Archive | April, 2011

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Rick Campbell: 2011 Honda CR-Z Review – Week 4 of 4

Posted on 27 April 2011 by admin

I’ve had the CR-Z about a month now, and I’ve had a chance to drive it under a variety of conditions, so I can give a more complete report.

First, we should say that is really not a car in the traditional sense, but a computer with four wheels attached.

It has taken a while to understand all the displays and controls and functions, but they are very well designed and logically thought-out in the typical Japanese engineering fashion. It is all very cool: dash, controls, wands, storage, stereo system. It is especially nice to access the iPod functions of my iPhone through USB. But you have to read the manual.

It has also taken some driving experience to understand the various driving modes and how the integrated motor assist (IMA) works with the automatic continously variable transmission (CVT). But I now appreciate what the Honda engineering team intended, and it is an excellent solution.

It is all a study in energy management and conservation. You can think of the gasoline engine as the “check book” and the batteries and IMA as the “savings account”. In a conventional car, the energy lost in coasting downhill and braking is gone. The CR-Z system conserves it through regeneration, and then seamlessly feeds it back into the power train, depending on what its computer brain considers optimum. I find that it likes to keep about a 75% charge on the batteries, and quickly replenishes them to about 90% average when cruising. Fun to watch the displays show this on a road trip.

The computer can calculate the right balance of performance and power that the driver asks for, depending on whether you are in Sport (Power) mode, Normal mode, or Econ mode; and in the CVT models, can consider three variables: the infinitely variable gear ratio, the engine RPM, and the amount of IMS electric motor assist used, if any.

If you want power (Sport mode), the engine revs go up, the CVT gears down, and the IMS kicks in vigorously on acceleration. There is all the power I need, and I use it mostly for merging onto freeways, or on urban freeways to make lane changes and climb hills.

If you want economy (Econ mode) the engine lugs down, the CVT gears up, and the IMS comes in gently to add engine torque when needed, as when going up hills at highway speeds with cruise control on. Responses are more subtle, but surprisingly, they are not all that bad on a road trip.

Overall, the computer hates high revs, and shifts down whenever possible, so the engine rarely gets above 4,000 rpm unless you use the paddle shifters. This is not intended to be a high-reving car, and the IMA makes that unnecessary in any case.

For me, a car enthusiast with an interest in engineering solutions, the vehicle and its systems are intriguing, and I enjoy taking part in controlling (optimizing?) the vehicle. It is possible that the average driver won’t appreciate the incredible high technology that is designed into this car, or might be confused by them. It will probably always be a cult car in the U.S.

As for mileage, I now have experienced city driving, urban freeways, and a secondary road loop. As I mentioned in my last report, city driving seems to average about 36 mpg, urban freeways and secondary roads about 38 mpg, and a freeway trip to Seattle and back was 42 mpg.

On the freeway trip, we traveled at legal speeds, and I tried to keep the cruise control at 67 mph when traffic allowed. In economy mode at 67 mph, the computer likes to lug down the engine to 2,100 rpm and achieves about 40 mpg on level ground in pleasant weather. From CR-Z engine HP curves I found on the web, I calculate that the engine is using 50 hp to maintain that speed. The CR-Z will comfortably cruise faster of course, but I would expect a drop in mileage– from the mileage meter I’m guessing cruising at 72 mpg would bring mileage down to about 37 mpg, still not bad. And it is comfortable for 3-hour stretches of driving.

The CR-Z works very well for my driving around Portland, and performed just fine in Seattle traffic.

But it is different. The driver has to get used to the engine stopping while waiting for lights in city traffic. I’m used to it now. I’m also coping just fine with the rear vision issues. I don’t know how the CR-Z would work on the LA freeways, or in hilly high country like Denver.

I like all the high-tech features, the styling, the climate controls, the exterior lighting, luggage space, and the handling, too. I’ll give you another report in a month when we’ve tackled some mountain driving.

Rick Campbell
Rick Campbell, Creative.
Portland, Oregon USA

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Aston Martin Vanquish

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Meet Kellie Creasey

Posted on 22 April 2011 by admin

courtesy: Felix Rathsack

Meet Kellie Creasey. Kellie is an Escrow Office at First American Title.

What is your Twitter name?

Where are you originally from?

  • Eugene, Oregon

What was your first vehicle?

  • Mercury Capri

What is your current vehicle?

  • 2008 Nissan 350Z Roadster

What vehicle would you drive if money was not an issue?

  • Bugatti Veyron

What is your favorite vehicle in a movie?

  • James Bond’s Aston Martin V12 Vanquish in Die Another Day

What vehicle would you be if you were a Transformer?

