fuel mileage


Hyundai Genesis: Glitz and Glamour
by The Car Family
for more reviews go to https://www.motorists.org/tag/the-car-family/

Hyundai threw everything at their disposal at the Genesis from LED running lights to HID headlights in an effort to attract upscale buyers. The result is a large, smooth, and very quick sedan with a variety of features that are unique and useful. For example, when you enter the vehicle at night the ground outside of front passenger doors is illuminated with a light that reads, “Genesis” and prepares you for what is inside. And what’s inside is plenty good. A multimedia control system, eight-inch touch-screen with an optional 9.2-inch touch-screen, a multifunction display and, thankfully, real knobs that can be used to control functions. There is also a head-up reveal that offers drivers a variety of important data including your speed, a Blue Link communications system that has a voice-recognition program, and even an optional remote start feature.

2016 Genesis

2016 Genesis

With a plethora of features the Genesis is designed to attract buyers who enjoy the idea of a large sedan with the latest in electronics and don’t want to pay for the more expensive competition and not nearly as spacious competition. The downside is that the V6 version only gets 16 mpg in the city and 26 mpg on the highway. Handling is best when the Hyundai Sports Mode is activated. If you would rather have a more relaxed ride try Normal, and when stuck in commuter traffic selecting Eco can help ease your pain.

Young male’s view: Working on my degree in cybersecurity and its challenges is not unlike the challenges of the Genesis electronics. Optional systems such as Apple Siri integration that can be used for a variety of internet audio options such as Pandora, the latest traffic information, fuel prices, traffic data and more are nice, but there is also Bluetooth wireless connectivity, satellite radio, a USB, audio jacks, and the list goes on. For example, there is the Smart Trunk feature that automatically opens the trunk when you stand near it with the proximity key in your possession for a few seconds, lane departure warning, blind spot detection, and a multi-speaker Lexicon audio system available. There is even a rear window power sunshade and heated steering wheel available. The option packages are the Ultimate, Signature and Technology packages and they can add over $10,000 to the base price to the $38,950 base price. Personally, I would get them all as they add considerably to the joy of owning a premium sedan.

2016 Genesis

2016 Genesis

Dad’s view: We had the 3.8-liter, V6 engine with 311 hp, but you can order the 5.0-liter V8 rated at 420 horsepower and is very fast. There is also an all-wheel-drive option with a V-6. Our rear wheel drive 3.8 test car averaged around 20 mpg in mixed driving a 22 on long trips unburdened by heavy traffic. The EPA has estimates on the highway up to 29 mpg. It could happen. The ride can be best described as lush with little road feel and steering that was vague. The Genesis can be best described as a relaxed sedan that wants to coddle you.

2016 Genesis

2016 Genesis

Mom’s view: The 5.0 Genesis is more expensive, but I would opt for the 3.8. It has as much power as most people need and even in base trim you get heated and power-adjustable front seats, dual-zone climate control, real-time traffic alerts, and more. Add to that the tight turning radius at about 38 feet that makes parking very easy and you have an upscale sedan with some remarkable features. For example there are nine air bags most everywhere, including overhead, and a Blue Link crash notification system that provides automatic emergency contact information to those selected by the owner. So very reassuring. The Genesis also has excellent crash scores with a forward-collision warning and autonomous braking set-up systems. Standard featured such as Electronic Stability Control, energy-absorbing front seats, anti-lock disc brakes with Brake Assist and Electronic Brake Distribution. Other safety options include blind spot warning, with an enhancement called Lane Change Assist that helps detect vehicles approaching towards its rear side at high speeds. The Genesis offers a Land Departure Warning that activates, the vibrates the steering wheel as well as warning lights when the transmission is noted. The Genesis is a sedan you can build to your needs with a strong emphasis on family safety.

