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2011 Los Angeles Auto Show

Last year, the Lotus Esprit blew me away. This year, my vote for “Car of the Show” at the 2011 Los Angeles Auto Show has to be the Jaguar XC16. I’ve examined the car from all angles and I cannot find one in which this car looks awkward. If I could mix and match cars, I would take the GT-R in XC16 clothing. That would be my ideal dream car.

Moving on…This year’s Auto Show did not have as many concepts as last year. It felt a little bit more “toned down”, possibly due to the economy. Despite this, it wasn’t a bad show. I didn’t get to spend as much time as I wanted to, but that was fine because much of what was at the LA show was also at the OC show. There were just a little more “high end” cars, but that’s about it.

Here is a quick run down of what was at the show and a few highlights

Acura – Nothing new. Their lineup was quite stale at the OC Show and it remained that way two months later at the LA Show.

Audi – A6/S6 and the A7/S7 were the new rides this year.

Audi S7 Audi S6

BMW – They showed off the iSeries which you probably have seen in most enthusiast websites/magazines. I also took some pictures of the concept a few years back. From what I understand, the i8 is supposed to make it to production with few changes (I am certain the glass doors are gone).

BMW i8 BMW i3

Buick – The Verano is ugly. Enuff said.

Buick Verano Buick Verano

Cadillac – Showed up the Ciel, which was featured at Pebble Beach and the Converj, which was at a previous auto show some years back. I believe the Converj will be either an electric or hybrid car and will have performance that matches it’s aggressive looks. Possible the next CTS-V? Perhaps.

Cadillac Converj Cadillac Converj Cadillac Converj Cadillac Ciel Cadillac Ciel

Chevrolet – I think you’ve seen enough Cruzes, Camaros, Coverttes and Volts to last you a while. NEXT!

Chrysler – As I was saying on the OC Show post. The 300 is one American sedan I would consider driving. Beats speaker system is truly insane for one that comes factory installed. I felt so gansta sitting in the backseat as the speakers were blaring Dr Dre tunes.

Chrysler 300 Chrysler 300

Dodge – Super Bee Charger in the House! The car looks mean! The HEMI looks meaner. Overall, I’m very happy to see Chrysler cars improving in such as short time. Now, I would like to see Chrysler pull a Volvo and start introducing some sweet leases for us.

Dodge Charger Super Bee Dodge Charger Super Bee Dodge Charger Super Bee

Ford – The Escape was really the only “new” car to be introduced. It didn’t exactly wow me, but I can see it stealing some of the CR-Vs dominance (you will see what I mean when you see pics of the production-ready CR-V).

Ford Escape Ford Escape

Honda – What a let down! The production-ready CR-V looks gutless! And if it drives anything like the old model, it’s performance will be gutless too! Check out the interior! Can we say weak sauce? Can’t wait to see what Consumer Reports does to the CR-V on their next review.

Honda CR-V Honda CR-V Honda CR-V

Hyundai – The Azera really wow’ed me. After talking to the product adviser and sitting in the car for a good 5-10 minutes, I came away impressed. The leather is soft and supple. The interior is well put together. The center stack follows the same overall layout found in most new Hyundais, but has a noticeably more “upscale” feel. The estimated MSRP is going to be in the low $30,000s, with most experts estimating it to be around $32,000. Everything, including Nav, comes standard. The only possible option (from what I am hearing) is the panoramic moonroof and maybe the window shaders, although those could be standard too. If you thought the Buick LaCrosse was the Lexus ES killer, think again.

Hyundai Azera Hyundai Azera Hyundai Azera Hyundai Azera

Infiniti – The JX35 was introduced as a 7-passenger SUV. Not impressed. It looks like a weak attempt at cloning the Toyota Highlander which can be had for thousands less (if you don’t care about having quality interior materials). I’d be surprised if they sell more JX’s than EX’s. I would have liked to see a concept version of the new G-Coupe based off the Essence. That would have been fun to see.

Infiniti JX35 Infiniti JX35 Infiniti JX35

Jaguar – XC16 all the way. This car is a beaut! If they would have given it a better sounding name instead of the typical “Letters + Numbers”, I’d name my kid after it. “Come here XC16!” just doesn’t have nice ring to it.

