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Saturday, April 4, 2009

2010 Lexus RX 350 Spotlight

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Since its inception in 1990, Lexus has made a habit of producing quality vehicles that appeal to multitudes of luxury-segment buyers. A great example is the ever-popular RX-series luxury crossover SUV. Fully redesigned for 2010, the Lexus RX 350 doesn't stray too far from its successful formula of pleasant driving dynamics, a "just right" five-passenger size, a cabin full of luxury features and impeccable build quality.

Understandably, Lexus took a conservative approach when it reworked its bread-and-butter crossover. The tweaks made to this new-generation RX include a slight increase in width (though other dimensions remain essentially unchanged), bigger standard wheels (18s versus 17s), bigger brakes, a new six-speed transmission, more airbags (now at 10), a keyless ignition system and a new mouse-like multifunction controller for the navigation system that's actually both clever and intuitive to use. One downside to these new features, however, is that they contribute to the new 2010 RX 350's weight gain -- it's up more than 400 pounds compared to last year's model.

Powertrains and Performance

A 3.5-liter V6 rated at 275 horsepower and 257 pound-feet of torque powers the 2010 Lexus RX 350. A six-speed automatic transmission is standard, and buyers have a choice of either front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive. Lexus claims either version will run from zero to 60 mph in about 7.5 seconds.

Fuel economy estimates stand at 18 mpg city/25 mpg highway and 21 mpg combined for the FWD model, with the AWD version rating 1 mpg less. Properly equipped, the RX 350 can tow up to 3,500 pounds.

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Wednesday, April 1, 2009

New York Preview: 2010 Subaru Legacy revealed ahead of Big Apple debut

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With the days winding down until the opening of the 2009 New York Auto Show, Subaru has released the full details along with photographs of its highly anticipated new Legacy, which replaces the outgoing model for the 2010 model year. The new Legacy has big shoes to fill, as the outgoing model offered a compelling package with a sleek design and capable chassis.

The exterior design of the new model bridges the gap between Subie's aging flagship model and the concept car the Japanese automaker revealed in Detroit. The new Legacy also grows an inch longer, and about three inches in each the wheelbase, width and height, in order to offer a more commodious cabin.

Three engines will be available: A naturally-aspirated four, a revised turbocharged flat-four and the flat-six. The 2.5-liter normally aspirated engine produces 170 horsepower and equal torques, and the fla-six swells from 3.0- to 3.6 liters, now producing 256 hp and 258 pound-feet of torque. But the big news is the revised turbo boxer in between, producing 22 more horses than the outgoing model (now 265 hp) and 17 lb-ft more torque (for a total of 258) from lower revs. Of course, all the engines will offer all-wheel drive (otherwise it'd hardly be a Subaru), but the six-speed manual (fresh to the North American market) and five-speed automatic are joined by a new CVT to keep any of the engines in their sweet spot.

The interior has likewise been thoroughly revised, incorporating a new voice-command sat-nav and slick ambient lighting. All of this amounts to a modest 50 pound increase in weight, which seems like a small penalty to pay for all the added features.

We'll be sure to check it out and report back live from the Javitz Center show floor next week. In the meantime, load up on info with the press release after the jump and the high-resolution image gallery below.

eBay Find of the Day: The Jerrari

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In 1963, Henry Ford II wanted to win Le Mans badly and was all set to buy Ferrari to boost Ford's racing program. Enzo Ferrari pulled out of the deal at the last moment, angering Ford II so badly that he went on to fund development of the legendary GT40 that went on to take many motorsports victories.

A few years later, Mr. Ferrari pissed off yet another powerfully rich American businessman with the outcome being the automotive abomination you see before you. Bill Harrah of Harrah's Casino fame asked Ferrari to construct for him an Italian 4X4 wearing the prancing horse badge. While no one thought to archive the response from Ferrari, we imagine it involved the words 'hell' and 'no'. In Italian, of course.

