Detours of the Week – December 18th, 2009

Daniel Lewis


From Ford – As consumers demand more gadgets equipped as standard in their car, Ford has taken a step in an unexpected direction by partnering with Best Buy for technical support of their vehicles equipped with SYNC. I hesitate to say a step in the right direction, because this basically means that Best Buy’s Geek Squad will now support & troubleshoot the electronic gadgets in your future Ford vehicle. Now, I’m sure there are some pretty sharp Geek Squad technicians out there but I think you may have a better chance to win the lottery than to get one of them to service your vehicle.

The eGrandPrix
From EGrandPrix – Tree huggers rejoice! In June 2010, Paris will hold the worlds first all electric car and motorcycle races. Outrageous (in a good sense) mileage figures aside, what about the various chemicals and toxins put into the atmosphere when an electric vehicle hits the scrap heap? What about the fact that more toxicity is produced from “retiring” an electric vehicle than a gas-powered vehicle? All excitement aside, I think I’ll stick to Formula 1.

Aston Martin Cygnet
From Aston Martin – This week, Aston Martin released pictures of its latest vehicle, the Cygnet. Described as a “luxury commuter,” it looks like the illegitimate lovechild between an Aston and Toyota Yaris.  The price tag of this James-Bonded Toyota iQ will be around $32k. How many shaken martinis will James Bond need before getting in one of these?

Audi A8 with Google Earth
From Audi – It looks like Audi set the bar a little higher by incorporating Google Earth into the 2011 Audi A8. Aside from terrain-mapping, it also allows you to do an Internet search on the map via a UMTS modem for data transfers. Could this be the end for updating navigation DVDs for our cars? We will just have to wait and see.

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Crystal Ball for 2010: Cars I Want to Drive

Daniel Lewis

As the year of 2009 nears its end, there are a number of  cars to look forward to next year. The cars below are some of the cars that are likely to excite both automotive consumers and those who are in the automotive industry. Which new cars in 2010 are you waiting to hear about?

Sports Coupe: 2011 Cadillac CTS Coupe

2011 Cadillac CTS Coupe
The Cadillac CTS Coupe was officially unveiled on November 23rd, 2009. In 2008, the Cadillac CTS was supposed to be the model to uplift the Cadillac brand. It looks like Cadillac is on the ball again, launching their next two-door vehicle since 2002. The only parts that the CTS coupe shares with the sedan are the instrument panel, console, headlamps, front fenders and grill. Another thing that makes this generation’s CTS apart from others is the optional between RWD and AWD. This will definitely be a Cadillac to check out.

Hybrid/Electric Car: 2011 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid

2011 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid
With the current mid-sized hybrid sedan market ruled by Toyota and Honda, it is always refreshing to see how other manufacturers answer back. So what you ask did Hyundai do, to take their Sonata one step further? Current hybrids use nickel metal hydride batteries, where as the Sonata will use lithium polymer batteries. Hyundai states that the lithium batteries weigh 30% less, have a 50% less volume, and are 10% more efficient. It will be interesting to see how this new battery, from LG Chem, will hold up against nickel batteries.

Compact Car: 2011 Mazda 2

2011 Mazda2
In 2008, the Mazda 2 was awarded World Car of the Year. Why do most of us not know/remember this? Well, apparently, World Car of the Year, was not good enough for sale in the U.S., mostly because Mazda thought that such a small car would not offer much profitability. Well, with the boom in sales from Nissan’s Versa, and Honda’s Fit (and also partially due to the economy and rising gas prices), Mazda was definitely pounding their foreheads on that decision. It makes one wonder, is Mazda 2 late?

Exotic Car: 2011 McLaren MP4-12C

2011 McLaren MP4-12C
When McLaren teamed up with Mercedes to build supercars, they awed us all with the McLaren F1 and the SLR. That was the past, and the future will be without Mercedes-Benz. McLaren is now their own automotive division. So what does the McLaren MP4-12C offer that the Ferrari 458 Italia or Lamborghini Gallardo LP560-4 doesn’t? The entire frame is one piece, which makes it lighter and more rigid. We can’t wait to see how the McLaren will compete against Ferrari and Lamborghini.

