Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Car and Driver's Editor for the Day Event at Indianapolis Motor Speedway

On October 29th I received an email from Car and Driver/Road & Track to join them at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on November 11th to review and drive the 5 most competetive mid size sedans in the World. The result was mind blowing and the event was amazing. I asked my colleague and dear friend Alex Mason of Craig and Landreth Cars to join me. Below are a few file photos of the 5 cars tested, and I will also continue to add to this story throughout the week, and I will also post video as well.

2012 Ford Fusion
2013 Nissan Altima
2013 Toyota Camry
2012 Honda Accord
2013 Hyundai Sonata

2013 Ford Fusion:
Going into this event I had my own preconceived notions. First things first, I had never seen the 2013 Fusion in person until it pulled up right in front of us at Indy. The Accord is my personal favorite, because I have owned several Hondas and several Accords over the years. The Camry's styling turned me away with the redesign, and the textures. The Sonata was one of my favorite designs at it's time of release, and the Altima, I never paid even a single bit of attention too. Most if not all of of those things changed a little bit in Indy after a few laps.

The Fusion redesign is awesome. From it's Aston Martin inspired front fascia to it's Jaguar inspired rear tail lights the car is almost breathtaking at first glance. Inside she is appointed with luxurious ammenities, and the cabin was very roomy. The textures were clean and soft to the touch, and the technology was more than impressive. I was super impressed. On the track the car was very nice, but far from a favorite. The people at Ford did a heck of a job on this car, and they really raised the mark for the American car manufacturers. The Fusion did have drastically larger tires than any of the other acrs competeing, and the car handled very nicely. The Fusion was the first car we drove, so I guess I still had a few jitters, but the car was very, very nice. 4 out of 5 stars from me. On and off the track.

2013 Nissan Altima:
As a car salesman I guess I have become a tad complacent or jaded by the Altima because we sell so many Altimas every month. However when asked to slow down and actually touch, feel, smell, and drive the car I was thoroughly impressed. The leather and interior appointments were by far the classiest of the group, and Nissan's premium company Infifniti had it's  technology and textures are all over the cabin. The leather was the best by far. Very soft, extremley well stitched, and soft to the touch. The back seat with leather was my favotite interior of the group. The drive was just as nice. The car was extremley responsive and did very well for a 4 cylinder in a variety of different road situations. 4 out of 5 stars from me on and off the track.

2013 Toyota Camry:
The redesign turned me off big time. The interior appointments were near ugly, the steering wheel, was weird, and I honestly didn't know if I could even say anything nice about the Camry before the test drive. That was until after the test drive though. The car performed marvelously in every situation, and handled borderline perfectly. I know that the Camry is one of America's sweethearts, but I just couldn't get over the cheaply stitched leather, and the cloth version was damn near hideous. The plastics were chunky and the textures just felt cheap. All of that being said, those things are all just personal opinions. On the track though, this car is the real deal. In daily driving terms this car is the real deal. The Camry in general is the real deal. Safe, Affordable, Good fuel Economy, good resell value, and awesome road skills. Styling 2.5 stars Track/Road 4.5 out of 5 stars.

2013 Honda Accord:
Call me biased, call me what you will. The Accord is the star of this group as it is every single year. The Accord is matched perfectly all the way around. Class,y yet sporty styling, calm yet inspired driving, great textures, and damn near the perfect car all around. I would suggest the Accord to anyone in the market for a car. They have and do it all. The car outperforms the driver, and it makes the driver better, it helps the driver with smooth transitions, ample power, and phenomenal feel. True road emergency situations were completley avoidable with just the nudge on the steering wheel or even the slightest tap on the brake. This car is perfect in every way but one. The only inconvenienvce is the car does almost too much. It's almost too nice, and too, agile. As crazy as that sounds, the car is almost too smooth and too controlled. The only complaint if any would be that the car is too well behaved and that the top end raises a little too much when flooring the accelerator. Other than that this car is PERFECT! 5 out of 5 stars.

2013 Hyundai Sonata:
By far the most fun of the group. She behaved like a nutty girlfriend. She was loose on the turns, had a great interaction between the driver and the car. Extremley agile, and nimble, Handled the slalom with ease but was by far the most fun and the most exhilerating sedan to drive of the group. This may mean the car is inferior to the others and it's wilder less responsive, etc., but on the track that means more fun! It was a blast to drive. The Sonata had a cool steering wheel, some innovative button styles, and was truly enjoyable to drive. 3.5 out of 5 stars.

