Cr-v and Cx-5

Author: admin
March 30, 2012

Recently spent some time with both of these new models and was underwhelmed. The Mazda was a mixture of upscale and cheap and seemed to be aimed at the lowest common denominator. The Honda felt more high-end, but bored me a bit. I’ll have to post my thoughts on both and some other vehicles I’ve spent some time with.

I’ve put off getting a new car for now. My Honda has been acting good, so I can’t justify getting rid of it just yet. Soon… Meanwhile, I’m still looking.

August 31, 2011

Official shot of the 2012 Honda CR-V

Honda released a single photo of their new 2012 Honda CR-V Concept late last month. It’s widely considered to likely be an accurate depiction of the final product that rolls out this Fall.

The shot they released isn’t the most glamorous of press photos. The orange beast sits at an awkward angle in front of drab scenery looking motionless and sad. Looking past all of that, you can see it has a more aggressive stance and sleeker lines. It is definitely a step in the right direction.

You can view their photo here:

Their copy:

“With a new design, enhanced features and improved fuel economy, the 2012 CR-V is designed for you and your friends to be in the center of the action. The exterior of the 4th-generation CR-V is sleek and stylish, while the accommodating and spacious interior promises a host of new possibilities. The 2012 CR-V goes on sale in late 2011…”

For this being the 4th-gen of the CR-V, it seems long overdue. Honda isn’t going to try very hard to dazzle or surprise you, but what they lack in flair they make up for in reliability. Reliable is often the first word you think of when you hear Honda. Not necessarily “sporty” or even “safe”- but “reliable” yes. That’s not to say Honda isn’t all of those things, because they are.

The image I’ve posted below is the original orange one flipped around and photoshopped by me. They did not release a photo of a blue 2012 CR-V. I made it blue to show the similarities between the spy shot version and the concept…

2012 Honda CR-V Concept Blue

Photoshopped Press Release Photo.

2012 Honda CR-V Spy Photo

2012 Honda CR-V Spy Photo

August 19, 2011

So my 2003 Honda CR-V finally decided to up and have a really expensive malfunction recently. The A/C compressor exploded. The car still drives great, but who wants to drive around Phoenix in the hottest month of the year without air conditioning? Not me.

As I noted in my previous entry, Honda took care of most of my bill and I had my entire A/C system replaced. It came with a one year warranty, so I have at most that long to find a new car.

It looks like it’s time to find a replacement.

I’ve been searching around for a 2012 Sportage SX and have found a few. It looks like they are plentiful right now, and there’s still plenty of 2011s out there as well. I’ve even worked with a dealership to see if they’ll accept mine in trade and give me and my poor credit score a decent loan. The numbers are still a bit off, so I’ll have to spend the next few month saving up a bit more.

The 2012 Sportage SX is what I would get if I got any Sportage. I recently test drove a 2011 Sportage SX, and as I said in a previous post it had mediocre A/C and just about enough oomph for me. I decided that anything other than a Turbo version of the Sportage wouldn’t cut it. I may go look at other options since getting a new car has jumped up on my priority list a bit now…

For good measure, I’ll include some pics of the SX I was considering…

Ahh – sexy beast.

Christmas in August

Author: admin
August 19, 2011

So, my 2003 Honda CR-V that I’ve owned for about 5 years or so now had a near-terminal failure a few weeks ago. The A/C compressor exploded. Yes, it exploded – loud bang sound – metal shrapnel spread all over the place – funny smell. The car ran fine, but had no air. This was no bueno.

I live in Phoenix, AZ, so it’s not totally awesome driving around the Valley with no A/C. I tried it a couple of times and got physically sick from it. Most of the past few weeks, I’ve been borrowing my girlfriend’s new 2011 VW Golf (now there’s  a sweet car – and for sale by the way).

Once my paycheck arrived in my bank account, I took it to a local Honda service guy and got an estimate of the repair… $1,850. My heart sank and my jaw dropped. Well, there goes that. I decided to start looking for a new car to buy immediately. In fact, I had some deals cooking on a 2012 Kia Sportage SX. However, I was counting on my car making more of a dent in the price of the new car by way of trade than it was as a broken car. I called around for more estimates – $1,500 to $2,200 is what I got.

I started reading up on my car’s A/C problem. Apparently this is a really common issue… especially where it’s hot. There are lawsuits and everything. I read on some forums that people were getting Honda to pay a portion of the repairs since they are both notoriously common and notoriously costly. Success rates seemed to vary, but over the years it seems Honda has been picking up part of the bill for tons of these cases.

