Auto Keirning Cars

Reviews Sport Car Collection Of Various Sources

Auto Keirning Cars

Reviews Sport Car Collection Of Various Sources

Auto Keirning Cars

Reviews Sport Car Collection Of Various Sources

Auto Keirning Cars

Reviews Sport Car Collection Of Various Sources

Auto Keirning Cars

Reviews Sport Car Collection Of Various Sources

Monday, November 30, 2009

Review: 2010 Buick LaCrosse CXL

2010 Buick LaCrosse CXL

With great fanfare, General Motors has introduced the 2010 Buick LaCrosse, a vehicle with which the automaker hopes to jump-start a sweeping brand transformation for the tired Tri-Shield. For Buick to be a success in GM's post-bailout, post-bankruptcy era, the brand must dump its well-deserved reputation as the preferred marque of last-time buyers. (Average age of previous-model LaCrosse buyer: Around 70.) For better or worse, as it scrambles to get more – and younger – drivers behind the wheel, Buick has elected to position itself as America's Lexus in a bid to give itself some premium cachet.

Frankly, that's a pretty tall order, but if first impressions mean anything, the Buick LaCrosse might be crowned GM's savior on appearances alone, because it's that attractive, especially compared to the fish-faced namesake it replaces. The 2009-and-prior LaCrosse looks like the unfortunate love child of a third-generation Ford Taurus and a Mitsuoka Orochi. Or, put plainly, it looks like some ugly Chinese car. By comparison, the 2010 LaCrosse is classy and stylish. Therein lies the delicious irony: the 2010 Buick LaCrosse's glitzy looks were, in fact, jointly developed with GM China's design team. Go figure, and be thankful. In the metal, this ride draws plenty appreciative stares.

Viewed in profile, the 2010 Buick LaCrosse's fast-looking roofline sweeps down into a short, high rear decklid. Acres of sheet metal reside under the greenhouse, and to mitigate the ensuing slab-sidedness, the designers employ a Lexus-style chrome strip along the bottom of the door panels along with a corresponding indent in the bodywork. What really breaks up the monotony, however, is the 21st-century version of the Buick sweep-spear, implemented here as a crease in the bodywork that turns the LaCrosse's chunkiness into a something a bit more voluptuous-looking. The LaCrosse CXL's chrome-finished, seven-spoke 18-inch wheels fill out the wells nicely, and the 19-inchers you get with the top-spec Lacrosse CXS would look better proportioned still.

Arched headlamps flank Buick's signature waterfall grille, and the lower bumper openings turn down into a frown at the corners. It makes for a sterner look than the bewildered, four-eyed face sported by the old LaCrosse. The hood ventiports on the new LaCrosse are also purely ornamental. Moving aft, tail lamps resembling chrome-edged flower petals finish off the rear end. From an exterior styling perspective, the new Buick LaCrosse drips curb appeal all over the sidewalk.

The good news continues with the swanky interior, elegantly decked out in a tasteful two-tone motif in the case of our tester. Material quality gets a solid thumbs-up, and GM goes so far as to add stitching to some of the soft-touch door and dash surfaces, making them look as though they're wrapped in leather, when in fact it's merely a visual sleight-of-hand. Don't laugh – it works. The front seats are comfortable and reasonably bolstered, but the best seats in the house may be one row back. At 40.5 inches, rear seat legroom is very good. That's more than the Pontiac G8 – no slouch in the department at 39.4 inches – just shy of the Toyota Avalon's 40.9 inches, and simply obliterates the 35.9 inches you'll get as a backseater in the Lexus ES350. If you don't get to ride shotgun in the LaCrosse, it's no penalty to be relegated to the back, where you can sit back and enjoy the quiet cabin in great comfort. Go ahead, cross your legs. You can.

A sweeping, beautifully-designed cockpit envelops the driver and front passenger in leather, attractive woodgrain and a variety of soft-touch surfaces. Beyond GM's new corporate steering wheel (leather-wrapped, heated and with woodgrain on top) is a padded binnacle shrouding the LaCrosse's attractive and unique tach and speedo gauges. Their ice blue illumination is further accented by cool ambient lighting that dresses up the instrument panel at night. The snazzy-looking layout layout stumbles a bit when your eyes land on the parts bin-special driver information and radio displays – similar to the ones you'll find in the Chevrolet Camaro, Equinox and GMC Terrain. They work fine and are eminently readable, but the look isn't as polished as, say, the audio display in the Cadillac CTS (or something in that general vein), whose higher-res presentation would better fit the premium theme GM says it's trying to get at with the revamped Buick.

The LaCrosse's center stack features the familiar, two-dial radio setup you expect to find in a GM car. Below the station preset keys, you'll find a total of 24 additional buttons, controlling various other audio and HVAC features. In daylight, the arrangement is a bit busy, but still usable. At night, however, it can be hard to discern what's what, as the area becomes a jumbled sea of little blue words and icons. One rainy evening, the windshield fogged up quickly and we spent more time looking down at the instrument panel for the proper buttons to make the adjustments than we would normally be comfortable with, particularly at highway speeds. The wheel-mounted cruise and radio controls work great, and there are enough station presets that we seldom needed to reach for the manual tuning dial at all.