Young working woman’s view: A large trunk with a low and wide lift over, a grocery bad holder that folds down, and there is an abundance of storage areas in the cabin and the seats can be heated. The doors are hefty and shut with a reassuring, bank vault sound. Parking is greatly eased with the rearview camera and warnings that abound. This car is a little too much car for me. I prefer the very nice Elantra. I have noticed that Hyundai is offering some excellent lease deals and, as usual, the warranties are exceptional with 10 years or 100,000 on the drivetrain and five years of free roadside assistance.

Family conference: When you think of a premium sedan Hyundai’s Genesis probably does not come to mind, but perhaps it should. It has plenty of pep, enough features to keep a pre-teen busy, and a comfortable and accommodating interior.

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

Mazda’s 5 and CX-5: A Family 10

 

by The Car Family

 

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

 

Mazda should win the best underdog car award for its remarkable creation of economical, fun to drive, and utilitarian vehicles. Typical of these are its updated CX 5 CUV and the its minivan, named the 5. If you love to drive the 5 and the tossable CX-5 are a must to test.

 

Mazda CX-5

2014 CX-5 (16)

 

The 2014 CX-5 is a compact CUV that is the most entertaining to drive of any of its competitors. The trade-off is that you don’t get as much interior cargo space, but 65 plus cubic feet is not only ample, but only a few feet under that of the much larger Honda CR-V, and the Mazda gets better fuel mileage and maneuverability is in the CX-5’s favor.

 

 

Make sure you or driving the one with the Skyactiv technologies that sharpens the Mazda’s performance and provides increased mileage. We got over 30 mpg in mixed driving with the all wheel drive version, 2.5 version. That makes it superior to the Subaru, the previous best gas mileage champion in the all wheel drive segment. The government has rated the model at 35 mpg on the highway for the base model’s 2.0 engine.

 

 

The 2.5-liter Skyactiv 4-cylinder engine standard in Touring and Grand Touring models and is a combination of improvements from weight reduction to better aerodynamic bodies to make this Mazda a heady performer considering its size.

2014 CX-5 rear

 

The five-passenger CX-5 are two rows of seats which can be upgraded from cloth to leather. There is good leg room in the second row and the cargo hold is generous with over 34 cubic feet of space. The ergonomics are straight forward, but the GPS is slow to respond and the audio outputs are limited.

 

Sport, Touring and, and Grand Touring are the models, but we recommend you go for the high end models as they have so many features including the larger engine, blind-spot monitoring, Bluetooth with upgraded stereo, a rearview camera, and a larger monitor. The Grand model offers standard safety equipment such as stability/traction control, antilock brakes, and front, side and side-curtain airbags. Worth every penny. As for the all wheel drive option, that would depend on your weather conditions. Safety wise you can also get the Smart City Brake Support, which can automatically stop the car at speeds under 20 mph situations to help avoid a collision. There are many other options, too, but we found the front and rear parking sensors must haves.

 

The bottom line is that this is a terrific driving machine that look good, drive well, and even run on regular fuel. A bargain, they start just over $20,000 but the Grand Touring models can breach the $30,000. Be prepared as to what you want in terms of options and models and note the dealers are offering some excellent prices.

2014 CX-5 side

 

Family conference: Cute, comfortable, and affordable, the CX-5 comes with a plethora of features that make is a compelling choice for those who march to that different drummer. The bottom line is that Mazda makes the best handling, affordable, vehicles in the nation and the CX-5 continues that tradition.

 

Mazda5

 

Nimble, great visibility, and enough power to make it fun to drive, the 5 is the utility vehicle of the future that caries a price tag from the past with a starting price just over $20,000 and we went 25 mpg in mixed driving. Despite its exterior size the interior is spacious. With the rear seating folded down you have over 44 cubic feet of cargo space and Mazda has incorporated a number of small spaces to provide storage for cell phones, drinks, and much more. The seating is comfortable and the ergonomics are well done. There is room for six by using the third row of seats, but the last row is small as opposed to the more generous front seats. The second row in our test vehicle had captain’s chairs which provided ample leg and head room and slide and recline. There is an abundance of features on the more upscale models, but even the base version has cruise control, automatic climate control, remote key less entry,and a six-speaker AM/FM/CD system with USB and auxiliary inputs and six airbags, traction control and anti-lock brakes with electronic brake-force distribution and brake assist.

