Tag Archives: mountains

2013 Hyundai Veloster Base Review

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Rewind to ten years ago, and you would be forgiven for thinking that Hyundai cars are boring and staid. Hyundais of the past endured an unflattering reputation. Jeremy Clarkson, formerly one of the hosts of Top Gear UK, once said that if you are driving a Hyundai Accent diesel, you have failed at life. My friend asked me for advice on what to get as his first car and I suggested an old Hyundai Sonata. His response? “Dude, I want to succeed in high school, not commit social suicide.” Yes, he actually said that.  In the last five or so years, Hyundai underwent a transformation. All of a sudden, Hyundais were no longer boring and built to resemble appliances. The latest Elantra and 2010-2014 Sonata are examples of Hyundai’s latest curvy and bold designs. Showcasing Hyundai’s “Fluidic Sculpture” styling, Hyundai cars became more appealing inside and out. This combined with their excellent value for the money and fuel efficiency propelled Hyundais to the top of the sales charts. I reviewed a 2011 Sonata, and while there is room for improvement in the handling department, I was impressed with the Sonata’s blend of style and value. In 2007, Hyundai released the HND-3 Concept, which became the Veloster in 2011. In 2011, the Veloster went on sale as a three door coupe. Its party trick? It has one door on the driver’s side, and two doors on the passenger side. Confusing eh? The thought behind these three doors was to make the Veloster unique, but also to aid practicality. By having the door on the right side, children can get out on the curb. My mother texted me one day saying that her coworker has a Veloster that I can review. Naturally, I asked her if it was a manual. My mother said no, but I reviewed it anyways because I was keen to see if the Veloster really could drive like its sporty styling suggested.

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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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2013 Mercedes-Benz E550 Convertible Review

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People say that summertime is the best time to drive a convertible, and they would be right. I don’t usually like convertibles, but driving with the top down on a mountain road certainly sounds appealing, which brings me to the 2013 Mercedes-Benz E550 Convertible. The E-Class’s ancestry heralds back to the 1953 “Ponton” sedan, but it was not until the fifth generation that a convertible body style was added to the E-Class’s lineup. The next generation did not have a coupe or convertible body style, and the CLK model was introduced as a replacement. Funny thing that even though it was styled to resemble the E-Class, it was actually based off the C-Class. I had the opportunity to review a 2008 CLK350 Convertible, and while it was a nice car, it wasn’t anything special. The CLK was discontinued in 2009, right when the E-Class was redesigned. Now in its eighth generation, the E-Class’s lineup brought back the coupe and convertible body style.

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2010 Porsche Panamera S Review

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As a company known for making only sports cars, Porsche shocked the automotive industry when it introduced its first ever SUV, the Cayenne, in 2003. This move upset Porsche purists who believed that Porsche was selling out, and that it should stick to making sports cars only. However, money speaks for itself. The Porsche Cayenne was an instant success, and it quickly became Porsche’s best selling vehicle (still is). It makes sense. Consumers were ditching minivans and sedans for the SUV, and prioritize a high driving position and the SUV image. When you put the Porsche badge on the type of vehicle in demand, you get an instant success. After the Cayenne, Porsche wanted to expand its company. They came up with the idea of a performance sedan that would take on BMW and Mercedes-Benz. As usual, this incited rage from Porsche purists, and it did not help that an automatic transmission would be the only transmission available in the US. When the Panamera debuted in 2010, it was criticized for its styling. But it had the Porsche badge on a practical sedan. Like the Cayenne, it also became an instant success. I have always wanted to drive a Porsche Panamera ever since it came out just to see if it did drive like a Porsche. Fun fact about this car: this Panamera was the third model sold in America, and it was ordered a year before it was delivered.

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2000 BMW Z3 Review

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Contrary to what most people think, the Z3 was not the first Z to start off the Z series (Z3 and Z4). That title goes to the Z1.  During 1989-1991, BMW built the Z1. The Z1 featured many innovative touches such as doors that slide down in their sills and a removable plastic body. This car could be driven with all of the body panels completely removed. They were never sold in North America, and the Z1 was discontinued after just two years and with 8,000 models produced. After noticing the success of the Mazda Miata roadster, BMW decided it wanted a piece of the action. Introduced in 1996, the Z3 made its debut in the James Bond film, Golden Eye, which BMW used to promote the car. The BMW Z3 emphasized its mix of modern BMW mechanicals with retro styling cues from the BMW 507 (a classic BMW roadster). It gained new interior and exterior revisions in 2000.

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2003 Chevrolet Impala Base Review

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You wouldn’t know from looking at this car, but the Impala’s history stretches all the way back to 1958. Originally, the Impala was a top trim level of the Bel Air coupes and convertibles. By combining luxury and muscle, the Impala elevated Chevrolet to number one production spot in 1958, a year of financial hardship. As the years passed, the Impala separated from the Bel Air model and became one of the most famous muscle cars of the 1960s. The fourth generation Impala was the most popular generation and also the model’s first Super Sport version. Fun fact: this fourth generation is the best selling automotive model in history after the Volkswagen Beetle, Ford Model T,  and the Lada Riva. However, during the 1970s, the Impala diminished in status and luxury as it was repositioned as a mainstream large sedan. It would be discontinued in 1996. For the 1999 model year, Chevrolet revived the Impala. Positioned above the Malibu, It aimed to provide cheap motoring in a roomy package. Continue reading

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2014 Lexus RX350 Review

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After watching the 1994 Toyota Rav4’s success in the compact SUV market, Toyota decided to use its Lexus division to launch a luxury SUV. Introduced in 1998, the Lexus RX was considered one of the world’s first luxury SUVs. Using an enlarged version of the sixth generation Camry’s platform (shared with the Lexus ES also), the RX combined car like performance with ground clearance akin to an SUV. Its success prompted other rival companies to take notice. The Mercedes-Benz M-Class and the BMW X5 are the results. As the RX reached even more sales, it grew in size. Whereas the original was a compact SUV, the second generation (2003-2008) was labeled as a midsize SUV. This iteration also introduced the world’s first production luxury hybrid, the RX400h. Lexus redesigned the RX in 2009. It received a facelift in 2012 which included mechanical improvements as well as revised exterior and interior updates that brought it in line with Lexus’ latest design philosophy. Continue reading

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