How to Get a Great Deal When Shopping at Car Dealerships

Shopping at car dealerships for a new vehicle can be an exciting experience. You have an opportunity to test drive a variety of options, and to get up close and personal with the latest vehicle features available on the market. You can even try out a few sporty rides that you don’t necessarily plan on buying.

But all the excitement of shopping for a new car can make it easy to not take the time to get a great deal on the vehicle you fall in love with. Here are four sure-fire ways to make sure you’re getting the best deal possible for your new ride:

Don’t Pay Sticker Price

The most important thing to remember when shopping at car dealerships is to steer clear of paying sticker price for a vehicle, especially if it isn’t already a great deal for your dream car. There is nothing wrong with making an offer yourself, but if that’s the case be sure to start low so you have some space to haggle. You can also let the representative you’re working with know that you aren’t interested in the sticker price, and simply ask for a lower price to see what they offer.

Keep Features in Mind

Even if you can’t get the sticker price down much, you might be able to get a couple of features thrown in without any additional cost to help sweeten the deal. For example, you may be able to have an upgraded stereo system installed in your new vehicle without having to pay for it.

On the other hand, you might find that stripping the features from a vehicle you want to purchase will result in car dealerships offering a lower purchase price for the vehicle overall. You can always invest in a new stereo, floor mats, and upgraded seat belts at a later date.

Go For Extended Warranties

It’s possible to get a warranty that includes more than the basic extended options that come with your standard new vehicle, all you have to do is ask. You’ll notice that new vehicle purchases come with an option to upgrade the warranty that is included. There’s no harm in negotiating to have that upgrade included in the purchase price of your vehicle, as this can save you quite a bit of money if something goes wrong with your car.

Choose Manual

You can save money on the upfront cost of your vehicle and save money on repairs if you choose a manual transmission over an automatic. Driving a manual can save you money on gas, too. You’ll also notice that the actions of shifting into gear will keep you on your toes while on the road. Choosing manual is a long term savings solution to consider.

The most important aspect of shopping for a new vehicle is making sure that you get the one you really want. Don’t settle on something that doesn’t make you completely happy just to save a few dollars, because those savings won’t feel worth it in the long run.

General Information About Car Insurance Online

When you choose to buy a car, you also need to start considering buying a car insurance. And it is strictly advisable to opt for buying a Car Insurance Online, where you can compare different plans that would work to your advantage, get a free quote online, review the benefits and features, and get an overview on the comprehensive and third- party car insurance cover.

  • Benefits Of Car Insurance Online

Sometime back insurance was sold only through the traditional method of purchasing through the agent. But with the advent of technology and extensive internet usage when almost every home has the facility of internet, buying insurance from the convenience of home, with the easiness of seeing and comparing plans, getting a free quote online, purchasing through online method has brought in a great relief for the customers who formerly had no choice other than to depend on the agent for buying a policy or standing in long queues to pay the premium.

It is advisable that you visit the website of car insurance provider and get quotes online before making the choice of purchasing. You will find a lot many attractive offers. Certain ones are enumerated below:

  1. You can get car insurances policies online offering the advantage of cashless claims at thousands of branches of the respective providers. This way the claims will be settled between the service provider and the insurance company and you have nothing to pay. In case the expenditure goes beyond the coverage limit then you might need to settle the additional amount.
  2. Some insurance companies offer good discount on car insurance premium if purchased online or renewed online if no claims are made the previous year.
  3. No claim bonus is allowed every year if no claim is made during the previous year. The incentive is available if renewal is done through the same insurance provider or if other insurance provider is opted. It is further negotiable on case to case basis.
  4. Facilities for insurance are offered for new as well as old cars.
  5. You can buy insurance cover online and get great benefits like roadside assistancein case your vehicle is damaged beyond repair on the spot, depreciation cover, medical expense cover, etc.

Facilities can be availed for all types of vehicles – private car, two wheeler, commercial cars, etc.

