By on September 12, 2017

irmatireiron

We live in polarized times, when acknowledging the existence of one group of evil people is considered to be a defense of a second group of evil people that the first group of bad actors consider their enemies. Some folks have trouble holding the concept that it is possible to despise both sides of a controversy, without having to identify with this or that tribe. I dislike having to use caveats in my writing but let me say at the outset that I think that people and businesses should not unduly take advantage of situations during natural disasters and other catastrophes.

We’ve seen a lot of inspirational stories out of Texas and Florida in the literal wake of two mammoth storms. We’ve also seen some price gouging and looting. Catastrophes bring out the worst and best in both those that are directly affected, and in those who observe from afar.

A couple of Florida car dealers, in Hollywood and further north in Tallahassee, decided to shelter their inventories from Hurricane Irma in public parking structures made available to residents trying to keep their personal vehicles above flood waters (and somewhat protected from flying debris). The dealers may have protected their vehicles from Irma, but that didn’t protect them from a storm of bad publicity. Every car those dealers parked in those structures meant someone’s daily driver couldn’t be saved from the maelstrom.

Our friends over at Jalopnik posted on the story and as one might suspect, most of their readers’ comments were critical of the dealers. The parking structure in Tallahassee belongs to Florida State University, evoking sympathy for supposedly impoverished, ramen-budgeted college students whose cars might have gotten damaged from Irma (when I was in university, ramen hadn’t yet made its way here from Japan, and nobody who had a car on campus could have been described as impoverished — times have changed).

Empathetic allusions were also made to working folks who use their cars just to get to work every day and need them more than the dealers need their cars. There were frequent references to the fact that the dealers were likely covered by insurance, and that if they weren’t insured, or if the businesses didn’t have hurricane contingency plans, it was their own fault.

irmgbeach

Most of the readers’ comments addressed the matter from a mature perspective, with many of the comment threads discussing things like economic utility costs, total benefits to the economy and society, the tragedy of the commons, whether or not businesses are “residents”, and other somewhat philosophical aspects to the matter.

Some people, though, think that when someone else is being a jerk it gives those fellows license to act badly themselves. After all, he deserved it, didn’t he? Disturbingly, a number of the comments advocating messing with the cars the dealers had stashed, and not just messing with them. Even more disturbing was that nobody pushed back on the proposed vandalism.

irmashoepolish

There were suggestions to block the dealers’ cars with residents’ own vehicles. I’ll concede that blocking them in with privately owned vehicles parked behind them is more akin to civil disobedience than a breakdown in social order. As well, the suggestion that using shoe polish on the cars’ windows was, I admit, a clever spin on how car dealers themselves mark prices and come-ons on their vehicles with similar shoe polish, and that doesn’t permanently damage cars.

Some comments were darker. One suggested that authorities tow the dealers’ cars to someplace where they’d get damaged by the hurricane. A number of commenters even advocated, and others concurred with them, that vandalizing the dealerships’ cars was an appropriate response.

irmabalaclava

Oh, they didn’t use the word “vandalize” since they seem to see themselves as potential vigilantes, not vandals, but it’s clear they think it’s justified to use keys, knives, and tire irons on other peoples’ private property just because they did something selfish and annoying. Some may see themselves as activists. One commenter suggesting covering one’s face with a balaclava, presumably so as not to be identified on security video, when keying a car.

When did it become okay to vandalize someone’s car just because they were being a rectal orifice? It really doesn’t matter if it’s a dealer using up more than their share of public parking spaces during a hurricane or if it’s some kind of Lamborghini-driving jerk parked diagonally across three spaces at the Home Depot, another party’s bad behavior doesn’t give you or me the license to violate other social norms, let alone violate the law.

Property rights are civil rights.

[Screenshots via Jalopnik]

 

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50 Comments on “No, It’s Not Okay to Vandalize a Jerk’s Cars, Even If the Jerk Is a ‘Greedy’ Car Dealer With Insurance...”


  • avatar
    FreedMike

    So, to sum up:

    Some people are a-holes.

  • avatar
    danio3834

    People love to to reinforce their virtues and act out their revenge fantasies online. Have a look at any article about a criminal posted on social media. There you’ll see hundreds if not thousands of screeds from people expressing their virtuousness through professions of violence towards the accused. Such heroes.

