Sunday, December 17, 2006

2007 LINCOLN MKZ; MKX; Navigator Reviews

LINCOLN TRIAD...Three Lincolns in the Smokies...

Redefinition of the Lincoln brand is just one focus of Ford’s turn-around plan. To that end three new Lincolns were presented to the assembled press recently in the Smoky Mountains. Targets of all three vehicles are segments within the “American” luxury market where competition in intense.
How might they define this market? When they’re talking about “American” luxury, what do they mean? Is there such a thing anymore or is the global nature of the car and light truck business blurring the lines between American and other world products? The answer lies in how products are developed, designed and marketed. The question this week is: can the folks at Lincoln make their new stuff match the semantics? I think the answer is yes.
The three new Lincolns we drove on this junket are all new and fit very specific segments: a freshened Navigator full-size SUV, a cross-over SUV (sometimes called a CUV) the MKX and a mid-sized sedan called MKZ (formerly Zephyr). Now, don’t say “Mark X” and “Mark Z” like we’re so tempted to do, the Lincoln folks say. It’s M-K-X and M-K-Z. Don’t ask me why. The pickup version of the Navigator is called Mark LT, and we still have fond thoughts of historic Lincolns for the “Mark” moniker. Go figure. Perhaps they should call the Navigator M-K-N.
The company will introduce more new vehicles within a shorter time frame than any time in the brand’s history and they’ll back them up with more promotional and advertising dollars than ever. The Lincoln folks are aiming not at the whole luxury market but at a segment they’ve defined as the “American Dream” market: upscale buyers who are optimistic, self-made, confident, realistic, and not just self-indulgent. So, let’s wish them good luck!
The Lincoln MKZ is the upscale cousin of the Ford Fusion and Mercury Milan. A midsize luxury sedan, its price is a tad below the competition in this segment, beginning at just under $30,000. MKZ came out just about a year ago as the Lincoln Zephyr, a name with respected historical significance within the Lincoln brand.
MKZ differs from the antecedent Zephyr primarily in the powertrain, the efficient new 3.5-liter, 265-hp Duratec V6 introduced in other Ford and Lincoln products this year, and the addition of optional all-wheel-drive mated to a sophisticated new 6-speed automatic transmission, initially codesigned with GM. That combination gets lots of power to the road efficiently and expeditiously. Most of the journalists in this group complained about the lack of a manual mode for the otherwise very nice transmission. We can override the two overdrive gears and even bump it down to low if we feel the need, but it’s not like having complete control of the trans. How many potential Lincoln customers would feel the way a batch of automotive journalist do on this issue is anyone’s guess.
Our test drive followed a road affectionately called Tail of the Dragon, winding through the foothills and lakes at the southern edge of the Smoky Mountain National Park. Chassis tuning has been revised with higher spring rates, upsized anti-roll bars and increased damping force. Neither my codriver nor I found any quirks or complaints about the handling or performance through the twisties. Driving position is excellent and controls feel good. Steering is precise. We dodged and wove briskly through miles and miles of wonderfully tight mountain curves without a worry.
At the break we admired the looks of the MKZ. Some styling and trim changes dress it up just a bit more, though Zephyr was already a nice-looking luxurious car. We especially like the light-colored leather and wood along with the classy satin nickel trim. Sparkling taillights and the broad classic grille attest to the image of being more upscale than its Ford and Mercury siblings.
It looks like we could haul lots of luggage and other cargo in the 15.8-cubic-foot truck, largest in its class, they claim. Better yet, with a low, wide load opening and compact, out-of-the-way hinges all the space is imminently usable. A spring-assisted 60/40 fold-down rear seat accommodates and even larger load.
Once through the first stretch of mountains we hopped into the brand new MKX, a crossover utility vehicle (CUV), cousin of the Ford Edge we just reviewed in California a few weeks earlier. Ford’s benchmark for Edge was the Nissan Murano. Edge came in priced less than Murano with comparable content, with fresh, innovative design - not as edgy as Murano but certainly attractive.
