Browsing all articles from July, 2013

The 2013 MINI Cooper vs. the 2013 smart fortwo

Author JoeC    Category Compacts     Tags

With fuel economy on everyone’s minds, mini cars are becoming smartvery popular. MINI Cooper has become increasingly popular in recent years since BMW bought the company. Americans love the retro styling and the small, “cute” size. When I’m driving on the road, not a day goes by without seeing a couple MINIs.
They’re not as popular, but you’ve likely seen one of those smart fortwo cars around too. The smart fortwo is so small it can’t even capitalize its own name. Let’s take a look at both models.

Just How Small?

The MINI Cooper is not a big car at all. It is 145.5 inches long and 54.4 inches tall, but the smart fortwo is even smaller at 106.1 inches long, though it is a bit taller at 60.7 inches. Front seat space is about the same in both cars, but smart cars don’t come with back seats. The MINI Cooper will squeeze by as a family car while the smart fortwo works just for you and someone not afraid to ride in something so small.


The smaller you go, the cheaper it gets. The smart fortwo starts at only $13,240, which makes it one of the cheapest cars on the market. A MINI Cooper will run you a lot more at $20,495, but it is considered more a luxury car.

Power and Fuel Economy

Mini cars only need smaller engines, which results in higher fuel economy than many larger vehicles. The 2013 MINI Cooper comes with a 1.6L four-cylinder producing a zippy 121 hp and 114 lb-ft of torque. Fuel economy is rated at 29 mpg city and 37 mpg highway.
As you might imagine, the smart fortwo has an even smaller 1.0L three-cylinder engine, which they probably stole from a go-kart. It puts out 70 hp and 68 lb-ft of torque and fuel economy is rated at 34 mpg city and 38 mpg highway. Honestly, though, I would personally feel terrified driving one of those on the highway, but it’s probably a fine commuter.
Both models take premium gasoline, so take that into consideration when thinking about fuel savings. The smart fortwo’s gas tank also only holds 8.7 gallons, so you’re going to still be filling up a lot.


The Military Hummer vs. the Commercial Hummer

Author JoeC    Category Comparisons     Tags

The Hummer was released at the peak of the SUV craze when manufacturers were trying to top each other by building bigger and bigger cars. Among these was the imposing and powerful Hummer. Part of the appeal of owning Hummera Hummer is that it’s actually a light tank used by the United States Army. Well, sort of. The military Hummer and the commercial one in your driveway are a little bit different.

Vehicle Capability

The US military needs to be able to tackle all types of terrain, and the nice thing is that your H1 can do that too, to an extent. For instance, military models are capable of fording water up to 60 inches; in comparison, the H1 can tackle up to 30 inches. The driver compartment in the H1 is water proof, though. Both vehicles can tackled up to a 22-inch step and a 40% side slope with a 60% grade. Your H1 has a few things that the military one does not like antilock brakes, safety locks for doors, and an automatic traction system.

Vehicle Protection

If you were thinking about using your Hummer as a tank, you should probably think again. Here are a few military features that you aren’t going to find on the H1:
• Ballistic protection for when you encounter enemy combatants
• Vehicle camouflage with a coating to protect against chemical attacks
• Optional M16 rifle mounts and an optional turret for a machine gun
• A blackout lighting mode for secret operations (this definitely wouldn’t be street legal)

Comfort Features

What the military model doesn’t have, though, is a lot of comfort features that are found in the H1. In fact, the military model is so Spartan, it doesn’t even have many features found on bargain subcompact cars. The military model doesn’t have power windows, power locks, an audio system, glove box, power outside mirrors, cup holders, or even air conditioning, which you would think would be a must for missions in the Middle East.

While you’re not going to be capable of taking control of any hostile territories, I think most consumers are going to enjoy the H1 a bit more. Driving in the military model seems like a pretty unpleasant experience.


Should You Buy or Lease an Electric Car?

Author JoeC    Category Electric Cars     Tags

There are plenty of good reasons to get behind the wheel of an electric car. The most noticeable bonus is that you’ll never have to stop at a gas station again: just park it in your garage, plug it in, and it’s ready to go in the Electric car in chargingmorning. You’ll also spend less money fueling and maintaining an electric car, since electricity is cheaper than gas and electric motors are much more resilient than internal combustion engines. Many people also find electric vehicles more fun to drive than their gas-powered counterparts due to their near-silent operation and instant torque. If you think you might be ready to take the plunge, there’s just one question to answer: will you buy or lease?

Buying has its Benefits…

If you buy an electric car, you’re putting yourself in the minority of EV drivers – since over 90% choose to lease rather than buy. That doesn’t, however, mean there aren’t reasons to purchase – so long as you’re willing to stick with your electric vehicle for the long haul. If you prefer to trade in your vehicles after a few years, you’ll be better off leasing. But if you’re the kind of person who likes to put 300,000-plus miles on their cars, an electric car may very well fit your needs. You’ll save lots of money over the years on gas and maintenance, and many automakers are now offering battery replacements, greatly extending the expected lifetime of your car.

…But Leasing is the Way to Go

The problem with buying an electric car is that they are significantly more expensive than comparable gas-powered vehicles, and the savings on gas and maintenance won’t necessarily put more money in your pocket. On top of that, EV makers are offering some pretty insane leasing deals, with perks like unlimited mileage, free chargers, no money down, and monthly payments well under $300.

All the evidence indicates that electric vehicles just a few years from now will be significantly better than the ones we have today, and people who buy an EV today will likely be tempted by updated versions in just a few years, thereby negating the benefits of purchasing.


A Look at Beach Buggies

Author JoeC    Category Off-Road Vehicles     Tags

Beautiful beach and dunes at sunsetA beach buggy or a dune buggy is a type of off-roading vehicle mainly used to tackle sandy terrain on beaches. They have large wheels, wide tires, and tend to have an open frame with an exposed engine, but some offer a more car-like appearance. Buggies can go from 30 mph to 60 mph in many cases and some are also built to tackle other types of terrain. A beach buggy can be the perfect vehicle for some fun in the sun, though it’s not going to be practical as a year-round vehicle. Note that in many cases, dune buggies can also be classified as go-karts and ATVs.

Meyers Manx

Meyers Manx originally produced dune buggies in the 60s and 70s, and has since returned to the industry. These classic Manx buggies look like roadsters perfect for cruising on the beach or driving around town on a sunny day. Originally, they were car kits built for Volkswagen models (some current ones are still made for the old Volkswagen Beetle). Manx models were featured in Elvis Presley movies, Barbie got one once, and the Grand Theft Auto games have had playable dune buggies clearly inspired by Meyers Manx.

Volkswagen Buggy Up

Volkswagen cars have long been used as the basis for beach buggies and now VW looks to be building their own. In 2011, they released a mini car concept called the Volkswagen Up and have since patented a design for a buggy version. It has a thick body and open roof; below the hoop is a 1.0L three-cylinder engine capable of 59 or 74 hp.

Tips for Buying a Beach Buggy

1. Size: Are you going to be the one driving this by yourself or do you plan on taking friends with you? Dune buggies can fit up to four people in most cases.
2. Destination: To determine what type of buggy you need, you need to know where you’ll be driving. Are there dunes you wish to climb or is this just going to be for driving on sand?
3. Transportation: Some dune buggies are street legal while others are not. Keep that in mind when deciding on a buggy. If you have a big truck, then it’s no problem getting your buggy to the beach. If not, it may be better to buy one that resembles a car a little more.