2010 Mercedes-Benz GLK350 4MATIC - Short Take Road Test

>> Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Associations with Mercedes-Benz and sticker prices typically involve an adjective equivalent to the word "high." So it's a bit of a surprise to find out that the 2010 GLK350 4MATIC starts at a not unreasonable $36,775, which is $3450 less than a 2009 BMW X3 sport-ute. A two-wheel-drive GLK, coming in April, will shed another $2000 off the window sticker. The competitive pricing—an Acura RDX SUV starts $2320 below the 4MATIC—is meant to lure "conquest buyers." Mercedes-Benz predicts that 70 percent of GLK customers will be new to the German luxury brand.

The cost-wary might want to avoid some of the $6670 worth of extravagant options on our test car. Highlights include the $3350 Multimedia package (which includes navigation) and a $970 appearance package with 20-inch wheels and tires and chromed roof rails. Running boards add another $660 and are positioned to soil clean pants upon exiting the vehicle.

Keep Reading: 2010 Mercedes-Benz GLK350 4MATIC - Short Take Road Test



2009 Chevrolet Traverse - Virtual Test Drive


Welcome to CARandDRIVER.com's Virtual Test Drive, our new manufacturer sponsored area, where you can learn about some of today's newest cars and trucks. You'll be able to explore these vehicles, both inside and out while you hear what our editors had to say and then go along for a test drive with noted race driver Tommy Kendall as he gets behind the wheel. Click on a vehicle below to get started!

Keep Reading: 2009 Chevrolet Traverse - Virtual test Drive



2010 Fiat 500C - Auto Shows

This drop-top cutey is a successful exploitation of the past.

The Fiat 500, built in Poland on the platform of the more pedestrian four-door Panda, has been a smash success in Europe. No wonder Fiat wants to keep the buzz going, and it is doing so with new versions such as the 135-hp Abarth, and a unique convertible, the 500C, which is being launched at the Geneva auto show.

Almost everybody thinks theCinquecento (Italian for "500") is adorable, and while it looks monstrous next to the classic 500, it is one of the most compact cars on European roads today. The retro styling is especially successful in the front, and the rear end is close enough to the original, as well. Both the exterior and the busy interior offer countless options to personalize the 500 in more or less tasteful ways.

Keep Reading: 2010 Fiat 500C - Auto Shows



2008 SEMA Show - Feature

Some freed slaves after the Civil War were given 40 acres and a mule. Beleaguered auto writers are sent every November to Las Vegas to slog through 46 acres of sensory-popping SEMA terrain. They'd kill for a mule.

As the annual gathering of about 2000 of the Specialty Equipment Market Association's member companies in the automotive-aftermarket industry approaches, whining is rampant among the media. It isn't SEMA's fault. The show is by all measurements a huge success—even in an off year such as 2008, which drew 1971 exhibitors and 104,000 attendees by SEMA's count, down about 15 percent from 2007.

If it can be screwed, glued, wired, or riveted to a car or a truck or a Hummer after it leaves the factory, you can find it at SEMA, often being fondled by booth nymphs clad in black vinyl hot pants. Our dread—paradoxical, it must seem—is born from eight-hour days spent trudging up and down aisles lined with chromed carburetors, polished wheels, plastic wings, and electronic doodads of every conceivable purpose and mega pixel count, looking for elusive morsels of news. It has an annoying resemblance to real work.

Keep Reading: 2008 SEMA Show - Feature



2009 Honda Pilot Concept - Video

Honda's Pilot prototype fires a shot across the bow of the hometown heroes in Detroit.


If you squint hard enough, you can see the production Pilot right under the skin of this "concept."



Hummer HX Concept - Video

This concept is a runner and could be built if GM decides the design is right.

A smaller Hummer might make more sense, but the likelihood of it seeing production light is smaller every day.




Lexus LF-A Roadster Concept - Video

Lexus shows us yet another version of its on-again, off-again sports car.



2009 Toyota Venza - Virtual Test Drive

Welcome to CARandDRIVER.com's Virtual Test Drive, our new manufacturer sponsored area, where you can learn about some of today's newest cars and trucks. You'll be able to explore these vehicles, both inside and out while you hear what our editors had to say and then go along for a test drive with noted race driver Tommy Kendall as he gets behind the wheel. Click on a vehicle below to get started!