This Lincoln SUV is pricier than the Edge, of course, starting a bit under $35,000. Benchmarked to the Lexus RX350, MKX is substantially dressier than the Edge with more content and way more panache. Taillights are dramatic sparkling clear across the rear with intensity. The shape is identical to the Edge but details are distinctive.
Drivetrain is the same as Edge and MKZ, the 265-hp, 3.6-liter V6 mated with the new 6-speed automatic transmission described above - fine powertrain, indeed. With almost 250-lb-ft of torque we never felt deprived of grunt uphill or in traffic.
Driving dynamics are similar, though in keeping with the Lincoln theme handling is a tad silkier and smoother, less firm and crisp than the European competitors, and similar to the Japanese ones. We had some more good roads to test it on, particularly along the Blue Ridge Parkway. The optional intelligent all-wheel-drive system, with which our test car was equipped, was unobtrusive. With the higher seating position of the SUV we felt in complete control on this beautiful stretch of road.
The feeling was luxurious but not too soft or imprecise. Particular attention was paid to interior quietness with much success. These heated and reclining rear seats fold with the spring-assisted release creating 68.7-cubic-feet of volume back there. Throughout the interior we feel pampered and relaxed. Lots of room for everyone and as much stuff as they want to bring along.
Adaptive headlights are a first for Lincoln though others have had them, including the wonderful old Tucker of the 50s. The halogen low beams swivel to light the way around the corner.
Is the Navigator “America’s original luxury SUV” like it says in the promotional material? I was surprised by the claim. I thought Escalade pioneered the genre. Not the case, insists the Navigator marketing folks. Navigator preceded Escalade. With this fresh redesign The Lincoln Navigator is meant to be a more civilized, sophisticated and less blinggy challenger to Escalade. Our Lincoln presenters explained that the brand character they’re after eschews the exaggerated styling, the raucous drivetrain feel and general garishness of the competition. When they talk about the “American” luxury market they see it as more quiet, understated, and civilized, reflecting the fresh philosophy of the brand.
The Navigator designers went to great lengths to distinguish this truck from the garish Escalade. But, forgive me Lincoln folks, that optional chrome on the nose and the shiny chin grill the Navigator looks to me like a diva with an botched lip job. It certainly has a bold and aggressive look with that extra visual stuff on the front but it’s as garish as the competition. Without the extra chrome, however, it’s much more in keeping with the stated philosophy – “unpretentious.”
I really like the automatic self-storing running board. It comes out just when needed and folds up to become the rocker panel when not needed. Eighteen-inch machined aluminum wheels are standard and 20-inch chrome wheels are optional. There is no cartoonesque 22-inch option like Escalade.
Of major note is the new five-link independent rear suspension – no more trucky solid rear axle. Four links are dedicated to lateral forces and the other one controls fore and aft movement.
Navigator is motivated by a 300-hp, 5.4-liter V8 mated to a wide-ratio, 6-speed automatic transmission. Lincoln claims a 7-percent increase in fuel efficiency with that transmission over the previous 4-speed automatic.
The interior is redesigned and very nicely so. The dash design has hints of Lincoln heritage in the rectangular “eyebrows” that define the instrument clusters. The Lincoln folks relate the design to modern trends in eyewear. Two colors of wood trim, a dark and a light, are available and both are very attractive, I think. All three new Lincolns share the steering wheel design though there are subtle differences. The steering wheels all integrated wood and leather and have a wonderfully luxurious feel and look. Front seats are heated and cooled, 10-way power adjustable and generously comfortable.
My stint at the wheel, sadly, was not on the back roads. But I guess that wouldn’t be its forte anyway. I drove it from Asheville to Knoxville on I-40, the first hal of which is as twisty as freeways get. The fall colors were spectacular and the drive was fun. The Navigator is remarkably quiet with added insulation and thicker glass. I have no complaints about it roadworthiness. I could have driven it all day.
The new Navigator is on sale now and the long-wheelbase L (14-inches longer and 25 cubic feet extra cargo area) will be coming in February.
Watch for more thorough road tests of these new Lincolns as they become available.

