Bad Hair Days, Be Gone: Buick Verano Headrests Accommodate Ponytails

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The Buick Verano is making headlines this week with its new “no more bad hair days” campaign.  On Tuesday, Buick announced that the 2012 Verano is designed for the utmost comfort – especially for people with ponytails or large hair dos.

Buick spent 1,000 hours perfecting the interior comfort of the Verano.  From tall men to short women, all types of people were invited to sit down and test out the seats to ensure comfort for everyone.  One of those testers had a ponytail, prompting the designers to address the issue of drivers who can’t comfortably use the headrest when they’re wearing their hair up.

Although the media has been focusing in on the improved headrest for ponytails, perhaps because it seems like a unique feature for the auto company to mention at all, the Verano’s interior received other upgrades as well.  The seating is designed to prevent hot spots on long road trips, the new headrest is squishy and plush, and the seats use French-stitched leather.

The Verano now sports the same premium leather, support foam, and padding as the LaCrosse.  Seat bolsters provide support and comfort.  The door armrest is now padded, the center console armrest can be adjusted and noise-reducing technology ensures a quiet ride.  Everything is designed to increase comfort and satisfaction.

While the auto industry as a whole seems skeptical of this advertising tactic, the truth is that for a woman wearing a ponytail, headrests can be uncomfortable.  They push your head forward, forcing you to crane your neck.  However, is it enough of a problem to be a major selling point for women?  We’ll have to find out later this fall, when the Verano goes on sale.  What do you think?  Would more comfortable headrests attract you as a customer?

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2012 Honda Insight Gets Better Gas Mileage

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Honda has announced the starting price for the 2012 Honda Insight: $19,120.  The price includes a $770 destination and handling fee.

The 2012 model has only undergone a few updates to refresh it for next year.  Such updates include redesigned 15-inch wheels, and a lower front fascia to make it more aerodynamic.  With its new aerodynamic design, the hybrid hatchback gets a better fuel economy, with 41 mpg in the city, 44 mpg on the highway, and 42 mpg combined, giving it the highest EPA fuel economy rating for new vehicles under $20,000.

Honda also redesigned the interior, making it more comfortable for passengers.  Better sound deadening materials give it improved noise insulation, making for a quiet ride.  Backseat passengers can enjoy increased legroom and headroom.  The base model also includes automatic climate control and power windows.  On the outside, a thinner spoiler and a more compact rear-wiper motor give the driver better visibility.

The 2012 Honda Insight comes in three version: base, LX, and EX.  For the Insight LX, which starts at $20,895, drivers can expect better seat fabric, a four-speaker sound system, USB audio interface, security system, map lights, steering wheel audio controls, and more.  For the Insight EX, which starts at $22,585, the benefits increase even more, with automatic headlights, synthetic leather and fabric for seats, a six-speaker sound system, a Bluetooth hands free phone system, and a navigation option that includes a rearview camera.

The Honda Insight was one of the first hybrid electric vehicles to come to the US in 1999.  The first generation of the Insight ran from 2000 to 2006 and used a subcompact hatchback design that only fit two people.  In 2009, Honda released the second generation Insight, this time using an all-new 5-passenger, 5-door platform.

Overall, the new Insight is quieter and more efficient and features a nicer interior, providing drivers with a more comfortable ride.

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GM To Release Commercial Bi-Fuel Pickup in 2012

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GM will be selling a commercial compressed natural gas pick up truck in the fourth quarter of 2012.  The full-size pick up trucks will be bi-fuel, meaning they will be able to run on both compressed natural gas and gasoline.  No pricing information has been announced yet.

While the company has not announced which models will come with bi-fuel compatibilities, speculations suggest it could be the Chevrolet Silverado and the GMC Sierra.  GM already produces CNG versions of the Chevrolet Express and GMC Savana cargo vans, which use a 6.0L V8 engine.  However, these vans are not bi-fuel compatible.

Currently, there are less than 1,000 CNG stations in the United States, but the CNG vans can travel 300 miles between fill ups and pumps can be installed at home.  With the limited amount of CNG stations, the advantage of bi-fuel capability is clear: drivers will be able to travel in areas that don’t yet have CNG stations.  They will also have the ability to switch between CNG and regular gasoline at the press of a button.