  • Third Party Insurance

While going in for car insurance, one should never forget that third-party cover is mandatory. So you can buy third- party cover along with car insurance policy to avail comprehensive protection towards damages against other’s vehicle. Third-party cover is very useful. Very often we hear or read that the court has offered the third-party with compensation of lakhs and in some cases even tens of lakhs of rupees in major injuries or accidental deaths. It is beyond the capacity of any ordinary man to pay such an exorbitant compensation. So it is here that the third-party insurance cover comes to your rescue whereby the insurer takes sufficient care of your liability to settlement of claims for third-party.

  • Car Insurance Premium

One does not have to unnecessarily worry for payment of insurance premium. A lot of options are available to suit different pockets. As much as 50-60% premium discount is available with some providers. Then some providers offer up to 50% no-claim bonus if you have not preferred any claim in the previous year and the incentive continues likewise for all the coming years.

But one thing has to be strictly borne in mind that insurance premium has to be paid in time every year lest you are deprived of all the benefits of the insurance cover, including third-party cover.

More Modern, Youthful Mercedes E-Class Saloon Takes On BMW, Audi Peers

An intensified exterior and interior thanks to a recent re-interpretation of its striking looks sees the E-Class Saloon from Mercedes-Benz modeling a more modern, youthful look. Yet this best-selling executive car remains – from very first glance – an unmistakable, authentic Mercedes.

The new Mercedes-Benz design idiom is younger, fresher and sets powerful accents through elegant detail solutions. Translated to the E-Class Saloon, the vehicle’s powerful profile with tapered side lines, a distinctive arrow-shaped front end with twin-headlamp face and muscular rear section speak of self-assurance.

Enhancing the visual impact are such features as the standard LED daytime driving lamps, LED tail lights and a chrome-finish 2-louvre radiator grille.

The E-Class Saloon competes with other large executive saloons like the BMW 5 Series and Audi A6. The 5 Series saw a facelift in 2013 but changes were minimal, with tweaks made to the front and rear lights and the interior improved. The A6 may have unassuming looks but it still boasts an elegant and appealing design among its peers.

The A6 was always a bit behind its biggest rival the 5 Series. That is until the appearance of the latest A6 model, which is a great all-rounder thanks to the introduction of a new Ultra spec which boosts performance and efficiency.

The E-Class Saloon’s cabin features choice materials and fine workmanship, with the high quality woods and upholstery variants of the ELEGANCE and AVANTGARDE design and equipment lines highlighting the individual style of the interior. A host of standard and optional comfort features – such as active multi contour seats, THERMATIC and THERMOTRONIC automatic climate control, climatised front seats and panoramic sliding sunroof – aim for the saloon’s occupants to want for nothing more.

The cabin of the BMW 5 Series is slick, impeccably built and makes good use of high quality materials, while the Audi A6 also counts among its features a quality interior.

Mercedes-Benz is known for its innovative, leading safety technologies and the E-Class Saloon comes with a range of standard and optional assistance and safety features. This includes Active Parking Assist, anti-lock braking system (ABS), acceleration skid control (ASR), ATTENTION ASSIST, ADAPTIVE BRAKE system, a reversing camera, 360 degree camera, NECK-PRO head restraints for front seats, driver kneebag and airbags, pelvisbags, sidebags and windowbags for front occupants.

E-Class Saloon models available in the Hong Kong market are the E 200, E 250, E 300, E 400, E 63 AMG and E 63 AMG S Model. The line-up boasts an extended range of engine variants, with Mercedes new-generation 4-cylinder direct petrol injection engines powering the E 200 and E 250. The E 300 and E 400 run on a V6 engine and the E 63 AMG and E 63 AMG S Model on an AMG V8 biturbo engine.

When it comes to the road, the E-Class Saloon might not be as sharp or engaging as the 5 Series but it still feels poised and inspires confidence. The steering is direct and naturally weighted, body control is good and grip is decent, while good driving visibility adds to the E-Class appeal.

With extensive use of aluminium, the Audi A6 feels agile on the move and is a precise, good drive. It’s the BMW 5 Series that sets the standard for driving fun in the executive car class, with its poised, rear-wheel drive handling, great refinement and strong pace.