Jaguar XC16 Jaguar XC16 Jaguar XC16 Jaguar XC16 Jaguar XC16

Jeep – New Compass and Patriot look like baby GCs, except the proportions are all wrong. I know Jeeps are meant to be rugged, but they could have done a little more to the interior. In contrast, you can see the GC looks nice inside and out. Even the storage area looks high end with fancy chrome touches.

Jeep Compass Jeep Grand Cherokee Jeep Grand Cherokee Jeep Grand Cherokee Jeep Patriot

Kia – GT concept looks cool, but not as sexy as the XC16. It does show a lot of promise and possibly a glimpse of things to come. Michelle Wie gets a custom Kia Soul! I highly doubt she would be caught dead in one. Them Rappin’/Dancin’ Hamsters, on the other hand, are a hoot. They give the Soul some street cred. Definitely cooler than rolling in a cardboard box, toaster or dryer.

Michelle Wie Kia Soul Kia GT Kia GT Kia GT Kia GT Kia GT

Land Rover – Not much to say here. Doubt any of these rides will ever make it into production, but they are fun to look at.  They almost feel like they will transform into a robot at any moment.

Land Rover Concept Land Rover Concept

Lexus – More LF-A. *Yawn*

Lincoln – *Crickets*

Mazda – The CX5 actually look pretty good. You can totally see the styling cues of the Shinari concept on the front fascia. I really hope this crossover does well and gives the CR-V and Escape a run for their money.

Mazda CX5 Mazda CX5 Mazda CX5 Mazda CX5

Mercedes-Benz – I’ve pretty much seen all of the “new” models on the street or in previous Auto Shows with the exception of the C63 Black Edition. This thing rocks. It’s like Europe’s answer to the mean-looking American car!

Mercedez-Benz C63 Black Edition Mercedez-Benz C63 Black Edition Mercedez-Benz C63 Black Edition

MINI – See OC Auto Show…

Mitsubishi – I didn’t bother stopping by…actually, I don’t recall seeing them at the show. Maybe I stopped caring…

Nissan – Last year they had the Ellure. This year they had…NOTHING!

Porsche – Showed off their Panamera Hybrid and the usual 911s, Cayennes, Boxters and Caymans.

Porsche Panamera Porsche Panamera Hybrid

Scion – FR-S was in the house this year and it looks great! For those that have not been following the FR-S, expect about 200hp and a $24k price tag once it’s released. I don’t expect the production model to look too different unless Toyota decides to cheapen the experience some more. If the price is reasonable, this could very well be sitting in my driveway on day.

Scion FR-S Scion FR-S Scion FR-S

Subaru – Just like the FR-S, the BRZ should be priced and spec’ed at around the same range. There is talk of a STi trim, but I haven’t seen any details on that just yet. Originally, I thought the BRZ was the clear winner in the “looks” department, but after seeing them both in person, I have to go with the Scion.

Subaru BRZ Subaru BRZ Subaru BRZ

Volvo – Same cars as last year. Same cars as this year’s OC show. Nothing new to report.

VW – A Beetle R was on display and it still looks girly. Hood vents and quad-exhaust pipes do tone down the estrogen somewhat though. For the record, I don’t have a problem with the Beetle looking girly. It’s just that VW is trying so hard to market the Beetle as being more “unisex” and I just don’t think its happening. Maybe if they dropped a huge supercharger hood scoop? Nah….

Volkswagen Beetle R Volkswagen Beetle R Volkswagen Beetle R

Others – Here you will find some pics I took of the more “unusual” cars.

XD XD XD Morgan Aero Morgan Aero Morgan Aero Lotus Evora Lotus Evora

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2011 Orange County Auto Show

I know this post is a bit late since the LA Auto Show is in town and in full swing. I still think it’s a good idea to get some pictures and info out there so you can take a look at what’s new this coming year. The OC Auto Show isn’t exactly the best show in SoCal, but it’s good enough to get a feed for what’s currently out there. Most people hold out for the LA Show because it’s a much more “comprehensive” show than the one in OC. This show seemed more like a giant dealership more than anything. To avoid being repetitive (since I will be posting the LA Auto Show pictures right after this), I will just post the more “unique” photos from this show.

Acura

TL – Small revamp in styling, improved, but not quite the “prom queen”.
TSX – Limited Edition is mostly cosmetic changes. A sedan with sport aspirations.

