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Archive for April, 2010

The 2010 BMW 5 Series Gran Turismo. When Too Much is Just Enough.

April 29th, 2010

In the Beginning
Much like it did in the ‘60s when it practically invented the sports sedan, BMW is blazing a new trail with its class-defying 2010 550i GT, or Gran Turismo. While the term “GT” brings to mind high-performance versions of coupes or roadsters,  the original Gran Turismos of the ‘50s were sporty two-doors with heaps of trunk space to accommodate enough luggage for a weekend trip for two.

[Preview of the 2010 BMW 5 Series Gran Turismo]

Being that gran turismo means “grand touring” in English, it makes perfect sense—and makes BMW’s inspiration for the 550i GT all the more clear. The 550i GT bears semblance to the 5-series in name alone, as it’s more closely related to the larger 7-series sedan. This fact affords the 550i GT many liberties when it comes to styling, not the least of which being its sleek, hatchback-like rear design.

Quality
But the true beauty of the 550i GT lies within. Once you enter the cabin, you’re treated to rich leather and other fine interior materials. BMW’s third generation iDrive infotainment interface is front and center, giving the driver total control over the car’s many functions. Naturally, the most obvious feature of the 550i GT is also one of its strongest.

Utility
The car’s hatchback design brings cargo space to an astounding 63.6 cubic feet with the rear seats down—more than enough to transport a weekend’s worth of luggage for that aforementioned getaway for two.

Power
If that’s not enough to win you over, then this next bit just might: a twin-turbocharged 4.4-liter V8 powers the 550i GT, producing 400 horsepower and 450 lb-ft. of torque. Too much is just enough.

The 2010 BMW 550i GT is on sale now.

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Interest in Nissan Leaf Gains Momentum

April 28th, 2010

Nissan has apparently struck gold with its 2011 Leaf. The much anticipated all-electric compact has only been available for pre-order since the beginning of the month and the company is already expecting a potential shortage of cars for this first batch of customers.

With more than 7,000 people in the U.S. ponying up the $100 reservation fee and another 4,000 in Japan, the demand for the Leaf has easily exceeded Nissan’s initial projections.

While this development comes as a bit of a surprise to Nissan, it’s really no surprise to us–especially when you consider the incredible value the Leaf offers. With an MSRP of $32,750 (plus $2,000 for the mandatory home charging station), the Leaf at first seems a bit on the pricey side. But once you factor in the $7,500 government tax credit and $2,000 equipment credit for the charger, the price becomes much easier to swallow at a bargain-basement price of only $25,280.

carpool_sticker

In addition, the idea of never having to pay for gas again is a great incentive.  But the best?  Carpool stickers!

Hurry and reserve your own 2011 Nissan Leaf before they’re all gone.

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Lexus GX460 Buyer Interest up 73%

April 27th, 2010

The Lexus GX460 has been making headlines this month after Consumer Reports put the SUV on its “Do Not Buy” list after its tests indicated that it had a high risk of rolling over during certain emergency maneuvers. Lexus immediately stopped sales of the GX on April 13, and recalled all GX40s that had been sold on April 19. Finally, Toyota announced a software fix to correct the problem on April 21.

So how did all of this news affect buyer interest in the GX460?

We took a look at exclusive CarsDirect traffic statistics to find out.  According to our data, buyer interest surged 73.5% the week of the Consumer Reports announcement. Interest has since waned, but remained elevated through the week of April 19, with 30.4% higher interest than the week before the Consumer Reports announcement.

Our conclusion: Being in the headlines—even for not-so-positive reasons—put the GX460 on the minds of buyers who may not have considered the SUV prior to the controversy.  It will be interesting to see if this interest translates to sales in the near future.

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Honda Really Big Thing Sales Event

April 27th, 2010

Not one to be outdone, Honda is countering Toyota’s tantalizing incentives with their very own, which seem even better. Affectionately dubbed “The Really Big Thing”, Honda’s deals consist of  ultra-low 0.9% financing and the best lease deals we have seen…EVER.

If you thought the deals on Toyotas were good, wait until you see these:

  1. Pay $0 down, $0 security deposit, $0 first month’s payment and $0 at signing when you lease an Accord Coupe, Accord Crosstour, Accord Sedan, CR-V, Civic Sedan, Element, Fit, Insight, Odyssey, Pilot or Ridgeline.
  2. Get special financing on an Accord Coupe, Accord Crosstour, Accord Sedan, Civic Coupe, Civic Sedan, Fit or Pilot. Either 0.9% APR for 24-36 months or 1.9% for 37-60 months
  3. Special lease offer for the 2010 Civic Sedan: $179 per month for 36 months, $1,799 total due at signing

These are just some of the best offers we found, but there are plenty more if you don’t see one that strikes your fancy. Deals like these don’t come up every day, so you can bet that this event won’t last long. Hurry and get yours while the savings are, well, really big!

To see all the Honda Deals and Offers, click here.

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Lexus GX460 VSC Fixed Via Software Update – Video

April 21st, 2010

That was fast.   About 72 hours after  Toyota recalled over 9,000 Lexus GX 460 SUVs for a safety risk involving a possible loss of control during high-speed turns, Lexus in Japan have fixed the problem via a software patch to the GX’s Vehicle Stability Control.

Now, part of the reason as to why the Lexus GX 460 featured in Consumer Reports’ test drifted so wide during the high-speed turn was partly due to the vehicle’s fuel tank, and more notably when the tank is filled to capacity.

A 6,600-pound GX 460 has a 23-gallon tank.  That 23-gallon tank, when filled to the brim, weighs 138 pounds (fuel weighs 6 lbs/gallon).   Add your typical 170-lb driver-only scenario carried out in most commutes, and you have roughly 308 pounds of eight above the vehicle’s roll center, raising the GX’s center of gravity while effectively making the SUV break traction if driven to fast into a turn, as evidenced in the video here.

Our guess is that Toyota engineers initially goofed in programming the GX 460′s Vehicle Stability Control in instances involving fuel tank chock full of fuel and a driver-only commute.  An partially full tank along with an additional passenger added to the commute would probably net different results.  That being said, the VSC needed programming which would take into account all driving scenarios.

Engineers have been hard at work for a solution to the problem, and it appears that the VSC re-programming is complete. Check out the before and after video by clicking here.

[source: The Lexus Enthusiast]

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