LA Splash Valentines Vehicles Guide

Lovin' that Corvette feeling

Chevrolet Corvette Convertible

"Best time I had in a week-long test of the Corvette was giving its wheel-mounted paddle gearshifts a workout on freeway and coastal roads, powering its pedigreed muscle with my right foot as close to the floor as physics and the speed limit allow.

And you've gotta be pretty nifty with those shifters to not get caught in the wrong gear, the car is so quick off the mark. You can top out at 30 mph after a blistering 1.8 seconds with the foot flat on the floor and your head pushed back in the headrest as the tachometer redlines at 7,000rpm.

White knuckles still gripping, you hit 40mph just over a half second later, and you've pretty much just changed from 1st to 2nd."

Yellow mellows the soul

Chevrolet Cobalt SS

'Laker-yellow cars are always a slight disappointment when they land outside your door for a week's test: when you  drive them, you can  never be sure whether onlookers are straining to see its fine lines or trying to see which schlub bought a day-glo paint job to compensate for something.

Then again,  they also make perfect fan fare for rocking up to the Staples Center to watch the Lakers play Sunday against the Spurs the wife's purple Marc  Jacobs  shoes complemented the gold of the Lakers jerseys as well as   the  yellow of the phenomenal Chevy Cobalt SS. '

Get a room with a Vue

Saturn Vue

'The interior is, actually, rather spiffy for a budget car; it's all leather inside and chrome outside with options including XM satellite radio and plush floormats and 16-inch rims, all very nice for an entry-level price of under $23,000, with the extras bringing it up by a couple of thousand or so.  It also comes with a year's subscription to GM's Onstar security system.'

Top up or top down

Pontiac G6 Convertible

'Perhaps the most surprising thing I found out about the G6 was its appeal to women drivers.  The standard G6 model frequently appears at the top of lists of the most desirable cars for women, so it is my guess that the convertible model will prove even more so.'

Keep the revs going higher

Acura TSX

'Aside from the masterful way it handles on LA's tough road conditions, you get the picture a bit more when you consider what Honda's premium  marque is up against, ie, the Germans.  And the company's fellow country folk at Lexus.  It's hard, gerd-dam hard in that company, but I believe  Acura is more than up for any speed-bump its competitors, and the road ahead, can lay in its path.
Undeterred by a road surface on which you could fry an egg   indeed a full English breakfast the Acura proved red-hot in cornering.'

Puppy love with a big dawg

Cadillac Escalade ESV

'In terms of bite, the big-block 6.2 liter snaps this beast from zero to a mile a minute in under seven seconds, with the  more than 400 horses under the hood also contributing to low-down acceleration.  That's just about as quick as you get, with only the Germans managing to wring more out of their Cayenne (though you have to question its looks).
'It's still a bad boy movie-star HiD-headlights hip-hop image: the long-wheelbase version  into which I saw rapper Busta Rhymes high-stepping,  cheeseburger in mouth, after leaving that roadside caboose/restaurant in West Hollywood.  Maybe he was attracted by the Bose surround sounds, though I very much doubt he had the factory spec only (which is more than adequate).'

Hemi's ten ways to your heart

Chrysler 300C Hemi

'Speed is the most impressive feature, both off the mark and accelerating at speed. Figures of 6.3 seconds 0-60mph and  track-tested (though not by me) quarter-mile of 14.3 seconds are extremely quick; if you want any quicker then step up to the SRT8, which goes 0-60mph at the same pace as its stablemate Dodge Charter R/T, at 5.1 seconds.

Its looks sell themselves, evidently: you will seen many, many of the more than 11,000 sold annually across the US, with European sales topping 2000 a year, both beyond the wildest imaginings of the team that commissioned Canadian designer Ralph Gilles to give some pep to the then outdated 300 range, and almost by accident stumbled upon a halo car.'

Perfect for mountain idyll

Jeep Wrangler Rubicon

'If you need to go to the mountains, or occasionally just need to traverse little ones, the Rubicon's probably as suited a car as you'll get.  It's also perfectly suited for the beach or rolling farmland.  It's got good enough kick to it courtesy of its 4-liter PowerTech engine for downlow manuevers with a ratio of 4:1 on its RockTrac four-wheel-drive system (just when did sticking names together and capitalizing the joining letter become popular? When did the void go out of style?) bolstered by Quadra-Coil suspension and four-wheel disc brakes.'



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