Sunday, December 21, 2014

A Morning full of 2015 Mustangs

And yes, I have a real favorite of the group I drove.
I'm going to date myself horribly in about 20 seconds.  My romance with the Mustang goes back to learning of a publicity stunt Ford did when they rolled out this car in 1964.  I read about the 'Stang in my Weekly Reader in second grade where they put this revolutionary sports car on top of the Empire State Building.  It was the Mustang.

I remember the magical day my friends saw our first Mustang in the little town in the UP of Michigan.  It was a big deal for a bunch of second graders.  I remember it well, it was cool overcast day and this brilliant Turquoise Mustang was flying down 2nd street in front of our house.  We all gasped and did the toot your horn arm signal and the driver obliged.

For Christmas that year my youngest brother got a metal pedal was a red Mustang and he tooled all around the basement until the snow left and he got to take out on the driveway.

Flash forward to my starting to drive.  I remember shopping new cars and I always wound up drooling over the Mustang's, convertibles and the SVT Turbo.  In 1986 I met a woman who stole my heart that I eventually married.  She had a 1984 Charcoal grey metallic Mustang LX Coupe.  That was a terrific car and it lasted us into the early years of our marriage.  We unfortunately had to get rid of it when child #2 rolled along as there was no way we'd get 2 car seats into it.  But I digress too much.

This last week I got to spend a morning driving 3 Mustangs.  1 GT, 2 Ecoboost, 1 manual and 1 automatic. All had the performance pack.  All had the latest technological goodies Ford has to offer on the Mustang.  Two even were equipped with the Recaro package.  Trust me.  Spend the extra for those seats over the basic seats offered even with the premium leather package.  There is nothing like settling in to a car and dialing in all the bolsters and such for a perfect fit for the car.  It was nothing short of amazing how comfortable those seats are.  They should be standard with the performance pack.
First up was the 2015 Mustang GT.  WOW.  With 435 horse power and 400 ft lbs of torque this car is a beast in the very best meaning of the word.  Blip the throttle and you are off, mash it and the traction control nannies step in and ensure a straight as an arrow run through the gears with an oh so very satisfying growl.

The version I drove had the performance pack on top of all the goodies found on the Mustang GT Premium.  Add in the Recaro seat package and I was in heaven.  Coddled and nestled into the car as one, even with an automatic tranny this car begs you to hit it hard.

I really liked the adjustable driving mode with this car.  You can chose from normal, snow/wet, sport and track to suit what you are doing at the moment.  Its done with a simple flick of the switch and voila your driving character changes.  Track pretty much disables all the nannies, on a wet road at 30 I flipped to that, punched it and got a nice fish tail going without trying.

Another adjustment available is for the steering. The options are pretty straight forward, comfort, normal and sport.  One is aimed at parking lot maneuvers with minimal effort, the other for just cruising and the latter for canyon carving. All good stuff and easily adjusted on the fly with a simple toggle switch in the center stack.

The amazing thing about all these adjustments is that you can have your canyon carver and still live with the car on a daily bump and grind commute.  The switch to independent rear suspension and redo of the front suspension to work in unison with that new rear end produced a car that is nothing short of amazing.  Set it all to normal and comfort and you are set for a cross country run or daily commute without ruffling a feather.  Set it to the more aggressive modes and you're ready to tackle Azusa Canyon and its glorious twisties and switch backs.  Point is Ford refined this car so its at home in both worlds.  Its still the hairy beast when you want it to be.

A pleasant surprise was the fuel economy numbers I achieved on my 20 miles loop. It was a good mix of urban, flowing freeway and bump and grind.  End result for the 5.0l V8 with an automatic is a pretty amazing 18.4 MPG.
Along with the bumper to bumper redesign of the car the interior was gutted and completely redone. Yes, it has a few retro touches that still tell you its a Mustang, but its different.  Things are integrated better with stunning, luxury touch materials that belie its pony car for the masses appeal.  Its immediate competition has a long way to go to get to this level of fit and finish and high end material feel.  More of a M Class for the masses and considerably cheaper.

My only niggle with the car is the tiny buttons on the steering wheel to control the center information stack or even the infotainment and sync.  Perfect for someone with with petite hands, not for fat fingers like me. At least there are redundant controls on the dash for the infotainment center, but you don't even need that with the voice controls of MyFordTouch with sync.  The latest version is much faster and more refined that the one used even a year ago.

I absolutely loved the Mustang Ecoboost with the Recaro package.  The weight difference in the front end is immediately noticeable over the V8 GT.  The car goes from meaty glued down performance to slot car darty with this engine tranny combo.  Much more fun to drive than the GT.

The Ecoboost with Recaro allows you to perfectly tune your seats to align you with the 3 pedals that control the fun factor of the car.  It was by far the easiest manual tranny car I have driven in ages.  Pedals were perfectly placed and balanced. It just begged you to step on it and row those gears flicking though the gates picking up speed with each shift.

This car too had the performance pack which I won't go into to much detail other to say with a manual tranny those options become even more fun.  Until you hit a traffic jam and bump and go traffic which is always my reminder why I don't want a stick if I live in the city and need to deal with jams on a daily basis.

Even with my spirited driving I turned in some impressive numbers with this 6 speed transmission Ecoboost Mustang.  27mpg is nothing to sneeze at when you have the same power as the Bullitt V8 of a few years ago.  Impressive results for a car with performance that runs with the 8's of a few years ago with a turbocharged Ecoboost 2.3l 4 cylinder. These results compare favorably with the EPA estimates of 22 city/31 highway/25 combined. Nice work Ford.
The final car in my rotation is the one I want for my daily driving.  Its the Ecoboost Premium but instead of the standard interior I'd opt up for the Recaro package and keep the performance pack that was on the car I drove.  The standard seats are good, but the Recaros are amazing and worth every penny.
The Ecooboost Premium with automatic transmission you do loose a little bit of the performance edge in the 0-60 run, or is it all imagined as you are shifting for yourself.  Since I don't have instrument testing I can't tell you for certain if its real or imagined.

All I can tell you is that this automatic is perfectly matched to the Ecoboost, not hunting for gears transparent in operation and will run through the gears at redline with no issues when lunging into the freeway from an off ramp stop signal.  I loved this car for its utility and practicality when I ran into an traffic jam and I reverted to bump and grind traffic with the other lemmings on the 405.  Much more comfortable than having to clutch in and out every 5 feet of movement over a couple of miles.

My only niggle with the Ecoboost is the fake sound track played through the speakers, fun when you are driving aggressively. Kind of annoying when you settle into cruise mode.  My suggestion is that you have it disabled when comfort and normal are chosen for your driving modes and on for the more spirited driving modes. I mean it really tells you nothing of what the engine is really doing, its that fake, just makes for a nice sound track when you are having some fun.

It really comes down to economics of the Ecoboost over the GT with a V8.  Gas is cheap now, but it won't be forever, especially with the guvs Cap and Trade tax going into effect in a few weeks on a gallon of gas.  The Ecoboost Premium with Automatic turned in a very respectable 25.2 MPG over the same course the GT turned in 18.4.  Over the course of the year that's a lot of Premium unleaded. Ad in the insurance premium difference between the two the Ecoboost makes more sense for me.  All the fun with some frugality works.

