Audi TT CoupeGentex Corporation, the leading supplier of automatic-dimming rearview mirrors to the worldwide automotive industry, announced today that it has begun shipping a three- mirror, automatic-dimming mirror system for the 2007 Audi TT Coupe.

The Gentex auto-dimming mirror system causes all three rearview mirrors to darken automatically in response to the headlamp glare of rearward-approaching vehicles. The brighter the glare, the darker the mirrors become, making nighttime driving safer.

The three-mirror system is optional on the TT and consists of an interior auto-dimming mirror with compass display and driver- and passenger-side exterior auto-dimming mirrors.

"Nearly 70 different vehicle models worldwide offer three-mirror auto- dimming systems, which provide complete glare elimination," said Enoch Jen, Gentex Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer. "These systems represent one of the fastest-growing safety technologies available today. We're proud to help Audi bring this technology to the TT, a vehicle known for performance driving when protecting driver vision is highly important."

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We’ve all seen the television commercials where someone wakes up on Christmas morning and finds a new car parked in their driveway with a fancy red bow tied on top. Is it just a TV fantasy? Actually, now is the best time of the year to get a good deal on a vehicle, says Ben Freeland, founder of the innovative online used car dealership

Here are eight important tips to keep in mind if you’re shopping for a vehicle this holiday season.

8. IT’S DEAL TIME: The new models have just come out, so pre-owned vehicles have just seen their largest drop in values for the year. The year-end is coming, yearly quotas are due, dealers need to reduce inventory, and business is relatively slow; so auto retailers will have their most aggressive prices, and the staff will have time to be attentive to your needs. Unlike other products that see their prices fall immediately after the holidays, now is the best time to get a good deal on a car.

7. JUST IN CASE: Just as you would with any other gift, make sure you keep the receipt and purchase the vehicle from a company that has a return policy in case the person you are giving the car to wants to exchange it.

6. BUY SMART: Consider buying a certified used vehicle instead of a new one. You will give that someone special all the benefits of a new car, for a much less expensive price. And you may want to move them into an upgraded model or add some features for the savings difference. For additional peace of mind, most certified vehicles come with warranty coverage beyond the manufacturer’s warranty.

5. MAKE IT EASY ON YOURSELF: Buy from a dealership that makes the process easy. You don’t need to waste hours of time and get frustrated during the hectic holiday season. You should consider a No-Haggle pricing dealer, easy trade-in process, and financing options to fit your circumstances. There are more options than ever before to keep it simple.

4. SELECT THE RIGHT VEHICLE: Just as you would consider a person’s personality and sense of style when buying them a sweater or winter coat, think about the person you are buying the vehicle for. What do they like best about their current car; what do they like least? What cool features have you seen them take notice of in commercials or in other vehicles? Now, try to select a vehicle you think will work for them and excite them. You should buy from a dealer with a large selection so you don’t end up having to go all over town to find the right car.

3. SPECIAL DELIVERY: Have the dealer include a BIG red bow, then sneak the vehicle out and park it in a special place. Wrap the key in a jewelry box. You can always have the dealer hold the vehicle until you are ready for the big day. Some online dealers can even deliver to other states at no charge.

2. CAPTURE THE MOMENT: Be prepared to take a picture right when they figure out they received a car for Christmas. It will probably be a much better “reaction shot” than when they tasted Aunt Ethel’s fruitcake.

1. HAVE FUN: You should enjoy picking out the car as much as they will enjoy receiving it. Have a happy holiday season.


American’s look to Europe for many things – wine, food, fashion and, of course, automobiles – to name just a few. But one European automotive tradition has not made the journey to our shores: diesel engines for passenger vehicles.

Big, smoke belching 18 wheelers and heavy duty trucks? Yes. Cars? No! At least not yet, but wait … there’s more, much more automotive retailers need to know about what their showrooms will sell and their service areas will repair and service in the near future.

Diesel cars have not sold especially well in the U.S., except to the very, very environmentally concerned. R.L. Polk, a leading data compiler has noted sales of diesel vehicles are up some 40 percent to 543,777 units, but that only amounts to 3.4 percent of all cars sold in America. J.D. Powers and Associates is predicting diesel sales may triple to 10 percent by 2015.

There is a persistent disease in the U.S., known to the automotive psychological experts as “diesel knowledge deficiency.” It is a disease, which I hope to argue has severely disenfranchised the American consumer of high quality and ultra performance automobiles.

So, what’s the big deal about diesels?

Perhaps surprisingly to some, diesel engines, while invented and patented in 1892 by Rudolf Diesel, were not used in passenger vehicles until 1936 when Mercedes-Benz introduced the 260D, the world’s first production diesel car. Until then, diesel engines – which were big, bulky and difficult to start in cold weather – were used in heavy trucks, steamships, freighters and similar equipment.

After the war, technological improvements and innovations were added to the diesel by Mercedes and in the 1970’s large volume production of diesel-powered passenger cars commenced. Today, more than 50 percent of all vehicles sold in Europe are diesel-powered. Over half! In the U.S, just 3.4 percent.

