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Archive for September, 2011

The 2012 Nissan Titan: 317 Horsepower & 385 lb-ft of Torque

September 30th, 2011

2012 Nissan Titan King Cab

While the Nissan Titan doesn’t move as many units as say, the Ford F-150, plenty of customers love the truck’s blend of brawny styling and good capabilities. Now Nissan has released pricing and powertrain info for the new 2012 model. The truck will continue to be offered as a King Cab or Crew Cab, with no regular-cab model in sight.

A single engine choice is available, a powerful if rather inefficient VK56DE 5.6-liter DOHC Endurance V8 (available with flex-fuel technology) packing 317 horsepower and 385 lb-ft. of torque. All trims use a 5-speed automatic transmission. The EPA estimates fuel efficiency at 13 city/18 highway mpg with rear-wheel drive or 12 city/17 highway mpg with 4-wheel drive.

The 2012 Titan should be in available in dealerships as you read this, carrying a base MSRP between $27,410 and $40,210.


California Forces Dealerships to Display Red Window Stickers on Cars with Salvage Title

September 30th, 2011

CA DMV Salvage Title Red Window Sticker

A new California law will require all the state’s car dealerships to display a red window sticker on any vehicle carrying a salvage title, Automotive News reports. Salvage titles are given to total-loss cars junked as a result of a collision, returned under lemon laws or hit by disasters like flood and fire.

The bill also includes a provision requiring electronic registration by the dealer at the time of purchase for all cars sold or leased. Vehicle documentation fees will increase from $55 for purchases and $45 for leases to $80 for both types of transaction.

Consumer Benefits

You, the California car buyer, will see a couple of key benefits from the new law. Dealers are required by current law to inform potential buyers of cars with salvage titles, but many don’t. Now there will be no confusion thanks to the new red stickers.

Also, electronic registration at the time of purchase means you’ll get your new plates in weeks instead of months. The small fee increase passed on to consumers still leaves California’s documentation fees among the lowest in the nation.


First Drive: 2012 Toyota Prius Plug-In

September 30th, 2011

2012 Toyota Plug-In Prius Production Model

Toyota’s new 2012 Prius Plug-In Hybrid is an evolution, not a revolution, of what is already the best and most-popular hybrid car on the market. Autoblog testers recently put a near-production model through its paces, and their results show a car that looks, feels and drives like the standard class-leading hybrid. Only better.

For those who haven’t heard, the new Plug-In’s key feature is its ability to drive for around 15 miles on electric power alone. Its 4.4-kWh lithium-ion battery pack can be charged in around 2.5-3 hours using a standard home outlet, or in around 90 minutes with a customized level-2 charging system ($999 from Toyota).

2012 Toyota Prius Plug-In Hybrid Electricity Door

Only 124 lbs. heavier than the standard Prius, testers found the Plug-In’s driving experience to be nearly identical, and that’s mostly a good thing. Combined EPA fuel efficiency measures 49 mpg after EV cruising range. The 2012 Prius sees 50 mpg; the Chevrolet Volt, 37.

One drawback, and it’s a significant one, was the Plug-In’s practice of engaging the gas engine even in EV mode under heavy stabs at the pedal. Toyota says the Plug-In can run off battery power alone at speeds of up to 62 mph, but Autoblog found the gas engine engaging regularly, even at lower speeds.

2012 Toyota Prius Plug-In Hybrid Engine Detail

Thus the 15-mile electric range is a little misleading. Drivers can achieve the stated EV range without burning any gas, but it will take good discipline and familiarization with the car’s quirks.

The interior features the same dimensions Prius owners are used to, even retaining all cargo space beneath the rear hatch despite the larger battery pack. Toyota’s new Entune smartphone-pairing infotainment system is standard, and a new heads-up display comes with the upscale Prius Plug-In Hybrid Advanced.

2012 Toyota Prius Plug-In Hybrid Interior

Toyota is taking orders now with the first deliveries to begin in Spring 2012 in 14 states, with a national rollout by early 2013.


Jay Leno Takes the Lamborghini Aventador Out For a Spin

September 30th, 2011

Lamborghini Aventador LP 700-4 Jay Leno's Garage

To the car enthusiast, Jay Leno is the ultimate celebrity. With a garage full of outlandish, rare and classic machines most of us can only stare at in pictures, Leno lives the charmed life of an auto geek for whom it’s Christmas every day. Thanks to the newest Jay Leno’s Garage episode (shown in full below), we get a comprehensive walkaround and test drive of Lamborghini’s all-new 2012 Aventador LP 700-4.

The range-topping Lamborghini is totally new from the ground up, sharing nothing with the Murciélago it replaces. Even the car’s 700-hp 6.5-liter V12 was designed from a blank sheet, the first all-new Lambo V12 in many, many years.

Watch as Leno discusses the car’s finer points with Automobili Lamborghini CEO Stephan Winkelmann and R&D chief Maurizio Reggiani, then takes the all-carbon-fiber beast out for a spirited test drive ending in an altercation with la polizia.


Consumer Reports Gives Chrysler High Marks

September 29th, 2011

2011 Chrysler 300 Consumer Reports Testing

Chrysler’s redesigned 2011 300 and 300C debuted to much hoopla and a huge marketing budget. According to just-released Consumer Reports full testing, it appears Chrysler’s new large near-luxury sedan brings the goods. The car’s overall test score rose from a dismal 64 for the outgoing 2010 model to a solid 80, earning it both an “Excellent” rating and a CR Recommendation.

That score was good enough for above average among premium large sedans tested in a group that also included the Acura TL and Toyota Avalon. The highest-rated model in the group was the improved 2012 Hyundai Genesis, earning a score of 92.

Consumer Reports cited the 300’s more-composed and compliant ride, its increased visibility and very good braking. Testers also noted a huge improvement in interior quality, refinement and usability. It should be noted that while the EPA puts the 300C at 16 city/25 highway mpg, CR testers averaged just 18 mpg.

Overall the 300 is now a much better car. Only time will tell if Chrysler has solved some of those reliability problems