While the LaCrosse's steep A-pillar angle helps make the car look great on the outside, it wreaks havoc on driver visibility, effectively blocking your view of any street you plan to turn left onto. Likewise, the rear view is compromised by the LaCrosse's high rear deck, which contributes to rearward visibility that's downright SUV-like. It's a trend that's maddening and unlikely to go away anytime soon. A standard-equipment rear-view camera, as GM offers on the cheaper GMC Terrain, would work wonders here. Alas, a cam is only available in the laCrosse if you order the stereo with nav system. Without it, backing out of a space in a crowded supermarket parking lot can become a white-knuckle affair, since little kids are obscured by the high rump.

Trunk space is actually pretty skinflint, especially for a big vehicle, at just 13.3 cubic feet. It's a shame, too, as the trunk itself is deeper than the short rear deck would suggest. We slid a stroller in lengthwise without even folding back the handle, and it fit with room to spare. The issue is that the usable area is sacrificed in the name of big, intrusive gooseneck hinges. The hinges are blocked off, so there's no danger of crushing your cargo, but the space they occupy would have added a sizable amount of cargo-carrying capacity had GM set up the trunk with struts instead. It's a missed opportunity. Yes, the Lexus ES uses a similar setup, but that's no excuse.

But our biggest disappointment came from the 252-horsepower and 215 pound-feet of torque provided by the direct-injected 3.0-liter V6 sitting under our all-wheel-drive LaCrosse CXL's clamshell hood. In this 4,196-pound car – yes, it's a porker – the 3.0-liter six is a leisurely performer at best and overmatched at worst. The middle-spec bent six is perfectly acceptable in around-town runabout duty, but when you come upon a situation demanding more power, like highway passing, frustration sets in as the oomph on tap is hardly on-demand. Flipping the six-speed auto into manual mode offers little relief; in our experience, it only served to make the faint noise emanating from beyond the firewall a little more audible, with no real difference in tangible forward momentum.

The 280-hp and 259 lb-ft of twist from the 3.6-liter V6 in the stepped-up LaCrosse CXS clearly seems like the better choice for this car, and we wish it's what we had when the LaCrosse paid its visit to our garage, but you also forego the option of all-wheel drive by opting for the top trim level. If you live in a region where you want the added confidence that four-wheel grip bestows in winter weather, you're stuck with the 3.0-liter. Given our experience with the 3.0-liter V6, the 2.4-liter four-cylinder that'll be available as an option in the base CX trim (the 3.0 V6 is standard) doesn't seem like something we would ever see ourselves going for.

In a separate aside, the mere presence of the LaCrosse CX, which comes with standard cloth seating and steel wheels, doesn't exactly jibe with the whole Lexus-alternative meme that the marketing department is working so hard to cultivate. Look for something like that at a Lexus store, and the salesman will gently direct you to his Camry-selling brethren across the street. Likewise, the LaCrosse CX seems like an equipment mix better suited to a Chevrolet dealership. Airport rental, anyone?

Behind the wheel, the LaCrosse's hydraulically-assisted steering delivers great overall response and feedback, but a smidge less power assistance would be more than welcome. On-center feel is good, and the sedan stays pointed where you want it without any vagueness or slop in the wheel. Dynamically, the Buick is competent if not exciting. Hell, it's actually pretty boring, which, when you consider that the Lexus ES is the named benchmark, is not necessarily a derogatory judgement. Sound isolation is excellent, engine noise is well-muted and if your local DOT isn't known for maintaining silky-smooth roads, the imperfections you drive over are swallowed up ably, with little more than muted thumps making themselves heard and felt inside. Best of all, the suspension delivers comfort without resorting to the wallowy feel that characterized "American luxury" for so long. Drive it hard into a corner, and the LaCrosse protests with understeer, but the reality is that it's not a car that begs to be driven hard in the first place. Refinement and good manners rule the day here, and the LaCrosse is at its best when you take it easy and let it coddle you.

In the end, we walked away from the 2010 Buick LaCrosse CXL impressed, but not completely blown away. If you're looking for excitement, you'll find it in the car's dazzling visual presentation, but its mild-mannered demeanor means it can be a bit of a snooze from behind the wheel. Then again, if the 2010 Buick LaCrosse is the American Lexus that GM so desperately wants it to be, maybe this blend of outward glitz and reserved composure is exactly what the doctor ordered. Time will tell.

[Source: Autoblog]

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Fiat 500 to launch in the U.S. with Abarth performance model

Fiat 500 Abarth EsseEsse

With every passing week comes another report of how Fiat and Chrysler will be sharing products. If it's not Chrysler-badged Lancias then it's Lancia-badged Chryslers or an Alfa-badged Jeep. As for the Fiat division itself, the emerging strategy appears to be to bring the 500 retro-mini over and set it up as something of a brand of its own, with sights set squarely on BMW's Mini and forgoing the rest of the Fiat line-up.