Basic question: what makes a diesel different from the engine under the hood of most cars and light trucks in the America today?

Without resorting to a lot of tech-talk or a lengthy and possibly boring statement, it will suffice to say the diesel gets power faster without an electric sparkplug – it uses compression to ignite the fuel – and, thus, does not require a fuel with a high ignite or combustion factor. Admittedly, that is over-simplification, but when reviewed by a Mercedes-Benz person I was reassured, “That is accurate.” In fact, diesel engines are so flexible they can run on vegetable oil. If you don’t believe me, check out this video featuring movie diva Daryl Hannah who only drives biodiesel. For those who want a more comprehensive and understandable explanation and demonstration visit or click here for a complete demonstration of how diesel engines work.

Generally, diesel engines are more effective, efficient, economical and, eventually, environmentally acceptable than the more familiar internal combustion engine. They get 20 to 30 percent better fuel economy, which results in roughly a 20 to 30 percent reduction in the emissions of carbon monoxide (CO), carbon dioxide (C02) and hydrocarbon gases.

Why all the news, information and conversation about diesels now?

Many factors, facts and fallacies have contributed to diesel news: among them –the global warming phenomenon; state emissions controls and regulations; the soaring cost of oil per barrel and, subsequently, gas per gallon; lingering perceptions of diesel engines; more vehicles on the road; the depletion of natural resources; governmental action or inaction; court cases, including the U.S. Supreme Court case that opened this week, and Al Gore’s notwithstanding environmental concern.

In the U.S., stringent new regulations concerning the sulfur emissions – cleaner burning – from diesels in heavy trucks (when you’re behind an 18 wheeler with a heavy load at a stop light, a gas mask is a welcome accessory) resulted in a drastically lower sulfur composition in the formulization. These big trucks may be a reason why many equate the technology with older cars and light trucks powered by diesel engines – noisy, smelly, etc. Another factor has been the limited availability of diesel fuel at service stations. But this is also about to change.

Last month, 45,000 service stations in 45 states began selling the “new and improved, ultra low sulfur” diesel fuel in response to the government’s request for lower exhaust gas emissions. Not all stations have the new fuel and it will be “sometime” before the new fuel replaces the old, according to one source I spoke with.

The national average price of the new diesel fuel as this article is being written, according to the Energy Information Administration, stands at $2.567 per gallon compared to regular gasoline, which averages $2.246 per gallon. In 2009 – just three short years away – an even tougher, tighter fuel composition regulation will be instituted.

Additionally and significantly, this new diesel fuel formula has resulted in significant re-engineering for “cleaner” diesel engine-equipped cars destined to be sold in this country. Brands including VW and Volvo that sold diesel-equipped cars have stopped selling in the U.S., but perhaps not for long.

According to various sources on both sides of the Atlantic, every car manufacturer in the U.S. and Europe has been upgrading, improving and literally re-inventing cleaner diesel engines to comply with new government regulations on emissions and diesel fuel composition. They are considering the technology a viable alternative to traditional gas engines.

While Pacific Rim nations are not yet as stringent in national emission controls, car manufactures in Asia are also hard at work on new diesel-equipped vehicles since many produce for the U.S. market or eventually hope to do so. In nations with economies – namely, Brazil, Russia, India and China – a few steps have already been taken regarding emissions, but nothing is yet significant and auto production has not become a growing economic-industry factor... yet.

Who is leading the industry in diesel innovations and technology?

Mercedes-Benz, the first car manufacturer to produce a diesel-equipped passenger car over 70 years ago, is still the highly motivated leader in diesel inventions, innovations, and improvements.

The result of the company’s significant investments in time, people and resources appeared earlier this year at the North American International Automobile Show with the introduction of the BLUETEC diesel line. To borrow a phrase, “these are not your father’s diesels!”

A media release stated, “Mercedes-Benz is the pioneer of a new generation of clean and powerful high-tech vehicle s with highly effective exhaust gas treatment systems that give them the potential to fulfill the most stringent emission limits in the future.” And they are turbo powered too.

A few weeks ago Mercedes-Benz revealed the new passenger it was bring to America that are equipped with the new Bluetec diesel engines. The company has sold millions trucks in Europe equipped with the new engines, so they are tried and true.

Last month, Mercedes-Benz unveiled its new E320 Bluetec sedan. It accelerates from 0 to 60 in just 6.6 seconds thanks to 400 pounds of torque and earns a significant 37 mpg highway/26mpg city. The E series will be joined by four other new-Bluetech diesel-powered vehicles next year as well.

The new 2007 models are not just fully compliant with new regulations, they set the benchmark for diesel engine technology that others will most definitely strive to emulate.

On the eve of the Los Angeles Motor Show DaimlerChrysler, Audi and Volkswagen announced that they intend to establish the BLUETEC brand name as the designation for particularly clean, highly fuel-efficient passenger cars and SUVs with diesel engines. Under the shared concept of BLUETEC, each of the manufacturers involved will be working on their own technical systems for meeting the world’s most stringent emission regulations.