I priced out an Ecoboost Premium I want with the Automatic, Magnetic dark gray metallic paint and Recaro seats...$38.1K.  Anyone wanna be nice to me for Christmas?

Saturday, December 20, 2014

2015 Ford 150 Lariat, Pinch me is this really a truck?

I'm not a truck person and this is the closest thing yet to make me rethink that.  Driving it I had to pinch myself to remind me in fact it was a truck, not a large luxury sedan.  Not a sports sedan, but a very capable luxury car none the less.  Its so refined you have to remind yourself it has got an 8 foot bed behind you and consciously need to remind yourself of that when making turns and lane changes.

Where to start.  First off by now everyone has heard a bajillion times that through the use of "military grade aluminum alloy" the F150 has lost as much as 700 pounds over the outgoing generation.  That's huge. (Yes, I know some folks have put similar versions on scales from each year and have measured that, but why quibble over a few pounds difference).  The second you start driving you notice the huge difference in how the truck feels.  Gone pretty much is the "truck ride" of yore, that diet make a pronounced difference in how the truck feels on the road.  That diet has pretty much eliminated the pitch and yaw common in heavier trucks.

When Ford first began talking about the direct injection 2.7l twin turbo Ecoboost I was like "what!?", that's a smaller displacement V6 than they offered back in the Pinto decades ago.  This engine is a jewel.  Smooth, powerful and quick to respond.  This engine is totally new for 2015.  A special iron alloy block built to take the turbo load with special aluminium heads for better cooling to handle the heat load make this a very special engine.  Producing 325 horsepower and 375 ft lbs of torque, its no slouch in the power department.  Power comes on early in the curve and has a wide spread making it very responsive and an easy substitute from the V8's we're used to seeing in trucks.

The truck I drove was the Lariat in a SuperCab configuration.  I opted for the more common 4X2 version from the several Ford had for us to drive that day.  Its outright zippy. The interior is much more hushed than last years truck. Paying attention to traffic and not speed I found myself cruising along in the "fast lane" with others with no effort...well above the limit and was surprised by its quiet complacent ride even over some rough stretches of pavement.  Over my 20 mile loop of mixed freeway, stop and to traffic and urban driving I averaged 19.7 MPG.  This stacks favorably against the EPA's estimate of 19 city, 22 combined and 26 highway.  Is this really a truck?

Also included in the F150 is 2 information screens.  One is an 8" My Ford Touch that included navigation in the version I drove .  If interest in particular to me was the 8" Productivity screen that you control from buttons on the steering wheel to display information critical to what you're doing,such as trailer towing, off roading, MPG, whatever.  Nice touch and certainly good to be able to sort through data most important to what you are doing at the moment.

Interior fit and finish is the best I've ever seen in a truck from anyone.  Earlier this year I drove a V8 powered Silverado in mid-range trim and was pretty repulsed by the fit and finish...worse material choices than my 2013 Focus, certainly not up to the levels seen in this year 2015 F 150,  The details in the stitching on the leather trimmed seats alone is high end luxury car, not what you expect to see in a truck.
The version of the 2015 F150 Lariat I drove was very nice equipped.  It included the Trailer tow Package and a technology package that bumped the base $38.7K sticker up by another $7K to well over $46,000. Not chump change and certainly way more than your average mid size sedan.  But you also get your money's worth out of this truck as it has considerably more utility and a lot more luxury than those cars can only dream of.

Driving and spending time in this 2.7l Ecoboost truck I wonder why anyone would bother with the premium of a diesel like the Ram 1500 offers for only an extra MPG you gain.  The F150 turns in its numbers on regular gas which is selling for $2.89/gallon in my corner of Los Angeles today, versus the cheapest diesel at 3.99/gallon.  The cost per mile of diesel over the gasser just doesn't make sense in my book.

After spending a half hour driving the 2015 F150 in a variety of situations around the South Bay area of Los Angeles and Signal Hill all I can say is wow.  Certainly the best in the class.  Again.  Certainly competitive with luxury SUV's out there and a better alternative if you have real toys to haul, never mind the utility as a work truck.  You can build your own here on

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Mustangs. A bunch and I have a favorite.

The one day this week it rained HARD and I was out driving cars for kicks and giggles. You'll have to stay tuned for which was my favorite and which Id choose as my daily driver.  

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Whats an RS and why should we care?

RS.  As in Focus RS, the Focus that embarasses the already uber competant Focus ST.  This iteration of the hot hatch has been in tthe EU for a while.  Ford announced today the car is going global and we here in the States, especially SoCal will love this car.

Imagine sport tuned ralley suspension, all wheel drive and a 2.3l Ecoboost 4cyl reported pumping out a rumored 320-350 hp!  Thats an easy 50-75 hp bump over the ST and with all wheel drive to put all that power down handling and speed will be unbeatable.  What, is the Suby WRX looking nervous in its rear view mirror?  It should be.

Actually from what I've read RS is part of a bigger Ford Performance Division that will encompass not only RS, but SVT, ST, Raptor and Racing under one umbrella.  Image the outcome with all those resources combined.

Sidebar and rumor mill.  Detroit's NAIAS is coming in about 3 1/2 weeks.  I plan on being there.  Quite a few cars are due to be unveiled there.  Ford, from sources I've read is going to reveal 3 cars, a new GT, Mustang GT350r and the Focus RS.  That should be quite a show at Cabo Center.  Count on me being there and videoing it all crudely with a flipcam.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Quick Tour: 2015 Ford F150 Lariat

Thursday of the L.A Auto Show Press Days was also Green Car Ride and Drive.  That's where you get to sign up and drive the greenest of the new cars out there in production or concept form.  I wasn't all that surprised when I saw that the Ford F150 with the Ecoboost 2.7l V6 was among the test options for us.

By now we've heard all the significant details, military grade aluminum brought about some 700 lbs weight reduction that allowed the use of newer, smaller engines for better fuel economy and less green house emissions.  Yeah.  Sounds like a win...and it is.

Pictured here is the mid-level Lariat with the standard SuperCab set up.  Super comfortable seating for 5.  Easy access to the rear via suicide doors.  Its trimmed better than many so called luxury cars of 5-10 years ago, gorgeous leather, soft touch materials.  Very much the class act and it starts at 38.7K.

This truck was loaded with technology, lastest MyFordTouch with navigation, blind spot monitoring, trailer, 8" productivity screen nestled with the gauges, power sliding rear window with privacy glass and more goodies than I can mention in this one post.  Want to build your own?  Visit FORD HERE.

Driving this truck was about exceeding expectations. The 2.7l V6 Ecoboost has ample power to zip around city traffic. Wait, I said zip?  Yes, the weight loss and changes to suspension and the power of this tiny (recall the Pinto back in the day had 2.8l V6 available which had nowhere near the power) Ecoboost makes for a truck that handles more like a large car than trucks of yore.  Its really quite composed over the the potholed streets of Los Angeles around the Convention Center, no shake and shudder, quiet and doesn't pitch and yaw going into turns.  Very untrucklike.

An interesting feature on this truck is the stop-start feature that stops the engine when conditions are appropriate like at stoplights, rail crossings etc.,.  This allows you to eke out an few extra MPG's in both city and Highway driving.  I do have to say its among the best applications of the stop-start in any nonhybrid I've driven yet.

