Tag Archives: desert

2007 Infiniti M35 Review

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For the longest time I could remember, the third generation Infiniti M has always been my favorite luxury sedan. Funny thing is, I have never actually driven one. Its sporty looks and the fact that it was based off the same platform as the Nissan Z sports car gave it performance credibility. This generation was a Consumer Reports Top Pick, and it was well received by the press. The strange thing is that the M wasn’t always a luxury sedan. Rather, it was a two door in either a coupe or convertible configuration. In 1989, Nissan introduced its luxury division, Infiniti, to take on the Germans. As one of the first two models to be produced by Infiniti, the 1989 M30 Coupe and Convertible were a rebadged Nissan Leopard. Alas, it lasted only three years in production. According to Wikipedia, it is rumored that less than 12,000 M30s have been sold, making it the rarest Infiniti ever made. It was not until 2002 that the M was revived as a rebadged Nissan Gloria, this time as a luxury sedan. My friend Madison’s father had a silver M45 when I was little, and I remember being fascinated with it. The second generation M was long and narrow, and this gave it a futuristic appearance. The fact that it was powered by a 340 horsepower V8 which was a a lot back then added to its appeal. Sadly, due to its high price and unremarkable handling, it trailed the BMW 5 Series and the Mercedes-Benz E-Class. Sales were so low that this generation only lasted for two years. This time, Infiniti wasn’t taking any chances. In 2006, it debuted an all new and redesigned M, again another rebadged Nissan sold as the Nissan Fuga in Japan. This time, the Infiniti M was based off the “FM” (front-midship which basically means the engine is pushed behind the front axle for better weight distribution) platform that underpinned the Nissan Z sports car as well as the sporty Infiniti FX SUV and G sedan. In addition to having a chassis derived from a sports car, the M also was powered by Nissan’s well-received “VQ-series” engines. I was both nervous and excited to review this car to see if it really did live up to my expectations.  Continue reading

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Michael’s 1998 Jeep Cherokee Sport 4X4

This story is written by Michael (http://motorblogaz.wordpress.com/) about his 1998 Jeep Cherokee Sport 4X4.

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This is my 1998 Jeep Cherokee Sport 4×4. This was the first car I purchased when I was 16 and still own to this day. This Jeep is responsible for really igniting my passion for cars. Many weekends were spent driving forest service roads with the windows down and the country music up, or navigating Broken Arrow trail in Sedona, AZ, or wrenching on it. I installed 4 KC HiLites on the roof, totaling 200 watts of American-made electric sunshine. A set of black Cragar steel wheels and a coat of bedliner on the fender flares helped set my Jeep apart from others in my Cherokee-popular hometown. My family actually owns two Jeep Cherokees, combined have traveled over half-a-million miles. The AMC 4.0 Inline 6 engine is bulletproof and was spawned back when men were men, trucks were trucks and engine blocks were cast iron. I have many plans for this Jeep, which, when added up monetarily sum in the range of $20,000. To this day, the Jeep starts instantly, makes 40psi of oil pressure at idle, and the air conditioning functions perfectly.  Continue reading

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2004 Honda Pilot EX-L Review (My Car)

