The New Hyundai Elantra Coupe is for Sale!

Hyundai’s sporty, popular Elantra has been lagging behind the new Honda Civic.  Why?  Because the Civic has a sporty coupe version.  So, Hyundai decided to give the Civic and the VW Golf a run for their money.

To compete against the Civic, the all-new Hyundai Elantra Coupe has the same engine and transmission that the Elantra sedan has.  This means that the slightly lighter Elantra Coupe is a bit faster (data is unavailable at press time), but it is about 1/2 an inch longer. The sporty-looking Elantra Coupe SE trim level is the trim to get.  Why?  Sporty-looking seventeen-inch wheels with five spokes accentuate the graceful, sporty, flowing lines of the Elantra Coupe.  It also has chrome-lined foglamps, and optional side mirror turn signal repeaters.  The dual chrome exhaust tips that give a turbocharged sound to the Elantra Coupe stick out of a blacked-out rear diffuser.  But, the untrained eye might mistake it for a Civic coupe.  Why?  The Elantra Coupe does look a bit like a skinnier, taller Honda Civic coupe.

The driver’s car is the Elantra GT hatchback.  It is a replacement for the ancient Elantra Touring hatchback/station wagon.  It also happens to be based on the European-market- only Hyundai i30 hatchback.  It has a two-inch shorter wheelbase than the Elantra coupe and sedan, and is nine inches shorter than the Elantra sedan, 0.2 inches wider, and is 1.4 inches taller.  It comes with a cooled glovebox and also has a 12-volt electrical outlet in the back.  To keep driving enjoyment up on the Elantra GT, Hyundai has added a three-stage Driver Selectable Steering Mode and includes a chassis that is tuned for “added feel, responsiveness, and control.”

The Elantra Coupe went on sale in late May, and the Elantra GT will be for sale by late August.  I can’t wait to buy the Elantra GT!

Sources: and

Be Careful Driving These Cars!

For those of you who own a 2009-2010 Dodge Ram 1500 pickup and/or a 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee, listen and listen good!

The 2009-10 Dodge Ram 1500 has a problem where the variable-speed gears in the rear end will stop turning (mostly at highway speeds), causing the rear wheels to lock up.  Several people have complained to NHTSA about the rear wheels locking up while on the highway and their truck spinning out.  Of course, NHTSA started investigating, and found out that there is a small software glitch that tells the gears to stop spinning.  This means that up to 230,000 Ram 1500 pickups will be recalled.  The closest dealer will fix the truck for free!

With the amazing new Jeep Grand Cherokee, everything seemed fine until somebody called Jeep to tell them that a fire had just occurred.  Jeep, not expecting something like that, called NHTSA almost immediately.  NHTSA found out that the power-steering fluid hoses can leak onto the hot engine, which could start a fire!  If you take your 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee (with any engine) to your local dealer, it will be fixed with heavy-duty hoses.

Not only is this bad for Mopar’s reputation, but it could also cause (hopefully) false concern about the rest of the product line that SRT, Chrysler, Jeep, Dodge, and Ram sell.  Let’s hope that the problems are limited to these two vehicles.  If you want any more information, you can go to: for the Grand Cherokee, or for the Ram 1500

The CHP’s New Donut Holder!

As Ford’s ancient Crown Victoria is no longer available for order, the California Highway Patrol had to test out a whole new crop of cars.  The Big Three tested out the:  Chevrolet Caprice PPV, Dodge Charger Pursuit/Interceptor, and Ford Police Interceptor Sedan (Taurus-based).  They also tested out the Ford Police Interceptor Utility (Explorer-based) and the Chevrolet Tahoe PPV.  There is one potentially troubling sign for the Big Three sedans:  payload.  The beefy Ford Police Interceptor Sedan can hold a pretty hefty 1200 pounds, but the CHP needs a payload of at least 1700 pounds.  That’s pretty heavy.  The legendary Crown Vic could hold closer to 2000, but it’s not being produced anymore.  It came down to the Ford Police Interceptor Utility and the Chevrolet Tahoe PPV.  The Dodge Durango Special Service arrived a bit too late in the game, and wasn’t considered anyways because it didn’t have a “Pursuit” rating.  Too bad.

A CHP rep said that officers are split 60% in favor of sedans, and 40% are in favor of the SUVs.  But, the Ford Police Interceptor Utility is pretty fun to drive, and may help change the balance.  The CHP picked the Ford Police Interceptor Utility due to a lower bid than Chevrolet.  The CHP may buy a few of the sedans for executive purposes or display vehicles, but you’d better get comfortable knowing what Ford Explorer headlights look like.