2013 Mazda5

 

The 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine offers 157 horsepower and 163 lb-ft of torque running through a five-speed automatic transmission. For a family of our this Mazda makes sense. If you opt for the much more expensive Honda, Nissan and Toyota models you are going to be carrying around a lot of unneeded and expensive to fix equipment so think carefully if you are looking for minivan at what you are really going to use it for.

2013 Mazda5

 

Family conference: This Mazda 5 is fun to drive. Really drive. It is easy to park and easy on the environment. Of the three versions, the Sport, Touring and Grand Touring, we advocate you take a look at the best price the dealer is offering of each model as we have found for only a few dollars a month more you can get a lot of extra features. Regardless, you get a handy vehicle that has wide opening side doors and a tight turning radius. Taking with the Mazda CX-5 this pair makes for a commonsense consideration for those who enjoy driving and saving money and aren’t afraid of not having the biggest gas guzzler on the block. Mazda’s Family 10.

 

 

 

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

 

 

Two Sedans to Charge Your Drive

by The Car Family

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

Even after spending weeks in these two vehicles it isn’t easy to tell you which one is best because there isn’t a best. It just depends. If you travel 50 miles or less on a regular basis the Volt is the one to own. It is a great drive and comfortable at speed. If you travel 12 miles of less the Prius is the one to own. The difference is what happens after you travel your electric-only distance in each car. At that time the Chevrolet Volt’s engine returns 34 mpg while the Prius tops 50 with ease. As for cost, the Volt is priced around $40,000 and Toyota has yet to price its plug-in version of the Prius. Regardless, it will come in under the Chevrolet due to the fact that uses many of the same parts as the existing Prius while Chevrolet’s Volt is new and uses far more expensive batteries to achieve its longer electric-only mileage.

Just in, the plug in version will be priced from $32,000 to nearly $40, depending on the amount of electronic goodies you want. Look for better range for the added battery pack and the government has an incentive that could take off a couple of grand from the total.  Meanwhile. Chevrolet has lowered the price of the Volt.

In our case, the Prius is the better fit and with the new models said to have the ability to control when that 13 miles of electric only extra battery pack will come into use it makes it even more desirable. Why? Because when you are at freeway speeds that Prius gives you 50 miles per gallon and when you hit traffic you simple hit the electric power only button and you aren’t going to use any fuel for over ten miles. Indeed, on our recent 200 mile venture the Prius gave us 62.3 mpg. The Volt does not have that feature, but does offer superior interior design and better highway ride.

Driving each vehicle is easy and hassle free. At night, when electric rates go down, you plug them into a 110 outlet. It takes three hours for the Prius and about eight or nine for the Volt as it has a far larger battery pack. Both cars have the ability to charge more quickly with a special 220/240 volt outlet connection.

If you like to drive fast the Volt is very responsive and highly underrated as a handling car. The weight of the large battery pack that sits low in the frame makes cornering a breeze. The Prius has its extra battery pack in the area below the rear hatch. This location means that the car does not have a spare tire. We would buy a space saver and sacrifice the trunk space if we were traveling away from services. The Prius and Volt both brake well and you hardly notice when the gas engines turn start. The Volt is the better performer overall. However, when you hit the power button on the Prius you are going to find yourself pleased with the added acceleration. It can become addicting.

There is one variable here that needs to be addressed and that is whether or not the extra cost of the additional battery pack in the Prius is going to be worth the few extra miles per gallon over the standard Prius. After all, the plug in version only gets you a few extra miles of electric only travel and it may costs several thousand dollars more. In our case it would be worth the extra. If we remembered to plug it in after six when the electric rates were lower and unplug it three hours later we would not have to buy any gas for months. This did not prove a problem for us.  We also didn’t have to worry about range anxiety in either of thee vehicles because if you want to take a longer trip the gas engines fire up. Finally, there is another consideration and that is the fact the Volt is made in America and the Prius in Japan. We are not being xenophobic here, but with the recent nuclear power plant problems in Japan and its impact on both parts and vehicles one might consider availability for granted. On the other hand, we have noted a few Chevrolet dealers were asking a premium price for the Volt.