In essence, if you ever get invited to a road event, make sure you go. We had access to places at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway that some people will never ever get to see. Below is a video with Alex Mason at the wheel of a 2013 Hyundai Sonata, and there are also links to the Speedway, Car and Driver, Road and Track, and a few fun facts about the Speedway. Thanks again for your time and remember to buckle your seat belts!

YouTube video of Alex Mason 2013 Hyundai Sonata (Indy Speedway retired F-1 course)



Some interesting, fun facts about the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the Indianapolis 500:
  • Churchill Downs, Yankee Stadium, the Rose Bowl, the Roman Colosseum and Vatican City all can fit inside the IMS oval, which covers 253 acres.
  • The Indianapolis Motor Speedway is the world’s largest spectator sporting facility, with more than 250,000 permanent seats. If the seat boards from the grandstands at IMS were laid end-to-end, they would stretch 99.5 miles.
  • The first event at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway was a helium gas-filled balloon competition on Saturday, June 5, 1909, more than two months before the oval was completed.
IMS Grounds Information
  • IMS total acreage: 1,025 (includes track, Brickyard Crossing Golf Course, all parking lots)
  • IMS infield: 253 acres; Parking acreage: 750 acres
  • 26 bridges, six tunnels
  • 17 grandstands with a 220-acre footprint (if the seat boards were laid end-to-end, they would stretch 99.5 miles)

Indianapolis 500 Food & Beverage Information (May 2009)
  • Coca-Cola products: More than 16,000 gallons, which would fill two tanker trucks
  • Miller Lite and other beer products: More than 14,000 gallons
  • Indy Dogs: If laid end-to-end, would circle the 2.5-mile IMS oval more than two times
  • Bratwurst: If laid end-to-end, would circle the 2.5-mile IMS oval more than one time
  • Brickyard Burgers: More than 10,000 pounds, equal to the weight of six IZOD IndyCars
  • Track fries: More than 24,000 pounds, equal to the weight of an elephant
  • Chicken tenders: More than 2,000 pounds, equal to the weight of 13 Borg-Warner Trophies
  • Ketchup: More than 475 gallons, which would fill 10 bathtubs
  • Ice: More than 300,000 pounds

Indianapolis 500 Food & Beverage Information (Race Day 2009)
  • Not-for-profit group and third-party vendor workers on site: More than 1,000
  • IMS concession stands: 61
  • IMS Margarita/Bloody Mary bars: 29
  • Beer/soft drink vendors in grandstands: Approximately 100
  • Ice cream/frozen lemonade locations: 44
  • Pretzel/fresh-squeezed lemonade locations: 35

Indianapolis 500 Television Information (May 2009)
  • Miles of cable run outside of the Broadcast Compound: 42
  • Miles of cable run within the Broadcast Compound: 10
  • Additional staff hired by IMS Productions: 223
  • Worldwide television distribution of the Indianapolis 500 broadcast: 213 countries, with an audience reach of over 292 million households

Indianapolis 500 Retail Information (Race Day 2009)
  • If all the post cards sold in IMS Gift Shops were laid end to end, they would span more than 3 miles
  • The most popular item sold in the Gift Shops was the Indianapolis 500 Official Program
  • The most expensive item in the Gift Shops: A TAG-Heuer watch, $1,450
  • The least expensive item in the Gift Shops: A post card, 33 cents
  • If all T-shirts sold at IMS were stretched end to end, they would reach Terre Haute, Ind.

