Sunday, November 29, 2009

Great Drives has moved.

You'll find all the same information at a new website in a new format on or Same website. Two different ways to get there.

I hope you approve. I hope you visit.


Evelyn Kanter

Monday, August 17, 2009

Bentley Mulsanne Flagship Model Makes World Debut at Pebble Beach

What recession? Bentley Motors has taken the wraps off its latest flagship model, the Mulsanne, which replaces the Arnage. The worldwide debut was at the prestigious Pebble Beach Concours D'Elegance in Monterey, California, a showcase for fabulous and fabulously expensive cars.

The Bentley Mulsanne will cost in the neighborhood of $300,000, which is a pretty fancy neighborhood. But for that, you get a super-powerful 500hp engine with a street legal zeroto60 in a blistering 5.2 seconds, equal to sports cars half its size. The new Mulsanne can reach a top speed of 179 mph. Creature comforts include and individually reclining rear seats.

Conceived, styled and engineered entirely at Bentley headquarters in Crewe, England, the Mulsanne goes into production in 2010 in a new state-of-the-art manufacturing facility within the Crewe factory.

The Mulsanne also returns a Bentley name that was retired in 1986, after nearly a decade of production. There was even a Mulsanne corner on the famous Le Mans circuit, which Bentley won six times.

Bentley owners include vintage car fan Jay Leno, whose garage includes a 1931 Speed Six Bentley; and HRH Prince Charles, the Prince of Wales. His mother, Queen Elizabeth, also has a Bentley, for state occasions. I saw it in the Mulliner custom shop section at the Crewe factory when I visited there recently. The Queen's Bentley is in a special deep claret color that only she may use. The rest of us can use any other of the 140 plus colors in the Bentley catalogue.

The new Bentley Mulsanne will be on display next at the all-important Frankfurt Auto Show in September. I will be there to report on luxury car introductions as well as the hybrid cars and electric cars that are what I write about most often.

Here's what top automotive journalists are saying about the new Bentley Mulsanne:

Britain's Sky News

The New York Times

Car and Driver

U. S. News and World Report

These days, Bentley is owned by Volkswagen, which just purchased Porsche, another legendary name in racing. Porsche also introduced a new model at the Pebble Beach Concours -- the new Porsche Panemera, a four-door sport sedan.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

A Moving Experience

You may have noticed there are not a lot of blog postings lately.

That's because I've moved Great Drives to a new website -- Please catch me there.

Also, you can read more of my automotive articles on, where I am the Green Car Examiner, focusing on all things environmental.


Evelyn Kanter

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Top Gifts for Your Favorite Driver

There are some great gift ideas for people on your list who drive -- and that is all of us. So, instead of another pair of gloves or a scarf, look for things that can help make drives safer, more comfortable, and more fun.

I'm one of those short people whose neck gets chafed by seatbelts, so I would appreciate a cuddly soft wrapper to protect both my neck and the jewelry that sometimes decorates it. Brookstone to the rescue -- with a wrapper made from real Australian sheepskin. And you can't beat the price -- $12.95. The seatbelt cover is available in natural or charcoal color to match your vehicle's interior. There's also full sheepskin seatcovers for $79.95, and despite what you might think, they actually keep you cooler in summer.

Of course you would expect venerable gadget guru HammacherSchlemmer to have a something helpful for driving. The No Blind Spot Rear View Mirror is the same one used by many police officers and professional racecar drivers to eliminate blind spots. The mirror has a 180° field of view -- which is more than three times what standard mirrors offer, and does it all with a seamless and distortion-free image. But back-up cameras only show you the ground, not the traffic behind you on the highway -- this one does -- a panoramic view across an entire five-lane highway. That lets you see all the adjacent vehicles from the moment they begin to pass until they are visible in your peripheral vision. Consider it a $59.95 insurance policy.

Herrington offers a $29.95 multi-port device that plugs into your cigarette lighter socket, to power all your gadgets. Use it to run a laptop or portable DVD, or to recharge batteries while you drive. That's the 110-volt part of it. The USB port powers your iPod, Blackberry, PDA, or camera. There's an overload protector to prevent damage due to operating too much gear, and it's small enough to fit in the glovebox or storage bin in the center console.

Sometimes, we drive too far even in the garage. One trick is to rig a tennis ball on a string from the ceiling, so that you know to stop when the windshield bumps the ball. Or, just get a 'park stop' strip from Griot's Garage, a mini version of those concrete space markets in outdoor parking lots. Cost is $12.99, which is less expensive than the doctor bill for falling off the ladder when you try to tie a tennis ball on a string to your garage ceiling.

Happy holiday, and have many great drives.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Ten Best Cars for 2009

What are the top ten cars of 2009? Every year, Car and Driver magazine announces its list of great drives, and even though the car industry is in a turmoil right now because of the economy, when selecting the world's most wanted automobiles, some things manage to stay the same.

