Digital Drive Car of the Year Honorable Mention

first_imgLike the Buick LaCrosse, the Ford Taurus (review) represents exceptional value in a full-size car. Ford offers more technology features, Buick has a nicer design, and they’re tied on borderline-too-much-chrome. Taurus technology includes adaptive cruise control, blind spot warning, and massaging seats. Where the competing Buick LaCrosse has OnStar telematics with an integrated cellphone and a $200 yearly fee (after a free first year), Ford uses Sync and free 911 Assist to call for help via your cellphone. Sync gives you access to rudimentary free navigation via you cellphone if you don’t buy the integrated nav system. The Taurus does not have MyFord Touch, the touchscreen enhancement to Sync that, for a bit more of a learning curve, provides a lot more information on the center stack screen and in two 4-inch screens on either side of the speedometer. The Taurus is the successor to the Ford 500 that was a bit roomier inside than this Taurus but otherwise undistinguished. Volkswagen Tourag Gas, Diesel, Hybrid You’d think there are enough $50,000 SUV models already to go around. Not so. With the new, 2011 Volkswagen Tourag (review), VW has gone from one of the least desirable (first generation) to most desirable upscale SUVs, especially with three engine offerings: gasoline ($45,270 including freight), diesel ($48,770, or hybrid ($61,385). If the prices seem high for VW, they all come standard with Bluetooth, iPod adapter, navigation, rear camera, heated seats, rear camera, three 12-volt sockets, a 115-volt AC outlet, and steerable xenon headlamps. These are features that typically come as a la carte or packaged options in competing vehicles. For highway drivers, the 225-hp turbo diesel may be the way to go because of its superior mileage for an all-wheel drive SUV, 19 mpg city and 28 mpg highway vs. 16 / 23 for the 280-hp V6. The hybrid seems to be an outlier on mileage at 20 city, 24 highway, but it’s also the most powerful, with 380 hp from a supercharged V6 engine plus an electric motor. All are coupled to an eight-speed automatic transmission. The previous VW Tourag excelled at off-roading, which most customers didn’t do and wound up not liking the stiff ride. This time around VW dialed back the harsh ride for the mainstream Tourag but offers, in some markets, a serious off-road Tourag.2010 Digital Drive Top Cars Chevrolet Volt – Car of the Year Audi A8BMW 5 Series & BMW 7 SeriesBuick LaCrosseFord EdgeHonda OdysseyHyundai ElantraHyundai SonataNissan LeafVolkswagen GolfDigital Drive 2010 Honorable MentionDigital Drive Technology of the Year: MyFord Touch These cars and SUVs all have something to offer that puts them and their technology ahead of the pack: Acura TL, Acura MDX, Ford Fusion Hybrid, Ford Taurus, and Volkswagen Tourag. Acura TL Usually a piece of metal on top of a structure is the lightning rod. In Acura’s case, that job is performed by the overbearing shield on the grille of the current Acura line that attracts lightning bolts of mostly negative comments. No matter: The Acura TL is one of the most complete sport sedans offered and for about $10,000 less than a comparable German sports sedan.  The all-wheel-drive version includes torque vectoring, called Super Handling All-Wheel Drive, to help stabilize the TL on slippery, curving  roads. The TL is fun to drive, roomy for passengers, and simple to buy. Choose front drive (280-hp engine, $36,165) or all-wheel-drive (305 hp, $39,715), then decide if you want the Technology Package with brings hard-drive navigation with space left over for MP3 files, voice recognition, real time traffic, GPS-linked solar sensing climate control, keyless go, rear camera, and an upgraded music system. Pick an exterior color, choose manual or automatic for the all-wheel-drive TL, sign on the dotted line, and drive away. The other things you’d want, Acura includes: Bluetooth, USB jack, satellite radio, leather seats. The TL was our Digital Drive Car of the Year two years ago, in 2008 and it’s still a leader.Acura MDX You’ll like the Acura MDX SUV (review) for the same reasons as the Acura TL: lots of standard features, easy-to-configure options packages, Acura fit and finish, and high resale value. Unlike the TL, it can ford streams two feet deep. Like the TL, it has that big grille shield. The MDX offers adaptive cruise control, blind spot detection, electronic damping (shock absorbers), steerable xenon headlamps, cooled and heated front seats, and standard Super Handling All-Wheel-Drive, Acura’s term for torque vectoring, which provides extra power to the outside rear wheel to help steer you through slippery patches. The rear entertainment system accepts sources from the center stack (including the DVD player), included satellite radio, iPod, or AV jacks. The blind spot detection warning lamp is inside the car rather than on the mirror; that makes it a bit easier to read. Although it has a center stack control wheel like BMW’s iDrive, there are also a lot of buttons, and the MDX dashboard beeped and booped more than a polite car should. But the bottom line is positive: By not going overboard on options, an Acura MDX tops out at about $55,000, and comparably equipped, it’s $5,000-$10,000 less than some high end competitors.Ford Fusion Hybrid Exciting it’s not. Economical it is. The Ford Fusion Hybrid (review) builds on a well-engineered hybrid drivetrain and the Ford Sync music-and-Bluetooth integration to provide solid transportation. There’s a significant bump in mileage from the gasoline-engine Ford Fusion: 41 mpg city, 36 mpg highway for the hybrid vs. 18-33 mpg city (depending on engine), 26-33 mpg highway for the gas engine Fusion. Since it’s a Ford, the Fusion has the Sync Bluetooth / music adapter system. It does not offer MyFord Touch although it does have the instrument panel color LCD displays, called a SmartGauge Cluster here, that are part of MyFord Touch. The Fusion offers blind spot detection, a useful option that is still uncommon on midsize cars. Ford Taurus last_img

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