    • 0 avatar
      JimZ

      yep. they’re all “law & order, lock ’em up and throw away the key, kill ’em all and let God sort ’em out” until they (or their kids) get into legal trouble.

      then there’s no lawyer too expensive to try to weasel out of it.

  • avatar
    GermanReliabilityMyth

    To me, this reads like Jalopnik stirring the shit clockwise and TTAC is stirring the shit counterclockwise.

    • 0 avatar
      Reino

      My thoughts as well. I can’t believe TTAC would stoop so low, to make a lost like the thousands of daily clickbait that takes anecdotal tweets and turns them into “a story”.

  • avatar
    ash78

    Some baklava, a key, and 20 minutes sounds like a ’80s Greek gangster party.

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    We all fantasize about vigilante justice, but that’s what it should remain…fantasy. It’s not okay to enact it.

    And anyway, I think the bad PR and the tickets are justice enough.

    • 0 avatar
      Dawnrazor

      “Two wrongs don’t make a right.”

      If everyone could simply recall and live out this pithy bit of wisdom we all learned during childhood, the overall level of angst and hostility gripping this nation might begin to finally melt away.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    I think we can understand the anger that makes one want to set up the parking structure for an “implosion” event. Even if we do not condone it.

    When the top of my 1967 Mustang Convertible was damaged by a hailstorm I wanted to shake my fist at the heavens like Charlton Heston in Planet of the Apes.

  • avatar
    gmichaelj

    I wonder what penalties these dealerships will receive for their behavior.

    Should they be punished? How? Will it still have been worth the bad publicity?

    Will the legal system work here, or is there nothing here to see – move along?

  • avatar
    rudiger

    From what I understand, the dealership vehicles were quickly removed by dealership employees soon after the story became widely known.

    I don’t condone vandalism as retaliation, either, but it does speak volumes about the hatred and ire that car dealerships inspire. With any luck, hitting the dealership in the wallet with a significant downturn in future sales would do the biggest damage, but I doubt if it happens.

    • 0 avatar
      TonyJZX

      We dont even know if there were heaps of spaces and that the area could have accomodated Napleton and everyone else.

      Be that as it may, I believe that if I was Napelton I would have gone a bit extra… if you’re using a public utilty (as it were) then give back… put up guards for everyones cars, give out water, do SOMETHING for that community.

      For them to just take take take means something is really morally bankrupt and reinforces the hatred of dealers.

  • avatar
    87 Morgan

    The FB page of Napleton Infinit claims they were advised by an official of FSU that they could park their cars in the garage and were then later told that the individual who authorized the parking was actually not permitted to make that call and the dealership began getting the cars out. They are very sorry for FB…

    I guess at the end of the day, I like to assume good intent. Perhaps this really was a mistake.
    The other dealership, Autoline LLC, seems to be your standard quasi high line used car outlet. Not really a place I would buy a car from in the first place.

    • 0 avatar
      TonyJZX

      re: authorisation – show me the receipts

      Yeah I’m ok with vandalism here. It shows a distinct lack of forethought into thinking what the public backlash would be.

      You have a group of alleged big time business people w/ lawyers and the like and you think this is going to reflect well on your company?

      I’m also of the opinion there’s a lot of people who are remarkably passive and corporatists even in the face of $42 cases of water and marriot boat not saving non marriot customers and landlords not allowing windows to be boarded and pizza hut requiring people to work during the storms.

      I have no allegiance to any company. Why would anyone? If companies are allowed to be people, then let them be judged in the harshest possible way.

      If people are allowed to be punished and shamed for badly thought out processes then so should companies.

      • 0 avatar
        Kyree S. Williams

        To be fair, it probably wasn’t something that was deliberated over four hours with company lawyers or even lawyers on retainer. It was probably a call from the GM. “Hey, someone at FSU said it was okay to put our cars in the garage. Move ’em out, boys!”

