The Auto-Show Must Go On!

The end of the semester draws near and I have to say that I am having a really good experience of writing blogs for the ENG 414 class. One of the reasons I choose automobile as my topic is that I was a sales/lease consultant at the San Francisco Honda two years ago and my work experience plays a really huge part on contributing to the blogs I wrote so far. However, I discovered throughout the course that there are more than just sharing information; I am also sharing my passion for cars.

While writing each blog, I had to do reseach for the each car. Everytime I was doing research, I was amused by all of the new technology and models available in the auto-market. Whenever I encounter something new, I had the urge to see how does it works for me even though I may not buy any.

To be honest, I am really enjoying to see the surprises each car model has to offer and I want to keep this feeling fresh and continuous. So I had decided to keep on writing blogs for any new or old vehicle models that deserve attention. Since the semester is close to an end, I will no longer be bounded to just reviewing car; therefore, I will take advantage of that new freedom and share more important information such as special seasonal promotion from various dealerships, after-market products that bring out potentials of a already-well-built model, and subsidies from government on specific models. My one and only goal is to provide information to help car shoppers finding the best fitting car with the best deal possible.

Since I am having so much fun doing a car review blog, I am going to kick it up a notch. If anybody from this 2012 Spring ENG 414 is planning on purchasing a car and wants me to accompany for test driving, please feel free to make an appointment with me via e-mail at with your name and identify ENG 414 2012 Spring in the subject of e-mail. I will do my best to assist you with the car shopping process.

At the end, I would like to to thank all of the readers of my blog and I am really grateful for all of the comments and feedbacks. So please stay tuned for more stuff from me. THE AUTO-SHOW MUST GO ON AND I WILL SURPRISE YOU ! (^.^)

By Shi Z Yu

My Personal Ride – Honda Civic

One of the reasons for me to work for Honda two years ago was my faith in the quality of the products from this auto-company. Before I was an employee, I was also a proud owner of a 2005 Honda Civic Si, which I am still driving it today, and I enjoy every moment behind the wheel. What is so special about this Civic of Honda? We are about to find out.

2012 Honda Civic LX model

Under the Hood.

For the 2012 Honda Civic DX, LX, and EX models, they are all equipped with a 1.8 Liter I4 16 valves engine that generate 140 horsepower at 6500 rpm, which tops some of the major competitors such as the Toyota Corolla and the Chevrolet CRUZE. As for fuel economy, the 2012 Civic DX, LX, and EX models have the fuel efficiency of 28 mpg in city and 36 mpg in highway, which combined average is about 31 mpg. With the fuel capacity of 13.2 gallons, the Civic may run up to 475.2 miles with each full tank.

Under the hood

If the 140 horsepower or the average 31 mpg fuel efficiency is not good enough for you, I have an option to satisfy every single needs.

Five Star Safety.

Each Honda vehicle is built with the Advanced Compatibility Engineering (ACE) body structure. The purpose of this build is to absorb most of the force at the point of impact in case of a collision. In this case, there may be damage to the body of the car but the impact and damage is not easily transfer to passengers. Along with the ACE body structure, safety features such as frontal and side airbags, brake assist, and electronic brake distribution are all standard for each Civic as well as all other Honda vehicles; therefore, NHTSA tested the Civic and awarded it with the frontal crash safety rating, the side barrier crash rating, and the overall rating of Five Stars – a true champion of compact sedan.   

There is Always one Civic to Matches Your Needs.

It may seems confusing at first sight due to there are many trim levels available for the 2012 Civic. Here is a list of all trim levels with the basic MSRP and a brief description.

DX Sedan ($16,755): The basic model of the Civic. Most of the dealerships do not carry too many of the DX model because customers usually don’t pay attention due to missing features. The DX doesn’t have powered entry, powered window, and cruise control.

LX Sedan ($18,805): The LX model has everything that the DX doesn’t have. Most of the customers see this one as the basic model for the Civic product line.

EX Sedan ($20,655): This is the top trim levels of the Civic, which adds moon-roof, USB connection, and upgraded alloy rims. The EX model is also classified as the EX-L model, which adds genuine leather seats, and the EX w/Navi that has the genuine navigation system. There is also a EX-L w/Navi model, which is a fully loaded Civic with everything for the MSRP of $23,605.

Hybrid ($24,200): If the average 31 mpg fuel efficiency is not good enough, Honda has the Civic Hybrid model to offer an outstanding 44 mpg on both city and highway. The Hybrid model carry over the technology from the Insight and CR-Z. Even though the horsepower drops from 140 to 110, Civic Hybrid owner can enjoy the extra miles each gallon of gasoline can handle and the idle-stop feature that doesn’t burn excessive gas to keep the car turned on.

Si ($22,555): The Honda Civic Si model offers a treat to customers who are performance orientated. It offer a bigger 2.4 Liter i-VTEC(R) I4, DOHC engine that generates up 201 horsepower at 7000 rpm. This model also offers the 6-speed manual transmission for a smooth and responsive gear shifting.

Honda Civic SiR interior

Natural Gas Vehicle(NGV) ($26,305): The NGV model is an impressive innovations that Honda offer exclusively for a Civic model and it was introduced to the market just a little bit later than the Hybrid model. The NGV model, by definition, uses natural gas that connected to your home instead of gasoline from gas stations.

