2011 Ford Edge SEL AWD Review

We dunnit again. Motofinity bought another car just to review it.

Sort of.

Actually, my wife and I replaced a higher-mileage Jeep Commander that suckled fuel pumps more forcefully than a starving newborn. It’s what you’d expect from a Hemi, but it was killing us.

We benefitted from incentives and the brain-bashing price war dealers and auto brands are locked in, and decided on a Mediterranean Blue 2011 Ford Edge SEL AWD. We were excited to finally have a safe, reliable SUV crossover to transport our young family around town, but the sweetness and light soon turned rocky…

Bentley Continental GT Graced by Mulliner Coach Work

Last year, Bentley tore the wraps off of it’s newly redesigned Continental GT.  Today, they announced that the Mulliner styling specification will be coming to the new Continental GT this fall.  Not quite the Continental GT Supersports we were hoping for, but this will do nicely.

The Mulliner Styling Specification (as they call it) adds high-gloss carbon fiber on the exterior of the GT, giving it a much more sporty look and feel.  Think of it as a Supersports without the go-fast bits.

See the full press release after the break.

Stewart and Hamilton to swap seats for a day

Tony Stewart

Lewis Hamilton

NASCAR champion Tony Stewart and F1 champion Lewis Hamilton are going to swap race cars later this year for an exhibition at Watkins Glen, barring scheduling conflicts.  The swap comes courtesy of Mobil One, a mutual sponsor for the drivers.  “Smoke” will pilot Hamilton’s 2010 McLaren, while “The Billion Dollar Man” will drive the number 14 Office Depot Chevrolet Impala.

Recall that Jeff Gordon and Juan Pablo Montoya swapped rides back in 2003, causing JPM to join the dark side in 2006.

Maybe, Hamilton will enjoy hooning around in the stock car so much that he’ll stick around and join fellow open-wheeled-racers Juan Pablo Montoya and Danica Patrick.

Let’s hope not.

[Source: ESPN]

2011 Daytona 500 Shocker – The Next Generation Rises

One of the most notable NASCAR showdowns in the last decade, the 2011 Daytona 500 had many on the edge of their seat.  The 1-on-1 drafting technique on the freshly paved surface (at a cost of $20M) made for a very action-packed racing Sunday.

This was the ten-year anniversary of Dale Earnhardt’s death at this very race.  The crowd observed a lap of silence during lap 3  in remembrance of the tragedy.  After a relatively quiet first few laps, the action didn’t stop. Fans and experts alike had favorited the usual suspects in taking the checkered flag in the February 20, 2011 duel: ’04 winner, Dale Earnhardt Jr.; ’06 winner, Jimmie Johnson; even 3-time winner, Jeff Gordon were all names that everyone was looking to be sitting in the winner’s circle after the checkered flag. That’s not how it turned out, as the veterans dropped out one by one, culminating with Dale Earnhardt Jr’s crash with 4 laps to go.

The lead changed hands a record 74 times, and after all those laps, it came down to .118 seconds between winner and second place. That winner was newcomer Trevor Bayne, who’s now suddenly a star. In addition to taking the checkered flag, Bayne set a couple other records. He’s the youngest driver ever to win the Daytona 500, just 20 years old.  Not including the inaugural race in 1959, Bayne is also the first driver to win his first attempt at the race.

Not a bad birthday weekend for Trevor Bayne, who turned 20 the day before the race.

If the Daytona 500 is any indication, the 2011 chase for the cup will certainly be exciting; but most of all, anyone’s for the taking.

2011 NAIAS Recap: All is right in Motor City

The North American Internation Auto Show in Detroit is open to the public today. I was there for the networking-and-presser hell that are the media days. If you’re interested in the show, or braving the Detroit cold to head to Cobo, here’s some impressions.

After the numerous difficulties plaguing automakers and the economy in 2009 and 2010, the 2011 North American International Auto Show in Detroit was an attempt at resurgence. Everybody tried to come out swinging.  Chrysler’s 300 redesign shows promise, keeping the heritage they have established; while Ford continues converging its lineups around the world with its “One Ford” mantra.  GM, too, shows promise with the official reveal of the Buick Verano, Chevrolet Sonic and more.

Continue reading our highlights from the 2011 North American International Autoshow in Detroit.

Audi
Audi showed the handsome, predictable and possibly bland redesign of the A6.  Non-edgy must be the fashion this year, though. The A6 even garnered the 2011 EyesOn Design award.
Bentley

Bentley showed off the redesigned (honest, it’s redesigned, even if it does look nearly the same) Continental GT. There’s a new sheriff in Bentleyville, too. Dr. Franz-Josef Paefgen formally passed on the keys to the company car – a 1930 Bentley 8 Litre – and the company (oh, and the Bugatti helm, too) to his successor, Dr. Wolfgang Dürheimer, effective in February.