Such as the BMW 3 Series, Honda Accord and Chevrolet Corvette being on the list again -- at least 15 times for each one in the 27 years the magazine has been issuing its 10Best list. Here they are, in alphabetical order --

  • BMW 3-Series/M3
  • Cadillac CTS (red car, top right)
  • Chevrolet Corvette
  • Honda Accord
  • Honda Fit
  • Infiniti G37
  • Jaguar XF (white car, top left)
  • Mazda MX-5
  • Porsche Boxster/Cayman
  • Volkswagen GTI

Despite the current headlines about potential bankruptcy, General Motors is the only American manufacturer to make the 10Best rankings, with two vehicles on the list -- the Cadillac CTS luxury sports sedan and the iconic Chevrolet Corvette, which continues its reign in the sports car category, selected for a 15th time.

First timers include the Infiniti G37 performance sports sedan, which underwent extensive changes to enhance its performance and handling, and the Jaguar XF, hailed by many for its modern styling and beautiful lines that distinguish it in its category. The Honda Fit that made the list this year is a redesigned version of the car that had been selected to the list twice before.

Other great drives which seem to have reserved parking on this list include the Honda Accord, recognized for a record 23rd time, and the BMW 3-Series, making its appearance on the Car and Driver list for a record 18 consecutive years. The Porsche Boxster roadster and its sibling Cayman coupe, and the Mazda MX-5 are on the 10Best list for the tenth year each. Rounding out the winners is the Volkswagen GTI, honored for the fourth time.

A winners are chosen by a panel of 19 Car and Driver editors who rate the cars on performance, driving satisfaction and value. The vehicles must be available in the United States and must cost less than $71,000. The list -- and more information about each model -- appears in the January 2009 issue, on newsstands in December.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Tips for Safe Driving During the Holiday Season

We're all in a hurry at the holidays. But speeding is not the answer, and it most certainly is not safe driving. Speeding-related deaths kill approximately 13,500 Americans each year, according to the Governor's Highway Safety Association. And thousands more drivers, passengers and pedestrians are injured by speeding.
Here are five reasons you should not speed…

Save lives - Slowing down increases the likelihood you and your passengers will survive a crash. Each 1 percent decrease in travel speed reduces injury crashes by about 2%, serious injury crashes by about 3% and fatal crashes by about 4%.

Save money - Speeding reduces fuel efficiency, causing you to buy gas more often. The Department of Energy estimates that, as a rule of thumb, you can assume that each 5 mph above 60 mph you drive is like paying an additional $0.20 per gallon for gas.

Save the environment - According to Ford Motor Company, driving a vehicle at 65 mph consumes about 15% more fuel than driving the same vehicle at 55 mph. More fuel consumed means more CO2 released into the atmosphere.

Save yourself a ticket - Highway safety agencies and law enforcement crack down on speeders, especially during holidays. Obey the sign or pay the fine!

Save your license - A speeding ticket could lead to points on your driving record. Too many points and you could lose your license and your insurance premiums could go up.

Safe drives are great drives.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Ford Introduces 2010 Fusion Hybrid

We haven't even turned the calendar pages to 2009 yet, and already the auto manufacturers are introducing 2010 models. Like the new Ford Fusion Hybrid, being introduced at the Los Angeles Auto Show in mid-November, where eco-friendly green drives are the big news.

There also is an all-new 'regular' gas-powered Ford Fusion and its sibling Mercury Milan. Both offer Ford's all-new Duratec 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine that is expected to deliver at least 3 mpg better on the highway than the Honda Accord and 2 mpg better than the Toyota Camry.

Back to the hybrid. This is Ford's own technology, not Toyota's, which Nissan licensed for its well-received Altima Hybrid. Ford claims its next-generation hybrid system will deliver class-leading fuel economy, besting the Toyota Camry hybrid by at least 5 mpg in city driving.

With the addition of the Fusion and Milan hybrids, Ford doubles its hybrid fleet, adding to the Escape and Mariner hybrids. And with four hybrid models, Ford becomes the largest domestic producer of full hybrid vehicles in North America. The insanely popular Toyota Prius other Toyota and Honda hybrids are not from Detroit. But, you could say neither are the hybrid Fusions or Mariners -- they are built in Mexico.

The new Ford hybrids vehicles can accelerate up to 47 mph in pure electric mode, about twice as fast as some competitors. That can extend your driving range on a single tank of gas to more than 700 miles. That's pretty substantial mileage between fill-ups.

Back to the gas-powered models now. The Duratec four-cylinder engines are 175 horsepower, and there an optional 3.0-liter V-6 and a hefty 3.5 liter V-6 for the Fusion Sport model that pumps out 263 horsepower. Models with the smallest engine are expected to deliver at least 3 mpg better on the highway than the Honda Accord and 2 mpg better than the Toyota Camry.
All of the gas engine choices have six-speed transmissions, for up to a 10 percent fuel economy improvement.

With the new arrivals, Ford will be the producer of the most fuel-efficient mid-size sedans and SUVs in America -- and the Fusion Hybrid is expected to perform at least 5 mpg better on the highway than the Toyota Camry hybrid.

This is all good news for those thinking about buying a new car. And Ford needs all the good news it can get. That goes for all the auto manufacturers, too.