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The Lexus IS 350 AWD has a base price of $41,700 and the F-Sport package adds another $3,180. Navigation and the Levinson audio upgrade tack on another $3,225. With blind spot alert and destination charges, the final price of the model driven came to $49,600.
By Don Bain
The first thing we noticed is the sleek, stunning appearance – a standout among the sedans of today. Lines running from the front wheel to the rear window and from behind the front wheel to the rear lighting array convey a sweeping fluid essence – one the F-Sport package makes a reality in the 2014 Lexus IS 350.
Add to that a front countenance that will make drivers in front want to get out of the way, just to watch the IS 350 go by. There are a lot of sports sedans on the market, but chances are slim a better-looking car can be found for less than $50K.
When it comes to performance statistics, it is possible to find one that will outperform the 2014 Lexus IS 350 F-Sport, but again it will probably cost a lot more.
This is what Lexus has achieved with this vehicle – a well-balanced blend of exquisite design, premium appointments, cutting edge technology and gratifying performance at an attractive price point.
Simultaneously, they have thrown in an eminently hospitable interior, advanced safety features plus the ability to tame the horsepower with an eco setting, wintery streets with a snow selection and the savage breast with a sport mode.
Though it is possible to drive the sedan sedately, it was clearly born to run and does so with great relish. We found its acceleration quite adequate for urban driving, even though selecting the sport mode made smoothly weaving through Interstate traffic a sheer delight.
Ready acceleration, crisp handling and sure-footed braking in a car of this comfort level makes it easy to form an attachment between man or woman and machine, largely a result of the increased rigidity and improved inertial dynamics of the third generation IS.
This performance is further enhanced in the IS 350 F-Sport by what Lexus refers to as Adaptive Variable Suspension. In simple terms, when driving is taken to a more aggressive level, it tightens the suspension to increase its responsiveness to driver input.
The 2014 Lexus IS 350 also assures the owner remains connected to the modern world easily via a new and greatly enhanced voice recognition system – allowing requests for route guidance while driving or tweaking other aspects within the vehicle interior with no distraction at all.
Of course the familiar Lexus controller, with its computer mouse style operation, is there for use by passengers or the driver when idling, to reset numerous aspects of the internal ambience, including the modification of info, setup, display, radio, media, climate and phone functions.
This also allows access to all the phone-based apps in Lexus Enform.
The front seats are heated and 10-way power adjustable, including two lumbar adjustments, and even the headrests can be modified in both vertical tilt, as well as height. On the F-Sport the seats proudly display the F-Sport logo on the seatbacks.
The digitally displayed gauges can shift to a double function at the touch of a button displaying a wide array of performance, trip data and other information – something that helps the driver keep all the ducks in line while greatly impressing younger passengers. When activated the speedometer moves to the right to provide room for another display at left, a feature borrowed from the Lexus LFA supercar.
The various models of the IS 350 line have a 3.5-liter V6 engine with direct and port fuel injection developing 306 horsepower channeled through a phenomenal eight-speed transmission with Sport and Sport Plus modes.
The F-Sport trim package also sports exclusive 18-inch split 5-spoke wheels, adding to the sedan’s sharp looks.
For the inclement weather Colorado sometimes finds during winter, the 2014 Lexus IS 350 F-Sport comes in a full time all-wheel-drive model with all season tires.
Any true audiophile will love the Mark Levinson audio, with its 5.1 series Surround sound system, 15 speakers and 835 watts of symphonic sound. Depending on your taste angels, cultists, head-bangers, bubble blowers, talking heads, Gregorian monks or string quartets will be right there with you on Pandora, your iPod or satellite HD radio.
When it comes to the vital statistics, the 2014 Lexus IS 350 F-Sport boasts 19-mpg in town and 26-mpg on the open highway despite the 306 horses beneath the hood. It splits the goalposts on emissions scoring 5 out of 10 on both EPA scales.