  • avatar
    golden2husky

    Vandalism is not an acceptable vehicle (sorry) to punish the dealer. That said, the spaces were made available for the general public and the dealer had no right to do what they did. Many people simply can’t reach out to the bank and get another car – paycheck living is becoming more common for a host of reasons. So, I feel the appropriate response would have been for the City or the University to tow them out and place them in an open lot. It’s true – most individuals would feel far more economic pain if they lost their ability to get to work than the dealer would for having an insurance claim. From the “bottom” half of the income earners perspective, this would look like a case of the “haves” getting more at the expense of the “have nots”. And such in your face inequality does tend to bring out violence. It is not acceptable to do so but I can understand why someone might be moved to break out the DOT 3 Liquid Justice.

  • avatar
    zip89123

    Napleton keeps coming up in a bad way. Supposedly Napleton is trying to bust the mechanics union in the Chicago area. I doubt I’d do any business with Napleton if their public persona is constantly as bad as published in both Florida and Chicago.

  • avatar
    PandaBear

    Think of it this way, if someone on Titanic was putting cargo on lifeboats instead of taking on more survivors, what would your reaction be?

    What about between different kinds of cargo on lifeboat? Life support equipment for another occupant of the lifeboat, vs an expensive industrial equipment that can be bought later?

    In the long term, hostility and vandalism increase the opportunity cost of bad behavior. If a dealer does it and will only get a ticket for $100 each, he might do it again, and let the residents take a $2500 lost instead of his own $15k loss. Sometimes law enforcement is stretched and people take things into their own hand for a reason: mutually assured destruction may be the only bargaining power of the weak. We have a human trait for that for a reason.

    Good to hear that the dealer gave in and pull the cars out. Someone may just slimjim it and open all the doors and trunks. It’ll be worse than being keyed.

    • 0 avatar
      JimZ

      “Think of it this way, if someone on Titanic was putting cargo on lifeboats instead of taking on more survivors, what would your reaction be?”

      my reaction would be “can we not do these BS hypotheticals?”

    • 0 avatar

      “In the long term, hostility and vandalism increase the opportunity cost of bad behavior. ”

      That sounds very close to justifying vandalism.

      Who gets to define what is “bad behavior”?

      How do you increase the opportunity cost of the bad behavior known as vandalism?

      Is one man’s vandalism just another man’s opportunity cost?

      As for mutually assured destruction, if one side is truly weak, that’s not possible. The weak would just get destroyed. MAD as a strategy during the Cold War only was possible because there were roughly equally armed antagonists.

      • 0 avatar
        stuki

        “Who gets to define what is “bad behavior”?”
        Whomever wants to have a crack at it, can define it for themselves. Versus the alternative: A select few deciding for everyone else. Those select few being beholden to the highest bidder/campaign contributor and, like all humans, deciding based on what is best for themselves. Never others. No matter what their PR hack may claim on TV.

        “How do you increase the opportunity cost of the bad behavior known as vandalism?”
        Armed societies are polite ones. Take too much license, and more guns side against you than with you. Stay within reasonable bounds, and noone finds it worth vile to risk interfering with you.

        “Is one man’s vandalism just another man’s opportunity cost?”
        When an action with positive cost/benefit to A, exposes B to negative externalities, B needs a way to either decrease A’s benefit from the act, or increase his cost. “Vandalism” can be one way of accomplishing the latter. Be consistently too aggro about it, and you get too many guns pointed your way, so it’s self limiting.

        “As for mutually assured destruction, if one side is truly weak, that’s not possible.”
        Hence the 2nd.

        “The weak would just get destroyed. MAD as a strategy during the Cold War only was possible because there were roughly equally armed antagonists.”
        As the Afghans’s showed the Soviets (and now/soon the West) “roughly equally armed” is not necessary. Reasonably well armed, and reasonably skeptical of idiots claiming to be your “leader” is all it takes.

        • 0 avatar
          JimZ

          “As the Afghans’s showed the Soviets (and now/soon the West) “roughly equally armed” is not necessary.”

          that has nowt to do with M.A.D. The whole principle of M.A.D. is to disincentivize either side from starting anything. The Soviets knew that if they started lobbing missiles at us, we’d have plenty of time to fire off an (at least) equivalent response, which neither side could stop once the birds were flying.

      • 0 avatar
        PandaBear

        Mutually assured destruction also work in this way: I don’t have to win, I just have to make sure your lost from the mutually assured destruction is more than your cost to buy me off. This is how most of the lawsuits end up settled, regardless of who is right or who is legal.

