The painted grille and bulging fenders of the new Suzuki Kizashi give it an aggressive look. With tail pipes integrated into the rear bumper, you might think this is a new sport-luxury driver. But no, it is just another midsize sedan in a crowded market, with a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine under the hood. It does include a well-equipped cabin, with standard Bluetooth phone support, iPod integration, and a thumping Rockford Fosgate audio system.
The SRX name may not be new at Cadillac, but the car wearing it certainly is. The 2010 SRX is radically redesigned from earlier versions, opting for a more carlike suspension, while retaining a five-passenger SUV-like body. Borrowing much from the CTS sedan, the SRX has angular design cues around its body, and a very modern cabin tech suite, anchored by a very good navigation system. Power comes from a direct injection 3-liter V-6.
OK, we are going to get something out of the way from the beginning. The 2010 Bentley Continental Supersports may be the most extreme example of sport luxury available today, putting mere BMWs to shame, but its navigation system is terrible. The maps are very low resolution and, stored on a DVD, are slow to refresh and calculate routes. This navigation system lacks all but the most basic features, with no external data feeds or text to speech. It really doesn't belong in this car.
Let that rest as our main criticism so we can get to the good stuff, which is just about everything else.
Bentley has offered several variations of its Continental coupe since its introduction in 2003, but the Supersports model exhibits the purest level of performance. Bentley tweaked the already massive engine for more power, fitted wheels with big carbon ceramic brakes, and shed 243 pounds of weight, most notably by removing the rear seat.
And you really don't want a rear seat in this car, as you would resent any passengers back there for being a drag on performance, while they would unfriend you on Facebook for being relegated to such cramped quarters.
We were actually a little surprised at the manageable size of this car, making it easy to maneuver through parking garages and dense urban streets. Despite its smallish size, the body is a head-turner, with external lighting nicely molded into the body and the signature wire Bentley grille. The glossy black 20-inch wheels added to this car's unique look.
Of course, the engine also announces the Continental Supersports arrival with a throaty roar. When we pushed the start button, the engine's 12 cylinders began to pump, air was forced into the manifold from twin turbos, and 6 liters of displacement hosted precisely timed explosions that turned the driveshaft with 621 horsepower and 590 pound-feet of torque.
This kind of power means you can lightly tap the gas pedal and find yourself far ahead of the pack of traffic sitting back there at the light, the drivers just putting their cell phones down so they can get back to the business of driving. Put the gas down a little harder and you push up to freeway speeds, the car showing very little effort. Introduce the pedal to the floor and you've begun a career in amateur rocketry. … Read more
BMW's X6 is a bit difficult to digest, a coupelike body with the proportions and stance of an SUV, managing to lose the virtues of both types of vehicles. And now BMW has given it the M treatment, putting a massively powerful engine under the hood and fitting the suspension with all sorts of ingenious gear to make this vehicle handle like a sports car. Its greatest asset may be that it defies easy categorization.
Cabin tech is good, with really beautiful maps in the navigation system, but we do think that a $90,000 car should have an … Read more
We're not talking about Albert Einstein, the legendary theoretical physicist; we're talking about Einstein Audio Components, a Germany-based high-end audio manufacturer.
Its advanced audio equipment designs use vacuum tubes. Its latest stereo preamplifier, The Tube MKII, uses a total of (gulp) 19 tubes. That's a lot of tubes! Most tube preamps only use four, five, or six tubes. However, here's the cool part about the new Einstein preamp: only 10 of the 19 tubes operate at any given time. Eight are used all the time, and two are selected for whichever audio source happens to be … Read more
Driving enthusiasts and long-time city dwellers scoff at automatic parallel parking systems, but when it works as well as the one in the Lincoln MKS, well, you just have to marvel at the technology. This new MKS not only has the excellent cabin tech and luxury appointments of the previous year's model, but Lincoln added new tech features, such as the parking system, to really put this car over the top. Couple all that with the new Ecoboost engine, and it's a near technological masterpiece.
Lincoln's new MK naming convention may seem a little austere, but the luxury and tech in the new MKT is anything but. When you spend some time driving a car, and find you don't want to get out of it at the end of the journey, that speaks well for the car's comfort. We could hardly get enough of the MKT's THX audio system, the automatic high beams, and the adaptive cruise control. It is a little thirsty for our tastes, but 355 horsepower from the Ecoboost engine makes this cruiser get up and go.
It may look like yet another boring SUV, but the GMC Terrain brings the SUV, and GM itself, into this millennium. A direct injection 3-liter V-6 offers plenty of power, an option over the standard direct injection four-cylinder. The interior looks particularly nice, especially considering a base price in the mid-20s. And we were most impressed with GM's new navigation system, a hard-drive-based unit with traffic detouring. The Terrain could change your mind about GM.
What's the definition of a great hi-fi? It's the one you're listening to. Not just for background "listening," but actual, focused listening.
Investing a lot of money on a hi-fi isn't the only way to get there. In fact, spending as little as possible on decent gear is the best way to get acquainted with good sound. Who knows, you might become an audiophile.
My friend Matt Calderone might be on his way. He was given a used Denon DP-7F turntable, and recently bought a Kenwood KA-701 integrated stereo amplifier on eBay and a pair of Klipsch speakers through Craigslist. All told, he spent less than $200.
Calderone is 26 years old so I was curious about how and why he wound up with a hi-fi. He says he's always been interested in LPs, and he likes listening to them over a decent stereo, not computer speakers. Calderone thinks good speakers make a big difference.
It's not just that the sound is better, music engages on a different level when heard over a hi-fi. Calderone frequently winds up just sitting on the couch and get this, he listens to entire records! The music is the main focus; vinyl has that effect on some people. Calderone is going to add a CD player soon, but for now his system is analog only.
The hardest part of buying a used hi-fi is picking the right gear. If you're new to hi-fi ask an older relative who knows audio about which brands are worthy, but for starters I'd recommend steering clear of Sony and Bose products. I like Creek, Denon, NAD, Onkyo, Pioneer, and Yamaha amplifiers and receivers; look for used Advent, AR, Boston Acoustics, DCM, Epos, Infinity, Klipsch, Magnepan, Mirage, Monitor Audio, NHT, Polk, Snell, or Vandersteen speakers. For a few hundred bucks you can put together a very listenable used system. … Read more
So far, Audi's odd-numbered cars have been pretty desirable. The A3 is a practical and sporty little wagon, while the A5 is one of the better-looking cars to come out recently. But now Audi is replacing the A4 Cabriolet with a convertible version of the A5. Gone is that gracefully sloping roof, replaced by what is basically an umbrella, albeit one with acoustic damping built in to lessen road noise.
But Audi does equip the 2010 A5 Cabriolet with plenty of tech, including a navigation system with absolutely beautiful 3D maps. The drive technology is also interesting--it features a … Read more