Mom’s view: The Volt is a better family sedan. It is easier to get in and out of and has the features that we have been accustomed to over the years such as more passing power and passenger comfort. That being said, I like the maneuverability of the Prius more, although it takes a longer time to get used to its handling and braking characteristics whereas the Volt felt more handy. I would note here, that if you drive more than 50 miles a day and take frequent long trips the Chevrolet Cruze may be a better choice. It is a refined sedan with a huge trunk, priced at half of the Volt’s cost, and gets 40 miles per gallon on the highway. I found the Cruze the best compact car Chevrolet has ever built and well worth a test drive.

Chevrolet's new Cruze

In terms of design, the Volt is a winner, Everything is very well thought out with easy to read gauges and comfortable seating. The Prius is more basic. The rear seats offer less room and there is less useful cargo space. The dash layouts on both are simple, but the Prius offers more information once you learn to manipulate the screen buttons. Neither car has a good GPS with the Toyota locking you out when the car is in motion and the Volt’s being difficult to navigate. The Volt also has a center stack that is difficult to read and requires a longer learning curve.

Safety wise the Prius has driver and front passenger Advanced Airbag System, driver and front passenger seat-mounted side airbags, driver knee airbags and front and rear side curtain airbags. Toyota’s Star Safety System features Enhanced Vehicle Stability Control, Traction Control, Anti-lock Brakes with Electronic Brake-force Distribution and Brake Assist. Crash tests for the regular model have been good. Since we were testing a prototype we can only surmise that the same scores would apply to the 2012 version. We always recommend ordering all the extra safety equipment which includes a Pre-collision System and Lane Keep Assist. The Volt gets nearly identical crash scores and such features as a StabiliTrak electronic stability control system, front, side, and knee air bags in addition to a roof-mounted head-curtain air bags. Our test Volt had the optional rearview camera and it worked well. Overall, I liked the Volt best except for the center stack and visibility concerns.

Dad’s view: So alike and yet so different, these two plug-in sedans are the future for those who can abide by their restrictions. For example, batteries don’t do well in extreme cold weather and there isn’t a lot of cargo room in these two. But for the majority of people, they are a perfect fit. Research has shown that the average commute is 16 miles. Now that means that half of the people travel less, which would make the Prius an excellent fit. And for the other half, the Volt would be ideal. Add to that the fact that many commutes are in heavy traffic. In that case, both are ideal because the engines shut down when traffic is stopped.

Engine wise, the Prius has a 1.8 liter engine that easily produces 98 horsepower and with the regular battery pack you can expect even more power, especially since the electric motors offer immediate torque. The Chevrolet Volt has a smaller engine with is its 1.4 liter seeking premium fuel, and with help from the battery powered motors provides a similar thrust, but with less engine noise. The Volt feels faster and reacts quicker to inputs. Advantage here to the Volt. As for my choice, I would go with Prius for two reasons. It is well proven and will undoubtably cost less.

Young working woman’s view: Of note is the recharge time for these two. Since the Volt has a larger battery pack it uses more household electricity. You do go further with that charge, but it takes longer. Special fast charging stations that use a 220/240-volt set-up are going to cost you a reported $2000 more. To me that isn’t worth it. However, if I had such a devise at work and could plug in my hybrid there it would be a real plus. The battery packs are said to last for at least a decade, but that really does not seem to be an issue as many Prius models have never had a battery failure in hundreds of thousands of miles.