Miscellaneous Indianapolis 500 Information (May 2009)
  • Firestone tires teams used throughout the month: More than 4,900
  • Total laps officially completed, including all practice days and Race Day: 18,263
  • Total miles officially completed, including all practice days and Race Day: 45,657.5
  • Total laps officially completed in Rookie Orientation Program: 402
  • Total miles officially completed in Rookie Orientation Program: 1,005



Thursday, November 8, 2012

The 2011 Odyssey, Pizza, and two crazy kids

2011 Honda Odyssey EX-L

I'll start by saying I have a 12 year old daughter whom I love so very dearly. I'll add though my 12 year old daughter is a complete maniac, when you add another kid to the mix. She just loves to sing, dance, yell, and have fun when there is another kiddo around. That being said it was Pizza Night, and her favorite pizza joint in New Albany, IN roughly 25 minutes from my house in Louisville, KY. For this little excursion I decided to take a vehicle with a TV/DVD system, so as to possibly calm these two little girls down on the way to the pizza place. That didn't happen and I'll tell you why. I forgot to bring a movie, so luckily there were plenty of ammenities to take my mind off the 2 little girls screaming Katy Perry songs no more than 2 feet behind me. The Odyssey has long been recognized as one of the best selling mini vans in the World. The Odyssey ranks high in reliability, safety, and styling (even if it's minivan), and they never fail to impress the minivan demographic. Tonights Odyssey is a 2011 Honda Odyssey EX-L with leather, TV/DVD, Alloy Wheels, Moonroof, Rear Parking Sensors, Dual Power Doors and a whole lot more. The first thing we had to do when I picked up the girls was put some gas in the tank. I hadn't driven a minivan since I was 16 and my Mom had an Aerostar. So my point is I had no idea how much gas I would need and really how much we were going to use. I decided I would just put $15 in and see how far we could get. If we need more I'll stop again. Once we were gassed up, the girls were amped and we jumped on the expressway. The Odyssey is nimble for a big vehicle, it's quick, and it's extremley smooth. The interior seemed huge, and the girls had plenty of room to in the 2nd row. The sound system was great, the ambient lighting was cool, and the overall driver experience was really cool for a minivan. I was thoroughly suprised. These are not the minivans of the 90's these are technological dream vans at this point. The ammenities were everywhere, and all of them were well lit and easily controlled. The trip across the bridge took a good 25 minutes and by the time we arrived we were all 3 starving. One large cheese pizza and $25 worth of quarters for games later we were stuffed headed back to the Odyssey. As we approached I took the opportunity to blow the girls minds by opening the power van doors with the keyless remote. So as we approached the van the doors calmly slide open and the girls both said the same thing at the same time, "COOL!". Once we were all buckled up and nestled in we headed back home on I-65. Once again these Odysseys are phenomenal on the roads. The ride and the comfort on the expressway is unmatched by any of the vans I've driven in the past few years. We were totally comfortable, at all times. My daughter and I don't have the normal family life. I'm a single dad, and she is my only child. So my point is we would never need a vehicle that big. Howevere for a minute on the drive home I wondered what it would be like to be the guy with 3 or 4 kids and what would I be comfortable driving if I was that guy. The answer is the Honda Odyssey! These things are sweet. Tons of cool stuff, and a great ride. The $15 dollars I spent on gas was a great deal. The needle never even moved on the gas gauge and we crossed state lines. I'm just guessing, but I'm guessing it had alot to do with Hondas ECO feature which literally  changes the shifting patterns, energy use, etc. to save fuel. We defintiley drove 45 miles, and I'm telling you the needle did not move. So in essence, Pizza night is awesome, My kiddo is awesome but a little nutty, and the Odyssey is the ultimate family van. I would easily recommend the Odyssey to anyone in the market for an suv or minivan. The vehicle had a nice style, clean, crisp, futuristic lines, and the ride was phenomenal. If you're in the market for a minivan you ought to give the people from Honda a shot, because they definitley got this one right!

LENGTH 16ft 10.9in
WIDTH 6ft 7.2in
5ft 8.4in
0ft 4.5in
Body style illustration may not reflect the actual shape of this vehicle.
Exterior Measurements
6 ft. 7.2 in. (79.2 in.)5 ft. 8.4 in. (68.4 in.)
16 ft. 10.9 in. (202.9 in.)0 ft. 4.5 in. (4.5 in.)
5 ft. 8.1 in. (68.1 in.)5 ft. 8.2 in. (68.2 in.)
9 ft. 10.1 in. (118.1 in.)
Interior Measurements
38.3 in. 58.2 in.
40.9 in. 64.4 in.
66.1 in. 39.4 in.
40.9 in. 63.5 in.
Gas Regular unleaded
21.0 gal. 378.0/567.0 mi.
18/27 mpg
Weights and Capacities
3500 lbs. 1340 lbs.
4483 lbs. 38.4 cu.ft.
148.5 cu.ft.
** When adequately equipped, which may require engine and/or other drivetrain upgrades.
Front wheel drive 5-speed automatic
Engine & Performance
3.5 L Single overhead cam (SOHC)
V6 24
Variable 250 ft-lbs. @ 4800 rpm
248 hp @ 5700 rpm 36.7 ft.
  • MacPherson strut front suspension
  • Double wishbone rear suspension
  • Four-wheel independent suspension
  • Stabilizer bar stabilizer bar
3 yr./ 36000 mi. 5 yr./ 60000 mi.