More on NGV: The NGV model is mainly used for business purposes because gas stations that offer natural gas are not common in our neighborhood. Even though we can install the natural gas refilling device at our home, we might have trouble for long distance trip because of the trouble finding a natural gas station. However, NGV is highly welcome for business entities such as government units and local transportation due to government subsidies for NGV purchases, lower gas price, and the ownership of refilling devices.

Thinking About Selling Your Civic?

If you are planning to sell your used Civic for whatever reasons, there is another good news for you if you have been keeping your Civic in a good condition. According to the Honda official comparison website, the Honda Civic has the highest residual value percentage among competitor such as Corolla, Chevy CRUZE and Ford Focus. The Civic has an ALG residual value of 53% after 36 months and 40% after 60 months, which means a well maintained Civic keeps its value really well and we can expect to sell the car for higher price.

No Doubt about the Civic.

When I was working at Honda as a Sales/lease Consultant, the Honda Civic is our best seller and the dealership always keeping a large pool of Civic inventory. Since I am an owner of a Civic myself, I can always present this vehicle with confident on its impressive quality and versatility. If you are currently looking for a new compact sedan, make sure you put the Honda Civic on your research list and definitely test drive one before making final decision.


By Shi Z Yu

Rotary Innovation: Mazda RX-8

When Mazda was first introduced to the U.S. auto-market back in 1970, this company brought a revolutionary innovation on automobile design and engineering technology: The Wankel Rotary engine and the RX series. The latest product of this technology is the Mazda RX-8, which is one of the performance car that I like the most, even though there are negative comment about this car.

The Mazda RX-8

Brief History of the RX

At the beginning generation of this product line, Mazda sold its R-100, RX-2, RX-3 and RX -4 series of rotary-power coupes, sedans, and wagons. The company also sold a rotary powered pickup model for a few years, and the rotary engine did a great job of introducing Mazda to America.

The Mazda RX-7

The RX-7 that went on sale in 1978 was the most successful rotary-engine-powered car because of its power output, handling and eye catching body design. The last year the RX-7 was sold in the U.S. was 1995, but the rotary engine make a comeback a decade later. The Mazda RX-8 was introduced in the middle of 2003 and it has higher performance than its predecessors and more practical in almost every way. The RX-8’s new award winning rotary engine is called the RENESIS and it is named International Engine of the Year 2003.

What is a Rotary Engine?

At this point, we had seem Rotary engine many times, but what is it that makes the RX outstanding? Like a piston engine, the rotary engine uses the pressure created when a combination of air and fuel is burned. In a piston engine, that pressure is contained in the cylinders and forces pistons to move back and forth. The connecting rods and crankshaft convert the reciprocating motion of the pistons into rotational motion that can be used to power a car.

Rotary engine

In a rotary engine, the pressure of combustion is contained in a chamber formed by part of the housing and sealed in by one face of the triangular rotor, which is what the engine uses instead of pistons.

The flow of Rotary engine

The rotor follows a path that looks like something you’d create with a Spirograph. This path keeps each of the three peaks of the rotor in contact with the housing, creating three separate volumes of gas. As the rotor moves around the chamber, each of the three volumes of gas alternately expands and contracts. It is this expansion and contraction that draws air and fuel into the engine, compresses it and makes useful power as the gases expand, and then expels the exhaust.

The RX-8 Performance

Produced from 2004 through 2011, the Mazda RX-8 was a four-seat sport coupe with a pair of rear-hinged doors that eased access to the surprisingly roomy rear seats. The RX-8 was powered by a 1.3-liter twin-rotor Rotary engine. Power output depended on the transmission choice. The version with a six-speed manual produced 232 horsepower at 9,000 rpm, accelerates from 0 to 60 mph in about 7 seconds. The six-speed automatic made 212 hp and had a redline limit of 7,500 rpm. With either transmission, the RX-8’s rotary delivered a 152 pound-feet of torque, which meant you had to keep the rotary at high rpm to keep the car perform to optimal.

Trim levels included Sport, Touring, Grand Touring and R3.

Even the base car came well equipped, featuring 18-inch wheels, cruise control, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and a six-speaker CD stereo with an auxiliary audio jack. The Grand Touring got a limited-slip rear differential, automatic xenon headlights, a power driver seat with memory functions, heated seats, leather upholstery, automatic climate control, keyless ignition/entry, a Bose stereo, Bluetooth and a navigation system.

The R3 was a high-performance model that features 19-inch wheels, an aggressively tuned suspension, Recaro sport seats, exterior body modifications and some high-tech convenience features such as touch screen navigation system instead of the nod turning one.

The End of the RX and Rotary? No Way!

Unfortunately, we can only purchase 2011 or used RX series because Mazda announced that 2011 is the last year of the RX-8 production due to the high production cost and decline on sales in recent years and I am unable not provide an accurate cost of ownership. However, that doesn’t mean the end of the Rotary technology. There are rumors from many different car review homepages that said a new Mazda RX model with is working in progress, which offer a X16 Rotary (1.6 liter) engine instead of the 1.3 liter, lighter weight and possibly better fuel efficiency.