2014 Toyota Corolla S Premium may be a bit more than you expect

The 2014 Toyota Corolla was completely redesigned for 2014 and – in its eleventh generation – introduced new exterior styling, interior upgrades, improved technology and a pretty impressive new CVT transmission for consumers to consider when looking for a compact sedan.

The compact sedan segment is pretty crowded with a variety of offerings from several manufacturers all having a wide range of capabilities, features, functions and amenities – along with a wide range of prices – for the consumer to choose from.

The Toyota Corolla has long been a leader in the category selling over 300,000 vehicles in the U.S. in 2013 with over 40 million sold worldwide since the first generation of the Corolla going back to the 1960’s. As the competition has increased more so in the last few years, Toyota has taken steps to maintain that leadership.

According to Toyota, they redesigned the 2014 Toyota Corolla to address a range of customer groups from those wanting a solid, basic, reasonably well-equipped and economical sedan that is a comfortable and easy drive and looks pretty good in the driveway – at one end – to groups wanting their compact sedan to be a bit more stylish, with more standard and optional features while delivering a more exciting driving experience for the owner.

We think they may have pretty well hit that mark based on our recently completed week-long test drive of a 2014 Toyota Corolla S Premium in Blue Crush Metallic with a Black Softex and Fabric interior.

With a base MSRP of $20,400, the standard features on our Corolla S Premium included:

• LED low beam – Halogen high beam with daytime running lights (DLR) headlamp system
• Integrated fog lights
• Front chrome grille surround with piano black insert
• Color keyed heated power outside mirrors with turn signal indicators
• Rear deck spoiler
• 16-inch steel wheels with unique covers
• Chrome tipped exhaust
• Softex Fabric trimmed heated seats with sport bolsters and sport fabric inserts
• 6-way adjustable driver seat and 4-way adjustable passenger seat
• Leather-trimmed tilt and telescopic steering wheel with controls
• Sport-style instrumentation including speedometer and tachometer and TFT Multi-information Display
• Cruise control
• Automatic climate control with dust and pollen filters
• Integrated backup camera with projected path display
• Piano Black center stack and upper instrument panel

With all of the trim grades being pretty well equipped, the 2014 Toyota Corolla offers just two options or packages for those wanting a bit more. Our test vehicle was equipped with both of them. They were:

Power Moonroof with tilt/slide and sliding sunshade -$850

Drivers Convenience Package ($1,510) which added Smart Key System with Remote Keyless Entry, Push Button Start and Entune Premium Audio which includes Navigation and App Suite AM/FM CD player with MP3 playback, 6 speakers, USB port with iPod connectivity, Bluetooth wireless technology, 6.1-inch high resolution display, Sirius XM satellite radio and HD radio traffic and weather.

With delivery, our 2014 Toyota Corolla S Premium priced at $23,570.

Things we liked in particular about the new Corolla are the improved styling both exterior and interior, upgraded materials on the interior, the new CVTi-S transmission, comfortable seating with large bolsters, easy to understand and use controls, large dials on key controls, good leg room and head room in the back seat and the good sized trunk.

Our only criticism of any note was that the driver seat could have been just a bit better if it had another inch of front-to-back adjustment travel in it allowing for longer legs than most drivers have.

Considering that our test drive vehicle was at the higher end of the trim grades available for the 2014 Toyota Corolla, our opinion is that this new Corolla will likely satisfy both of their target customer groups.

The 2014 Toyota Corolla comes in four grade levels – L, LE, S, and LE Eco. Model levels within the grades (except the L-grade) include a Base, Plus and Premium. Pricing ranges from the L-grade (MSRP $16,800 with a 6-speed manual transmission or $17,400 for the 4-speed automatic) to the S-grade (MSRP $19,000 for the Base and $21,300 for the S Premium – both with the new CVTi-S 7-speed automatic transmission).