Interior Features

3rd Row Seats
40-60 split bench
manual folding split-bench

2nd Row Seats
removable captains chairs
split folding
folding with storage

1st Row Seats

Standard seating shown. Other seating may be available as optional equipment.
Front Seats
  • Multi-level heating passenger seat
  • 4 -way power passenger seat
  • 8 -way power driver seat
  • Multi-level heating driver seat
  • Driver seat with power adjustable lumbar support
  • Height adjustable driver seat
  • Leather
  • Bucket front seats
Rear Seats
  • Split-folding rear seatback
  • Reclining rear seats
  • Folding with storage center armrest
  • Manual folding split-bench third row seats
  • Rear ventilation ducts with fan control
Power Features
  • Remote power door locks
  • Power mirrors
  • Heated mirrors
  • 2 one-touch power windows
  • Remote window operation
  • Clock
  • Tachometer
  • Trip computer
  • External temperature display
  • Low fuel level warning
  • Compass
  • Cruise control
  • Front console with storage
  • Front, rear and 3rd row cupholders
  • Front and rear door pockets
  • Overhead console with storage
  • Remote trunk release
  • Front seatback storage
  • Speed-proportional power steering
  • Universal remote transmitter (for garage door, security system, etc.)
  • 12V front and 12V rear power outlet(s)
  • Tilt and telescopic steering wheel
  • Audio and cruise controls on steering wheel
  • Rear view camera
  • Interior air filtration
  • Three zone climate control
  • Cooled storage compartment
  • Cargo area light
  • Leather trim on doors
  • Front and rear reading lights
  • Leather trim on shift knob
  • Leather steering wheel
  • Front and rear floor mats
  • Electrochromatic inside rearview mirror
  • Dual illuminating vanity mirrors
In Car Entertainment
  • Element antenna
  • 6 total speakers
  • 229 watts stereo output
  • AM/FM in-dash single CD player with CD MP3 Playback stereo
  • XM satellite radio
  • Auxiliary MP3 audio input
  • 1 subwoofer(s)
  • 3 Months of provided satellite radio service
  • Memory card slot
  • Radio data system
  • USB connection
  • Pre-wired for phone
  • Bluetooth wireless data link for hands-free phone

Exterior Features

Roof and Glass
  • Variable intermittent wipers
  • Privacy glass
  • Rear defogger
  • Power opening rear quarter windows
  • Intermittent rear wiper
  • Manual sunshades for rear side windows
  • Power glass sunroof
  • Remote sunroof operation
  • Rear spoiler
Tires and Wheels
  • Painted alloy wheels
  • 17 x 7.0 in. wheels
  • Steel spare wheel
  • 235/65R17 103T tires
  • All season tires
  • Inside mounted spare tire
  • Temporary spare tire
  • Rear power liftgate door
Towing and Hauling
  • Cargo tie downs

Safety Features

  • 4-wheel ABS
  • Front, rear and third row head airbags
  • Dual front side-mounted airbags
  • Child seat anchors
  • Remote anti-theft alarm system
  • Emergency braking assist
  • Ventilated front disc / solid rear disc brakes
  • Rear door child safety locks
  • Daytime running lights
  • Engine immobilizer
  • Auto delay off headlamps
  • Dusk sensing headlamps
  • 2 front headrests
  • 3 rear headrests
  • Passenger airbag occupant sensing deactivation
  • Rear center 3-point belt
  • Front seatbelt pretensioners
  • Stability control
  • Traction control
  • Electronic brakeforce distribution
  • Front height adjustable headrests
  • Rear height adjustable headrests
  • Passenger head restraint whiplash protection system
  • Driver head restraint whiplash protection system
  • Tire pressure monitoring