Browsing all articles from August, 2013

Two of the Best Fuel Efficient Minivans

Author JoeC    Category Fuel Efficiency     Tags

If you’re shopping for a family vehicle that will give you the best in comfortable seating and cargo space, you’re probably also shopping with fuel economy in mind. Fuel 2014 Odyssey 3economy will make that family road trip less stressful with a lower gas bill. Two of the minivans that battle for fuel economy supremacy in this family friendly segment are the 2013 Honda Odyssey and the 2013 Nissan Quest. Here’s how these two efficient family haulers stack up:

  • Fuel Economy: Based on EPA estimates, the Odyssey beats the Quest on the highway; the Odyssey is rated at 27 mpg highway while the Quest is rated at 25 mpg highway. In the city, the Quest wins out with 19 mpg city over the 18 mpg city of the Odyssey. For those of you doing mostly highway driving, the Odyssey is the clear choice, while the Nissan will do just as well, if not better, in town.
  • Fuel Type and Capacity: Both of these minivans use a 3.5L V6 that drinks regular unleaded. No surprises there. The Odyssey does have a 21 gallon fuel tank; that’s one gallon greater than the Quest. A larger tank and a higher highway mpg rating will give the Honda more range and more time between fill ups.
  • Cargo Space: The Odyssey beats the Quest once again in the cargo department. You get 38.4 cubic feet of cargo with all seats in place and 148.5 cubic feet with the seats folded down in the Odyssey. The Nissan has 25.7 cubic feet and 108.4 cubic feet respectively.
  • Space and Comfort: The Quest does come out ahead in head room, boasting several inches more space both front and rear.
  • Safety: The Odyssey wins out in the safety tests with a Top Safety Pick from the IIHS. The Quest received good ratings in the moderate front overlap test, the side impact test, and the rear crash protection test, but only received an acceptable rating in the roof strength test. That last second best rating kept it from receiving the top safety pick rating. The Quest is available with the sophisticated around view monitor that gives you a bird’s-eye view to ease parking.

Both of these vehicles will be an excellent choice for families. If it all boils down to fuel economy, make sure to consider what kind of driving you’ll be doing. For city-centric family hauling the Quest comes out ahead, but for highway cruising, choose the Odyssey.


How do Race Cars Stack up to Regular Street Legal Cars?

Author JoeC    Category Comparisons     Tags

Ever feel like you could go toe-to-toe with the monsters of the track? Ever think you could take your beat up ’98 Honda Civic onto the speedway and clean-up? Well you’re Formula 1. Sepang. April 2010wrong, but it’s not just because of skill. Race cars are packed full of high-tech and high-power. Take a look at how some famous race cars compare to each other and to your average street legal cars:

  1. NHRA Top Fuel Funny Cars are probably the most powerful – but not the most sophisticated – cars in the world. These monsters can generate around 10,000 hp and lb-ft of torque. Unfortunately there’s basically no dynometer that can handle that level of force, so it’s impossible to pin down exactly how much force these cars make. These cars use 8.19L V8 engines burning nitromethane and methanol – as much as 15 gallons in ¼ mile! – to hit speeds of 330 mph in less than 4 seconds.
  2. Formula One is one of the most sophisticated racing series on the road, and unlike drag racing, these cars have to both brake and turn. These cars use an incredible 2.4L turbocharged V6 that spins at up to 18,000 rpm – about 3 times what most drivers ever hit – that propels the single seat open wheeled cars at speeds up to 220 mph. Those engines can crank out 750 hp and around 300 lb-ft of torque.
  3. NASCAR, the biggest racing series in the United States, uses cars that are much closer to production vehicles. That doesn’t mean they don’t cost a few million to develop. These cars easily hit 220 mph and use a 5.9L V8 to crank out 850 hp and 530 lb-ft of torque.
  4. The World Rally Championship requires that cars be based on production vehicles. The engine must be a 1.6L direct injection turbocharged four-cylinder and four-wheel drive is required. The WRC includes mixed terrain like gravel, snow, and asphalt. The power is limited around 300 hp and torque will land somewhere near 440 lb-ft. These cars will hit 140 mph.
  5.  While engine technology has come a long way over the years, and many consumer vehicles share inherited performance oriented technology like turbochargers, your average compact, likely has somewhere in the neighborhood of 120-130 hp. The first generation Civic, introduced in 1973 cranked out a whopping 50 hp. Remember that race cars are also stripped down to only the basics, and are usually both safer and lighter than your average consumer car. What it really boils down to is: don’t try this at home.

