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By on June 23, 2017

cheech-chong high driving

Tragically, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has correlated the legalization of recreational marijuana use with more automobile accidents. Pot smoking in Colorado, Oregon and Washington seems to have resulted in collision frequencies roughly 3 percent higher than what would have been expected without legalization, according to a recent analysis from the Highway Loss Data Institute.

While this certainly isn’t an endorsement for de-legalizing recreational marijuana use, it is a reminder to stay off the roads if you’re having your head changed. Operating a motor vehicle while baked can get you into a sticky-icky situation, and nobody wants you having a green out on the expressway. That said, risks associated with driving under the influence of marijuana are much less cut-and-dried than alcohol.

This is largely due to how difficult it is for researchers to test marijuana. Despite its growing legalization, marijuana is classified by the Drug Enforcement Agency as a Schedule 1 drug, and subject to the highest level of restriction. Researchers need approval from their institution and apply for a license from the DEA before conducting a study. The government also has only so much pot to dole out for research purposes and gives the majority of it to the National Institute on Drug Abuse — fair and balanced testing of whether or not getting high while driving is safe is a little lower on NIDA’s list of priorities.  Read More >

By on June 23, 2017

A Frat Bro in Cadillac Country

“Pshhh, it’s not that fast. Your car is faster,” the young man wearing the Alpha Gamma Delta shirt said to his blonde companion. We were in the parking lot of a stadium in Orange County, under the shade of a white tent with a Cadillac logo, beside a sign reading: “ACCELERATION.” It was unclear which Cadillac he was disparaging, as both the ATS-V and CTS-V were available for full-throttle rips. He may have been trying to goad his girlfriend into driving, but the trash talk indicated this was no press junket.

Welcome to the Southern California edition of Cadillac’s Truth + Dare summer tour across America.

Two weeks earlier, I was wondering how the hell I was targeted on Twitter by a Cadillac ad with an invitation to a ride-and-drive event. For financial reasons, “automotive journalist” doesn’t fit the profile of a typical Cadillac customer. My BMW Z3 recently celebrated its 20th birthday. But they weren’t asking for my tax returns and I’m fascinated by the Cadillac brand, so this seemed like an opportunity to see how they present themselves to the public. All I had to do was drive from Los Angeles to Anaheim on a Friday at 2:00 p.m. Read More >

By on June 23, 2017

self-driving uber advanced tech center autonomous car

It would seem Waymo’s case against Uber is progressing at the latter’s expense. Anthony Levandowski, the former Uber employee at the center of the intellectual property theft, was apparently covered in writing for any legal action taken against for things like… fraud and stealing trade secrets.

The clause, which is literally outlined as “Pre-Signing Bad Acts” in the contract, was part of closed documents U.S. District Judge William Alsup previously assumed would be invaluable in progressing the case. Alphabet, which owns Waymo, accused Uber of being complicit in Levandowski’s alleged theft – suggesting the ride-sharing rival intentionally hired him in the hopes he would bring inside information acquired during his tenure at Google. It was a notion Alsup also seemed more than willing to entertain.

“It remains entirely possible that Uber knowingly left Levandowski free to keep that treasure trove of files as handy as he wished [provided he keep the data on his own personal devices], and that Uber willfully refused to tell Levandowski to return the treasure trove to its rightful owner,” the judge said back in MayRead More >

By on June 23, 2017

2017 Alfa Romeo Giulia Ti - Image: FCA

The Alfa Romeo brand is an odd duck, and not just because of its “exotic” status or its on-again, off-again history in the United States. Italian car fans love it. Design enthusiasts drool over it. Performance enthusiasts and sports sedan traditionalists pine for a finely balanced, twin-turbocharged Giulia Quadrifoglio. Concerned friends warn them that other, perhaps safer options exist. Money lenders with soft hearts try to raise concerns about reliability.

Love it or fear it, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has high hopes for the Alfa brand in the U.S. but, unlike FCA boss Sergio Marchionne, top American brass are hesitant to put a number to their hopes. For now, Alfa remains a brand without numerical expectations. And that’s the reason you won’t find incentives heaped on Alfa models in the near future. Read More >

By on June 23, 2017

Image: 1988 Alpina B7S, image via Enthusiast Auto Group

The glorious green Alpina coupe before your eyes nets three firsts for the Rare Rides series. It’s the first coupe coated in any shade of green paint, the first BMW, and indeed the first German vehicle in the series (I don’t count last week’s Rolls-Royce as German, though you might).

Time for some eye candy.

Read More >

By on June 23, 2017

2014 Toyota Tundra Exterior-016

Now that pickup trucks have graduated from the role of farm and construction site conveyance to family hauler, space and seating have become as important as bed length and payload capacity. Not surprisingly, regular cab pickups and even extended-cab models have become a scarce sight on local roads.

Ram, Toyota and General Motors have since turned their extended cab full-sizers into front-hinged, almost-crew-cab four-doors, leaving Ford and Nissan with the only clamshell layouts in the business. As for regular cabs, who even thinks of those? Not many. So few, in fact, that Toyota beancounters decided to drop the axe.

Yup, there’ll be no regular cab Tundra when the refreshed 2018 models arrive in late summer. Are you sad? Read More >

By on June 23, 2017

GM Assembly, Image: General Motors

General Motors’ safety practices are no longer under the watchful eye of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The three-year oversight period was part of a settlement GM reached with U.S. regulators back in May 2014, resulting from its failure to recall defective ignition switches attributed to 124 deaths and countless injuries.

