2009 Lexus GS350 AWD redesigned and advanced

The Lexus GS model was redesigned in 2006, and is one of Toyota's most advanced vehicles in technology. For 2009 there have been no significant changes made to the GS luxury sedan. I test drove the all-wheel drive model for the week which is well suited for Denver's climate and mountain roads along the front range.

The GS 350 is thoroughly enjoyable to drive. The V6 is quite responsive, and according to Lexus, the GS 350 will go from 0 to 60 mph in an impressive 5.7 seconds and with all-wheel drive it gets an EPA-estimated 18/25 mpg. The all-wheel-drive GS 350 features a fast-acting, clutch-type center differential that sends 70 percent of the power to the rear wheels under normal circumstances to help foster the dynamics of a rear-wheel-drive car. When wheel sensors detect slippery road conditions, as much as 50 percent of engine power is diverted to the front wheels to increase the car's overall traction on the road.

I felt completely safe in a recent snowstorm up near Evergreen.
The GS 350 features a 303-hp, 3.5-liter V6 and six-speed automatic with manual shift gate. The V6 is very responsive and just plain fast. The six-speed automatic transmission goes through the gear changes virtually undetectable. The GS is a performance car, and with 303 horsepower, it will appeal to driving enthusiasts. The all-wheel-drive version of the GS 350 handles a wide range of weather conditions well and doesn't seem to offer many compromises in terms of speed, handling or even fuel economy.

I like the GS 350 for its balanced handling and overall performance. The 17-inch wheels provide good ride quality but 18-inch tires are available to provide more cornering grip for drivers who feel they need it. The all-wheel-drive model feels surprisingly maneuverable due to its rear wheel drive bias under normal conditions.

Inside, the Lexus GS comes very well equipped. Standard equipment on the GS 350 includes thick leather upholstery and color-coordinated wood trim (golden or gray bird's-eye maple, or red walnut); dual-zone automatic climate control; interior air filter; power tilt/telescoping wood and leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls; cruise control; heated 10-way power-adjustable front seats; memory for the driver's seat, mirrors and steering wheel; trunk pass-through; heated auto-dimming power exterior mirrors with tilt-down back-up aid; power windows; power locks; SmartAccess keyless access and starting; sunroof; remote engine starting; auxiliary audio input jack; vehicle information system with a seven-inch touch screen; Bluetooth wireless cell phone link; auto-dimming rearview mirror; universal garage door opener; power trunk closer; automatic HID headlights; theft-deterrent system; fog lights. The GS 350 AWD has P225/50R17 all-season run-flat tires.

My test vehicle was equipped with the optional Mark Levinson Premium Surround Sound system ($3,630), developed especially for the GS interior. Utilizing 5.1 surround sound playback via a 7.1-channel speaker topology, its 330-watt amplifier sends the sound through 14 speakers via 11 channels of amplification. It even plays DVD movies on the seven-inch screen when the car is parked.

The technology in the GS is the most advanced in the industry. The Car DVD-based navigation system is impressive with its information for more than 6 million points of interest, and the route searching is conducted at ten times the speed of previous-generation systems. The screen has excellent resolution and the map images have three-dimensional shading to aid recognition. Voice recognition makes the system completely hands-free once you figure out how to use it. For me, one week with the car is not enough time to understand all the technology.
The Bluetooth-compatible telephone system can be operated by voice command also, or through the seven-inch touch screen. The Lexus GS combines all this technology with lavish, luxurious appointments. The Lexus GS may be finally catching up with its German competition.


Ipone as GPS, the good, the bad, and good again

This is the tale of how I almost stopped using my iPhone as a Car GPS unit and how the right app and a better idea of how to use it changed my mind. Here is what happened.

When the iPhone gained its GPS capabilities I was excited to use is for navigation. Using Google maps worked well enough but certainly was not a replacement for standalone unit. Then a host of new third-party GPS applications began to appear and I became more excited about using the iPhone as my only GPS unit. That didn’t last very long. I was heading to a wedding I was officiating in New York when things went more than a bit array.

I was using the iPhone as my GPS unit and all was going well enough at first. I had put in the location of the wedding venue, the GPS app had set the route and was giving my great directions. Then the phone rang. It was an emergency. I had to take the call. Unfortunately, since the iPhone does not permit background applications. As a result, the phone ringing kicked me out of the GPS application. I was on the call for seven minutes and during that time the highway split. I did not have the GPS app’s guidance so I had to choose. I chose wrong. But it got worse.

