UCBC: The 2 Seeds

Wow, how quickly a month+ has passed since the last entry of UCBC. I have to be honest with you all. I actually ended up purchasing my new car! So many of you already now the “winner” of the tournament. But alas, I must finish what I started, and well, the UCBC is a fun process, and I actually filled out the bracket in determining the winner.

Granted, the fact that I got an offer I couldn’t refuse did further the cause of the eventual winner, but it was actually going to be in the semi’s probably in the finals anyway!

This entry reveals the 2 seeds. Here we start stretching just a little bit when it comes to desired price range/gas expenditures/insurance, but of course, the UCBC is all in good fun, right? These cars are some of my favorites, and perhaps have a greater chance of winning it all over the soon to be announced 1 seeds.

2003+ Acura TSX

2006 Acura TSX rear

Acura has been an award winning luxury brand for decades. 2003 saw the introduction of the TSX, Acura’s foray into the entry-level vehicle competition. Sleek and clean cut, the TSX is an automotive beauty. Distinguishable and envied at the parking lot, while not coming at a steep premium. This little car has got some giddy-up as well, with over 200 hp I-4 and an aggressive looking dual exhaust system.

The interior is sure to please even the pickiest of luxury-seeking palettes. Leather to best match the exterior color, beautifully designed accents inside, and a killer stock sound system make the TSX poised to perhaps take it all!

2003+ Infinity G35


Nissan’s Infiniti luxury line has been a reputable namesake for years, similar to Acura’s reputation thanks to historic reliability of Honda. Infiniti’s advantage has often been imaginative design. Yes, some will argue that it’s nothing but a Nissan 350Z with makeup and a few extra pounds, but just looking at the picture, you have to admit that it is a beauty.

Under the hood, it packs 275 hp with a 3.5 L engine. This roughly translates to breathtaking fun on the road… or multiple speeding tickets… The tail lights are LEDs. It is quite customizable. Some tint, rims, and other accents and you’ll have a sexy machine.

Below average MPG and mandatory premium octane gas along with a rumored high cost of maintenance make me a little cautious… but for those where looks are a priority, this is your car.

2006+ Dodge Charger R/T


Oh, the muscle car wars of the 60s and 70s… where American car companies managed to carve out a niche in the automotive universe. The Charger namesake brings back memories of Hemis, gasoline smells, and the Dukes of Hazzard. Much to the dismay of the generation that grew up with these bad boys, Daimler-Chrysler christened a four door family car with the glorious name. A muscle car doesn’t have four doors! Or does it?

While DC did manufacture basic models (a 2.7 L V6? and increased to 3.5 only after complaints of its sluggishness!) to fulfill the role of a four door family car, they did produce the R/T and SRT-8 models. These two have a 5.7L 340 hp and 6.1L 435 hp engines respectively. More than enough power to pin you to the back of your seat, and then some. The SRT-8 has horrendous city MPG, as can be expected from a 6.1 L engine. So I opted for the R/T, which can actually take regular gas on occasion as well (in contrast to SRT-8’s strict diet of PREMIUM!)

The sharkish looks are unique, though the overall platform hints of Chrysler 3oo and Dodge Magnum (which are coincidentally in the tournament!). The interiors are alarmingly smilar and well, cheap looking. But what’s under the hood can make you forget about this easily.

2004+ Acura TL


The TL has been Acura’s bread and butter since the late 80’s, winning numerous awards for design, reliability, and quality in the luxury midsize category. The 2004 redesign of the TL gave it a unique look, making it more beefy and muscular, while maintaining a refined, timeless, luxurious look.

Again, the interior is beautifully designed, and the leather seats are firm but comfortable. The optional Navi is rated the best system of all vehicles with a GPS option. XM capability, a sunroof, bluetooth connectivity, and power everything are all standard.

Honda provides its V6 270 hp VTEC engine, providing the car with a surprising amount of power during acceleration. It takes curves smoothly and full of confidence. Clearly, a practical affordable dream machine. Mid-grade and Premium gas are a must, but with the reliability of Honda, the TL is the sure favorite.