Friday, December 15, 2006


When Batman is getting ready to order his next car, he may want to drop in on Morgan. For the first time ever, the British manufacturer has come up with a machine which – complete with its jaw-dropping Batmobile-style rear end – could be a genuine rival to legendary models from Italian super­car brands Ferrari and Lamborghini.But has the maker, based in Malvern, Worcs, really got a contender that can steal buyers from the F430?It’s certainly exclusive enough. The AeroMax was first commissioned by a Morgan fan called Prince Eric Sturdza. But while the model was conceived as a one-off, the company was looking at ways to expand – and decided to build an exclusive production run of 100 in time to go on sale in 2008.

The beautiful dashboard top is carved out of a solid chunk of ash. This is in total contrast to the array of modern gadgets included
Essentially an Aero 8 with a roof, the AeroMax shares its aluminium-bonded monocoque suspension set-up and meaty BMW V8 powerplant with the roadster. But as with more recent versions of the drop-top, this latest model is 6cm wider than the original Aero 8, and has had its controversial bug-eye headlamps moved round to a slightly more conventional position.
The end result is a stunning machine that convincingly carries off the modern take on a classic design, and offers eas­ily as much head-turning appeal as a Ferrari. Slip inside, and as is the case with the exterior, the AeroMax’s cabin serves up an interesting combination of traditional and hi-tech.
The beautiful dashboard top is carved out of a solid chunk of ash. This is in total contrast to the array of modern gadgets included, such as the state-of-the-art tyre pressure gauge set on the facia. Predictably, there’s nothing old-fashioned about the way the Morgan drives, either. It’s very stiff, and the metal ball-jointed suspension has enabled the engineers to opt for soft springs.
The result is a ride that’s remarkably comfortable over bumps despite the standard 20-inch alloys. What’s more, the steering is very well tuned, reinforc­ing the capabilities of the chassis and suspension by offering plenty of feedback. Adding to the driver appeal is an excellent seating position: you sit with your legs straight, if a little offset in this left-hand-drive model, while the steering wheel is bor­rowed from Aston Martin. Although it’s grown a fixed roof, the AeroMax still tips the scales at a relatively lightweight 1,150kg, so it feels nimble with that meaty BMW V8 up front, driving the rear wheels. At idle, the engine sounds great through the side-exit exhausts.
Once on the move, the sound disappears, drowned out by the slightly over-intrusive road and wind noise. Still, the engine provides plenty of acceleration. Peak pulling power is available at 3,600rpm, which means there’s plenty of thrust in every gear.
Performance figures have yet to be announced, but a maximum speed in excess of 170mph puts the AeroMax into supercar territory. The sprint from 0-60mph is likely to take around 4.5 seconds. The only real question mark remains over the final price.
Asking £110,000 for what is essentially a £62,500 car with a roof seems cheeky. However, Morgan isn’t worried – the company has already sold a third of the 100 examples that it will build.

Saturday, December 9, 2006

2006 GMC SIERRA Crew Cab 1500... Review..

MODEL: GMC Sierra Crew Cab 1500 4WD SLE1ENGINE: 6.0-liter V8HORSEPOWER/TORQUE: 345 hp @ 5200 rpm/380 lb.-ft. @ 4000 rpm TRANSMISSION: 4-speed automaticWHEELBASE: 143.5 in. LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT: 227.5 x 78.5 x 72.6 in. TIRES: P265/70R17MAXIMUM PAYLOAD: 1,913 lbs. ECONOMY: 14 mpg city/17 mpg highway/14.8 mpg testPRICE: $39,515 (includes $875 destination charge)
To say the GMC Sierra Crew Cab is large is somewhat of an understatement. Sure, the Sierra Extended Cab version (similar, but with an 8-foot bed instead of a 6-foot bed) is longer, but when you're nearly 20 feet in length, the difference is minimal.
To its credit, the Sierra drives like a shorter truck. It's only when you're parking, or trying to squeeze into a small space among a bunch of Christmas shoppers, that the length makes a real big difference.
It could have been worse. The original schedule called for me to drive the diesel-engine version of the Sierra. I had driven this truck in shorter runs at the GM introduction earlier this year, and, while it's interesting, it isn't the kind of vehicle I prefer. One feature the diesel had that the gasoline-engine version didn't was a manual shift mode to the automatic. Here, the "shifter" is a toggle switch near the end of the massive shift lever. You flip it one direction to upshift and the other to downshift. This is a definite asset for a diesel, where you often have to play with the rpm range to extract maximum performance. The problem is that the toggle is hidden by the steering wheel, so you have to learn where it is quickly.
Our tester was equipped with GM's new 6.0-literV8 that delivers 345 hp and 380 lb.-ft. of torque. This is a powerful engine that gives the Sierra a nearly one-ton payload capacity. If you opt for the regular cab with a regular bed, the payload increases to over a ton.
The engine was noisy, but much quieter than the diesel. At highway speeds it was civilized, and only really made noise when it was asked to accelerate. We used the Sierra for one long trip and a lot of local driving and still averaged 14.8-mpg. Granted, this isn't enormous, but to put it in context, we averaged only 12.7 mpg over 125,000 in our 1988 full-size van with a 5.7-liter V8. The two vehicles are similar in size, so two more miles per gallon is significant.
Our tester had a "ride control suspension" package that made the ride slightly more car-like, but there was no mistaking that we were in a pickup.
The Crew Cab version of the Sierra offers comfortable seating for six passengers. Up front there's a bench, with a fold-down armrest that can convert it into a two-passenger seat. There's a similar console in the rear that can be used as armrests and for storage if there are only two passengers back there. I liked the tray on top of the front console. It was a perfect width for my sunglass case, and still was deep enough to hold a cell phone without fear of its slipping off. Legroom is excellent front and rear, and the front seats, even though basically a bench, offered good side support.
Our one complaint was that my wife had trouble finding the passenger seat belt receiver. It was located next to the center passenger receiver and was confusing. Since she's relatively short, she also had trouble climbing into the tallish Sierra.
Interior and exterior styling is conventional, but I expect that the styling changes on the 2007 Chevy Tahoe will translate onto the pickup truck lines of both Chevy and GMC, so the Sierra will clean up nicely.
Interior storage included the center console, a nice cubby over the rear-view mirror, a cubby in the dash and cubbies in the door.
While the 6.6-foot cargo bed is shorter than the maximum 8-foot bed, it's still useful for most applications. It's longer than the cropped bed in the Ford Explorer Sport Trac, for example, and looks relatively "normal."