When I got off the phone I tried to relaunch the GPS app. The app launched but for some reason I wasn’t able to get a GPS lock. As a result I took yet another wrong turn. Two wrong turns turned into three wrong turns. Three wrong turns turned into seven wrong turns and by the time I was able to get the GPS tracking back online I was so far out of my way that it was going to take me double the time I had actually planned in order to get to the wedding. Fortunately the bride and groom running just as far behind as I was so when I finally got there they were just pulling up as well. The rest of the wedding went off without a hitch but on the way home I had more trouble locking in on a GPS signal. Once again I got lost but at least this time I didn’t have to actually have people depending upon me getting there at a specific time.

The experience was awful and I thought that I was completely and totally done using the iPhone as a GPS unit.

Then I decided to try it again.

This time I was officiating at a funeral that was taking place in Manhattan with the burial occurring out on the tip of Long Island. The Car GPS/iPhone combination doesn’t work well for me when a phone call comes in (due to Apple’s restriction on background applications- thanks Apple) but by this time I was using my Blackberry Bold as my phone and my iPhone as an “always connected pocket computer”. This allowed me to use the iPhone ONLY as a GPS unit. It worked beautifully.

The next time I began using the AT&T Navigator app instead of the Navigon resident app I had been using. I liked it but continued to have times when it seemed to have a hard time locking into a GPS signal. The Navigator app (powered by Telenav) not only has been providing me excellent directions but the rerouting feature is awesome and has saved me a number of times recently. Yes, it relies upon having an ongoing data connection but the fact that it doesn’t sit resident on your iPhone, easily updates traffic and seems to get a GPS lock with tremendous speed are all huge benefits. Check out Chris and my review first look from a few months back and his recent update post for more details. (My thanks to the folks at Navigon for allowing me to trial the app again.)

I’ve now been using the iPhone as my sole GPS unit for a while now. I’m back to using the AT&T Navigator app exclusively and it hasn’t failed me once.

So what lessons do I take from this? First, it takes the right app to make something work the way you need it to work. Second, the “right” app may be different for one person than it is for another. Third, until the iPhone can run an app or two in the background make sure that when using the iPhone as a gps you know what the next turn is before taking a cal.

Keep the eye on this site for the next few days for a chance to win an opportunity to check it out yourself!


Concept Cars Boast Green, Gadget Cred at Tokyo Motor Show

If you care about the environment and like gadgets there's a double dose of good news from this year's Tokyo Motor Show. Cars are going green and packing an increasing amount of high-tech systems to communicate with the driver and entertain passengers.The motor show, which opened to the media on Wednesday, saw the debut of a number of concept and prototype cars with electric, hydrogen or hybrid engines. In many of the concepts the dials and lights of the dashboard have been replaced by wide LCD Car monitors that provide much the same information but in a much more stylish and colorful way.

Nissan unveiled its Land Glider, a futuristic single-person all-electric vehicle that leans into corners like a motorcycle when it turns. The concept borrows some of the same dashboard features from Nissan's all-electric Leaf car that's due next year and features a wrap-around LCD panel with a second, center panel for the navigation display.

The car could be available as soon as three years from now and is aimed at city dwellers who want to make short trips. The car's small size is intended to help cut down on congestion, said Takashi Nakajima, product design director at Nissan's design center.

Equally shiny was the dashboard of Mitsubishi's concept PX-MiEV. The car, a plug-in hybrid, has three LCD panels around the steering wheel showing graphics representations of the car and its speed, energy performance and the air conditioning system. A fourth display in the center panel provides an interface to the entertainment system.

Honda brought its concept U3-X mobility device to the show. The U3-X has a small fold-out seat and a pair of fold-out foot-rests. Riders control the device by simply leaning in the direction they wish to move. An incline detector inside the device senses shifts in upper-body weight and responds by moving forwards, backwards or sideways, or turning.

Honda and Toyota have both developed such prototype mobility devices with the idea that one day commuters will travel by car to the edge of city centers and then get around within the city on the machines.

