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Toyota Announces College Grad Discounts

A mere five months after General Motors announced they’d be offering discounts for college students and recent graduates, Toyota has decided to jump on the bandwagon by offering $1,000 rebates to recent college graduates.

But Toyota’s terms are quite a bit more limited than GM’s, which may or may not have anything to do with the General’s searing desperation. Where GM’s college program is open to all college students and anyone who’s graduated in the last two years, Toyota’s is only available to people out of college less than two years, or who are less than six months from graduating.

Toyota also tags on a few more terms in the fine print: you have to show Toyota proof of employment within four months of your purchase, and the suits at Toyota Financial Headquarters have to declare your salary sufficient to cover your car payments and a place to live – so if you were thinking about buying a Sienna and living out of it, tough luck.

In addition, the selection of vehicles that falls under the program is much more limited. If you want the discount, you can only choose from the Yaris, Corolla, Matrix, RAV4, Tacoma, or Camry – and not even the Camry hybrid. GM, by contrast, offers college discount pricing on every new model except the new Camaro, the Corvette ZR1, and the Saturn Vue Hybrid. Want a 556-horsepower Cadillac CTS-V? How about a Corvette convertible? Or a Hummer H2? Yes, any of them can be yours for the wholesale price, so long as you can flash the sheepskin. (Though why you’d want the Hummer is still beyond me.)

Sorry, folks. It's still $103,970.

Sorry, folks. It's still $103,970.

However, Toyota’s program does give you some benefits GM doesn’t offer: no down payment, no payments for 90 days, one year of free roadside assistance, and the ability to apply the discount to both new and certified used Toyotas. With GM, you get what you see.

So how do the two programs stack up? Well, let’s do a quick comparison – Toyota Camry versus Chevy Malibu, four-cylinder mid-level models, nothing wild. The Malibu LT1 costs $23,225 retail after destination charges, while the Camry LE goes for $22,400 before discounts. The college degree knocks the Camry down to $21,400, while bringing the Malibu down to $22,421. So it looks like a win for the Camry…

…unless you factor in the $2,500 in potential rebates available on the Malibu that can drop the price to $19,921.

Which one’s a better program? Well, Toyota’s offers more benefits if you’re able to meet their conditions, but their car selection is pretty weak – they don’t even offer Scions in the deal, and the models they are letting grads choose from are all pretty far into their life cycle. Plus, none of them are going to make your drive particularly thrilling.

GM’s terms aren’t quite as good (the discount usually ends up being less than a grand, unless you factor in other offers), but at least they give you some better choices. Sure, you still might not be able to swing a Corvette ZO6, but it might be enough to nudge a Cobalt SS or Pontiac Solstice within your reach.

(You can read all about Toyota’s program at their website.)

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2009 New York International Auto Show – Day One Unfiltered

We’ll have a comprehensive piece in a few days summarizing and analyzing the 2009 NYIAS, but in the meantime, content yourself with our raw notes from the Javits floor. We’re goin’ gonzo!

Mercedes-Benz, 9:30 a.m. Little sign of the recession here. Look, a $545,000 Mercedes-Benz SLR 722 convertible! A $300,000 SL65 Black Series on a goddamn pedestal! Thankfully, the espresso bar is still there. Also, a live jazz band stage-side. The pianist’s playing a Steinway. Heh. Pianist.

Mercedes always has the best countdowns – giant chrome numbers ticking off on the screen above the stage, flying by to a bombastic orchestral soundtrack via tachycardia-inducing subwoofers.

And here we go! The theme: “Road To The Future.” Is it in the sky?

And the first new car is…the ML450 Hybrid SUV. Their first full hybrid – Prius style! Developed exclusively for the U.S. and Canada. We’re special. Hmm, 335 horsepower, 381 lb/ft, and 21 city/24 highway. This actually doesn’t sound so bad.

Also an updated GL-class. And the new E-class!