Audi

A7 – Great looking sedan. Top notch interior quality and very unique design. Not sure of I like this one more of the CLS. I really dig what Audi has done with the Nav by integrating Google’s Navigation system. If you have ever used Google Nav on Android phones, you will know what I mean. If you haven’t, then you are really missing out.

Chevrolet/Cadillac/Buick

Cruze – If you haven’t seen the interior of the Cruze, you’ll be surprised. This car was at the show last year too, but I can’t get over how well Chevy has done with this car’s interior. If you have ever rented any Chevy, you’ll notice how terrible GM has been when it comes to interior quality.

Corvette – This is one way to get people to buy American…

CTS-V Coupe – My favorite American car. Just love the way the seats just hold you and never lets you go.

Chrysler/Dodge/Jeep

Charger SRT8 – The interior quality has really stepped up significantly. I’m still not crazy about the lines on the doors, but the front and back just looks mean! If I had to pick though, I would probably go with the 300. Less racer boy, more rap mogul.

300 SRT8 – Beats by Dr Dre is truly a sick audio system. It boosts my street cred just sitting in the back seat.

Grand Cherokee – Best looking 5-passenger SUV in my opinion. Quality is still suspect (my friend got one and it has been in the shop twice in less than a year), but it’s not surprising since it’s a first year model.

Hyundai

Veloster – Better looking in person…barely. From what I hear, it also looks much sportier than it drives. I would consider one, but only with a Turbo. The interior is nicely laid out, with good ergonamics. It is also feature loaded which makes it that much more attractive. Clearly targeting the 18-24 year-old crowd.

Toyota

Camry – I am NOT a huge Toyota fan right now. Their cares are uninspiring and feel like appliances more than anything else. The incoming Camry is slightly less hideous than the outgoing model, but I still don’t see how they will outsell the Sonata.

Volkswagen

Beetle – Redesign and less girly. Still not as iconic as the original.

GLI – It’s here and the lease rates on this puppy are decent (not great though). Interior quality is still “bleh”, but the red-stitching helps.

Tiguan – It got a nose job to fall in line with the rest of it’s siblings.

Jetta Star Wars Edition – From a performance perspective, this feels like this….If it were a GLI, it would be more like THIS!

Lexus

GS350 – I’ve seen enough of the LF-A to last me a while, so only new thing to report here is the newly redesigned GS350. I barely notice the difference except for a more “linear” design and the Audi-wannabe LEDs.

Honda

CR-V – If only they would actually sell this concept and give us an optional beefier engine (turbo4 or small displacement 6) then the 2012 would be forgiven. I guess that’s asking for too much innovation.

Nissan

Leaf – If you were wondering how the Leaf looks like inside, here are the pics. If you were wondering how the interior materials feel; it’s all hard plastic.

MINI

JCW Cooper Coupe – One thing is for sure, MINI knows how to milk the living crap out of the MINI brand. I am waiting for the MINI Van (pun intended) to show up any minute now.

Land Rover

Evoque – It looks great for a compact crossover. Not sure how comfortable rear passengers will be with such a low roofline, but it really makes owning a crossover cool. I’m not sold on the 2-door model though. The whole point of getting a crossover is to have more practicality, otherwise, I’d get a coupe.

Volvo

S60 – This is the first time I’ve been so pumped about a Volvo as a lease. I’m not all that crazy about the schnoz of this sedan, but the rest of the car looks great. It is also a very good lease for those of you who are willing to give Volvo a try. I haven’t always been open to driving a Volvo (my sister has a few of them and they haven’t exactly been reliable), but as a lease, if the car looks good and the numbers look good, any manufacturer is worth a try.

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2011 GM Lease Rates – April 2011

Due to a lack of lease rates from GM, I decided to pool together all GM models and put them in one post. Please note that GM uses interest rates instead of money factors, so the money factors listed below are approximations of what the interest rates would be.

The money factors are really low right now, plus there are some good cash incentives available to help with the poor residual values. These vehicles seem to be very good candidates to lease and then buy out at lease-end. Still not in the 90+ RWG rating range, but it’s at least they are looking somewhat more promising.


Here is a sample calculation based on TrueCar’s Southern California sale price and do not include local taxes. Please note that your dealer calculations may vary due to local fees/taxes.