  • Bumble Bee

What is your least favorite vehicle?

  • Mercury Capri

What is your most essential vehicle accessory?

  • Oakley sunglasses

What is your favorite driving song?

  • Thunderstruck by AC/DC

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Rick Campbell: 2011 Honda CR-Z Review – Week 3 of 4

Posted on 20 April 2011 by admin

Here’s the report I promised you on the CR-Z. It took a while, because I wanted to put a tank of gas through it. That took 9 days of driving.

The first tank of gas went 362 miles in mixed city/uban freeway driving. Measured mileage was 40 mpg (39.93 mpg, 9.065 gal). That includes trips all over downtown Portland, and urban freeway trips to West Linn, Gresham, Vancouver and Lake Oswego.

1. Performance. I want to go on record that even the CVT version has adequate performance, although I know that Hondas take a while to break in, so it has not been above 5,000 rpm yet. The best example is getting onto I-205 Southbound at Oregon City. You have to make the 180 degree loop, accellerate uphill across the bridge, merge with traffic, and get up the West Linn hill on 205. I just hit the Sport button, kept the revs up, and I was accellerating up the hill passing traffic at 65 before I backed off to exit at 10th Street. Again, climbing up the 10th Street/Salamo Hill was not a problem in Sport. The electric motor kicks in with all its torque. When the engine has a few more miles, I’ll see what the paddle shifters will do up to red line, but I haven’t needed them to keep up with traffic anywhere.

2. Mileage. After moving down from an Accord V-6 coupe, I’m driving as I always drove. The CR-Z simply makes you more aware of how you are driving through the graphic guages on the dash. Normal mode is just fine if there is traffic. I haven’t used Economy much, but on level ground with cruise control, the dash indicates about 45 mpg at 65 mph on level ground in Economy.

3. Electric assist and electronic management. The interaction of the engine, electrics, regenerative braking, and mode control is all very seamless. Just push the mode buttons and the character of the vehicle changes instantly. Most of the time one does not notice that the engine shuts off at stop lights, especially with the excellent stereo on. The lights do not dim; nothing changes except that it is quiet. Sometimes you notice a slight shudder on engine startup, that is, when you take your foot off the brake.

4. Build quality. The CR-Z is made in Japan, and not to put down Marysville, Ohio, but it is assembled like a fine watch. Everything fits, paint is excellent.

5. Interior. Okay, the interior is like a space-age video game. I like it. Beam me up, Scotty. The seats are more comfortable than I first thought. I am going to make a custom luggage fabric area cover so that I can take advantage of all the luggage space length. Perhaps future US models will have this as standard. It has an excellent sound system.

6. Vision. As everyone notes on the web, rear vision is annoying at first. I added a small stick-on rectangular wide angle mirror (about $4) and now there is no left-side blind spot. After a week, I am used to it and it is not a problem.

7. Ride and handling. The short CR-Z is fun to drive and park in town. The suspension handles the rough Portland streets adequately in Normal mode. On the freeway, the electric power steering tracks straight and the car feels longer than it is. There is some tire drumming on rough freeways at speed. Sport mode suspension is tighter but not punishing. Braking is very good. Someday every car will have regenerative braking.

8. Capacity. I was little surprised to note in the instruction manual that Honda gives the CR-Z a load rating of 400 lbs. That might work fine in Japan, but in the US, a 180 lb man, and 150 lb woman are going to leave a luggage capacity of only 70 lbs. So my guess is that most Americans, including me, are going to overload this vehicle on long road trips with two large suitcases, garment bag, and a cooler. You are certainly not going to be able to bring much home from wine country. This issue should be addressed, considering that there is plenty of luggage space, but apparently not enough weight capacity.

9. The market. I know the CR-Z was aimed at young environmentally conscious yuppie couples. It would also be good for young singles and college students with a wealthy dad. Who knows, it could become a chick car like the retro VW bug? It is also working for me as an empty nest babyboomer–not to save the planet, but just to be an efficient, fun retirement car with some style.

Rick Campbell
Rick Campbell, Creative.
Portland, Oregon USA

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Acura MDX Bluetooth Pairing

Acura MDX Bluetooth Pairing

Posted on 20 April 2011 by admin

Portland Acura

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Gas Saving Tips for the Upcoming Travel Season

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Gas Saving Tips for the Upcoming Travel Season

Posted on 19 April 2011 by admin

Gas Saving Tips

photo courtesy: Todd Franklin

The sun is shining, the temperature is rising, flowers are blooming and the school year is coming to a close.  All of these events point to the end of spring and beginning of the spring/summer travel season.

