GirlDriver, USA

GirlDriver, USA
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Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Is this a car or an airplane? It does have wings. And, it's a hybrid!

Winged La Ferrari

-->Ferrari unveiled LaFerrari supercar at the Geneva auto show today. It's gasoline-hybrid engine produces 963-horsepower and is is the fastest, most powerful and most expensive Ferrari model to date.This first gasoline-electric hybrid from Ferrari is powered by the HY-KERS system, which consists of a 6.26-liter V-12 normally aspirated engine that delivers 800 hp combined with a 120 Kw (163 hp) electric motor. Predictions are that it will cost around $1.2 million euros with taxes. Anyone who buys this car will be talking nonstop about 0-60. Here are the impressive figures:
0 to 100kph in less than 3 seconds and from 0-200kph in less than 7 seconds.

Ferrari is going to build 500 cars, expecting sales in China and Asia and the Middle East.Sergio Marchionne says it is already sold out.

A mean machine.
The ideal situation is to have a boyfriend who comes into town only every couple of months who owns LaFerrari.  He calls and says, "let's go for a drive!"  "Great," you say.  You go someplace upstate or over to the Berkshires or out to the Ham . . . no . . . just . . . oh, OK, out to the Hamptons.  He is very rich after all.   But this is great.  You don't own the car or have to garage it or worry endlessly about it. You don't even have to chip in for gas.  You have a lovely drive at 200 mph and it only takes you 15 minutes to get to Montauk or Great Barrington.  You have a nice dinner somewhere and you're back by 6:30 because it only takes you 15 minutes to get home.  I wonder if the NHTSA will categorize this as a plane and try to keep it off the highways.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Talkin' Toyota

Been drivin' a few Toyotas lately––the Camry and the Corolla.  The paint job on the Camry was  "Magnetic Gray" and on the Corolla, a "Nautical Blue."  Makes me want a job naming colors.  These vehicles have New Jersey license plates but many of the cars I drive in upstate New York have Tennesse, Michigan or California license plates.  When law enforcement up north sees a bright paint job on a vehicle with a far away license plate, I am much more likely to be pulled over.  One officer, fresh from State Police school, who stopped me at midnight for going one mile over the speed limit said to me, "In my career (what, all of three months?) I've only seen one other California license plate on this road."  My response:  "It was probably me."

Popularity contest winner in America
Anyway the Camry is the top selling car in America.  And it isn't because it's hot, or expensive or flashy.  It's because it is oatmeal--and I don't mean mushy, tasteless, instant oatmeal.  Think steel cut oats, slow cooked over a low flame.  My Camry came with a 2.5L four-cylinder 16V w/ dual VVT-i engine that produces 178 horsepower and 170 pound-feet of torque paired with a 6-speed ECT-i (electronically controlled transmission) with paddle shifters.  It's a class leader in fuel economy at 25 city/35 highway, 28 combined.  A 3.5-liter V6 that generates 268 hp and 248 lb-ft of torque is optional and delivers excellent fuel economy at 21 city/31 highway/25 combined. Enhanced by 17" wheels and sport-tuned electric power steering, the ride and handling is peppy and dependable.  Most of the folks I talk cars with––and that is both men and women––don't want drama.  They want reliability.  And Toyota owners are like pit bulls.  They're never going to let go of their Toyotas.
Nice clear display on this touch screen.
The Camry's 6.1" touch screen displays bells and whistles nicely.  The car is home grown in Georgetown, Kentucky and with optional equipment my vehicle cost $27,586 including delivery.

What I missed on this vehicle, which I think is essential safety equipment, is blind spot detection.  Otherwise it's got pretty much all you could want--no wait, no heated steering wheel.

Need a smaller Toyota?  Several people asked me what I was driving when I took the Corolla for a weekend.  "A Toyota Corolla," I said.  That's a Toyota?   It surprised several people.  Toyota has major skin in the compact sedan game.  The Corolla's been around for 40 years.  Amazing.  But the competitors like the Ford Focus, the Kia Forte, Mazda 3 and Hyundai Elantra have bettered their game and are coming after the Corolla, so, yes, in addition to being trustworthy and dependable, Toyota has to ramp up its styling.  There's a lot of good choices in this class.  Still I was impressed by the reaction I got.  Since its introduction to the U.S. in 1968, Corolla has become the world’s all-time best-selling passenger car, with over 30 million sold in more than 140 countries.
Mine was blue.  Red is always snazzier.

The 2013 Toyota Corollas are powered by a 1.8-L, inline, four-cylinder engine that produces 132 horsepower and 128 pound-feet of torque. A five-speed manual transmission is standard and a four-speed automatic is optional.  Fuel economy (EPA) is 26  city/34 highway and 29 combined with the automatic and 27/34/30 with the manual.  With gas prices seemingly going down those are good numbers.  Some of the competitors, though, are at 40.

Pretty straightforward instrument panel.  Easy  access.

 I felt at one with the Corolla.  You've had that feeling in a car haven't you?  That you were buddies?  I had a classmate in college that had a Nash Rambler and she was a soprano and had long black hair and her idea of heaven was to travel to singing gigs in her Nash Rambler and sleep in the car to save money.  She called it her "buddy."  Nash called them buddies.  Anyway, I don't want to sleep in the Corolla or travel to singing gigs in it but I did sort of think it as a buddy.  The cost of my vehicle with options and delivery:  $21,729.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Ready to be Sissified

Sleek from the side
I have been known to say that all these assists and luxury options in new cars--like parallel parking assist and heated seats--are turning us into sissies and inadequate drivers.  If I'm going to stick to my guns, I would have to include heated steering wheels like the one I had recently in the 2013 Buick Encore.  So let's just say, I'm ready to be sissified.  I haven't loved an option like I love the heated steering wheel since the first car I drove with blind spot detection, which I place in the must-have-safety-features category versus the I-never-want-to-drive-a-car-again-without-this-luxury category.  It was a raw, cold weekend.  I had to get in a cold car several times over a three-day period.  That heated steering wheel quickly comes to the rescue and in such a nice way.  This feature goes into the I-never-want-to-drive-a-car-again, etc. category.

Looks totally right in red.
Looking at the Encore parked in the driveway,  I was struck by the looks of this small luxury crossover,  available as front wheel drive or all-wheel drive.  It's got a bit of a round bulbous front end but its size and shape are seem very resolved--a nice addition to one's driveway.

The seating is comfortable, the interior room is appropriate for its size but you would have to choose between a fifth passenger and extreme luggage.  I haul a lot of stuff back and forth and I ended up with the suitcase in the backseat.  I could have fit everything in the cargo space if I had made two layers.

Such a nice leathery luxury interior

The Encore's instrument panel is easy to read and quite handsome to look at as you drive along in the very quiet cabin--car makers put a lot of effort into making your ride quiet--a lot of effort.  My all-wheel drive Encore is powered by an ecotec turbo 1.4 liter 4-cylinder engine paired with a 6-speed automatic.  Fuel economy is 23 city/30 highway/26 combined.  My coach costs $32,975 with $2,500 worth of options including fancy wheels and fancy nav/audio combo.

This is a GirlDriver, USA car.  I was at home in this vehicle and I think they are going to sell a lot of these babies to women.  If you're one of us I encourage you to give it a whirl.  Nice, nice handling.