Friday, December 8, 2006

2006 Range Rover HSE... Review...


MODEL: Range Rover Sport HSE
ENGINE: 4.4-liter V8
HORSEPOWER/TORQUE: 300 hp @ 5500 rpm/315 lb.-ft. @ 4000 rpm
TRANSMISSION: 6-speed automatic with manual shift mode
WHEELBASE: 108.0 in.
LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT: 188.5 x 85.4 x 71.5 in.
TIRES: P225/50YR19
CARGO VOLUME: 71.0 cu. ft.
ECONOMY: 14 mpg city/19 mpg highway/14.2 mpg test
PRICE: $63,550 (includes $715 inland transportation charge)While the Range Rover Sport competes in the same marketplace as the Porsche Cayenne, Cadillac SRX and BMW X5, there really is no competition off road.On road the Sport has decent manners and a slightly hard ride. Off road the Sport tracks like a mountain goat over any obstacle in its path and does it with a level of luxury you can't find in similarly adept off-road vehicles.This is a true sport ute with a split personality.You can bash around mountain trails with abandon during the day, wash it and yourself off after you're done, and head out to a fine dinner and a show later. No one will be the wiser.The Sport has multiple off-road adjustments for maximum performance.Our tester had four-wheel electronic air suspension with CommandShift. It had permanent four-wheel driver, four wheel electronic traction control an a two-speed electronic transfer box with an electronic center differential. What the jargon means is that it's vary capable off-road no matter what the circumstances. We've had opportunities to drive the Sport on- and off-road, with the 4.4-literV8 and the 4.2-liter supercharged V8. Both engines are Jaguar-derived, with the supercharged version offering 390 horses versus 300 for the normally aspirated version. In my mind, the extra power isn't necessary. While the Sport' s milieu is off-road, when it's on the highway it doesn't need the extra power. Three hundred horses and 315 lbs-ft of torque are enough to keep it in fast company. Accelerating into traffic on entry ramps or from stop lights is no problem either.Our tester had the 6-speed automatic transmission with a manual adapter. We used the manual often off-road, but didn't need it on-road. Shifts were smooth and when we needed power we stepped on the loud pedal and the power was there. Seating was hard. The seats were leather-covered and didn't offer a lot of side support.Off road I would have preferred some more side support to hold me in the seat better. The front seats had center arm rests that were adjustable for maximum comfort.Rear seats offered good leg and knee room, so any adult riding back there would do so in comfort. Since the Sport rides high, there's also decent leg and knee room for the rear center passenger. Like the front seats, the rear seats are heated for maxim cold-weather comfort. The headrests on the rear seats are low-profile so they don't inhibit rearward vision.The Range Rover Sport rides high, so entry can be difficult for senior citizens. Thankfully, there were assist handles at the doors and the driver can always grab the steering wheel to assist in entry. But, riding high gives it excellent road clearance. The vehicle also has excellent entry and exit angles of departure that will permit it to attack fairly steep hills from a flat entry.The rear seats fold flat to increase cargo capacity to the Sport's maximum of 71.0 cubic feet. Before folding the rear seat back, you have to lift and stow the bottom cushion in the rear foot well, which requires the front seat back to be forward of maximum rearward adjustment. However, we discovered that driving this way was not a problem.Our tester had a multifunction steering wheel with good clear cruise control switches. There was also an excellent horn button (once you find it) and good audio controls.The instrument panel was clear and easy to rear. The audio system offered good tone. It was somewhat difficult to figure out at first, but once you get up the learning curve it's okay.While the Range rover Sport probably won't win any beauty contests, the newer versions are far more attractive than the predecessors. But you don't get a Range Rover for beauty; you get it because you want it to go off into the country sometimes and because you want comfort and luxury on the highway. As I have said with other vehicles, you can't see the outside from the inside and you can't enjoy the performance of a more beautiful car that can just sit there