Audi’s Winning ways

NASCAR rules in the U.S., but elsewhere in the world open-wheel racing is the favorite and is gaining fans in America too. This year, Audi shook the motorsports world to its high-tech-core with a record shattering 650 horsepower V12 TDI diesel-powered race car.

The diesel-powered R10 TDI race car won every major race it entered – the legendary 24 hours at Le Mans, 12 Hours of Sebring and the American endurance called Petit Le Mans Series – for a total of seven victories in a debut season. Along the way it was named Race Engine of the Year 2006, Alternative Race Engine of the Year, clinched the Manufacturers’ Championship and also won the Drivers’ and Teams’ titles.

At an exclusive event at the LA Auto Show, Audi revealed plans to introduce its diesel-powered vehicles in America. An Audi spokesperson informed me, “We will import diesel cars to the U.S. in 2008, but exactly when is to be determined.” Currently, Audi sells roughly 50 percent of its cars in Europe with diesel engines.

Recently, Audi premiered a world first twelve-cylinder diesel engine in a passenger car, the Q7. It is a six-liter, V12 generating, 500 horsepower and 738 ft-lbs of torque beast that is reminiscent of the engine featured in the winning Audi race car. Fast? 0 to 62 in 5.5 seconds with an electronically governed top end of 155 mph. Wow! Too bad it won’t be sold here … yet.

Honda’s on the Diesel-powered Bandwagon

John Mendel, senior vice president for American Honda Motor, noted confidence this summer when he said, “Our diesel technology will achieve our goal of crating new value in the market. Some have suggested this will be as important a breakthrough as the Civic CVCC was in being the first to meet the U.S. Clean Air Act in the early 1970’s.”

Mendel’s comments were followed late September by a release from Honda headquarters in Tochigi, Japan announcing the development of a “next-generation” diesel engine that reduces exhaust gas emissions to a level equal to a gasoline engine. The new engine uses a catalytic converter that enables a reduction in emissions sufficient to meet EPA requirements. The new diesel will be introduced within three years.

Toyota Is Not Resting On Its Laurels

As it turns out, Toyota is not merely focusing on hybrids. The company’s acquisition of 5.6 percent of Isuzu earlier this month for $375 million will give the auto giant access to more than 800 experienced diesel engineers at Isuzu and Toyota President Katsuaki Watanabe has said he anticipates “the growth of diesel engines going forward.”

According to the auto blogosphere, Toyota has another ace up its sleeve. A Land Cruiser model with a powerful diesel V8 that has been seen testing in Europe, reportedly with a 4.5 liter engine, generates with twin turbo-chargers 268 hg and 470 ft-lbs of torque. Could this be a power plant for the new Tundra trucks coming out of the new San Antonio, Texas plant?

That’s a question I intend to ask next week at the reveal of the new Tundra. Stay tuned.

BMW Tells All About Their Diesel Plans

BMW too announced plans to bring diesels to the U.S. in late 2008. The German automaker has developed an enhanced concept for minimum exhaust gas emissions for this engine, which will meet the strict emissions standards in effect in California and other states. As a result, BMW will be able to simultaneously introduce these new cleaner Advanced Diesels as so-called 50 States (Bin5) models.

What’s Up In Detroit?

GM has been quiet about plans for its diesel engines, but announcements should be made soon. You can bet the Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep brands will be among the first to establish a foothold with technology from its European divisions. And Ford has recently announced the development of a new regulation-compliant diesel engine.

Diesels bottom line?

Like the old movie title, The Diesels Are Coming. So, get ready. After years of literally ignoring diesel-powered vehicles, Americans will soon see more and more diesel cars and subsequently have the opportunity of benefiting from them.

The investment of countless millions of dollars, euros and yen from auto manufacturers throughout the world has resulted in a new generation of improved diesel engines … they’re stealth-like silent, efficient, environmentally equitable, and, of course, meet all the new government regulations.


Nissan Sentra 2.0S ReviewAt first blush the restyled Sentra looks to be just a smaller version of its larger siblings, Altima and Maxima. The cab forward look that Chrysler pioneered years ago has become cab forward and rearward as exemplified with this Sentra. That is, the cabin, looks like it extends from mid-hood to mid-trunk. The A-pillar slopes steeply forward and the C-pillar, if extended in its logical conclusion would terminate at the rear bumper. The tail slopes distinctly forward and the nose is rounded nicely with large headlight sockets housing multi-reflector halogen lights. It looks distinctly Nissan.

Inside, the front-wheel-drive Sentra does not look like an economy car. It’s plenty roomy both front and back, though the trunk sure is shallow. Ingress and egress are easy. The modern shapes and forms inside do not reflect the traditional organic shapes common with most small cars. In fact, I find the dash and immediate surroundings to be mighty modern and aesthetically distinctive, attractively edgy in fact. Materials are better than expected. Fit and finish are up to high standards. No longer can even an economy car get away with anything less. In all regards I find it a good competitor to the Corolla - except in the engine category.

