Posts By: Jack Baruth

By on May 26, 2016

2016 GMC Yukon SLT Premium Edition, Image: GM

Stop the presses! There’s a new GMC Yukon in town!

Until this morning, humanity was only familiar with three trim levels of GMC’s Suburban clone. There was the SLE, which does not have push-button start and is therefore beneath contempt. There is the SLT, which is the Yukon your neighbors got when they couldn’t swing the lease payments on the Denali. Finally, there is the Denali, with which you are no doubt familiar from the line of “cars” waiting to pick up kids at your local private school. With the exception of devoted George Strait fans, everybody who imagines a Yukon in their head imagines a Denali.

I’m not aware of anybody ever questioning the density of the Yukon lineup, but it’s obviously been done quite a bit because now there’s an SLT Premium. It slots between the SLT and the Denali on price. Unless they’re holding something back in the GMC press release of which we aren’t aware, the SLT Premium package is strictly an appearance package, featuring a new shinier grille, “exclusive” 22-inch wheels, and a few extra chrome trim pieces thrown in to sweeten the deal.

Do you have the next five or so minutes free? Would you like to talk for a moment about what this all means — this new Premium trim level and the associated discontents which led to its production? If so, you’re in luck, my friend, because that is precisely the thing about which I would like to talk this fine morning.

(Read More…)

By on May 25, 2016

sleepytesla

The Internet is abuzz about a video which purports to show a sleeping driver being chauffeured through stop-and-go traffic by his Tesla Model S on “Autopilot” mode. All sorts of questions have been raised: Is this legal? Is it safe? Could it happen at higher speeds? What happens when you fall asleep behind the wheel of a Model S that is doing 85 mph instead of 10 mph? Who takes vertical videos? Who takes vertical videos seriously, other than the WorldStarHipHop crowd?

I’ll answer most of these questions — below the jump, of course. But the most important question that people are asking goes like so: Is this video faked?

(Read More…)

By on May 23, 2016

Mustang Toggle Switches with Hazard Light Switch, Image: © 2016 Jack Baruth/The Truth About Cars

Long-time TTAC readers will recall an occasional contributor to these pages who was kind of the Dave Barry of auto writing. He wrote articles with titles like “Has BMW Lost Its Mojo?” and “Has Audi Lost The Plot?” and “Has CarMax Lost The Invoice I Sent Them?” Unfortunately for him, however, there is a limited number of automakers in the North American market about which to generically speculate, so he eventually turned to a series of articles about “This Is The Worst Button On A Car Ever” and “This Is The Worst Warning Light On A Car Ever” and, just possibly, “This Is The Worst Turn Signal Lever Since The Dawn Of Time.” Articles like that are popular because they invoke a sort of Pavlovian response in readers. “Wait … that son of a bitch says the BMW temperature control blend knob is hard to understand? I’LL SHOW HIM!”

I tried to do something similar to get my clicks up and convince our august Managing Editor to pay for my next Kiton sportcoat, but he rejected my take on the formula, which was tentatively titled “How Can The New Camaro Ask The Mustang To ‘Step Outside’ When Cars Can’t Even Fuckin’ Talk Most Of The Time, Except For The Nissan Maxima, And Maybe The Frank Sinatra Imperial, And In Those Cases Weren’t The Cars In Question Restricted To A Fairly Basic Set Of Phrases,” calling it “thoroughly asinine and far too recherche for all but the most tasteful of search-engine spiders.”

That was the end of my career as a pure clickbait writer. Until this morning, when I looked down at the console of the Ecoboost Mustang I was renting in San José and realized I’d finally found the worst button ever!

There are four reasons why … and Number Three Will Blow Your Mind!

(Read More…)

By on May 13, 2016

dream

The particles are one-fifth the diameter of a human hair. They lodge deep in the lungs and never come back out. Children and the elderly are particularly affected. They cause lung cancer, lower resistance to disease, and make it difficult to breathe. It’s impossible to accurately estimate the deaths that occur as a result of exposure, but the EPA has suggested that it could be between 500 and 8,000 per million people.

Toxic exhaust from diesel engines, in both the form of gases and particulate matter, is a major contributor to health problems. It is also a leading cause of smog, which has led Paris to ban diesel cars on alternate days during high-smog periods and to plan for a comprehensive ban on diesel passenger vehicles in the city by 2020.

For Europe, this is a case of chickens coming home to roost.

(Read More…)

By on May 11, 2016

fz1motor

Almost 25 years ago, I walked into a small-town gun shop looking for a surplus Chinese SKS rifle. At the time, the gun market was flooded with SKSes and the steel-cased 7.62×39 ammunition that they used. $99 for a gun, $0.02 a round for the ammo; it was pretty much the official rifle of Ohio rednecks for a solid year. If I had a nickel for every afternoon I spent with a bunch of worker’s-comp-addicted ex-bikers shooting at abandoned cars, ovens, and “empty” propane tanks, I’d have my very own Viper ACR already.