Ooh, here’s Grammy-winning jazz singer Dianne Reeves to sing a new song “dedicated to the launch of the new E-class!” What a good use of cash reserves in these lean times – a famous vocalist! What, they couldn’t get Billy Joel?

"Better than sex! Better than drugs! Better than ice cream!"

Dianne's will have a Grammy on the hood in place of the three-pointed star.

“Better than anything except being in love,” goes the song. So…we’re not going to fall in love with this car?

E320 Bluetec diesel makes 23 city/32 highway, along with 210 hp and 400 lb/ft of torque. Sweet. Why can’t Ford put an engine like this in an F-150?

The E-class coupe is “the most aerodynamic production car in the world.” Seems random.

And here comes the hairy nutsack – the E63 AMG! Unveiled to clashing guitars, no less! Kick-ass! 518 horsepower, 465 lb/ft! And a staggering 12 percent improvement in fuel economy! Holy shit! Call the president – the auto crisis is over!

Mercedes-Benz's giant balls

Mercedes-Benz's giant balls

Chrysler, 10:00 a.m: Here comes jolly hunchback and Chrysler vice chairman Jim Press. He’s driving out in a Fiat 500! That’s like half a step away from out-and-out blowing Obama’s automotive taskforce!

Okay, Press has spent about five minutes talking about how wonderful a “marriage” with Fiat would be. This is fuckin’ trippy. The official spokesman of Chrysler – CHRYSLER! – is admitting his company is so screwed, they’re happily accepting a forced marriage…to FIAT. The mighty have gone subterranean.

But their first electric car will be out by 2010! Yay! Sunshine and puppies!

Finally – the new Jeep Grand Cherokee bucks onto the stage. It bounced up the steps on the edge of the platform. That was pretty cool.

And it’s surprisingly good looking! Seriously, wow! I’m impressed! It’s almost…sexy. (Warning: maybe NSFW, definitely emotionally scarring.)

Sexy Jeeps? Please, God, let's keep it from going this far.

Sexy Jeeps? Please, God, let's keep this from going too far.

A 146 percent increase in body stiffness over the old model, which was apparently made entirely out of duct tape.

Land Rover, 10:30 a.m.: Three models hidden under sheets, then again hidden behind giant LCD screens. And here goes another fancy countdown – ooh, numbers plunging into water! Kinda makes me have to pee.

More generic-brand rock music, another video montage…and here they are! Three all-new – wait, those cars look exactly the same as the old models.

Apparently the LR3 has now been replaced by the LR4, which looks pretty much identical. Quick note to Land Rover – if automotive journalists can’t tell it’s an all-new model, you might want to try something a little more revolutionary. Like, say, curves.

The LR3. Er, the LR4. Oh hell, why can't we still call it the Discovery?

The LR3. Er, the LR4. Oh hell, why can't we still call it the Discovery?

Ooh, they’re preparing a compact Range Rover “cross coupe!” I wonder if it will be anything like…

Acura, 11:00 a.m.: …the new ZDX crossover! Or four-door coupe, or sports-activity coupe, or elevated sports sedan, or whatever they’re calling this niche this week. True fact: they change the category’s name every time Glenn Beck cries.

When you leave the car idling for more than a minute, those lights pulse like a Mac.

When you leave the car idling for more than a minute, those lights pulse like a Mac.

Acura’s Jeff Conrad claims it’s “an entirely new category of luxury vehicle.” Except for the BMW X6. Or the Infiniti FX. Yeah, nice try.

Two models (the blonde on the right is hotter, just so you know) peel off the cover, to reveal…THE IRON MAN MARK 2!

Oh, no, it’s the ZDX. It’s just all burnished metallic with glowing blue concept-car headlights. Damn. I was really excited to see it fly through the roof.

Man, Iron Man was a great movie.

Man, Iron Man was a great movie.

