what looks like 60 is really 80. And, since this is a fairly quiet ride, going well over the limit without noticing is the norm on highways. Like mom, I like the A4 best.

Young working male’s view: Call me practical, well no one ever has, but I think the Audi is more suited for those who need its well proven Quattro all wheel drive and clearance. Sadly, my practical sedan does not get the gas mileage this SUV does and isn’t as easy to park. That bulldog like front catches a lot of wind and our gas mileage went down nearly 30 percent when we were buffeted by a weak Santa Ana. The sound system is good and there were connections for an iPod and other electronic niceties, but you have to order some expensive options to harvest the best tunes in the Audi.

Family conference: The Q5 isn’t for everyone because it is made to be driven.

 

Audi Q7: The Posh Diesel

By The Car Family

If you need a large SUV that carries seven passengers your best bet is going to be one with a diesel engine. There are three reasons for this. First, it gets much better fuel mileage. Secondly, it can tow more. And finally, the resale is higher.

That being said, the Audi Q7 TDI is one of your few choices in this regard. Indeed it is a study in abundance. Everything you look from the huge snowplow bow to the numerous controls for the radio, heating, air conditioning, even the fan speed selection are in excess. It appears that Audi wanted this flagship to carry everything possible into the battles for sales. What they created was an extremely luxurious SUV that weighs nearly three tons and yet sips diesel fuel and provides potent acceleration thanks to a V6 diesel that creates 225 horsepower and an enormous 406 pound-feet of torque. When the turbocharged engine comes online, around 2000 rpm, the big Audi is breathtakingly fast for what it is, especially considering its bulk. You are also going to find yourself going well over the speed limit during highway merging and passing. This Audi hauls. Period, and it gets over 22 mpg to boot. It does need low sulfur fuel but we didn’t have any trouble finding it. Add to this the Audi’s 26 gallon fuel tank and you have an easy 500 mile plus cruising range.

08Q7Sline_01_hr__thumb

We have tested both the gas version and the diesel option and there simply is no question that the extra dollars for the latter is superior is every way. It is quiet, swift, and starts automatically. Audi labels its diesel the cleanest SUV in the world and it is more efficient than the other German competition from Mercedes and Volkswagen as the Q7 has a ULEV-II or ultra-low emission rating.

Driving the large Audi is a pleasant experience, but there is no question this is a very heavy vehicle. Despite this parking was very easy. When making a U turn you are never going to need to worry about having to stop and put this vehicle in reverse. It is a pleasure to park even in tight mall spots and the rearview camera, a must for such a high vehicle with restricted rearward vision, is second only to Nissan’s in clarity. Exceptional.

The exterior look is massive and intimating. The rear lift over is extremely high making loading heavy objects a chore. The rear hatch has an available motorized open and closing motor and you need to have this if you are of average height or shorter. It is quite difficult to close otherwise.

The interior is very posh in keeping with its plus $50,000 price tag, but the government offers a tax incentive to diesel buyers of $1150. Check http://fueleconomy.gov/feg/taxLeanBurn.shtml for the latest data on this. The seats have leather surfaces and the dash and headliner are rich looking and feeling as it should be for such an expensive vehicle. The rear seats folds reasonably flat once the second seat headrests have been removed. The front seats are heated with 12-way adjustments, however, they are quite high and the roofline is low so be prepared to duck down if you don’t adjust the seats to a lower position.

Mom’s view: I found the step up difficult when wearing a dress as it is very high. I also found the big Audi felt nearly cumbersome at low speeds. It never feels nimble except, ironically, when parking it. The pure size of it commands a certain amount of respect, especially in white. Driving around town the diesel feels a little choppy, but on the highway it is pure elegance. Once those 5000 pound plus get motivated the V6 delivers enough torque to keep you smiling. Very potent. The main competition is the Mercedes R Bluetec and Volkswagen Touareg 2. Interestingly, the Mercedes interior is austere and stiff, but is roomier more and easier to use. If you live where you need the extra ground clearance go for the Audi. The bottom line for me is that the Q7 never won me over despite its many attributes. I found the fuel mileage exemplary and admired the beautiful interior, but it was too over the top for my daily commute and too difficult to feel comfortable in for long hauls.