Earlier reports indicated that we'd be getting four versions of the 500 Stateside, including basic hatch, cabrio and upcoming wagon in addition to the Abarth performance model. But rather than start with the basics and work its way up, or launch the entire range simultaneously, the latest news suggests that Fiat is preparing to hit U.S. soil running by starting off with the 500 Abarth. According to WardsAuto, the Fiat 500 Abarth – complete with 133-horsepower turbocharged four, upgraded suspension and all the sporty touches that make an Abarth an Abarth – will arrive at Chrysler dealers in 2011 with an $18,000-$19,000 price tag. Fiat reportedly targets selling 20,000-25,000 units of the 500 Abarth in the first year.

By the time the 500 Abarth arrives, we'll likely be looking at an updated version with even more oomph. With the standard hatch, the open-top 500C and the upcoming Gardiniera wagon expected to follow, there's no telling if the initial model will be the only Abarth on offer, or whether Fiat will follow up with the even hotter EsseEsse version (pictured above), racing models like the Assetto Corse or R3T, an Abarth convertible or specials like the 695 Tributo Ferrari or an Opening Edition of our own.


Tuesday, November 24, 2009

First Drive: 2010 Lincoln MKT

2010 Lincoln MKT

In 1998, Lincoln's overall sales made it the number one luxury brand in America. The Navigator, Continental and Town Car weren't exactly world beaters – let alone an enthusiast's cup of Darjeeling, but the typical Lincoln buyer was getting precisely what he or she expected: soft, cozy, squishy cruisers for soft, squishy old people. In the decade that followed, Ford's U.S. luxury arm has seen about as much success as a modern day typewriter salesman. Mistakes have been made. The Blackwood. The Aviator. The LS. All big-time blunders – tragically so with the Romulan cloak-inspired design of the LS, as it was a pretty good car under that anonymous sheetmetal – and all consigned to history.

It's easier than ever to tell a Lincoln from 100 yards out.
Fast forward to 2009, and yesterday's gaffes have been replaced with a group of indecipherably-named vehicles that don't seem to be catching the eye of the car-buying public. The MKS, MKZ and MKX are nice enough, with tons of tech and luxury amenities, but America's buying public doesn't seem impressed.

Admittedly, the biggest reason Lincoln was kicking ass on the luxury sales charts last decade was the Navigator. It was big, it could haul heavy loads and it had an over-the-top style that affluent Americans were looking for at the time. Today's Lincoln lineup continues to feature the Navi, but the hefty SUV is no long the toast of the town and its massive girth and lousy fuel economy are borderline synonymous with PR losers like global warming and dependence on foreign oil. The 2010 Lincoln MKT is sized to replace the Navigator, but with the improved packaging, comfort and efficiency of a car-based crossover. We exercised a pair of EcoBoost-powered luxury barges through the twists and turns of Ann Arbor, Michigan to answer one simple question: does the 2010 Lincoln MKT have what it takes to become the spiritual successor to the Navigator and help shake the Lincoln brand of its decade-long sales slump?

For every vehicle that Lincoln has in its lineup, there is a mechanically identical Ford on the more pedestrian side of the gene pool. The MKT is no different, sharing its platform and powertrains with the boxier Ford Flex. To distinguish the two CUVs, Ford is employing a "differentiated top-hat strategy." That means precisely zero sheet metal and fewer interior parts are shared between the two models. That's a terrific change of pace for Dearborn's luxury stepchild, as the days of Lincolns that looked way too much like their Ford siblings are still fresh in our minds. Heck, the "in showrooms now" MKX is still a dead ringer for the Ford Edge, so thorny reminders of its blue collar heritage are still alive and well within Lincoln's current lineup.

When we first laid eyes on the concept version of the MKT at the 2008 Detroit Auto Show, we were surprised by its odd-looking aesthetics. The tintless glass roof made the massive crossover concept appear to suffer from male pattern baldness, while the exaggerated D-pillar was overshadowed by a bulging hindquarters that made J-Lo's booty look benign. Fortunately the production MKT manages to be better looking than the concept, but we wouldn't exactly say Lincoln's new Freightliner is a looker, either.

Up front, Lincoln turned up the design DNA with its new corporate mug. The split waterfall grille is divided by the four pointed star, and whether you love or loathe Lincoln's new face, it's hard to argue that it's now easier than ever to tell a Lincoln from 100 yards out. The front end rounds nicely into the MKT's overtly chiseled belt line, which moves across the profile undisturbed until it ramps up at the rear wheel.

When viewed from behind, the story gets better, as the smooth transition from the roof to the minimalist bumper and interesting, if over-the-top, tail lamps shows that this Lincoln looks best when it's ahead of you. That rump, by the way, was forged with magnesium and aluminum, shaving 22 pounds from the MKT's 5,000-pound curb weight. Sure, Lincoln's newest crossover is a bit homely, but there isn't exactly a plethora of visually stunning luxury family haulers on the market, either.