2007 JEEP Wrangler Sahara 4x4... Review...

2007 Jeep Wrangler Sahara 4x4
The Jeep Wrangler is a true American icon, with an identity that dates back to the Willys MB of the World War II era, and continued through the Jeep CJ. It gets its most significant update ever for 2007, and is larger, more comfortable, and more capable both on or off of pavement. For the first time in its existence, it's almost civilized. Almost. While it is notably quieter and more comfortable, with much-improved ride and handling characteristics and a new, smoother and more powerful and efficient V6 engine, it's also even more capable when the pavement runs out, and has not lost its essential character. As ever, the all-new 2007 Wrangler is a rugged body-on-frame machine with solid axles front and rear and and available dual-range four-wheel drive made for the toughest off-road conditions. It is first and foremost one of the best turnkey off-road vehicles ever made, and is meant to be completely at home far from civilization.
But now it's also comfortable in civilization. And this improved comfort comes with no diminution of its off-road abilities. The wheels and tires are larger, improving ground clearance, and both the axles and the four-wheel drive systems have been upgraded. Brakes are four-wheel discs. The windshield can still be folded flat, and the doors can be removed, but both the standard soft top and optional hard top have been improved for versatility and noise reduction. For the first time, power windows are available. What's next? Wood trim that's not something left over from last summer's trip to the mountains that was wedged too deep into the front fender to remove?
There are three s in the 2007 Wrangler lineup - the X, Sahara, and Rubicon. The bare-bones, just-go-get-dirty market is covered by the X, the Sahara adds considerable creature comforts, and the Rubicon adds the ultimate in off-road equipment, with heavy-duty axles, remote-locking front and rear differentials, an electronic sway bar disconnect system to increase articulation, an ultra low-geared 4WD transfer case, and larger-diameter tires as standard equipment. All are powered by the new 3.8-liter, 205-horsepower V6 engine, matched to a standard six-speed manual or four-speed automatic transmission.
After spending a week with a new Wrangler Sahara with all the civilized options - including the modular hardtop and power windows in full-height doors - I was seriously surprised. With no loss of character, the new Wrangler is actually comfortable on the highway, and cruised quietly at normal highway speeds. Only occasionally did I wish for a kidney belt, and that was more the fault of my state's lack of highway maintenance than any deficiency on the Wrangler's part. At lower speeds on broken asphalt and concrete it was fine, so it, and its occupants, should be deliriously happy on slickrock or while stumpjumping. It still won't be mistaken for a car, or a crossover, and that's how it should be. But driving a Wrangler on the highway or in the city is no longer punishing.
APPEARANCE: It's noticeably bigger in every dimension, but the new Wrangler is still undeniably a Jeep Wrangler. Seven-slot grille? Check. Round headlights? Check. Angular, trapezoidal fenders? Check. Fold-flat windscreen? Check, but now it's slightly curved instead of flat. Exposed door hinges? Check, but now the door come in full-height form, with roll-up or even power windows, although half-height doors with side curtains can still be had if the hard top is not specified. There is a full "sport bar" roll cage, padded, under the top. The Sahara has body-colored fenders, while those of the X and Rubicon are black.
COMFORT: Compared to any of its predecessors, the 2007 Wrangler is a luxury vehicle. Ok, compared to a real luxury vehicle, not even... but the new Wrangler is larger, quieter (at least with the hardtop), and smoother-riding than any to come before. The front bucket seats provide a high level of comfort and support, and the rear bench has noticeably more room than in older s - and if even more room is desired, there's always the four-door Unlimited version. In all, the rear seat folds and tumbles for cargo. A six-speaker AM/FM/CD/MP3CD audio system with a jack for an external MP3 player is standard in all s, with upgrades and Sirius satellite radio available. The instrument panel is actually styled and modern-looking. My test vehicle had the optional "Freedom Top" three-piece modular hardtop. It was snug, warm, and dry in the rain, and remarkably quiet. The sections over the front seat can be removed separately, as can the rear. With its flip-up heated backlight and the regular side-hinged tailgate, cargo access is easy.