Luxury Car: 2011 Hyundai Equus

2011 Hyundai Equus
Hyundai did great things with the Genesis sedan, which went after the Lexus GS and Mercedes E-Class. We are hopeful to once again be surprised by Hyundai’s quality, that will excel the Equus above the Lexus LS, Mercedes S-Class, and the rest of its competitors. Hyundai may have to bring back that commercial of different “manufacturer executives” yelling the name Hyundai.

SUV: 2011 Land Rover LRX

2011 Land Rover LRX
With India’s Tata Motors recently purchasing Land Rover and Jaguar, it will be interesting to see Tata’s future plans for these automotive brands. Apparently, the 2011 Land Rover LRX will be Land Rover’s first more fuel efficient Land Rover.

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Dear Michael Schumacher: Please Stay Retired

Michael Schumacher1

Dear Michael,

You will always be a legend and probably one of the best we have ever seen in motorsports (although we contend that Ayrton Senna was THE best). With that being said, staging a comeback at this point in your life seems trivial at best and we don’t feel it’s the best move for Formula 1. 2009 was a pretty crazy year, with teams dropping out at the end of it all, Renault “convicted” of shady practices and several drivers really putting the best foot forward. All this makes us want to forget this past season and really look forward to 2010, when we can start fresh. What’s there to look forward to?

  • Jenson vs. Lewis
  • Fernando at Ferrari (and probably a Fred vs. Massa battle)
  • All the new F1 teams – Campos, Virgin, Lotus, USF1
  • No refueling

Does F1 really need the distraction that is Michael Schumacher? Wouldn’t the empty seat at Mercedes, formerly Brawn, be better served by a younger driver who has the talent but may not have had an adequate car to shine? Coming back to try to win again seems very much like teams who never had real passion for racing but doing it for the sake of doing and creating a storyline with which to sell cars. I’m sure your wife and kids would appreciate you staying retired as well.

Although Bernie would probably love to see you come back to sell tickets, that’s not in the spirit of racing, is it? Please give us an opportunity to remember you as the 7-time World Champion with countless records under your belt, not as a Mickey Rourke-like wrestler pining for a last bit of glory.

Your Sincerely,

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Detours of the Week – December 11th 2009

Daniel Lewis

From BBC – The Silverstone Circuit has signed a 17-year deal (17 years??!! – Ed.) with Formula One to host the British Grand Prix. Silverstone was the host of the first Grand Prix championship in 1950, and since 1987, hosted every British Grand Prix in Formula One. Donington Park was supposed to be the new venue for the British Grand Prix this year beginning next year, but their finances fell through the floor.

Danica Patrick

From LA Times – OMG! Danica Patrick is in NASCAR. On Tuesday, Danica Patrick announced that she would drive in a “limited number” of races in NASCAR’s Nationwide Series. Danica’s IndyCar resume consists of 1 win, 3 poles, and 81 starts. Her first season was in 2005, and she finished 5th (best career finish) in 2009. Not bad for a 27 year old, but in my personal opinion, it’s better to be great at one thing, than so-so in many things.

VW vs Toyota

From Reuters – Volkswagen is buying a 20% stake in Suzuki for $2.5 billion. This is not too long after Volkswagen just bought a 49.9% stake in Porsche AG. After this transaction, VW will have stake in 11 different car brands. VW’s goal is to become the world’s number one automaker by 2018. Toyota, we await for your rebuttal.

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As 2009 winds down, here’s our look back at what we deem as the top cars of 2009. Despite the complete meltdown of the automotive industry, or “carpocalypse” as some have deemed, manufacturers still managed to unveil some strong offerings, packed with value, performance and style. Without futher ado, here are our picks for the top cars of 2009.

Nissan 370Z – Editor’s Top Sports Car & Overall Best of 2009


We love cars that put a smile on our face no matter what we are doing. Whether it’s undertaking the usual, boring commute or pushing the edges of grip on a backcountry road, we love cars that can do it all. The new 370Z delivers in every facet possible – incredible value starting at under $30,000, a V6 with gobs of torque and horsepower available at all revs and style that catches even the untrained eye. Throw in the available SynchroRev system, and you’ll look like a racecar driver with every

downshift. As if this isn’t enough, there is an almost unlimited level aftermarket support to satiate the need to personalize. Considering this overwhelming list of credentials, the Nissan 370Z deserves our pick as the top sports car & overall best car of 2009.

