Weekly auto rail, with a look at the 2009 Chevrolet Corvette ZR1, winter driving tips and more.

Test Drive

2009 Chevrolet Corvette ZR1

Base price: $106,520

EPA MPG: 14 city/20 highway

Critics say: Nothing makes auto critics drool more than a beautiful power machine. Motortrend.com says, “Prepare to be humiliated. If, that is, you're a sports-car maker other than Chevrolet. … The 2009 Corvette ZR1 is a world-beater.” Automobilemag.com says, “The ZR1 is a high-water mark for Corvette performance that - given the macro trends in oil prices, the U.S. economy and the fortunes of General Motors - almost certainly will never be achieved again.” And CarGurus.com says, “The ZR1 is brutal, almost atavistically so. Imagine a Neanderthal with an aluminum bat; all of the force with none of the vulgarity. If you’ve got the money, and a desire to shame Ferrari owners, go for it.”

Tip of the Week

If your vehicle has been snowed upon or has ice on it, make sure you clear the entire vehicle, not just a portion of the windshield. Your visibility decreases dramatically if you can’t see out of your other windows, so make sure they are all clear, as well as the roof and hood of the car – you don’t want snow blowing onto a window to obstruct your view. Also make sure your headlights are clear; they’ll illuminate the road better. Most of this is common sense, but how many drivers really do it?

Car Q&A

Question: I recently traded my 2002 Cadillac Deville in for a 2008 rear-drive V/6 STS. I had owned seven Cadillacs previously. This car rides like a truck. I went back to the dealer; they checked the tire pressure and found it four pounds too much. They adjusted the pressure, and the car still rides hard. They said nothing more can be done. I went to another Cadillac dealer and they said the ride is normal, and I should test drive a DTS. I test drove a new DTS and found the ride to also be hard. What can I do?

Answer: Today’s vehicles have a firm ride. The ride in the DTS is smoother than the STS. Your 2002 Deville suspension had six years of wear and tear and would be softer. You can make a tire size change to a larger sidewall. This will require a smaller size rim. You want to acquire the same overall tire diameter of the original tire.

-- Junior Damato, Talking Cars columnist

Fuel Efficient

Sticking to the speed limit likely will save you money at the pump. According to FuelEconomy.gov, gas mileage generally decreases rapidly once you top 60 mph. The numbers they give is that every 5 mph over 60 mph costs you about a quarter more in fuel costs.

GateHouse News Service