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2011 Toyota Sienna Review

thinking outside the "box" in exterior styling

A minivan can be practical in a variety of settings. Comfortably transporting your business colleagues to the airport or an important event, loading up the kids for a soccer game, family vacations with easy access to your infant or infants as it were even hauling sheets of drywall to finish your basement. Today’s minivans do all of the above and quite well. So what are the strong points of the Toyota Sienna and where does it fall short?

Exterior – This is one of the better looking minivans out there. True, it’s basically a box, as the rest are. But by incorporating the new identifiable front bumper onto it, it has become a more stylish box. Joking aside, it does make a big difference giving it a style that sets it apart from the rest. The Sienna is a huge vehicle, measuring just over 200” long and 69” tall. It’s hard to make something so big look sleek and pretty so I found the added rear spoiler simply gets lost in all the mass. The standard 17” tires look out of place on such a large vehicle, but the ride was comfortable and smooth. Larger tires will hurt with MPG but will work wonders for this vehicle visually.

Interior- To say that there is ample room in this van is an understatement. I.e. I wear a size 48 jacket and when I close the driver’s side door, I still have about 6” of room between my shoulder and the door. I typically only have about an inch or two so that extra room is nice. The passenger also has plenty of elbow and head room in this vehicle. Toyota uses a good quality leather on this van as well. I personally wouldn’t buy this van without it as it’s very convenient for quickly cleaning spills. My family and I found the seats comfortable as well. The 2nd row seats not only recline but also have a hideaway foot rest like a lazy boy chair. However, this only works if the front seats are moved very close to the dash and the 2nd row seat is slid far back. Otherwise, you have no room to stretch your legs anyway. This van also has great rear storage space. There’s luggage room for a family of 4 or 5 that shouldn’t impede the passenger area. All and all it’s a solid vehicle with a smart ergonomic layout and a tidy fit and finished package.

Electronics- The first gizmo to strike my eye was the multi function head unit at center dash. This blue tooth compatible device serves as your Navigation, AM/FM radio, Satellite radio, rear-view camera and multi disc CD player. It also has full ipod integration so you can plug in your ipod, tuck it away and control it from the head unit. Although happy with all of the features this unit entails, I found it cumbersome to navigate at times. The most annoying was the ipod integration. I found that my eyes were off the road for too long due to the delay in the touch screens response. Scrolling through playlist is even more annoying. The unit will list about six songs per screen, when you advance to the next six it automatically selects and starts playing song one of the next six. All of this causes more delays. And music is a part of our driving experience nowadays.

Performance – The 3.5 V6 engine powers this massive vehicle with ease. I found it rather easy, not only to keep up with smaller cars but to pass them. We drove the vehicle to PA for the weekend and found that we averaged around 19.5 MPG that’s pretty good for a fully loaded van of this size. I was most pleased with the suspension. Even thought it doesn’t ride like a car (it’s far too big for that), it doesn’t ride like a Truck either. The suspension made even the bumpy roads of PA feel rather smooth. And that’s what I want in a people hauler. There is just too much drinking and snacking going on to deal with a sport suspension of any type. Toyota’s 3.5 as well as the 2.7 i4 are both well tested engines that for the most part will go for a long time requiring minimal maintenance.

I would highly recommend the Toyota Sienna for those in the market for a minivan. It was designed with family in mind and that reflected in the comfort and convenience found from every seat in the van. It’s also well built, comfortable, roomy, and great on gas and, if I may, has a little “swag”. The Toyota Sienna is worth a serious look.

“Making of” the GranCabrio Fendi

After an almost 9 month break, Maser news isnt a bad post to put us back on the boards. Most of you don’t know that Maserati is one of our favorite car companies at Up Shift. The only experience better than watching and hearing a vehicle like this is driving it. The only thing that can one up driving a supercar is watching the skilled craftsmanship that goes into your priceless possession. So get ready to be amazed at the behind the scenes work that goes into creating one of the worlds highest quality rides.

BMW introduces the M3 CRT

P90079403 BMW is set to release yet another special edition M3, this time with a unique name and unique features. The BMW M3 CRT (short for Carbon Racing Technology) uses carbon fiber elements to shave some pounds off the M3 as well as stylize the new sedan. The 4.4 liter 450HP M3 will be 154lb lighter than its stock counterpart pushing the vehicle to 62 MPH in 4.4 seconds flat. The M3 CRT will use carbon fiber trimmings from the BMW i3 and i8 plant and repurpose those for use in a CFRP mat which is Carbon fiber layers wrapped around a “honeycomb” structure providing immense strength with low weight gain.  

 This CFRP process is used on various aspects of the vehicle including the seats, Hood, front splitter and rear spoiler. The Special edition M3 will be hard to come by as it is limited in production to only 67 units and will retail at $185,000.