Visit Nissan’s 370Z website

Honorable mention – Mazda RX-8 R3

Audi TT-S Roadster – Editor’s Top Convertible of 2009


When Audi launched the second evolution of the TT, we absolutely embraced the new styling. Whereas the previous iteration leaned very heavily toward softer lines and, frankly, offered more estrogen-driven appeal, the 2nd generation went the other way. With harder bodylines, the signature LED daytime driving lamps and more powerplant options, the new TT became a more legitimate contender against the likes of the BMW Z4 and Mercedes SLK.

With the TT-S, even greater power was squeezed out of the 2.0 FSI turbo engine. With the retractable top, it became something even more. The open air driving experience is quite awesome and the style is just sexy. We desperately want one in our garage.

Visit Audi’s TT-S Roadster website

Honorable mention – Mazda MX5 PRHT

Infiniti FX50S – Editor’s Top SUV of 2009


What do you get when you combine the a car known as the “Atomic Catfish,” a myriad of technology and drop in a 380bhp V8 engine under the hood? You get the Infiniti FX50. Let’s face it. Our expectations from SUVs are rather low. Sure, you can carry cargo and passengers in relative comfort, but you give up pretty much everything else – agility, acceleration and, most importantly, fun. The FX50 changes the equation altogether with performance that gives many sports cars a run for their money. Sure, the cost of entry is not cheap, as the FX50 starts at $58,000, but nothing ever worth having is ever cheap.

Visit Infiniti’s FX website

Honorable mention – Audi Q5 3.2 Quattro

Acura TSX V6 – Editor’s Top Sports Sedan of 2009

2010 Acura TSX V-6

By taking a very successful and sporty platform and giving it the engine it really deserves, Acura has elevated the popular TSX into a completely different segment. An excellent and silky engine, typical Acura fit & finish and tremendous value for the dollar, the TSX V6 gives the BMW 3-series, Audi A4-series and Lexus IS-series a run for their money.

Visit Acura’s TSX website

Honorable mention – Nissan Maxima

Honda Fit Sport – Editor’s Top Compact of 2009

2010 Honda Fit Sport

Why pay a premium for a hybrid when you can get a fully equipped and ROOMY subcompact for less than $20,000? That’s the question we asked after experiencing the wonderful Honda Fit Sport. With well over 30 miles to the gallon on regular (87 octane) unleaded, navigation, interior space that belies its exterior dimensions and a very high level of fit and finish, we can’t think of a subcompact that comes even close in terms of value.

Visit Honda’s Fit website

Honorable mention – Mazda3

Chevy Camaro – Editor’s Top Domestic Car of 2009

2010 Chevrolet Camaro LT with an RS Appearance Package

While the Ford Mustang may have reignited interest in the domestic hot rod, the Chevy Camaro takes it over the top. As witnessed at the recent SEMA Show in Las Vegas, the Camaro is set to take over the Mustang and Dodge Challenger for modern hot rod supremacy.

Visit Chevy’s Camaro website

Honorable mention – Ford Taurus SHO

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2010 Green Car of the Year – Audi A3 TDI


Audi has been producing really great vehicles as of late and diesel is gaining more traction in the US market. Buyers are finally realizing that today’s diesel-powered cars are not like those of old. Gone are black plumes of soot coming out of diesel vehicles, now effectively eliminated by urea injection within the exhaust path. So what do you get when you combine the sport Audi A3 and a TDI diesel engine? The 2010 Green Car of the Year award, of course.


Announced at the LA Auto Show, Green Car Journal / presented the honors to Audi of America President Johan de Nysschen. With an EPA-estimated 42mpg highway fuel economy figure, this is proof yet again that a fun, enjoyable driving experience and fuel efficiency aren’t mutually exclusive.

Congratulations to Audi!

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