It's not just around the driver where things are going high-tech.Daihatsu unveiled the Deca Deca small van, which is intended to appeal to people with outdoor hobbies. Two large doors open up one entire side of the van, which is spacious enough in the rear to carry things like a bicycle or load of plants.

For photographers the van hides a special feature: Pull down a protective cover and a 35-inch LCD (liquid crystal display) monitor is revealed. The cover becomes a desk top and you've got a small photo studio on wheels. A seat completes the set-up and provides a space to view images that have been taken on a photography trip and do some editing with a computer.

Phiaro, a company that builds one-off concept cars for auto makers, was showing a design of its own that has a touch-panel display to control the car's entertainment functions. The company worked with mobile network operator Willcom to build in its Core XGP service that supports 20Mbps data networking to and from the car.

The Tokyo Motor Show opens to the public on Saturday and continues until Nov. 4 at Makuhari Messe in Chiba, near Tokyo.


Sierra hikers misuse portable GPS trackers

Saving yourself from danger in the wilderness used to require skill. Also plenty of effort.

Now, all it takes is the touch of a finger.

Press button. Distress call transmitted. Authorities notified. Help on the way.

When used correctly, personal locator beacons and satellite trackers greatly assist search-and-rescue efforts by providing exact Car GPS coordinates for a person who is lost or injured.

But as more people take these devices into the backcountry, more people are using them irresponsibly, say rangers at Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks. Too often they decide to push a button instead of using their heads.

"We've had more illegitimate distress calls this summer than ever before, thanks to these gizmos," said wilderness coordinator Gregg Fauth.

Among the examples from this summer:

A Pacific Crest Trail hiker, frightened during a lightning storm, transmitted two 911 calls on her personal satellite messenger. A widespread search ensued, only for a sheriff to find her in Lone Pine several days later. She neglected to tell anyone she had gotten out.

Barely a mile from the trailhead, a Boy Scout troop sent a 911 emergency call because someone had sprained an ankle.

A 68-year-old-woman, backpacking solo in a remote section of the parks, sent an ambiguous "Help" message to her husband 15 times over a 12-hour period after falling and hitting her head. The woman never stopped moving, sending rangers on a needless chase, before she exited the wilderness on her own.

"We're going to respond, but we don't have the resources to be chasing people," said parks spokeswoman Adrienne Freeman. "Pressing a button is not the answer. Assessing risks is the answer."

Sequoia and Kings Canyon occupy 1,352 square miles of the Southern Sierra Nevada, 83% of which is designated wilderness. The jointly managed parks, visited by about 1.5 million people annually, contain the range's tallest peaks, including Mount Whitney, and the most remote river canyons.

Along with phones and Car GPS units, the introduction of satellite trackers and messengers for personal use raises the eternal debate over whether (or how much) technology belongs in the backcountry. And whether relying on computerized gadgets at the expense of tried-and-true backcountry skills somehow dilutes the experience.

"It should not replace basic skills like knowing how to use a map and compass or reading terrain," Fauth said. "And it shouldn't replace the basic reason why people go into the wilderness, which is about challenge and learning self reliance.

"Where's the sense of accomplishment if all you know how to do to get yourself out of trouble is push a button?"

How they work

Since purchasing his SPOT satellite messenger in June 2008, Steve Cosner never goes hiking or backpacking without it. Not only because he may need to summon help, but also to comfort his wife back home in Fresno when he's out rambling in the mountains.

Cosner's unit, the most popular in the marketplace, contains three function buttons labeled 911, Help and OK.

Press 911 and the GPS coordinates of your location are transmitted to the GEOS International Emergency Response Center, which in turn contacts local authorities.

Press Help or OK, and a pre-programmed e-mail or text message of your choosing is sent to up to 10 people. Help is designed for nonemergency assistance that could mean anything from "Send food" to "Pick me up a day early."

The OK button is to let folks on your list know all is well and also to provide a link of your location on Google Maps.


How To get Bluetooth In Your Car

Nowadays, everything seems like it is run on Bluetooth technology. This includes many different types of computers, video game consoles, cell phones, and of course, portable music players. Since so many different things run on this kind of thing, wouldn’t it be nice if you could have Bluetooth on the go? By that I mean, it would be nice to have Bluetooth in your car, would it not? Well, if you have some of the newer cars, then you may already have Bluetooth technology in there. For the rest of us, what can we do to get Bluetooth technology in the car? You can get a Car DVD player with bluetooth support, then you can use bluetooth directly. Otherwise, you will need a car kit.