For appeal it is all Volt. It comes standard with a lot of features such as 17-inch alloy wheels, automatic headlights, heated mirrors, remote ignition, cruise control, auto-dimming rearview mirror, Bluetooth, a limited free OnStar subscription, a touchscreen navigation system, voice controls and a six-speaker Bose stereo with CD/DVD player, audio jack, iPod/USB interface and more. There is also a Premium Trim package and The Rear Camera and Park Assist package adds a rearview camera and front and rear parking sensors. I recommend the latter as the visibility outside the Volt is more restricted than the Prius. So Volt is the winner for me even though I much prefer the maneuverability of the Prius. It is just more trendy and up to date.

Young working male’s view: The Prius PHV is interesting in that you need to control your demand for forward thrust or else the gasoline engine fires up. I learned to feather the throttle is for no other reason than to avoid listening to the groan of the 1.8 engine. The Volt also has an exhaust note that isn’t very pleasing, but you don’t have to be so gentle with the accelerator pedal. The reason that some people complain about getting gas mileage in the 40s with the Prius is that they drive it like a gasoline or diesel only powered vehicle. These vehicles require a different driving style. Momentum is everything and taking advantage of there high mileage tires and the vehicles low rolling resistance is a must. You can easily pick-up speed going down the smallest incline in these sedans without having to use an throttle input. In mountain driving both cars have a lower gear to use to help slow the vehicle as they can pick up speed quickly on steep grades.

I had a difficult time trying to tell the Prius PHV from the its trimmer, unplugged sister. The only clue was the cutout in the left front fender that houses the electric input adapter. There were extensive decals annoucning that this was the new plug in, but basically that was it. I was somewhat concerned that the small door that covers the Toyota’s plug in connection does not lock with the central locking system. The Volt’s does. The Prius and the Volt both come with a kit that enables you to plug it into any 110 outlet. Toyota provides 22 feet of cord and be well warned that you must not use any other extension. The same goes for the Volt. I felt that Toyota should have followed the Volt in having the Prius receptacle lighted for night use. I also thought that the Volt had a better system of tracking the time left for a complete charge. It should be noted that we were in a prototype and that Toyota retail version will surely have many tweaks that will make it more user friendly.

The PHV’s cargo floor is a bit higher than in the regular Prius to allow for the added battery pack. The Prius PHV battery pack is a potent lithium-ion pack. Since I work making open software computers and servers at http://www.eracks.com I am familiar with these and find them reliable. The Prius uses a parallel-hybrid powertrain that is seamless and when you use the power button, almost frisky. I did say , almost. The 15-inch wheels are not nearly as nice as the Volt’s and the brakes and steering are vague and unfeeling. For my use the Volt would be the choice. Sexier and not so bland.

Family conference: No clear winner, but the one the fits our needs best is the Prius. The plug in model should be ready by 2012 and we have placed our name on the waiting list. Why? Simple, it is going to have a proven track record of reliability, high resale, and fits our driving needs. We dearly loved the Volt, but the pricing and fuel mileage once the batteries are depleted are a concern. If your daily driving needs are more aligned with the Volt it is worth the price, but if you drive further the Chevrolet Cruze is a strong consideration. The Cruze is our pick for the best of the compact gasoline powered vehicles at this time.

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

Lexus IS 350: Little Car with a Big Heart

by The Car Family

For more reviews go to

http://www.motorists.org/carfamily/home/most-reliable-vehicles/

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

Lexus has produced its IS line to cater to those who wanted something trim, quick, and easy on fuel. They succeeded. The problem is that the competition also succeeded. Lets call it a push. The Infiniti G37 and BMW 3 Series have similar pricing and are more playful, if less plush.

The rear-wheel-drive 2010 Lexus IS 350 has a big heart in the form of a 3.5-liter V6 with 306 horsepower that pushes energy through a six-speed automatic with paddle shifters. It can get to 60 mph in under six seconds while still achieving fuel mileage in the range of 21 mpg in mixed driving on premium gas. On paper all of this looks good, but when driven on a daily basis the 350 isn’t all that enthusiastic about being driven over rough roads and its playful nature sometimes can be trying when in traffic because it reacts quickly to anything but a light touch on the accelerator.