The MKT felt more powerful than the 400 pound-heavier Audi Q7.
While we were less than thrilled with the MKT's polarizing exterior, the story improves once you step inside the CUV's commodious interior. High quality leather and soft touch materials abound, with truly impressive blond wood accents that add plenty of visual pop. Ford has faithfully provided very comfortable seating surfaces for some time, and the MKT continues that tradition, but with an added dose of leather-clad luxury.

The MKT can be had in several interior combinations, all of which include a third-row seat. Our Ecoboost-powered test vehicle came equipped with the $4,000 Spec 201A package, which includes Ford's excellent Travel Link navigation package, chrome 20-inch alloys, a panoramic moonroof and second row captain's chairs that mirror the excellent seats in the front row. The third row looks to be about the same size as its Flex sibling; just big enough for a couple of amiable teenagers.

With all rows upright, there is 17.9 cubic feet of space aft of the third row, but available cubes jumps all the way up to 75.9 when the second and third row seats are stowed. Spec 201A also includes a compressor-powered mini-fridge between the second row seats; a feature that MSRPs for $895 as a stand-alone option. The fridge can hold all of seven cans (or about three water bottles) of cooled refreshment, and it can freeze ice in half the time of your Maytag – a good thing considering it costs as much as the appliance in your kitchen.

Behind the wheel, we were immediately presented with the thick, leather-wrapped steering wheel with a real "hold me" feel. Beyond the tiller are Lincoln's corporate white-on-black gauges, which are simultaneously stylish and easy to read. The supple seating surfaces are matched with equally impressive armrests at the door and the center console. The general largesse of the MKT is also evident in the cockpit, as both leg room and hip clearance is plentiful, even for the widest of Autobloggers.

When it's time to take off, the MKT starts with a touch of a button (doesn't everything), bringing Ford's newest powertrain to life. The twin turbocharged 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 boasts 355 horsepower and 350 pound-feet of torque from 1,500 RPM all the way to 5,250 RPM, resulting in healthy, lag-free acceleration in almost any situation. Ford's claim of the EcoBoost V6 delivering the power of a V8 with the fuel economy of a six-pot are born out through the numbers, returning an EPA-tested 16 MPG in the city and 22 MPG on the highway.

To properly show off the capabilities of the MKT's twin-boosted powerplant, Lincoln provided a V8-powered Audi Q7 to compare and contrast. The Q7's 4.2-liter powerplant flexes its muscles to the tune of 350 hp and 325 lb-ft of twist, similar numbers to the MKT, yet the four-ringed crossover manages only 13/18 EPA numbers, or four fewer highway mpg than the Lincoln. The MKT is also a bit friendlier to the environment than the Q7, as Lincoln claims 19 percent fewer CO2 emissions. When driving the vehicles back to back, the MKT felt significantly more powerful than the 400 pound-heavier Audi, as the Super CUV went from zero to cruising speed with more authority, while providing more punch when accelerating from steady speeds.

The EcoBoost V6 sounds good, too, with a quiet roar on heavy acceleration, and the MKT doesn't just win in terms of power, either, as the large crossover proved to be more agile in the curves while sporting a more impressive, quieter cabin. The Q7 felt tank-like in comparison to the longer, lighter MKT, though the Audi did supply more steering feedback and confidence-inspiring braking compared to the MKT's somewhat numb wheel and spongy stoppers.

The MKT is a fine entry in the large luxury crossover market.
The Lincoln engineering team tells us that special attention was paid to the MKT's road handling prowess, and the Ecoboost-equipped variant received a stiffer suspension both front and rear. The Ford stat machine says that the MKT registers a roll gradient score of 3.8 and a roll dampening tally of 23.6, better than the Q7 or the Acura MDX. Our experience with the MKT showed that the big crossover did remain flat and composed at speed on twisty roads, and we feel that the MKT's lower, wagonesque stance helped keep its 255/45/R20 Goodyear radials firmly planted to the road.

Despite the MKT's fairly impressive performance chops, this three-row crossover is still at its best when cruising, proving flat out comfy in every environment, with a plush, bump-soaking ride, a pristine THX sound system and terrific ride height and visibility. During our road trip we were able to hold conversations in muted tones thanks to laminated glass and sound deadening insulation. We did detect some minor road noise emanating from the spanking new Goodyear radials, but the back roads we traversed could be at least partly to blame for the intermittent issue.

With the 2010 Lincoln MKT, the Blue Oval appears to have a very competent luxury cruiser that can stand up to the competition in terms of performance, efficiency, technology and luxury amenities. But while we enjoyed our time behind the wheel, we still don't see Lincoln's new crossover as being the answer to Ford's prayers. The MKT may have the size and luxury to replace the Navigator, but despite its assertive love-it-or-hate-it design, it just doesn't have that "King of the Road" swagger that made Lincoln's first SUV a smash hit in the urban jungle. The MKT is most certainly a fine entry in the large luxury crossover market, though, and that might be all that's needed to keep Lincoln buyers in the family when the time comes to trade in their aging Navis.

