GirlDriver, USA

GirlDriver, USA
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Saturday, March 31, 2012

Biggest MPG Gainers According to

As automakers strive to improve their fleets’ fuel economy, was curious to see which individual vehicles made the biggest improvements in fuel economy since 2008. As it turns out, the Audi A3 has made the biggest strides since the 2008 model year, climbing 38.5% to an average 29.1 MPG in 2012. Overall, the industrywide fleet of light vehicles has increased its fuel economy more than 16 percent over the same period:

Top 10 Vehicles with Biggest Jumps in Fuel Economy -- 2008 to 2012
2012 MPG
2008 MPG
MPG Improvement



Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Ford's Police Interceptor

I just did something that is the kind of thing which makes my job interesting.  Driving Ford’s new Police Interceptor utility and sedan vehicles through some cone courses out at Citifield in Queens.  That’s where the New York Mets play ball. 
Ford was smart enough to have their old Crown Vics at hand. About 70 percent of the police fleet in America now is Ford Crown Vic.  We drove the Crown Vics first and then got in the new, teched-out police cars. Gradually municipalities will replace those old Vics for new vehicles.  While Chevrolet and Dodge vie with Ford for the cop car business, municipalities are accustomed to Ford.  It won’t be a surprise if they reorder.
We got to do a chase course and spin the wheels around tight corners to experience what is was like to catch a thief.  Our course was less adrenalated—we didn’t have a crime. Expect to see more perp walks now that the force has better performance.
Specially designed and engineered to handle the rigors of police work, the new Police Interceptors are available with efficient powertrain packages that provide more performance and better fuel economy. The powertrains are paired with standard and exclusive all-wheel drive for optimized traction and control.
Fuel economy at idle improves 35 percent on the Police Interceptor sedan and 32 percent on the Police Interceptor utility vehicle.
These cars have some nifty specifications that fit the needs of law enforcement including a seat that is designed with cutouts for guns, heavy duty brakes, calipers, rotors and pads that Ford calls police unique, heavy duty springs and shocks, a spotter mirror and a universal top tray where the radar goes.  It is 75 mph rear crash tested and has safety cell unibody frame with crumple zones.
Back to back with the Crown Vic, both new Police Interceptors made the Crown Vic look old fashioned.  They are faster, tighter around turns and is a world apart in terms of handling.  Ford worked directly with law enforcement in Michigan to get the desired result.  And the vehicles have been designed so that they can be repurposed for other agencies when they are no longer effective for the police force.
Bottom line: it’s going to be much harder to get away.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Land Rover LR2

The Land Rover LR2 is a luxurious, built-like-a-brick-wall, smooth traveler--a vehicle for someone who wants the best of everything.  “I’m not that girl,” as Elphaba, the green-skinned girl in Wicked, sings.
 I haven’t driven Land Rovers in a while—maybe in over a year.  I don’t know if the company has improved the suspension, but it was one of the things that impressed me most.  It was like spreading butter on bread rolling over potholes.
The LR2 has a 3.2-liter aluminum alloy inline 6-cylinder engine coupled with permanent intelligent all-wheel drive with traction control.  Its six-speed electronically controlled automatic with command shift can be driven in normal, sport and manual shift modes.  The front to rear torque split varies continuously.
The interior is big enough for a couple of friends and two large dogs from the estate. It’s got the works: dual climate control, leather seating surfaces, leather wrapped tilt and telescopic steering wheel, dark chestnut trim, adjustable seats, sunroof and split folding rear seats.  What it did not have—shockingly—were blind spot detection and rear back-up camera.
And while people in this demographic don’t worry that much about money, the vehicle gets only 15/22 city/highway. 
I like the Land Rover, but I just kept feeling that find-a-trail impulse.  I was in the country, but I never actually did take the vehicle off road.  One kind of has to plan for that activity and I just ran out of time.
Still on the 125-mile trip home, I felt the comfort and spaciousness of the vehicle.  Do not talk to me about the entertainment system because I will froth at the mouth.  There was no manual in the car and it took me about 80 miles to figure out how to find a radio station.  I never could tune into the Broadway channel on Sirius.
I had dinner with Land Rover owners and the husband said, “every thing in the car is overbuilt.  If you need 230 horsepower, it has 275.  If you want three-way adjustable anything, it has ten.   That’s my impression.”  The wife agreed with my take on the radio.  Radios should be simple and intuitive to operate.  The Land Rover system is anything but.
My LR2 as equipped was $44,150.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

GMC Unveils Its 2013 Denali Terrain

The 2013 Denali Terrain-a small SUV that gets very good fuel economy.
GMC debuted the 2013 Terrain Denali tonight at HighLine Studios in New York City.  The luxury small Terrain is the seventh Denali model.  Sales for all Denali models increased 79 percent from 2010 to 2011.

More power, same efficiency
The Terrain Denali comes with GM's new 3.6-liter V-6 engine with direct injection and continuously variable valve timing with 301 horsepower and 272 lb.-ft. of torque.  The engine is also expected to deliver the same fuel economy as the previous model and engine. The fuel economy is achieved through weight reductions in the new engine.

Terrain’s standard Ecotec 2.4-liter I-4 with direct injection and continuously variable valve timing is also availabl delivering 32 highway mpg (2WD model). Front-wheel drive is standard on Terrain Denali, with all-wheel drive available for both engines. 
New dual-flow dampers are exclusive to the Terrain Denali’s suspension system. This technology provides a smoother ride and improved handling by controlling suspension dampening across a broader range of driving conditions.