I get to spend a bit more time with this truck at a Ford Open House in a few weeks.  A full review and driving impressions will follow...along with a video and MPG round up over my tried and true 20 Mile loop through the South Bay.

More pics from the 2014 L.A. Auto Show HERE.

All pics here will get bigger with a click, some are suitable for wallpaper on your desktop.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Honda reveals HRV crossover ute at Los Angeles Auto Show

Honda revealed its next home run knocking the socks of its meager competition in the class. Arguably better built, its a Honda after all, but better technology packages than either the Mazda and Nissan its closest competition.

The HRV crossover is based on the Fit platform and is powered by a traditional gas engine and backed up with the utility and practicality you expect (demand?) from Honda.  It has all the latest gizmos Honda has to offer.

Monday, November 24, 2014

2016 Ford Explorer L.A. Auto Show reveal

Here it is, I teased it a few weeks ago after the Edge Reveal at the Ford Los Angeles HQ.  This vehicle is going to be even more amazing than the outgoing.  Best part of the news today with this reveal is that all the added tech will become standard and the Explorer will have the same base price as today.

Joining the mix for this generation Explorer is the new "Platinum Edition"that will be a blend of the current Sport and Limited editions.  For all the details on the new Explorer.  Watch the video.

The most amazing thing to come out of the reveal is that the next generation Explorer completely does away with naturally aspirated engines.  Good move:?  Who knows.  Standard motor is the 2.3L ecoboost making 270 bhp and optional in the top of the range models is a 3.5L ecoboost making 350bhp.  This latter is the standard and only engine available on the new Platinum Edition.

More details to follow once I get to drive the car and get into the inside for interior detail pics.

Hundreds more pics from the L.A. Auto Show, some of this Explorer too in high res in a flickr album.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Ford C-Max 112 Miles, 2.2 gallons of Gas

I finally got the chance to spend more than a few minutes in Ford's CMax. Nice Car.  Really nice car, rides, drives and handles like a small SUV, not your typical hybrid.  If that was the point behind this car and Ford knocked it out of the park.

I was loaned a 2013 Ford CMax for 3 days while my Focus was in the shop.  This was a nicely loaded up to the gills SEL version.  MyFordTouch with Navigation, Sony premium sound, leather heated seats...the only thing missing was a sunroof and really who needs one of those?

My time with the car I was the primary driver, my wife "didn't want to learn how to drive a hybrid".  I explained its really no difference.  Instead of coasting to a stop you lightly tap the break and use regen braking to recharge the battery.  Other than when you have to romp on it to get on the freeway and/or climb a hill light peddle pressure is all you need to move along yet keep it in electric mode.  I even showered her the snazzy regenerative braking coach that shows you how effective you are (I hit consistently 93-99%).

She did really like the automatic liftgate action.  No fuss or bother and activates with a wave of the foot under the rear bumper or the key fob...and voila liftgate open and your nails are in one piece.  She wants to know why Ford didn't put that option on the Focus.  I do too.

A pleasant surprise was how much room it had behind the rear seats.  Looks are deceiving.  I had 4 gallons of milk, a back pack and the Grand,s 3 wheel jogging stroller back there with no issues!  I really liked the load capacity of this car, better than I had expected.

This is so much more car than its nearest competitor. Standard features of the Prius V and the CMax are night and day.  The prius is nicely assembled, great fit, but the materials are all hard nasty plastic.  The CMax gets premium feel materials through out and looks like a small luxury utility not the bread and butter hybrid it is. Advantage here still is the has stuff Prius owners only wish they could have.

Without much effort its possible to rack up some impressive MPGs.  On one trip alone I registered 67, but to the cars credit it was mostly downhill urban driving and I never broke 35mpg...still an impressive number.  After my time was up and it was time to turn in the car I averaged 50.90 mpg which compares very favorably with its EPA estimates of 45City/40highway/43 combined.  If you know how to drive a hybrid and maximize regen and keep the gasser from kicking in around town you can ger some outright amazing numbers.


Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Hot, HOT SUV's debut at the L.A. Auto Show 11/19-20

The Los Angeles Auto Show may be about green cars and awards for the same, but it doesn't stop manufacturers from showing off their really HOT performance vehicles.

This years show BMW's M Division is showing off its latest goodies.  The X5 M, and the X6 M.

Making their world debuts together in Los Angeles, the all-new BMW X5 M and BMW X6 M combine the robustness, agility, and everyday use characteristics of the successful BMW X family with the commitment to high performance that defines BMW M vehicles. Purpose-designed for exceptional driving experiences, the latest generation of high-performance all-wheel-drive vehicles from BMW M delivers boosted output, optimized suspension technology, and new heights of luxury and innovation in the equipment range.

The BMW X5 M and BMW X6 M raise the bar in terms of dynamics, steering precision, and braking performance, while fuel consumption and carbon dioxide emissions are significantly lower than previous models. The perfectly tuned package of engine, powertrain, and suspension, both models are equipped with the V8 unit with M TwinPower Turbo technology that delivers a maximum of 567 horsepower and 553 lb-ft of torque. The standard eight-speed M Steptronic transmission with Drivelogic accelerates from 0 to 60 mph in 4.0 seconds. The BMW X5 M will be offered at a base MSRP of $99,650 and the BMW X6 M will start at $103,050, including $950 destination and handling.

 Not to be outdone by its Bavarian brothers Porsche will debut the new Cayenne GTS Sport Ute with an emphasis on sport.  Details haven't been released at this writing but I am certain that this version of the Cayenne will squish out every ounce of power possible from its powertrain and have extra suspension and brake goodies to ensure it does what a Porsche does best...go really fast.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

2015 Ford Edge First Look

Why fool with success?  The changes are subtle but significant in the next generation Ford Edge going on sale as a 2015 model late first quarter of 2015 (springish).  Probably the most startling and absolutely amazing piece of design is the LED tail lamps with the light strip connecting the two.  Stunning.

This new Edge will further cement Ford as the leader in the segment.  Based on the architecture underpinning the new Fusion/Mondeo/MKZ yields a much stronger and stouter CUV that is slightly bigger and weighs a few pounds lighter than the outgoing edition.  Already Edge outsells its Nissan and Toyota competitors 3 to 1, Honda might as well throw in the towel as they are outsold SEVEN to one.

Two new trim levels have been added.  In addition to the base, SE and SEL there is now a high content luxurious Titanium model (pictured here) along with Sport that is more than a trim upgrade.

The Sport is aimed clearly at those that want real performance, not just pretty wheels and cosmetics.  It has an upgraded suspension, steering, sport seats and new for 2015 the 2.7l V6 Ecoboost.  This new engine is built from the ground up new for this year and reportedly generates 325HP and 375 ft lbs of torque.  Think that puppy will embarrass every other CUV in its class?  I do.  Not one of its competition comes close to that sort of power.

Standard power plant in the 2015 Edge is  the 2.0l Ecoboost which is capable of hauling this machine around and keeping up with traffic.  For those of you  who really prefer to have a loafing V6 with similar power they have kept their very capable and efficient 3.5L Ti-vct engine as an option.

There is a ton of new Tech available on the Ford Edge.