Nissan Sentra 2.0S ReviewSentra’s 2.0-liter, dual overhead-cam, in-line four-cylinder, rated at 140-hp and 147 lb-ft of torque, has the high tech qualities of the competitors but it sure is buzzy. On heavy throttle it makes more noise than the others and intrudes itself on the otherwise serene cabin. Gentle throttle effort is not so intrusive. Acceleration is adequate. Mileage is estimated by EPA to be 29 in the city and 36 highway on this 2,900-pound car, but the built-in data computer said we were getting 27.5 average. This is an Ultra-low Emissions rated engine/transmission combo.

This Sentra is equipped with the optional Xtronic CVT – continuously variable transmission. I would prefer the standard 6-speed stick but for an automatic you can’t beat the CVT for balance between economy and performance. On sustained full-throttle it’ll rev to within a few hundred rpm of red line and stay there as speed increases – rather slowly though I must say.

Handling is good, but nothing special. I wouldn’t try any tricks with it. Suspension is by independent struts in front and torsion beams (semi-independent) in the rear. Front vented disc and rear drums stop the car pretty well. Steering is electronic drive-by-wire. The chassis feels good and tight. After a bit less than a week with the Sentra we have nothing to complain about and nothing to brag about. It’s just a comfortable, competent car derived from a Renault platform. The few little niggles, like the ignition switch and shifter both of which have minor catches preventing consistent smooth operation, we’ll attribute to the pre-production status of this particular test car. Everything else worked and felt just fine.

Nissan Sentra 2.0S ReviewThe 2007 Sentra comes in three iterations: 2.0, 2.0 S and 2.0 SL. Price of entry for the 2.0 is $14,700 and includes 15-inch wheels, power windows and locks, AC with filter, AM/FM/CD with audio input jack and side-impact air bags. The 2.0S begins at $15,600 and adds 16-inch steel wheels, more speakers for the audio system, steering wheel controls, remote keyless entry, trip computer and height-adjustable driver’s seat. The 2.0 SL comes with the CVT, 16-inch aluminum alloy wheels, intelligent keyless entry, Bluetooth hands-free compatibility and leather appointed seats.

Our 2.0 S test car also has the Rockford Fosgate ® audio package with XM satellite radio, CD-ROM with playback and 6-CD in-dash changer, Bluetooth, leather steering wheel, integrated overhead CD holder, special trunk cargo system, cruise with steering wheel controls, intelligent keyless entry, fog lights, 16-inch alloy wheels, ABS and electronic brake force distribution system. Bottom line on our sticker is $19,885.

Standard warranty coverage is 36 months/36,000 miles with powertrain covered for 5 years/60 months.

I guess my favorite aspect of the ’07 Sentra is the styling and design. It looks really great and would fit in to any upscale garage. If you’re out shopping for an economical little 4-door sedan you ought to have a look at this one.

© Steve Purdy, Shunpiker Productions, All Rights Reserved

American Suzuki Plays to Win at 2006 Los Angeles Auto ShowTo reinforce its commitment to providing fun-to-drive vehicles for lifestyle-driven consumers, American Suzuki Motor Corporation (ASMC) brings its "game face" to the 2006 Los Angeles Auto Show, showcasing two exceptional activity-oriented concepts, and its full-line of versatile cars and SUVs, including the all-new XL7 midsize crossover SUV and the bold and functional SX4 compact X-over (crossover). All new for 2007, the XL7 and SX4 already have made a positive impression with media and consumers.

ASMC is enjoying record sales success in 2006, with total year-to-date sales up an impressive 25 percent through the first ten months vs. 2005, led by the redesigned Grand Vitara and the all-new XL7 and SX4, which recently arrived in dealer showrooms.

To further support the launch of Suzuki's two new vehicles, ASMC has developed a line of 2007 XL7 and SX4 "Suzuki LIVE Series" concept vehicles. At this year's Los Angeles Auto Show, Suzuki will debut its SXBox, a modified SX4 concept designed for ultimate game fanatics, and BaseCamp, an XL7 concept built specifically for outdoor adventure enthusiasts. To showcase the SXBox's gaming capabilities, Suzuki will host a video game challenge on Nov. 29. Additionally, professional gamer Patrick "Indigo Ferret" Wyrick will be onsite at the Suzuki booth to provide last-minute video game counsel on the featured video game, Project Gotham 3.

"We developed the 2007 'Suzuki LIVE Series' to showcase the excitement of the all-new XL7 and SX4. We took our production vehicles and created a number of unique concept vehicles personalized to fit consumers' active lifestyles," said Gene Brown, vice president of marketing and PR, ASMC. "The implementation of brand-building marketing initiatives, such as these one-of-a-kind, lifestyle-based concept vehicles, provide the ongoing framework for Suzuki's evolving brand identity."