Summer after summer people pack their family vehicle and venture to their favorite locations in the Pacific Northwest.  Popular events include: whale-watching in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada; the Seattle International Children’s Festival in Seattle, Washington; Bloomsday in Spokane, Washington; Wanderlust tours in Bend, Oregon; and the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Medford, Oregon; and of course Moutains to Metro in Portland, Oregon.

Here are a few gas saving tips to keep in mind if you decide to travel in the Pacific Northwest.  After all, save gas during summer travel this year.

  • Plan ahead.  Gas prices vary from city.  Hotel costs fluctuate based on local events.  Plot your route so you are prepared for varying costs.
  • Use location-based applications.  Many location-based mobile applications provide the best price for local services.  Applications like GasBuddy help you save money at the pump and Yelp offers customer reviews of restaurants.
  • Drive intelligently.  According to CNN Money, constant accelerating and braking wastes gas and can lower your gas mileage by 33% when driving at highway speeds.
  • Regularly service your vehicle.  Scheduled maintenance check help ensure your vehicle is running properly.  Tire pressure and fluid levels are just a couple of your vehicle’s areas that should be routinely checked.  Not checking these areas results in a harder worker engine causing more money to be spent on gas.
Please share any additional tips in the comments below we missed.

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Bugatti Veyron

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Meet Scott Wendell

Posted on 16 April 2011 by admin

 

Bugatti Veyron

Bugatti Veyron

Meet Scott Wendell, Service Adviser for Tonkin Wilsonville Nissan.

What is your Twitter name?

Where are you from?

  • Salt Lake City, Utah

What was your first vehicle?

  • 1970 Chevrolet Chevelle

What is your current vehicle?

  • 2009 Nissan Titan

What vehicle would you drive if money was not an issue?

  • Bugatti Veyron

What is your favorite vehicle in a movie?

  • 1967 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 in Gone in 60 Seconds

What vehicle would you be if you were a Transformer?

  • Sideswipe – Chevrolet Corvette Stingray

What is your least favorite vehicle?

  • Chevy Aveo

What is your most essential vehicle accessory?

  • iPod

What is your favorite driving song?

  • One Vision by Queen

 

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CRZ v Fit Torque Comparisons

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Rick Campbell: 2011 Honda CR-Z Review – Week 2 of 4

Posted on 13 April 2011 by admin

So Larry [one of Rick’s associates], your questions got me digging into the role of the CR-Z electric motor on the web.

The VTEC gas engine is the same as on the Fit, but red lined at 6300 rather than 6800.

The CR-Z electric motor is rated 13 HP at 1000 rpm, and 58 lb-ft at 1000-2000 rpm (!).

As you can see on the graph below, the electric motor does not contribute much to HP, just adding its 13 HP in a straight line. In fact, it might explain why redline is held at 6300. Or maybe something in the powertrain doesn’t like the higher RPM. Or maybe, because there is so much more torque, they want you to short shift and keep the cabin quieter. The CVT could be a problem, but Nissan seems to make it work with more power.

CRZ v Fit Torque Comparisons

Honda CRZ and Fit Comparisons

 

But look at the torque curve!

When you drive it, it feels like the 2 liter engine in my old RSX. Pulls great down low– nearly all from the electric side.

So you combine two prime mover types with opposite torque characteristics, and get the best of both. Neat engineering solution. Nobody is giving Honda credit for this.

But it looks like the tuners need to be careful. This is a complex system, not something you can hot-rod under a shade tree. There might be some reliability reason why Honda cut the redline short, otherwise I’m sure they would like to advertise an extra 10 max HP. Very conservative engineers.

All I can say is the small HP numbers don’t tell the story about the driving. My high school English teacher had a 59 VW convertible with 36 HP (40?) that was also a lot of fun to drive.