The engine noise inside the car is excessive, but it does make you feel fast and that’s what counts to many potential buyers who like the idea of a frisky compact with luxury trappings and the safety of the Lexus quality ratings.

Lexus has also added some unique features that will challenge those still reading their VCR programming manuals. The Safety Connect telematics service reports collisions, gives a signal to police if the Lexus is stolen and offers the reassurance of emergency on-call service.

Perhaps what is best about this vehicle is that it is a Lexus and, dare we say it, an entry level Lexus with a potent engine, stern suspension, and an attractive, if not overly luxurious interior. It is certainly a consideration for the young at heart and those with well endowed parents.

Mom’s view: Too small, with a cramped back seat, limited trunk space, and an exhaust that growls at the slightest whisper of go pedal pressure. Safety wise there is a plethora of good things such as antilock disc brakes, traction and stability control, front-seat side airbags, a tire pressure monitor, side curtain airbags and an optional Pre-Collision System with adaptive cruise control that stiffens the suspension, tightens the front seatbelts and initializes brake assist if a collision is eminent. Great brakes and test scores have been good.

The interior is claustrophobic for large bodies. The wood and aluminum trim are nice, but, as the engine, it is a compromise. Lexus indicates that you can get five in this sedan, but those in the back seat better be short. The usual great electroluminescent instruments lights make reading the gauges easy day or night and the interior lighting is okay, too. We didn’t test one, but Lexus has indicated that an all-wheel-drive version of the IS 350 is onsale for those who live in the mountains or want to challenge the Cajon Pass in winter.

Dad’s view: The 350 wants to go right now, but when pressed it isn’t as inspiring as it sounds. Sometimes the automatic transmission dims the fun, but basically it is the fact that this 3500 pound Lexus appears to be an effort to be a compromise. It is quick, no doubt, but the steering, suspension, and handling are all just a bit tender for the enthusiast and a bit harsh for the tenderfoot. A very tight turning circle makes it a joy to park even in compact spaces while the air conditioning and heating units worked rapidly and well. I liked the IS 350, I just didn’t love it.

Young working male’s view: Good stereo, but not great. Go with the optional 14-speaker Mark Levinson surround-sound system. There is a six-CD changer and satellite radio to go with Bluetooth and a USB audio port. A global position system works with real-time traffic and weather. The voice recognition is fairly good. The interfaces are okay, but they aren’t the best. I enjoyed this vehicle and liked urging it on when the road was to its liking. Since I haul a lot of junk in my daily job at http://www.eracks.com it wouldn’t suit my needs. Besides, I like the better ride of the ES Lexus better, and for less money.

Young working woman’s view: There is a lot to like inside this sedan. Standard equipment includes 17-inch wheels, foglamps, a sunroof, keyless ignition and entry, dual-zone automatic climate control, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, eight-way power front seats, and leather surfaces. Two option packages can add luxury to the 350 or make it sportier. As a final blow to your credit limit, the Lexus can be equipped with everything from the Lexus Pre-Collision System to go fast pieces. You can drive the price of this little devil into the $40,000 range without any problem so be warned. I liked it as the IS 350 seemed to bridge the divide between the BMW crowd and the Acura owners. It has a touch more dignity, but can be a playful. Not a bad car for a young professional, but the less powerful IS 250 is more practical and looks the same. Nah, for four grand more you can harvest 100 more horsepower with the 350 IS. Can you say higher resale?

Family conference: What bothered us the most is why for a few thousand dollars less you wouldn’t buy the larger ES 350 with a similar engine and a lot more interior room? It doesn’t handle quite as well as the smaller IS, but it is so much more family friendly. We would recommend the IS 350 to those who like the sporty feel of this Lexus and enjoy the cache of knowing they own a quality product capable of some pleasurable private moments.

Chevrolet Equinox

by The Car Family

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

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As part of a growing trend of trimmer SUVs, Chevrolet’s new Equinox moves closer to the front of the class with this noble effort that reflects the growing trend that Americans seem to prefer in their SUVs; height and fuel economy. Chevrolet has hit this mark dead on and can now go head to head with smaller SUVs from Asia and America.