More Tickets in Hard Times - Feature

Motorists beware: In some communities, police are issuing tickets during these hard times at a rate higher than ever in what critics say is an attempt to raise revenue in order to offset budget shortfalls.

Take, for example, the metropolitan Detroit area, which has been reeling economically much longer than has the rest of the country. The number of moving violations issued has increased by at least 50 percent in 18 communities in the metro area since 2002—and 11 of those municipalities have seen ticketing increases of 90 percent or more. During that time, Michigan has cut revenue sharing to communities by $3 billion. Officials are scrambling to balance their budgets amid the tumbling economy, and some people say the authorities are turning to traffic cops for help.

The president of a state police union isn't pretending it doesn't happen. James Tignanelli, president of the Police Officers Association of Michigan union, says, "When elected officials say, 'We need more money,' they can't look to the department of public works to raise revenues, so where do they find it? Police departments.

"A lot of police chiefs will tell you the goal is to have nobody speeding through their community, but heaven forbid if it should actually happen—they'd be out of money," Tignanelli says.

Police Chief Michael Reaves of Utica, Michigan, says the role of law enforcement has changed over the years. "When I first started in this job 30 years ago, police work was never about revenue enhancement, but if you're a chief now, you have to look at whether your department produces revenues," he says. "That's just the reality nowadays."

Keep Reading: More Tickets in Hard Times - Feature



Five Fun Debuts at the 2009 Detroit Auto Show - Feature

In spite of dire predictions that the 2009 North American International Auto Show in Detroit would be nothing but a death march for troubled marques, this year's NAIAS was actually a very entertaining one, full of big introductions from around the world. Many of them were just plain fun, including this scrumptious fivesome.


Audi R8 5.2 FSI

You won't find too many complaints about Audi's inebriatingly beautiful R8 here atCar and Driver, but Audi has pushed its stunning sports car ever closer to supercar status with the installation of a 5.2-liter V-10 between its flared carbon-fiber side blades. The two additional cylinders bring with them 105 more hp and 74 more lb-ft of torque—for totals of 525 hp and 391 lb-ft—which should more than qualify the R8 5.2 FSI as one of the most fun cars ofany gathering of automotive greatness.


Jaguar XFR

Introduced just last year, Jaguar's new XF is already quite the athlete. But notably absent from the XF lineup has been a properly performance-enhanced "R" version. Consider the one-year delay time well spent as engineers readied the 510-hp, 5.0-liter supercharged heart beating under the domed hood of this most powerful Jaguar sedan in history. More aggressive styling and unique interior bits are also included, but are rather secondary to the mission of this particularly naughty kitty, which is to maul BMW M5s and Mercedes-Benz E63 AMGs.

Keep Reading: Five Fun Debuts at the 2009 Detroit Auto Show - Feature



Top 10 Greenies and Top 5 Meanies from the 2009 Detroit Auto Show - Feature

Our favorite kind of green is still the blur of passing scenery as we kick the accelerator pedal to the firewall, but the global implications of that sort of misbehavior have brought an industry that was less than two years ago fully engrossed in an arms race into a new kind of battle. Rather than horsepower, the figure everyone looks at now is mpg, and just as before, the highest numbers are grabbing the headlines.

As the home of the muscle car and a city built on horsepower, Detroit is still quick to draw big power numbers, but the 2009 Detroit auto show was invaded by green cars of all types: diesels, hybrids, electric, and fuel cells. While the high-tech future of motoring promises to be anything but boring, we were still thrilled to see a few high-horsepower rides debut in Detroit as well. Read on for all the greenies, or just skip to page two for the dyno smashers.

THE GREENIES———————————————————————————————————

2010 Audi A3 2.0 TDI

The U.S.'s first diesel-powered Audi A3 will use basically the same engine found in the Volkswagen Jetta TDI. The 2.0-liter direct-injection turbo-diesel will send 140 hp and 236 lb-ft of torque through an S tronic dual-clutch automated manual transmission. No official fuel-economy numbers have been released, but Audi claims the TDI averaged 45 mpg in a recent coast-to-coast drive. The A3 2.0 TDI will reach showrooms in early 2010.