2011 Chevy Cruze Eco (24mo)
MSRP – $19,175
Sale Price – $17256 (with $1250 cash incentive)
Monthly – $242+ tax
RWG Rating – 85.5

2011 Chevy Cruze Eco (36mo)
MSRP – $19,175
Sale Price – $17256 (with $1100 cash incentive)
Monthly – $226+ tax
RWG Rating – 86.1

For Dealer Quotes, Click Here.


2011 Cadillac CTS 3.0 Performance Sedan ($4075 cash incentive)
36-month | 15k miles | residual 44% | .00061 base money factor

2011 Cadillac SRX Luxury ($650 cash incentive)
36-month | 15k miles | residual 50% | .00077 base money factor

2011 Buick Lacrosse CXS ($1900 cash incentive)
36-month | 15k miles | residual 47% | .00007 base money factor

2011 Buick Regal CXL Turbo ($2400 cash incentive)
36-month | 15k miles | residual 47% | .00007 base money factor

2011 Chevy Cruze Eco ($1250 cash incentive for 24-month, $1100 cash incentive for 36-month)
24-month | 15k miles | residual 60% | .00007 base money factor
36-month | 15k miles | residual 50% | .00042 base money factor

2011 Chevy Tahoe LT 4WD ($1400 cash incentive)
36-month | 15k miles | residual 46% | .00007 base money factor

2011 Chevy Traverse 1LT 4WD
24-month | 15k miles | residual 59% | .00007 base money factor

2011 Chevy Traverse LTZ 4WD
24-month | 15k miles | residual 58% | .00007 base money factor

2011 GMC Acadia Denali SLT2 AWD ($1000 cash incentive)
39-month | 15k miles | residual 50% | .00013 base money factor

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2010 OC Auto Show

Sorry for the delay in posting the photos. I’ve been busy this past week with work, nursing a sports related injury and spending time with family over the weekend. Anyway, the OC Auto Show was great and I got to spend a good four hours taking photos and “sampling” the goods. As far as concepts are concern, there weren’t many in this show. Then again, this show is a much small event than the LA, Detroit or NY Auto Show, so most of the cars on display were either models in production or soon to be released. Of all of the major manufacturers, only a few didn’t make the show (Mercedes-Benz and Mitsubishi); Not a huge loss if you ask me.

Here are some of my initial reactions about each manufacturer that showed up:

Acura – The TL’s “beak” really needs to go. The TSX wagon is hideous. The rest of the line-up gets a thumbs up.

Audi – Nothing new. I am personally targeting the A3 as a my possible “Next Ride”.

BMW – Nothing new. I didn’t spend much time there because it’s not different than last year with the exception of the new IS models.

Buick – The Regal looks nice and it’s cheap. A bit smaller than what I thought it would be, though.

Chevy – The Cruze was actually impressive. I think it should compete well against cars in it’s class.

Dodge/Chrysler/Jeep – JGC was probably the best looking offering they had (No surprise there). It’s a good looking SUV inside and out.

GMC – Probably the only brand that offered a “Concept”, the Granite. Interesting take on box-shaped transportation. Certainly better looking than the Cube or the xB.

Ford – I liked the Edge Sport and the Fusion. Not sore I would get the Fusion personally, but I would consider the Edge…as a matter of fact, I am.

Honda – They really did something funky to the tail lights of the Accord coupe; It flares out to the side. Really weird looking, not a fan of it.

KIA/Hyundai – Love the Sonata and the Optima. The 2.0T and the Hybrid look sharp. I’m highly considering the Sonata as my next car because of it’s combination of features and price.

Saab – Yawn.

Volvo – XC60 is freaking awesome. It’s too expensive, otherwise I would seriously consider getting one even if the quality/durability may be questionable (it is a lease after all).

Subaru – Nothing really new except a really pimped out STi. From a styling perspective, it doesn’t look any different than the one from last year.

Toyota – Cheap plastic all over the freaking place. It’s like Toyota took a page out of GMC and Ford’s “how to build a cheap car” manual. This is like Bizarro World. Seriously.

Supercars – I don’t keep up with the Maseratis, Ferraris and Lambos of the world so I didn’t know what to look for. I do know the Sesto Elemento wasn’t there. Not that ride is impressive.

Jaguar – New XJ looks pimping. It’s elegant and loaded with tech. I like how the dash and console look so clean and elegant.