Most of the shops I’d visited in pursuit of my own SKS had tried to foist off recent-production stuff made for the U.S. market as authentic ’60s ChiCom army stuff. I was sick of it. You can imagine my relief when the fellow behind the counter at this particular shop had the right gun at the right price and was willing to go over every component of said rifle to make sure it was correct. He even helped me get the Cosmoline off the thing. I was impressed by that dude. So impressed that I ended up shooting competitively with him and traveling all over the Midwest to ride mountain bikes with him. He was the best man at my first wedding, and we stayed close even when he left the shooting world to start a mortgage brokerage firm.

Over the past couple of decades we’ve pursued all sorts of stupid ideas together, from riding bicycles off loading docks to running a Neon in NASA’s Performance Touring class. Our latest idea, hatched during a dinner in which we celebrated his divorce was this: How fast can we go for virtually no money at all?

(Read More…)

By on May 10, 2016

Audi S5, Image: Pfaff

No, that’s not my lime-green Audi S5 in the photo above. Nor is it that car’s Malaysian rip-off. It’s a totally new thing, a “Pfaff Performance Series” available for the low, low price of $68,000 CAD, which is $54,000 USD. That’s almost exactly what I paid for my S5 eight years ago, so it’s not necessarily a bad deal.

Except this car sucks in every way you can make an S5 suck. Crappy supercharged V6 in place of a direct-injection V8? Check. Automatic (DSG) transmission? You betcha. Two-tone seats because they didn’t have the courage to go full Havana Brown leather like I did? Uh-huh. I’m not even sure it has the upgraded stereo. Frankly, you’d be better off finding my original car and paying whatever the current owner wants for it.

It could be worse, however; it could be Signal Green.

(Read More…)

By on May 4, 2016

tesla

If I had to think of a single car that would be least likely to demonstrate “road-rage” behavior with a man behind the wheel, I’d have to pick the Tesla Model S, at least until the Model X becomes widely available. (Read More…)

By on May 3, 2016

oneheadlight

It’s a plotline straight out of a Nicholas Sparks novel, albeit one with some help from Garth “The Art Of Racing In The Rain” Stein: A single mother in her early 30s meets a dashing, selfish, adrenaline-junkie on a blind date. A few months later, they’re in a terrible car crash that NEARLY KILLS HER, but she tirelessly rehabilitates for two long years so they can GET MARRIED IN THE DESERT right before running off to her debut in SCCA Solo II Autocross. Her husband agrees to return to autocross with her even though he was BANNED FROM ANNOUNCING IN A TRAGIC FEELINGS INJURY and hasn’t competed in FIVE YEARS. So he TAKES THE CAR COVER OFF HIS OLD PORSCHE JUST LIKE SWAYZE IN ROADHOUSE and follows her to the event.

But then there is RAIN. But she WINS HER CLASS anyway! And her husband SNEAKS INTO THE ANNOUNCER’S CHAIR! And then he WINS A THIRTY-CAR CLASS DESPITE HAVING NOT AUTOCROSSED IN A LONG, LONG TIME. And then they go home so they can OPEN THE GARAGE DOOR, HAND IN HAND, and GAZE TOGETHER at his SON’S NEW 50CC RACING KART and you JUST KNOW that EVERYTHING WILL BE FINE.

That was the plan, anyway. And it was going very well, up to the moment when my OLD PORSCHE decided to EJECT ITS HEADLIGHT FOR NO REASON.

(Read More…)

By on April 28, 2016

tloxp

The phrase “disruptive technology” has long since been co-opted to mean “a new iPhone app for people to share photos of their meals” but it has an original and genuine meaning as well: any technology that matures faster than society’s ability to use it constructively. The list of disruptive technologies includes entries as diverse as mustard gas and the automobile itself, but the advent of the connected world has unleashed a diverse cornucopia of unintended consequences ranging from Amazon’s destruction of brick-and-mortar retailers to the corrosive effect that the various “reunion” and “classmates” websites have on American marriages.

TTAC has covered the world of automated license plate readers (ALPRs) several times, most recently discussing a company that assists police with collecting outstanding court costs and fines against motorists in traffic. We’ve also discussed the fact that governmental use of ALPRs amounts to a sort of camel’s nose under the tent.

Here’s the rest of the camel.

(Read More…)

By on April 26, 2016

A few months ago, my esteemed colleague Ronnie Schreiber found himself in possession of a McLaren 675LT for the week. Not having a tremendous amount of personal experience with supercars, and not in a position to kill $10,000 worth of consumables in a single day at Thunderhill, Ronnie decided not to write a conventional review […]

Recent Comments

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Staff

  • Contributing Writers

  • Bark M., United States
  • Chris Tonn, United States
  • Bozi Tatarevic, United States
  • Vojta Dobes, Czech Republic

Get No-holds-barred, take-no-prisoners Automotive News in your Facebook Feed!

Already Liked