[Source: Autoblog]

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Universitas Al-Zaytun Indonesia ( UAZ )

Kegiatan pendidikan pada hakekatnya adalah suatu usaha untuk menjadikan manusia lebih baik dari sebelumnya, dalam arti memiliki keluhuran budi, moral dan akhlak yang lebih tinggi, serta penguasaan ilmu pengetahuan dan teknologi, keterampilan serta kemampuan karya cipta yang lebih baik guna meningkatkan kesejahteraan umat manusia. Pada kenyataannya, pencapaian tujuan pendidikan tersebut tidaklah mudah karena untuk melaksanakan proses pendidikan yang ideal dibutuhkan banyak prasyarat, antara lain staf pengajar yang bermutu, fasilitas pendidikan yang memadai, sistem pendidikan dan formulasi kurikulum yang sesuai dengan kebutuhan, serta kebijakan politik pendidikan yang kondusif

Pendidikan merupakan kebutuhan asasi manusia sehingga setiap warga negara berhak untuk memperolehnya. Akan tetapi karena proses pendidikan memerlukan biaya yang tidak sedikit, maka penentuan model pendidikan hendaknya disesuaikan dengan kemampuan peserta didik. Oleh karena itu, agar setiap peserta didik nantinya dapat mengamalkan ilmu dari hasil pendidikannya, maka perlu dirancang suatu model pendidikan yang menjamin peserta didik mencapai jenjang tertinggi sesuai dengan kemampuan intelejensinya. Model pendidikan yang demikian disebut one pipe education system Melalui model pendidikan tersebut, peserta didik berpeluang untuk dapat mencapai tingkat pendidikan tertinggi melalui jalur pendidikan yang sesuai dengan minat dan kemampuannya.

Model pendidikan yang dimulai dari SD seperti Madrasah Ibtidaiyah ( MI ) hingga perguruan tinggi seperti Universitas Al-Zaytun yang sedang dikembangkan Ma’had Al-Zaytun ini diharapkan mampu memberikan landasan kultural dan intelektual kepada peserta didik untuk mampu mengembangkan diri ketika memasuki kehidupan di masyarakat. Dengan bekal ilmu yang memadai, diharapkan lulusan memiliki kemampuan berpikir yang logis, analitis, sintesis dan dinamis, serta mempunyai pandangan yang holistik dan memahami sistem.

Beberapa fakultas yang dibuka di Universitas Al-Zaytun :

1. Fakultas Pertanian Terpadu (FPT)

2. Fakultas Teknik Terpadu (FTT)

3. Fakultas Kedokteran (FK)

4. Fakultas Teknologi Informasi (FTI)

5. Fakultas Bahasa Terpadu (FBT)

Itu saja profile tentang Universitas Al-Zaytun, dan adapun profile dari masing – masing Fakultas akan diposting pada postingan berikutnya. HIDUP MAHASISWA..!!

Mendidik dan Membangun semata – mata karena beribadah kepada Allah.

Friday, November 20, 2009

First Drive: 2010 Dodge Ram HD

2010 Dodge Ram HD

Back in 1993, truck drivers had no choice but to depend on domestic automakers for work-ready pickups, and only Ford and General Motors offered competitive haulers. That all changed a year later when Dodge set the pickup truck market on its leaf springs with the introduction of its all-new Ram. With a big-rig appearance thanks to an imposing front grille that looked ready to kick you in the Truck Nutz, Dodge's truck sales tripled inside of 12 months and gave load-hauling manly men a real alternative to Ford and Chevy. But while Dodge hit a home run with the 1994 Ram, the Penta-horned brand didn't have a heavy-duty option in its lineup until 2003, and an all-important diesel powerplant didn't come online until 2004. In 2008, Dodge filled out its pickup lineup with heavy-duty 4500 and 5500 variants, finally giving Chrysler's trucking arm the range of choices necessary to get plucky with the competition from Detroit and Dearborn.

Last year, Dodge introduced a new light-duty Ram, with sleek updated aesthetics and controversial coil springs that provide a superior ride at the expense of some towing and hauling capability. Fast-forward a year and the truckmakers at Chrysler are set to unleash a new heavy-duty Ram that's been redesigned to provide customers more capability, more options and a better ride while competing against offerings from its crosstown rivals with a lower cost of entry. We headed out to Ann Arbor, MI to drive, tow, brake, climb and traverse in the new Ram HD to see if Chrysler's truck team has succeeded.

When it comes to passenger cars, it's difficult to discern exactly what your customer base is after. An automaker can make a sedan with good power and handling, fine interior appointments and tons of room for four adults, yet the final product can still go over like a herpes flare-up. Trucks are a bit different. If you can deliver rugged good looks; strong, usable power; plenty of storage and top-notch reliability, chances are customers are going to find you. After all, there were 1.6 million trucks sold in the U.S. last year; about one-in-eight of the total consumer-grade vehicles sold, so there's plenty of reward for a job done right.

