Tuesday, 28th of February, 2012
Picture - Details like this are what make Aloft hotels so interesting to stay at. Anyone can put a bike rack in front of their hotel, but do you have a bike rack that looks like a bike?
Thursday, 16th of February, 2012
Wednesday, 15th of February, 2012
Saturday, 11th of February, 2012
Thursday, 9th of February, 2012
Good For: The perfect compact car. I don't like what Subaru has done with the Legacy, Outback and Forester lately, but I welcome the new 2012 Impreza. Weight has been cut back to 2911 pounds, allowing the new CVT powertrain to sip gasoline efficiently regardless of how fast you're going. Less weight also means better handling - subtle elements of this car remind me a bit of the Honda Civic I drove in July. Electronics are updated, showing some progression of technology over Subarus that were designed even just a few years ago. The Impreza now has a standard fuel computer mounted high on the dashboard, and pretty much behaves just like my Tribeca. Bluetooth is fully integrated with the stereo system now - I plugged the iPhone into the USB port only to realize that it will also just play it over Bluetooth, in addition to making calls. Leave the MP3 player in your pocket, and when you start the car it picks up right where you left off in the playlist when you last got out of the car. Even with the new gadgets and the CVT, though, Subaru always does a good job of retaining the important things that make Subaru unique - we still have the flat-4 engine, standard AWD and VDC, and there are 5-door and 5-speed manual configurations. The new big square mirrors and slanted A-pillar with a tiny extra window pane even remind me of the Tribeca a bit.
Compromises: I'm glad that the CVT has killed the 4EAT for the Impreza. The logic is well done - unlike the Sentra, it behaves a bit like "Sport" mode in my Tribeca, keeping the revs high and holding gear for a few seconds after aggressive accelerator pedal mashing. There are also flappy paddles on the steering wheel that will bang into downshifts with crispness that would embarass many hydraulic automatic transmissions. But even with all that, I think I'd still rather have the 5-speed manual - fortunately it's still available knocks down the list price $1k. Better to take half of that and put it towards the 5-door option instead anyway. The decrease to 2.0L for displacement has no negative impact. The 148 hp motor reminds me of the 2.2L motors that I drove for a long time in old Legacies. It is no road rocket but delivers superb fuel economy.
Overall reaction - 2 Thumbs up: I'm sure I had a grin on my face when I saw this car in the Hertz garage and the grin remained all week. At this price point I wouldn't have anything else - the "Premium" sedan I drove starts $18,795 and has features worthy of the name, including the upgraded stereo. It's no Harmon Kardon, but speakers on the dash help the sound staging, and the rear speakers on the door enhance the mids and highs, which is an interesting shared characteristic with my Tribeca.
Tuesday, 7th of February, 2012
Thursday, 2nd of February, 2012
Good For: Chevrolet Vue. Chevrolet has a new crossover this year, the Captiva Sport, and it is not available for purchase by the general public. GM is playing the "Chevrolet Classic" game here, this time with the canned Saturn Vue crossover - rebadging it for fleet sales only. Unlike other fleet cars though, this one seems relatively up to date, with the usual GM electronic goodies wired up to the driver information center. After all, the second generation Vue was only sold for 2 years before the whole brand was disbanded.
Compromises: Transforming a Saturn to a fleet car is easy - just go around a ruin a few random things. Chevrolet could have kept the cool and classy handbrake from the Vue, but it now has the dumb electronic button that now transcends the entire lineup. The V6 engine option is good for 264 hp, but only as the revs wind up on the 3.0L motor. I guess they couldn't keep the "Red line" 3.6L engine. No "Green line" hybrid option either - fleet vehicles have to be boring!
Overall reaction - None: The LTZ trim I drove is loaded with much nicer things than a "classic" fleet car - all-wheel-drive, power leather seats, remote starter, rear view camera, climate control, premium audio with XM and iPod sync, and rain sensing wipers. Chevrolet also added a switch that slides the cupholder back in the middle console, revealing a fairly large, somewhat hidden compartment with a USB plug - clever and entertaining. As a rental fleet car, I can't deny that the Captiva Sport is a treat in the LTZ trim - though it supposedly sets the fleet buyer back $32k. But among all the cars you can actually buy, the general public isn't really missing out on anything.