  1. There's an enhanced ratio steering wheel that progressively increases  turn ratio that enables better steering response and faster response.  The turn from lock to lock reduced from 2.7 turns to 2 turns.  Not much but enough to make steering in tight spaces even easier.
  2. Enhanced Park Assist.  This feature allows you to drive down a tight parking garage and find a space you can back into...and it does that backing for you.
  3. 180 Degree front camera so you can see around corners and not get your front clipped when pulling out from between two big trucks
  4. Active Cruise Control with collision warning and brake support, adjusts your speed to stay with the flow of traffic ahead of you, even will send a warning and start braking for you should cars ahead suddenly stop.

Price...its keeping the same base price as 2014 models, $28,995 for the 2015 model.  That is with a tone of added equipment like rear back up cameras added to the new standard equipment list.  Not bad Ford, Not bad at all.  The build your own feature goes live on on November 5, 2014.

Here's a short series of bullet point posters from the event highlighting key new things on the Edge.  More pics including interior on flickr.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

L.A. Auto Show is only a few weeks away...

And I've got an Earlybird code for 11/24-11/27
Its coming, the 2014 L,A, Auto Show and it promises to be even more amazing than years past.  Hard to keep beating the year before, but this one really looks to be amazing.

The last several years the show has been home of the "Green Car of the Year Award".  This would go to the single greenest car that was the pinnacle of achievement in environmental friendliness.  This year they will also award the "Green Fleet of the Year" going to the manufacture that has the cleanest and most environmentally friendly lineup across the board.  

Who "Green Fleet of the Year" award will go to is really anyones guess. Since Ford/Toyota field the greatest selection of hybrids, electrics and similar I suspect they are the front runners.  Honda has its "Earth Dreams" selection and the Honda Accord hybrid that puts it firmly in the running.  VW/Audi might be considered.  They are dabbling in hybrid but have those amazing clean diesels to bouy their green factor.  Tesla is as green they get, but its not accessible for the regular guy yet so that might boot them from contention.  Also since they don't DO autoshows, they might not be considered, gotta pay to play you know.

The Auto show has 60 reveals planned for the 2 days of Press Days.  Of them 30 will be global reveals...goes to underscore the importance L.A has taken in recent years in the entire Auto Show circuit.  I'll video a few and have them on YouTube.

Now for what you wanted.  The Auto Show runs 11/21-30/2014.  If you want to attend early and get discounted tickets for 11/24-27 use this code: AutoTrader2014 .  This offer expires 11/15/2014.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Mid September was busy with Auto Shows

First up and probably the best show was the Palos Verdes Concours D'Elegance held September 14 at the Trump National Golf Course in Los Angeles on the Palos Verdes Peninsula.  Amazing location for all top notch restored automobiles.  It was tightly curated and judged.  The categories did have room for survivors or "derelicts" as they called them.

Aside from the Cords, Auburns, and Duesenbergs my absolute favorite was the Virgil Exner Design cars, beautifully finned and detailed mid-50s Chrysler products.  I've never seen so many in one place, funny that the DeSoto brand died in spite of some really clean design on the cars back in the day.
Logo and nomenclature on a DeSoto Adventurer.  This was one of many Chrysler products penned by Exner.
Logo from an Exner Chrysler New Yorker.  Love the blend of heraldry and moderne lines.  Nice touch on an overall beautiful car.

Of course a car show isn't a car show without some outrageous custom cars.  The most outrageous aside from the Hot Wheels Darth Vader car was the BWM Isetta L.A. Lakers tribute car.

Of course this is just a sampling of the images produced at the Palos Verdes Concours D'Elegance.  All 290+ can be found on flick in an album.

The day before the Palos Verdes Show was the equally entertaining Street Rods Forever show in Monrovia.  This annual event iw well attended and the biggest in the SGV. What you give up in terms of curation you get in terms of absolute variety of customs, restored and survivors in a mishmash along a 1/2 mile long stretch of Myrtle Avenue in historic Old Town Monrovia.  I haven't missed a one in nearly 20 years.  Its That Good.
The Best of Show Custom was this 1937 Ford Cabriolet.  The workmanship and attention to detail was unparalleled at this show.  Simply a stunning custom that stood out as superior to many outstanding cars that day.
The Best of Show Survivor was this unmolested showing wear, but completely original survivor was this 1956 Buick Century Wagon.  The "4 holer" was in beautiful condition and hard to believe it 58 years old and still in service.!

Of course, these weren't the only cars I shot.  some 150+ images can be found in a flickr album.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Its a mutha TUCKER

I was beside myself when I read that the largest collection of Tucker automobiles ever will be assembled at this years Palos Verde Concours d'Elegance.  Imagine, the car that promised to revolutionize the industry and fell to scandal, still managed to asssemble some 51 cars before they were shut down.  A bunch will be there just for this show.

The ability to see several in one location all in pristine condition makes the cost of admission to this show worth it.  Yes, there will be Cords, Auburns and Deusy's but this rarity will steal the show for me.

Deets: September 14, 2014, 10AM - 4PM, One Trump National Golf Course Drive, Palos Verdes CA 90275

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Palos Verdes Concours d'Elegance September 14, 2014

Innovation is the theme of this years Palos Verdes Concours d'Elegance to be held September 14 at the Trump National Golf Club. This isn't a free event and you can save a bit of money if you pre-purchase your tickets online.

Among the tasty treats at this years show will be the life size Hot Wheels Darth Vader car pictured above.  After making the toy car they thought...what the heck and built a life size one on a 'vette chassis.  Wicked and drivable is the results.

Also for our viewing pleasure will be the fastest Motorcycle that set a land speed record at the Bonneville Salt Flats in 1966.  The Gyronaut X-1 set that record with a speed of 245.667MPH.  Of course its more of a low slung bullet with all the fairings, but still was a 2 wheeled device so it was classed as a motorcycle.  Amazing stuff they did back in the day.
All the details you could possibly want are on the Palos Verdes Concours d'Elegance web site.  Map of Trump National Golf Club HERE.

Of course I'll be there.  Count on a gazillion pics posted once its all said and done on flickr.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

2014 Ford Fusion SE, a silly milliliter smaller

I'll admit it, I thought it was a huge mistake dropping the 1.6L Eoboost in favor of the 1.5l Ecoboost. Yes, I understand some markets have a huge tax penalty for mills over 1.5 litres but this is 'murica fer crissakes land of displacement.  I'll take my crow and eat with relish this time around..

Turns out the 1.5 Ecoboost is putting out the same horsepower number, 177bhp as the 1.6l  And gives up a negligible 7 ft lbs of torque.  Driving it is really no substantive difference in driving the 1.5l Ecoboost compared to last years 1.6l ecoboost.  With a mill that tiny and car that big there is turbo lag from a dead stop when you punch it.  but it builds power smoothly without any drama.  I liked it.

Now for the big change from the outgoing model, this silly milliliter smaller mill actually made sense and produced an MPG number I didn't expect to see in a traditional gasser.  In my 20 mile loop of mixed freeway and congested urban, the start stop feature worked just marvy and returned an unbelievable 26.7mpg far better than I've ever achieved in a Fusion gasser with the Ecoboost mills. A win with this tiny change in displacement.