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Most people ask me that if I have all this knowledge about cars, I must be driving something interesting and a car that only car enthusiasts would drive. Well, the truth of the matter is that I drive a Honda Pilot. That’s right, a 2004 Honda Pilot EX-L in Sage Bush Metallic. Yep, it’s an automatic SUV, which makes me out to be a hypocrite, especially since I preach manual transmissions, and since I say that SUVs are my least favorite type of cars. Let me tell you about the story behind this car, who by the way I named Neela (after the girl in Fast and Furious Tokyo Drift who drives a Mazda RX-8). At the time, we had a 1995 Honda Odyssey LX and a 2002 Toyota Camry. While it was a great car, the Odyssey was getting old, and a family member really needed a car, so we gave the car to her. It had 140,000 miles, and my family and I never really considered it a minivan due to the lack of sliding doors which helped my mom avoid the “soccer-mom” mentality. Anyways, this was in 2004, when SUVs were becoming the norm for family cars, and as you guessed, my parents jumped on the bandwagon. My family loves Hondas, but we wanted to go upmarket, so we looked at the Acura MDX (Acura is Honda’s luxury division). My mom loved the MDX, but my father, the cost conscious buyer, was keen on the MDX’s sibling, the Honda Pilot. It had launched a year ago, and we had many friends with Pilots, and everybody loved theirs. We went to the Honda dealership, and we looked at the Pilot.  Naturally, being a young kid, I was bored by all the technical talk, so my sister and I played around in the showroom cars. We test drove a red Pilot with a tan interior, and we were all amazed at how roomy and comfortable it was. We went to the Honda dealership a lot more after that. Then one night, my family went to the dealer without telling me and left me at home with the babysitter. The next day, we went to the dealership, and my sister (who loved to brag and tease me) told me, “Ha-Ha, Mom and Dad took me to the dealer, and not you, and I got to pick out the color! They like me better than you.” I pretended not to believe her, so I asked her, “Oh yeah? Where is our car? Huh? Huh?” And she pointed outside, and there was our Pilot. It was a Friday morning on May 28, 2004. It was a sunny afternoon, and our Pilot was so shiny it sparkled. That weekend, we embarked on a family trip in our brand new car to Ohio. We stopped at a farm, where we got to ride horses. My horse’s name was Diablo, and I remember this because at the time, my favorite Lamborghini was the Diablo. Before we knew it, we were driving this car everywhere. This car has been all over the country. We drove the Pilot many times to Canada, and Mexico two times, and it has been to both coasts of the country. Before I knew it, high school came. When I got my permit, I was supposed to drive our 2002 Toyota Camry, but as being a typical car guy, I said, “heck no!” I wanted a Ford Mustang so badly for my first car, and I was dismayed to find out my first car would be handed down to me. At first, I felt sad, because out of my friends, I had the boring car (my friends had a 2011 Ford Mustang, 2012 Dodge Challenger, Chargers, you name it). But after three years of driving this car, I cannot wish for a better first car. Since this blog just turned a year old, I thought it would be cool to do a review of my own car. I have been thinking about doing this for a long time, and I have been pressured to do so. Ever since I started this blog, I have had impromptu photo shoots of Neela. If I’m driving, and I see a location that I like, I’ll pull over for some pictures. I have accumulated quite a lot of pictures over time, and it is interesting to see how the car has changed in the past year. I actually posted a photo shoot of Neela and another Honda Pilot way back in Decemeber. I just never had the opportunity to do an actual review because I was always writing a review of another car. Now, the perfect opportunity presented itself. Just know that this review will be really long, because this isn’t a review of a random car. I’ve known this car for 10 years, which is a lot to summarize in a typical review, so brace yourself. Hope you guys enjoy it!

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My Car: 2004 Honda Pilot EX-L Teaser

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Review of my car coming soon! (Yes, this is what I drive)

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2005 Dodge Magnum R/T Review

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Dodge’s lineup in the last ten years included cars that bear no similarities with cars of the same name back in the ’70s. Examples include the Charger, Dart, and this Magnum. The Magnum back in the 1970s was a coupe that was produced primarily to compete in NASCAR, and its production run lasted only two years from 1978-1979. The Magnum were also rebadged Dodge Darts sold in Mexico and Brazil during the 1980s. In 2004, Chrysler (Dodge is owned by Chrysler) launched the 300 sedan. After the 300 debuted, Dodge followed up with a wagon version of the 300, the Magnum. This was a bold move considering America is biased towards minivans and SUVs as family vehicles, more so the latter. Growing up, the only wagons that I have seen in my life were Subarus and German makes. Personally, I think wagons are cool, and logically, they use less gas, are better to drive and they’re just cooler. Sadly, my tastes are in the minority as I also don’t wear Sperry’s or drink Starbucks or eat Nutella, so of course the general American population goes for SUVs. Even though the Magnum was derived from the 300, it was made to look like the Charger which came in 2005 as a 2006 model. This makes sense because the Charger was a twin of the 300. The Magnum came with an array of powertrain options mirroring that of the 300 and Charger’s including a V6, 340 horsepower R/T, and a 425 horsepower SRT version. This is my first time I have reviewed an actual wagon, and quite a wagon at that.

