Posts Tagged ‘Test drive

24
Oct
10

A whole lot of updates on AK – pics and video!

Hi everyone,

this space has been left unattended for a month at the very least, but I now have the opportunity to share with you what we’ve been doing over at http://www.auto-kinesis.com. We have car reviews up with several more on deck, a multitude of photos and our first original videos!

We attended the Americana Manhasset Concours D’Elegance on Oct. 10th. click here to see our video and photo gallery of the event.

This is our first venture into cutting a video for the site. It’s more of an exercise in what we hope to accomplish in the near future.

Also live is our long overdue review of the 2011 Hyundai Sonata Limited, a car I enjoyed but learned a painful lesson about time management and the delaying of writing a review. I have several new ones to write and I’m desperately trying to avoid repeating the same pattern.

Check out the Sonata review here.

And lastly, here are some shots for upcoming features on AutoKinesis:

Thanks for reading! Keep checking AutoKinesis for more news and articles!

and visit our youtube channel and let us know what you think of our new videos.

-Alex K-

 

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04
Sep
10

Gonzo Was My Favorite Muppet: 2010 Nissan Cube SL

Let’s address the obvious first: The Nissan Cube is pretty eccentric looking. If cars attended middle school, the Cube would be mercilessly teased of its foreign appearance and ousted from any association by the cool cars. It would be forced to hang out with the other misshapen outcasts. The Cube would have lunch with the Aztek.

But out in the real world, it’s a different story: The Cube has many fans. Those that have gotten to know the Cube have found out how interesting it is. The Cube is “unconventionally attractive” and, unlike the Aztek (who, sadly, truly had some birth defect), people want to party with the Cube.

Read the whole  review at AutoKinesis

16
Jul
10

First Drive: 2011 Ford Fiesta

Ain’t no party like an NYC party, ‘cuz an NYC party don’t stop. Unless the party is more of a fiesta, specifically the 2011 Ford Fiesta, and you mire it in bumper-to-bumper traffic. The party at the very least slows to a crawl at that point. No worries, though, since the Fiesta is specifically designed for the urban stop-and-go environment, giving the driver plenty to work with on the side roads and in the gridlock.

Read the rest here at Auto-kinesis.com

08
Jun
10

First Drive: 2011 Mustang GT 5.0

At Ford H.Q, when the sheet was pulled off of the 2011 Mustang GT that would sport the 5.0 V8, a fellow journalist leaned in to me and muttered a painful truth I was attempting to ignore:

“looks like you’re gonna have to upgrade.”

My heart sank. No one likes to hear that their automotive pride and joy is to be surpassed by a newer, faster model and here I was, at the very spawning ground of my ‘08 GT/CS being told it was officially obsolete. I managed to fool myself regarding last year’s refresh as my ape-like, chest-thumping defense mechanism was triggered. This time, however, no matter how much pride and jealousy oozes through my seams, I cannot ignore the fact that the new Mustang GT is simply amazing

Read the rest here at Auto-Kinesis.com

26
May
10

Keepin’ busy

Hey all. Updates have been admittedly slow, but we’ve been busy! Behold, proof!

Stay tuned for some tales from behind the wheel of these cars and more. Right, back to work…

-Alex K-

21
Dec
09

Lexus HS 250h Review

Read this review and others at Autosavant.com

We’ve come a long way in a short while, when climate change and carbon footprint entered the lexicon, and the helpless automobile was borne aloft as the anathema to all things pure and natural. Naturally, alternative fueled cars had their time to shine, and to the staunch petrolhead, this was something to turn ones nose up at, be it out of pride or, more likely, fear that this heralded the end of “proper” cars.  So here we are, at the precipice of a new decade, and powerful, dinosaur-burning thumpers are still here (for now), supercars have begun to embrace electric power, and in the middle of the spectrum we find, puttering along, with no sign of relentment, is the hybrid.