Clearly, this is one of Chevrolet’s finest SUVs especially considering the price, efficiency, and nearly 64 cubic feet of cargo space. The styling and interior treatments are also near the top of the class as well. Although it is lacking the third seat option, there is little that the Equinox does not do well for the money.

We liked the base LS model with the lower priced trim level called the 1LT. You get a goodly amount of safety features from airbags nearly everywhere to stability control for under $23,000. You can get options such as a rear-seat entertainment system, but the price can easily top $30,000 if you’re not careful.

The base engine, although sorely tested when driving in mountains, does well overall with its 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine and its 182 horsepower. The optional 3.0-liter V6 with its 264 hp is fairly frisky, but more thirsty.

Mom’s view: Looks big and drives big, but this Chevrolet’s best feature is its excellent range which can be over 500 miles in favorable conditions. The vision to the front, sides, and rear take a while to get used to and I would look for a rear view back-up camera for sure. The hood falls away sharply making it difficult to judge where the front bumper is when parking. The B pillar also blocks vision to the side.

The interior has a clean design that has a modern appearance and the GPS and the stereo were excellent The back seat was very creature comfortable and the reclining split rear seat also folds down without much effort and leaves a flat floor. You must order the $495 power rear liftgate as reaching up to close the rear hatch is a reach, no pun intended, for those who are 5”2”or closer to the ground.

Dad’s view: The plus for buying an Equinox is simply the extraordinary gas mileage. In mixed driving we easily got 26 mpg, and the government claims over 30 mpg on the highway. Both the standard engine and the optional 264-hp, 3.0-liter V-6 have direct injection and a six-speed automatic transmission. Freeway entry ramps didn’t pose a problem, but don’t challenge any 18-wheelers.

Young working woman’s view: Skip the Equinox and get its twin sister the GMC Terrain. For almost the same cost you get a much better-equipped SUV. However, the Terrain isn’t as sharp looking. The ride is very relaxed even when challenged by highway corners. Rough roads can prove to be tiresome as it does ride a tad stiff legged. Again, I like the Terrain better in terms of ride comfort and there are more family options with the GMC.

Analyzing computer data makes you a bit more objective when driving a car as new to the world as the Equinox. I found, as its name implies, this Chevrolet to be a happy medium type of vehicle. It is a SUV for those who really don’t need a three ton SUV and the expense that comes with them, but still enjoy the high seating position and ability to haul trailers.

Young working male’s view: Making open sourced computers and servers two things are apparent. First, you need the ability to expand, secondly, you need it in a smaller package. The Equinox does just the opposite. It offers a larger size, but no extra interior room. It just looks like you are getting more for your money. The reliability data has shown this Chevrolet to be average and the three year, limited mileage warranty may be an area to be discussed when ordering this vehicle. My experience has been that most problems occur within the first year.

EPA estimates are startling. The two wheel drive, four cylinder model is reporting a 22/32 mile per gallon range and that beats every other competitor. Even with all wheel drive the Equinox is superior. Although this rig is too large for me, it has an appeal that far outstrips its price. I would certainly order the optional backup camera as there isn’t much vision rearward. The screen for this unit is in the mirror, which really makes sense, although it could be larger, but for under $350 it is a bargain. The two small rear monitors for the entertainment system work fine, but the cost is nearly $1300. The GPS is sophisticated with a a 40GB hard drive to store your personal music selections, but these two add over $2000 to the bottom line. A must have for those of us who need to stay linked is the $500 Vehicle Interface Package. This package provides a USB port for connecting a your iPod or whatever to the stereo and also adds remote start and Bluetooth compatibility.

Family conference: The bottom line is whether or not you are daring enough to leave the arms of the competition in favor of this new Chevrolet? We think that if you are used to driving a SUV this one could well win you over and clearly moves the Equinox to the top of the four-cylinder class.

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