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Friday
Jan292016

Few Words: Lexus LS460

The first part of the week was spent tooling around town, a very pleasant experience with the LS460. In these environs, the range topping sedan is quiet and composed, and possesses an almost royal equanimity. I found myself being seduced by the ability to float as if on a magic carpet over rough surfaces, and glide serenely through traffic.

If there was one flaw, it was the touchy brakes. Their response to a prod of the brake pedal was overbearing. It wasn’t that the effort required was less than the rest of the controls, but that the initial travel had an outsized effect on retardation. It took a few tries to master the amount of pressure and application speed that would give the desired braking effect, but eventually everything came right.

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Friday
Jan292016

GMC Canyon Crew Cab vs. Toyota Tacoma Double Cab

By Christopher A. Sawyer

A midsize 4x4 battle for pickup supremacy

Not long after I drove this gasoline-powered Canyon SLT 4WD at home, it was off to New York State to drive a nearly identical Canyon fitted with GM’s 2.8-liter turbocharged four-cylinder diesel. A few weeks later, I also had the opportunity to drive a Toyota Tacoma outfitted with the TRD Off-Road package and a manual transmission. Three quite different trucks, all with four doors and four-wheel drive. While I will describe the Duramax diesel in a sidebar below, the differences between the GMC and Toyota would seem to be insurmountable with one biased to comfort and the other toward off-road prowess. And yet…

Exterior

These vehicles are direct competitors, though optioned in this case for different duties. However, when you strip away these distractions, it’s much easier to see how they compare and contrast, and which has the better solution. The most basic comparison is size:

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Friday
Jan292016

Opel’s GT Concept

Unfortunately, you can probably forget about the Opel GT Concept being a sneak preview of a new sport coupe for Opel and Vauxhall. This front mid-engine/rear-drive coupe’s biggest innovation is the way in which the body color carries into the side windows with no visible transition. The doors are opened via a touchpad integrated into the red line on the roof, and a patented mounting system gives a large opening angle even in tight places. The red tires, on the other hand, are a nod to the red rubber available on the Opel Motoclub 500 motorbike of the 1920s. The GT is powered by a turbocharged 1.0-liter inline three-cylinder engine producing 142 hp and 151 lb.-ft. of torque. It weighs less than 2,000 lb., goes from 0-62 mph in less than eight seconds, and tops out at 134 mph. About the only new thing that may make it to production are the next-generation LED matrix headlights.

Friday
Jan292016

Preview: 2017 Hyundai Elantra

By Christopher A. Sawyer 

The compact sedan market is one of the toughest industry battlefields, and one in which the average buyer is faced with a dizzying array of competitors. Despite the potential confusion, this is a good thing as the competition keeps prices low and vehicle content high. For proof, look no further than the 2017 Hyundai Elantra. Priced at $17,150, it’s $100 less expensive than the 2016 model, has two new powertrains, a quieter cabin, more equipment and better fuel economy.

The new Elantra is lighter and stronger, thanks to a 22% increase in the use of advanced high-strength steels, and an increase in the use of structural adhesives at stress points and as a reinforcement in welded areas. The result of all this work is torsional rigidity increasing by 29.5%, while bending rigidity is up 25.3%; significant jumps for both measures, especially when body weight is down. 

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