Very Japanese up front – headlights like the new Mazda6. Those’ll change for production. Otherwise, looks like an Acura TL nose and MDX tail grafted onto a BMW X6. Not bad, really. But I need to see it with production lamps before rendering final judgement.

It’s for “active and adventuring individuals,” they say? That’s me! Excuse me while I take take a ten-mile jog while reading up on sub-Saharan parasites for my trip to the Congo next month.

Only a V6? Oh, right – they killed their V8 engine program. Bad move, Honda. You’re gonna need that. Or chop half a ton out of the thing if you want to fight BMW and Infiniti on their turf. (Or I guess they could turbocharge it…)

Production models – all with a panoramic glass roof! – hit dealerships this fall. Gonna have to see how it drives.

General Motors, 11:30 a.m.: “Gone, Gone, Gone,” by Robert Plant and Alison Kraus, is playing in the background as we wait for the conference to start. Someone has a black sense of humor.

Three models being shown off, two of which are already out on stage, since they’ve been around the block a few times already. Pontiac G8 GXP? Seen it. Buick Lacrosse? Does the name still mean masturbation in French-speaking Quebec? Because otherwise I don’t care.

Apparently GMC is the General’s “premium truck brand.” No, Cadillac is your premium truck brand. They sell the Escalade, the Enzyte Escalade (it’s several inches longer), the Farmer’s Escalade (it has a truck bed, so it’s clearly intended for hauling manure), and the SRX mid-size sport-ute. GMC is a neglected brand that hasn’t had a proprietary model since Obama stopped using pot.

But wait – here’s the GMC Terrain! It’s a small SUV that gets 30 mpg highway and arrives this summer! And I actually fit in back! Wow! Why isn’t it a Chevy?

The GMC Terrain is made entirely of journalists.

The GMC Terrain is made entirely of journalists.

Scion, 12:05 p.m.: The whole ballroom is lit up like a techno club. If Scion reps start asking us if we “roll,” I’m not sure which answer I should give.

Today’s concept, they claim, is for today’s “urban youth” who embrace “urban culture.” Not sure if they’re talking about Gossip Girl or The Wire.

“A microsubcompact car is perfect for their progressive lifestyles.” Because the smaller the car, the thicker the pot smoke inside.

And the iQ Concept lowers itself from the ceiling. It looks like a Smart car with mutated, Sideshow Bob-like feet. It’s radioactive green. Amazingly, this looks cool.

Next week, Serena and Blair try to score rock in their iQ.

Next week, Serena and Blair try to score rock in their iQ.

Holy shit, the name of the paint color actually is “radioactive?” I thought of that in half a second. Maybe I should go into PR instead.

And it comes with a 10″ LCD screen inside that folds into the console and projects rave lighting when turned off. Does this seem, in any way shape or form, like a good idea?

Wow, up close, this thing has a serious wide stance. Like, a Senator Larry Craig wide stance.

WITH HIS HAMMER PANTS DOWN!

WITH HIS HAMMER PANTS DOWN!

Volkswagen, 12:40 p.m.: Stefan Jacoby, President of VW of America, says they don’t expect to match the gains they made in 2008. Dude, we came here to dream about shiny new cars, not get gut-punched. Why not tell us the Easter Bunny isn’t real, too?

The covers come off the new Golf and GTI – and they’re not very different. Except the Rabbit is now the Golf again.

Sweet. Can we eat now? I'm hungry.

Sweet. Can we eat now? I'm hungry.

The design director’s been talking about the car’s styling for five minutes. Fuck it – I’m going to lunch.

Lunch, 1:05 p.m.: Well, at least it’s free.

BMW, 2:00 p.m.: Seven new Bimmer models go on sale this year, and eight in 2010. How many ways can you split a Bavarian creme pie?

Ahh, the world premiere of the BMW X6M. 555 horsepower and 500 pound-feet of delicious absurdity. 0 to 60 in 4.5 seconds? Man, I can’t wait until they strap this engine into the next-generation M5.