The L, LE and S are powered by a 1.8L DOHC aluminum 4-cylinder engine with Dual Variable Valve Timing with Intelligence (VVT-i) that produces 132 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm and delivers 128 lb.-ft of torque at 4,400 rpm.

Transmissions offered in these grade levels are a new 6-speed manual in the L and S Plus grades, a 4-speed automatic in the L-grade and the all-new Continuously Variable Transmission (CVTi-S) with a 7-speed range that has a normal or ECO mode and a SPORT mode that gives the driver a noticeable snappier driving experience in automatic mode (in LE and S grades).

On the S-grade, the CVTi-S also includes steering wheel mounted paddle shifters that allow the driver to manage the performance of their SPORT drive experience manually.

The CVTi-S coupled with the paddle shifters in our S Premium was really impressive in this Corolla.

We started our test week using the normal (ECO) mode for a couple of days around town and on the highway. ECO might be good enough for some in order to maximize fuel economy, but we found it sluggish and opted for the SPORT mode for the balance of the week using it in both automatic and with the paddle shifters.

The performance for us was so much better that we would recommend driving the Corolla S in SPORT mode all the time.

Fuel economy for the L, LE and S grades are:
• 6-speed manual – 28/37 mpg City/Highway with an average 31 mpg
• 4-speed automatic – 27/36 mpg City/Highway with an average of 31 mpg
• CVTi-S – 29/37 mpg City/Highway with an average of 32 mpg

For those wanting more economy yet, the 2014 Corolla LE Eco offers a new 1.8L DOHC engine with Valvematic VVT-i that that delivers improved fuel economy with a higher horsepower output (140 hp). When coupled with the new CVTi-S transmission, this LE Eco gets 30/42 mpg City/Highway with an expected average of 35 mpg. (Note the SPORT setting is not available on the LE Eco.)

There are other compact sedans available that some would say are higher performing with turbocharged power plants, sports suspensions and styling that is a bit more urban or trendy making them more attractive. But for the widest range of compact sedan customers, the 2014 Toyota Corolla – with its long history of reliability and popularity for the money – will do just fine staying at or near the top of the pack.

This Corvette Museum Conspiracy Theory Video Might Be the Dumbest Thing Online

The internet has opened up a whole new world for stupid people and the maker of this National Corvette Museum sinkhole conspiracy video very well may be the stupidest of them all. I should point out that the maker of this video also thinks that 9-11, Sandy Hook and many of the other big news stories which have taken place in the past few years were faked so you can only expect so much of him but this video shows just how desperate these kiddies are for internet attention.

This idiotic YouTube user spends 9 minutes talking about how the National Corvette Museum sinkhole was clearly faked. His key evidence focuses on the fact that the 2009 Corvette ZR1 Blue Devil in the sinkhole looks a great deal like the 1/64th Hot Wheels diecast of the production Corvette ZR1. He doesn’t seem to be aware of the fact that toy companies put a tremendous amount of effort into making their scale model cars look as much as possible like the real thing. Next, he talks about how the scene at the museum is totally fake, with the floor clearly being made out of paper and Styrofoam…you know, because this person is clearly an educated expert in the field of architecture. He also finds fault with the fact that he cannot read a brand name on the upside down Ruby Red 40th Anniversary Corvette and he doesn’t believe that a sinkhole could contain as much dirt as what we see in the various sinkhole videos. Never mind the fact that the ground collapsed and the ground is comprised of – you might have guessed it – dirt or the fact that the footage showing the Ruby Red car is simply zoomed out too far to be able to read the brand name on the tires. There is plenty more in this 9 minute video but I will let you enjoy it yourself. Make sure to wear your reinforce foil helmet to make sure that the government isnt reading your thoughts while you are watching.

The points made in this video are so ridiculously stupid that I began to wonder if this was actually a conspiracy theory spoof but based on the fact that he has made so many conspiracy theory videos, I believe that this person is actually unintelligent enough to buy into his own nonsense.

