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July 2013

July 31, 2013

2013 Jeep Grand Cherokee Trailhawk Road Test

2013 Jeep Grand Cherokee Trailhawk Road Test Review by Bob Plunkett

2013 Jeep Grand Cherokee Trailhawk Road Test Review

By Bob Plunkett

Chunky granite boulders stack up as one of many stair-stepping barriers to our four-wheeling progress while on a test drive steering a 2013 Jeep Grand Cherokee Trailhawk special edition sport utility vehicle on a definitive off-road track for Jeep at Chrysler's vast vehicle test facility in Chelsea, Mich.

Confronted by the bumpy tangle of rocks, any driver might prudently assume that the best way to proceed beyond this barrier would be to find some path that skirts it, but for our experiment we must crawl over the boulders because the objective of this excursion is to test the off-road prowess of Jeep's ultimate four-wheel-drive (4WD) SUV.

Sturdy Grand Cherokee represents the original sport-utility vehicle tracing back in Jeep history to 1963 and the Wagoneer, with innovations like the Quadra-Trac automatic full-time four-wheel-drive (4WD) system and a limited slip differential, introduced in 1973, and the watershed design of 1984 for the first unibody four-door SUV. [Full Review]

July 29, 2013

2013 Hyundai Genesis Coupe New Car Review

2013 Hyundai Genesis Coupe Road Test Review by Bob Plunkett

2013 Hyundai Genesis Coupe New Car Review

By Bob Plunkett

A craving for test driving through zigzag curves brings us to the slalom esses on Valley of Fire Highway, a ribbon of blacktop snaking through scarlet sandstone canyons in the Nevada desert. So we hitch our seatbelt and get a grip on a leather-bound steering wheel of the 2013 Genesis 3.6 Track,  Hyundai's low-slung sports coupe now in its fourth year of production but wearing a fresh face and offering two juiced-up powertrains, a shift-it-yourself 6-speed manual stick or new 8-speed automatic with paddle-shift capability, and way more standard content.

Then we plant a foot on each aluminum pedal -- one on the go pad and the other on the stopper -- to set the rear pair of Potenzas to smoke-n-screech mode.

Now stomp that throttle but brace for a neck-snapping launch:  That sleek Genesis scoots down the twisty road to whip us dizzy in a serious pavement performance.

A chiseled body marks Hyundai's 2-door sports coupe for the editions of 2013, as Genesis acquires a redesigned front hood with broad-grin new fascia and grille, and revised angular projector beam halogen headlamps plus LED DRLs. [Full Review]


July 25, 2013

2013 Ford Focus Hatchback New Car Test Drive

2013 Ford Focus ST Hatchback Review by Bob Plunkett

By Bob Plunkett

Pointing north on Peachtree Road through Atlanta's tony Buckhead neighborhood for this drive test, we're strapped in the sporty Recaro driver's bucket of Ford's souped-up Focus ST, a 5-door hatchback for the compact class with a sleek body kit painted in Tangerine Scream and the seemingly conflictive traits of spirited performance and fuel efficiency.

The 2013 Focus ST incorporates a unique direct-injection and turbocharged 4-pack engine with quick-shifting 6-speed manual transmission plus tightly-tuned suspension and steering systems in a look-at-me package.

With a roof rising less than five feet high and the body stretching only 14 feet long, the ST looks seriously sporty in an aero-sleek shell with ultra-fast windshield rake, curt and sporty overhangs front and rear, minimal gaps between tires and fenders, and the trailing ripple of a roof spoiler. [Full review]

July 24, 2013

2013 Buick Enclave CUV Road Test Review

2013 Buick Enclave Road Test Review by Bob Plunkett

By Bob Plunkett

Buick's spectacular new 2013 Enclave CUV looks oh-so-sharp in a slinky new package stretched excessively long and decorated with a black-chromed prow flashing LED blue translucent rings around xenon headlamps on forward corners plus fender blisters rippling around multi-spoke alloy wheels.

The Enclave, stretching almost 17 feet long and well over six feet wide, comes with a full-size passenger compartment stocking three rows of seats for seven or eight passengers and a wagonload of fancy features.

Enclave's 2013 editions show a fresh exterior design, revamped cabin amenities such as a dashboard high-resolution color display with touch-screen control plus Choccochino leather and Cocoa leather color combinations, three new trim designations and new safety technologies including the auto industry's first front center side air bag designed to minimize injury from front-seat riders knocking into each other during a side-impact collision. [Full Review]

July 22, 2013

2013 Audi Allroad Wagon Road Test Review

2013 Audi Allroad Wagon New Car Review by Bob Plunkett

By Bob Plunkett

The Allroad Quattro wagon debuted as a 2001 model riding on the platform of Audi's mid-size A6 sedan.

The 2013 Allroad Quattro, displaces Audi's compact-class A4 Avant wagon, uses the A4 platform and engine but measures half an inch wider and 2.5 inches taller than A4 Avant, with 1.5 inches of additional suspension height for good ground clearance of 7.1 inches plus 18-inch wheels as standard and 19-inch wheels available.
The new version of the 2013 Audi Allroad amounts to a slick design with a wide track, jacked suspension, protective undercarriage stainless steel skid plates and a 5-door wagon format featuring a sinuous and curvy exterior design and a spacious cabin containing two rows of seats with seatbacks of the back bench splitting and folding down to expand the capacity of the rear cargo bay.