But the trick to nailing a top-notch pickup is working tirelessly with customers to figure out who buys trucks and how they're used, and the guys and gals at Dodge have it down to an exact science. How exact? Dodge's marketing team tells us that a typical truck buyer is a 55-year-old male, about 5' 11" and 203 pounds. There is a 67-percent chance that customer is going to have at least one dog (half the animal owners have two or more), and there's a 58-percent chance he tows a trailer.

To cater to that core customer, every Dodge Ram HD comes with a standard Class IV hitch, along with both four- and seven-pin hookups. As is increasingly common these days, Dodge is also offering an optional trailer brake package integrated into the dashboard. And since the guys who use their truck for work all week typically also use that truck on the weekends, the new Ram HD now has a crew cab configuration to ensure there's enough room for the camper, the family and the dog.

The new Dodge Ram HD looks smooth, maybe even a bit sexy.
Truck buyers demand a lot out of their pickups, and utility will always take precedence over appearance in the heavy-duty segment. But that doesn't mean looks are unimportant. HD-class pickups need too look, well, heavy-duty, and this new Ram has bad-ass written all over it. For 2010, the Ram's already substantial crosshair grille gets even bigger, with enough chrome to fry even the most bling-resistant of retinas. The shiny metal parade continues with the bumper, which has been impressively fashioned from a single chunk of metal.

The hood now has a prominent power dome that seems to be all the rage these days and the headlamps received the same treatment as Dodge's light-duty model, only bigger. Arguably the most impressive design feature of the new Ram is a dually exclusive. Dodge decided to shy away from the composite body panels to cover the rear tires, instead opting to stamp the dually rig's rear quarters using honest-to-goodness steel. The look is smooth, maybe even a bit sexy, especially if trucks that can tow 17,000 pounds is your thing.

In all, Dodge manages to make an already manly looking truck even more rough and ready. Gaps are tighter, sheetmetal is curvier and everything just looks brawnier. But today's heavy-duty truck buyer is shelling out anywhere from $30,000 to over $60,000 for the right to go big, and they demand a functional, configurable and comfortable interior. The 2010 Dodge Ram HD has an interior for every taste, from a regular cab for work applications to the crew cab and even a largest-in-class mega cab.

We spent the majority of our time in a Ram 2500 SLT crew cab with a 6' 4" bed. Dodge says this is their volume truck, so we were more than happy to take the Cummins diesel-powered example as our test model. Over the course of our testing at Chrysler's Chelsea, MI proving grounds, it proved to be a nice place to work. First off, the crew cab's cabin is huge – which is expected of a four-door pickup weighing more than 6,000 pounds. There's so much room inside the new Ram HD that Dodge engineers found enough space to throw in 42 storage areas – up from 24 cubbies in the last-gen Heavy Duty. While some of those compartments are only big enough to handle a cell phone or a couple packs of gum, others are large and quite handy. The massive glovebox can fit drinks for everyone in the cabin, while the in-floor cooler can fit added refreshments plus ice.

Beyond a plethora of cab configurations, Dodge is also offering two different levels of interior refinement. The base interior, in which we spent most of our time, is fine for most applications, with harder plastics better suited to a work site than a trip to the opera. It'll be fine for most truck owners, though, with comfortable seats and armrests aplenty. We did manage to spend some time in an upscale Laramie model, which contains the same top-notch materials found in the higher-spec light-duty Ram. Soft touch, leather-like materials abound, and the hide-wrapped steering wheel is one of the best in the business – even eclipsing the offerings from Ford or GM's truck.

But while a great cabin certainly helps both the recreational and work truck buyer do their job in comfort, the most important factor is capability. And since the Ram HD can haul up to 24,500 GCWR, we're confident the newest Dodge has all the skills that most truck buyers could ever need. During our stint with the Ram HD, we were given the opportunity to drive three Dually 3500 models, each towing or hauling something significant. The first model, a regular cab model with a six-speed manual transmission and an eight-foot bed, had over 1,200 pounds of straw strapped to its back. The 350 horsepower and 650 lb-ft of torque provided by the 6.7-liter Cummins inline-six diesel engine (which carries a $7,615 price tag over the standard HEMI V8) hauled this big load without breaking a sweat, though rowing our own gears isn't nearly as much fun when motivating 8,000 pounds of truck.