This is a big win for Ford.  It’s quite obvious that the Ford Police Interceptor Utility is based on the Explorer, but Ford says that it is purpose-built.  Ford has done many upgrades:  heavy-duty brake, electrical, and cooling systems have been added to cope with all the needs of police work.  Since police officers need to have a laptop, radio, and other electrical gear, Ford has added a special column shifter so there can be room for that stuff.  There are even special seats for police officers that have cutouts for their utility belts (many officers complain about massive back pain in the Crown Victoria).  Since the Explorer (in all variants) comes in front-wheel-drive or all-wheel-drive, the CHP has asked Ford to build the vehicles in all-wheel-drive form.  The 3.7 liter V6 from the Mustang has been added for a variety of reasons:  not only is it more powerful than the standard engine, it gets better fuel economy, it sounds better, and it should have been in the Explorer in the first place.  The 3.7 liter engine has 304 horsepower and 24 more lb-ft of torque.  That’s enough to keep the big-boned Explorer at it’s top speed of 135 mph for a long time.

Californians have almost six months to get familiar with Explorer headlights, as they will begin staring into your car by January 2013.  But, remember what Crown Victoria headlights look like because the CHP had ordered 329 before production ended.  It’s also not a bad idea to find out what the Kawasaki Concours 14 ABS P motorcycle looks like, as there are now 400 of them throughout the state, helping to phase out the ancient BMW R1200 RTP.

I’ve attached the link for those curious enough to find out what Ford has to say about their big win.

Still in the Middle of the Pack…

Up until it’s redesign three model years ago (in 2010), Chevy’s lackluster Equinox was frequently ridiculed  by everybody else in the segment (Toyota Rav4, Honda CR-V, Ford Escape, and many others).  Then, the compact-crossover grouping received a big, big shock:  The Equinox was redesigned (gasp!), and brought along a nearly identical twin, the chunky-yet-spunky GMC Terrain.  Unfortunately, both vehicles are so underpowered that a Yugo could get to 60 mph as quickly.  So, GMC and Chevy decided to up the ante.  The Terrain Denali and the Equinox LTZ now have the GM family’s stellar 3.6 liter V6.  The engine has 301 horsepower and a barely-adequate 272 lb-ft of torque.

On the the subject of fuel economy, you can almost laugh that off, get a Prius v and a pickup.  The Equinox LTZ with front-wheel drive gets 17 mpg city/24 mpg highway.  If you need all-wheel-drive, the LTZ with all-wheel-drive gets a scary 16 mpg city/23 mpg highway.  Oh, and the front-wheel-drive model is faster to 60 mph at 6.8 seconds (add four-tenths of a second to the chunkier all-wheel-drive model.  I won’t even start on the Terrain.)

The Equinox and Terrain now are easier to drive on bumpy roads due to some new suspension trickery – it shares the same dual-flow dampers that the larger Chevy Traverse, GMC Acadia, and Buick Enclave have.  This means that the Terrain and Equinox bob and weave a lot less on less-than-ideal surfaces.  Plus, it gives the driver a much better perception of grip when hurtling into a corner.

Overall, the relatively large Equinox still has a lot of interior noise, an upshift-happy transmission, and very bad rear visibility.  Plus, it wouldn’t hurt to lose a bit of that flab, Chevy.  But, the revised Equinox has a much bigger kick in the pants and is an effortless interstate cruiser.  Car & Driver had a chance to test the “old” 3.0 liter V6 against the “new” engine, and found that the new Equinox is a bit easier to drive.

The All-New (ish), All-Cool (ish) CODA is in Town (ish)!

Since coming onto the slightly inflated U.S. car market, CODA really hasn’t made much of an imprint on the electric car market.  CODA, an electric car manufacturer based on SoCal, has a green and environmentally oriented philosophy.  They want to be the electric car gurus, or at the very least, dominate the field.  Sure,  their car looks like a 2005 Toyota Corolla, but the two cars are supposed to drive totally differently.  The Corolla is built for people who want economical, boring cars, while the CODA is built to satisfy your inner hippy, take you 125 miles on a full charge, and bring about a new technological revolution.  I have my doubts about the next technical revolution coming from a $35,000 electric car, but who knows? I may be wrong. . .

