Audi follows in parent company Volkswagen's footsteps by bringing a car to the U.S. with a TDI diesel engine. Using the same turbocharged 2-liter diesel engine as the VW Jetta, the A3 TDI offers the same stellar fuel economy as its lesser German cousin, and it has better cabin tech, including a good iPod connection and Bluetooth phone system. However, Audi lets the A3 TDI simmer with an older version of its navigation system that's not quite on par with its latest technology.
The S-class is a tech-lover's dream, loaded with seats that massage, radar that keeps set distances from other cars, mirrors that warn about cars to either side, and a speedometer that turns into a night vision camera. We were in seventh heaven riding around on its plush seats, listening to music from an iPod over its sweet-sounding Harman Kardan audio system.
And while previous S-classes left us with a little green guilt, or at least range anxiety, as the engine gulped down the gas, the S400 Hybrid has a more reasonable appetite. It is far from Prius territory, but … Read more
Honda dumbfounded the motoring press with the strange body style of its new Accord Crosstour, but after getting up close and personal with the car, we understand it. The body style is certainly unique and hard to get used to, but the practicality of the rear hatch/trunk is undeniable.
Underneath and inside, it's all high-trim Accord, with the addition of all-wheel drive. In that respect, it should give Subaru, a company that did excellent sales during the recession, a run for its money.
I have no idea why giant electronics companies like Sony, Panasonic, Sharp, or Samsung never really tried to enter the audiophile market in the U.S.
Sure, Sony's very first SACD player, the $5,000 SCD-1 was a spectacularly good-sounding component; Sharp made an exotic, very high-end digital amplifier a few years ago; and back in the 1970s Panasonic's Technics gear was pretty impressive. I'm sure those companies are still producing no-holds-barred audio for their home markets. So the know-how is there, but apparently little interest in sending it here.
The first-generation Marantz audio products were designed and built by Saul B. Marantz in his home in Kew Gardens, New York, in the 1950s. The company truly advanced the state of the art, and those early Marantz designs now fetch big bucks on eBay. By the 1960s Marantz started building gear in Japan, and the company was sold and resold over the intervening decades. But through good times and bad, Marantz stayed true to its roots and always made above-average-sounding products, bettering the offerings from larger companies like Sony and Panasonic sold in the U.S.
Robert J. Reina's enthusiastic Marantz PM5003 integrated amplifier review in the January 2010 issue of Stereophile started me thinking about affordable high-quality gear from mainstream manufacturers. Yes, it can happen.
The Marantz PM5003 ($450) is a stereo integrated amplifier; it puts out 40 watts per channel. It was designed in Japan and made in China.
Do you have a turntable? Great, you can plug it directly into the PM5003; it has a rather sophisticated moving-magnet phono stage that'll bring out the very best sound from your records. The PM5003 also has five line-level inputs, two record outputs, a balance control, a headphone amplifier, treble, bass, and loudness controls. … Read more
We haven't seen a desirable Buick in so many years that our expectations were very low when the LaCrosse arrived in our garage. Yet this car turned out to be one of the better luxury sedans we've driven, especially at its price. The cabin tech suite includes a navigation system with excellent traffic avoidance features and a Harman Kardon audio system with exceptional audio quality.
The soft suspension rides over bumps well, while the direct injection 3.6-liter V-6 delivers ample, efficient power. The LaCrosse is truly a car that will make people give Buick another look.
It's a rare SUV that comes with a manual transmission. It's an even rarer SUV that can justify it. The Porsche Cayenne GTS's handling makes a manual transmission a preferred option. Unfortunately, just not the particular manual used in the GTS. This car's handling finesse makes you want to give it a quick downshift before a corner, to get the most out of its 405 horsepower engine on the way out, but shifter's long throw adds to that gear change time significantly.
That criticism aside, this new Cayenne sports some new cabin tech, a suite … Read more
Mitsubishi's Lancer Ralliart gets some of the gear that makes the new Evo X such an amazing car, specifically the double-clutch transmission. But this latest version of the Lancer Ralliart also gets what looks like a hastily sketched-out hatchback. The 2010 Mitsubishi Lancer Sportback Ralliart is nearly identical to the Lancer Ralliart sedan, except the rear has been deformed, with C pillars stretched back to bridge the gap between trunk lip and roofline. More practical, but also more ugly, the car still proves fun with its smart all-wheel-drive system and thumpin' Rockford Fosgate audio.
In the 1970s, the U.S. audio market was dominated by American-made products. Case in point: the original Dynaco A-25 speaker, introduced at the end of the previous decade, sold really well. The oft-cited sales number was something like 1,000,000 speakers sold.
Annandale Acoustics took the original Dynaco as the inspiration for its A-25 XL2. It's not a replica per se, more like the A-25 XL2 is a pumped-up version of the original concept. The company is selling the speaker directly, with a 30-day in-home audition.
The A-25 XL2, like the original A-25, is a large two-way … Read more
The painted grille and bulging fenders of the new Suzuki Kizashi give it an aggressive look. With tail pipes integrated into the rear bumper, you might think this is a new sport-luxury driver. But no, it is just another midsize sedan in a crowded market, with a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine under the hood. It does include a well-equipped cabin, with standard Bluetooth phone support, iPod integration, and a thumping Rockford Fosgate audio system.
The SRX name may not be new at Cadillac, but the car wearing it certainly is. The 2010 SRX is radically redesigned from earlier versions, opting for a more carlike suspension, while retaining a five-passenger SUV-like body. Borrowing much from the CTS sedan, the SRX has angular design cues around its body, and a very modern cabin tech suite, anchored by a very good navigation system. Power comes from a direct injection 3-liter V-6.