Undeterred and with more money than taste, Harrah created the Jerrari. Its ass-end is a 1970 Jeep Wagoneer, the nose is from a 1969 Ferrari 365GT. On the day of its birth, this one-of-a-kind offroading Ferrari sported V12 power, but now all four wheels are turned by a 350 V8.

The eBay auction for this abomination includes numerous pieces of documentation, like a 1971 review of the car by "Road & Track." Another is a letter from a previous seller in 1984 that indicates there could be more than one of these hideous creations out there. Maybe that's what's been starting all these rumors.

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Tuesday, March 31, 2009

WRC news - Loeb out to extend his winning streak

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After claiming victory on the first three rounds of the 2009 championship, Citroen Total team drivers Sebastien Loeb and Daniel Elena are looking to build on their current run of success when the series moves to Portugal this week.

Loeb won the rally in 2007, when it last counted as a round of the WRC, and rates the event as one of his favourites.

“We always get an excellent welcome and it's nice to feel that our sport counts for the people here, and that the WRC is seen as a major event,” he said. “I love the stages; they are very varied with a range of different surface types. The weather tends to be good, too, so it's basically got all the ingredients anyone could ask for to be a great weekend!"

As well as trying to add a second Rally de Portugal success to his name, the Frenchman will be targeting his 51st WRC victory. "I start every event with the intention of winning,” he said. “We will push hard from the start and see how things unfold...".

As the first all-gravel round of the year, Portugal is a useful indicator of performance on other loose surface events later in the season. Loeb, however, thinks his car has already proved its versatility across a range of conditions.

“We kicked off the season with three very specific rallies, and Portugal is the first round to feature a more conventional format and spirit,” he said. “Given the level we have reached with the development of the C4, we have a shrewd idea of where we stand. In Cyprus, for example, we worked from the same basic set-up we used in Wales. That suggests that our car is versatile enough to adapt to all types of terrain."

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Sunday, March 29, 2009

F1 - Button leaves Brawn speechless

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Jenson Button managed to render Ross Brawn speechless following a remarkable Australian Grand Prix victory.

Up until a few weeks ago Brawn GP did not exist, but the power and persuasion of their unlikely team owner led to them rising from the ashes after Honda Racing had financially crashed and burned.

After leading a management buy-out, the technical genius has now led the team to Formula One's promised land after scoring a one-two in the season-opener around Albert Park in Melbourne.

Not since 1954, when legendary five-times champion Juan Manuel Fangio led home Karl Kling for Mercedes in the French Grand Prix, has a team taken the top two places on their debut.

Put into greater context, Button on Sunday scored more points in this one race than he managed in his previous 35 over two years with Honda.

Brawn, who played a prominent role in Michael Schumacher winning all seven of his world titles with Benetton and Ferrari, could be on the brink of his most remarkable achievement yet.

Certainly the foundations have been laid, although quite clearly to his own amazement given how close he was to not even being here.

"You don't find Ross speechless very often, but during the last 15 minutes I would be surprised if he said a word," revealed Button, after only the second victory of his 154-race career.

"Seeing him on the way up to the podium he had nothing to say. The big bear was just there speechless.

"It was good to see as it was a very emotional day for him, as it is for us as well."

Appreciably, and it was an obvious but understandable comment to make, Button described the day as "a fairytale" as the 29-year-old led from start to finish.

The fact team-mate Rubens Barrichello joined him on the podium was a feat in itself as the Brazilian was involved in a first-corner melee that led to him damaging his front wing.

Then in the closing stages, Barrichello benefited from a reckless incident involving Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel and Robert Kubica in his BMW Sauber as they crashed out when running second and third.

It led to the safety car being deployed for a second time, after an earlier accident involving Williams' Kazuki Nakajima, behind which they ran virtually to the finish for the final three laps.

It was hardly the grandstand ending Button might have hoped for when he took the chequered flag, but that mattered little in the grand scheme of things.


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