Volkswagen –  VW is changing the way they package their vehicles, which will be similar to what Honda/Acura does (which shoud simplify the shopping process).  2011 Jetta gets mixed feelings from me due to the simplified,  “downgraded” interior.  My wife wasn’t a big fan of the new exterior either (compared to her Wolfsburg) and I have to agree with her. I think the Jetta lost a lot of it’s “personality” in the redesign. I think of it as a jogger wearing a suit, not exactly the sporty/playful image I’ve come to love about the Jetta.

Mazda – Nothing new on this show, but I do know Mazda has a sweet new concept called the Shinari, which looks insanely good. I’m hoping they bring it in for the LA Auto Show next month. That would be spectacular.

Lexus – The IS gets a “F” option package which mimics the ISF in style but not in performance. It’s like the M package that’s offered on the 3-series.

Cadillac – Caddy has a good number of cars in the show and the best one of them all is the CTS-V coupe. I don’t know what C&D was talking about when they said the interior was “gimmicky”. Whatever, I think its a fabulous car if you have $500-$600 bucks to burn per month (or so).

Without further delay, here are some pictures from the show! Enjoy!

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2009 OC Auto Show

I was on hand at the OC Auto Show this weekend browsing through the latest and greatest from a handful of manufacturers. It was somewhat disappointing to see that some big name brands didn’t show up, but then again I can’t really blame them. Come November, the Los Angeles Auto Show should be in town, so there isn’t much of a spending that kind of money to promote your vehicles twice in the same market. Nevertheless, the OC Auto Show was solid because it was not too crowded and I got to hope into practically every single car. Hopefully, you took advantage of the free ticket I posted on the previous OC Auto Show post. I ended up realizing that the ticket was only FREE for Thursday and Friday. For Saturday and Sunday, it gives you a 50% discount for up to 4 tickets; still a pretty good deal.

For those who have never been to the OC Auto Show, this is a much smaller venue compared to the LA Auto Show. The most notable absentee was Mercedes Benz. I found that to be somewhat strange considering BMW, Audi, Infiniti and Lexus put up some seriously strong showings there. Now the highlight of the show was probably Saturday’s Hawaiian Tropic Bikini contest. Unfortunately, by the time I got there, the crowd had gotten pretty big and it was hard to see much of anything. I also happened to be with my wife, which pretty much explains why I didn’t get to see anything as well. Nevertheless, I did bump into some rather attractive booth girls and there were a few bikini models did roam around the show taking pictures with attendees.

Now lets go back to the cars shall we! 🙂

Acura: The fellows from Japan had the usual lineup, TSX, TL, RL, RDX and the MDX. They also brought in the production ready model of the ZDX, which looks looks like an oversizedd futuristic sports car with 4 doors and a big trunk. My biggest complaint? The color. Why on earth would you debut a production ready vehicle in a crappy brown color?! Great car, crap color.

Audi: Audi brought in all of their cars in glossy white and left the LED lights on to add to the COOL factor. Too bad they put the price tag on these cars too. Talk about sticker shock! One of the most surprising things about the A5 is the trunk space, its freaking HUGE for a coupe.

BMW: The BMW section was a bit bland. I didn’t spend much time there, but I did get the wife into a M3 and she loved the supple leather seats. Her direct words “wow, the leather feels nice”.

Buick: Buick showed off the new Lacrosse and that’s about it. It looks very Lexus-like. Why not just buy a Lexus?

Cadillac: They showed up the CTS trims and their new concept coupe, the Converj. They had this lady presenting the vehicle and talking about design philosophy, etc…then she asks “Do you have any questions? Like when its coming out or how much it will cost? Well it’s not coming out, so there’s no price for it”.

Chevy: Chevy brought out the big guns by displaying a full-sized version of Bumblebee of the Transformers. They even brought in an Autobot-branded Camaro to post next to it. Then my wife and I stood next to them and posted with them. LOL. It was quite entertaining. GM also brought out some of their high-end Corvettes and Camaros and displayed the Stingray Concept; VERY awesome looking as you can see.

Chrysler: Yawn…

Dodge: Double Yawn…

Ford: Probably the biggest disappointment for me was 2010 the Ford Taurus. That center console is freaking MASSIVE! I felt claustrophobic in there and that’s a pretty big car. Not only that, the plastic interior panels reminded me of BouncewithB’s company car, the Dodge Nitro. I could literally PUSH some panels in exposing huge gaps between them. You won’t see that in an Audi A6.  I spent about 5 minutes sitting next to this British guy inside the Taurus and all we did was whine about how Ford has disappointed us yet again.