Under Paefgen’s care, the original Continental GT took off like a shot, so Dr. Dürheimer is going to have to pull a rabbit out of his…hat to wow us.

BMW
First official close-up look at the 1 Series M Coupe, and it is sharp.  I am nervous for BMW’s sake, that they will price this one off the charts and into more dangerous territory.  With MSRPs beginning just below $50k, a car this small is aiming for an equally small audience, figuratively and literally.

The North American debut of the refreshed 6 Series was anticipated.  Hopefully this refresh will give BMW the boost they’ve been hoping for in the German Buick Riviera segment.

Buick
Speaking of Buick, here’s the Verano – A dulled-up Chevrolet Cruze.  An attractive example of modern badge engineering, GM has a huge challenge ahead of it to price this one right.  Upscale materials on the inside make the Verano luxurious, but this is not the stereotypical cavernous Buick. The goal is to attract 20-30 somethings to their brand with this one, but I’m not convinced the Verano is enough.
Cadillac
SCCA-spec CTS-V Racer…need we say more??

We will anyway.

The CTS-V R reportedly retains 80 percent of the road going version’s components.  Set to debut in the 2011 season, we have no doubt it will dominate like its predecessor. Start waving your flags now.

Chrysler
From the ho-hum Sebri…er…200 to the newly redesigned 300, Chrysler is hoping you will accept its new post-recession image.  The new 300 maintains the shapes that made its predecessor famous, but in a way, it lost its edge.  Don’t get me wrong, it is an obvious design evolution, but the smoother edges and the softer profile compromises the bold, brash presence of the original.

The real win for Chrysler is in the interior.  Noticeably upscale, the interior feels like an expensive watch.  The gauges are much nicer and evoke the sort of luxury that you would expect out of the Chrysler nameplate and still maintains a differentiation with its brother from Dodge.

Speaking of which…

Dodge
Mopar purists gripe that the original Charger was a 2-door and this generation is not true to that.

Interestingly, Dodge marketed the first Charger as a muscle car for the man with a family.  Modernize the Hemi and add a couple extra doors, and not much else has changed in 30+ years, except the engine they call a Hemi is really a wedge with splayed valves and even the lamest 2011 Charger will run rings around the piece of crap that boomers fondly recall and Gen-Xers remember as a flying orange icon.

The redesigned Charger is much more handsome in person.  It is easy to see the design influences from the 1999 Concept Car and the heritage of the Chargers of the 60s and 70s. The beltline is lowered and the interior goes from worst to first.

Ram

Not much exciting here…

That is, until you see Chrysler’s answer to Ford’s wildly popular Raptor, the Ram Runner.  Straight from running in the desert – and it shows – the Ram Runner is a worthy adversary for the Raptor.

Ready to buy one??  Not so fast!

Unlike Ford, you can’t go to your local Chrysler/Dodge dealer and pick one up.  Instead, you need to get a standard 1500 Ram and get to ordering Ram Runner parts from the Mopar catalog. That’s okay, while the Ford boys are fiddling around with Raptors that are magic off road and garbage on the street, the Ram Power Wagon gets the job done for the grown-ups.

Ford
If any domestic automaker can claim supremacy over the recent recession, it is Ford. Never mind those debt obligations, Ford managed its own turnaround without first going bankrupt, and things are looking better now than two years ago.

Touting “One Ford”, Bill Ford and company explained the vision of a global lineup.  The new electric and hybrid Fords, including the new global Focus, shows that Ford is serious about affordable green technology pushing the future of the auto industry.

Lexus
Possibly the only sexy Leuxs, the sleek LFA was lonesome on a pedestal in the midst of the rest of the more mundane Lexus offerings. Midde of the road sells a lot of records, though.
Mercedes
In a time when the Daimler board recommended Mercedes skip the NAIAS, Dr. Dieter Zetsche’s conniving moustache advised a return.

It’s hard to make a bad entrance with this SLS AMG E-Cell.  The all-electric super car is slated to enter production in 2013.  With more and more people looking to “green” technologies, many automakers ignore form when it comes to hybrid and alternative energy.  Case-in-point: the Toyota Prius.  Mercedes started with form of the SLS – which is gorgeous – and added the function of an all-electric powertrain.  Mercedes has cemented their place in alternative energy in automobiles with the SLS AMG E-Cell.

Porsche
Making its grand re-entrance to the NAIAS, having snubbed Detroit for the last couple years, Porsche showed off the 918 RSR.  Read our take on the 918 RSR here.