        Regarding to who gets to decide: imagine if you have 100 drivers, after already concluded that their home will inevitably be flooded, decided to pack their belonging and drive it to this lot. It is full and 40 of them are owned by a single dealer. 20 of these 100 drivers just lost their minds and started kicking these cars in the tires and bumpers, 10 more joined in and then another 10, until the mob started getting out of control…. Try to arrest all of them and have a DA that will prosecute all of them, and ends up being at the front page of every newspaper in and out of the US. I’d imagine no DA would touch this (they are doing DA because they want to be the mayor 20 years down the road).

        So, who decided it is ok or not ok? Does it matter? The dealer should have known how people’s mind work better, they are in sales.

        p.s. The human nature to justify vandalism is the same human nature that justify wars and revolutions. Who gets to decide who’s right and who’s wrong after wars and revolutions?

    • 0 avatar
      operagost

      “Think of it this way, if someone on Titanic was putting cargo on lifeboats instead of taking on more survivors, what would your reaction be?”

      My reaction would be, “this situation is totally not like a comparison between sheltering business inventory over personal property, because cars aren’t alive.

  • avatar
    newenthusiast

    From the Miami Herald, 9/9/17:

    ” ‘The lot was designated for residents as a last resort for those who live on the beach and other areas subject to a storm surge — not for a local car dealer,’ said Hollywood spokeswoman Raelin Storey. She said it is against the law to use public property for private gain, and all the vehicles have been ticketed.”

    So, if anyone at Jalopnik had read the article linked in the story, they would have seen:

    1) yes, they were right in their internet outrage that the dealer should not have parked their cars there, as it was illegal for them to do so.

    2)The city was aware and did what it could, but had other priorities given an impending hurricane.

    It would have been nice to have all 40 booted and impounded, but the spokesperson seems to imply that Hollywood simply doesn’t have the resources to do that.

    Vandalism here would have solved or gained nothing, and I think most people talk a big game on the internet. There, are, of course a-holes who see sitations like this to indulge in anti-social behavior.

    That being said, I do like the idea of parking in the offending vehicles (while still leaving space for other vehicle to pass if there is room). That idea made me chuckle…as Ronnie said, a little civil disobedience that does nothing but inconvenience the dealership. No harm to property or persons.

    As for the garage on the campus of FSU, I’m actually surprised that such an offer wasn’t made to staff, faculty, or students who were in low lying areas first before the the offer was made to the general public. Maybe it was? If I were a student who had need a of a car (maybe a part-timer who was working their way through school and commuted every day…which is what I did) I’d be a bit frustrated if I went to a school lot where I paid for parking privileges only to have it filled with non-student vehicles….much less ones from a dealership. But I have no idea just how much parking FSU has. My experience with most colleges and universities says the answer is “there is never enough”. Maybe they have a surplus.

  • avatar
    White Shadow

    There’s never a good reason to vandalize someone’s car. But I’m a car guy who takes great pride in caring for my cars and keeping them in immaculate condition. Other people see cars as nothing but transportation devices. Those are the people who tend to carelessly let their car doors swing into yours, causing door dings or dents. Of course I always park in the back 40 for that very reason.