Of course the rest of the car is a very nicely screwed together car as we/ve come to expect from the Fusion.  This 2014 Fusion also has the newest version of MyFordTouch that works faster with better accuracy than the last generation

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

2014 Ford Fusion Energi SE - proof you don't have to give up comfort for green driving

I'm a fan of the Ford Fusion in all its trims, the hybrids more so than the traditional gassers.  The hybrid and plug-in hybrid tech available on this car is nothing short of amazing.  Take it easy with the options sheet and stick to the milder SE and you can have you cake and eat it too.  What do I mean?  Well, Ford has dropped the sticker on the Fusion Energi models and the SE Model starts out at 34,700 and is better equipped...leather seating power seating, EcoCruise control, automatic lamps, auto climate control,  power windows and other goodies that are the other plug-ins wet dreams as standard.  Yes, Standard.  Yes you can option up, but no need as this nicely appointed Fusion Energi SE in the video at the more affordable than last year price of 34.7K.  Best part is that it looks like a regular car, not some freak mobile.

Driving this is eerie.  Ford did a tremendous job in quashing the old NVH demons with this iteration of the Fusion.  Add in all electric driving of the Energi and it church quiet in the car, not even tire noise works its way into the cabin.   No engine noise or transmission shifts to indicate you are moving, just a subtle push in your back as you hit the go pedal.  If you don't look at the speedometer you will get yourself in trouble as there are no aural cues as to how fast you are going.

And do this car does do quite well in EV only mode.  Up to 21 miles of tailpipe emission free driving on a single charge.  The EPA ratings on this car in EV mode are 95MPE city and 81MPE highway.  In a mix of fast freeway driving and urban driving with hills I averaged 66.4MPe. I left on my 21 miles loop with a full charge and returned with an indicated remaining EV miles of 2.5.   Not EPA estimates, but I drove to stay with traffic, used regen braking when I could on hills and "added" back miles which served to increase my total range of EPA estimate.

This car could be having your cake and eat it too if your commute is about 20 miles each way and your employer has a charging station.  Think of it...charge at home for pennies a KW at night, drive to work, refill on your bosses dime and drive home at the end of the day.  No gas used on your part and half your commute paid for by someone else.  In this scenario your pay back for the Plug-in premium is shortened dramatically.

Of course the real advantage of this power train over a pure EV is that you have the ability to go on road trips.  No range anxiety, just let the car switch to gas operation and you are road trip ready.  Las Vegas anyone?

Friday, June 27, 2014

Ford Fiesta SFE - 1.0l Ecoboost and you get to shift your own gears

I like this little car.  Its rev happy and you get to row your own gears.  Puts the fun back in driving with that combo.  I've extolled the virtues of this little car in a variety of places from when I first drove a prototype in '09 until the current release.

What is new for this year is an SFE package that takes a tiny 1.0l 3 cylinder engine, slaps in direct injection and turbocharging and an Ecoboost badge on the rear of an already best in subcompact class car.  The result is a little car that is an absolute hoot to drive and turned in a respectable 40mpg on my 20 mile loop of mixed city and highway driving.  Folks, that hybrid territory mileage without sucking the life out of the car in the process.

The standard trim of this car is nice, premium look and feel from stem to stern inside and out.  My only niggle is that it is tight for a big guy like me, someone more petite and under 6 foot would likely find it completely acceptable.  This example had a nice cloth that was grippy without looking cheesy like the mouse fur that was stuck in cars all that long ago.  Certainly on par if not better than the rest of the subcompacts out there.

The 3 cylinder motor is a rev happy little mill. Good torque across the board if with turbo lag noted when in higher gears when you press the gas.  Row the gears and keep it on boost and it will dart and weave around traffic with no problems.  My only niggle is you don't need to look at the tach as at higher RPM's there is a coarseness to the engine that I didn't expect to find.  Ford Mills of late are nearly as smooth and rev happy as the best in the business...Honda.  I think the NVH engineers need to spend a little more time at the high end of the revs as its really not up to what I expected.'

Stats...we all love them.  The Ecoboost 1.0 generates 123bhp and 125 flt lbs of torque.  The standard issue 1.6l naturally aspirated 4 cyl generates 120 bhp and 112 ft lbs of torque and is coupled to their direct shift automatic.  The Ecoboost is the clear win in the power category for the base models.  My only niggle with the slick shifting manual is that its only a 5 speed and everyone else seems to be doling out very nice 6speeds that add an extra mpg on the highway.  Regardless, on a 2,575 lb car that is a lot of power being put to good use and generating some great mileage numbers.  Kinda having your cake and eating it too.

Build your own 1968 Mustang GT 500 - from paper

Who wouldn' want their own '68 Shelby GT500. The problem is they are getting pricey...110K at a recent Barret Jackson auction.

Well have no fear, break out the exacto knive and card stock for the printer and you able modelers and crafters can build your own scale model.  Link for the instrucdtions HERE.  Plans HERE

Don't thank me, thanks the good folks at Blue Springs Ford Parts for this gem.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

2014 Ford Focus Electric

I'm a huge fan of the Focus Electric from Ford.  Its the first small electric car that doesn't look like some sort of freak mobile and actually drives really great.  Range anxiety...I do well with it and easily drove 10 miles on reported only 3 miles of juice. Go figure, but I'm a good hyper miler and know very well how to use regen braking so I always score 100% or damn close.

Of course I'm not the only one enamored with the Focus EV.  Local AAA publication called it the "Tesla of small electrics" giving a nod to all of its tech goodies, premium fit and finish and driving.  Not bad accolades for the car.

The latest iteration of the venerable Focus Electric isn't much different than what launched over a year ago.  Its still got a decent 110MPE city and 99mpe highway rating.  The car has the same 130hp motor backed up by a 23kwh lithium ion battery.  The horsepower may not seem like much, but that 181 ft lbs of torque available the second the go pedal is pressed makes it seem like a much more powerful motor than the stock gasser.

Driving it isn't that much different than the traditional Focus.  It rides a bit smoother and quieter without the engine and tranny noises.  Its so quiet that you really have to watch your speed as the sound insulation is so good you really don't know how fast you are going without glancing at the speedo.  Often.

The Focus EV is fitted with virtually every goody Ford threw at the Focus option list as standard.  Nice, comfy power leather seats, a very capable version of MyFordTouch with apps aimed at the Focus for your iphone to make it even more user friendly.

This year Ford took the bold move and cut the price 5K from last year.  The list is now $35,170.  Deduct off the fed tax credit of 7.5K and the states 2.5K and you suddenly have it down in price to a very nicely optioned out gasser.  Except you charge at home and avoid the lines at the gas station.  Its also only a few bucks a charge if you negotiate with your local power company for the cheap rate at night or have your own solar system.  Nice move Ford, where was that when I was looking seriously at the Focus EV 18 months ago?

The big thing to consider when getting an EV is your daily needs and compare it to the range of the EV you are looking at.  For me the Focus EV would fill easily 95% of my given driving any month. Most trips are short and local.  Only once a month do a I do a massive Costco run where the limited luggage and interior room would be a problem.  Yup, batteries eat up a lot of space in the cargo area and floors of these cars.

Another thing to look at is the cost of converting your garage to handle the charging of the Focus EV.  For me with a detached garage and city requirements for 220v lines under ground the cost was nearly 10K which wiped out the chance of ever breaking even  with the cost of operation over the basic gasser.  Charging if you work with local utilities can be as low as base rate of 15Cents kwh when done at night.  That sure is a big savings over their peak rate of 34cents kwh if you charge doing the day and go into Tier 4.

