A Little Video For Your Viewing Pleasure!

The folks at xtranormal.com have made it extremely easy to make a simple video for almost anything you can imagine.

I made one for a review I wrote on my Droid site here. I love the computer-generated voice. Too funny!

Well, here’s one for the 2006 Pontiac GTO review featured in my last post.

Sure doesn’t sound like Larry King…





So here we are, on DROID number 3. Trying to get all the programs up and running again.

Let me tell you that Android has a ton of great tools that make it easy to switch devices and keep all your info. All it takes is a little digging to make sure all your info is backed up to the SD card.

Anyhoo, that’s what I’ve been up to!

Don’t Call It A Comeback!

There’s a lot going on in the US today. The 2010 Winter Olympics are coming to an end. The auto industry is being rocked by multiple recalls totaling millions of vehicles for safety stalwart Toyota. And the US automakers are poised to take charge and make, dare I say it, a comeback.

Too bad, for many, many people in the US, buying a Ford, Chevy or Chrysler is akin to sticking a fork in your eye. Repeatedly.

I say this because I talk to people and I listen to what they have to say. Mostly, I hear things like, “oh, we’ll never buy another American car. we’ve had such bad experiences.” It’s truly unfortunate that these people were burned so bad that they can’t see all the good vehicles out there by the US carmakers.

2010 Chevrolet EquinoxA co-worker, who owned a Saturn ION Coupe, recently purchased a 2010 Chevy Equinox.  Hers is a four-cylinder base model but it’s comfortable, with a classy interior and a decent amount of options for a small-ish price and good looks.

I was really impressed with the quality of materials and the interior space, it’s really roomy!2010 Chevrolet Equinox North American Truck of the Year Granted, the driver and front  passenger had their seats scooted up but it was a cavern in the back seat, big enough to hold a square dance.

The seats were covered in a cool-looking, two-tone fabric that mimics jersey mesh and was very grippy and looked like it would last a long time and wear well.  It was a total departure from the lackluster beige or lack-of-color black in other Chevy vehicles’ interiors that gave the vehicles either an apartment-like feel (with the beige) or a dark, uninviting cave feel (with the black).

2010 Chevrolet Equinox

The center stack in the Equinox is a nice step forward in design and execution, combining radio and HVAC controls in a concise, easy to use and understand layout. Tinkerers may be disappointed since it will be nearly impossible to upgrade the radio.

Thank goodness Chevy has a plethora of infotainment options, including XM, 40 Gb hard drive, navigation and DVD playback, depending on which options you choose.

It’s no wonder Equinox was a finalist for North American Truck of the Year at the 2010 North American International Auto Show in Detroit this past January.

Chalk one up for the American car companies!

Very Busy…No Time…

So we closed on the new house and in the process of packing/painting/moving/everything else that comes with a new house.

It seems there has been some traffic to this site and I really do appreciate it! Please leave a comment or message or suggestion. It’d be great to hear from you!

So since we’re moving and all, there won’t be much going on here for the next month or so. I’ll try to post updates from the DROID since I think I found a decent blog program.

And now for some news: Saab has been given new life from a deal in which exotic car maker Spyker will purchase the previous GM holding. Read all about it on MarketWatch.

And now, today’s Retro Review!

2002 Ford Explorer

Finally Launched and Well Worth the Wait

by James E. Bryson

The new-for-2002 Ford Explorer has finally been launched to the general public, and might we say, it is well worth the wait.

The company has pushed back the launch, from last fall, of this first ground-up redesign since it’s inception 10 years ago, and pushed it back again. Mostly because FoMoCo wanted to make sure the ’02 Explorer was perfect from the get-go.

This, from a Ford press release, explains their stance best: In order to ensure extremely high quality, the rollout of the new Explorer included extraordinary rigorous testing …Ford took a strategic approach to this important launch in order to ensure quality and to sustain customer enthusiasm and anticipation for the newest best-selling SUV.

The new vehicle is wider and the wheelbase has been extended to give more room to passengers and cargo, though the overall length and height is unchanged.
Interior room is greatly improved compared to previous iterations of the four-door Explorer. This change is most noticeable in the width of the footwells up front. In the old model, the space was never tight but there could have been more room to move around. In the ’02, there’s plenty of room to sit any way you choose, even cross-legged!

Another feature now offered on Explorer is a third-row seat, made possible by the expanded interior volume and lower floor height than in previous years. And, believe it or not, an adult can actually fit back there. Yours truly was coerced by Ford Communications Manager Harold Allen to get in the third row seat and it was actually bearable to a 5′ 10” adult with poor flexibility.

The newly redesigned rear hatch is a marvel at ease of use. The load-in height is quite low, just above knee level, and it is very easy to open and close. The glass portion, a full piece of glass with an appliqué of plastic trim, opens lower than last year’s model and is also very easy to operate. The lower bumper height is also an added safety feature, according to Doug Scott, Ford SUV marketing manager.

“Safety and security were differentiating factors for this redesign,” Scott said at a Ford sponsored ride and drive recently. “We are offering an optional side-curtain airbag in the new Explorer as well as bumpers that are two inches lower for better car-friendliness.”

Other safety features on the ’02 Explorer include AdvancTrac, a stability control system that will be introduced later in the model year; the ControlSlip rear driveshaft that collapses rather than buckling; Ford’s Personal Safety System, which includes dual-stage airbags for front passenger and driver and seat belt pretensioners; standard four-wheel ABS; and the Safety Canopy, which is a rollover protection system created by the side-curtain airbags and a bevy of sensors that measure indicators like vehicle tilt and lean-angle changes.