    At the risk of seeming like a complete hypocrite, I did vandalize a car one time in my life. I was 17 years old and I convinced myself that I was justified in doing so. The story goes like this—I just spent almost all of my hard earned savings on a paint job for my first car. I parked it at a mall to run in quickly with my cousin to pick up a new pair of running shoes. When I was headed back to my car, I noticed an old man (50s at least, he seemed really old to me at the time) running his keys down the hood of my car. I was still a couple of rows away at the time, but I was sure that’s what had happened, so I ran up to him as he was getting into his brand new Honda Accord that was parked right across from me and said, “Hey! Why did you key my car? What’s your problem?” He denied doing it, even after I told him that I watched him do it. I even pointed out the curly line of paint still hanging out of the end of the scratch. I was extremely pissed and I couldn’t figure out why he would do that. I do remember parking very close to him because he pulled in over the line and my car was large, but I didn’t hit his car or bump it in any way. Could he have been pissed that I parked my car too close to his precious Honda? That’s the only thing that made any sense at all. I didn’t know the guy and I had never seen him before. It was such a strange situation and I really couldn’t understand why he would do that. Anyway, I memorized his plate number (which I still know to this day) and called the cops as he drove away. When the cop came, I explained the situation and gave the cop a description of the guy, his car, and his plate number. He ran the guys plate and it turns out that he lives three blocks away from me. The cop told me and my cousin to get in the back of his car and he drove us to the guy’s house. When we got there, the Honda was in the driveway and the cop told us to stay in the car (which turned out to be totally unnecessary since the cop car had no door handles on the rear doors and no way to unlock the doors either—yes, it was my first and only time in the back of a cop car) while he went up to the house to talk to the guy. I watched as the old man answered the door and the cop chatted with him. After a few minutes, the cop came back to the car and told us that he denied everything. He even denied being at the mall. I told the cop that the guy was lying and he said that he knew the guy was lying, but there really wasn’t much he could do beyond writing a report. I told the cop that I didn’t have any money to paint my car again and that I’d have to take the guy to court to get it fixed. The cop told me that I could try that, but said he’s an older guy and I’m just a kid and I have no hard evidence to prove my case. So I asked the cop for advice… What should I do? You know what he told me? He said, “There are other ways to get even with someone like that guy. I’m sure you’ll think of something.” Looking back, I’m shocked that the cop even made that suggestion, but that’s exactly what he said to us and that’s exactly what set our plan in motion.

    So me and my cousin schemed up a plan for revenge. We reasoned that an equal amount of damage to his car would not be proper payback because the old guy would just have his hood painted and call it a day. We thought proper punishment for the old man would be to scratch his entire car. Every body panel. A deep scratch down to the metal on each and every panel. Yeah, that would teach him for being such an a-hole. This incident happened in late summer and we decided to wait until fall to get revenge. We thought it would be perfect to wait for Gate Night (that’s what we called it in NY, the night before Halloween. Other people call it Mischief Night or Cabbage Night, etc.), which was a night where the kids come out and throw eggs at cars or houses, soap up windows, put toilet paper in trees and bushes, that sort of thing. We figured that would be the perfect night, just in case the old guy called the cops and explained what had happened a couple of months earlier. We’d be able to claim that it was Gate Night and anyone could have vandalized the old guy’s car.

    So we put our plan in motion at midnight. We walked to the guy’s house and after ensuring that we were in the clear, we each ran a knife down each side of the car, front to back. Then I got the hood while my cousin got the roof and the trunk lid. Let me tell you—-if you’ve never “keyed” a car before, it makes LOTS of noise. Maybe it was because we were using knives or maybe it was because it was during the dead of night, but it was VERY loud, so we had to get the job done quickly and haul ass out of there.

    Anyway, the story ends without any drama at all. I never heard from the cops. I don’t even know if the guy ever called them. The funny thing is that I passed by the old man’s house several times afterwards and he never had his car fixed, even years later. He just left it scratched up like that. Maybe he figured we’d come back and do it again if he fixed it. We definitely wouldn’t have done that again. I felt that we were even…. Yes, I was a stupid kid. A few years later I realized exactly how stupid I was and I felt really guilty for what we had done, but I couldn’t take it back, so it was just something I had to live with. I’m really sorry that I did that to the guy’s car and it still bothers me almost 30 years later.

    • 0 avatar
      Detroit-Iron

      Assuming you had the correct guy and the correct car, why would you feel guilty? Dude was a POS and had almost certainly had done similar things to other defenseless people. Despite the compelling dialogue in ‘Pulp Fiction,’ just because we are car people doesn’t mean cars are any more sacrosanct than any other inanimate object. The guy is lucky you didn’t put him in the hospital.*

      *For damaging one of your valuables and lying to the police about it, leaving you with no way to get restitution.

      • 0 avatar
        White Shadow

        My guilty feelings are mostly due to two things: 1. The degree to which we vandalized his car. 2. That he never had it fixed.

        If I could go back in time, I’d like to think that I’d just get over being angry and not do anything to the old guy or his property.

  • avatar
    MBella

    The one thing I don’t understand in this story, is why the dealer would go out his way to protect the cars. He has floor-plan insurance exactly for this kind of event. If his lot was flooded, he would basically get sales on all of them.