Tim Allen says: "Arf Arf Arf!" (No? I though the 90's were coming back.)

Tim Allen says: "Arf Arf Arf!" (No? I though the 90's were coming back.)

But because cosmic scales must be balanced, BMW’s karma is evened out by introducing the X6 Active Hybrid for later this year. Any Buddhists at BMW these days?

I'm blue, abu-dee abu-dye...really? They're not back yet?

I'm blue, abu-dee abu-dye...really? They're not back yet?

Apparently 63 percent of power for their Spartanburg, S.C. plant comes from sucking methane out of a nearby landfill. The other 37 percent comes from harvesting methane farted out by the employees.

Wandering about, 2:20 p.m.: Props to Porsche and Land Rover/Jaguar for rocking the lounge setup – each one has leather couches, munchies and beverages. But LR/Jag with the win for the open bar and hors d’oeuvres. The Germans only have Coke and communal M&M bowls.

Bentley, 2:30 p.m.: Hip, James Bond-ish music blares from suspended speakers – surprisingly hip for someone proudly portraying the symbols of HM The Queen and HRH The Prince Of Wales on the wall.

Today’s launch is “one of the most important cars in our history,” they say? Well, unless you’re hiding a surprise plug-in diesel hybrid – oh, no, it’s just the Supersports you showed at Geneva. I mean, biofuel capability is nice, but is a slightly faster, sportier Continental GT really THAT important just because it runs on moonshine? I mean, outside of Brazil.

It runs on gasoline, E85, or Hennessy XO.

It runs on gasoline, E85, or Hennessy XO.

But kudos to the Bentley spokesman for going old-school and forgoing the teleprompter for a paper copy of his sheet. Well done, old chap.

Porsche, 2:55 p.m.: Porsche unveils the newest version of the 911 GT3. That’s all. It’s light, it’s fast, it makes more power than any naturally aspirated six-cylinder does. I want one.

I think that's a good image to leave you with.

I think that's a good image to leave you with.

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Quick View – Pontiac G8

If you follow the site regularly, you may have noticed that there aren’t usually many Quick Views about American cars on the site. Well, actually, if you’re really astute, you’ll have noticed there aren’t any Quick Views for the Big Three’s products. There’s a reason for that – Ford, Chrysler and GM haven’t exactly been trying to compete heavily in the Generation Y market recently. Their business plans, for the most part, have been more along the lines of Tony Bennett’s – hang onto the people you hooked in thirty years ago.

2008 Pontiac G8 GXP

But, like the crooners of old, the American automakers are catching onto the problem of their model – sooner or later, your target audience gets too old to dance. In that case, aging brands have two choices – retire gracefully, or reinvent yourself. For aging musicians, the former is infinitely preferable – please, Mr. Bennett, no one wants to see you freestyle – but for legendary brands, rebooting the image is often just what the doctor ordered.

In the case of car companies, there’s only one way to really reinvent one’s self, and that’s with hot, new vehicles. A flashy ad campaign alone won’t cut it – you gotta have cars that people want. Detroit, to their credit, is finally starting to understand that, and the last few years have seen an influx of sweet rides that can match up to cars from pretty much anywhere on the planet. 

Among that list comes today’s contestant – the Pontiac G8. Now, before you unroll that four-foot American flag Fathead for the car’s roof, there’s a dirty little secret you should know – it’s not really American. It’s Australian. The G8 is, for the most part, identical to the Holden Commodore sedan, assembled Down Under and sent over here. While this might seem like cause for concern, fear not: this Aussie not only speaks with a convincing American accent, it kicks some serious ass – just like Hugh Jackman.

 

Hugh Jackman seen here kicking seri - shit! Wrong picture!

Hugh Jackman seen here kicking seri - shit! Wrong picture!

 

That's better.

That's better.