All it took was a phone call. My case number was assigned to me and then to a case worker who instructed me to take it to an authorized dealer… this dealer was the one who gave me the $2,200 estimate. They took a look at it knowing I had contacted Honda and the bill rose to $2,800-ish. I was worried, but willing to see what Honda would do for me.

Now, during this time I also used social media to bitch about my issue… All of my tweets mentioning Honda or #Honda or @honda were publicly invisible somehow – even when re-tweeted. They wouldn’t show up in the Honda search stream. It was odd and it made me suspicious about big companies paying to have certain tweets not show up in their search streams on Twitter to protect their image and suppress free speech and bad press. If this is true, this would be a big deal as it goes against everything Twitter is about and is used for.

Nevertheless, Honda’s service twitter account reached out to me and asked if they could help – which I thought was nice. That’s how a company should behave. Kudos to them.

Anyway, the Honda dealership (Showcase Honda in Phoenix) – who have always treated me pretty good and have generally tried to work with me on any repairs I’ve needed – called me back and told me that Honda corporate was picking up $2000 worth of the bill…

Fuuuuuuuuck… what a relief!

My total ended up being only$765 to replace my entire A/C system with factory parts. I have a 12mo/12,000mi warranty on my A/C, and it blows as cold as the day the car was born. That’s still spendy, but it’s cheap compared to what I’ve heard others are paying – and it’s only half what my cheapest estimate was. I’m eternally grateful to Showcase Honda and Honda in general. I may have to wait and see what the 2012 Honda CR-V looks like after all.

Honda went above and beyond. I love to see a company own up to a common mechanical failure like that. I can’t promise anyone else will have the same luck, but it’s worth a shot giving them a call… the number is on your owner’s manual. Keep in mind, my car had less than 70,000 miles on it which is pretty low for a 2003. It is waaaay out of warranty though, so yeah – Honda came through. If Bettie from Honda is out there, thank you! *hug*

Here’s a photo of my car (which is going to also be for sale by the end of the year).

Have a cool weekend! I know I will.

2011 Volvo XC60

Author: admin
July 11, 2011

Took a minute to sit inside and kick the tires of one of these today. It’s an impressive piece of machinery, but I’m finding the price tag a bit steep.

I was able to find out that Ford has been officially and completely out of Volvo’s hair for about 6 months now. That’s a relief. It would be nice if they got a little more competitive with their pricing – and I’m not talking about competing with BMW and Mercedes… I’m talking about VW, Subaru and Honda.

I owned a 1980 Volvo 240DL Wagon and I loved it… one of my favorite cars. The original CX90 was one of the first SUVs I lusted over. The new XC60 is a stunner, and I’m impressed by the tech. If I win a 10k scratcher or something, I’ll put this into the realm of consideration. As it stands though – it’s unaffordable for me.

I was coming out of Target today and saw a new Sportage parked near my car. It was a head-turner.

July 10, 2011

So, I found this photo on a few different auto-blogs of the 2012 Honda CR-V. They had a bra on the nose and a piece of blue tape over the rear quarter windows to conceal the final look. I’m not happy with the rear windows. It’s an improvement over the down-syndrome look on the out-going model, but it’s still not where they need to be.

This is not an exciting reboot. It’s not sexy. I’m going to reserve final judgement until I see more of it, but I’m not thrilled. I don’t dislike it – in fact, I kinda like it and I can see it growing on me. I really want to like it considering how much I love my 2003 CR-V.

Spy Shot of 2012 Honda CR-V

It’s a tad dated and it isn’t even out yet… I’m looking forward to seeing one in person later this year though. Aside from the rear quarter window, it does seem to borrow from the new Sportage… coincidence though I’m sure. Just as the first model CR-V looking similar to the original Sportage was a coincidence.

July 10, 2011

So this thing is sex on wheels. I know Rover drivers are devout, but I’ve never owned one so I couldn’t tell you why. I can tell you that this beast is aimed at cars about half the price. This thing ranges from 44k to near 60k. Competition like Sportage, Rav4, CR-V, Mazda’s upcoming CX-5, and Subaru’s Forester or Outback average under 30k.

This is squarely out of my price range – even if I had this much to spend on a car, I wouldn’t. However, I can’t deny this thing is pretty hot.

I’m not going to rule it out. If I do a test drive, I’ll post about it. I just can’t justify spending that much on a car – it usually leads to more expensive gas, much higher insurance, and constant worrying about dings and scratches. If this ends up going for around 32k used with only a few years and low miles, I’d probably be all over it – that’s years away though, so for now I’m out.

July 10, 2011

A few weekends ago, I had the opportunity to test drive a Kia Sportage Turbo. 100+ degree heat in the middle of Summer in Arizona allowed me to really test the A/C and push it to the limit.