We’ll at last reveal the 1 seeds later this week, as well as the tournament bracket!

smallheap.jpg image by jmooser

UCBC: The 3 Seeds

At last, we get to the “3 Seeds” for our tournament. I guess this can be considered a celebration of the Orlando Magic reaching the NBA Finals, since they were the 3 seed coming from the Eastern Conference! Congrats, Magic!

Anywho, this past weekend was epic, not because anything special happened, but because I am actually that much closer to making my first car purchase! I went car shopping this week, and I’m not gunna lie, it was a bit overwhelming.

And let’s not forget kinda scary. I don’t think many people will put car salesmen and sales managers on the top of their “People I want to have extended conversations with” list. But overall, the experience was good. I made a few rookie mistakes, such as revealing my target payment. I’ll have a do-over soon enough.

It’s something you think about growing up- part of the “American Dream” per se. Buying your own this and that. My first car will be coming up this month!

Therefore, we need to get a move on with this tournament!

Based on my experiences this weekend, some minor changes were made to the brackets. The following 2 cars were 3 seeds, but they were replaced by models I saw over the weekend. So here are the “Honorable Mentions:”

MINI Cooper


Scion xB 1st Generation


Both would have been solid competitors, but size issues, and relative appeal pretty much removed them from consideration. Though I will miss the peppiness of the quick mini and the almost endless possibilites of modification to the xB.

And now, the 3 Seeds for the UCBC:

Dodge Magnum R/T (all years)


Dodge brought back the wagon design a few years ago, and it was an instant hit. Anytime I see one cruising around, I have to stop and look. What is fortunate is that Dodge decided to put Hemi’s in these bad boys.

So of course, I would want that additional V-8 goodness so I don’t get confused with a soccer mom. The R/T comes with a 5.7L engine good enough for 340 ponies. It will do burnouts and smoke up the skies. The SRT is a 6.1L Hemi with a whopping 425 hp. I don’t know if I am man enough to handle this… well, at least not prudent on the pedal.

A sharp design, solid engine, and cargo room make the Magnum a candidate for an early upset.

2005 + Pontiac GTO


Pontiac’s ressurection of it’s marquee muscle car is so mean, that it even passes along its “I’m a badass” attitude to its passengers- young or old. The GTO namesake is a muscle car legend. But due to the oil crisis of the 70s, this trendy generation of automobiles fizzled out.

The Goat name was bestowed up a quite simple exterior, which is the main argument of its critics. The goods are on the inside.

The 2005 GTO has a 6.0L 400 hp engine. It needs it in order to move that heavy frame. And don’t gotget the interior. Beautifully upholstered leather that matches the color of the car! And the seats are comfy. No need to squeeze in like in the Mustang or Camaro.

Powerful, neat, and a sleeper. It doesn’t look that fast. Exxxxxcellent.

2010 Mazda 3 Hatchback


The Mazda 3 Hatchback was had a successful run in the US for the past 5 or so years. I was close to purchasing one last year when they offered a ridculous price of 9000 for a new one. Too bad I still had to finish school.

The 2010 edition is a redesign. Many auto critics online were worried about this, noting that it would be hard to improve upon the design of the first generation HB. Despite the controversial “smiling” grill on the front, the newest version is poised to be a success, despite a slumping economy.

The taillights now wrap around, reminiscent of some Lexus designs. Overall it has a nice, muscular look. Dual exhaust with chrome tipped mufflers are also “hot” as the salesman put it.

2008-9 Honda Accord Coupe


If there is any Japanese word that Americans are familiar with, it is Honda. I’ve heard rumors that it is the Japanese word for reliability, but I’m pretty sure these are false. 😉

Enter: a sleek design, great gas mileage, and a car that maintains its value. The Honda Accord coupe, while not luxurious, brings a beautiful, affordable vehicle to the table. As with all older Honda’s, the mods are endless. But the new look does attempt to shed its “rice-burner” reputation with refined curves and cuts.