I still want one.  Just can't justify it with the costs of wiring the garage as It would take years to break even.  Others who aren't worried about breaking even and more concerned with the environment, your car is waiting for you.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

BMW Ultimate Driving Experience coming to L.A

Few things get me more jazzed than looking at cool cars, what gets the juice really pumped is driving them.  BMW is bringing their Ultimate Driving Experience to Los Angeles and other cities around the country this year.  Include in this is a special 4 hour Teen Driving clinic that I'll be enrolling my 17 yo driver in.  Without further blather on my part...the press release:

BMW’s Ultimate Driving Experience, Offering Dynamic Behind-the-Wheel Driving Programs with over 80 BMW Vehicles, Launches June 14 in Boston, MA.

The nationwide tour through 7 markets runs from June through November, 2014 and will feature BMW’s Teen Driving School at no cost.
Woodcliff Lake, NJ – June 9, 2014… BMW is launching the Ultimate Driving Experience, a nationwide tour that will offer dynamic behind-the-wheel driving programs through eight events in seven markets for a total of 74 event days. A popular component of The Ultimate Driving Experience will be the Teen Driving School, which is an extension of the BMW Teen Driving School curriculum taught at the BMW Performance Center in Spartanburg, SC. The first Ultimate Driving Experience kicks-off June 14-22 in Boston, MA at Gillette Stadium. The Experience will consist of 9-11 day events across the U.S. in the following markets:

  • New York/NJ at MetLife Stadium (Jul 13-20)
  • Chicago, IL at Arlington International Racecourse (July 26-Aug 3)
  • San Francisco, CA at Alameda Point (Aug 16-24)
  • Los Angeles, CA at Santa Anita Racecourse (Sep 6-21)
  • New York/Long Island at Citi Field (Oct 4-12)
  • Miami, FL at Hialeah Park (Oct 25-Nov 2) 
  • Houston, TX at NRG Park (Nov 9-17)

The Teen Driving School is a fully interactive, 4-hour teen driving course featuring the BMW X3 and 3 Series that will be offered at no cost. The Teen Driving School will focus on improving driving skills and increasing road awareness through classroom instruction, driver awareness activities and hands-on driving exercises. A main focus during the Teen Driving School will be creating awareness about the consequences of texting while driving and how it affects not only teens – but everyone who drives a vehicle. Eligible drivers under the age of 21 with a valid learner's permit or driver’s license can register for the school.
“The Ultimate Driving Experience is grounded in BMW’s passion for providing driving enthusiasts with the opportunity to get behind the wheel,” said Trudy Hardy, Vice President, Marketing, BMW of North America. “Incorporating the Teen Driving School into the Experience is an important component of BMW’s continued effort to teach safe driving practices and to educate teens about the dangers of texting and driving.”

The Ultimate Driving Experience will feature over 80 BMW vehicles, from BMW i to BMW M. Attendees will have access to a truly immersive experience including:
Self-guided, hands-on demos of the BMW 335i Sedan and X5 xDrive50i that at most stops include Hill Descent Control, which is a BMW electronic function that allows for safe descent and proper vehicle balance on uneven surfaces, and Skid Pad, showcasing vehicle control on wet surfaces;
Street Drives that allow for 30-minute test drives per vehicle of a range of BMW vehicles including the BMW 2 Series, 4 Series, 6 Series and the all-electric BMW i3;
Autocross, a 2-hour challenging, closed-course driving program featuring the BMW 2 Series and 5 Series that pairs attendees with BMW’s Professional Driving Instructors for a dynamic experience that highlights advanced driving theories, defensive driving techniques and culminates in a pulse-pounding hot lap;
Car Control Clinic, a full-day driving school that allows drivers to get behind the wheel of a powerful M3 or all-new M235i for an adrenaline-filled day of driving with individual instruction from BMW-certified Professional Drivers. Drivers will develop a sharper understanding of BMW’s responsive handling and performance while learning advanced driving theory. The Car Control Clinic is offered for a fee of $650.
 Additionally, The Ultimate Driving Experience will feature a main pavilion with interactive displays.

Harman Kardon, a partner with BMW for over 30 years in providing customized sound systems and innovative technologies for BMW vehicles including the 1 Series, 3 Series, 4 Series, 5 Series, 7 Series, X1 and X5, is partnering with The Ultimate Driving Experience to create a virtual classroom experience onsite with the Harman Kardon Theater.
For more information and to register for The BMW Ultimate Driving Experience visit: or call 800-558-4BMW (4269). Location and dates subject to change. Follow BMW of North America on Twitter @BMWUSA and Like BMWUSA on Facebook. Hashtag #DrivingIsBelieving.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Ford Expedition gets the Ecoboost treatment in 2015

Video HERE  Why blogger won't embed is beyond me.

It was bound to happen, and I for one can't believe it took the good guys at Ford this long to plunk the Ecoboost 3.5LV6 into the Expedition. I can't think of a better place to put this power train than in the Expedition.  That simple engine swap makes the Expedition uber competitive with the Tahoe from Chevy and the Sequoia from Toyota.

The 5.4L V8 it replaces was a good, durable engine, but lacking in power and refinement compared to the V8's of its immediate competition.  The Ecoboost solves that in spades and will likely yield better mileage than the Chevy in the process.

The particulars.   The outgoing V8 produced respectable 310 horsepower and 365 ft lbs of torque.  It was thirsty, sucking down fuel at the rate of 14 mpg on the generous EPA estimates for city driving.  Real world in the Ecoboost with 365 horsepower on tap and a whopping 420 ft lbs of torque.  Couple it with 2 fewer cylinders to feed this next iteration of the Expedition with the Ecoboost will pick up an easy couple of mpgs over that out going V8.  Having your cake and eating it too I say.

Its competition has V8s, but are weak compared to the Ecoboost.  Chevy 5.3L small block V8 generates only 320bhp and epa estimates of 15/21.  The Toyota Sequoia has a large 5.7L V8 that generates 381 thirsty horsepower with an epa estimate of 13/18.  The Ecoboost hits right in the middle with power.  EPA estimates aren't available yet, but the 2014 F150 with this engine is rated at 16/22 and I'd expect similar ratings out of the Expedition.

The Expedition Platinum I got to peak at the other day has MyFord Touch and navigation. The automatic tranny is a full 6 speeds and has the option of full manual mode, or partial locking in gear ranges for better speed control in hilly country.  There is an optional independent rear suspension with mechanical leveling that should take the squat out of full loads quite nicely.  There's even a new trailer brake control (TBC) that better synchronises your brakes/trailer brakes for safer trailering.

Aside from the drop dead gorgeous gray interior of the Platinum edition that's in this video, there is also a King Ranch edition named after the fabled ranch in Texas that was founded in 1853.  The King Ranch edition is swathed in deep brown  leather with the center console branded with the King Ranch brand.  Nice.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Walk around sneak peak tour of the 2015 Mustang V6

At a recent event Ford had posed for our picture taking a 2015 Mustang with a stunning two tone Leather interior. Quizzing the Ford Rep I leanrned this is the base V6 with the premium leather upgrade.  It also had navigation and MyFordTouch...the car was locked as it was still a "prototype" so I couldn't get in and squish around in the seats and get interior pics.