In the long run, I’m glad that this moron is spending time making ridiculous claims about something that is as unimportant in the grand scheme of things as a bunch of damaged cars that can eventually be repaired. This way, he isnt busy making videos that disrespect the victims of events like the Sandy Hook school shooting. Ultimately, this person’s key goal is to garner attention from other hollow headed conspiracy theorists who are huddled in their mom’s basement, posting on the internet between rounds of World of Warcraft and it has worked well based on the many positive comments posted on the video. This video, like most of the other videos uploaded by this moron, go to show that there should be some sort of intelligence test required for internet usage. This guy clearly would have failed that test.

But then again…maybe Im part of the conspiracy to propagate the dangers of sinkholes and I dont even know it? In any case, there are already five badly damaged Corvettes which have been pulled from the sinkhole in the National Corvette Museum to prove that the sinkhole did happen and 8 cars were damaged as a result.

2011 Motor Trend International Auto Show in Baltimore – February 10-13

The 2011 Motor Trend International Auto Show is coming to Baltimore! The annual Auto Show is held at the Baltimore Convention Center in downtown Baltimore. It will be held from February 10th-13th. The latest and greatest car models will be shown as well with the newest car technology. Just for attending you will get a 1-Year Free Subscription to Motor Trend.

If you like Adam’s articles, please join (at the top of the page) and subscribe to his column. Also remember to “Favorite” him. In additon for writing for Examiner he also writes his own blog Adam’s Auto Advice. If you have a question, comment, or idea for an article please contact him at [email protected]

AT&T to buy DirecTV for $48.5 billion, countering Comcast and Time Warner merger

AT&T agreed on Sunday to buy the satellite television operator DirecTV for $48.5 billion, trying to tilt the balance of power with media companies as the market for broadband Internet and video shifts, according to the New York Times, which broke the story on Sunday. This is the latest sign that the wireless industry and the U.S. television market are set to converge as customers consume more video on their mobile devices.

AT&T is offering $95 per DirecTV share in a combination of stock and cash, a 10 percent premium over Friday’s closing price of $86.18. It will finance the cash portion, $28.50 per share, with funds on hand, asset sales and financing already lined up.

The transaction has a total value of $67.1 billion, including the assumption of DirecTV’s net debt.

To help its case with regulators, AT&T will sell its roughly 8 percent stake in Carlos Slim’s America Movil, worth roughly $5 billion. DirecTV has some 18 million customers throughout Latin America.

AT&T and DirecTV made their announcement just a few months after Comcast Corp offered $45 billion for Time Warner Cable Inc., a transaction that would create the leading U.S. cable and broadband Internet powerhouse. That merger would combine the largest two U.S. cable companies in what would be “an all-stock deal. “The Comcast proposal is now awaiting regulatory approval.

The AT&T and DirecTV deal is seen as a counter to the Comcast and Time Warner deal.

Comcast is headquartered in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and in January of 2011, acquired a 51% majority stake in media conglomerate NBCUniversal from GE. Comcast also has significant holding in several cable networks (including E! Entertainment Television, the Gold Channel, and NBCSN), a distribution business (ThePlatform), and other related businesses.

Tim Warner Cable is headquartered in the Time Warner Center in Midtown Manhattan in New York City. Formerly known as Warner Cable Communications, is an American cable telecommunications company that operates in 29 states and has 31 operating divisions. It is the second largest cable company in the U.S. behind only Comcast.

This deal could yet be upended, as a Comcast and Time Warner merger would face tough scrutiny from the Federal Communications Commission, said an analyst from MoffettNathanson LLC. The merged company would account for almost three-quarters of the cable industry, according to the National Cable Television Association.

The merger would also face review from the Department of Justice for anti-trust issues.

The combination with DirecTV, the No.1 U.S. satellite TV provider with 20 million customers, would beef up Dallas-based AT&T’s packages of cellular, broadband, TV and fixed-line phone services. For DirecTV, the deal will enable it to offer broadband Internet for the first time to its U.S. customers, filling in a gap that had made the company vulnerable to cable rivals, which can provide Internet service through their networks.

