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New car reviews without seeing, touching or driving the cars.

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  • 1. Personality driven real-people read.I'm not a gearhead, but more of a fan of how cars are becoming smarter, more comfortable and more fun.Once upon a time in Austin, Texas, I taught defensive driving. But Id never written about automobiles when Cars.comhired me. They wanted new car product reviews that were fun, conversational and easy to understand. Depending ona visitors search, the review pulled from a central database serving three websites: NewCars.com,WhyPaySticker.com and CarPriceSecrets.com. Each description is 300-500 words. (Unlike the previous copywriter, Iadded a headline.) The research and writing deadlines were fast and furious so I never got to actually see, touch, ordrive the cars. With this in mind, my goal was to provide the customer with a virtual experience of handling themerchandise using sensory connections while helping readers imagine how much better their lives would be toolingaround in a new vehicle. I shied away from stuffing keywords and choose human-voiced personality instead.Tia Dobis Cars.com New Car Product Reviews tiad@earthlink.net www.tiadobi.com

2. 2009 Jaguar XF Review: Fusion Of Sports CarAnd Luxury SedanThe first of its breed, the 2009 Jaguar XF is an entirely differentbeast that can only be described as the fusion of sports car andluxury sedan. Thanks to fresh design, loads of intuitive, motionsensing technology and a promise to uphold the balance ofcomfort, athleticism, and refinement, this premiere performerstacks up favorably against its rivals, most notably Audi A6,BMW 5 Series, Cadillac STS, Lexus GS and Mercedes-Benz E-Class.One thing that Jaguar has done really well on the XF is theastute details. Nothing flimsy to the touch intrudes on theimpression of luxury.Using your keyless entry to slip inside, the first thing you'llnotice is the pulsating red start/stop buttonwhat Jaguar callsthe XFs "heartbeat." Press it, and the Jaguar Drive Selector risesto meet the palm of your hand. New shift-by-wire technologyaffords a 6-speed automatic that responds to both roadconditions and the way you drive. From a parked flush position,climate control vents glide open as the navigation systemsimultaneously scrolls to its home page.An ample 7 inch touch-screen controls most major functionsincluding heated seats and steering wheel. Overall smart designcreates space for hi-tech comforts such as iPod/MP3 connect-Tia Dobis Cars.com New Car Product Reviews tiad@earthlink.net www.tiadobi.com 3. ivity, a rear camera, Jaguar Voice or Blind Spot Monitor.With its spacious cabin cushioned in buttery-soft leather, the XFoffers extraordinary front-bucket seat comfort. Rear-seatpassengers, however, face a tighter ride while accommodatingthree adults.Jaguar also makes much of the XF's real aluminum trim as wellas the fact that it has more interior wood than any previous Jag.But what Jaguar knows best is that at the heart of a great car isa great engine. Compact and light, both all-aluminum V8s (320hp/420 hp), deliver massive torque and a beautifully taut ride to155 mph.Feeling omnipotent? Choosing side power vents with a chromefinishor perhaps the sporty rear spoileroffer subtle touchesthat make the exterior focus of the XF even more dynamic.The days of Jaguar's feather-light steering seem to be gone.With careful attention to stiff structure, aerodynamics and asubtle roar of menace from the twin exhausts at low speeds,this plush sports sedan practically merges its wide alloys withthe road.Company founder Sir William Lyons once said, "The car is theclosest thing we will ever come to creating something that istruly alive." With the 2009 Jaguar XF, he could be quite right.Tia Dobis Cars.com New Car Product Reviews tiad@earthlink.net www.tiadobi.com 4. 2009 Ford Flex Review: An Icon Gets HipFans of the minivan's convenience and roomy interior may findthat the 2009 Ford Flex crossover debut makes a big splash indestination driving. This all-new midsize SUV is packed withcargo, comfort and traveling designs that make it an interestingfamily idea.The seven-passenger Flex measures 16 feet, 10 inches, longerthan truck-based SUVs like the Chevrolet Tahoe. Ford claimsextra thick glass and sound-deadening materials in the interiorhelp make the Flex one of the quietest rides in its category.Taller riders (up to 6' 3") may find this crossover's "limo-size"first-class.Reminiscent of the iconic American woody station wagon, theFlex has grooved panels on its passenger doors that add a bit ofstiffer sheet metal. Conventional swing-out doors in backprovide the ample access required for removing and installingthe third seat. The squared-off shape (sans rocker panels to stepover when climbing in and out) is complemented by contrastingroof and body colors. Plenty of exterior chromeincludingFord's signature three-bar grillefurthers the Ford's modern,linear touch.Powering those stimulating good looks is