Bluetooth Logo

Getting Bluetooth technology for your car is not something that is very hard to do. Of course, you may be asking yourself why you need Bluetooth technology for you car. What good is that going to do you? Well, to tell you the truth, it’s going to help you a lot, and I will tell you why. How many of you drive around with your phone? Some of us use headsets, some of us have Bluetooth pieces, and some of us still do it the old fashion way by holding the phone to our ear (I know. It sounds so old school now, doesn’t it?). However, a few lucky ones do not need any of that they have Bluetooth in there car.

Nokia Bluetooth Car Kit

This means that when they get a phone call, the phone call will be wireless throughout the whole car. Most of the time this means that the conversation will play right out of the cars speakers! Talk about a conversation in stereo! Anyway, you will be free to drive and not have to worry about anything being on your head or in your ear.

Getting this kind of thing installed in your car is a little harder than it sounds. Although there are guides out there that can help you do it yourself, I would suggest that you go to a store and have them do it for you. If you have someone in your family that can do this kind of thing, then you can buy what you need and have them do it. However, if you do not understand how this kind of stuff works, then it is just going to be a big mess, and you are going to hate Bluetooth technology by the end of everything. This is one of the few things that it actually pays to have someone do it for you.

Parrot Bluetooth Car Kit

Getting this kind of technology in your car is going to have such a big effect on your life. However, to a lot of people, they do not understand that. This is something that you have to use before you see how great it is. You can talk about it, but you may just be saying that you can just use my headset. Well, unless you want to leave that headset in your ear the whole time, then this is something that you are going to want in your car. It makes everything simple, and it’s all hands free.

Nokia CK 600 Bluetooth Car Kit

As soon as a call comes in, you can answer it without having to put on your little headset. No more having to scramble to put everything in place when you get a call. This could be your new best friend, so go out there and get one today. You will be very happy you chose to do it.


Car Alarms With GPS Tracking For Vehicle, The Way Of The Future

Since the technology is getting better and costing less in the world right now, more people are able to get car alarms to ensure their safety. However, a lot of times car alarms are just not enough anymore. A lot of criminals can get into your car without setting off your alarm. Not only that, but if the alarm goes off how many people are going to stop and help? When most people hear a car alarm they take no action, which means that no one is going to even know your car is being stolen. Of course, this does not mean that you cannot protect your car. Thanks to Car GPS you can now find your car if it’s lost or stolen.

How many times have you been walking the streets, maybe in a parking lot or maybe inside your home, and you heard a car alarm. What did you do about it? Most likely all you did was say, “Man I wish someone would turn that off.” So what if that car was being broken in to? Now what would you do if it’s your car being broken into? You see, so many people have car alarms nowadays that no one even cares about hearing them anymore. If one goes off people do not even bat an eye at it. This means that if someone breaks into your car no one is going to try and stop them. This is why it’s great to have a GPS tracking unit in your car. With one of these if your car ever does get stolen you will be able to track it down. This helps the cops be able to get to your car faster. So in a world were car alarms just are not enough anymore, you have to have something more. That something more is the great GPS tracking units.

Trying to out think the bad guys gets harder by the day. However, one thing that it is hard for them to plan for is if you have a Car GPS. This is a small chip that can be placed anywhere in the car that can pin point your cars location. Now you may want to know why that is helpful. Well it’s not really that helpful until someone takes your car. Then you will thing that its the greatest thing in the world. Cops can use the GPS tracking unit in your car to see where the car is going. This way they can get it back to you faster than ever before. So not only is this a help to you now it’s a help to your local cops. The only people it does not help is the bad guys. Car alarms just are not enough anymore. If you are in the store you are not even going to hear it go off. Which means that there is nothing you can do. That is why we have to take a stand against the bad guys.

Purchasing one of these GPS unit for the cars that do not have them already in them are easy to get. In fact, you cna be able to buy them in almost any store locally. If you are having a hard time finding one, the good news is that you can get them online. By getting them online you are not only going to save time, but you are also going to be saving a lot of money. This is because most things cost a lot less when they are online. Do not spend anymore time thinking about if your car is safe or not. Go out and get one of the GPS tracking units, and keep your car safe today.