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Tribute to Betty: Our 2002 Toyota Camry LE

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Hey guys, remember that 2002 Toyota Camry LE that I reviewed? Well that was one of my first reviews on this blog, so you probably don’t remember. This car was a member of our family, having been bought brand new in 2002. I remember the car shopping experience. We had just gotten tired of our 1993 Saturn SL, and we were looking to upgrade. That Saturn had around 130 thousand miles when we were looking for a new car in the January of 2002. My dad, a Honda man, inevitably turned to the 2002 Honda Accord as the Saturn’s replacement. But the Accord was in its last year, and the Camry had just launched. My parents wanted to go upmarket, so they looked at the Acura TL, and the Volvo S70. I remember the exact cars that we test drove back in 2002. The Acura TL was silver, and it was a sunny afternoon, and I remember how luxurious it felt (Remember, our Saturn had manual windows and cloth seats!). I was sitting in the backseat, amazed by the center armrest because it had an opening that led to the inside of the trunk! As for the Volvo S70, my parents wanted to look at it because it was supposed to be one of the safest cars you could buy, and where we lived, Volvos were very popular, especially in wagon form. It was dark outside and snowing, and the Volvo salesman led us to this beautiful white S70. It was parked on the lot at a corner by itself, and the streetlights shined on the car. It just looked beautiful under the streetlight, and it had a spoiler and a tan interior. My parents liked the car very much, but they didn’t like that reliability was an issue. However, my parents felt these cars were too pricey, so we looked at the Toyota Camry which was just redesigned. Strangely I don’t remember much about the Toyota buying experience. I don’t remember how we even got the car. All I know is that we looked at the Camry, and my parents loved it. They felt that the Camry offered much more value than the Acura or the Volvo ever did. And then one day, it was in our garage, and the Saturn was parked outside. This being the new car, the Toyota was the cooler car. (At the time we also had a 1995 Honda Odyssey LX). I named the Camry Betty. Because when I think of a girl named Betty, I imagined that she is a vanilla type of woman. Nice and dependable, but not very adventurous, which describes the Camry perfectly.  Continue reading

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2011 Toyota 4Runner Limited Review

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Wow, the 4Runner has come a long way from when it debuted in the mid ’80s. The first generation was derived completely from the Toyota Pickup/Hilux, and the only modifications made to the 4Runner was the addition of an integrated fiberglass top, and it was sold in a two door configuration only. It was so similar to the truck that it did not even come with rear seats when it was imported into the U.S from Japan (Dealers installed them after they were imported). The 4Runner became a hit due to its combination of off roading credibility, versatility, and affordability. Toyota redesigned the 4Runner in 1989, and the result was vastly different. It was still based off the Toyota Pickup/Hilux, but instead of sporting a pickup body with a fiberglass top installed, it utilized a unique all steel body, and most were sold in a four door body style. The 4Runner was redesigned in 1995, and it was as much of a departure as the second gen. For starters, it was no longer based off the Hilux truck, but rather shared a platform with the Toyota Land Cruiser Prado (Lexus GX), and it became a more luxurious and comfort oriented SUV in contrast to the simple and rugged nature of previous 4Runners. For 2003, the 4Runner underwent another redesign, this time catering to American tastes as it gained an optional V8. This generation lasted till 2010 to this 4Runner that you see here. Having the chance to review a first and third generation 4Runner, I am interested to see how it compares. With a no frills nature and manual transmission, the 1986 4Runner was delightfully simple and rugged whereas the 1997 4Runner that I reviewed was comfortable and not as capable as the first off road but still good to drive. With this 2011 4Runner, what piques my interest is how it stacks up, as a 4Runner and as an SUV overall.

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2000 Lexus GS300 Review

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For years, the Germans have ruled the luxury market in the U.S. However, in the late 1980s’, the Japanese created luxury divisions to take on the Germans. Toyota had Lexus, Honda had Acura, and Nissan had Infiniti. However, Lexus is the only automaker that took the U.S by surprise when it debuted the LS400 in 1989. Whereas German luxury cars were notorious for their poor reliability and were expensive to buy, the LS400 represented a change from the norm by providing excellent reliability and luxury with a starting price that undercut the Germans. As a result, the LS400 was a runaway success. Building on the success of the LS sedan, Lexus saw fit to expand its lineup. Seeing that the ES and LS sedans rivaled compact and large executive sedans, Lexus felt the need for a midsize sedan to rival the BMW 5-Series and the Mercedes-Benz E-Class. Lexus hired the Italian design firm, Italdesign Guigiaro (a designer who is known for designing Italian cars such as Ferrari and Lamborghini) to design the GS. Sold as a Toyota Aristo in Japan and as a Lexus in the U.S., sales were nowhere near that of the Germans. This can be attributed to its underpowered engine, high price, and weird styling. The GS was redesigned in 1997 as a 1998 model. This time, it had both a V6 and a V8, and its styling was more conventional, and it also placed more emphasis on its driving dynamics. This generation was also sold as a Toyota Aristo in Japan.

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