Rick Campbell
Rick Campbell, Creative.
Portland, Oregon USA

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Ward’s 10 Best Interiors

Posted on 13 April 2011 by admin

Ward’s recently announced their 10 best interior winners.  The Tonkin Family of Dealerships is proud to retail six of the 10 best interior winners, on a retail level.  The remaining vehicles should be available on a pre-owned basis.
  1. Audi A8.  The meticulously designed and crafted interior of the A8 creates a sublime cabin environment. The evolution of this luxury benchmark includes hand-selected materials and thoughtful details for maximum luxury, convenience and comfort. Leathers are of the highest quality. Wood inlays are hand burnished, while metallic accents create a tactile experience all their own. No other car offers the comfort and total luxury of the all-new Audi A8. Once approved, tolerances where wood, leather and polished aluminum intersect are stringently controlled and cannot exceed a .2 millimeter variance. The result is an interior that feels solid, welcoming and luxurious.
  2. BMW X3 xDrive35i
  3. Chevrolet Cruze 2LT RS.  Cruze challenges conventional compact wisdom with one simple word: more. Its cavernous, quiet interior and beautifully sculpted exterior feel like luxury. Cruze is filled with performance, safety and technology features you won’t believe come in a compact. Want more?  How about 10 standard air bags and OnStar® Turn-by-Turn Navigation standard for the first six months. And there is still more to the “more.”
  4. Dodge Charger Rallye Plus.  “Compared to your typical Detroit sedan of just a few years ago, the Charger’s cabin is tastefully designed and looks clean without appearing austere.” — Road and Track.  “Front occupants get plenty of elbowroom and legroom, and rear legroom is ample. Headroom in models equipped with a sunroof is good but not vast.” — Cars.com. “Headroom is plentiful, as is space around the hips and shoulders, and youd need to be pretty tall to fill the foot wells. The same goes for front seat room.” — Automobile.com.
  5. Ford Focus Titanium
  6. Honda Odyssey Elite.  The all-new Odyssey is packed with features designed to make your life easier. The driver’s seat features 10-way power adjustment, including power lumbar support (EX and above), so you’re in complete control of your world, with all you need either hands-free or within hands’ reach.
  7. Hyundai Elantra Limited.  The 2011 Hyundai Elantra’s most talked-about interior feature is its heated leather seats that come with the Limited trim. On the Limited trim, you can also get the Preferred Equipment Package that has 16-inch alloy wheels, steering wheel audio controls and Bluetooth. There’s also the Navigation Package, which includes a navigation system with a seven-inch screen and a rear view camera, but if you want navigation on the GLS trim, you also have to buy the Preferred Equipment Package. The Premium Package is only available with the Limited trim and adds a navigation system, a rear view camera and push button start.  The GLS Elantra’s standard features aren’t quite as impressive. This trim comes with a basic audio system, XM Satellite Radio, power door locks and windows, remote keyless entry and a tilt steering wheel. The Elantra does not come with air conditioning, but it can be added in the GLS Popular Equipment Package.
  8. Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland Summit
  9. Kia Optima EX.  From the moment the door opens, Optima presents an immediate sense of a driver’s car. The instrument panel is contoured toward the driver to suggest a cockpit feel with precise gauges and controls for an overall sport performance experience without sacrificing comfort or roominess. Paddle shifters behind the steering wheel convey that Optima is built for people who are passionate about cars. A high console with a short shifter adds to the cockpit perception while an available panoramic sunroof provides an open-air feeling. Offering occupants both space and comfort with a number of standard convenience features, the sedan’s chic cabin unifies with the exterior design by welcoming its passengers with lean and ergonomic seat design and effective storage throughout. Modern standard features such as a six-way adjustable driver’s seat with power lumbar support, illuminated vanity mirrors with a ticket holder and a trip computer further expand the cabin’s luxurious qualities.
  10. Volvo S60

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Porsche 911

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Meet Erin Ryan

Posted on 08 April 2011 by admin

Meet Erin Ryan, Social Media Specialist for the Automotive Industry at TK Carsites.

What is your Twitter name?

Where are you from?

  • Greenwood, Nova Scotia

What was your first vehicle?

  • Pontiac Sunfire

What is your current vehicle?

  • 2011 Chevrolet Cruze
Porsche 911

Porsche 911

What vehicle would you drive if money was not an issue?

  • Black Porsche 911

What is your favorite vehicle in a movie?

  • Audi RSQ from the movie I, Robot

What vehicle would you be if you were a Transformer?

  • Sideswipe – Chevrolet Corvette Stingray

What is your least favorite vehicle?

  • The Smart Car

What is your most essential vehicle accessory?

  • Key-less Entry

What is your favorite driving song?

  • A song that moves me physically or emotionally.

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Ram 1500 Express

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Ram Truck Unleashes New 1500 Express

Posted on 07 April 2011 by admin

Ram 1500 Express

Dodge Ram 1500 Express Portland

Ram Truck unveiled the new 2011 Ram 1500 Express today.

The Ram 1500 Express — originally announced Feb. 15, 2011 under the code name Adventurer — is a new Ram Truck model aimed at first-time buyers and owners who are looking for a truck with performance, style and customization options.