Car Stereo System for Theft Protection

Car stereo system theft protection is a must if you live or go to areas that have thieving rats -- And who doesn't. That's unless you don't mind buying replacements. Furthermore, these thieves don't mind the damages they cause -- even invalidating your warranty.

To avoid such painful situations, it is always better to have your security system in place. There are several measures that you can implement to protect your car audio system from thieves.
Your car stereo system can be protected from thefts in a number of ways.

Car stereo systems are available with detachable front plates, especially for some 1 DIN Car DVD Player or 2 DIN Car DVD Player. This way you can easily remove the control panel of your receiver and carry it along with you when you leave the car. Without the control panel, the car head unit is of no use to thieves. This reduces dramatically the risk of your head unit being stolen.

You can fit security alarms that come in different shapes and with different specifications.
There are many other theft-deterrence measures. Car audio product manufacturers are constantly thinking up new and more effective ways. You’ll have to get what fits your purse and person.


How Car Monitors are widely used today

Car Monitors primarily consisted of either an overhead or flip down monitor in the time they firstly entered the market. They are mainly used for the parents who took long trips in the family minivan with their children. These days, there are quite a few more car video monitor options available to consumers with varying reasons as to what they are used for. Of course the market is still filled with parents looking to keep their keeps occupied during long rides, but now people are installing monitors to entertain business clients, review DVD presentations on the way to a meeting or play the latest Madden football game with their buddies on the way to a pro football game. Aside from the overhead and flip down monitors other types of car video monitors available to consumers include: in-dash monitors, headrest monitors, sun visor monitors, and mirror monitors.

Flip Down Car Monitors:
A flip down monitor is basically an overhead monitor that flips down for viewing. When the monitor is not being viewed it can be flipped up to add more overhead space to the vehicle. This type of monitor is also popular with consumers that own cars, who want an overhead car video monitor for their back seat passengers. Flip down monitors come in the same sizes as overhead monitors.

In-Dash Car Monitors:
In-dash car video monitors provide video entertainment to the often-neglected front seat passenger (and driver, although I don’t recommend viewing the in-dash monitor while you are driving). An in-dash monitor is usually one component of a larger unit that includes a TV tuner and receiver. Most in-dash monitors flip up from the unit when being viewed and flip back down to provide more front seat space when it is not being used. These monitors are usually 7 inches or less.

Overhead Car Monitors: Overhead monitors are exactly what their name implies. You can attach an overhead monitor to the ceiling of your vehicle. Typically they are installed in larger vehicles such as minivans and sport utility vehicles since they require a good amount of headroom for the overhead installation. An overhead car video monitor often fits over your vehicle’s overhead lighting unit. A typical overhead monitor is 7 – 10 inches, but you can buy monitors as large as 20 inches.

Headrest Car Monitors:
Headrest monitors can either be mounted to the back of your vehicle’s headrest or mounted into your headrest with the use of a mounting bracket and mounting kit. There are even headrest replacement monitors that are designed to replace your vehicle’s original headrest. This allows the consumer to avoid cutting into the original headrest. When you sell or get rid of your vehicle you can replace the headrest monitors with the original headrests. Headrest monitors can be used in conjunction with or as a replacement to an overhead monitor. They are especially popular with car owners, since cars typically do not provide the necessary overhead space for overhead monitors. Headrest monitors are also generally 7 inches or less.

Mirror Car Monitors:
Mirror car video monitors are LCD displays that are designed to fit over the existing rear-view mirror in your vehicle. Besides being used as a traditional video monitor, mirror monitors are also great for rear view cameras as well. This is the smallest type of monitor available for your vehicle and is generally no more than 4 inches long.

Sun Visor Car Monitors:
Sun visor monitors can either be mounted into your vehicle’s current sun visor or purchased as a replacement to your original sun visor. Manufacturers of sun visor replacement monitors have designed the visors in many different colors and textures to match your vehicle’s interior as closely as possible. A typical sun visor monitor is 5 inches in length although they make them as large as 7 inches.

Since they’re so wildly used and play a more and more important role in your car, you should make a wise decision to get Car monitors, buy from reliable supplier who have reasonable prices, good after-service for example 2 years, etc. Good luck!