The Lexus HS 250h is the division’s first foray into the realm of hybrid power plants, an inevitable direction with the highly successful Prius close in Lexus’ lineage. Those of us without a large amount of hybrid experience (much like your humble, luddite reviewer) will approach the HS with a sense of trepidation and, more optimistically, a fresh perspective on the automobile as we have come to know it. One would first expect the shape to be as bulbous as its Toyota cousin, but the profile of the HS is not as pronounced, just a slightly bloated departure from more familiar sedan shapes. Despite being round, it still incorporates enough moderately clean lines to give certain aspects an element of seriousness.  The HS features proximity sensors for keyless entry to the car and push button start, which tends to confuse things in one’s first starting of an unusual car since with push button start, the general methodology is holding start button, electronics switch on, and listening for the engine kicking off.  This is not the case here where it is “hold start button, electronics activate….now you can leave.” I’ve always been the type of driver that warms a car thoroughly before heading out, regardless of a car’s vintage, and this came to mind as I wondered how this would be possible if the HS decides to start the engine a few minutes into my journey. Lexus, as I discovered would be a recurring response, had thought of this in advance. The car has no visible temperature gauge, but starting the HS first thing after a cold night will prompt the engine to turn on as it will sense the need to do so on its own.

The engine in the HS 250h is basically the same 2.4 liter inline-4 power plant optimized to complement an electric motor that one will find in the Camry Hybrid, which produces a decent 147 horsepower on its own without its electric companion. Between the two power systems, the car produces 187 net horsepower, which is plenty of adequate performance for a car of this size to get around without too much thought for the punch that it lacks. Buttons by the wheel allow you to select from the standard ECO mode to either “power”, which favors output to fuel consumption, to EV, that will have the electric motor do much of the work. While one might not feel a substantial difference between the various modes, an available info screen in the gauge cluster will show the driver in real time which system is doing what between the battery, the engine, and the wheels. An arrow from the engine symbol will show that it is currently sending power to the wheels, while the battery will do the same every once in a while for extra help, and braking will display an arrow from the wheels to the battery indicating kinetic energy reclamation.  There is no regular tachometer in the HS 250h, but a gauge that goes from “charge” to “power” instead. Ride quality is comfortable as the Lexus is carried by a fully independent front and rear suspension that clearly prefers comfort to nimbleness and does well in that regard, while also having decent braking performance. Front visibility is excellent, but the blind spots are chillingly bad, and not being able to adequately see in various directions makes parallel parking a chore. The HS 250h has optional park assist cameras and sensors, and while they help slightly, they could do with improvement. The sensors, the most particularly useful parts, tend to have a very short reach, and only beep when one gets precariously close to something. The cameras would be helpful, but without an on-screen graphic like guide lines, it’s difficult to tell just how close the curb is to the side of the car, so the HS 250h tends to be on it, or nowhere near it.

Beyond the start button, the interior of the HS 250h is replete with a near overwhelming array of displays, buttons and interfaces for various systems, prominently presented on the center console that sweeps vertically down from the dash to the armrest. At the base is the input device for the Lexus driver information center, which is as near as a full-fledged computer mouse as a car will ever get. The size of this in relation to the gear shift as well as the shifter’s ousting from its traditional spot is indicative of the dominance of gadgetry in the HS 250h over the actual driving experience.  The driver information center allows access to all major car functions as one might suspect. What it does well is navigation, where clicking and zooming across the map feels natural with the mouse-like interface.  Upon entering a major highway, a sidebar panel will appear with the distance of the next three upcoming exits and what services one could find at them. What it doesn’t excel at is more detailed interaction in the midst of driving. On the subject for navigation, the system will lock you out from inputting any search parameters while on the move, and this also applies to dialing a phone via Bluetooth connection if you haven’t uploaded it in the phone book, or have it in your call history which lead me to the potentially less safe solution to bypass this nanny-ness by dialing the number on my phone anyway instead of using the car’s dial pad, which is at least near the driver’s line of sight in the flip-up nav-screen.  Plenty of the rest of the functions are accessible while driving, but almost ironically, the interfaces are too home computer-like to be easily used on the go. ipod music menus, for example, are very much set up like file folders with tabs at the top of the screen that can be clicked on with the cursor, all perfectly fine when standing still, but take a large heap of the attention the driver budgets from his or her primary duties behind the wheel.