Despite the rarity of CNG cars – only one manufacturer, Honda, produces a CNG vehicle for consumers – studies suggest that CNG vehicles will become much more popular and sales will take off.  By 2016, sales are expected to quadruple to 33,000 units per year.

As an alternative fuel source, compressed natural gas certainly looks good on paper.  On average, it costs less than $2.00 nationwide for the equivalent of a gallon of gasoline, with prices as low as $.78 in Oklahoma.  It’s clean burning and produced domestically.  So when we compare it with gasoline, it has a better price, is better for the environment, and is produced in the United States.  How successful will it be in the market?  We’ll just have to wait and see.


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Scion Prices 2012 xB RS 9.0 and xD RS 4.0

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Scion has announced the started price for its two limited edition special Scions, the 2012 xB RS 9.0 and xD RS 4.0.  The cars were introduced at the end of September, and will be hitting dealer showrooms this month.  Both models come with a $730 destination charge.

2012 Scion xB RS 9.0

The base of the xB RS 9.0 will start at $18,840 and come with a five-speed manual transmission.  For the uplevel four-speed automatic version, the starting price will be $19,790.  It wears an individually numbered badge, and only 1,500 units will be built

The xB RS 9.0 will turn heads with its distinctive Hot Lava exterior paint and honeycomb patterned lower grille featuring the word Scion.  The color theme is carried into the interior with Hot Lava color-tuned highlights, and passengers can relax in the perforated synthetic suede interior.  The front and rear badges will illuminate when the driver users the remote key to lock or unlock the vehicle.


2012 Scion xD RS 4.0

Starting at $16,980, the base model of xD RS 4.0 has a five-speed manual transmission.  The four-speed automatic xD RS 4.0 will start at #17,780.  Only 800 units will be produced, and like the xB RS 4.0, all will come with individually numbered badge.

If the Hot Lava paint on the xB RS 9.0 is too much for you, cool down with the Blizzard pearl exterior of the xD RS 4.0.  Similar colored paint carries the theme into the cabin with color-turned trim pieces on the console, steering wheel and door panels, and the seats use a patterned, soft-touch material with white stitching.

Both models come with a Pioneer audio system, Bluetooth Hands-free, Bluetooth streaming audio and HD Radio.

Last week, Scion aired a distinct commercial campaign featuring the head of the Greek mythological pantheon: Zeus.  Going in a different direction that the traditional “dark/urban feel” of Scion advertising, the commercial marks Scions attempt at light-hearted humor.



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BMW Announces March 2012 Release for Active5 Hybrid

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BMW has announced the roll out date for the Active5 Hybrid: March 2012.  First revealed at the Geneva Auto Show in 2010, the BMW Active5 Hybrid is based on the 5-series and uses the chassis of the BMW 535i.

As a hybrid, the Active5 uses both a 3-liter TwinPower Turbo six-cylinder in-line engine and a 40-kilowatt electric motor.  Together they work to produce a total of 340 hp and allow the vehicle to accelerate from 0 to 60 in 5.7 seconds.  The Active5 has an 8-speed automatic transmission and is expected to get 40 to 44 mpg, although no specific announcement has been made for the American version.

The Active5, which is BMW’s third hybrid, also includes automatic stop-start technology.  When the vehicle is stopped, it turns off the engine, and turns it back on once the vehicle starts moving again.  The car’s lithium ion battery also charges while the car is coasting or braking.

To conserve energy, the Active5 uses satellite navigation, which scans the road ahead.  It then takes that information and adjusts its energy usage accordingly.  For example, if the car will be climbing uphill, the system conserves battery power so it can kick in to help the engine once the car reaches the incline.  The car can also use only electric power to drive 2.4 miles at a top speed of 37 mph.


While the car has all the features of a hybrid vehicle, it still retains the look of luxury that BMW drivers have come to expect.  It also includes a four-zone climate control system.

The pricing hasn’t been announced yet for the Active5’s US roll out; however, in Europe it will start at 62,900 euro.  Be on the look out for this new hybrid in March 2012.


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