First Impressions — Mercedes S Class

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We’re test driving the Mercedes S 550, and here are some of the first impressions. We haven’t finished our time in the vehicle, so we’ll be adding to this note as we go along. We also haven’t scheduled a time for airing a full review. So, this is a work in progress.

Mercedes S 550

Mercedes S 550

Obviously this is a beautiful vehicle, full of technology. The ride is silky smooth, and despite the large size, there’s not a bit of boatiness.

We’re still researching all of the atributes, so expect this to be updated.

The available technology includes night vision, backup camera, adapative cruise control. The onboard computer is not user friendly, but is much better than BMW’s I-drive.

This vehicle competes with the BMW 7-series, the Audi A8 (which has been redone) and the Lexus LS.

So far, neither Lincoln nor Cadillac has a vehicle that comptetes in this class, although there have been persistant rumors that Cadillac would like to be there.

People who pay 100 thousand plus for a vehicle like this expect the best, and so far I haven’t found anything that would be a glaring flaw.

If you own this vehicle, feel free to give me your feedback by commenting, or emailing me at jdgilbert@cbs.com.

More to come…a video walkaround is posted below.

2010 Range Rover

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2010 Range Rover

2010 Range Rover

July 6, 2010

I’ve just finished spending some time in the 2010 Range Rover. While I’ve not written a formal review yet, and haven’t scheduled one. Here are some firsts impressions.

The 2010 Range Rover is a beautiful vehicle, equipped with anything you’d want. However you pay for it. My test car topped 100 thousand dollars.

I did have the 500 horsepower supercharged engine. And the vehicle did move. However, the market for these exclusive top of the line luxury suv’s is dwindling.

I’ll add more as we go forward. You’ll see some first impressions in the video I’ve posted below, and we’ll have a full review at a future date.

Hyundai Sonata Test Drive

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My test drive of the totally redone 2010 Hyundai Sonata.

How I Evaluate A Vehicle

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I always try to look at a particular vehicle from the point of view of the target customer.

That’s how you could end up seeing a fifteen thousand dollar subcompact get five stars, and a one hundred thousand dollar luxury vehicle get three stars.

I don’t profess to have any special knowledge. I’m not an engineer. I’n not a “gear head.” I’m a middle-aged, middle-class man, who has the opportunity to drive a lot of different vehicles. That does give me a unique perspective to understand what could make one vehicle special, and leave another lacking.

Auto companies provide the vehicles for reporters to test out. There are no conditions. We drive them, and we write about them. On average, we have a vehicle for a week.

My personal goal is to drive everything I possibly can, and to write about it honestly.

I give vehicles one to five stars. Here’s the meaning:

Five stars: The best vehicle I’ve driven, so far, in that category. It’s special, and blows away the competition.

Four stars: Very good vehicle. Lots of impressive qualities. A few issues, not necessarily flaws, but issues that you may want to know about.

Three stars: Vehicle is average. This doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with it, but there’s nothing to reccomend it either, unless you get a really good deal.

Two stars: Below average.

One star: Lots of issues with this vehicle.

Sometimes, I’m divided about a rating. That’s when I give half stars.

For the most part, all of today’s vehicles have something going for them. That’s why I rarely have to rate a vehcile below three stars. Generally, vehicles that get that kind of rating have either been on the market too long without an update, or come from a company that’s just trying to establish itself, and hasn’t quite made it yet.

Probably, the most common rating I give is four stars. That reflects an indusustry–domestic and foreign–that makes a lot of good cars, and a few great ones.

One last note, about domestic vs. foreign. I sometimes get complaints when I say nice things about foreign name plate vehicles. Yes, this area’s fate is tied to GM, Ford and Chrysler. But, I must be honest. Anything less would be cheating our listeners.

Domestic products are now on a quality par with the imports. I couldn’t say that truthfully, if I didn’t evaluate every vehicle on its own merits, regardless of who builds it, or where it’s built.

Ford Fiesta

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2010 Ford Fiesta

Ford Fiesta

I’m taking a test drive of the new Ford Fiesta small car.  It’s a very important vehicle for Ford, and we’ll have a full review coming on July 9th.

Here are some initial impressions of the vehicle, starting with a quick video walk around.

Driving notes:

Overall, I’ve found the Fiesta to be a competent, cheerful small car.

It gives you an adequate amount of room in the front seat. I found the passenger compartment to be bright, airy and well laid out.

While it’s no speedster, it doesn’t lag on the highway either. And while it’s small, you don’t feel intimidated by the big trucks on the road.

One red flag is the lack of storage space inside the passenger compartment. There’s no center console, and the glove compartment is faily small.

I also found the audio system and some of the electronics in general to be less than user friendly.

I drove the hatchback. So, I can’t tell you whether there’s enough trunk room. The storage area in my test car was hidden from sight, but wasn’t exceptionally large.

More to come, as I spend more time in the Fiesta.