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Sep 272009
 

feature_by_johnchoi

newV1photo300dpi

Okay, perhaps the word “cheap” doesn’t necessarily apply to the Valentine 1 radar & laser detector from the get go. At $399, it’s certainly not cheap and many of you may ask, “Why should I spend $400 for a radar detector?” Sure, there are cheaper alternatives available on the market. Sure, you could spend those 400 George Washingtons elsewhere. Personally speaking, I discovered the Valentine 1 literally paid for itself on our recent trip to Sonoma with the 2010 Nissan GT-R – yes, there really couldn’t have been a better vehicle with which to test the V1.

As with all radar / laser detectors, you want to be alerted as early as possible so that you have sufficient time to slow down and avoid getting ticketed. The Valentine passes this test with all A’s. On one particular flat stretch of the 5 freeway from LA to SF, it started buzzing with a specific tone alerting us to the presence of a radar gun. With only 1 light lit up on the strength meter, we knew the California Highway Police officer was a distance away, but slowed down to a manageable 70mph. As more lights on the strength meter lit up, we knew we getting closer. Sure enough, about 2 miles down the road from where the V1 initially set off, there was  a CHP squad car by the side of the road, already having pulled someone over for speeding. The same type of scenario played itself out 6 additional times during our trip to the Sonoma Indy race. Each time, the Valentine V1 alerted us ahead of time of an impending speeding ticket and saved us from some costly financial penalties as well as potential points on our driving records.

Okay, you are probably asking yourself yet another question – “Sure, the V1 is great but other radar detectors can probably save me from tickets as well without spending $400.” Yes, that’s a fair question to ask on the surface, but another awesome feature of the V1 is the set of directional arrows that provides what Valentine calls “situational awareness.” The directional arrows tell you exactly where the radar / laser source is located so that you can react accordingly. No other radar / laser detector offers this functionality – since it’s patented by Valentine – and it’s well worth the price premium you pay over its competitors.

Combining effective functionality, clean design and “situational awareness” directional arrows, the Valentine V1 is a great safeguard against costly speeding tickets. Simply put, it just plain works and anything that sheds marketing BS and delivers 100% of its promises is a must in our book.

Sourcebox

Valentine Research
Customer Service
10280 Alliance Road
Cincinnati, Ohio 45242
(800) 331-3030

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Sep 252009
 

Daniel Lewis


From the BBC – Renault received thier sentencing for being involved with fixing last year’s F1 race in Singapore. Thier sentence was a two year suspension, as well as Flavio Briatore, the now former team principal (boss), being banned for life from all FIA (Federation Internationale de l’Automobile) events. During an interview with Fernando Alonso (who finished 3rd at this past weekend’s race), Fernando announced that his victory was for Flavio Briatore. I wonder how many more times Briatore’s name will come up in the last three races of the season. 


From TotalFilm.com – This week I found out that there will be an A-Team movie coming out one June 11th, 2010. I originally found out about this when I heard that Quinton “Rampage” Jackson removed himself from a contracted UFC fight because it conflicted with filming for the movie The A-Team. A-Team fans will be happy to know that the van will remain the same. Will this increase GM sales?


From Acura – Acura announces that they will now offer a six-speed manual transmission for the 2010 Acura TL SH-AWD (starts at $42,385). It seems to me that Acura has finally listened to some of the cries from its performance-minded owners. For the 2010 model year, Acura introduced a V6 version of the TSX, and now a manual transmission for their TL. Lets hope that Acura stays on this route.

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Sep 202009
 

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US car makers are reinventing themselves in this era of bailout money, bankruptcy and “cash for clunkers.” It’s a stark flashback to the early 1980’s when Chrysler received a government bailout – Chrysler is a repeat offender in this regard. Lee Iacocca came over to the struggling auto maker, leading the charge to turn things around. Turn things around they did, in terms of sales, but turn things around they did not do in terms of product. The entire Chrysler recovery was based on K. The K platform. Virtually every car they produced was based on a single platform. The LeBaron. Dodge Voyager minivan. You name it, it was based on the same old thing. Mr. Iacocca even went on television, in commercials espousing the “new” Chysler. Hard to believe it has been 25 years since this commercial aired on national television. Does it not remind you of a new set of commercials from yet another Detroit automaker that’s hitting the airwaves as we speak?

Want to know? Click on to find out.