The CODA has a fairly powerful 134 horsepower, 221 lb-ft electric motor that will propel the car to a top speed of 85 mph!  VROOM!  The car may seem a bit pudgy compared to what your car is, but you’d be surprised how heavy YOUR car is compared to the CODA!  For those of you interested in saving the environment, but need utility, check out the Ford Focus Electric, which is pretty much the only all-electric competitor to the CODA (besides the Nissan Leaf).  The reason you should think about the Focus Electric is the CODA only has a meager 14.1 cubic feet of storage space.  The Focus has closer to 30.  I guess it depends on how much junk (er, stuff) you haul around.

To make an effort to be closer to you, CODA has many dealers:
CODA Silicon Valley:  4175 Stevens Creek Road, Santa Clara, CA 95051.  888-552-6081

CODA Los Angeles:  12101 W Olympic Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90064.  310-820-3611

Marvin K. CODA San Diego:  1461 Camino del Rio South, San Diego, CA 92108.  619-219-2040

Fladeboe CODA:  Irvine Auto Center: 18 Auto Center Drive, Irvine, CA 92618.  949-830-7000

There is only one CODA Experience Center.  It’s in Los Angeles, at 10250 Santa Monica Boulevard #133, Los Angeles, CA 90067.  424-249-1616.  I guess that it’s just another excuse to take a trip to Los Angeles…  I see a field trip in my future!

P.S.  The savings calculator to see how much you’ll save driving a CODA over your daily driver will give you hours of endless fun!

A Slight Correction

“Uh, this 4.3 liter engine isn’t stock for 1982.  This engine was stock from 1988 on, though.”  Those were the somewhat dismaying words that I  heard from the local O’Reilly auto parts guy.  Yesterday, as I was calling various car parts stores to see if they had an A/C belt for a 1982 Chevrolet S10 with the 4.3 liter V6, everybody said that it wasn’t a stock engine (’82 engines were a 1.9 liter four cylinder and a 2.8 liter V6).  After trying to convince the Pepboys people that the 4.3 liter WAS a stock engine for almost five minutes, I hung up with an exasperated “Thank You.”  I then sent a text to my dad.  When I got back that evening, we checked the VIN of My Baby, and we found out that My Baby was actually manufactured in July of 1989!  Oops!  So, she DOES have a stock engine (sorry O’Reilly, you were right!).

My Baby is a stock 1989 Chevrolet S10 with the high-performance 4.3 liter engine pumping out 180 horsepower and about 220 lb-ft of torque.  She has air conditioning, a four-speed automatic transmission, a short bed, rear-wheel-drive, a cloth interior, and the optional sliding rear window.  Stay tuned as I go about repairing ‘My Baby’!  If you haven’t read my first post about My Baby, enjoy.

Fiat is Getting Serious In the U.S. with the 2012 Abarth 695 Maserati Edition

Announcement: Fiat has produced a car with a Maserati edition.  This post may make you want run to the closest Fiat dealer and buy an awesome 2012 Abarth 695 Maserati Edition.  However, it is only related to Maserati by having special 17 inch Neptune design wheels from Maserati.  They do look splendid on the already crazy Fiat 500 Abarth.  The car is painted in a lovely Pontevecchio Bordeaux, with a plush tan leather interior.  Also, there is a special Jaeger instrument cluster (usually reserved for cars well over six figures), special matte-finish carbon fiber trim.  Plus, brushed aluminum pedals add an elegantly sporty touch to the interior.

Where it matters (to me), the already-powerful turbocharged 1.4 liter engine has been tuned to produce 180 horsepower and sends the power to the ground via an Abarth Competizione 5-speed manual with an extremely rare automatic clutch and steering wheel-mounted shifters.  To keep the car flatter in corners, upgraded Koni shocks have been added.  Bigger binders have been added:  The standard Brembo brakes have gotten bigger.  Another cool fact to know is a variable backpressure dual-mode exhaust gives the car a distinct note above 3000 rpm.

If you want one of these cars, you’d better cross your fingers if you live in the U.S. – 499 out of 695 units will be built and sold in Europe.  Most of the U.S. cars have already been spoken for.  Oh, and the Abarth 695 Maserati Edition is a convertible.  Even better for that occasional stoplight race…VROOOOOOM!

I couldn’t disappoint you by not showing you a picture for you to drool over, so enjoy!   Fiat 500 Abarth 695 Maserati Edition UK pricing announced