2012 BMW M5 Leaked Photos

2012_bmw_m5_21  The internet is ablaze with the leaking of some photos of the 2012 BMW M5 ahead of its official release this September at the 2011 Frankfurt Auto Show. The new M5 is going to pack a punch with a twin-turbo 4.4-liter V-8 pumping out 552 horsepower and 510 pound-feet of torque all the while only taking 4.4 seconds to accelerate from 0-60. The 2012 M5 is slated for the dual clutch transmission even though Americans can expect a six-speed version to drop as well. We will have a full list of details closer to its official unveiling in Germany this fall, until then enjoy the pictures:

Source: AutoGuide.com


Mugen Supercharged CR-Z… this time WITH VIDEO

Almost a month ago details surfaced regarding Mugen’s newest project the Supercharged CR-Z. We reported on its 1.5 Liter hybrid motor pushing 197 HP and 181 lb tq along with the news that there would be 110lbs dropped off the stock CR-Z. We were mildly impressed and numbers are nice and all, but we didnt have any video of the Mugen CR-Z in action. Thanks to Honda UK’s Youtube page thats all about to change, check the video out below:

911 GT3RS 4.0 Video Review from AutoExpress

The good folks over at AutoExpress got a chance to get there hands on one of the last generation of the 997 Supercars, the Porsche 911 GT3RS 4.0. With only 600 being built this rare variant is setup with the largest engine ever put into the 911, the 4 liter flat six-cylinder engine. This engine configuration is slated to push the GT3 RS from 0-60 in a blistering 3.8 seconds. For the full review check out the article from AutoExpress Here. In the meantime check out the video review from AutoExpress below:

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2011 Kia Sportage First Drive

 There is a weird and mostly unexpected phenomenon that occurs at times. When I got the word that I would be receiving the 2011 Kia Sportage EX for review I couldn’t recall in my mind ever seeing the mid-level SUV on the road in person. As I stepped outside the restaurant that I was in, I just happened to see a silver Sportage passing through the intersection. A few days later I spotted a bright Red Sportage EX driving down I270. It seems that only when your attention is turned to it that you can see just how many are out there on the road. After my run in experiences with the Sportage and seeing its striking styling I was very excited to finally get my hands on one. Ever since Blake Griffins eye opening dunk over the Optima in the 2011 NBA Dunk contest, Kia’s market exposure has shot through the roof, and I was anxious to see how the Sportage measured up.

The 2011 Kia Sportage is one good looking Crossover

Kia’s implementation of its Audi inspired LED’s

The exterior of the Sportage is very attractive, especially compared to previous models . The sleek body lines and slender headlights give the vehicle a very modern look. It seems to me that the new “in” thing to do in the automotive industry is to have LED’s in your headlights and I tell you what, Kia hit the nail on the head with their incorporation of that feature. When riding through the parking lot at near dusk I had someone approach me and ask if I were driving an Audi SUV, I would definitely take that as a compliment. The model I had the task of reviewing came in Kia’s “Signal Red” a very bright color but it looked great along with the 18” alloy wheels it came on. As is stands I feel the Kia Sportage is one of the better looking crossover SUV’s on the market today as Kia’s designers have incorporated some of the more up to date features and trends found in higher end cars in the industry.

The Panaramic Sunroof really opens up the interior

Clean easy to navigate interior

Chronometer style gauges

As we focus on the interior of the Sportage you can automatically tell it’s another one of the high points of the vehicle. Our EX test model came fully loaded with ebony leather as well as dual climate controls, Navigation, Push button start and backup camera/ warning system. One of my personal favorite optional features on our Kia Sportage was the panoramic sunroof. Once you enter the vehicle you cannot help but to look up and marvel at the wide open windows that span the entire length of the vehicle allowing in tons of natural light. Another noted feature of the interior was the leg room. I had a good friend of mine check out the car to see if he would be able to find a comfortable setting. Within a few min of adjustments he was able to find the appropriate settings for his comfort in the driver’s seat and still have enough leg room behind him, not bad for someone who stands 6’ 5”. From the modern easy to read chronometer style gauges to the USB/iPod inputs and even the smart key with push button start, the 2011 Sportage was easy to love. The interior styling was one that wasn’t overly done nor was it a cheap reiteration of higher end interiors, but instead it was a refreshing twist of its own identity.

Kia’s 176HP motor in the EX Model

Out of all the high points in the Sportage I can’t say that I was at all impressed with what the crossover SUV had on the performance side of things. The EX model comes standard with a 4cyl 176HP engine with 168Lbs tq but on a vehicle that weighs in at over 3100lbs power isn’t exactly a strong point. On the few occasions I needed to apply heavy throttle, the Sportage seemed to hesitate to downshift. When the vehicle did finally respond and down shifted the throttle output was a bit underwhelming. In my week with the Sportage I noted that I was just about on par with Kia’s MPG estimates with about 19MPG city and 25 Highway which sort of offsets my initial concerns on performance. If performance is still a feature that is really important to your purchase I would suggest looking into the Sportage SX model which comes with a turbocharged 269hp engine forking out 269lbs tq. That should be enough beef to satisfy any worry of performance.