"Suzuki LIVE Series" Vehicles

Last year, American Suzuki Motor Corporation (ASMC) launched the "Suzuki LIVE Series" (LIFE VEHICLES) -- a line of brand-dedicated concept vehicles specially designed for life enthusiasts, adventurers and thrill-seekers. In concert with its "Way of Life" brand proposition, which promises products for active lifestyles, and to support the launch of the all-new XL7 and SX4, ASMC introduces four all-new "Suzuki LIVE Series" vehicles for 2007, illustrating how its cars and SUVs play an integral part of consumers' everyday life.

The vehicles, coined BaseCamp for outdoor adventure enthusiasts; Flix for film and entertainment buffs; Zuk for motorcycle and racing aficionados; and SXBox for avid gamers; will be on display at various auto shows and lifestyle events around the country.


Built by ASC of Huntington Beach, Calif., and based on the all-new SX4 compact sport X-over, the SXBox is designed for ultimate video game enthusiasts. The Suzuki SX4 concept receives mild performance upgrades, including high-flow airbox/intake, cat-back exhaust, an enhanced suspension and multi-piston alloy brake calipers mated to cross-drilled, vented rotors.

The SXBox also is equipped with an impressive, high-performance wheel and tire package, providing gamers with the means to get to the nearest gaming competition. When parked, the SXBox's pearl white exterior is illuminated courtesy of a green LED accent kit.

The interior design of the SXBox features an ultra-high-tech, game-inspired color scheme throughout the inside of the vehicle, including recessed LED emitters to brighten the interior of the vehicle. The SXBox is outfitted with a dashboard-integrated Xbox 360 gaming console, coupled with a close proximity digital projection system to display enthusiasts' game of choice on the interior of the vehicle's retractable hood, easily enabled by the push of a button. A second Xbox 360 video game system powers two separate LCD display screens in the seat backs of the SXBox to provide gaming excitement for rear passengers. For gamers who prefer to stand and play, the SXBox is equipped with a 30-inch retractable rear projection screen in the cargo area.

Adding comfort and convenience to the idea of in-car gaming, the concept vehicle features high-relief, force-feedback front seats with game-station highlights to create a snug gaming environment and four wireless controllers, including a steering-wheel-mounted gaming control for the driver. In addition, the SXBox's multi-speaker surround audio system with wide frequency response and thundering bass provides an intense atmosphere of video game stimulation.


Built by the Carlab of Orange, Calif., and based on the all-new 2007 XL7, the BaseCamp concept offers cutting-edge design and technology to fulfill the needs of outdoor adventure enthusiasts. The BaseCamp's exterior is blanketed with liquid metal body paint and finished with titanium cladding around the perimeter, which also is easily converted to a catwalk for unprecedented upper vehicle access and storage.

The concept features a unique gullwing passenger side door that, when opened, reveals a warm, inviting, modern interior and attachable peninsula bar work station with full media connectivity, including Wi-Fi Internet access, Bluetooth integration and iPod(1)/MP3 capabilities. The BaseCamp also features a custom roof rack system with an integrated dual slot bike rack and Santa Cruz mountain bikes, eight high-intensity LED light clusters, including a unique "down" lighting system, an enclosed cargo/luggage area and forward-mounted miniature camera. After arriving at a campsite, a modern canopy with carbon fiber frame can be attached to the roof rack, keeping adventurers dry in inclement weather or protecting against the sun, and creating a welcoming ambiance for visitors.

The BaseCamp's interior reflects a similar high-tech design and feel with mica-hued light-toned seating and titanium accents throughout the inside of the vehicle. In the rear cargo area, the vehicle features a utility storage pack and access system. Additionally, the XL7 concept is equipped with in-dash CD/DVD and GPS/Navigation system with real-time traffic.

2007 Suzuki XL7

The all-new XL7 blends SUV versatility, style and safety, and features available all-wheel drive and seven-passenger, three-row seating to provide adaptability for active, mobile lifestyles. The 3.6-liter, V6, DOHC engine delivers 252 horsepower and 243 lb.-ft. of torque, and is matched to a five-speed automatic transmission with manumatic controls.

The XL7 has a long list of standard features, including a five-speed automatic transmission with manumatic shift, extensive safety features, including four airbags, tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS), ABS with electronic brake-force distribution (EBD), traction control system (TCS) and Electronic Stability Program (ESP)(2). Additional standard features include remote keyless entry, tilt steering wheel, power windows, door locks and mirrors, two 12-volt accessory outlets, cruise control, 16-inch alloy wheels, satin silver trim, air conditioning with automatic climate control, trip computer, automatic headlamps, AM/FM/CD audio system with six speakers and privacy glass.

Three trim levels are offered: XL7, Luxury and Limited. Offered in five- and seven-passenger configurations and either front-wheel drive or available all-wheel drive, XL7 has a starting manufacturer's suggested retail price (MSRP) of $22,899. The XL7 Luxury adds leather-appointed interior, power driver seat, heated front seats, wood trim accents and 17-inch alloy wheels and has a starting MSRP of $24,599.