Cadillac Converj Concept

Essentially a Chevrolet Volt underneath supermodel skin, the Converj features a 16-kWh battery pack that feeds a 161-hp electric motor driving the front wheels. A four-cylinder engine provides range-extending juice when the batteries run dry, which happens after up to 40 miles of zero-emissions electric-only operation. The Converj is gorgeous, and being a higher-priced vehicle, a production version could help GM recoup its investment in the Volt architecture more quickly. We predict you'll see this one on the streets in 2011.


Chrysler 200C EV Concept

With its elegant and refined shape, the 200C EV concept is what we all feel the current Chrysler Sebring should have been. It is capable of running 40 miles on battery power alone and up to 400 miles using a small gasoline-powered generator to recharge the batteries. Whether or not it keeps the alternative powertrain, we are keeping our fingers crossed that the 200C design will come to us in any form, sooner rather than later.


Dodge Circuit EV Concept

The Circuit is the latest version of Dodge's Lotus Europa–based electric vehicle—no internal combustion or local emissions here—and features nearly 270 hp of battery-fueled fury. The two-seat sports car is said to reach 60 mph in under five seconds and have a terminal velocity of 125 mph. Chrysler insists it will bring one of its ENVI electrical vehicle concepts to market by 2010, and here's hoping this is the one. We'd hate to see the company, er,ground this Circuit.

Keep Reading: Top 10 Greenies and Top 5 Meanies from the 2009 Detroit Auto Show - Feature



The 10 Biggest Debuts of the 2009 Detroit Auto Show - Auto Shows

What recession? Economic woes and a few key no-shows can't keep a good show down.

Much was said—admittedly, some by us—in the weeks leading up to the 2009 Detroit auto show about what a somber event it would be, what with the economic climate and withdrawal of numerous manufacturers. Rarely do we so enjoy being wrong.

Therewas a different feel this year, with many manufacturers' displays significantly toned down, and the absence of Nissan and Infiniti in particular left a large hole, but the mood was less one of desperation than of determination and hope. Nothing breeds hope for an embattled company or industry like quality product, and of that there was plenty on display in Detroit. Of the biggest and most promising debuts gathered below, note that four are from GM, three are from Ford, and one from Chrysler. Not one of those eight cars looks or feels anything less than world-class.


2010 Buick LaCrosse

Buick keeps telling us it's going after Lexus, but the Enclave is the closest the company has come to a serious effort. Now, the chase intensifies with the introduction of the new LaCrosse. Styled after last year's Invicta concept, which was penned jointly by studios in the U.S. and China—the latter being Buick's biggest market—the 2010 LaCrosse resembles a Lexus in profile and proves that semi-derivative Chinese designs spiced with American input can actually be pretty good-looking.


Cadillac Converj Concept

It seems as though the nearer the Chevrolet Volt gets to production, the higher its price climbs. GM officials claim a higher potential price had nothing to do with the creation of the Cadillac Converj concept—which is built on the Volt's platform and uses the same drivetrain technology—but the premium brand could charge more for the same mechanicals and offer GM a way to at least lose less money per unit sold, and maybe even turn a profit.

Keep Reading: The 10 Biggest Debuts of the 2009 Detroit Auto Show - Auto Shows



BYD F3DM / F6DM / E6 - Auto Shows

Having just entered the automotive sector in 2003, it's a bit hard to take BYD seriously, especially considering the fact that almost every model on its stand is a near-copy of a last-gen (or older) Japanese car. But while the styling, build quality, and polish of BYD's cars is frankly lackluster, the company deserves credit for working on a number of advanced powertrain solutions, as well as putting to market the world's first production plug-in hybrid, the F6DM. Plus billionaire investor Warren Buffett has sunk money into the company, providing precious credibility and capital.

BYD is one of the largest suppliers of rechargeable batteries, so hybrids and electric vehicles make a lot of sense for the company. BYD has concentrated its efforts in this area and claims to have an 11,000-person science and technology research center, which sounds plausible considering the rapid pace at which the company has moved from automotive neophyte to plug-in hybrid production and sale. That said, even if BYD's claims about the Chinese-market cars below are true, it would take years for any of them to be developed to the point where they would meet U.S. crash and emissions standards, as well as quality expectations.