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Sep 182009
 

Daniel Lewis

Traffic Jam

From DesMoinesRegister.com – A truck carrying about 24,000 pounds of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches was overturned on US 52 in Iowa last Monday morning. The accident caused the US 52 to be closed between Durango and Sageville. Children in Iowa were served fish sticks instead. Do you like fish dicks?

Kanye West on South Park

General Motors
From GM.com – GM has finally put up the “rules” about thier 60-day money back guarantee:

In order for You to qualify for the repurchase of Your Eligible Vehicle:

* The Eligible Vehicle must be a new 2009 or 2010 model.
* You have purchased an Eligible Vehicle and taken Delivery between September 14, 2009 and November 30, 2009.
* You must be able to deliver to the Participating Dealership a clean and unencumbered title to the Eligible Vehicle, which title has remained in Your name since the Delivery Date of the Eligible Vehicle.
* You must be an individual natural person who is the title owner of the Eligible Vehicle. Businesses, corporations and partnerships do not qualify.
* Your Eligible Vehicle’s odometer must not have more than 4,000 miles since the Delivery Date.
* Your Eligible Vehicle must have been registered and insured in the Buyer’s name since the Delivery Date.
* Your Eligible Vehicle must have no more than $200 of damage as determined by GM or GM’s agent. Such damage may include, without limitation, internal or external scratches, scrapes, dents, odors, rips, burns, etc.
* Your Eligible Vehicle may not be leased.
* Your Eligible Vehicle must have been returned to a Participating Dealership where You purchased it, in the same working order as it was on the Delivery Date.
* Your Eligible Vehicle must not have incurred damage or non-warranted repairs in excess of $200, regardless of whether such damage has been repaired.
* Your Eligible Vehicle must not have been subject to any liens or other security interests other than a lien for the original financing used to purchase the Eligible Vehicle.
* A minimum of thirty (30) days must have passed since the Delivery Date of Your Eligible Vehicle.
* Only one Eligible Vehicle may be returned per household.
* Your Eligible Vehicle must pass a purchase inspection conducted by GM or GM’s agent.

The rules sound pretty reasonable, aside from the fact that damages must be under $200. Would this convince me to “try out” a GM…nope.

Formula One From the BBC – Lotus has returned to Formula One! I personally have just started watching F1. I wonder if the Lotus Elise fan boys will help add to the number of viewers from the United States.

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Sep 182009
 

feature_by_johnchoi

GTR_trip01

A couple of weeks ago, we took a 2010 Nissan GT-R on a quick blast to the Indy race at Sonoma to see how the vehicle performs not on a track, but as a supercar driven on freeways, with bags in the trunk and fighting traffic during rush hour. We have lots of feedback and information we’ll post in a review in the near future, but keep yourself busy by checking out all the aftermarket has to offer. Yes, parts for the GT-R are rather expensive, but we wouldn’t expect anything less.

Some of the parts listed below have been introduced / launched in Japan, but not in the States. Please verify compatibility and availability with each brand’s respective distributor in the US.

**Brake pads listed below are designated for the standard Brembo brake system**

Brake Pads (OE Replacement; F/R) – Street

  • Endless NS97 / Part #RCP117 NS97 (F) – RCP118 NS97(R) / $440 (F) – $305 (R)
  • Endless SS-M / Part #RCP117 SS-M (F) – RCP118 SS-M (R) / $440 (F) – $305 (R)
  • Project Mu B Force / Part #PBF261 (F) – PBR261 (R) / $345 (F) – $235 (R)
  • Project Mu HC+ / Part #PHF261 (F) -PHR261 (R) / $425 (F) – /$305 (R)

Brake Pads (OE Replacement; F/R) – Street & Track

  • Endless MX72 / Part #RCP117 MX72 (F) – RCP118 MX72 (R) / $440 (F) – $305 (R)
  • Project Mu Max 900i / Part #PL9F261 (F) – PL9R261 (R) / $520 (F) – $400 (R)

Brake Pads (OE Replacement; F/R) – Track

Brake Kits

Engine – Blow Off Valve

Engine – Intercooler

Engine – ECU Tuning

Engine – Exhaust

Engine – Ignition

Engine – Intercooler

Engine – Intake

Miscellaneous

Power Upgrade Package

Suspension / Chassis

Wheels – wheels listed are direct replacements for the OE wheels

Sourcebox

Endless / Zeal USA
18376 Gothard St.
Huntington Beach, CA. 92648
(714) 847-0694

HKS USA
13401 S. Main Street
Los Angeles, CA 90061
(310) 491-3300

Mackin Industries (ARC / MXP / Project µ / Volk Racing / AVS / Advan)
9921 Jordan Circle
Santa Fe Springs, CA 90670
(562) 946-6820