The Lexus IS 350 AWD has a base price of $41,700 and the F-Sport package adds another $3,180. Navigation and the Levinson audio upgrade tack on another $3,225. With blind-spot alert and destination charges, the final price of the model driven came to $49,600.
For the money, it is a drop dead gorgeous, spirited and luxurious sports sedan and well worth comparing to the pricier sedans on the market. Consider whether you get any real value for the extra money and the Lexus may begin to look like a bargain.
That goes double during the automakers December to Remember promotion and, after all, who wouldn’t like to be greeted by a red Lexus with a white bow on Christmas morning?
Thanks to reductions in the vehicle’s curb weight by some 220 pounds, enhanced aerodynamics and improvements in fuel efficiency of its engines, the next generation of the Mercedes-Benz C-Class embodies the essence of a new world paradigm.
The C-Class has always been a top seller for the Bavarian automaker during its last generation. Launched in 2007, the model has sold a total of 2.4 million vehicles worldwide through this year.
“The new C-Class embodies Mercedes-Benz’s claim ‘The best or nothing’ in uncompromising style,” stated Ola Källenius, Executive Vice President, Sales and Marketing Mercedes-Benz Cars. “This is immediately apparent when encountering our new Saloon for the first time, as it creates the impression that one is sitting in a higher class of automobile. I am sure that our customers will be delighted by the high-class appeal and agility of the new C-Class.”
In the US, Mercedes-Benz will offer two C-Class models, sporting four or six-cylinder gasoline powerplants. The C300 4MATIC comes with a 2.0-liter turbocharged inline four-cylinder direct-injection engine projected to develop 235 hp and 273 lb-ft of torque. The C400 4MATIC features a 3.0-liter turbocharged direct-injection V6 generating 329 hp and 354 lb-ft of torque.
Both models ride on a newly designed suspension and feature the latest driver assistance and safety systems available. An optional air-sprung feature helps the C-Class deliver the sporty yet refined experience for which the brand is known.
The vehicle has a longer wheelbase adding to the legroom in the passenger compartment. This enhancement must be aimed at certain parts of Europe as Americans tend to be getting wider instead of taller.
Notably, the average height trends of industrialized countries tend to follow the economy over generational periods. As a nation, Danes are the ones who seem to be getting taller while the average citizen of the world is not.
Nevertheless, the seats in Mercedes-Benz vehicles have never been skinny so they should be quite comfortable even for the more voluminous among us.
The highly distinctive elements of its appearance include a choice of a grille or hood mounted three-pointed star trademark (the logo in the grille looks great) plus new H7 halogen headlamps along with LED lighting that gives the C-Class a singularly sexy appeal day or night.
The center console features a new touchpad that mimics the finger gesture controls of a smartphone to simplify manipulation of climate, navigation and media systems.
The technological advancements don’t stop there as a heads-up display over the hood displays speed, gear and other pertinent information without the operator redirecting their attention.
The weight savings result from a new aluminum hybrid body shell that both improves fuel consumption and lowers the center of gravity, providing a more agile response to driver inputs. Roughly 50 percent of the vehicle is aluminum, up from 10 percent in the previous generation.
The new C-Class incorporates m
any of the advanced Driver Assistance systems recently added to the 2015 S-Class and E-Class vehicles. Notable among these is one titled Collision Prevention Assist Plus. This system provides autonomous braking from 4 to 124 mph, avoiding low speed collisions entirely and greatly reducing the damage caused by impacts at higher speeds.
Other Safety Systems:
When we drove the 2007 C-250 Sport upon its release, the sporty performance of the $32K car was thoroughly impressive. Without a doubt, the Mercedes-Benz C-Class, like many such vehicles, has come a long way in eight model years.
The Volkswagen CC R-Line sells for a modest $33,020.
By H. Throttle
Volkswagen is now the largest vehicle manufacturer in the world and the famous VW brand is spread around the planet.