Keep Reading: BYD F3DM / F6DM / E6 - Auto Shows



Brilliance Auto M1 / M2 / M3 / FRV - Auto Shows

2009 marks Chinese carmaker Brilliance Auto's first visit to the Detroit auto show. The company builds two lines of vehicles: a mini-bus called the Jinbei, which they claim has 60 percent of the Chinese domestic market, and four passenger cars, including two sedans, a coupe, and a hatchback. The cars turned up in Detroit, and likely represent models similar to those that the company might one day consider thinking about selling in the U.S. someday. In other words, this visit to North America represents little more than a "hey, we exist, and we'd like to sell you our cars sometime in the future."

They all look familiar to some degree, although none is a direct rip-off of another automaker's vehicle, as we've seen with other Chinese marques in the past. And even BYD at this year's show. The company's press conference was dotted with the names of other makers, though, with Brilliance dropping biggies like Toyota, Porsche, and BMW. The connection with the first two was nebulous, but the company does have a joint venture with BMW to produce 3- and 5-series models for the Chinese market. This may explain some of the company's familiar-sounding model names.

Keep Reading: Brilliance Auto M1 / M2 / M3 / FRV - Auto Shows



SEMA Motor Show 2008: Cadillac-Powered VRS is OMG!

As you can tell from our furious posting frequency, there's a lot of stuff at SEMA. Often, you encounter some well-publicized car and your reaction is "Oh... harumph." And then there are the sadly infrequent times when you make your way to the back of a ginormous hall and turn the corner to find a tiny booth holding one of those "Oh... wow..." treasures. That's what happened when we dropped by the Helios Coatings booth and discovered the Cadillac-powered VRS (V Sport Rod).

Cadillac-Powered VRS

Probably everything on this car except the fuel filler cap is custom or has been customized. A how-low-can-you-go custom-designed fiberglass body wraps itself around a 6.0-liter, 400 hp Cadillac engine. The engine cover runs from that hot-rod nose all the way to the bulkhead and then continues in one sweep to form the center console. The console works much like your phone, going dark when not in use and lighting up again when you touch it. And yes, that's an iPhone slotted in there. And at the corners are 20-inchers up front and 22-inchers out back suspended by aircraft strut suspension arms and wearing six-pot calipers front and rear. It is certifiably "Oh... wow..." But don't take our word for it -- check out the full specs, or get straight to the gallery of high-res images below.

Cadillac-Powered VRSCadillac-Powered VRSCadillac-Powered VRSCadillac-Powered VRSCadillac-Powered VRS



SEMA 2008: Volkswagen CC Eco performance concept 27/33 mpg

Out in sin city at the SEMA show, Volkswagen - like everyone else - is showing off modified versions of its everyday products. Most of what's on display is either about bling, power or both. Volkswagen however, has one car on display that adds efficiency to the mix. The Performance CC is based on the new four door coupe-sedan that debuted a few months ago. Starting with the base engine, a 2.0L four cylinder TSI with direct injection and turbo charging, APR added a new turbo system with driver selectable performance levels. The engine goes from a stock 200 hp to 222 hp in Eco mode, to 252 hp in GT mode and up to 311 hp in Full Power mode. Volkswagen collaborated with APR on the turbocharger and exhaust systems and claims that even with the increased power levels fuel efficiency is improved across the board. The standard 2.0L CC is rated at 19/28 mpg city/hwy. In Eco mode, the car is claimed to get 27/33 mpg city/hwy. A 47 percent boost in efficiency combined with 11 percent more power is pretty impressive. The question that remains unanswered is whether the car can pass an emissions test in this form. The most likely answer would be "fat chance." Too bad.

VW Eco performance CC concept

311 HP Super CC ups the performance ante in luxury for the people

LAS VEGAS – Powerful performance meets luxury in the Super CC performance concept Volkswagen unveiled at the 2008 SEMA show in Las Vegas.

The Performance CC brings a sleek exterior treatment highlighted by black chrome exterior accents, grey pearl paint with custom front and rear bumper, side panels and machined aluminum spoiler. The black treatment continues inside with high-gloss piano black accents offset by matte black graphics. Customer black leather Recaro seats and matching floor mats are highlighted with white piping.

