We had high hopes for the updated Subaru Outback. At recent auto shows, the company seemed like it was going tech-forward, displaying new Harmon Kardon audio systems in the Legacy and Outback. But our review of the 2010 Outback showed us that the company is still well behind the curve of car technology. Sure, the all-wheel-drive system is great, as is the car's general utility. And in how many SUVs can you get a manual transmission? But, aside from that new audio system and a very basic Bluetooth phone system, the new Outback doesn't have much to offer … Read more
Treating gasoline as fine whiskey, the hybrid Lexus RX450h sips rather than gulps. This luxury vehicle turns stereotypes of SUVs on their heads, getting excellent fuel economy while offering Lexus' latest cabin tech. It pampers occupants with interior and ride quality that rise above most luxury vehicles today.
We don't often review gargantuan SUVs, but decided to check the Infiniti QX56, as Infiniti is generally a pretty high-tech automaker. What we found is a vehicle that falls behind the technological curve. Other Infiniti models get direct-injection engines, lane departure warning, iPod integration, and around-view cameras, but the QX56 sits in the lineup like a red-headed stepchild, looked over when Infiniti hands out the tech toys.
The fact that Volkswagen didn't change the turbocharged 2-liter engine from the 2009 to the 2010 GTI might make you think this model update is all cosmetic, but you would be wrong. With a direct injected four-cylinder engine and the optional Direct Shift Gearbox, a dual-clutch automated manual, there just wasn't much room for improvement in the power train. So Volkswagen took on the handling tech, putting an electronic power steering in the GTI and adding an electronic limited slip.
And sure, the body presents smooth sides, a style very much in vogue now among automotive designers, and a new, wide front grille look. But the GTI also gets greatly improved cabin tech, taking on Volkswagen's new hard drive-based navigation system and a Dynaudio sound system. And even without the navigation option present, the car still gets a touch-screen LCD for the stereo.
Through the cones We spent some time with the 2010 Volkswagen GTI, getting the opportunity to run it through a couple of autocross courses, a track marked out by cones with sharp turns that really test the car's handling. We also put the car through its paces on some public roads, and dug through the cabin electronics.
The GTI's ride is reasonably comfortable, which is actually impressive considering how it performed on the autocross course. As we threw it into hairpin turns and guided it through S curves, all the action was at the front wheels. … Read more
Slinging the RDX through corners, we were impressed by this little SUV's handling. Acura's all-wheel-drive system does amazing things for keeping the car settled when inertial forces attempt to drag it over a cliff. But we weren't so impressed after a glance down at the trip computer's fuel economy number. The turbocharged four-cylinder was drinking up the gas like a frat boy at Oktoberfest.
A good cabin tech update added to the driving experience, its new iPod integration letting us listen to a variety of music over the excellent ELS audio system. Navigation and weather are … Read more
Lexus scores well with the model update to its RX 350. This luxury SUV gets new cabin tech for the 2010 model year, a suite of electronics long overdue for the brand, adding important capabilities such as traffic integrated with the navigation system, dial by name with the Bluetooth phone system, and iPod integration.
Sure, you can probably score a better price buying audio gear online, and it's certainly easier, but is it a smart way to go? I don't think so.
First, buying hi-fi without listening to it is a bad idea. Smart buyers compare one product to another, it's simply the best way to learn what your choices are. Granted, it's not the same as hearing speakers in your own room, but at least you're hearing them in comparison to each other under the same conditions.
Online reviews, including the ones I write for CNET and print magazines offer my opinions about sound. But reviews by me or anyone else can't predict about how, say a speaker, works with a receiver that's similar to yours. I have no idea about your specific needs, your room size, acoustics, taste in music, etc.
Use my reviews as a starting point and then try and listen for yourself.
User reviews? Hey, I make my living writing audio reviews and my opinions are drawn from my experiences with literally thousands of audio products. I can point you in the right direction, but at the end of the day, its your ears and your money. Buy what you like; just make sure you've heard it.
A good salesperson can offer sound advice based on your specific needs. That's a huge advantage online sales outlets can't duplicate. Yes, finding the right store or salesperson can take time, but that's true for doctors, lawyers, plumbers, and contractors, but once you've found a good one, their advice and council can be a huge asset. If you're spending $500 or more for speakers or a receiver try to make the effort to hear the thing. A successful salesperson has lots of happy customers, there's no other way to be successful. I sold audio for 16 years, I know from where I speak. … Read more
Lexus adds a much needed convertible to its lineup with the 2010 Lexus IS 350 C. As the name suggests, it is based on the IS 350 sedan, Lexus' smallest and most affordable car. But a low price doesn't mean a shortage of luxury; the cabin uses high-quality materials, with excellent fit and finish. Although the IS 350 C feels like a sports car initially, handling doesn't hold up when inertial forces try to drag it off the road. Steering gets vague and the car doesn't hold its line. But cabin tech is newly updated, even beyond … Read more
We like Lincoln's new design language; that big winged grille looks good on the midsize MKZ. But the car struggles to separate itself significantly from its platform-mates: the Ford Fusion and Mercury Milan. Its interior is generally nicer, but some control surfaces come from a common parts bin. The ride quality doesn't feel that much better than its lower-priced siblings. And much of the cabin tech, although excellent, is the same as you can get in the Fusion and Milan. This comparison leads us to ask, what makes a Lincoln a Lincoln? And does the MKZ have that … Read more
When we saw the line of Acura ZDX models waiting for us in the parking lot, the cleanness of the design stood out. The sheet metal looked smoother than any new car we had seen recently, and Acura didn't load the body down with jewelry, just nicely integrated headlight casings. And the grille, which stands out like a beak on the smaller Acura sedans, seems to have found its medium. Unlike when we first saw the ZDX earlier this year at the New York auto show, the design took on new life under the bright sun at this special driving preview.
Built on the Acura MDX SUV platform, the ZDX is lower but just a tad longer than its platform-mate. During a presentation, an Acura representative called it a "four door sports coupe," and touted its off-road characteristics by showing a video of it running on a snow track. That schizophrenic character points to the ZDX's blessing or curse--it will be a convenient multipurpose vehicle to some people, but not good at any particular duty for others. That said, the ZDX comes out at the same time as other automakers experiment with this new type of crossover. BMW has the X6, and is working on the 5-series Gran Turismo. Audi is looking at making a hatchback version of the A5. These companies are trying to develop an SUV-alternative for people that no long want to drive a truck.
Most concept cars lose their most interesting features when they come to production, but the ZDX didn't drop a thing from its initial showing. It uses a glass roof extending from the hood to hatchback, giving both seating rows a sunroof. The short rear doors have handles hidden in the C pillar graphics. The center stack looks black when the car is off, but backlighting highlights button labels when the audio system and climate control are turned on. We hope this feature finds its way into other Acura models, as it works well to hide the mass of buttons scattered over current Acura dashboards. … Read more