Models with the 2.4L engine feature 18-inch wheels, while the V-6 engine is paired with 19-inch wheels. 
Inside and out, the 2013 Terrain Denali features high-end details. Models with the 2.4L engine feature 18-inch wheels, while the V-6-equipped model is paired with 19-inch wheels. Other Denali-specific exterior features include: signature chrome grille, satin chrome accents,
body color front and rear fascias, body color rocker panels with satin chrome molding,
new headlamp and taillamp designs, dual chrome finish exhaust outlets (single outlet on 2.4L).

Terrain Denali’s cabin updates are highlighted by Soft-touch Jet Black leather lines the seats and door inserts and is accented with contrast stitching and red accent lighting. Other Denali-exclusive interior details include: Soft-touch instrument panel, a leather-wrapped steering wheel mahogany wood trim accents, eight-way power driver and passenger seat

Many of GMC’s  technologies come standard with the Denali Terrain, including a color touch radio with IntelliLink. This new infotainment system features a reconfigurable home screen; intuitive voice commands; Bluetooth smartphone integration; control of streaming internet radio apps such as Pandora and Stitcher; and iPod controls with Gracenote music database technology.

Forward collision alert and lane departure warning are standard on Terrain Denali. They use the industry’s first single-camera crash-avoidance system to visually and audibly warn drivers when a collision is imminent or the vehicle crosses a lane marker.
In addition, side blind zone and rear cross traffic alert help avoid collisions by using radar to watch spots the driver may not be able to see – and provide visible and audible warnings.

Convenience features, such as a programmable power liftgate, are standard on Terrain Denali. At the touch of a button, owners can access the vehicle’s 63.9 cubic feet of cargo space (behind the first row), while a memory function stops the liftgate at a chosen height to help shorter drivers or accommodate low garage heights.

Available technologies include color touch navigation and a rear-seat entertainment system.
As with every new GMC, the Terrain Denali comes with six free months of OnStar’s Directions and Connections plan. It includes Automatic Crash Response, Turn-by-Turn Navigation, roadside assistance, emergency services link, stolen vehicle assistance and remote door unlock.
Pricing and availability of the 2013 Terrain Denali and Terrain 3.6L V-6 models will be announced closer to the on-sale date in the third quarter of 2012.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

New York Auto Show Snapshot Contest

Winner Receives All-Expense Paid Trip & Exclusive Press Day Access

An entry posted at Snap
The New York International Automobile Show is looking for budding shutterbugs to send in their best automobile photographs for the chance to win an all-expense paid trip to visit the Show at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in Manhattan.
Launched in connection with Snap MyLife, Inc., the official Photo Sponsor of the Show, car lovers can visit visit
The Grand Prize contest winner will win an all-expense paid trip for two to the New York International Auto Show, including airfare and accommodations, show tickets and exclusive Press Day access to see this year's cars unveiled and be named the “Official Roving Photographer” of the NYIAS. The grand prize winner also receives an EOS Rebel T3i 18-55mm IS II Lens Kit. Second and third prize winners will receive an EOS Rebel T3i 18-55mm IS II Lens Kit and $250 Visa Gift Card, respectively.
Three winning photos will be chosen by fans voting on the Snap MyLife contest web page. There is no contest entrance fee. Winning entries will be included in the official NY Auto Photo stream on Snap and will be used by the NYIAS. The competition ends March, 25th.

Free Tickets to MOMA from VW

 Hey, VW's giving away free tickets to a very cool series at MOMA.  Go to:
Read on below.  

Volkswagen of America is giving away 50 pairs of free tickets per night to the sold-out, eight-night live performance exhibition, Kraftwerk – Retrospective 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8, from April 10–17 at The Museum of Modern Art. Tickets are being distributed as part of Volkswagen of America’s sponsorship of MoMA’s highly-anticipated presentation of Kraftwerk, and its ongoing innovative partnership between MoMA and MoMA PS1 that began in May 2011.

Each evening will consist of a live performance in the Museum’s Donald B. and Catherine C. Marron Atrium of works from one of the group’s eight albums, created over four decades, followed by a selection of original compositions from their catalogue. The performances, adapted specifically for this exhibition’s format, showcase both Kraftwerk’s historical contributions and contemporary influences on sound and image culture.

In addition to the 50 pairs of Kraftwerk tickets to the performances at MoMA, Volkswagen is offering 500 pairs of tickets to view a temporary exhibition of Kraftwerk’s historical audio and visual material from April 12 to May 14, 2012, in the MoMA PS1 Performance Dome, which is made possible through Volkswagen of America’s collaboration with MoMA. Fans who enter to win Kraftwerk tickets will be automatically entered for both events.

Kraftwerk fans can win tickets by visiting the “VW GIFaway” website at and entering their contact information. For a second entry opportunity—and an interactive way to express their excitement—fans can post an animated GIF of themselves. Animated GIFs are composed of multiple images to give the appearance of a movie clip, and are a staple of Internet culture. These animated GIFs may be featured in the “VW Online GIF HUB.” If visitors do not want to create a GIF for their second entry into the prize drawing, they can mail in their entry. Winners will be contacted by March 26, 2012.

Kraftwerk – Retrospective 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 will feature 3-D visualization and a selection of original compositions from one of Kraftwerk’s eight albums over eight consecutive nights. The albums will be performed in chronological order: Autobahn (1974), Radio-Activity (1975), Trans Europe Express (1977), The Man-Machine (1978), Computer World (1981), Techno Pop (1986), The Mix (1991) and Tour de France (2003). It is organized by Klaus Biesenbach, chief curator at large at MoMA and Director of MoMA PS1, with the assistance of Eliza Ryan, curatorial assistant, MoMA PS1.