GMC: Nothing too exciting, just the usual suspects.

Honda: The only  “exciting thing” was their hydrogen powered car that I’ve seen three times already.

Hyundai: Wife really liked the Genesis Coupe and proceeded to diss my G37 as having a “BIG BUTT” compared to the Genesis. How RUDE!

Infiniti: Wife, again tried to make me feel good by telling me the Moonlight White on the EX35 is much better looking than the Ivory Pearl on my G37. Gotta love her. 🙂

Lexus: New HS looks like a bigger more expensive high-tech Prius. Sat in the IS-F and I have to say that that car feels way too cheap inside for a Lexus.

Mazda: I noticed all 2010 model have the massive fish-lip that the 2009-2010 Mazda3 and Mazda6  came out with; yup, that includes the RX8.

Mercedes Benz: A no-show. Lame.

MINI: Sat inside the Clubman with the wife at the wheel. She proceeded to feel claustrophobic (like I was in the Taurus) and jumped out. Looks like we’re not getting a MINI after the TSX.

Nissan: I don’t think I made it there.

Subaru: Took a few pics of the STi. Good looking hatchback if I do say so myself.

VW: The new Golf / GTI are out and they look much better in my opinion. I would probably consider a 4-door GTI as my weekend car since its compact yet has more cargo room than my G37.  I spent some time looking at the Tiguan as well. My folks recently picked one up so I wanted to see what it was like. Its not the most luxurious car out there, but its well-built and has a nice interior.

Volvo: The new S60 and the C30 looked better in person. Their new crossover SUV XC60 looks wicked with dark tinted glass. I still wouldn’t lease one yet since I still remember my sister’s horror stories about her S70 back in the day.

Anyway, I would go on and on about the show, but I’m sure you guys want to see the pictures, so here you go!

2009 Top Safety Pick Awards by IIHS

From IIHS

How vehicles are evaluated: The Institute’s frontal crashworthiness evaluations are based on results of 40 mph frontal offset crash tests. Each vehicle’s overall evaluation is based on measurements of intrusion into the occupant compartment, injury measures recorded on a Hybrid III dummy in the driver seat, and analysis of slow-motion film to assess how well the restraint system controlled dummy movement during the test.

Side evaluations are based on performance in a crash test in which the side of a vehicle is struck by a barrier moving at 31 mph. The barrier represents the front end of a pickup or SUV. Ratings reflect injury measures recorded on two instrumented SID-IIs dummies, assessment of head protection countermeasures, and the vehicle’s structural performance during the impact.

Rear crash protection is rated according to a two-step procedure. Starting points for the ratings are measurements of head restraint geometry — the height of a restraint and its horizontal distance behind the back of the head of an average-size man. Seat/head restraints with good or acceptable geometry are tested dynamically using a dummy that measures forces on the neck. This test simulates a collision in which a stationary vehicle is struck in the rear at 20 mph. Seats without good or acceptable geometry are rated poor overall because they can’t be positioned to protect many people.

ALL 72 WINNERS

Large cars
Acura RL
Audi A6
Cadillac CTS
Ford Taurus
Lincoln MKS
Mercury Sable
Toyota Avalon
Volvo S80

Midsize cars
Acura TL, TSX
Audi A3, A4
BMW 3 series 4-door models
Ford Fusion with optional electronic stability control
Honda Accord 4-door models
Mercedes C class
Mercury Milan with optional electronic stability control
Saab 9-3
Subaru Legacy
Volkswagen Jetta, Passat

Midsize convertibles
Saab 9-3
Volkswagen Eos
Volvo C70

Small cars
Honda Civic 4-door models (except Si) with optional electronic stability control
Mitsubishi Lancer with optional electronic stability control
Scion xB
Subaru Impreza with optional electronic stability control
Toyota Corolla with optional electronic stability control
Volkswagen Rabbit

Minicar
Honda Fit with optional electronic stability control

Minivans
Honda Odyssey
Hyundai Entourage
Kia Sedona

Large SUVs
Audi Q7
Buick Enclave
Chevrolet Traverse
GMC Acadia
Saturn Outlook

Midsize SUVs
Acura MDX, RDX
BMW X3, X5
Ford Edge, Flex, Taurus X
Honda Pilot
Hyundai Santa Fe, Veracruz
Infiniti EX35
Lincoln MKX
Mercedes M class
Nissan Murano
Saturn VUE
Subaru Tribeca
Toyota FJ Cruiser, Highlander
Volvo XC90

