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Dec 032009
 

The 2009 edition of the Los Angeles Auto Show kicked off today with a slew of new vehicle launches for the world and North American markets. With the auto industry experiencing a virtual implosion this year, 2010 is shaping up to be a critical year for many makes. Speaking of which, a few brands weren’t in attendance this year, including Nissan, Infiniti (Nissan’s sister brand) and Ferrari. You can bet that they will be at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit next month.

Here are some of the highlights:

MINI Coupe Concept

MINI Coupe Concept

MINI Coupe Concept (North American debut) – The MINI has always looked a bit stubby and, frankly, a bit too feminine for certainly our tastes. This concept, however, turns things upside down with a sleek roofline that is definitely more appealing for the XY-chromosome set.

Cadillac CTS Coupe

Cadillac CTS Coupe

Cadillac CTS Coupe (world debut) – Caddy takes their performance-oriented sports luxury sedan, chops off two doors and presents a sleek alternative to the 4-door. With that being said, however, we feel GM needs to take this car back to the drawing board as the design execution leaves much to be desired.

la_auto_show_amg_sls

Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG

Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG (North American debut) – An homage to the original SL gullwing Merc, the new SLS AMG is an “affordable” supercar from the German make. They went at this car without McLaren’s involvement. Can’t attest to how it drives, but it looks oh-so-good.

la_auto_show_lexus_lfa

Lexus LF-A

Lexus LF-A (North American debut) – After what seemed like decades, the LF-A is finally a reality. It looks great on paper and they seemed to have gotten ALMOST everything right. The gripe? A pricetag somewhere between $300,000 and $400,000. Toyota can claim the engine was derived from F1, albeit they never won a single race after spending reported billions. For our money, we would take an Audi R8, a Porsche GT3 RS and a couple of Ducatis. Even after that, you would still have money left over for some other goodies for the same price as the LF-A. Or just buy a Nissan GT-R and buy a decent house with the rest of the money.

Dodge Viper SRT10

Dodge Viper SRT10

Dodge Viper SRT10 (world debut) – Wait, hasn’t this car been out in the market for, like, ever? We’ve heard numerous rumors that Chrysler was trying to spin off the Viper and dump it on an unsuspecting buyer. So why introduce a “new” Viper at this stage in the game?

The LA Auto Show opens to the public on December 4 and remains open through December 13, 2009. For more information, please check out www.laautoshow.com.

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Oct 212009
 

Honda CR-Z Concept 2009

Honda CR-Z Concept 2009 Interior

Here’s some news that will have Honda enthusiasts jumping for joy – the Honda CR-Z will launch at the 2010 North American International Auto Show in January 2010, following the debut of the CR-Z Concept 2009 in Tokyo today.  The CR-Z, positioned as a “stylish, sporty hybrid coupe,” will join the Insight and the Civic Hybrid in the Honda hybrid line-up.

Surely, the name alone will remind many of the classic Honda CRX of yesteryears. Much like the CRX, the CR-Z will be a 2-seater hatchback, but whether the new car will match the fun & performance of the old platform is up to anyone’s guess. Here’s our fingers crossed that this is indeed the case.

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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.

Continue reading »

Jul 282009
 

We Americans are yet again slapped in the face, with Audi launching the A5 Sportback in Europe but no plans to introduce the car to the US market. With three engine options – the 180bhp or 211bhp 2.0L TFSI, or the 265bhp 3.2 V6 – and three diesel engine options – the 170bhp 2.0 TDI, the 190bhp 2.7L TDI and the 240bh 3.0L TDI – the Sportback is being positioned as the entry level model in the A5 model series (although we think it belongs more in the A4 line up).

Sure, we’ve been critics of manufacturers offering an excessive number of trim levels for each model in their line up, but the A5 Sportback sure looks pretty and wouldn’t look out of place in the driveway of anyone here in the good old US of A.

 

Sourcebox

Audi of America, Inc.
2200 Ferdinand Porsche Drive
Herndon, VA 20171
1-800-FOR-AUDI (367-2834)

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Jun 192009
 


pioneer_leadin1

Pioneer Electronics, purveyors of fine mobile and home electronics, invited the RevdCars.com gang down to Long Beach to check out their annual Road Show event. A special once-a-year event, the Road Show is a Pioneer dealer- and media-only event showcasing new products and technologies soon coming to a Pioneer Electronics dealer near you. This year’s Road Show focused on 4 new double-DIN in-dash navigation and multimedia headunits, ranging from $600 to $1,600 MSRP.