an award-winning 265-hp, 3.5-liter 24-valve Duratec V-6 with six-speed automatictransmission. You won't be breaking any speed records, butTia Dobis Cars.com New Car Product Reviews tiad@earthlink.net www.tiadobi.com 5. properly equipped the Flex can tow watercraft, snowmobilesand trailers up to 4,000 pounds. Ford assures some of the bestEPA mileage ratings among similar-size vehicles.The Flex is loaded with convenience offerings: capless fuel-filler,programmable interior LED lighting, mobile phone and digitalmedia player integration (jukebox space for 2,300 songs), afridge that actually chills drinks faster than your homerefrigerator (to 41 degrees in 2.5 hours), adjustable 2nd rowfoot rests, key-activated power liftgate, attitude-enhancing 19"aluminum wheels and a glass skylight that spans all three seatrows.For family road trips, Ford promises best-in-class second-rowlegroom. Choose from separate bucket seats or a three-placebench. Both either roll forward for access to the third row, orfold flat into the floor to maximize cargo space.Flex trim levels match Ford's existing sedans and crossovers.Each comes standard with a Roll Stability Control that calculatesroll-rate 100 times every second. Front-wheel drive (with addedTraction Assist) is available with the SE; the SEL and Limitededitions offer both front-wheel and all-wheel driveconfigurations. Base MSRP ranges from $28,295 - $36,555.If the minivan look left you flat, then the unique, linear-chromed,smooth-riding, roomy 2009 Ford Flex is your ride withstyle.Tia Dobis Cars.com New Car Product Reviews tiad@earthlink.net www.tiadobi.com 6. 2008 BMW 128i Coupe Review: Cheeky AndAggressive, The Best Of BavarianHear the noise, feel the thunder, experience the lightning!While the "i" stands for a fuel-injected engine, BMW's smallestoffering is a real rocket. The inline-six in the BMW 128i Coupeproduces 230hp, enough to hurl it to highway speeds in a fewblinks of the eye.The 128i is more compact and less practical (to some) whenshopped against costly hatchbacks like the Volkswagen GTI,Mazdaspeed3 or Audi A3. But none offers the level of interiorquality or driving pleasure that's become the Bavarianautomaker's distinct definition.Fashioned after that racing triumph - the sizzling 2002 BMWsports sedan - the 128i shares modern and heydaycharacteristics. The hood line flows straight along the side intothe short rear deck, the grille hunches forward a bit, and thewheels spin from nearly the corners of the car. Yet the newmodel's detailing gives it a curvaceous sweep across its lowerhalf, imaging the current 3 and 5 Series. With one exception: theBMW 128i is a full ten inches shorter than a 3 Series Sedan.This rear-wheel drive's aggressive package includes two fatexhaust pipes, just in case you weren't sure of its performanceintentions. Barreling out of corners, the car's light weight helpsoffer a liquid smoothness in road operations. Sporting a low-cutTia Dobis Cars.com New Car Product Reviews tiad@earthlink.net www.tiadobi.com 7. roof, soft-touch dash plastics, cushy Leatherette seats andmetallic or wood-grain trim, the rear buckets are almost useless(but does it matter?).The 128i is privy to BMW's optional iDrive, equipped with sixProgrammable Memory Keys for navigation, radio stations, orthe numbers in your little black book.Toss two full sets of golf clubs in the trunk and your premiumride is ready to roll.Available in the spring of 2008, the BMW 128i Coupe gives moreroad, wind and engine noise than we've become accustomed toin Beemers which could make the 128i the perfect vehicle forenticing young enthusiasts into a lifelong love affair with theultimate driving brand.Tia Dobis Cars.com New Car Product Reviews tiad@earthlink.net www.tiadobi.com 8. 2009 Pontiac Vibe Review: Softer StylingHouses Hotter HatchbackThe restyled 2009 Pontiac Vibe is another vehicle benefitingfrom the trend toward softer exterior lines. The polishedhatchback jumps into the hot seat with a new powertrain optionand a 158-hp, 2.4-liter four-cylinder alongside the 132-hp,supercharged 1.8-liter standard unit. Pontiac has re-equipped itsbase with optional all-wheel drive while maintaining its front-wheel-drive GT. Alternatives include the Dodge Caliber, MazdaMazda3, Chevrolet HHR, Chrysler PT Cruiser, Kia Spectra5 andthe Toyota Matrix.The Vibe is roomy enough for five (buckets in the front and athree-person 60/40-split backseat); cloth seats are standardwhile GT style seats are leather-accented. The speedometer,tachometer and an elliptical housing for the fuel and enginetemperature gauges form a unique, tri-clustered panel.Interior storage is highly versatile: Vibes equipped with the 2.4-liter engine come with a fold-flat front passenger seat and justover 20 cubic feet of storage behind the rear seats. Fold thoseand the space expands to just about 50 cubic feet. Rubber stripshelp keep heavy stuff from flying. Smaller items nestle into aback storage organizer with nifty hook-and-net dividedcompartments. The latter setup disappears into the floor whenTia Dob