This line of VW’s started prior to World War II with the introduction of the Volkswagen, known as “the people’s car.” Since that time the famous “Beetle” design has become a world trademark of German engineering and customer satisfaction.
The new 2013 CC R-Line is a hot Volkswagen sedan with a 200-hp. turbo charged engine lined to a six-speed transmission. This car can do well on a racetrack and it sells for a modest $33,020.
The CC has a great ride with multi-link independent rear sports suspension. It is so easy to cruise down the freeway in fourth gear traveling at least speed limit levels. There are two more gears beyond fourth for much higher speeds and great fuel economy.
Manufactured in Emden, Germany, this Volkswagen has attractive features and performance is outstanding.
The 2014 Ford Fiesta has a happy holiday price of $17,135.
By H. Throttle
This Fiesta is the dancing Ford, a happy holiday price of $17,135 will have you doing the cha-cha-cha down the highway in this nifty 2014 Ford Fiesta.
Ford has done some awesome engineering on their entire line of vehicles. Surviving the 2008 recession without the aid of U.S. government funds, Ford went to the drawing board and designed a fabulous line of cars and trucks.
Many of the models are built on the same frame; similar engines with turbo-boosting 4 cylinder engines that really turn out great gas mileage and power.
Lastly, the cars are well designed and attractive. The Ford Fiesta has the similar grill that makes it have that new Ford modern appearance.
The 1.6 L. engine provides more than enough horsepower, without the turbo feature linked with a five-speed transmission. The transmission seems perfect for freeway driving especially in fourth gear. A move to third gear and the Fiesta can perform like Dancing With The Stars with some quick moves. This car can more than keep up with traffic and fifth gear provides the best mileage and high end speeds.
Having recently driven some more expensive cars with manual transmissions that were very smooth, I thought the Fiesta transmission was a little stiff and maybe not quite adjusted properly, especially going into first gear.
These test cars are driven by many drivers across America, but some might jam the gears too hard leading to some transmission adjustments.
To start the Fiesta, the driver must depress the clutch fully and have a foot on the break, an awkward drill but a safety feature.
Ford needs to go to the keyless type of ignition, the Fiesta still uses a key that is way to long and does not fold back into the case, which can be awkward in a purse or a pocket.
Overall this is a great car for the price and has a tremendous warranty of three years, bumper to bumper, and then five years or 80,000 miles for both powertrain and roadside assist.
Lastly, because of Ford’s leadership in engineering these new cars are making great gasoline mileage without all of the batteries. This Fiesta has averaged more than 38 mpg. That is just outstanding. Factory rated at 31 mpg, it is beating that number by a wide margin.
Needing a dependable car for a student or for the commute to work, this is a strong choice, good safety ratings, and excellent economy in price and fuel consumption.
A great warranty by an American company.
The list price of the Dodge Durango RT is $35,995.
Dodge is a household name in the car industry and is teamed up with Italy’s Fiat where these two iconic brands are producing some exciting cars and trucks.
The Jeep line and Ram Tough trucks are especially popular in the United States.
The new 2013 Dodge Durango RT features real wheel drive that is extra special to drive.
Powered with a 5.7 liter V-8 hemi-engine, this baby will move down the highway. The mufflers are fine-tuned and that hemi engine just purrs its way to high speeds. A smooth six-speed transmission gives this unit fine road appeal and performance.
It is built on a chassis similar to a Jeep Waggoner and is comparable in size and shape.
Eye catching, with Redline two coat pearl paint and black distinctive tire rims, it turns heads. A youth walking by while parking commented “cool car,” while others have also looked over while I was driving this new Dodge.
It is a fun drive with a peppy engine and rather large leather covered steering wheel. Kind of a man’s type of vehicle for sure with the leather trimmed seats and louder mufflers.
The list price is $35,995 but the preview model had $9,000 worth of special features in navigation, technology features, along with heated everything. The seats are exceptionally comfortable and easy to adjust.