Road noise and ride quality were also a negative notation as the cabin and ride quality wasn’t as quiet and smooth as we expected it to be. These various concerns are mostly attributed to the type of tires on the 18” wheels installed on our test model . A day or so after receiving the Sportage we had a few sweeping thunderstorms roll through the DC Metro area overnight. The storms caused some serious wet road conditions and from the few experiences I had from having to go out in the rain, proved quite impressive. From the first corner taken on the wet roads in the Sportage the AWD system held tight and the suspension, even though it’s a bit stiff, still felt comfortable enough for me to make confident turns in the rain. The handling was indeed a plus as it was very responsive on both wet and dry conditions.

The Sportage EX model that we tested retailed at about $30,000 due to the various upgrades and optional features installed. In my personal opinion even though the vehicle was fully loaded it still felt as if the Sportage’s price tag was a bit weighty considering other crossover choices at that price. Overall the 2011 Kia Sportage is a solid outing for the Korean car company. I believe when looking for a new crossover SUV you would have to give the 2011 Sportage a fair shake. Even though the performance output is a bit disappointing the attractive styling, comfortable interior coupled with Kia’s outstanding 10 year 100,000 mile warranty makes this a must see for any looking to make a purchase in the near future.

McLaren Launches Philadelphia Store With Private Reception For The MP4-12C

 McLaren Automotive is preparing to open up its newest dealership in Philadelphia later this summer. To help spur on the excitement they held a private unveiling of their latest masterpiece the MP4-12C and we had the privilege to be there for this grand event. The MP4-12C is the first production car built and designed solely by McLaren since their first production vehicle the McLaren F1 (which stopped production in 1998). Considering that the F1 was the fastest production car in the world for a matter of years the MP4-12C has some pretty big shoes to fill.

 McLarens latest supercar is built on a Carbon fiber Monocell with aluminum frame and powered by a mid-mounted 3.8 liter V8 twin turbo engine. This setup is rated to push out an impressive 592bhp and 443lb-ft of torque while going from 0-60 in less than 4 seconds with a max top speed of over 200mph. This power is put to the ground by a 7-speed Seamless Shift Gearbox transmission. Another impressive feature included in the MP4-12C is the functional “Air Brake” system that raises the rear wing on heavy braking from high speeds to assist with added down force to the rear tires. The selling price in the US market for the MP4-12C is starting at $229,000.

 The preview of the 12C was held at the beautiful Kimmel Center in downtown Philadelphia with a low lit mood light setting. The floor had 2 displays of the vehicle, one of which was of the XP13 rolling chassis. This display showed the Twin turbo V8 and entire carbon fiber MonoCell in its full glory. Seeing just the MonoCell and Aluminum frame in this configuration really gives you a sense of just how light the vehicle really is as it does weigh just under 2900lbs. The crowds attention was then turned to the floor of the main display of the then covered yet fully assembled, and upgraded, MP4-12C.  The unveiling started out with a few quick rousing speeches one of which was from Tony Joseph, McLaren Auto motive’s North American Director and then the curtain was pulled and the cheers came as we all got to feast our eyes on a gorgeous silver MP4-12C fitted with the mid-level lightweight forged wheels, optional carbon fiber rear diffuser, and stealth pack. The interior was also fitted with the optional carbon fiber upgrades as well as the upgraded Iris media system.

MP4-12C Unveiling from Jeris Jones on Vimeo.

Untitled from Jeris Jones on Vimeo.

 The general consensus at the unveiling was good, as mostly everyone was impressed with both the event and the car itself. The Carbon fiber lined engine bay was the star of the show as it drew various commendations when the rear glass window was opened to display the engine. The few concerns I did hear when speaking to a few of the attendees concerned the MP4-12C’s more “classy” styling in comparison to the more aggressive front ends of other makes.  As well as a lack of ease when entering and exiting the car due to the unique styling of the McLaren’s “dihedral” doors although with the proper technique the latter concern could be relieved.

 Overall the event was a rousing success which left us at Up-shift.net very impressed with what McLaren has done with their second market production car. All the goals they set out to deliver for this vehicle they seem to have reached. The Philadelphia dealership will join Tampa Bay, Toronto, Greenwich and Miami as an east coast dealer of the MP4-12C supercar. The Philly dealership is slated to open its doors in mid to late August. We look forward to the time when we are actually able to take the MP4-12C out for a spin and actually put all of these numbers to work and see what this supercar is really capable of.

Mugen Supercharged Honda CR-Z Revealed

Mugen CR-Z

The first images of Mugen’s highly anticipated CR-Z model have finally be released on the net ahead of its official unveiling at the Goodwood festival of Speed in July. Even though there are no official numbers as of yet the Mugen CR-Z is rumored to boost the 1.5 Liter hybrid motor to 197 HP and 181 lb tq along with 110lbs saved off from its stock counterpart.

 This is all thats available as of now but it should be enough to wet your appetite until its officially shown and we actually have some hard figures to mull over. via autoblog.com

CR-Z rear

CR-Z interior

Jaguar XJS and Tom Walkinshaw take you thru racing puberty with one lap of Bathurst

Tom Walkinshaw is at the wheel of the JRA Jaguar from 1985 and absolutly wears out the track for this pole quaifying lap.  Getting the car a little loose on almost every corner and even taking it on two wheels for one of them.  I have seen alot of driving skill displayed in my day but this is one of my top 5 of all time.