While NHTSA’s role as General Motors’ personal watchdog ended last month, the automaker said it intends to continue meeting with the agency on a monthly basis to discuss potential defects. It also stated that the time spent with the regulator had been transformative, leading to a safer environment and more stringent quality control.  Read More >

By on June 23, 2017

2018 Nissan Leaf [Image: Nissan]

After hemming and hawing for what seemed like forever, Nissan will bring American electric vehicle enthusiasts a long-overdue new Leaf later this year. Say goodbye to that old, swoopy body and 107-mile range (at best), and give a cheerful hello to a not-yet-revealed body, undisclosed driving range, and these headlights.

Okay, so there’s not a whole lot known about the next Leaf except that it won’t be an ancient thing that appeared at the dawn of the electric car resurrection. You might be able to drive to a nearby city and back. However, we now know that trip doesn’t have to be as hands-on as it once was. Read More >

By on June 23, 2017

2017 Civic Type R (European Version), Image: Honda

The release of the Civic Type R has created a lot of buzz. The recent media launch generated plenty of opinions as to its performance, including some reviewers who believe Honda has underrated the CTR in the same manner it has done with the Accord V6 in the past.

Their speculation seemed to be proven true as a video released from a shop in Puerto Rico showed the car making 301 wheel horsepower. Many outlets reported on the dyno test and, while some showed the data with a little skepticism thrown in, others went all in and told us that the CTR has hidden horsepower.

The real truth behind the dyno test is that it is valueless. We do not have any data on its calibration or the weather, and the dyno operator could have applied any correction factor on the data to boost the results. This is not an isolated case in reporting sketchy dyno results, as I see it multiple times per month from various outlets and, in just about every case, the data and reporting are meaningless.  Read More >

By on June 23, 2017

2018 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE, Image: GM

Another month, another fresh batch of Burgerkingring-related stupidity. This time it’s the General Motors PR machine and its ever-reliable Southern California appendix stirring the hype for the new Camaro ZL1 1LE, which obtained a seven-minutes-and-change time when driven by an engineer around the course.

Nine times out of 10 I ignore this stuff entirely, but insofar as I was at the Ring just two weeks before the Camaro crew got there I thought this would be a good time to remind everybody out there why these times are completely and utterly meaningless.

Read More >

By on June 22, 2017

2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Demon - Image: FCA

As Hollywood writes it, when you make a deal with Satan, he bestows onto you whatever you covet most in exchange for your soul. However, there is usually some dark twist that ruins the overall experience long before you can settle into hell’s never-ending torment. If you ask him for money, it’ll be stolen from the mob and they’ll hunt you down. If you ask him for power, he’ll make you the next Adolf Hitler. The devil’s bargain is a well-established trope — you get what you asked for but cannot fully enjoy it thanks to some twisted fine print.

Fiat Chrysler’s SRT Demon Customer Acknowledgment contract functions similarly. Perhaps it’s a necessary evil because it specifically prohibits the brainless activities which would absolutely result in your 800+ horsepower drag car killing you or a loved one. That said, you could ignore all of the rules FCA carefully chose to include within the contract. But, when you do, the manufacturer has itemized and initialed proof where it explicitly forbid you from doing so.  Read More >

By on June 22, 2017

lynk-and-co-model-02

Geely may be pushing the Lynk & Co brand as the most connected and tech-savvy in existence but its senior vice president Alain Visser believes its sales strategy should remain simple. With cars supposedly rolling out in Europe and North America for 2019, Lynk & Co is only planning to offer an extremely limited number of trim choices that rotate seasonally. It’s a fine strategy for an unknown element breaking into the marketplace but it does omit the ability to rake in the additional dough via optional extras. However, it also permits for lower production costs and a flat rate Lynk & Co claims buyers won’t need to bother negotiating.

How convenient for everyone.  Read More >

By on June 22, 2017

2017 Kia Niro Hood Badge Closeup, Image: © 2017 Mark Stevenson/The Truth About Cars

The 2017 J.D. Power Initial Quality Study scores are in and Kia was awarded top honors for the second year in a row.

The Kia Forte, Cadenza, Niro, Soul, and Sorento were all winners in their categories, outperforming opponents like the Chevrolet Cruze, Toyota Avalon, Kia Sportage (yep, another Kia), Ford C-Max, and Toyota Highlander, respectively. Read More >

By on June 22, 2017

2017-camaro-zl1-1le-610x407

Team Camaro just went ballistic.

With ride and handling engineer Bill Wise at the wheel, the 2018 Camaro ZL1 1LE ate the 12.9-mile Nürburgring Nordschleife for breakfast, devouring the Teutonic track in an absurd 7:16.04, making it the fastest production Camaro, ever.

It might even be the fastest piece of metal GM has ever made for public consumption.

To put the Camaro’s time in context, the Corvette ZR1 officially looped the Green Hell 3.6 seconds slower than the 1LE; a brand new Ferrari 488 GTB is 5.6 seconds behind; meanwhile, the Formula 1–derived Enzo looks like a hot mess showing up 9.1 seconds after the land rocket from Lansing.

Rumor has it that Wise actually turned in a hand-timed 7:13.xx, but it will remain unofficial.

That’s like, super, stupid fast. Read More >

By on June 22, 2017

2015 Honda Fit Overlap Crash Test IIHS. Image: IIHS

Chris writes:

Hi Sajeev,

I’m in the market for a new(er) car to replace my 2005 Nissan Quest. Safety is a very important precondition for my purchase since it will be used to transport my kids around our very congested city. I was thinking about leasing a 2017 model and narrowed my search down to a Chevy Equinox, Nissan Rogue, or Mitsubishi Outlander (all about $200/month for 36 months with $3K down). In crunching the numbers, I quickly realized that with the $10,200 or so that I’d spend on leasing a car that I’d eventually have to part ways with, I could easily buy a low mileage example that was between 3-6 years old. Read More >

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