GirlDriver, USA

GirlDriver, USA
Look! It's GirlDriver, USA.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

IMPA Test Day? Drive a bunch of cars around a racetrack day

IMPA stands for International Motor Press Association.  It's a club I belong to along with other reprobates and auto pr folks.  We have monthly meetings with good speakers from the industry and we have a couple of test days out of the city.  These are days when we go to Bear Mountain (In the spring) and the Monticello Raceway (In the fall) and the auto companies bring their latest models, line them up along the road and leave the keys in them.  We jump into the cars and high-tail it around the track and on the roads. 

Nissan 350 Z
These are a few of the cars I drove.   I drove the Rolls-Royce Phantom II Series.  Oleg Satanaovsky, the man in charge of the car rode along with me.  Tthe monroney (sales sheet) of the Phantom is a great read.  My favorite line is the one that lists the cost for the pen set you can get for the glove box.  It costs $5,575.00.  Oleg explained to me that in the middle east where Rolls sells a lot of cars, five grand isn't a lot for a pen.  People can't express their wealth in their dress, so they buy $100,000 pens and watches.  Makes sense to me!  Anyway, here are a few more things you can equip your vehicle with:  a humidor in the glove box for $4,050 (a steal!), a drinks cabinet for individual rear seats for $11,000 (don't be caught without one), picnic tables with glass and pen holder for $1,525 (well if you've already got the pen, hey!).  Just different and interesting, isn't it?

Sweet.  Yellow.  Camaro,

Love this car.

The hotel is next door to the Nevele and four of us autobabes tried to break in but we were caught by security.  Well, we weren't exactly undercover driving up to the gate in a Bentley and jumping the gate.  The Nevele is so ugly,  Remember those awful ads?  The security guard told us the place is going to become a casino,  Yuck.
I drove the Camaro and the Nissan 350Z.  I love those cars.  They're way too much fun to drive.  I want them in my five-car garage--another lifetime. 
By the way, the term high-tail comes from animals who raise their tails when fleeing.  If we'd just robbed a bank and we were driving the Camaro or the 350Z we would have to high-tail it out of town.  Likewise at Test Day some of us high-tail it around the track.  We wouldn't have to high-tail it out of town if we'd robbed the bank and we were driving the Phantom because no one would suspect us because we have an $11,000 drinks cabinet in the back seat.  Speaking of high-tailing, I got my wrist band pulled when I drove too fast around a corner and went off the track.  One gets their wristband removed if they appear to be driving wrecklessly.  I've never had my wristband pulled.  I was, I have to admit, pleased with myself in a way.  GirlDriver, USA and all.  I got it back because the wife of the guy who monitors the track was in the car with me.  She said, "Just look contrite."  I said, "That's harder than it sounds.  I haven't been to confession for a long, long time. 

Monday, October 15, 2012

Acura ILX -- Cool and Understated

If you met the Acura ILX in a bar, you wouldn't automatically walk up to it and say, "Wanna take a ride?"  And that would be your loss.

Indie Band Promotion for ILX.  It's a cool car.
Based on the ever popular Honda Civic, the Acura ILX compact sedan gets its premium boost from plenty of the luxe options and standard equipment that put it right into the "check it out" category. 

My ILX was powered by a 2.4 liter DOHC, 16-valve i-VTEC 4-cylinder engine that delivered 201 horsepower and 170 lb-ft of torque.  It was paired with a 6-speed manual and that combinations kept me very happy behind the wheel.  The ILX also comes in a base  model with a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 150 horsepower and 140 pound-feet of torque paired with a five-speed automatic and a hybrid version  with a 1.5-liter four-cylinder  and  electric motor that delivers 111 hp and 127 lb-ft. 

Fuel economy on the premium ILX is 22 city/ 31 highway/ 25 combined, nothing earth shattering.

Nice interior.  You won't get tired of it.
The cost for my vehicle, which had leather-trimmed, heated sport seats, premium audio, satellite radio,  17" alloy wheels, all-season tires, an eight-way power driver's seat, multi-view rear camera, moon roof, Xenon headlights, fog lamps and heated power door mirrors was $30,095 including delivery charges.

The car was spirited and fun to drive.  It's got good looks although as mentioned previously, it doesn't broadcast its capabilities with showy design.  With this car I felt that was a good thing.  It kind of takes you by surprise.  Thumbs up.  Also look at Buick Verano, Mazda 3, BMW 3.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Did You Get a Recall Notice on Your Vehicle? Don't Panic

No doubt you’ve caught the news about recalls and automotive safety in recent days.
"It may be overwhelming to hear that so many cars have been recalled, but in truth, carmakers save money by using common parts wherever and whenever possible, and this greatly increases the number of affected vehicles when there is a recall," noted Senior Editor John O’Dell, who recently published a fascinating piece on recalls at Features Editor Carroll Lachnit advises consumers to stay on top of recalls that affect them. "Consumers enjoy having a lot of features in their cars, but sometimes, things can and will go wrong, and the probability increases with every additional feature you have. To keep you and your family safe, it's critical to stay informed about recalls and to address them quickly when they affect your car."
A free resource on current recalls can be accessed at

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Note To Self: Buy Leather Jacket

The way to size up the Mitsubishi Lancer Ralliart is to first know in your head that it's a bad boy with good intentions. Who wouldn't love the growl of the 237-hp 2.0 liter 4-cylinder turbocharged engine?  The engine is paired with a 6-speed, twin-clutch sportronic transmission, which I found imprecise and annoying.  Even after settling in to the car, I had problems shifting gears.

Once in gear, this performance-enhanced Lancer is a blast to drive.  It felt secure and grounded and responsive.   Foglamps and dual exhaust, makes this shark nosed, chrome-appointed, hood-scooped sedan a head turner.   The interior finishes and materials left me wishing for a better execution although sport meter gauges, leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob make up for some of those issues.  I'm also one who doesn't care for the pumped up Rockford-Fosgate sound system.  The target market for this car would totally approve, but the sound is way to heavy and pounding for my musical tastes.  You can find me on  Broadway channel (XM 72) whenever I'm not listening to news.

Getting down to brass tacks, the fuel economy on this beast is 18 city/ 25 highway/20 combined.  My car as equipped was $34,240 including delivery with about $5,300 worth of extras.  The monroney (sales sheet) actually includes a full tank of gas.  Like, really?  Well the average annual fuel cost calculations do estimate that you will spend $2,850 annually in fuel costs.  It averages out to about $2,600 more over five years than an average new vehicle or about $500 a year.   

Mitsu is one of a couple of car companies that are struggling in the U.S.  In the Lancer slice of the market there are many desirable muscle cars to choose from so competitors have to be at the very top of their game.  With Mitsu total sales hovering around 40,000 in a market that is being estimated at 14.4 million vehicles this year, it is hard to see how they will survive.  Chevrolet,  sold 40,000 cars  over two weeks in August.

I had fun in the car.   But if you don't want to draw attention, you might be better off with a Camry.  I was stopped by the state troopers at 12:30 a.m. on the parkway.  He was more interested in the fact that I had California distributor plates than the fact that I was going 72 in a 55 mph zone.  "I've only ever seen one other California plate on this road in my entire career," he said.  (He had to be all of 19.)  And then he didn't know how to input a distributor plate and was fascinated by my job so I got off.