The economy may be down, but we're living like oil sheiks this week in the 2009 Mercedes-Benz CL550. Sure, the price is over 100 grand (and we don't mean the candy bar), but this car pampers. A smooth power train and ride makes the car behave well while the seats massage our tired backs. If we want to get a little frisky, paddle shifters take advantage of the transmission's seven speeds and 5.5-liter V-8, while active side bolsters keep us in the seats. The CL550 would be a great car if it wasn't for the … Read more
We get our hands on the highly anticipated Hyundai Genesis, and try to figure out why it is the North American Car of the Year. Certainly the price, cabin quality, and power have a lot to do with its win. Hyundai aimed squarely at Lexus with the Genesis, and came pretty close to the mark. However, after a week's worth of driving, we found a few issues that dull the Genesis' gloss.
Although the Toyota Prius got all the hybrid hoopla, Lexus showed that a hybrid could be powerful and luxurious with the RX hybrid SUV. That model launched as the RX 400h in 2005, and now gets a much-needed update for the 2010 model year. At Lexus' preview for the car, we got to drive it over mountain roads and spend some serious time trying out the new cabin tech.
The new model is called the RX 450h, as Lexus bumps up the gas engine from 3.3-liters to a 3.5-liter V-6. And, like the original model, that engine is complemented by a full hybrid system, with electric motors that can power the car. With newer battery technology, Lexus was able to make the RX 450h's nickel-metal hydride battery pack, which sits under the rear seat, a little smaller. As with the old version, the gas engine and one motor/generator drive the front wheels. Option it up to all-wheel-drive, and a second motor/generator gets added to power the rear wheels.
We took a sport-trimmed model on a drive over twisty mountain roads in Northern California, and found a lot of improvement. Where the steering on the RX 400h was extremely light, even at speed, Lexus returned the electric-power steering to give more resistance in the RX 450h. Coming through a tight corner at speed, the steering wheel offers much more feedback. The tires were singing in the turns, but the sport-tuned suspension kept the car reasonably flat. Of course, there is a trade-off in that the ride didn't feel as soft as with the RX 400h. Lexus changed the suspension pretty radically in the rear of the RX, taking out the strut towers in favor of a double-wishbone. This new suspension leads to a firmer ride and increases the cargo area. … Read more
If you ever wanted a Bang & Olufsen wall-mountable system but couldn't afford one, iLuv will be offering the poor man's version this May when it releases the iMM9500 Vertical 4CD/MP3 Hi-Fi Audio System with Subwoofer. No word yet on its price, but it has a built-in iPod/iPhone dock and a four-disc MP3 CD player. Here are the basic specifications that iLuv is serving up.
Works with iPhone and iPod--plays and charges 4-MP3 CD/audio playback system with universal dock for iPod 2.1 channel speakers Plays MP3, WMA files on SD/MMC cards and USB … Read more
Whenever a Lincoln comes into our garage, we grab iPods and CDs, looking forward to driving around and listening to music because of the excellent THX audio system. The MKX also has Sync, so we could hook up an 80GB Zune and ask the system to play whatever artist we could think of.
With the latest package of cabin tech toys, the MKX also provides useful information in the car, such as the location of the cheapest nearby gas and traffic jams. Movie times and sports scores might be a little more frivolous, but either could come in handy, if … Read more
After our reviews of previous model year Civic Sis, we're always happy to get another one in the garage. The 2009 model turned out to be as fun as we expected, with precise shifting and handling that kept us in the driver's seat for long stretches as searched out mountain roads. The car's navigation system makes exploring easy--any time we saw a particularly crooked road on the map, we would head that way--and it's also useful for spotting sharp turns on unfamiliar roads before you get to them. Even better with this generation of Civic Si, … Read more
Toyota invited us out to preview its new for 2009 Venza. Billing the Venza as "car-optimized," Toyota downright refuses to call it a wagon or a crossover. Curiously, Toyota expects the Venza to be compared with the Ford Edge, Mazda CX-7, and Nissan Murano, all of which are crossovers. They say you're judged by the caliber of your enemies, so I guess that makes the Venza a crossover as well.
Whatever you call it, the Venza is an interesting vehicle. It rides almost like a Camry, but with carrying capabilities that are just shy of the Highlander. … Read more
Acura gives the old TL a bump for the 2009 model year, updating the styling and improving the cabin tech, but also splitting the model into a standard version and a sporty, all-wheel-drive version. We take that hyped-up TL SH-AWD and go in search of some of the most spectacular scenery in the country, with the aid of Acura's new navigation system.
Volkswagen launched its best-looking car ever, the CC, and we took it for a drive to check out the tech. This sedan has a seductively curved roofline and a beautiful two-tone interior, with a new suite of cabin tech that looks really good on paper. Hard-drive-based navigation with traffic, onboard music storage, iPod and USB drive integration, and a Dynaudio sound system are all cutting-edge features, but will they hold up on the road? We also put the car's sport aspirations to the test, seeing how it handles around the corners.
People used to think of hybrids as economy commuter cars, then Lexus launched the RX 400h. This SUV proved that a hybrid could be luxurious, comfortable, and still achieve excellent mileage. CNET Car Tech does an in-depth review of the RX 400h, taking it on road trip to Los Angeles to find some of the worst traffic in the country, the kind of place where a hybrid performs best. Read our review to see how this car, soon to be replaced by a seriously updated model, fares.