The giant bale of straw was only an appetizer, though. The big fun was to be had when we got behind the wheel of a Ram 3500 Crew Cab Dually with an eight-foot box. Latched onto the truck's bed was a trailer containing a Case IH Maxxum 125 tractor. That's 16,500 pounds of tractor and trailer – exactly the sort of payload you pictured yourself hauling as a kid playing with Tonka Trucks. With all that weight in tow, the Ram HD's best-in-class 650 lb-ft of torque at 1,500 RPM came in handy. Taking off from a stop was a snap, and coming to a halt wasn't as laborious as expected. The Cummins I6 displayed steady grunt when towing the load, never feeling overmatched. Once up to speed, we were able to shift our own gears thanks to Dodge's Electronic Range Select feature, which lets the driver manually limit the highest available gear. ERS comes in handy when traversing steep grades while hauling a big load, as there are only so many algorithms engineers can program to provide up/down shifts exactly when you need them. Turning was made a bit easier with the aid of the new Ram's excellent sideview mirrors, which kept a crystal clear picture of everything going on around our super-sized cargo.

The Ram HD also has a few features that make hauling a big load safer. Diesel models now come with a standard exhaust brake that can be turned on and off via a switch on the dash. The exhaust brake shuts down the turbos, using engine compression to slow down the mini big rig, which also reduces brake fade when hauling loads on downhill grades. We weren't able to test the exhaust brake during our time hauling the Case IH Maxxum 125 tractor, but we did try out another way Dodge engineers were able to make the Ram HD easier to stop. While coasting at 60 MPH, we were instructed to simply ease off the accelerator and tap the brake. The integrated trailer brake controller worked in concert with the Ram's six-speed auto 'box to quickly slow over 24,000 lbs of steel, glass and rubber without overtaxing the truck's disc brakes.

Dodge appears to have built a work truck for everybody from the grunt to the site foreman, and the horned beast is looking to appeal to the ardent off-roader as well. The new 2010 Ram HD Power Wagon is no joke. Its 33-inch LT285/70R17D BF Goodrich All-Terrain tires, solid axles, locking front and rear differentials and electronic sway bar disconnect have banded together to accomplish one goal: making you a superstar when tackling the wild. Dodge set up a sweet off-road gauntlet within its proving grounds to properly test the Power Wagon's prowess. We simply put the Ram into 4WD low and headed off into the rough stuff.

Chrysler has a great opportunity to improve upon its 23-percent share of the HD truck market.
The course contained uphill and downhill grades, massive boulders, several inches of mud and even a steep, dirt-encrusted log bridge. The Power Wagon cut through all of the obstacles without breaking a sweat, with the 383-hp HEMI V8 (the Cummins diesel isn't available on the Power Wagon) providing plenty of punch for anything we were able to throw at it.

Dodge management challenged its truck engineers to deliver similar ride quality improvements to its heavy-duty offerings as it did with the light-duty Ram, but without the use of coil springs. We wouldn't exactly say those engineers nailed this request like a Rodney Dangerfield Triple Lindy, but we would definitely call the new Ram HD a more comfortable cruiser than the outgoing model. Among the engineering changes for 2010 are mounts that connect the C-Pillar to the truck's frame, resulting in less cabin shake on rough roads. The new Ram is also quieter on the inside with the aid of triple sealed doors and improved aerodynamics. The change is noticeable when holding conversations on the open road, and we were even able to talk in muted tones when traversing the gauntlet in the Power Wagon.

After spending a day with the extensive lineup of heavy-duty Dodge Rams, we're confident that Chrysler's truck division has a reasonable shot at improving upon its 23-percent share of the HD truck market. That's already a big chunk of pie in a segment Dodge has only played in for seven years, and a new-and-improved truck for 2010 that will retail for less money than the model it replaces makes the fight for customers a bit more interesting. Dodge's new trucks are now more competitive than ever with improved aesthetics and ride quality, terrific interiors, more configurations and improved capability. At the very least, the Mopar brand has put a lot of pressure on the competition to hit a home run with new product offerings next year. Because if Ford or GM miss, Dodge will be more than happy to take their customers and run.

[Source: Autoblog]

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Best Time to Buy a Car

Assuming you need to buy a car, here are some of the guidelines to follow if interested in getting the best deal based on time of purchase. The end of the month or last week of the month is usually better than the first few weeks of the month. This is because car dealerships and salespeople have sales quotas. They may be trying to sell that last car or two to reach their quota or increase the incentive to the dealership. They may be willing to bargain a little more at month end to insure they reach their goals.

The best month to buy a car may be December. In most areas of the country it's winter time and cold. While customers purchase cars in December, traffic is usually less than at most other times of year. The above rule about end of month holds true also but I would choose the week before Christmas as most consumers are spending their money on less expensive gifts.

July through October. This time of year is when new models begin to arrive at dealerships and sales begin to move last year's models out to make room for the new models. You may need to contact your local dealerships to determine when the new model of the car you are interested in is going to begin arriving at the dealership. If it will arrive in October and you are planning on purchasing the current year's model, start watching the ad's in newspapers or calling to follow the discounts that dealerships may be offering.

Finally, any time the manufacturer offers financial incentives through cash back or special financing may be the right time for you. While there are no firm rules as to best time to buy, the guidelines discussed may give you an advantage when purchasing your next car.