Dad’s view: Great engine, no doubt, but the transmission needs to be kept in sports mode to get the most out of the Audi. The steering is excellent, almost too direct at times, and the handling unexpectedly obedient. The brakes are adequate, but this rig is really one for the highway. I didn’t care for the 20-inch wheels as they were noisy and not all that off-road oriented.

The interior has a great many quirks that can be easily overcome, but why weren’t they thought through better. The cruise control is difficult to find and complicated and the console mounted controls require you to take your eyes off of the road to operate. Audi’s Multi Media Interface (MMI) isn’t as difficult as the Mercedes and BMW units, but it still takes time to master its logic.

int8Q736_04_hr__thumb

Because of the small window area of the Q7 those sitting in the backseat feel don’t have the feeling of spaciousness that you get in the competition. The rear seat is very small, and when you use it you must find a place to put the cargo cover. Again, not major problems, but a concern anyway.

Audi has years of experience in racing diesel engines and its shows. It the 3.0 liter engine is eager to please. Interestingly, I believe this is the same engine as in the Volkswagen Touareg 2, which costs thousands less, but isn’t nearly as luxurious. The Q7 also does not offer the convenience of the more station wagon like Mercedes R in terms of loading and unloading.

Young working male’s view: This Audi diesel does not smoke, is almost perfectly quiet, and runs clean enough to qualify as a environmentally friendly people mover. Mercedes uses a the water-based urea injection to remove clean air damaging elements. Audi has decided to make the “burn” more efficient and thus better fuel injectors were designed. The Audi’s computers also monitor the quality of the diesel fuel being burned. We have owned a diesel for 30 years and know important this is having fueled up with bad diesel numerous times. Those who live in the colder climates should note that the glowplugs that light off the Audi fire almost instantly even in cold weather. For me the result was a very user friendly diesel engine that provides that famous diesel torque and fuel mileage as well as unexpected frisky acceleration.

Our test car had the optional panoramic sunroof, but it has an opaque covering that lets in some heat. On the other hand, without it the interior would be rather dark. We didn’t get a chance to test Audi’s famous Quattro all-wheel-drive system, but there is no doubt that it should handle anything people spending $50,000 or more would take their vehicle. The test vehicle had the 3.0 TDI and it felt very potent at all speeds, but especially in the mid-range. The night lighting is fantastic. When you hit the remote key fob you get puddle lights, a great interior light, and even red flowing dash lights. As I work for http://www.eracks.com making open software servers and computers I can expertly say that the Multi Media Interface took even my some time to master.

When on the highway you get excellent visibility to the front, but the high rear tailgate and large C pillars create some blindspots. The Audi does offer a system that flashes a orange light it you signal for a turn and there is a vehicle in that position. I loved that option. For me the Audi was too much vehicle for my needs. However, it has a great feel and the interior is first class.

Young working woman’s view: The Audi is impressive and comes with a pleasant cabin, albeit very uncomfortable controls even with the auxiliary steering wheel mounted ones available. The exterior is a love it or hate it visual, but no one is going to argue that it does make its presence known. The Audi was too large for me to feel comfortable in daily driving. I much prefer the Audi A5 anyway, and with the possibility of a smaller Audi SUV having the diesel engine option I think waiting would be my choice. But I dearly love that diesel.

Family conference: An expensive luxury SUV with an abundance of features, the decision to buy the Q7 comes down to wanting to enjoy the numerous benefits of its diesel powerplant. You get a lot for the money, but it costs a lot of money and so we would look for three things before deciding. First, do you travel or tow enough to make the diesel viable? Secondly, do you need the all wheel drive system? Finally, do you like its bold look? If you answer yes to these there is really one the Audi. Add to this the excellent crash scores and you have a proper SUV. Make sure you order the Side Assist which indicates when a vehicle is in your blind spot, and also the rearview camera. Big car, big personality.

For vehicle websites go to http://www.reacheverychild.com/business/index.html

Diesel comparison

Audi R Class Mercedes Volkswagen Touareg 2

Price $50,900 $49,150 $42,800

Horsepower 225 hp 210 hp 225 hp

Torque 406 ft-lbs. 398 ft-lbs. 407 ft-lbs.

Cargo 73 cu. ft. 85 cu. ft. 71 cu. ft.

Towing 6600 lbs. 3500 lbs. 7716 lbs.

Mileage 17/25mpg. 18/24 mpg. 17/25 mpg.

Next Page »