First, I can report that the Turbo is pretty much necessary. In comparison to the Juke, it’s not quite as agile or sporty or quick, but it’s near enough. Also, it rides quite solid. It’s not the fairest comparison since the Nissan Juke is so much smaller, but it’s appropriate since I’m interested in both. Turbo adds an appropriate amount of speed and power making the Sportage feel fun enough.

The non-turbo version is simply under-powered. I love the way it looks and handles and rides and I love the interior appointments, but stomping on the gas is unsatisfying. Turbo gives it just enough boost to make it work. The Turbo model should be how the base model moves, and there should be an even faster option.

That said – it’s plenty fast now.

I drive a 2003 Honda CR-V manual – it’s quick. The Sportage Turbo is at least as quick if not more so. I’d guess the Juke is quicker. I tried to test drive a Juke right after the Sportage, but they wouldn’t let me without taking my phone number.

I’m sorry, but I don’t want months of harassing sales calls just because I test drove a car. Never had any dealership demand my phone number before. They said it was for safety in case we abducted the sales guy. What? They took my driver’s license and we were leaving a brand new VW Golf behind. We were pretty livid about it and wrote some scathing Yelp reviews about the dealership.

We did get to test drive a slightly used Infinity EX35

It was around the same price as a loaded brand new Sportage Turbo. I sorta loved it, but my girlfriend wasn’t impressed. It was a lot of car for the money and had all of the luxury items you would expect, but there were enough things I didn’t like to keep me from jumping on it… for one, you have to pump premium gas. That’s gonna get spendy – plus, it doesn’t really have great gas mileage. I also didn’t really feel connected to the road. The steering felt very synthetic. I’m used to driving really simple cars and I like to feel the road. I honestly prefer the Sportage.

The biggest drawback for the Sportage Turbo was the A/C. It wasn’t blowing cold enough to cool down the car – especially when I stomped on the gas. I’m going to attribute that to it being super-new – I could smell the new car burning smell since I was the first person to ever really get on the gas with it.

I wish I could report that it convinced me to get that and nothing else, but I can’t. I’m still on the fence.

In other news, I’m noticing some 2011 Sportages for sale used on and auto trader. It’s still too early to tell how the resale value is going to hold. That’s another factor I’m looking at.

April 10, 2011

I had the privilege of test driving this beauty today at my local Lexus dealership in South Scottsdale. I’ve had my eye on it for a few months now. With the problems Japan is facing right now, not much stock was released and shipped out. In fact, there’s only like 9 of these anywhere near the SW.

This is a hybrid. I was told that Lexus just needed to introduce a 40+ MPG car to their lineup to keep their overall numbers lower. This one happens to be their most affordable coming in around 30k. It’s a hatchback – which is the cool way to say “wagon” these days.

It’s a beautiful car from far away and up close. Inside is a supple and soft upscale experience. Leather appointments throughout with nothing feeling cheap or skimpy. Even the base model has a proximity key and push button start – meaning the key never needs to leave your pocket.

The seats are heated, electric, and comfy with an inflatable lower lumbar button. As a hybrid, it gets good gas mileage – that’s important with gas prices expected to climb above 5 bucks this year. However, as a hybrid, it doesn’t have a ton of oomph. It’s faster than a Prius, and fuckloads more attractive, but it won’t take a stock VW Golf off the line.

The shifter is an unconventional lever that you flip back and forth. To put it into park, there’s a button for you to accidentally press while moving… we tried coasting at less than 1mph and then pressed the button – we lurched to a halt. It’s poor design, but a silly thing to complain about.

Loaded, these come with navigation and a little joystick thing. It looks cool, but the one I drove didn’t have one. I’d probably opt for an iphone dock and use that as my navigation.

The ride is smooth and comfy. It isn’t necessarily “fun,” but it’s enjoyable. The car sits low to the ground, but it’s easy to get in and out. Cargo room is smaller than I expected and it’s not terribly easy to see behind you. The car as a whole has a bit of a wow factor to it, but there’s something missing I can’t put my finger on.

Lexus gives you free roadside assistance and other benefits just for buying one. This is the cheapest car they offer and I think it’s one of their better looking cars. I’d like to see a Toyota version of it at a lower price and more sportiness.

March 2, 2011

Recently presented at the Geneva Auto Show, this is a direct competitor to this reheated market. I love Mazda and this vehicle is aimed squarely at my short list. I’m anxious to see it in person. The Mazda Minagi concept looks pretty close to production version. It should release as a 2012 model near Q4 this year.