Tein USA (Tein / Fujitsubo)
9798 Firestone Blvd.
Downey, CA 90241
(562) 861-9161

Tomax America / Mine’s Liaison Office
2750 Oregon Court, Unit M-1
Torrance, CA 90503
(310) 320-0570

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Sep 132009
 

feature_by_johnchoi

versa01

Introduction

With so much talk about the environment, the recent “cash for clunkers” program and the health of the car industry in general, the products themselves get lost in the brouhaha. The focus on function and overall value for money is getting lost in the flood of talk about prices and rebates. With that being said, some cars are worth a deeper look for their intended purposes. The Nissan Versa happens to be such a vehicle.

Let’s just get this out of the way. The Versa isn’t going to win any beauty contests and it isn’t going to set hearts aflutter with excitement. Rest assured, however, that Nissan offers other models which will do exactly that – the 370Z and GT-R, to name a couple. But what may be lacking in the excitement department is made up for in the utility department, with a deceptively spacious cabin and a hard-working 1.8L 4-cylinder engine that delivers good fuel economy.

Positives

versa_at_speed

  • The CVT (constantly variable transmission) works well and always seems to be in the right gear at the right time
  • Although the 4-banger produces only 122bhp & 127lb-ft of torque, it FELT faster on freeway on-ramps and getting away from stoplights than vehicles with more power

versa02

  • The interior is spacious, able to hold four 6′ adults with ease
  • Options added to our tester included XM satellite radio, Bluetooth hands-free calling and keyless entry / ignition; all added up to a level of civility that we normally expect from higher priced vehicles
  • Crash safety is addressed through airbags all around, including side curtain airbags for rear passengers
  • Standard tire pressure monitoring system takes all the guesswork out of wondering if the tires are up to proper pressure
  • EPA fuel economy is stated at 27mpg city / 33mgh highway, we achieved a solid 29mpg with lots of stop-and-go city driving thrown in for good measure

Negatives

  • Under full throttle, the engine and tranny seemed to groan & strain, with an accompanying level of noise; the Honda Fit’s engine / tranny combination feels smoother and quieter in comparison
  • Our SL trim level tester starts off at $16,333 and comes in at $19,110 as equipped, including destination & handling charges, which is higher than what we’d normally pay for a vehicle in this class
  • Fit and finish compared to the Honda counterpart doesn’t seem up to par
  • Yes, there is a trunk / cargo area but it’s not really big enough to hold a week’s worth of groceries
  • There’s decent on-center feel in the steering but overall steering feel is a bit lazy

Overall, we feel the Nissan Versa makes a good commuter or a first time car. We must point out, however, the premium one must pay for the SL trim seems high, especially when comparing it to a comparably equipped Honda Fit – and at $18,000, the Honda comes equipped with a navigation system. If you opt to take a look at the Versa, we recommend the S trim level. Sure, it doesn’t come with all the bells and whistles of its more expensive brother – the 15″ alloy wheels, for example – but it comes with the same 1.8L engine, same 6 airbag safety system and a 6-speed manual transmission (the 4-speed automatic is optional) for $13,110. If you want an even  more economical alternative, then the Versa sedan is worth a look (starts at $9,910), although we feel the price premium for the hatchback is well worth it from an aesthetic standpoint.

Sourcebox

Nissan North America
P.O. Box 685003
Franklin TN 37068-5003
(800) NISSAN-1

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Sep 132009
 

feature_by_johnchoi

ZDX

It’s coming. What we can only surmise as Honda / Acura’s foray into an unestablished product category, the crossover sedan, is coming to Acura dealer showrooms this winter. If someone can identify a clear competitor to this new model, we’d love to hear from you because we’re scratching our heads trying to figure it out ourselves.

acura_zdx_02

Regardless, the vehicle sounds pretty good on paper. We’ll be testing the new Acura TSX V6 in a short while so getting into the ZDX will be a good follow up. We’re keeping our fingers crossed that the ZDX will offer a fun driving experience and value regardless of polarizing opinions on its looks.

Click on for all the technical details on this new Acura offering.

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