Steve Hague is the owner of Professional Auto Buying Services ( and has for many years helped consumers get the best deal on their purchase of a new car. He teaches classes on how to buy or lease a car and on how to negotiate anything. Steve has appeared in multiple media outlets including USA Today, The Providence Journal, and Rhode Island Monthly Magazine. Contact Steve through his website the next time you need to buy or lease a car.

By Steve Hague

Monday, November 16, 2009

Mitsubishi sketches out Concept-cX-influenced compact crossover for 2010

Mitsubishi Compact Crossover

It's been two years since Mitsubishi took the wraps off its Concept-cX crossover at the 2007 Frankfurt Motor Show, but before we see the production version at next year's Geneva Motor Show, Mitsubishi has released a teaser sketch of its all-new compact CUV.

Aimed at competing with segment stalwarts like the Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4, the Compact Crossover will be built atop Mitsubishi's new mid-size global architecture with power likely provided by a 1.8-liter turbodiesel channeling around 140 hp and 206 lb-ft of torque through Mitsubishi's Twin-Clutch SST gearbox and all-wheel drive system.

Sales will begin in Japan this February, and we'd expect a petrol-powered version to be released in the States later in 2010


Mitsubishi Motors Corporation announces all-new Compact Crossover - Game Changer

Mitsubishi Motors Corporation (MMC) announces today the forthcoming introduction of its all-new on-road Compact Crossover, to be retailed first in Japan from February 2010 onwards.

Derived from the much-acclaimed 2007 Concept-cX show car, it is the latest development of MMC's mid-size global platform ("Project Global").

This most important product will further support Mitsubishi Motors' strategic shift from being an SUV-focused nameplate to a manufacturer of environment-friendly passenger cars & crossovers*, with a presence in the "authentic off-roader" segment** – itself pre-empting structural changes in market demand.

As such – and after i-MiEV – this on-road Compact Crossover will be the Corporation's next game changer towards lower impact vehicles, in their format and/or in the innovative MMC proprietary technologies they will feature.

The European premiere is scheduled for the 2010 Geneva Motor Show.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Zagato marks the end of an era with custom Ferrari 550 GTZ Barchetta

Ferrari 550 GTZ

When Ferrari took the wraps off the 550 Maranello in 1996, it represented an important step in the company's evolution. Replacing the aging F512M (nee Testarossa), the 550 Maranello marked a shift back to front-engine V12 GTs for Ferrari – the niche market for which the company became known. But if the 550 Maranello was a pivotal product for Ferrari, the 550 Barachetta Pininfarina was even more desirable.

Characterized by its open-top format with rear cowling and leather-trimmed roll hoops, Ferrari only made 448 examples of the open-top 550 before the model line was replaced by the 575M. Another 559 drop-top Superamericas were built on the 575M's basis, but the rarest example was the solitary 575 GTZ built by Zagato for one Yoshiyuki Hayashi, an avid Ferrari collector in Japan.

For better or worse, the window of opportunity that, for a time, allowed coachbuilders like Zagato to create specials like the 575 GTZ is now closing, with Ferrari's own customization program bringing the carrozzeria tradition back to the Maranello gates – to the exclusion of others. But not before the Milanese design house gets in one last hoorah, celebrating the 90th anniversary of the first such collaboration between the two Italian houses of rolling style.

Taking five pristine examples of the aforementioned 550 Barachetta as their basis, the 550 GTZ borrows the shape from Hayashi's 575-based coupe and gives it a roadster body style. There's no word on whether any modifications have been carried out on the coupe's mechanicals, but the rolling stock appears to have carried over unchanged if that's any indication. All five examples have reportedly been spoken for at a price of £1 million ($1.6 million) apiece, which may seem like a lot for a car long since replaced, twice, but hardly too much to ask for historic artifacts of automotive Italiana.

[Source: CarsUK]

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Russian designer pens Maserati Kuba concept

Maserati Kuba design study

It was only a few years ago, but how quickly we forget. Maserati actually toyed with the idea of building a crossover back in 2003, even going so far as to unveil a concept for the project called the Kubang GT Wagon at the Detroit Auto Show. The shape was penned by Giugiaro's ItalDesign, but project was scrapped, preserving the Trident marque's chastity in the eyes of many a purist. Now, an ambitious designer out of Russia has revived the idea with a concept he calls the Kuba. Sound familiar?

The brainchild of Andrey Trofimchuk Simeonych, the Maserati Kuba design study is, intriguing take on what a Maserati crossover could look like. Only it doesn't share any design themes with any Masers we can think of. Nor does it have any theoretical specifications attached, though surely a platform and powertrain could be found from the growing Fiat/Chrysler automotive empire.

To our eye, it would look more suitable as a vision for what a future aircraft-engined Veritas sport-ute could look like, or maybe even a weird Citro├źn concept of some sort (is there any other kind?). Then again, maybe not. It's a love-it-or-hate-it affair, so have a look for yourself in the high-res image gallery below and share your impressions in our comments section.



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