Lexus seems to have noticed that there is plenty to take your mind off of driving in the HS 250h and has a tech package available with loads of driving assists to pick up the slack. Most fascinating is the Lane Keep Assist, which uses various sensors to keep the car in the lane if the driver’s lack of focus causes the car to slightly veer. When activated and approaching the edge of a lane too much, the HS 250h will pull towards the center ever so slightly to compensate. It won’t be a dramatic, self-driving moment, but the driver will feel a subtle amount of force feedback in the steering wheel. The system will also display a steering wheel graphic on the LCD screen in the gauge cluster to remind the driver that one or both hands are absent from it, as well as have two lanes illustrated that become bold when one seems to be wandering near them. On top of the steering column are sensors that monitor the driver’s eyes as well when the Lane Keep Assist is on. Wandering pupils or heavy lids will prompt the car to beep loudly for attention. Shutting one eye won’t trick the sensors, but a decent amount of squinting will. The cruise control radar can work in conjunction with this and follow a lead car steadily while maintaining about a three car length distance. If there is a dramatic interruption such as getting cut off or someone ahead slamming the brakes, the HS 250h will beep wildly again and rapidly brake to a low speed, but will not stop completely on its own.

While these are meant for driver safety, between the comfortable ride quality and interior, driver information center, and driver assists, it’s easy to see how an occupant is almost discouraged from doing much driving at all (great for coming home from the bar as well, with taco bell in one hand and a podcast playing…so I hear). The HS 250h is clearly for someone who wants Lexus level comfort but has no call for much driving performance; with plenty to keep them entertained while getting from A to B, and reducing their fuel budget at a minimum. With an estimated combined MPG of 35, the HS 250h will probably only need refueling every other week with daily use. Money that isn’t spent on fuel will go to towards the dealership, as the MSRP starts at $37,000. This review car, laden with all options totals at $44,967, including the $875 delivery fee.  Seems to be a hefty bottom line, but keep in mind an owner will be making 1k back a year from not going to the pump.

-Alex K-

14
Jul
09

Tesla NYC & Roadster Sport

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Amongst the Chelsea art galleries in NYC, you’ll find Tesla Motors’ latest showroom and New York presence. You may be thinking that a car dealership would be a garish addition to such a charming district, but you needn’t worry. Tesla, mindful of the fact that building structures willy-nilly is slightly antithetical to their whole environmentally-responsible nature, has integrated itself comfortably within the neighborhood.

The facility itself is nothing wild, just a simple space with a couple of floor models, places to sit, have coffee, and pick options for your soon-to-be ride. When asked if they plan to make good on the statement at the Model S reveal that the dealership would facilitate a functioning art gallery, a representative stated that they will indeed do so, but slowly progress into it. Oh, and expect the works to have an automotive slant. The rep I spoke to also conveyed a desire to have projectors broadcasting images from other Tesla facilities, so say the California location has an event, they can share the festivities across the globe. Also significant is that this location broadens Tesla’s service network on the east coast, having a place to bring your Roaster in to for any issues, and making more service techs available for house calls.

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Also available was the opportunity to grab a first drive in the Roaster Sport, the 2010 Roadster with upgraded specs for your electric-sliding pleasure ( I went there).  Differences in this model are several little tweaks that make for a substantial improvement overall. Ergonomics in the 2010 models in general have been altered, such as moving the touch screen from the far left, near the driver side door, to the center, beneath the radio console. Gone is the vestigial gear-shift which has been replaced with push-button inputs that light up to inform you what “gear” the car is in. A removable hard-top is now available apart from the standard soft-top. The interior is imbued with stitching to match one of the varieties of color options available for the Roadster. Bluetooth connection is now available, and new sound dampers are in test that will make it usable with reducing the cabin noise.

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Among the many new options, the Roadster Sport features a customizable suspension (mechanically, not on the fly) and an upgraded motor, upping the Roadster’s 0-60 speed from 3.9 to 3.7. not a drastic change, but improvement nonetheless. That’s also frighteningly close to Ferrari F430 territory, by the way, and that’s with perfect gear shifts. There’s also optional carbon fiber accents that do wonders to make the already sporty Roadster look more menacing. Yes, a menacing EV car. you heard it here first. The lack of power steering is still apparent, and the tiny steering wheel doesn’t help matters, but this is all minutia when you’re punching it down Manhattan roadways in a blur, stopping only for lights and inquisitive motorists. While it may be hard to notice the slight improvement in motor output, with the many colors, options and upgrades to the Roadster, it’s hard to ignore the fact that Tesla’s flagship model is shaping up to be a definite winner.

-Alex K-

Check out this review and many others at Autosavant.com

For more information, visit teslamotors.com, or visit the new site yourself at 551 w25th st. New York, NY 10011