    • 0 avatar
      rudiger

      Maybe he was afraid of a big increase in his insurance premium for a lot of flood-damaged cars. Or maybe there wouldn’t have been enough profit realized from the insurance payout as opposed to actual sales of the vehicles.

      However you look at it, the main motivation for any dealership action is greed, and I would imagine this guy was just a bit greedier than most in moving his cars to FSU (which is really saying something).

    • 0 avatar
      Detroit-Iron

      I read a story about major insurers canceling plans for car dealers but I didn’t understand it. Maybe there was a cut-off where they would not accept liability for new cars shipped after a certain point? The way it read was that the insurance companies just decided they were not going to cover storm damage, but that seems like a breech of contract, or poor journalism, or poor reading comprehension on my part.

      • 0 avatar
        rudiger

        I think Florida has some of the highest insurance rates in the country, not only because of the weather but other factors like bad drivers and crime, and I have no doubt that the premiums go up even higher after any claim. I would imagine that a savvy (read: unscrupulous) car dealer would do what they could to avoid a claim, including moving their inventory to an area where their access was highly suspect.

        The basic premise is that ‘all’ car dealers are among the lowest scum on the planet and, as previously stated, the actions of any of them are motivated entirely by overwhelming greed. In fact, I would imagine that the position of all the other car dealers in Tallahassee and Hollywood (indeed, probably the rest of the country that’s seen the story) is one of envy and they’re now saying, “Why didn’t we think of that?”.

        Besides, I can’t say that I much like Nissan or Nissan-derived products all that much, anyway.

      • 0 avatar
        MLS

        When a major storm is approaching, insurers temporarily stop issuing new insurance plans. But they don’t cancel preexisting policies.

    • 0 avatar
      PandaBear

      It could be new deliveries that the insurance co. will not write new policy for.

      It could also be the fear of huge premium increase after the claims.

      Or it could be the deductible is high and it is still cheaper to move the car there.

      Or it could be trying to save the inventory and sell it at a premium after the storm (lots of cars to replace, not much inventories left).

    • 0 avatar
      JimZ

      insurance isn’t free, and there can be a significant cost penalty (higher premiums) from having to use it.

  • avatar
    bryanska

    I was pilloried on Jalopnik for suggesting that Torchinsky was wrong for shaming the guy who freaked out when his Tesla was smeared with shit. Yes, it was a model X, yes it was a bunch of his bro buddies, yes the guy went into high frequency screeching mode. But, I argued, he waited to get a Tesla after pouting down a deposit, the Model X is an interesting and fast car, and therefore we (as car guys) owe a duty to be sympathetic.

    In response, the commenters and Mr Torchinsky basically buried me in derogatory and aggro comments. There was a private email exchange which also got worse than nowhere.

    Jalopnik comments are full of assholes and Jalopnik articles are reliably inflammatory. It’s a sad state over there full of people who make me numb.

  • avatar
    Shortest Circuit

    So wait is this race between the non-dealers and dealers about who can be a bigger a-hole? I’m sure there is a saying somewhere regarding conflicts not meant to be won…

  • avatar
    KevinB

    Wait. A “dick move” by an auto dealership? Who would ever believe that?

  • avatar
    S2k Chris

    Frankly, I’ve found that Jalopnik has gone basically full SJW-retard and between that and the constant class warfare being waged there, I have no interest in reading it anymore. I’d ask that it not invade this space as well.

  • avatar
    mike1dog

    I think everyone needs to understand the term hyperbole. I doubt that any of these people are within five-hundred miles from where this happened, and I doubt that given the opportunity most would do it. If you took everyone’s threats seriously on the internet, you’d live in constant fear. I used to have a co-worker who would whenever you talked about some subject he would say all the things he would to, trying to look tough, but whenever an actual situation came up, would be meek as he could be. I just think you’re taking this too seriously.

  • avatar

    I have a realtive who back in the 50’s got kicked off a car dealers lot (he was about 12) for window shopping. He and his friend came back that night and took the valve stems out of every car on the lot. While completely childish he still laughs about it 65 years later so maybe it was worth it after all?

  • avatar
    Felix Hoenikker

    Just let the air out of the tires of the dealer’s cars and ensure that there are no usable electric outlets nearby (most parking garages are devoid of electrical outlets anyway). Problem solved in a non destructive way.


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