However, the G8 offers three different flavors, unlike Mr. Jackman, who only has two (ruggedly hairy and dramatically flamboyant). Your choice of trim level determines your engine, but don’t expect anything with less than six cylinders. Don’t look for any nancy-boy front-wheel-drive here, either; this is real Auss…er, American iron, and it only comes in rear-wheel-drive, just like Dad did it.

As you might imagine, this old-school four-door has some serious guts. Base models, packing a 265-horsepower, 3.6-liter V6, runs from 0 to 60 in 7.0 seconds, according to Car and Driver. GT trim levels haul down the blacktop courtesy of a 6.0-liter V8 that funnels 361 horses to the rear wheels – enough to reach mile-a-minute velocity in 5.3 seconds from a dead stop. Top-of-the-line  GXP models cut more than half a second off that, going from naught to 60 in 4.7 seconds while completely erasing memories of that shitty Grand Am your grandmother used to drive. All G8s come with an automatic with manual control (five gears in the base, six gears in GT and GXP); a six-speed stick (yeeeeeeaaah!!) is optional on the GXP.

But with great power comes great responsibility – in this case, a responsibility to ExxonMobil. (God, Stan Lee’s gonna shoot me for butchering that phrase.) Base G8s are EPA rated at 17 mpg city/25 mpg highway. The significantly ballsier GT, surprisingly, pulls down 15 mpg in town and 24 on the open road, very close to its wimpier brother. But physics (or Uncle Ben) finally catches up once one steps up to the GXP, which sucks gas at a rate of 13/20 city/highway.

2008 Pontiac G8 GXP

The lineup starts with the basic model, simply called G8, presumably to encourage Who’s-on-First-like confusion at Pontiac dealerships. Standard features include 18-inch wheels, electronic stability control, keyless entry and remote starter, and a 7-speaker Blaupunkt CD stereo with audio jack and control screen that looks like it should show some kind of a map but doesn’t, because apparently everyone Down Under is so badass they always know where they’re going. ABS, front-side-and-head airbags, and loads of other safety features come gratis, but you will have to pay to tan – sunroof is optional on all G8s. The base G8 starts at $28,250; check all the boxes, and that’ll go over 30 grand, but not much.

Mid-level G8 GTs are equipped pretty much like base models, with the exception of their bigger engines, a few trim pieces, and an upgraded 11-speaker Blaupunkt stereo. A Sport package is offered, unique to this model, as well. While they were first introduced a year ago, Pontiac gave into pre-inflationary nostalgia and based the GT a paper Lincoln under 30 large; today, they start at $31,775, but fear not – GM’s ever-present rebates knock a few percent of the price. (As I write this, Pontiac’s website says it’s taking $3,000 off G8s, but feel free to tack onto that all sorts of other offers, like college/graduate discounts.)

The hairy-chested G8 GXP offers even fewer differences beyond its engine – the choice of six-speed stick and standard heated leather seats are about it. Tires get bumped up to 19″, as well (both the bigger wheels and leather are options on lower models). GXPs start at $37,610 before rebates.

2008 Pontiac G8 GXP

So when the time comes to sign on the line, which one of these G8s is a Gr8 buy? (Jesus…that’s pathetic.) Well, there’s no real bad choice here. The base model is certainly tempting for some very sage reasons – other than the bigger engine, you give up little to the more expensive models, and you’ll have the satisfaction of saving money both at the pump and on the payment. The GXP, on the other hand, is just so goddamn cool it’s hard not to just suck it up and pay extra for what amounts to a four-door Corvette capable of holding its own with a manual BMW M5 (costing twice as much) in the quarter-mile. But ultimately, the Goldilocks solution is best here. The G8 GT gives up little in real-world performance to its big bro for a price that, with a few rebates, dips under $30,000. It’s a throwback to a better time – when a dollar was worth something, a family could survive in comfort on one person’s income, and America made the best damn cars in the world.

Grades: G8 base: B+, G8 GT: A, G8 GXP: A

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