SAFETY: Go anywhere, do anything - safely. The new Wrangler has all of the safety equipment expected of a car, with touches for off-road use. This includes multi-stage front airbags, and available seat-mounted side airbags, four-wheel antilock disc brakes with brake assist, the ESP electronic stability system, electronic roll mitigation, all-speed traction control, and brake lock differentials.
RIDE AND HANDLING: Although "car-like" is never going to be used to describe a Wrangler's ride quality, the new version is a massive improvement over any that have come before. It's quiet, composed, and, if the road surface is not too choppy, even comfortable at speed on the highway. Credit the new and considerably more rigid ladder frame and attached body structure for that, as they allow softer spring rates and greater suspension travel. But shock damping is dialed in correctly, so it never feels uncontrolled. The longer wheelbase and wider track further improve stability. Only at speed over choppy concrete highway sections just long enough to set up resonance in the Wrangler's suspension did I feel a little uncomfortable, and that was at 70mph, a speed that would have been distinctly uncomfortable on any surface in an earlier Wrangler. With clearance, approach, and departure angles meant for the most serious off-road use, everyday annoyances like bad pavement, potholes, steep driveways, and rolled curbs can be safely ignored - or considered part of the fun.
PERFORMANCE: The extra room is nice, the improved suspension is wonderful, but perhaps the most impressive change to the Wrangler is under its simply-curved hood. Gone is the venerable Jeep 4.0-liter inline-six, replaced by a new 3.8-liter V6 that, with 205 horsepower (at 5200 rpm) and 237 lb-ft of torque (at 4000 rpm), offers increased power and decreased fuel consumption. EPA figures are 16 mpg city, 19 highway, but according to the trip computer, I averaged nearly 19 mpg in mixed driving - and saw over 20 on the highway. A six-speed manual transmission is standard, but my test example had the optional four-speed automatic. It worked well. I didn't have chance to do any off-roading (unless you want to consider the state of some alleged pavement in my part of the world "off road" - I've driven on smoother dirt fire trails), but when extra traction is needed, a Wrangler 4x4 will not disappoint. There are two four-wheel drive systems, both of the traditional part-time variety and controlled by a lever in the console. The "Command Trac" in the X and Sahara has a 2.72:1 4-low ratio, and with the optional "TracLoc" limited-slip rear differential should get a Wrangler though almost anything. If that's not serious enough, the Rubicon can be outfitted with the "Rock-Trac" transfer case with a 4.0:1 low ratio that should be sufficient for anything not requiring a winch or large helicopter.
CONCLUSIONS: Jeep has improved its iconic Wrangler in every way, with no loss of character.
SPECIFICATIONS 2007 Jeep Wrangler Sahara 4x4
Base Price $ 22,870
Price As Tested $ 28,230
Engine Type pushrod overhead valve 12-valve V6
Engine Size 3.8 liters / 231 cu. in.
Horsepower 205 @ 5200 rpm
Torque (lb-ft) 237 @ 4000 rpm
Transmission 4-speed automatic (opt)
Wheelbase / Length 95.4 in. / 152.8 in.
Curb Weight 3976 lbs.
Pounds Per Horsepower 19.4
Fuel Capacity n/a gal.
Fuel Requirement 87 octane unleaded regular gasoline
Tires 255/70 R18 Bridgestone Dueler A/T (opt)
Brakes, front/rear vented disc / solid disc,
ABS and ESP standard
Suspension, front/rear live axle, leading arm location
and coil springs /
live axle, trailing arm location
and coil springs
Ground clearance 10.3 inches as equipped
Drivetrain longitudinal front engine, on-demand
dual-range four-wheel drive
EPA Fuel Economy - miles per gallon
city / highway / observed 16 / 19 / 19
0 to 60 mph est 10 sec
Dual Top Group - includes:
Freedom Top(tm) 3-piece modular hard top,
rear window wiper, washer, defroster $ 1,585
Trailer Tow Group - includes:
Class II receiver hitch, delete rear tow hook,
trailer tow with 4-pin connector wiring $ 220
Power Convenience Group - includes:
power windows, power locks, remote keyless entry,
security alarm $ 585
Supplemental side front seat air bags $ 490
4-speed automatic transmission (includes skid plate,
4.10 axle ratio) $ 825
TracLoc(r) limited-slip rear differential and
Dana 44 heavy-duty rear axle $ 285
AM/FM stereo with in-dash 6-disc CD/DVD/MP3 $ 350
Sirius satellite radio $ 195
18-inch aluminum wheels $ 165
Destination charge $ 660