The grill on the ’02 Explorer definitely has a family resemblance: Can you say mini-Expedition? There are new jeweled headlamps, following the current trend, that look very nice in the daylight. We didn’t get a chance to drive the vehicle at night but, rest assured, Ford’s truck headlights are among the brightest of any automakers.

Explorer owners get to choose between two distinct engines, a 4.0-liter SOHC V6 with 210 hp and 250 lb-ft of torque, along with a 4.6-liter SOHC V8 with 240 hp and 280 lb-ft of torque. Both engines meet Low Emission Vehicle standards and can operate on either gasoline or the gasoline/ethanol blend E85. A V6 powered Explorer 4X4 should see 15 mpg in the city and 20 mpg on the highway. The V8 should see 14 and 19 mpg city and highway, according to EPA ratings.

Both manual and automatic transmissions are now five-speeds and both are all new for ’02. Both feature revised gearing to better use the engines flatter torque curves and higher horsepower. Towing for the Explorer is handled by a standard Class II hitch that’s capable of hauling 3500 pounds, depending on engine and drivetrain. An upgraded towing package, which includes a limited-slip rear differential, can handle up to 7300 pounds.

On the road, the new Explorer inspires confidence over bumps, potholes, railroad tracks…almost anything that would have upset the old version’s live axle. Handling through corners is equally calming. The new independent rear suspension keeps axle hop down to a minimum when that unseen undulation literally pops up, threatening to spoil any good time the driver is trying to have.

The only real odd thing to driving the ’02 Explorer, at least with the test vehicle, was a GM-like brake pedal feel. It was mushy to a point, and then there was decent feedback to what was happening on the road. The vehicle stopped fine; there was just a touch of confidence lost in pedal performance.

Believe it or not, three out of the four Explorer models will have a lower base price, comparing ’01 to ’02. The only model to actually go up in price is the Eddie Bauer edition; it will be $65 more than the current model. The other three models, XLS, XLT and Limited, will feature lower prices by $95, $230 and $190, respectively.

Base prices for the ’02 Explorer (including $600.00 for destination and delivery) begin at $24,620 for the XLS, $28,380 for the XLT, and $32,690 for the Eddie Bauer and Limited. The volume truck, an XLT 4X4 equipped with the standard 4.0-liter V-6 engine and optional electronic AM/FM stereo/clock/single CD player, will carry a base price of $30, 475.

The Explorer will face some very tough competition in the coming months, with the newly redesigned GM trio and a flurry of new SUV models, but should remain king of the SUV mountain with new safety features, a totally new design and more customer-friendly amenities.

Today’s Car of the Day is…

concept_hyundai_imode (2) concept_hyundai_imode (4)

The Hyundai i-Mode concept, shown here at the 2009 North American International Auto Show. It’s a crossover that features a twin-turbo diesel engine that promises great mileage.

Inside, there’s organic shapes and eco-friendly-looking materials.

The look is rather bean-like but quite pleasant. I see this as a Korean alternative to the Prius or Insight…without the extra battery mass and complexity of a hybrid.

concept_hyundai_imode (3) concept_hyundai_imode

Thanks again for stopping by!

2010 NAIAS…What I’m Missing!!!

While perusing one of my conveniently received Cnet emails, I found a link showcasing the GMC Granite Concept at the 2010 North American International Auto Show and it reminded me how I am really going to miss something special with this particular show.

What with the financial troubles the world has seen over the last two years, especially here in the States, this show could be considered a turning point for the American automotive industry.

From everything I’ve read so far, and deduced from my own worldly observations, small is the new big and fuel efficiency is king now more than ever.

So anyway, I love Cnet and how they cover all things Tech, including cars and the tech that’s in ‘em. And with the link I mentioned earlier, I was taken to the video page with all the interesting new cars and concepts, covered by the inimitable Brian Cooley, with all his wit and bourbon-drinking banter…gotta love the guy!

So of the 10 or so vids I watched, I think the most intriguing would be a pair of General Motors concepts and a Chrysler concept:

The Chevy Aveo is a very small car with good mileage numbers and decent build quality, with decent accoutrements but not much power. Well, in concept form at least, that may be changing. The Chevy Aveo RS is a totally tricked out Aveo with a turbo-powered engine, “performance-tuned” suspension and Boy Racer good looks (and an awesome shade of blue!).

I hope  that Chevy will build the RS so that us enthusiasts who value small cars and the efficiencies they afford, have something to drive and really enjoy. Having driven an Aveo a time or two, I can attest that it really does need some suspension tuning and a lot more power under hood.

The other GM concept I gravitated toward is the Buick Regal GS. Yes, a Buick…I’ve always liked how Buick married performance, luxury and design and was glad to see how the new LaCrosse was a great looking design with more luxury aspirations, take that Lexus!

So the Regal GS Concept features a turbo-four and a six-speed transmission, either automatic or (are you sitting?) manual!!! Wow!!! It’s based on the same Opel that the Saturn Aura was, so the Regal should be as stellar as the Aura was but even better!

It’s cars like this that will help GM stay healthy in the future.

On the Chrysler front, there’s not much to talk about. However, I understand that there is a Chrysler concept that’s basically a Chrysler-badged Lancia Delta. It’s near the end of the video and it’s a great looking car that they should really bring here.

Just a few interesting tidbits form this year’s North American International Auto Show. How I wish I was there but I got a lot of house to still pack before the big move!

Thanks for stopping by!