A plastic key inserts into the dash to start the vehicle rather than the smart key button that has become so prevalent in new cars. The key was hard to insert with the steering wheel in the way but a minor detail for engineering to work out.
Fuel consumption for the large engine is pretty good averaging around 20 mpg and having a light throttle foot makes for better fuel economy.
Looking at newspaper ads, there are some local Denver car dealers offering specials on this Durango as low as $22,989 and that would no doubt be a stripped down model.
But, if that included the hemi V-8 engine and the six-speed transmission, it would be the best buy of the century.
This is really a good workhorse vehicle that also includes three-row seating.
The 2013 Ford Escape lists around $35,130.
“Go Further” is the slogan these days under the famous Ford Motor Company blue logo that we’ve seen all of our lives in almost every small town in America.
Ford Motor is the second largest car and truck manufacturer producing 16 percent of the car and truck market in the U.S. in 2012. Ford is having a good year because of good management and outstanding products. U.S. sales reached $2.4 billion in 2012, the highest in a decade.
Ford stock has risen almost 40 percent this year despite troubles in Europe with sluggish sales and currency challenges. Barron’s predicts a 50 percent rise in Ford stock over the next two years.
What’s great about Ford is the quality and performance of their new line of cars and trucks. During the last month I’ve had the pleasure, and I mean pleasure, of test driving three Ford vehicles, the latest being the best – the $35,130 Escape.
Their engineers have been so brilliant in making a terrific eco-boost engine with a six-speed transmission that is powerful and efficient. They are using these same 60,000 mile/5 year powertrain components in every vehicle with minor changes.
The Escape is a 4-wheel drive SUV that is nimble, quick as a Broncos running back, and a comfortable, easy drive and ride.
This is a vehicle that I would purchase and is priced so competitively, including many extras with a slight $395 charge for ruby red metallic paint. The parking technology package at $995 could be parked elsewhere in the cost structure; I can park myself.
This is a remarkable product with final assembly in Louisville, Ky. Ford has 171,000 employees and the Ford family is still active in the business with William Clay Ford, president, and Alan Mulally, CEO.
Much of the progress over the past decade has been attributed to the brilliance of Mulally and the outstanding Ford designers and engineers.
A huge factor for Ford just happens to be that they didn’t borrow any money from the United States government, but toughed it out, and that has been a popular point with consumers.
The bottom line is the quality of their products, including Escape right down the line of new exciting models. Really well made, great to drive, and the performance is shockingly good.
Ford is shutting down some production in Australia but is having some small gains in Europe and hope to cut losses there by 50 percent in 2013.
The products are just plain outstanding, the Denver dealers are eager to demonstrate their lineup and offering many sales specials.
Ford is just so American!
The 2013 Land Rover Evoque price beginsaround $41,145 and climbs up to $50,225with add-on packages.
You can tell the popularity of a car or SUV when you arrive up to a social event and the valet drivers comes to your car door to accept the key or use the now popular “smart key” concept.
This new Range Rover Evoque, now in its second year of production, emits smiles from the young males as they speed away in the car for several blocks. (Usually changing the seat selection for the short yardage.)
The new Evoque is precious, not a word to describe it’s tougher Land Rover big brothers that have all of the dials, river and mountain driving controls. It would be a shame to take this “Fuji white” Evoque anywhere but to a social event or drop the kids off at school. This is mother’s Land Rover version of one of the most masculine vehicles produced in the British Empire and now Indian owned by Tata Motor Co.
Land Rover has become truly international in production, ownership and sales making a strong showing around the world.
The engine for the Evoque is manufactured in Spain, the transmission in Japan; the “Fuji” paint name didn’t come from Ireland.
Tata is one of the largest manufacturers of buses and vehicles in the world run by the Tata family in India. It seems fitting that since they purchased Jaguar and Land Rover from Ford a few years back that they have made dramatic improvements in these products in both mechanical and design elements.