The color was metallic gray that was absolutely stunning on the car.  Prolly a bugger to keep clean and shiny looking all the time, but very nice none-the-less.  This exact color combo inside and out is what I want for mine...providing the lovely Mrs Fraz is serious about letting me swap out her Milan for a new 'stang in another year or so.  I think she'll love this combo as much as I do as its similar to the '84LX she had when we were dating all those years ago.

Much has been written about the 2015 Mustang, a lot of it by me so I won't regurgitate it all again, google it and look around for the details.  In short the car will come in 3 flavors of powertrain, base V6 is 3.7L and slightly detuned from this year, a 305+bhp 2.3L Ecoboost and a 5.0L V8 to start at launch this fall.

The Ecoboost is my choice for a lot of reasons, less weight in the front will give it an edge in handling.  At cruise or bump and grind traffic it will be less thirsty than even the already thrifty V6. Plus it not being the V8 it will be cheaper to insure in the long run.

Much has been written about weight on the Mustang in the last few days. I was disappointed to learn that coming roof crush standards added weight to the car instead of the reported weight loss some 6 months ago.  Its still svelt compared to the Camaro, but I really expected better.  Weight gain is estmated to be 50 pounds on the base V6/ecoboost models and a whopping 200 lbs on a GT Premium.  The latter is quite a bit.

Ford has quite a bit of additional information on the 2015 Mustang on their web site HERE.  I'm quite anxious for them to opening up the "build your own" so I can option out what I want and begin stashing away the coinage for one of my own.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

2015 Ford F150 Sneak Peak

Massive and lighter don't always coincide. They do with the new F150 from Ford due out this fall as a 2015 model.  Through the extensive use of "military grade" Aluminum this truck is reportedly at least 700 lbs lighter than the outgoing model.  Changes like that impact everything about this truck.  Smaller engines can be used yielding better fuel economy without sacraficing power we are used to.  Handling improves as much as straightl line performance.

I gotr a sneak peak  up close and personal at a prototype of the truck.  I could walk around and kick the tires, but I couldn't get inside. Bummer as the inside looks markedly different and appeared to use my better materials than the outgoing truck, and that one is nothing to sneeze at in terms of all around goodness.

Twin -LED headlamps are visible up front. In the rear there are back up cameras on this Lariat trimmed model.  Ditto back up sensors, kind of redundant, but very helpful if you will use the beast for trailering.

Powertrains are where the big shake up happens for this truck.  Gone is the 3.7L replaced by a 3.5lV6.  Remaining is the 3.5L Ecoboost and 5LV8 Coyote.  New to Ford and this truck is a 2.7L Ecoboost V6 with stop/start technology that will easily add 10% to its city numbers when that feature can fuction.  (Ford enables the start/staop feature when you don't have a heating or airconditioning need).  The new 2.7 Ecoboost I look forward to driving most, that's a tiny engine, but with the weight loss it should be ample to power this truck in all but heavy duty towing situations.  Of course I know Ford doesn't build engines for a single product and can't help but wonder where else this powertrain will show up...

The inside of the truck had a massive navigation system, presumably a version of MyFordTouch adapted to the needs of the truck.  Reports are that there will be power outlets inside the truck that will make it possible to recharge your mobile devices as well as power tools.  Something handy for the dude that buys the truck for work and for the soccer moms that love them too.

Here are a few of the key new features on the truck cribbed from a press release:
  • Is nearly 700 pounds lighter
  • Features two EcoBoost powertrain choices, 
  • 2.7L EcoBoost with Auto Start Stop
  • Is built with a military-grade aluminum body on a steel frame
  • Features safety technology such as Lane-Keeping System and 360-degree camera views
  • Helps save gasoline costs
  • Features high power outlets for charging mobile devices or power tools
  • LED headlamps and LED sideview mirror spotlights
  • Active park assist
  • 8-inch productivity screen
  • Inflatable rear safety belts
  • Smarter trailer tow module

Friday, May 30, 2014

CMax Solar Energi Concept

Making the most of the sun in sunny So Cal

I really love this concept and when Ford invited me down to their Los Angeles Regional Office (in Irvine?) I jumped on it.  I'm a solar kinda guy, made the decision to fall off the grid last year and don't regret it at all.  A plug-in hybrid with a solar panel on the roof should have been a no-brainer, but it took the folks like  Mike Tinskey at Ford and his team to come up with a way to make it practical.  Mike is the Global Director of Vehicle Electrification and Infrastructure so he knows a lot about this topic.

Solar panel efficiency has gotten better in recent years, now up to 21% of energy captured converted to power.  This isn't enough however to give a full charge to the car in an average city like someplace back east like Charleston SC, but in a city like Los Angeles the potential is there to bring the batteries to a full charge during the course of an 8 work day.

Ford teamed up with the folks at Georgia Institute of Technology and came up with a carport looking lens concentrator that would effectively increase the amount of light hitting the panel to maximize electricity production.  The car is on a platform that would move and track the sun during the course of the day to ensure best possible light concentration on the panel.  This technology primitive as it is hints at greatness to come.  Imagine it.  Plug in at night, drive your 20 miles or so to work in EV mode, charge by the sun and drive home the other 20 miles on a solar charge home.

Why is this important?  A lot of reasons.  We are cursed with the highest density and gridlocked traffic where this bump and go is actually the EV/Hybrids strength as all that stopping is an opportunity to regenerative brake charge the batteries.  The use of a hybrid/EV serves to lessen significantly the pollutants and green house gases being emitted all working to give us cleaner air.

Interesting stats came out of this meeting.  The last couple of years the hybrid/EV has accounted about 3-4% of all car sales here in the U.S.  The startling bit of that stat is that fully half of those sales took place right here in California.  Leaders in the transition to sustainable CLEAN transportation.

A few nifty factoids on the CMax Solar Energi concept and the potential it represents.
·         C-MAX Solar Energi Concept eliminates the need to plug in and charge a hybrid vehicle altogether. It harnesses the power of the sun by using a special concentrator that acts like a magnifying glass, directing intense rays to the panels on the vehicle’s roof
·         C-MAX Solar Energi Concept represents an exciting possibility for the future of mobility. This prototype is part of Ford’s vision for imagining what sustainable transportation will look like in 2024 and beyond and the near-, mid- and long-term steps we must take to get there
·         Internal Ford data suggest the sun could power up to 75 percent of all trips made in a solar hybrid vehicle. That means a typical owner can avoid sending more than four metric tons of greenhouse gas emission into the atmosphere ever year.
·         According to our climate scientists, if all light duty vehicles (cars and trucks) in the US adopted this approach, we’d reduce greenhouse gas emission (GHG) by more than 1 billion metrics tons per year.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Sneak peak at a couple of 2015 Chevy's

 2015 Chevy Cruze
2015 Chevy Malibu?
My little corner of L.A, is used for filming a lot of commercials.  Car commercials in particular are done here as it could be Main Street anywhere USA.  