The top-of-the-line XL7 Limited features standard seven-passenger seating and adds fog lamps, rear spoiler, upgraded roof racks with aluminum lower bumper valances, premium XM Satellite Radio-ready audio system with seven speakers (including subwoofer), auto-dimming rearview mirror with compass, remote starter and DVD entertainment system. The feature-packed XL7 Limited carries an MSRP of $27,949.

There are three optional packages to go with the three trim levels: A seven-passenger seating package (available on XL7 and XL7 Luxury); a DVD entertainment package (available on three-row Luxury) that features a DVD entertainment system with wireless headphones and remote starter system; and a Platinum Touring package featuring a touch-screen navigation system, 17-inch chrome-plated alloy wheels with unique design and sunroof.

2007 Suzuki SX4

The 2007 Suzuki SX4 compact sport X-over (crossover), recently named "Best Kept Secret of 2007" by Autobytel, is designed for those who live an adventurous life and is sure to be a year-round standout in any driving conditions. The all-new SX4 (the name stands for (S)port (X)-over for (4) seasons of weather) features a handsome five-door hatchback design, a sophisticated standard all-wheel-drive system, excellent stability and crisp handling characteristics. Built in Japan, the SX4 features a sophisticated 2.0-liter, in-line four cylinder, 16-valve DOHC engine rated at 143 horsepower. SX4 is also fitted with intelligent all-wheel drive (i-AWD) as standard equipment. The i-AWD system operates in three modes for maximum fuel economy on dry pavement or to facilitate traction in case of snow or mud.

The SX4's standard features include six airbags; front driver and passenger airbags, driver and passenger side-impact airbags and side-curtain airbags; four-wheel ABS with EBD, TPMS, seatbelt pretentioners, power windows, locks and mirrors, remote keyless entry, air conditioning, AM/FM/CD/MP3 audio system with four speakers, tilt steering wheel, 16-inch alloy wheels, black roof rails, daytime running lights, fender flares and silver bumper guards. SX4 carries an MSRP of $14,999.

The SX4 comes in two trim levels: SX4 and SX4 Sport. SX4 is available with a Convenience Package, which includes cruise control, leather-wrapped steering wheel and steering-wheel-mounted audio controls. SX4 Sport includes: TCS and ESP, auto temperature control, cruise control, leather-wrapped steering wheel and steering-wheel-mounted audio controls, premium audio with six-disc CD changer and nine speakers (including subwoofer), silver-color roof rails and SmartPass keyless entry and start system. SX4 Sport has an MSRP of $16,399. All trim levels are available in manual or automatic transmission with standard AWD.

2007 Suzuki Grand Vitara

First introduced as a 2006 model, the Grand Vitara has garnered much media and consumer praise and has won numerous awards, including a recent "Best Buy" from Consumer Guide. The 2007 Grand Vitara features a standard 2.7-liter, V6, 24-valve DOHC engine, a sophisticated available Four-Mode full-time four-wheel-drive system, tough unibody construction enhanced with a built-in ladder frame and an extensive list of interior amenities and standard safety features.

The list of standard safety features is extensive: ABS with EBD and ESP, including traction control, six airbags, three-point driver and front-passenger seat belts featuring shoulder height adjustment; in the rear seat, each passenger is provided with a three-point seat belt system and a headrest. With its carefully engineered control layout and close attention to materials and fit-and-finish, the interior of the Suzuki Grand Vitara is functional and attractive.

The Grand Vitara comes in three trim levels: Base, XSport and Luxury. The standard five-speed manual transmission and two-wheel drive starts at an MSRP of $19,379. The Grand Vitara with Luxury Package and Four-Mode full-time four-wheel-drive system drives tops out at $23,399.

2007 Suzuki Product Line

Suzuki's diverse product line now features the XL7 and Grand Vitara SUVs and a variety of cars to match the needs of every lifestyle. The 2007 vehicle line also includes the functional SX4 compact X-over (crossover), popular and versatile Forenza sedan and Forenza Wagon, European-styled Reno and sporty, yet fuel-efficient Aerio sedan.

The entire vehicle line offers something for everyone with standout virtues for toughness, leading-edge style and high-end features at prices well below the competition. All 2007 Suzuki automobiles are backed by America's #1 Warranty: 100,000-mile/seven-year, fully transferable, zero-deductible powertrain limited warranty.

About Suzuki

The Brea, Calif.-based Automotive Operations of American Suzuki Motor Corporation (ASMC) was founded in 1985 by parent company Suzuki Motor Corporation (SMC) and currently markets its vehicles in the United States through a network of more than 520 automotive dealerships in 49 states. Based in Hamamatsu, Japan, SMC is a diversified worldwide automobile, motorcycle and outboard motor manufacturer with sales of more than two million new vehicles annually. Founded in 1909 and incorporated in 1920, SMC has operations in 125 countries.

(1) iPod(R) is a registered trademark of Apple Computers, Inc.

(2) ESP is a registered trademark of DaimlerChrysler AG

Source: American Suzuki Motor Corporation

Honda's Fully Functional Next-Generation Fuel Cell Vehicle Makes First Public Debut in U.S.