The Evoque is elegant with smooth as silk in design with “almond/expresso” trim. It’s not a large SUV and can be parked easily with all of the cameras showing color pictures in rear parking.
With due credit to Ford Motor Company, they began to turbo-charge and develop four-cylinder engines in the last decade to compere with hybrid products. To the auto industries credit, they have been able to make some dynamic advancements to these four-cylinder engines, and by adding turbo chargers and multi-gear transmission, have been able to engineer outstanding fuel and vehicle performance. No doubt Tata paid some attention to Fords engineering in their development of future power plant engines, at least that might be a thoughtful concept.
The end result of the success of this smaller engine is to greatly diminish the need for hybrid cars and battery driven technology. The smaller engines are delivering up to 40 mpg on regular gasoline. The 2.L Evoque produced 240 horsepower along with a turbo charger that provides a mighty thrust to the powerful six speed transmission delivering 28 mpg.
What a thrill to step on the gas and have that turbo-charger kick in, the vehicle has more than adequate power even without the turbo boost.
Like Porsche, the Evoque has paddle shifters behind the steering wheel for easy shifting from manual shift modes, to sports, or standard drive.
It has braking precision with every range of brake and all terrain anti-braking systems along with dynamic stability controls. You can’t find a more complete safety set of brakes and safety features.
The ride is firm and comfortable with an individual wheel coil springs and front and rear anti-roll bars.
List price begins around $41,145 and climbs up to $50,225 with navigation equipment, color TV cameras, special audio packages, but the price is competitive to other market SUV products.
This is a very special product and really very adaptable to city and mountain driving. A very strong choice for drivers who want something very special to drive and enjoy.
The 2013 Land Rover Range Rover is priced at $68,236.
Land Rover can do it all with ease
In almost all African safari films we see the Land Rover Range Rover vehicles crossing the plains and streambeds of wild Africa terrain.
Made in England for decades, the Land Rover organization is now owned by Tata Motors of India. Tata is a huge auto, bus and truck manufacturer in India with enough economic power to purchase Land Rover and Jaguar from the Ford Motor Company in July 2008.
Tata has suffered recently with European and U.S sales slowing but increasing in India and especially strong in The People’s Republic of China.
Main headquarters are in Mumbai, India, where Board Chairman Ratan N. Tata runs the worldwide auto, bus and commericial company. He is famous in India for allowing stray dogs to frequent his office buildings unattended. Tata stock has lagged the market so far in 2013 but has long-term price potential with the quality brand of vehicles manufactured.
The Range Rover is still manufactured in Solihull, England, using UK assembly and engine, and a German transmission.
Quality and durability throughout the Range Rover has a body frame integrated with a hydroformed boxed steel ladder frame and welded steel monosides. The doors sound like bank vaults when they close and passengers feel very safe and secure inside the well-appointed interior highlighted with almond-nutmeg premium leather seats.
Power is abundant with a 375 hp, 5.0L V-8 engine that provides Spartan performance and acceleration. With low gear ratios and choices of normal, sport and manual transmission modes. The stand drive can be adjusted for all road conditions including mountain snow and desert terrains.
Priced at $68,236 with massive electronic accessories and controls for all driving situations, the ride is superb, large 19” by 9” aluminum hubs make for a powerful tire footprint on ice, snow or sand. Four corner electronic air suspension and adjustable four- wheel independent front and rear suspension give an excellent ride under all road conditions. Got kids aboard? There’s a detailed entertainment center, including television for rear seat passengers.
The Baltic blue painted Range Rover is a classic design and very desirable workhorse for males and females who like the outdoors in all types of weather and terrain conditions. It is equally swank at a valet parking social event.
The heated leather steering wheel feels very good on some of the recent blizzard mornings along with the heated rear view mirrors.
This is a vehicle that one could simple reside within. Mr. Tata could haul his hunting dogs to the countryside in style and extreme comfort.
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