Pioneer AVIC-U310BT

Affordably priced at $600 MSRP, the AVIC-U310BT should be a hot seller. With a long list of features for the driver wanting a step up from the typical stock car stereo, this navigation headunit should perform quite well:

  • Full-color 4.3-inch WQVGA touch screen display
  • 2GB on-board memory
  • AVIC-FEEDS for customized POI lists
  • Built-in Bluetooth for hands-free calling
  • iPod / iPhone control
  • 2 RCA pre-outs
  • XM / Sirius / HD Radio compatible
  • Pioneer’s Advanced Sound Retriever (ASR)

Pioneer AVIC-X710BT

The AVIC-X710BT ($900 MSRP) and the AVIC-X910BT ($1,100 MSRP) is the next evolutionary step from the U series. With a bigger screen and a host of other features, these two models should fit well the needs of most mobile electronics enthusiasts:

  • Full-color 5.8-inch high-resolution WVGA touch screen display
  • AVIC-FEEDS for customized POI lists
  • Voice control for iPod / iPhone and compatible mobile phones
  • Built-in Bluetooth for hands-free calling
  • iPod / iPhone control
  • 3 RCA pre-outs
  • XM / Sirius / HD Radio compatible
  • Pioneer’s Advanced Sound Retriever (ASR)
  • Built-in MSN Direct tuner (AVIC-X910BT)
  • DVD playback (AVIC-X910BT)

Pioneer AVIC-Z110BT

As Pioneer’s flagship in-dash navigation product, the AVIC-Z110BT ($1,600 MSRP) elevates the game even further over its Z-series predecessors:

  • Full-color 7-inch high-resolution touch screen display
  • Customized touch screen interface
  • Highway Signboard Guidance
  • Voice input for navigation
  • 4GB on-board memory
  • Built-in MSN Direct tuner
  • DVD playback
  • AVIC-FEEDS for customized POI lists
  • Voice control for iPod / iPhone and compatible mobile phones
  • Built-in Bluetooth for hands-free calling
  • iPod / iPhone control
  • 3 RCA pre-outs
  • XM / Sirius / HD Radio compatible
  • Pioneer’s Advanced Sound Retriever (ASR)

Last but not least, a select group of Pioneer dealers were tasked with building SQ (sound quality) oriented sound systems in demo vehicles utilizing various Pioneer mobile electronics products. In keeping with the sign / mood of the times, builds were kept someone on the low key side, including budgets. Regardless, the builds reflected a very high level of creativity, quality, and, of course, clean delivery of music. Congrats to these Pioneer dealers for putting together an awesome presentation.

Sourcebox

Pioneer Electronics (USA) Inc.
Long Beach, CA
www.pioneerelectronics.com

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May 262009
 

Daniel Lewis

I think this is the sweetest wine bottle I’ve ever seen. I don’t really care what it tastes like. What I do know is that I want a bottle of this in my house. After searching through Google, it was pretty hard for me to find a price (~$70), and I still haven’t found a place where I could buy this bad boy.

Neil Ashmead GTS

Neil Ashmead GTS
bottle3

“Elderton’s Neil Ashmead GTS 2008 Grand Tourer Shiraz is a tribute wine who’s packaging celebrates the life and loves of the late Neil Ashmead, a passionate South Australian wine man who had a lust for life and a love of fast cars.

Playing on Neil’s passions and reflecting his outgoing personality, the design pays homage to the Holden GTS – complete with go-fast stripes, shark gills and topped with a 6-speed gear stick. A winner’s wreath neck-label completes the package.” TheDieline.com

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May 182009
 

turtle_wax_ice_wheel_cleaner
I have to admit that one of the biggest reasons why I hold off washing my car is cleaning the wheels. As I am sure many of you will agree, it really is a pain in the butt, especially if the wheels have an intricate design with all those nooks and crannies that hide / hold brake dust and grime like no other. And when they are some pricey wheels like the Volk CE-28N wheels on the in-house Evo IX MR, you don’t want to use a cheap product that may scratch or damage such expensive wheels.

While visiting the local Pep Boys, I noticed a new wheel cleaning product from Turtle Wax – ICE Wheel & Tire Cleaner. With a solution in a spray bottle and a detachable wheel brush, it looked like a worthy product to check out. I had been looking for a soft wheel brush that could fit within and between the spokes of the CE-28Ns without banging things up. Of special concern was finding a brush that could fit into the center section of the wheel, where the Rays lugnuts are quite recessed for any ordinary wheel brush to fit. The ICE brushhead looked like it could do the job.

In practice, the product works really well. Pulling the trigger produces a foamy spray, which do a great job of clinging to the wheel surface, pulling off much of the brake dust and grime. And the brushhead is very effective in doing final clean up duties on the wheels, especially handy for the tight confines at the center of the wheels, where lugnuts tend to hide / mask surrounding contamination. Compared to the old way of cleaning wheels – with a microfiber towel and solution – using the ICE system definitely cut down on wheel cleaning time. So much so that I may actually clean them on a regular basis rather than waiting for the wheels become so dirty that they look like bronze anodized wheels from all the accumulated dirt and brake dust!

I do have a question and a comment for the folks at Turtle Wax, however. How safe is the solution for the sensitive clearcoats on aftermarket wheels? And I would recommend coating the brush handle area with a thin layer of rubber so that the plastic handle that could mar or scratch the wheel being cleaned. Will have to wait to see what the folks at Turtle Wax have to say.

P.S. – all of our “Cheap Thrills’ product reviews are unendorsed, honest-to-goodness evaluations; we pay for the product ourselves and try it out; whether it’s stellar or just plain sucks, we’ll definitely you know!

Sourcebox

Turtle Wax, Inc.
P.O. Box 247
Westmont, IL 60559-0247
1-800-Turtle Wax

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