Honda FCX Concept CarA fully functional Honda FCX Concept vehicle will be on display for the first time to the general public at the Los Angeles Auto Show. The Honda FCX Concept features a newly developed compact, high-efficiency Honda FC Stack as well as a low-floor, low-riding, short-nose body. It offers a comfortably large cabin and futuristic styling along with significant improvements in power output and environmental performance. Limited marketing of a totally new fuel cell vehicle based on this concept model is to begin in 2008 in Japan and the U.S.

To meet Honda objectives for significant gains in both environmental and driving performance, the Honda FCX Concept is equipped with a V Flow fuel cell platform consisting of a compact, high-efficiency fuel cell stack arranged in an innovative center-tunnel layout. This has allowed designers to create an elegant, low-riding, sedan form that would have been difficult to achieve in a conventional fuel cell vehicle. This new fuel cell stack is 20 percent smaller and 30 percent lighter than the current FCX FC Stack, yet its power output is 14kW greater. The drive motor has been positioned coaxially with the gearbox for a more compact design, with output increased by 15kW. Overall, the power plant is about 180kg lighter than that of the current FCX and about 40 percent smaller in volume. The result is improved energy efficiency and performance along with a more spacious interior.

While with previous fuel cell stacks the hydrogen and the water formed in electricity generation flowed horizontally, the new FCX Concept features vertical-flow design. This allows gravity to assist in discharging the water that is produced, resulting in a major improvement in water drainage, key to high-efficiency fuel stack performance. The result is stable power generation under a broad range of conditions, and higher output from a smaller package. Low-temperature startup has also been significantly improved, enabling cold-weather starts at temperatures 10 degrees C lower than the current FCX -- as low as minus 30 degrees C.

As an auxiliary power source, the FCX Concept carries a compact, high-efficiency lithium ion battery, contributing to increased power output and a more compact power plant. These efficiency improvements to major power plant components give the vehicle a travel range approximately 30 percent greater than the current FCX. The vehicle is also highly efficient, with an energy efficiency of around 60 percent -- approximately three times that of a gasoline-engine vehicle, twice that of a hybrid vehicle, and 10 percent better than the current FCX.

Other features include seat upholstery and door linings made from Honda Bio-Fabric, a plant-based material that offers outstanding durability and resistance to sunlight damage. Other improvements such as Shift-by-Wire and a newly designed instrument panel with easy-to-read display of hydrogen fuel consumption facilitate improved ease of operation.

The new fuel cell vehicle currently under development for release in 2008, will feature the principle technologies of the FCX Concept to achieve a new dimension in environmentally friendly driving pleasure not found with gasoline-engine vehicles.

* Specifications

Number of passengers 4

Max. Output 95kW (129PS, 127 horsepower)
Motor Max. Torque 256N x m (26.1kg x m, 188.8 lb-ft.)
Type AC synchronous motor (Honda Mfg.)

Fuel Cell Stack Type PEFC(proton exchange membrane fuel
cell, Honda Mfg.)
Output 100kW

Fuel Type Compressed hydrogen
Storage High-pressure hydrogen tank
Tank Capacity 171 liters

Dimensions (L x W x H) 4,760 x 1,865 x 1,445mm
(187.4 x 73.4 x 56.9 inches)

Max. Speed 160km/h (100 mph)
Energy Storage Lithium Ion Battery
Vehicle Range* 570km (354 miles)

* When driven in LA4 mode (Honda calculations)

Consumer information is available at

Source: Honda Motor Co., Ltd.


It used to be that if you wanted a coupe, you bought a coupe. If you wanted a convertible, you bought a convertible. If you wanted both, well, your garage had better hold two cars. Such was life with the first-generation Volvo C70, with a coupe introduced in 1998 and a convertible shortly thereafter. The C70 hinted at new directions for the Swedish automaker, both in style and intent. But in many ways it was the last of the old Volvos, as it was the last to debut before the current design language was unveiled in the 1998 S80.

The second-generation C70 holds the same position in the Volvo lineup as the first, and is two cars in one, as its three-piece steel roof can, with the touch of a button, disappear into the trunk, turning it from a coupe to a convertible. It holds four people, and there is still enough trunk space with the top down for a long weekend for two. Top-up, it can hold skis. It's equally handsome top-up or top-down, and both sporty and refined.

Introduced last year, the new C70 heads into its second year with only minor changes. The audio system now has an auxiliary input jack for an MP3 player or iPod, and the CD player has MP3CD playback capability. Sirius satellite radio is a new standalone option.

Power, 218 horses worth, is from Volvo's light-pressure turbocharged and intercooled version of its 2.5-liter inline five-cylinder engine, which drives the front wheels through a six-speed manual or five-speed automatic transmission. All of the safety equipment expected in a Volvo is standard, including a rollover protection system.