2006 JAGUAR Super V8 ...Review...

2006 Jaguar Super V8
In a world where automobiles are increasingly alike, no matter where their origin, there will always be a Jaguar. And Jaguars will always be undeniably British. One look at the styling, both exterior and interior, and there is no doubt as to any Jaguar's origin.
At the top of the Jaguar lineup is the XJ sedan. It comes in regular and long-wheelbase sized, with the long-wheelbase s stretched five inches. All of that extra length goes to rear-seat legroom, and the car's style is such that it's not readily apparent from the outside.
The current XJ, introduced for year 2004, is remarkably aluminum-intensive. The lightweight material is used for all of the monocoque structure - and it's as close as a four-door sedan can be to being a true monocoque as much of the external skin is stressed, a technique first used by Jaguar in the racing D-Types of the 1950s. Aluminum also is used for most of the suspension pieces, and the engine block and heads. The result is a strong and lightweight vehicle.
The XJR, the short-wheelbase supercharged high-performance , has been successful since before the current generation of XJ debuted. So why not a high-performance long-wheelbase XJ? And so the Super V8 was born.
The Super V8 is a true executive stretch limo, with one of the finest rear seats in automobildom. But the need for a chauffeur is debatable. With 400 horsepower in a car that, despite an almost decadent amount of luxury, weighs only 4,000 lbs, it can accelerate and brake as well as many sports sedans. And thanks to its suspension design and materials, and variable-rate air shocks and the eCATS adaptive damping system, the big cat can run with them in the corners as well - in total comfort, with a high degree of class and refinement.
I was recently privileged to drive a Super V8 for a week, and found it to be superbly comfortable and capable. At part throttle, it was every bit the exemplary English luxury car, quiet and civil, with an ambiance that could only be imparted by Jaguar's use of burled wood and leather. If it was music, it would be a classical piece from the era of powdered wigs, performed perfectly. At full throttle, the soundtrack changes to hard rock as the supercharger kicks in with a fierce scream. After my week with the car, I was able to take a couple of laps on a local race course with it. At a fast touring pace - fast enough that I'd be gambling with my driver's license on the street, the eCATS system worked magic. The car felt right at home, as it did everywhere else. As with all of Jaguar's other offerings, it has character, something often lacking from modern cars.
APPEARANCE: The XJ's proportions are such that the five-inch stretch to the rear of the passenger cabin, and the associated slight bulge to the roofline, are barely noticeable. The styling is an evolution and refinement of classic Jaguar lines introduced on the original XJ6 of the late 1960s. Quad round headlights faired into the bodywork on the front fenders go back to the Mk. X of the mid-60s, and the current XJ's grille and general body shape are more than slightly reminiscent of its namesake. Which is perfect - classic styling is that which is timeless, and the Jaguar XJ is a fine example.
COMFORT: No other approachable manufacturer today does interiors in the classic manner of Jaguar. You'd have to go a class or two above the Super V8, to the ultra-premium marques, to get anything comparable to its quintessentially British luxury. In a class where the simple, almost austere, high-tech post-modern look tes, Jaguar does it the old-fashioned way, with opulent stitched leather and plenty of polished walnut veneer. Instruments and controls are easy to see and use - even the standard navigation system. It, and the car information system and some climate functions are controlled through an adequately-large touch screen. Well-marked hard buttons around the screen, and soft buttons on-screen, make everything easy to understand and use, unlike the single-button interfaces found in some of the Super V8's competitors. Heated, power-adjustable front seats are nothing out of the ordinary - although the Super V8's provide excellent comfort and support, even lateral support - but heated, power-adjustable outboard rear seats are. And since all of the long-wheelbase stretch goes into the passenger cabin, rear knee room, not exactly cramped in the short-wheelbase car, is increased by 4.5 inches. Add heat and an adjustable back angle, and a DVD entertainment system with screens in the back of each front seat headrest, and burled-walnut faced fold-down tray tables, and there is a strong temptation to hire a chauffeur and enjoy a life of luxury in the rear seat.
SAFETY: First-rate handling and braking and a good stability-control system give the Jaguar Super V8 a high degree of active safety. The Adaptive Restraint Technology System (ARTS) uses various sensors to monitor the occupants and their positions, and control the front and front side airbags. Side curtain airbags protect both front and outboard rear passengers. The tire pressure monitoring system uses radio transmitters in each tire - including the oft-forgotten spare - to detect low tires.
RIDE AND HANDLING: Think the Super V8 is a stately executive limo? Think again. While it is supremely comfortable and softly suspended, at slow speed, it changes its personality as speed increases. The lightweight aluminum monocoque structure provides a rigid base for the fully-independent double wishbone suspension, and aluminum suspension members reduce unsprung weight, improving response at all speeds. The spring and shock tuning is softer than in the short-wheelbase XJR, befitting the Super V8's more luxurious nature, but computer control of both the self-leveling air springs and enhanced Computer Active Technology (eCATS) real-time continuously-variable shock damping system increases both spring and shock stiffness with increased suspension load. This becomes noticeable at highway speeds, when the car begins to feet tighter and more athletic. On the track, driving about 7/10ths with cornering speeds ranging from 30 to 90 mph, the big cat felt solidly planted and stable, with great road manners. The Super V8 could be chauffeur-driven, but why let the hired help have all the fun?
PERFORMANCE: The Super V8's power secret? Add a Rootes-type supercharger with an intercooler to cool the compressed air to the Jaguar 4.2-liter AJ-V8. Maximum boost of 13 psi means an even 400 horsepower at 6100 rpm and 413 lb-ft of torque at 3500 rpm. Boost seems progressive - at light throttle there is only a gentle push, but at anything approaching wide-open throttle there is a screaming while that will be music to vintage motoring enthusiast ears and occupants are shoved back in their seats. The old saying is ``an iron fist in a velvet glove,'' but given the Super V8's construction, consider it a high-strength aluminum alloy fist in a velvet glove.
CONCLUSIONS: The Jaguar Super V8 is a different kind of executive stretch limo.
2006 Jaguar Super V8
Base Price $ 91,330
Price As Tested $ 93,395
Engine Type dual overhead cam 32-valve supercharged
and intercooled aluminum alloy V8
Engine Size 4.2 liters / 256 cu. in.
Horsepower 400 @ 6100 rpm
Torque (lb-ft) 413 @ 3500 rpm
Transmission 6-speed automatic
Wheelbase / Length 124.4 in. / 205.3 in.
Curb Weight 4,001 lbs.
Pounds Per Horsepower 10.0
Fuel Capacity 22.3 gal.
Fuel Requirement 91 octane unleaded premium gasoline
Tires P255/40 ZR19 Pirelli P-Zero
Brakes, front/rear vented disc / vented disc,
ABS, brake assist,
and DSC standard
Suspension, front/rear independent double wishbone with
aluminum control arms,
self-leveling air springs, eCATS
adaptive shock damping
Drivetrain front engine, rear-wheel drive
EPA Fuel Economy miles per gallon
city / highway / observed
17 / 24 / 16
0 to 60 mph est. 5.7 sec
Chrome wheels $ 1,400
Destination charge $ 665