While the Performance CC looks striking, the upgrades will get hearts racing, the 2.0L TSI engine has been upgraded with an APR stage 3 turbocharger system with three performance levels. In Full Power mode the Performance CC brings 311 hp and 313 lbs. ft. torque; GT mode offers 252 hp and 268 lbs. ft. of torque; and in the Eco mode 222 hp and 236 lbs. ft. of torque. Also included is the APR stainless steel performance exhaust system. Key fact to take note of is that in the Eco performance mode, horsepower went up, as well as fuel economy. A production 2.0T CC automatic gets 28 hwy/19 city and our CC in Eco mode gets 33 hwy, 27 city. Even the full power mode showed a fuel economy increase!

The Performance CC sits on custom designed 10-spoke, 20-inch wheels and high performance 245/30 R20 Yokahama tires with an H&R street coil over sport suspension kit. With all this power to handle, Volkswagen has upgraded the brakes to provide extra power to stop. The Performance CC features 14-inch Brembo brakes with 4-piston Aluminum Alloy Brake Calipers and 355x32mm 2-Piece Floating Cross Drilled Discs with Billet Aluminum Hats.

The Performance CC was designed by the Volkswagen Design Center in California with assistance from APR, LLC (www.goapr.com), Recaro, H&R Suspension and Brembo North America.

Volkswagen of America, Inc.

Volkswagen of America, Inc. recently announced Electronic Stability Program (ESP) as standard equipment on all its 2009 vehicles. As a result, Volkswagen is one of the only original equipment manufacturers to offer an electronic stability control system on their entire product line – ahead of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's (NHTSA) deadline requiring vehicles in the 2012 model year to include stability control systems. Volkswagen's ESP technology works in conjunction with anti-lock brakes and helps reduce loss of control.
Founded in 1955, Volkswagen Group of America is headquartered in Herndon, Va. It is a subsidiary of Volkswagen AG, headquartered in Wolfsburg, Germany. Volkswagen is one of the world's largest producers of passenger cars and Europe's largest automaker. Volkswagen sells the Rabbit, New Beetle, New Beetle convertible, GTI, Jetta, Jetta SportWagen, GLI, Passat, Passat Wagon, CC, Eos, Routan, Tiguan and Touareg through approximately 600 independent U.S. dealers. Visit Volkswagen of America online at vw.com.

[Source: Volkswagen]



SEMA Motor Show 2008 Preview: Chevrolet debuts quartet of custom Camaros

Despite the fact that it's the Official Vehicle of SEMA, the Chevy Camaro will not be present in large numbers this week at the largest automotive aftermarket show in the world. That's because, unlike the Dodge Challenger, the Camaro is still a few months off from being delivered to showrooms (though orders are being accepted). Because of this, Chevy itself will be carrying the custom banner on behalf of the Camaro and has debuted four concepts today we'll see in person on Tuesday at the show.

The first is the Camaro LS7 Concept inspired by the COPO Camaros of the late '60s. It features the GM Performance Parts LS7 Crate engine tuned to produce 550 horsepower thanks to a number of GMPP performance accessories. A Tremec six-speed manual handles shifting duties and is backed by Brembo brakes, 20-inch custom wheels and a lowered ride height.

Chevy Camaro Concepts and Accessories

Next up is the Camaro Dale Earnhardt Jr. Concept, which was actually produced with input from Jr. himself. The base car is a Camaro SS tuned to drink higher-octane E85. The exterior is a nostalgic gray-over-white paint scheme with 21-inch five-spoke wheels, a dovetail spoiler and other Chevy Accessories exterior mods.

For real race fans, the Camaro GS Racecar Concept should conjure memories of Mark Donahue's blue-and-yellow Trans Am Series Camaro. This modern interpretation features a carbon fiber hood, trunk lid, doors and fenders to keep weight down and is powered by a production LS3 V8 mated to a Tremec 6060 six-speed. A 3-inch exhaust with Coast Fab mufflers, C&R racing aluminum radiator and coolers for the engine oil, transmission and differential round out the racing pedigree.

Last and perhaps the fiercest is the Camaro Black Concept. The stealthy exterior is comprised of a matte black hood, tinted glass, HID headlamps with red "halo rings", a darker grille, dark-tinted taillight lenses and... you get the idea. The interior has likewise been blacked out and even the 21-inch wheels feature a darker finish. Unlike the others, this Camaro is powered by GM's 300-hp 3.6L V6.

[Source: GM]



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