Tag - road

(Almost) Towin’ Speed:Sport:Life — 2011 Ford F350 Super Duty

by Byron Hurd. Photos: Byron Hurd with supplemental content from Ford Motor Company.

A cloud, often more physical than metaphorical, seems to hang over S:S:L’s east coast office. Whenever we get a purpose-built machine, the weather turns ugly. Late last fall, we got a spankin’ new 370Z from Nissan and permission to track it, only to wake up to snow the next day. This summer, we had a 2011 Mustang GT Convertible and plans to attend a movie at one of the few remaining drive-in theaters in the Mid-Atlantic area. What better way to do it, right? Naturally, that weekend brought record heat and wicked thunderstorms.

So when we scheduled our camping and horseback riding weekend with the F350, we had every eventuality covered. We had alternate arrangements if we ended up getting swamped out of the campsite. We even lined up dry shelter for the horses in case we really got slammed. Preparation was the name of the game. Getting the right horse trailer for us is very important, luckily you can apply for a loan to get the right trailer for you.

But Mother Nature managed to sneak one in the back door.

Read More

Tragic Comedy: The 2010 Suzuki Kizashi

Photography courtesy of American Suzuki Corporation

If you’re a fan of sporty Japanese sedans, the last few years have probably been a bit depressing. Between the feast-or-famine market conditions and declining availability of enthusiast-oriented options, there hasn’t been a lot to celebrate. Some lights have shined brighter and longer than others, but all seem to fall to the ceaseless  march of consumer-driven “progress.” We got the Mazda6, brilliant as a driver’s car, but not a hero of the showroom. In its second generation, we lost the manual transmission on the V6, the slightly-too-small-for-this-market dimensions, and the double wishbone front suspension. The Speed6? Gone entirely.

The TSX, in its first iteration, was a balanced and nimble car. Now? Overweight and overburdened, but with an optional V6 available (if for no other reason than to further dilute Acura’s model lineup). And the TL? Let’s not. The list goes on.

The Legacy GT? Bigger (though manual-only now).  Lexus? Well, the IS sprouted an “F” model that eschews some of the most important enthusiast options, but at least boasts decent handling and a V8 that makes very nice noises. Nissan dropped the 6-Speed in both of their sedans (for a CVT, no less) despite bringing back the Maxima’s 4DSC designation. Only the G37 6MT soldiers on.  For now.

Read More

Speed:Sport:Life Road Test — The 2011 Mustang V6 — Enthusiast Car or Secretary Special?

  

by Byron Hurd. Photos courtesy of Ford Motor Company.  

Price as tested: $28,480 (Incl. $850 destination charge).
Major equipment: Premium trim level (Base price: $26,845), 6-Speed Automatic Transmission ($995), 3.31 Rear Axle Ratio ($395), Security Package ($395).  

In the fleet: May 2010  

~300 horsepower. ~3500lbs. High 13s in the 1/4 mile. Sound familiar? They probably did to the Z28 owner sitting next to me at the stop light.  

What didn’t sound familiar to my newfound neighbor was the bark of the 3.7L VVT Duratec V6 coming from a chromed dual exhaust treatment. While a 2011 Mustang V6 is virtually indistinguishable from a 2010 from the front (a view I saw him evaluating in his side-view mirror as I rolled to a stop in the left lane), the rear end gives the only two reliable hints as to what rests between the front strut towers.  

And what lay there gave my fourth-gen friend quite a scare.  

In front of us, our three-lane surface street narrowed into a two-lane, limited-access highway. It was me, the Z, and some anonymous import to his right. Three cars. Two lanes. One sick game of musical chairs.  

When the light turned green, the tachs turned red; our import companion quickly removed himself from the equation as two American motoring icons reared back on their live axles and tore after the fast-approaching merge zone in a shameless display of society-shattering, testosterone-fueled misbehavior.

Read More

Supersized Speed Read: 2010 Ram 2500 (Part 1)

 

Photography by Byron Hurd. 

Price as tested: $44,365 (Incl. $950 destination charge)
Major equipment: Crew Cab SLT (Base Price: $38,480). 5.7L HEMI Gasoline V8, Preferred Package 25T ($1,030), Premium Cloth Seats  ($900), Media Center ($1,565), Luxury Group ($680), Technology Group ($495), Roof-Mounted Lamps ($80), Remote Start ($185).

In the fleet:
April 2010 

B. HURD: Narrow streets. Traffic lights. Pavement. Parking lots. Trees surrounded by neatly-manicured grass and concrete curbing. This is home. So what do you do when you have a week to play with Chrysler’s highly-praised new Ram 2500 in Suburban Maryland? Well, as it turns out, you do exactly what 90% of the area’s truck-driving population does: go from stoplight to stoplight at full throttle in smug, satisfied comfort. 

Read More

The 2010 Infiniti FX35 — Why? Well, why not?

Photos by Byron Hurd (for once). 

Back in January, I was presented with an opportunity I simply couldn’t pass up. Through a connection on The Car Lounge, I was put in touch with a woman selling a perfect Miata parts car in Dayton, Ohio. Ever since I picked up my 1.6, I’ve wanted to start overhauling the 212-thousand-mile-old drivetrain and suspension. This ’94 was a perfect match. A deal was struck. 

At the time, we had Honda’s Accord Crosstour for evaluation. It seemed like a no-brainer. What could possibly be a better chase car than a brand new crossover? As we got closer to go-time however, some logistical issues intervened on the seller’s end, and the whole trip was put off for a week. The result? Well, obviously, the Crosstour ended up somewhat out of its element, and the trip was rescheduled smack-dab in the middle of our evaluation period for the FX35. 

So in typical Speed:Sport:Life fashion, we ended up with Honda’s family hauler doing double-duty as a cone chaser, and Infiniti’s sport sedan on stilts being loaded up for a ~1000-mile road trip. Why not, indeed? 

Read More

Lord Byron — Over the river and through the cones: The 2010 Honda Accord Crosstour

2010 Honda Accord Crosstour EX-L AWD

by Byron Hurd. Photos courtesy of Honda.

It takes about six seconds to travel from the stop box to the “time writer” official at a NASA Mid-Atlantic autocross (or “NASA-X”). If you’re in it to win it, those six seconds are excruciating. What should really be a short time might as well be an hour-long debriefing. Six. What did I screw up that time? Five.Did that wobbler back at the offset box fall over? Four. Did I tap one in that second slalom? Three. Does Jon Felton hate Miatas? Two.

One.

But this time, I don’t give a damn. I’m not playing for keeps. Brian, this heat’s time writer, is smiling and shaking his head as he leans in to his radio. He writes it on a post-it note and reaches out toward my driver-side window as I roll up. “You are consistent.” He tells me, laughing. I know what that means before I take the slip from him.

Another 67.

That’s a healthy six seconds off what would be my normal pace for a course this size. I normally peak mid-way through my session, and if I’ve settled to a 67.49 on run four, it’s pretty much a given that I’m not going to improve much from here. So why the lack of concern? Simple. Today, I’m not driving a Mazdaspeed3 or an RX-8 or a NA Miata. I’m not even driving our Focus.

I’m driving a 2010 Honda Accord Crosstour. And let me tell you, there’s nothing quite like hanging out the ass end of a 4100lb hatchback-on-stilts.

Read More