During a conference call, AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson said, “It gives us the parts to fulfill a vision we have had for a couple of years, that is, the opportunity and the ability to take premium content and deliver premium content over multiple points for the customer, whether it be through a smartphone, through a tablet, or television or laptop.”

According to a report in Reuters, Stephenson’s counterpart at DirecTV, Mike White, will stay on to run the satellite television business, which will continue to be based outside Los Angeles in El Segundo, California. AT&T currently offers a video service known as U-Verse and Stephenson said during a conference call the company would continue to offer it after the acquisition is completed. It expects the deal to close in about a year.

DirecTV, founded in 1994, has changed hands before. It had been previously owned by Hughes Electronics, which was part of General Electric, Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp, and its most recent owner Liberty Media, which sold its stake in 2009.

The deal, which comes after a 25 percent gain in DirecTV’s stock price this year that was fueled by takeover speculation, represents a potential win for Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway, the satellite provider’s top shareholder.

AT&T will not have to pay a penalty if regulators veto the deal.


New York Times – AT&T to Buy DirecTV for $48.5 Billion in Move to Expand Clout

Reuters – AT&T makes bet on video with $48.5 billion DirecTV bid – Comcast agrees to acquire Time Warner Cable Deal for $45.2 billion in ‘all stock deal’

Jim Sinclair: Russia is one move away from collapsing U.S. economy

On March 17, commodities adviser Jim Sinclair spoke in an interview with Greg Hunter of USA Watchdog on gold, the markets, and ongoing events taking place between the U.S. and Russia over Ukraine. During the 30 minute interview, Sinclair laid out a chilling scenario where Russia has positioned themselves to be one move away from collapsing the U.S. economy, and that one wrong move by President Obama could set the entire scenario in motion.

Jim Sinclair: To sanction Russia is to forget that Russia supplies Europe with its gas supplies. I honestly believe sanctioning Russia is the same as shooting yourself in the foot.

Greg Hunter: So Russia could not only say hey, we want gold for our payment (oil), but they could say, hey… we want you to pay us in rubles.

JS: Or pay us in anything. Also, it makes energy cheaper. Why would anyone want to pay in dollars if they can pay in their own currency?

GH: Once Russia started doing that, would there be any coming back from it? (For the dollar) Wouldn’t that be the beginning of the end for the Petro-Dollar?

JS: Russia has the capacity, the inclination of course, to do just one single thing… accept payment for energy in any currency you wish to give. – USA Watchdog
Since the U.S. tied the dollar to oil, the future of America’s monetary system and economy was reliant upon all global oil producers following the Petro-Dollar agreement, which from 1974 to the present has been backed by our economic and military power. But as Russia rose from the ashes of the former Soviet Union, and grew into becoming the world’s largest oil producing nation, the U.S. could no longer enforce the Petro-Dollar through economic and military threats since Russia is their equal when you consider their alliances with China and other BRICs nations.

It is said that stock markets are forward thinking and project what will happen six months into the future. And if you look at what has taken place for the dollar since Ukraine’s uprising started and Russia moved into the Crimea, the dollar itself by falling below 80 on the dollar index, is telling the world that it not only recognizes the potential of becoming irrelevant should Russia bypass the SWIFT system and begin selling oil in any other currency or asset class, but that the U.S. could potentially trigger its own demise by imposing sanctions using the SWIFT system as a weapon, and force Russia to enact their nuclear economic option.

In a global environment where perceptions are reversed, and the United States is now being seen by the world as the ‘Evil Empire’, Russia is using America’s own Petro-Dollar system against them to grow in power and bring the U.S. to the brink of economic collapse. And whether it is Russia or the U.S. itself that pulls the trigger, the future is inevitably rushing towards an end of dollar hegemony. The only question that remains is whether the U.S. has another plan ready to fill the gap, just as they did when they left the gold standard and replaced it with the oil standard forty plus years ago.

2014 Lexus IS F: Hot blend of track performance and road refinement

The Lexus IS F, in 2014, continues its tradition of delivering drivers a powerful and exciting track handling experience blended nicely with a refined Lexus quality road performance that is – at least the equal – if not better than competing performance sedans in the segment.