With some tint, rims, and intake, you could have a 200 hp object of envy

So there you have it. The 3’s are ready. We’ll meet their counterparts, the 2’s, in the near future!

smallheap.jpg image by jmooser

UCBC: The 4 Seeds

Here’s the long awaited first post of the UCBC- the quest to determine the best car for me! 16 cars will vie to be number 1 in the tournament, and most importantly: Number 1 in my heart.

We start with the “4 Seeds,” who are heavy underdogs. And to be honest, most of them were added to the master list just so we could have 16 cars… Though upon their addition, I have developed a soft spot for them. They are, all 4, solid cars… but they more than likely wont make the cut.

The Good? They are probably goin to be family favorites, and as I said, they are traditionally solid cars. The Bad? Well… they’ll be matched up against the “1 Seeds.”

Let’s meet them.

2006+ Volkswagen Passat


VW engineers hit the drawing boards and labs for the virtual over hauling of the VW design for the 2006 fiscal year. The current Passat, Jetta, and Rabbit were all born from these engineering refinements.

The Passat is big and spacious. While it’s European heritage likely translates into higher maintenance and fuel costs, it is tough to beat the new look. What’s funny is that past designs of the respective vehicles were actually viewed similarly. While the old Passat was a little bit smaller, it had a unique look.

Style, safety, and name all make it a worth competitor!

2007+ Nissan Altima


I think the link at the bottom of the picture explains it all. Nevertheless, Nissan’s Altima continues to be an extremely dependable car. Its recent redesign and the introduction of a coupe only strengthens this “family” car’s position. The availible 3.5 L engine does try to add a little bit of oomph. The coupe, which isn’t pictured, looks incredibly sharp.

Safe, slick, and fuel efficient are the keys for Altima’s success in the tournament.

2005+ Chrysler 300


Chrysler’s redesign of the 300 was an instant hit. The design beckons comparisons to Bentleys and Rolls Royces, and is perhaps one of the most consumer customizable cars ever produced. So basically, your 300 is as nice as you make it to be. Another plus is available engines. It can come with a HEMI. Yes, the most famous of engines. The high end 300, the SRT-8, comes with a 6.1 L engine and 425 HP. Brutal. Both on the racetrack and gas station.

2008+ Mitsubishi Lancer


The newest edition of the Mitsubishi Lancer look MEAN. Again, mods are key for this car. While its not my favorite of the batch, could its sharkish looks be enough to sway me?

So there you have it, the “4 Seeds” have been announced. “3 Seeds” tomorrow? We shall see.

smallheap.jpg image by jmooser

‘Mobile Madness: The Ultimate Car Buying Championship

Today, I am up for a likely raise. After proving my ability for 6 months (a long 6 months at that) I will be reviewed today! So, in much deserved (and delayed) jubilation of graduating a year ago as well as being successful in my line of work, I have been thinking about getting a new car!

But now, which car should I get? There are countless used car dealerships in my area. How will I able to decide what suits me, especially since I will hopefully be able to afford a nice used car.

The solution? The creation of a “reality blog.”

Survivor. The Biggest Loser. The newly created X’s and O’s. There are a plethora of reality TV shows which pit contestant against contestant, often in grueling competiotion, to ultimately find the champion. So why not do this for my own car buying quest?

Later this week I will be starting a new segment. The Ultimate Car Buying Championship (UCBC) is an exclusive The Heap tournament of 16 car finalists. There will be four 1,2,3 and 4 seeds. 1s will match up against 4s in the first round, and 2s against 3s. For each match up, there will be a comprehensive review, research, comparion of stats, and a media portion- pics and youtube videos. And of course, I will get to use WordPress’ POLL feature! YOU willI’ll see if I can come up with some sort of rubric later, but it will be along those lines.


I’ll be announcing the seeds throughout the week with the tentative first match up this weekend!

smallheap.jpg image by jmooser