Safety and fun are not mutually exclusive, and the 2007 Volvo C70 offers a comfortable and enjoyable driving experience in addition to safety. It's also a practical year-round car, as the steel top insulates passengers from the elements as well as that of any hardtop when the weather turns foul. My week with the C70 was typical of Fall, with a mix of cool sunshine and cold rain. No problem there, the car was pleasant top-down when the sun was out, and snug and dry come rain. It's a fine sport-luxury coupe, and a fine sport-luxury convertible, all in one package.

APPEARANCE: If, with the original C70 Volvo first "threw away the box and kept the toy", the toy is further-developed in its second generation. With its strong, broad shoulder line, protruding V-shaped hood, and small rounded-trapezoid grille there can be little doubt as to the maker. All of the contemporary Volvo styling cues are prominently displayed on a car that is slightly lower, shorter, and wider than the old model. With the top disappearing into the trunk space, the new C70's lines and proportions are clean and stylish with the top up or down.

COMFORT: In its interior style, the C70 owes more to the smaller S40 and V50 than any other current Volvo thanks to the aluminum-faced free-standing center console. It looks like a piece of high-end Scandinavian audio equipment, and established the "Scandinavian modern" design motif - visually simple, relaxing, and functional. The seats are a little different from those in other Volvos, but just as comfortable, with power adjustment in front and, for a coupe, generous rear room. The standard covering material is an interestingly-textured synthetic called "Haverdal Flextech", with leather inserts. The top is raised and lowered in about 30 seconds with the touch of a button, no manual latching or unlatching necessary. Top-up, the C70 is as snug and quiet as any other sport-luxury coupe; top-down there is just enough wind for a pleasant experience, with minimal buffeting. Despite the top being stored in the trunk, there is a useful six cubic feet with the top down, and a useful divider with safety interlocks acts as a template for top-down storage. The stowed top can be moved upwards about eight inches for luggage access. Top-up, there is a generous 12.8 cubic feet of trunk space, with a ski passthrough.

SAFETY: The C70 features all of Volvo's safety systems, with modifications to compensate for its lack of a fixed roof. Hydroformed A-pillars made of extra-high strength steel and the Roll-Over Protection System (ROPS) electronically-controlled pop-up roll bars normally hidden behind the rear seats provide structural protection in the even of a rollover. To further compensate for the lack of a permanent top and full-height B-pillars for side protection, the lower B-pillars and floor structure have been modified, as has the Side Impact Protection System (SIPS), with a door-mounted side curtain in addition to the front and side front-seat airbags. The car's structure is designed to progressively deform in a collision from any direction to protect passengers. Strong four-wheel antilock disc brakes with emergency brake assist and the Dynamic Stability and Traction Control system (DSTC) add active safety.

RIDE AND HANDLING: Volvo has been working on suspension calibration and refinement, to good effect. The C70's unibody structure is based on Volvo's mid-size P1 platform, and has commendable rigidity even with the top down; with the top in place it's even better. The fully-independent MacPherson strut front, multilink rear suspension is tuned perfectly for the car's sport-touring mission, firm enough for minimal body motion in hard maneuvering, yet supple enough for long-distance comfort. Steering effort is moderate and appropriate.

PERFORMANCE: Every U.S.-spec C70 comes in T5 trim, named after the turbocharged and intercooled five-cylinder engine. It's a long-stroke, twin-cam, 20-valve aluminum alloy design in a moderate state of tune. If its ultimate power - 218 bhp at 5000 rpm - is less than the old C70 coupe's R-spec 236, it's much more useful in everyday driving. Unlike the R, which had all the urge concentrated at the top, this engine has a broad spread of power. Maximum torque, 236 lb-ft, is developed from 1500 through 4800 rpm, nearly the entire useful powerband. With that sort of midrange, downshifting is pretty much optional when acceleration is wanted. But when it is time to shift, the six-speed gearbox is a pleasure to use, with light, progressive clutch action and fine shift linkage. The optional automatic should have a minimal effect on performance. I averaged 21 mpg in fast highway and city driving.

CONCLUSIONS: The Volvo C70 convertible coupe is two very fine cars in one.


Base Price $ 39,090
Price As Tested $ 40,780
Engine Type dual overhead cam turbocharged
and intercooled 20-valve
inline 5-cylinder
Engine Size 2.5 liters / 154 cu. in.
Horsepower 218 @ 5000 rpm
Torque (lb-ft) 236 @ 1500-4800 rpm
Transmission 6-speed manual
Wheelbase / Length 103.9 in. / 180.4 in.
Curb Weight 3,743 lbs.
Pounds Per Horsepower 17.2
Fuel Capacity 16.4 gal.
Fuel Requirement 91 octane unleaded premium gasoline
Tires P235/40 ZR18 Pirelli P-Zero Rosso
Brakes, front/rear vented disc / disc, ABS and EBD standard
Suspension, front/rear independent MacPherson strut /
independent multilink
Drivetrain transverse front engine,
front-wheel drive

EPA Fuel Economy - miles per gallon
city / highway / observed 20 / 29 / 21
0 to 60 mph 7.0 sec

18-inch wheels and tires $ 995
Destination charge $ 695