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The 2014 Lexus IS F High Performance 4-door Sport Sedan arrives with only a few changes from earlier model years, adding a Carbon Fiber Rear Spoiler, embossing the “F” logo on all four of the headrests, switching the foglamps to LED and changing a couple of the interior seat trim combinations.

We have driven both the Lexus IS 250 F Sport Performance and IS 350 F Sport Performance models during the last year in both road track and city/highway environments. Based on those drives, it was already our view that Lexus has this blend of track capability with a refined road driving experience right.

A recent opportunity to drive the 2014 IS F High Performance Sedan for a week in and around Austin, TX absolutely confirmed our earlier assessments.

Our test IS F came to us clad in – what we will call – a bold, yet refined, Nebula Gray Pearl with Alpine Leather seating featuring Anodized Composite accents.

The base MSRP for our test IS F that included all of the F Performance features and functionality was $63,350.

Included standard on this IS F were distinctive F Sport performance styling cues that included two-inch wider fenders to accommodate the lower profile tires, a taller hood to fit the high performance V8, enlarged brake cooling vents, front fender vents, larger rocker panels and the carbon fiber rear spoiler.

Other exterior features include Bi-xenon HID auto-leveling headlamps and the LED fog lamps framing a larger V-shaped grille with trapezoidal-shaped bumper and a distinctive mesh grille lower air

On the inside, the IS F included a blue leather and silver-trimmed insert with “F” logo on the steering wheel to accent the two-tone Alpine interior and hand-finished aluminized composite trims.

Of particular note are the specially shaped 10-way power heated sport seats that are nicely bolstered to help position the driver and passenger comfortably and securely.

The standard Lexus Premium Audio System features a six-disc, in-dash CD changer, 13 speakers, USB/iPod connectivity, streaming audio via Bluetooth and an integrated SirusXM Satellite Radio receiver plus the available Lexus Enform 2.0 with App Suite on navigation equipped vehicles.

In the IS F, the instrumentation features a gauge cluster with a large central tachometer as the central focus in front of the driver. Additionally the IS F includes unique blue LED illuminated needles on the speedometer and tachometer. When the IS F is in Sport mode, the instrument lighting turns to red – letting you know you are in “Sport”.

The primary option on our test IS F was the Mark Levinson Premium Surround Sound System with Navigation ($3,410) that included the Levinson signature 300 watt amplifier and tuner with 14-speakers and the Lexus HDD Navigation System with backup camera.

The Mark Levinson Audio Package with Navigation also adds the Enform 2.0 service , with Destination Assist, eDestination, and App Suite and its available plethora of download options.

The Intuitive Park Assist (IPA) with Front and Rear Sensors was another $500.

Adding a trunk mat along with some minor accessories and freight, our 2014 Lexus IS F High Performance Sedan priced at $68,339.

IS F Power Train

With performance being the most important attribute of the IS F, its power train heart is the standard 5.0L aluminum 32-valve DOHC V8 with VVT-iE (intake) and VVT-I (exhaust) that is custom tuned for the IS F and delivers 416 horsepower at 6,600 rpm and 371 lb.-ft. of peak torque at 5,200 rpm to the 19-inch wheels through its eight-speed Sport Direct-Shift automatic transmission.

The driver can shift manually with steering wheel paddle shifters in either “D” or “M” modes for the feeling of being in control. In “M” mode, the transmission will hold each gear to the 6,800-rpm redline and execute ultra-quick shifts in one-tenth of a second that tweaks the throttle to match engine rpm with vehicle speed helping to maintain traction and control.

For improved road performance, the IS F is also equipped with a Drive Mode Selector system (Normal, Sport or Snow) for driving modes that alter the car’s dynamic control systems to sharpen performance – in the cast of Sport – or increase comfort and traction in response to the road environment with Normal or Snow.

Lexus says top speed is 170 mph with 0-60 in 4.6 seconds. Fuel economy ratings are 16/23 mpg City/ Highway with an expected average of 18 mpg.