2007 Suzuki SX4 Sport ... Review...


Model: 2007 Suzuki SX4 SportEngine: 2.0-liter I4Horsepower/Torque: 143 hp @ 5800 rpm/136 lb.-ft. @ 3500 rpmTransmission: 5-speed manual (4-apeed automatic is available)Wheelbase: 98.4 in.Length/Width/Height:162.8 x 69.1 x 63.2 in.Tires: P205/60R16Cargo volume: 8.2/16.2/54.3 cu. ft. Fuel economy: 24 mpg city/29 mpg highwaySticker: $16,399 (base)
Assets: Despite small size, offers 4WD (if limited) and can carry 38 cubic feet of cargo when the seats are adjusted properly.Debits: Noisy engine, typical rough small-car ride.
Suzuki hasn’t offered a true micro sport utility vehicle since the days of the Samurai. And while the Samurai’s sidekick, the Sidekick, grew into the Vitara, Grand Vitara and XL7 (which is now a mid-size), nothing has replaced the hole in the Suzuki lineup that the Samurai filled. Until now.
For 2007, Suzuki is replacing the small Aerio sedan with the SX4, a five-door compact hatchback it calls a compact station wagon. The SX4 name stands for (S)port (X)-over for (4) seasons of weather. With the standard AWD, the SX4 might rightly be called a small (even micro) SUV. This isn’t a full-capability SUV with the equipment to go serious off-roading, but the SX4 will take you into and through the woods and give the added traction on muddy, snowy, or dirt roads.
The AWD switch on the console permits the driver to move from front-wheel drive to AWD, or to a locked 50/50 power split between front and back. Front-wheel drive is best for dry pavement and maximum fuel economy. AWD Auto controls the power split ratio to the rear wheels from 0-50 percent. AWS lock mode distributes the power in the range of 30-50 percent. Over 36 mph in AWD Lock, the system automatically switches to AWD Auto mode.
There’s no low-range gearing, but as I said earlier, you’re better off considering the SX4 a compact wagon with AWD rather than a small SUV.
I knew the SX4 was going to be small, but when it appeared in my driveway, I was almost shocked. On the plus side, it prepared me better for the Honda Fit that arrived the following week. In fact, the SX4 rides on a wheelbase that’s two inches longer and is five inches longer overall than the Fit. Not that this increased length contributes to a superior ride. In fact, the SX4 has a typical small-car choppy ride. This isn’t an uncomfortable ride, but you know going in that you’re not in a luxury sedan.
Suzuki has included a wide track and 16-inch wheels and tires to improve ride comfort, as well as a rigid body and reinforced suspension mounts. Ride quality was decent, as I said.
A feature that I liked with the SX4 was the large triangular “wing windows” that are located where real wing windows previously were located. These offer vision to the lower right and left, but not the free-flowing air that the real windows did. Now if Suzuki had only put a small hinge and lock on those windows…
The instrument cluster contains three nacelles that offer all the important information. There’s a nice center stack with HVAC and audio systems, including an AM/FM/CD/MP3 system. Buyers can purchase iPod interfaces that allow them to play their personal iPods through the car’s audio system.
SX4 is nominally a five-seater, but the rear center passenger will be cramped for legroom. Legroom for the other rear passengers is pretty good for a vehicle with such cozy outside dimensions.
There is a multitude of cargo configurations that expend available capacity from 8.2 to more than 50 cubic feet. With the rear seat up and the cargo cover in place, there are 8.2 cubic feet. Remove the “safety shade” and you get 9.5 cubic feet. That volume can grow to as much as 16.2 cubic feet with the rear seat backs still in place. Tumble the rear seats forward to achieve the maximum 22 cubic feet of cargo. Remove them and you get the maximum 54.3 cubic feet. The exterior design of the SX4 permits this huge number.
Standard features include six airbags, four-wheel ABS with EBD (electronic brake-force distribution), a tire pressure monitoring system, power windows and door locks and lots of goodies for a base price of $14,999. The Sport package adds an Electronic Stability Package (ESP) with a Traction Control System (TCS), remote start system and even more stuff for a base price of $16,399.
Suzuki has regularly represented good value. The company’s dedication to offering the most bang for the buck has rarely wavered. With a 100,000-mile/seven-year powertrain limited warranty to tack on to the value, there’s even more bang.