Small SUVs
Ford Escape
Honda CR-V, Element
Mazda Tribute
Mercury Mariner
Mitsubishi Outlander
Nissan Rogue
Subaru Forester
Toyota RAV4
Volkswagen Tiguan

Large pickups
Ford F-150
Honda Ridgeline
Toyota Tundra

Small pickup
Toyota Tacoma

Shamefully, my G37 didn’t make the cut, but it made it into the “ALSO RANS” list:

ALSO-RANS
These 26 vehicles earn good ratings in front and side crash tests. They have ESC, standard or optional. They would be 2009 Top Safety Pick winners if their seat/head restraints also earn good ratings:

Chevrolet Malibu
Chrysler Sebring, Sebring convertible, Town & Country
Dodge Avenger, Grand Caravan
Infiniti G35, M35
Kia Amanti
Lexus ES, GS,IS
Mazda CX-7, CX-9
Mitsubishi Eclipse Spyder, Endeavor
Nissan Altima, Pathfinder, Quest, Xterra
Saturn AURA
Smart Fortwo
Toyota 4Runner, Camry, Prius, Sienna

Something sad to note here, no Chrysler cars made it to the top of the list. I’m starting to feel like Chrysler is one automaker that probably doesn’t need the bailout since they build such “average” cars.

GM Employee Pricing For EVERYONE!

By now you have probably seen the commercials. This program ends Sept 2nd 30th.  It is a good time to buy a GM vehicle. They aren’t all crappy cars…REALLY! It’s like picking apples, we know apples can be good, just make sure you don’t pick one with a worm in it.  GM is serious about pushing sales right now (they must be hurting real bad this quarter) because they are having a clearance on EVERYTHING that’s a 2008 ! YUP! you can get a hefty 10k off MSRP on the Corvette, yes, even the Z06. Some 2009 models are included, like the Cobalt and the Caddy CTS, HRR and Vibe (Toyota Matrix’s American relative). Looks like they aren’t holding back this time.

Click here to see available models and how much they are being discounted.

This is probably one of those few times when I’ll be pitching an American car, so at least take the time to check it out. I don’t recommend all GMs obviously, but in that list, there are a few cars I would personally like to have in my garage. Here’s a short list…

  • Caddy CTS
  • Chevy Corvette
  • Pontiac G8 GT
  • Saturn Sky Red Line (which happens to have an additional $500 bucks back)
  • Pontiac Solstice GXP ($500 bucks back too on top of the employee discount)
  • GMC Acadia ($1500 cash back + employee pricing)
  • Chevy Malibu

There are more cars on my list, but I am tired of listing them since they are re-badged versions of these same cars.

Now the questions is, does employee pricing + cashback work with leases? That I don’t know. Maybe a dealer might be kind enough to share some of that insight?

The GM 72-Hour Sale, Ends June 30th

GM is current offering a 0% APR financing for 72-months (about 6 yrs) on the following 2008 models:

  • Chevrolet: Suburban, Avalanche, Equinox, Colorado, Tahoe, Silverado, TrailBlazer, Uplander, Impala, HHR
  • Buick: Lucerne, Lacrosse
  • Pontiac: Torrent, Solstice, G6, Grand Prix
  • GMC: Yukon and Yukon XL, Sierra, Envoy and Canyon
  • Cadillac: All Escalade models, SRX, STS, DTS
  • HUMMER: H2 and H3
  • Saab: 9-7X, 9-3 Convertible
  • Saturn: Sky, Aura and Vue

Unfortunately, It doesn’t apply to all models. However, it does cover an extensive list of pretty “cool” cars, such as the Saturn Sky (including the Red Line) and it’s twin, the Solstice. Unfortunately, the other models are less than desirable. At least you get free financing, which can’t be beat.

If any residents in or near Southern California end up getting a Sky/Solstice and would like to take it up a notch, check out Race Precision and their RPi Sky 24GT. One of the owners, Apex/Gabe, has his Noble M400 featured here on The Wall.

GM’s 72-hour sale ends June 30th, 2008.