DECEMBER 2011
Khaas Baat : A Publication for Indian Americans in Florida
Motoring

LEXUS FLAGSHIP LS460 WILL PAMPER YOU

Test-drive reviews by NITISH S. RELE, motoringtampabay@gmail.com

A carryover from 2010, the LS460 preserves a 4.6-liter V-8 engine cranking out 380 horsepower at 6400 rpm and 367 pounds-feet of torque at 4100 rpm. The Lexus flagship is mated to a smooth and quick-to-respond 8-speed automatic transmission.

Boosting the efficiency of the potent rear-wheel-drive sedan is a dual fuel-injection system. And the car is fast, sprinting from 0 to 60 mph in a remarkable 5.4 seconds. New for 2011 is the Smart Stop technology, which automatically reduces power to engine when the brake and gas pedals are applied simultaneously.

A chrome-slathered low grille is surrounded by steering-linked adaptive xenon headlights. Also evident are LED brake and tail lamps, integrated chrome exhausts and fog lights, a one-piece chrome window surround and 18-inch wheels with 10 spokes.

But it is the opulent cabin, packed with modern high-tech luxury items, that wins hands down. Though robust, the four-spoke power tilt/telescopic leather steering wheel can manage a 35.4 feet turning circle. Wood is sprinkled liberally on the door panels, center console, steering wheel, dash and shifter knob. Rear passengers are in for a treat with plentiful headroom and luxury-liner legroom not just for kids but also six-footers. An Eco Drive indicator will be an instant hit with energy-conscious owners. Standard amenities include dual-zone automatic climate control, 16-way power driver and 12-way front-passenger seats, Lexus 10-speaker audio system, rearview camera, push-button keyless engine stop/start and power tilt-and-slide moon roof.

Dual front and side airbags, side curtain airbag, front knee airbags, four-wheel antilock brakes, Vehicle Stability Assist and traction control, antiskid system, front seat active-head restraints, three-point seatbelts and headrests for all rear passengers, front/rear crumple zones, side impact door beams, daytime running lights and tire pressure monitoring system are standard safety features.

As Consumer Reports points out, this isn’t a driver’s car. But if you have the money, loads of it, and like to be coddled, the LS460 with an outstanding blend of power and sophistication should be your daily ride.

LS460
Tires: 235/50R18
Wheelbase: 116.9 inches
Length: 199.2 inches
Weight: 4,350 pounds
Suspension: 4-wheel independent multilink
Steering: electric rack-and-pinion power
Fuel capacity: 22.2 gallons
City: 16 mpg
Highway: 24 mpg
Base price: $65,380
Web site: www.lexus.com


JEEP COMPASS IS INEXPENSIVE, USEFUL

THE RIDE: Four-door, five-passenger 2011 Jeep Compass Limited 4X2 compact SUV.

DOWN THE ROAD: Sharing its design with the Jeep Patriot and Dodge Caliber, the Compass delivers an acceptable performance with decent handling and good overall balance.

TECH & PERFORMANCE: Power is routed through a 2.4-liter inline-4 cylinder engine, which puts out 172 hp @ 6000 rpm and 165 pounds-feet of torque @ 4400 rpm. A Continuous Variable Transmission results in a noisy but responsive drivetrain. Keeping the Jeep stable enough to soak obstacles is a four-wheel independent suspension of front MacPherson strut and multilink rear system. The power rack-and-pinion steering is quick, precise and linear.

LOOK & FEEL: Restyled for 2011, the Compass acquires a fresh bulging hood, front fenders, front and rear fascia, grille, quad-reflector headlights and LED tail lamps, body-color spoiler and a chrome exhaust tip. The upgraded cabin sports a straightforward yet stylish dashboard and center console. Unlike in the past, interior fit and finish are first-rate. The chromed and LED-lit instrumental panel of four gauges looks classy. Standard amenities include a six-way power driver seat, 60/40 fold-flat rear seat, keyless entry, tilt steering column and auto a/c.

SAFETY FIRST: Dual front and side airbags, side curtain airbag, four-wheel antilock brakes with brake assist, electronic stability and traction control, front seat active head restraints and pretensioners, three-point seatbelts, remote keyless entry and tire pressure monitoring system are standard.

OUT THE DOOR: $24,295, plus tax, tag, delivery and destination charges.

BY THE NUMBERS: Tires, P215/55R18 all season; wheelbase, 103.7 inches; length, 173.4 inches; weight, 3,160 pounds; city, 21 mpg; highway, 27 mpg; fuel capacity, 13.6 gallons; Web site, www.jeep.com

WHY DIG IT: Compass lovers, Jeep will be phasing out this compact SUV after 2012 to replace with a Fiat-based model. Despite poor outward visibility and a noisy power train, this Grand Cherokee-wannabe is affordable, practical and roomy.


LEXUS CT 200h IS A GAS SIPPER

43.5 mpg. That was our average during a week of city/highway driving behind the CT 200h, Lexus’ entry-level hybrid. Though this four-door, five-passenger hatchback shares an almost identical power train with the gas/electric Prius, it is packed with several luxury features. And no doubt, it’s more pleasant looking than its Toyota cousin!

Under the hood is a 1.8-liter 4-cylinder engine that develops just 98 hp @ 5200 rpm. But the battery-powered electric motor ups the total to 134 hp. It is mated to an average 1-speed Continuous Variable Transmission. But drivers have the flexibility to pick the following modes: normal, eco, sport and EV. In the latter, the car can coast for a mile at 28 mph on solely electric power. During deceleration and braking, the vehicle uses regenerative braking to apply much of the wasted energy toward recharging the hybrid battery. Fuel is saved by using the electric motor at low-to-mid-speed acceleration, where a gas engine is much less efficient. And keeping check on driving habits is a hybrid and eco-drive monitor systems.

The well-lit and airy cabin offers NuLuxe seats, which though not made of leather, are roomy and comfy. A mouse-like, easy-to-use Remote Touch enables the driver to toggle navigation, climate, audio and phone controls. Also standard are three-spoke tilt/telescopic steering column, auto dual-zone climate control, driver information center, 10-way power driver’s seat and a split-folding rear seat.

Dual front and side airbags, side curtain airbag, front knee airbag, four-wheel antilock brakes, Vehicle Stability Control and traction control, front/rear crumple zones, front seatbelt pretensioners, tire pressure monitoring system and daytime running lights are some of the safety features.

Imagine going at least 500 miles on a tank. That’s the CT 200h for you in these days of rising gasoline prices. It delivers a smooth, yielding ride and is ready to lunge forward with eagerness if needed. The Lexus brand name can only help seal the deal.

CT 200h PREMIUM
Tires: 215/45R17
Wheelbase: 102.4 inches
Length: 170.1 inches
Suspension: MacPherson strut front; fully independent double wishbone rear
Steering: Electric Power Steering
Weight: 3,130 pounds
Fuel capacity: 11.9 gallons
City: 43 mpg
Highway: 40 mpg
Base price: $30,900
Web site: www.lexus.com

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