“We’re excited about the addition of this new model to the Ram 1500 lineup,” said Fred Diaz, Ram Truck President and CEO and Head of National Sales – Chrysler Group LLC. “There’s nothing that compares to the high-performance value represented by the Ram 1500 Express. Ram 1500 Express combines great looks and MPG along with HEMI horsepower, torque, towing and payload, all at a fantastic price. It gives the youth or first-time truck buyer an opportunity to show off a great looking ride, with unsurpassed V8 entry-level capability, in a tremendous value-priced package.”

Plans to launch the new Ram 1500 Express were pulled ahead after company executives saw a groundswell of support for the then-just-announced Ram Tradesman.

The Ram Tradesman — unveiled Feb. 9, 2011 at the Chicago Auto Show — is a value-priced, HEMI®-powered Ram 1500 regular cab truck that appeals to a cost-conscious, new-vehicle buyer who does not want to give up performance and capability.

The new Ram 1500 Express — like the Ram Tradesman — offers buyers a standard HEMI V8 engine with a 20 mpg rating for the same price competitors are charging for their V6 engines.

Mopar has announced that it will have hundreds of accessories available for buyers who are looking to personalize their Ram 1500 Express.

“Given that the Ram 1500 Express is an aggressively priced truck, owners will have plenty left over to personalize and customize their ride,” said Pietro Gorlier, President and CEO of Mopar, Chrysler Group’s service, parts and customer-care brand. “For this truck, Mopar will offer more than 300 quality-tested accessories from which to choose.”

Loaded with Features

In addition to the 5.7-liter HEMI V8 engine with 390 horsepower and 407 lb.-ft. of torque, Ram 1500 Express comes loaded with features that emphasize its high-performance character.

The first thing drivers will notice is the Ram 1500 Express’ racy, monochromatic paint scheme. A body-colored grille with black honeycomb inserts, body-colored front fascia and body-colored rear fascia with chrome-tipped dual exhausts shout “high-performance.” The new Ram model will also get fog lamps and 20-inch aluminum wheels with locking lug nuts. There’s also a locking tailgate, cargo lamp, rear-bumper step pad, 6” x 9” side-view mirrors and rear wheel-well liners.

Standard features also include a 160-amp alternator, 26-gallon fuel tank, 3.55 rear axle ratio, 700-amp maintenance-free battery, four and seven-pin trailer wiring harness, heavy-duty front and rear shock absorbers, front and rear stabilizer bars, power rack-and-pinion steering, halogen headlamps, heavy-duty engine and transmission cooling and a full-size spare tire.

Inside, the 1500 Express will get a heavy-duty vinyl 40/20/40 split-bench seat, and buyers will have a choice of vinyl or carpeted floor covering. Other features include air conditioning, an instrument cluster with tachometer and 120-mph speedometer, 12-volt auxiliary power outlet, four-spoke tilt steering wheel, six-speaker media center with CD and MP3 player, as well as audio jack input for mobile devices, automatic headlamps, behind-the-seat storage bins, driver and passenger assist handles, power accessory delay, rear dome lamp, rear-view day/night mirror, tinted glass windows, tip start and variable intermittent windshield wipers.

Safety features include advanced multistage front air bags, supplemental front curtain and side air bags, anti-lock four-wheel disc brakes, electronic stability control, height-adjust shoulder belts, sentry key theft deterrent system and tire pressure monitoring warning lamp.

Ram 1500 Express is available in Bright Silver Metallic, Bright White, Brilliant Black Crystal Pearl, Deep Cherry Red Crystal Pearl; Deep Water Blue Pearl; Flame Red, Hunter Green Pearl and Mineral Gray Metallic.

Options for Personalization

Buyers can choose their own options. In addition to a Class IV receiver hitch, Ram 1500 Express is available with a long list of options.

Factory-installed exterior options include Mopar chrome tubular side steps, Mopar chrome steel bed rails, folding and heated trailer-tow power mirrors with supplemental signals and courtesy lamps, spray-in bedliner and under-rail bedliner.

Inside, buyers can choose a cloth 40/20/40 split-bench seat, Uconnect voice command with Bluetooth, rear-view auto-dim mirror, remote USB port, sliding rear window, cruise control, instrument cluster with vehicle information center display screen, tire pressure monitoring display, power one-touch windows, remote keyless entry, Sirius Satellite Radio and either carpet or rubber floor mats.

There is also a choice of two optional rear-axle ratios (3.21, 3.92), anti-spin differential, engine block heater and trailer brake controller.

Ram 1500 Express comes as a regular cab, short-bed model, with a choice of 4×2 or 4×4 drivetrain. When equipped with an optional Class IV hitch, the new Ram 1500 Express will tow a maximum trailer weight of 10,450 lbs.

You can view the Ram 1500 Express at your local Portland Dodge dealer.

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