Luxury Crossover Comparison

Author JoeC    Category Comparisons     Tags

If you’re lucky enough to be shopping for an ultra high-performance crossover, you’ve got some great options right now. Two of the premier choices in the segment are the 2013 Mercedes-Benz ML63 AMG (2)2013 BMW X6 M SUV and the 2013 Mercedes-Benz ML63 AMG. Both boast incredible performance, high-tech comfort and convenience features, and the high class workmanship that you expect from these premium German manufacturers. Here’s how they compare:


The two cars take similar approaches to performance: they both come with turbocharged V8 engines that send power to all wheels. The BMW gets a 4.4L mill good for 555 hp and 500 lb-ft of torque. The Mercedes-Benz comes with a 5.5L V8 good for 518 hp and 516 lb-ft of torque. There’s no way to you can go wrong with either of these machines, but if you need to break it down, the BMW might offer more top-speed with the horsepower advantage, and the Mercedes-Benz should give more shove off the line with the added torque.

Comfort and Convenience

Both of these cars feature all the expected luxury amenities like premium leather upholstery, Bluetooth connectivity, the respective manufacturers’ concierge and telematics services, heated seats, and much more. Unfortunately the svelte BMW will only seat four, while the Mercedes-Benz will seat five. If that middle rear seat is a selling point, though, you might just want to look at a different class. The Mercedes-Benz again offers more space when it comes down to cargo: you can take 38.2 cubic feet of stuff with you with all seats up and 80.3 cubic feet with the rear row folded down. The BMW will only take 25.5 cubic feet and 59.7 cubic feet max. That extends to towing as well: the Mercedes-Benz can pull 7200 pounds while the BMW can tow up to 6,000.

The Verdict

Both of these luxury SUVs boast rubber burning performance – in reality they’re closer to sports cars than sport utility vehicles. Choose the Mercedes-Benz if you still want the capability to haul a little cargo or pull a trailer. While the BMW can do both of those things better than a sedan or a sports coupe, it’s certainly leans more toward the sport side, rather than the utility side of SUV. On the other hand, you get a sleek and undeniably stylish profile with the BMW. Neither are bad choices.


Buick Encore vs. Chevy Equinox

Author JoeC    Category Crossovers     Tags

So you’re thinking about buying a crossover SUV: an automobile that combines all the best attributes of a sedan and an SUV, while maximizing efficiency and cargo and passenger room. You can get a crossover for the price of 2013 Buick Encore 2an entry-level mid-size sedan, but if you’re looking for something more, and your price range is somewhere between $25,000 and $30,000, there are plenty of great options on the market. The Buick Encore and the Chevy Equinox are two crossovers to check out; here’s how they stack up.

Luxury or Practicality?

The Buick Encore and the Chevy Equinox are two different kinds of crossover SUV, so your choice may boil down to what “more” means to you. If you’re mostly looking for more space, both for passengers and cargo, the midsize Equinox is probably the car for you. If you’re looking for more features and refinement, the subcompact Encore is the better choice.

The Equinox: Versatility and Comfort

Both the Equinox and the Encore provide plenty of comfort for front-seat passengers, and even though the Encore is 20 inches shorter than the Equinox, rear-passenger seating doesn’t suffer much. The Buick Encore’s slimmer cabin, however, does cut down on hip and shoulder room for rear passengers. Behind the rear seats, the Equinox offers 31.4 cubic feet of cargo space, which is significantly better than the 18.8 cubic feet in the rear of the Encore. With seats folded down, however, the Encore’s space deficit shrinks slightly, since its cargo area maxes out at 48.4 cubic feet – 15.3 cubes less than the Equinox.

The Encore: Value and Style

The look and feel of the Buick Encore is somewhat more upscale than that of the Equinox, though the base-model Encore doesn’t offer much of anything that the Equinox LS doesn’t – except for a rearview camera and heated mirrors. There is a significant – and unexpected – price difference between the high-end trims on each of these models, however: the Encore Premium tops out at around $28,190, which is $3,000 less than the Equinox LTZ. This is no small difference, so if you’re looking for a fully-loaded crossover, the Encore Premium is definitely the better buy.