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November 2012

November 14, 2012

2013 Mazda CX-5 Test Drive

2013 Mazda CX-5 Road Test Review written by Bob Plunkett

2013 Mazda CX-5 Road Test Review

Mazda CX-5 resembles a CUV but
drives like a sporty machine

By Bob Plunkett

For this kick-butt joy ride we collar a newly minted 2013 Mazda CX-5 Sport crossover utility vehicle, that "Zoom-Zoom" brand from Japan, and send it soaring over Ark. 60, a corkscrew stretch of asphalt coursing over rumpled furrows of the Ouachita Mountains in western Arkansas.

This back-country two-laner provides steep mountain grades and isolated valley straightaways with loads of dips and rolls and oh-so-fun strings of esses and sweepers -- plus a dearth of traffic or patrols to challenge our pace.

It's the ideal venue to show off the taut suspension tuning and sporty handling characteristics of a new-from-scratch compact-class CUV for Mazda.

Designers from Mazda -- a company steeped in the production of sporty cars like the MX-5 Miata roadster and RX-7 hatchback -- cast this wagon on a new rigid unibody platform with front-wheel-drive orientation, then stocked it with lively independent suspension elements and crisp steering to fashion a ride quality that's smooth and comfortable for passengers yet also responsive.

Roll over pavement bumps and the independent suspension -- MacPherson struts in front and a multi-link arrangement in back with a stabilizer bar at both ends tuned to check excessive lateral roll of the body -- blips tires (base version 17-inch 225/65R17 Yokohama all-season tires or top-trim 19-inch 225/55R19 Toyo A23 all-season tires) in exacting up-down motions and makes a firm ride quality. Full review.

November 11, 2012

2013 Cadillac XTS Road Test Review

2013 Cadillac Road Test Review by Bob Plunkett

2013 Cadillac XTS Road Test Review - 
Cadillac XTS touring sedan brings high-tech electronic gear

By Bob Plunkett

Running up a serpentine Soledad Canyon Road, two lanes of blacktop at the base of California's San Gabriel Mountains north of Los Angeles, a front-wheel-drive version of the new 2013 XTS, Cadillac's mid-size luxury touring sedan drawn with taut lines and keen edgework, cuts crisply through the apex of every turn at a quick clip yet without protest from the massive 20-inch tires.

In these benders, our Cadillac test car maintains a stable position with minimal lateral roll, the result of a stiffly braced unibody design with sophisticated independent suspension elements at all corners plus standard Magnetic Ride Control variable shock damping to control wheel and body motion via magnetized fluid in shocks.

Tap flanking finger paddles posted behind the wood-trimmed steering wheel allow a driver to play the upshift/downshift game when slicing apexes in the curvy stuff at a swift clip.

Or on the rare straightaway our foot prods the go-pedal and this XTS surges ahead.

The XTS carries an aluminum 3.6-liter V6 engine rigged with dual overhead cams, direct injection technology and VVT (variable valve timing). With direct injection, the fuel goes directly into the engine's combustion chamber and fosters a thorough burn of the mix of air and fuel. Full Review

November 03, 2012

2013 Chevrolet Malibu Eco Road Test Review

2013 Chevrolet Malibu Eco Road Test Review by Tim Healy

by Tim Healey

Earlier this year, we flew to Virginia to drive Chevrolet's much hyped Camaro ZL1. So, naturally, we're writing a review of the Malibu, Chevy's mainstream mid-size sedan.

Say what? How does a trip to a track end up with us behind the wheel of a totally different car than the one we intended to drive? Simple: blame Mother Nature. Torrential downpours washed out our scheduled track time with the Camaro, and since we didn't feel like cooling our heels all day, we grabbed the keys to a Malibu that Chevy had on hand and set out to explore Virginia and North Carolina. We got ourselves good and lost on several local back roads (maps? We don't need no stinkin' maps) and got well acquainted with both the Malibu and tobacco country.

Features & Prices

The first of the redesigned 2013 Chevrolet Malibus to hit dealerships were Eco models, and that's what we drove through the backwoods along the Virginia-Carolina border. Eco models come with a 2.4-liter four-cylinder that's matched with an electric motor for a combined 182 horsepower, and the electric motor is unable to run on its own. GM's eAssist system gives the car start/stop capability, meaning that the engine shuts down at a stop before firing back up when the brake is released, with the intent of reducing idling time. Read full review...