First up was the face lifted 2015 Chevy Cruze which I blogged about when it was first introduced.  Solid little car that I actually liked quite a bit.  The image isn't that great as I was trying to grab the pic with security folks yelling and trying to get people, especially people with cameras out of the way.  The grill is new, larger more like the familial face...or a cross between next generation Focus and a Dart, not bad, but falling into the the trap of familiar rather than unique face of tis own.

The second car, not sure which model it is.  I think its the Malibu, but I'm not sure as it was devoid of side badging and I couldn't get to the rear for a close look.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Contest courtesy Turtle Wax to win a new "stang

I just found out about this contest. Go to twitter and follow @TurtleWax.  Tweet your reflection photo with the hashtag #reflectie and the @TurtleWax in the body of your text with your reflection in a car by July 14 2014.  From there some entity will pick out the 10 best and an online voting contest will start August 1st running through September 1...and winner presumably annoucnced shortly there after.  Full contest rule HERE.

I've got gawd knows how many reflecties out there from the various events and car shows I've attended.  I'll enter a few as wtf...its worth a shot at winning a new 'stang.  Here are just two:

Monday, May 12, 2014

What kind of driver should you be?

I keep coming up Rally Driver or a variation there of.  What sort are you?  This gem showed up in my email today and it made me laugh. Hard.   Out Loud.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Ecoboost Tour - do it and you'll be surprised

It takes real chutzpah to invite people to test their product against the segment leaders, or in the case of the Ford F150 its closest competitors.  But Ford is doing just that and opening eyes in the process.  Their Ecoboost products are more than competitive in my not so humble, ditto their hybrids and no one else domestically has car like the Fiesta ST or the Focus ST (before the trolls attack...the VW GTI isn't a domestic so there).

Friday I was invited to the Ecoboost Tour on a VIP Pass along with a lot of other Media Types to spend the morning taking turns driving various Ford products and their competitors, often a market leader.  We were given a closed loop circuit on a track at Santa Anita Race Park to run the cars back to back and then render our opinion.

First stop for me was the Hybrids.  Pitting the Prius V against a Ford C-Max.  First one up was to step into the Prius V.  No power seats in the top line model, whats up with that.  Can't exactly dial in a comfortable seating position without it.  *Grumble*.  Silly drive selector aside its not that bad of a car ergonomically once you get it and get your self half way situated.  Its definitely lacking in power, in the slalom portion of the circuit it was flaccid, kinda like a 40 year old Buick Estate Wagon.  No fun with this car.  Definitely for the point A-B commuter. Mileage...disappointing 38mpg.

The C-Max as a joy and complete polar opposite.  Power seats to dial in the perfect seating position, better materials that you touch.  More of a luxury feel.  On the track this car was more more at home in the curves and the slalom.  Even the acceleration portion this car went faster with less of a foot plant than the Prius V.  Granted I spent most of my time in EV mode, an option not available on the Prius V...but I got a whopping 64.7 out of it.  Impressive.  It drove and handled like a much smaller car.

For kicks and giggles I took out a gorgeous new Fusion Energi (Ford talk for plug in hybrid) on the track.  It was done up in the new for 2014 drop dead gorgeous Sunset.  It didn't disappoint me in how it rode and handled.  I managed a very respectable 81.3 MPE in all electric mode.  My only niggle is that I would have liked to have a Camry hybrid or Accord plug-in to go up against it.

After the Hybrids is the main event.  Ecoboost Mid-size car, SUV and Pick-up against its competition.

First drive was the Honda's CRV and the Ford Escape have been duking it out this year for sales dominance.  The Escape with its 2.0L Ecoboost just knocked the snot out of the CRV in the acceleration run.  It just flew down the straight away and braked straight going into the curves.  No drama just an urgent slam back into the seat when you stepped on it. That 2.4l naturally aspirated engine just isn't a match for the Ecoboost.

In the Slalom its close for the two, the CRV does nose dive on braking a bit more than the Escape and demonstrates a little tilting sensation in the curves, but not scary.  Close but I'd still give the edge up to the Escape.  The CRV was put together well inside, but its much more simple and lacks the elegance of the Escape, material choices the Escape winds hands down.

Next I stepped into the Fusion with its 2.0L Ecoboost to go up against the Toyota Camry with a 3.5L V6.  In the straight line acceleration the Fusion was easily 10mph faster at the end of the run than the Camry.  the Camry power came on in a swell with the big gain after 30mph where it seemed to come up on cam and get is power.

In the slalom the Camry was outright scary.  It sloshed through the slalom so bad I feared I was scrubbing the door handles on the tarmac.  The Fusion was confidence inspiring and just swooshed through the curves with little tilting sensation.  Fusion was the clear winner in this portion of the test.

I'll toss down the gauntlet and tell you the Camry needs a lot of work inside and mechanically to be the car the Fusion is.  The only reason I think the Camry sells is on its bullet proof reputation of durability in getting you from point A to B daily.  Live is more than just a straight line without detours.

The Final test in this cycle was the spanking new redesigned Chevy Silverado against an F150 FX4 Ecoboost.  The Ecoboost won on acceleration against the 5.3L V8 by a nose.  Handling was similar with it really too close to call.  Interior fit and finish...really Chevy, your interior materials are no where near as nice as my Focus, and you are wanting how much for this truck and can't spring for decent fabric?  I will be most curious to see what happens when the new F150 comes out this fall, all aluminum for a 700 lb weight loss which will translate to better economy, performance and handling.

The final stop, and absolute kick in the pants is the ST Performance Academy where you get to run a Fiesta ST on a race course and are timed against other participants.  Its a ton of fun and the Fiesta ST is an amazing machine.  The time to beat was 30.1 seconds through a half mile course.  After 3 tries I got a nice upper third result of 33.611.

Also on hand to enjoy were some 2015 models coming on sale soonish.
Coming this fall is the aluminum bodied F150.  Loosing nealry 700 lbs will increase its performance on all measures including the all important fuel economy.  Top MPG powerplant is expected to be a 2.7L V6 with stop/start technology and bring in near diesel numbers without having to pay the premium for diesel fuel (which is 25-75cents/gallon over premium here in L.A).
2015 Ford Expedition in Platinum trim.  New for 2015 is a host of changes, the biggy being the dumping of the thirsty 5.4L V8 and slipping in the more powerful and efficient 3.5L V6 Ecoboost.
The Transit Connect grows up for the new model year and loses a lot of its Eastern European quirkiness.  Bigger and with Ecoboost engines its being billed as the alternative to the mini-van.  Should be interesting to see how it performs in the market.
The show stopper for me, and I did save the best for last was the 2015 Mustang.  What a beauty this one in Charcoal metallic was.  Its a "base" V6 with a nicely optioned up leather interior.  I so want this car, but we aren't in the market for one now, but I did get the Mrs blessing to add it to a short list when we are ready for a new car in a couple of years.  Make mine this exact color and trim but swap out the 300+ Horsepower 2.3L Ecoboost please.

In the end we were given an exist interview and asked our opinion on a lot of topics.  Overall I can't believe how crappy Toyota's products are against the comparable Ford, folks just need to drop the marketing rhetoric of both and drive them back to back and make up their own mind.  Ford will the  own the pony car market again when the new Mustang launches.  Camaro is a good competitor but won't have the weight and performance edge, Challenger doesn't count as its a bloated pig for old farts.  Just my not so humble ramblings after a fun day on a track.

More pics from the event in my flickr album.