Noting that actual fuel economy is dependent on road conditions and driver driving style – we were surprised that, with our propensity to drive with paddle shifters and stay in Sport mode, we still got 17.7 mpg around the hills of Central Texas.

And lastly, it requires that we mention that this IS F not only delivers solid power for performance, but also delivers a complimenting distinctive and not-so-subtle throaty rumble from its chrome-tipped stacked quad exhaust diffusers.

IS F Performance Handling

The 2014 IS F uses special double wishbone rear control arms, high-rate coil springs, monotube gas-filled dampers and large-diameter hollow stabilizer bars, among other learnings from their track experience, to insure the IS F performance handling matches the power train.

The Electric Power Steering (EPS) is speed sensing and is F Sport mode adjustable to match the vehicle configuration and power outputs with road conditions.

IS F uses a “staggered” wheels and tires configuration, following racecar convention, with wider, lower profile tires on the rear. (The front wheels are 19 x 8.5-inch, with 225/40R19 tires and 19 x 9.5-inch in the rear, with 255/35R19 tires.)

It adds stopping power with Brembo six-piston aluminum calipers gripping 14.2-inch ventilated and drilled rotors, while the 13.6-inch ventilated, drilled rear rotors use two-piston calipers and a Torsen rear differential provides additional traction in spirited driving.

The IS F uses an advanced chassis control system – Vehicle Dynamics Integrated Management (VDIM) system to support the car’s high dynamic capabilities. Using a combination of inputs from a variety of sensors, VDIM doesn’t merely react to hazardous handling situations but rather can anticipate the onset of a vehicle skid or slide.

In Sport mode, our favorite, the VDIM increases steering feel and allows higher dynamic thresholds before intervening with confidence.

If this sounds like we really liked this IS F – it should – we really did.

Markets react positively to Crimean vote, but uncertainty remains

Markets around the world held their breath Sunday waiting to see how a Moscow-back referendum would turn out for the people of Ukraine and the future of the Crimean Peninsula. The result; Crimean citizens voted at an overwhelming 97% to once again become part of the Russian Federation and succeed from the independent Ukrainian state.

The landslide vote was taken as a positive sign Monday, as the majority of the nine world markets ended trading on the plus side. Investors may see this as a temporary sign of stability that the region may not break out into civil war.

Ever since November there have been protest from Ukraine’s citizens and their reluctance to turn to Russia for economic aid. Like many countries today the Ukrainian economy is suffering and the government needs approximately $36 billion bailout. Protests began when the government hinted at turning to the Russian Federation instead of the European Union for the money.

Ukraine is separated culturally by the east and west. As reflected in this recent vote, the majority of Crimean’s recognize themselves as Russian. Most of the population west of the Crimean Peninsula recognized themselves as Ukrainian and want to integrate themselves with the west. Specifically when it comes to financial dealings, Ukraine’s do not want to be under the thumb of Moscow, and would rather deal with the E.U. when borrowing money.

As the protests in the capital of Kiev were turning increasingly more violent, the threat of civil war was becoming more of a reality. Due to their geographic location and the role that energy transportation has in the region, the worlds markets were becoming more and more weary of making bold investments.

Now the concern turns to issues concerning the west’s reaction and the steps that will be taken. The main one is how Russia will react to sanctions being imposed by the Obama Administration. These sanctions involve cutting off credit of prominent Russian officials both in the government and private businessmen.

One consequence of these sanctions may highlight how the oligarchy that exists in Russia can/or cannot withstand these measures.

Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russia has embraced capitalism with the same iron fist that fueled communism. The result is a group of prominent businessmen with close ties to Moscow. One of the main upper hands the U.S. still has is their control on the world banking system. If they choose so they can freeze assets of many of the billionaires that make up the oligarchy that runs Russia. This could give the U.S. and upper hand because none of these billionaires are politically tied to the Russian government, they may have as many assets outside of the country as they do within it. Without any political obligation to adhere to, the U.S. can force descent by anyone of these Russian Oligarchs and weaken the political strong hold that Russia has obtained with this vote.