Posts By: Chris Tonn

By on September 22, 2017

I tried in vain, but I couldn’t track down a proper early ‘60s surf rock station on the SiriusXM radio during my time driving the 2018 Chevrolet Equinox. I was imagining the Beach Boys’ classic “409” every time I planted my right pedal in this improbably powerful compact crossover. Sadly, the basic facts and figures […]

By on September 18, 2017

I suppose it’s a bit like buying a car, but at once more limiting and liberating. Anytime I take the keys of a press vehicle, I must sign a long legal form agreeing, basically, not to be too stupid while driving someone else’s car. Invariably, near the top of the form is a serious restriction […]

By on July 19, 2017

2017 Alfa Romeo Giulia Ti black front quarter

There’s a series of curves on my route home that can be an absolute joy when traffic is minimal. Beyond a left-hand kink over a slight rise, the road drops away at least fifty feet in a sweeping right curve and flicks back left at the bottom of the hill to cross a river. It’s not much – maybe a quarter of a mile – but for a few moments, I forget the last nine hours spent driving a desk.

While my usual vehicle for this road is my trusty minivan, a proper driver’s car makes the route much more rewarding. Beyond making me disregard the stress of a day at the office, a good drive can make me briefly ignore the various quirks and idiosyncrasies of the car beneath me.

Quirks and idiosyncrasies — in roughly equal measure with solid driving dynamics —  have been the hallmarks of virtually every Alfa Romeo since at least the Truman administration, meaning the 2017 Alfa Romeo Giulia Ti has plenty of heritage to live up to. Now that Chrysler is once again part of the Alfa Romeo parentage, will the Imported From Detroit vibe reflect in this imported sports sedan? Or will the Giulia remain, for better or worse, a proper Italian?

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By on June 15, 2017

I was incredulous. My eyes must have been deceiving me. The number at the top of the page surely did not belong with the number at the bottom of the page. I rubbed my eyes, took another swig of the awful office coffee, and looked again at the window sticker that arrived in my inbox. The price was […]

By on May 15, 2017

“Remember, you are in a minivan,” my better half commanded as I tapped the left-hand gearshift paddle, grabbing a lower gear to power out of the improbably banked corner on a mountain two-lane. The 19-inch Bridgestones squealed in protest as I pushed it a bit wide, just as the kid squealed from the third row over […]

By on May 1, 2017

hondata-2017-honda-civic

Honda’s new Civic is a heck of a car, even if the styling is polarizing. But it’s not a performance car like Civics of old, where mixing and matching engine and transmissions from other models could yield a very quick ride with a stratospheric redline. Enthusiasts are anxiously awaiting the Si and Type-R trims, which promise plenty of power — but what of those who already have a car, or need features the high-performance cars don’t have?

Enter Hondata, the firm that’s been tuning Honda engine management systems for years. It’s been the industry leader for those looking to do those engine swaps, and has developed software and devices to add performance to the factory ECU.

Recently, Hondata released its FlashPro for the newest Civic powered by the 1.5-liter turbo engine, and I had a chance to drive a Hondata-tuned 2017 Civic.

Even stock, the new turbo Civic is faster in the quarter-mile than the previous-generation Civic Si, so the extra performance should be impressive.

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By on April 12, 2017

Nissan Rogue Dogue dog in hatch

Someone needs to tell the product planners at Nissan to stop browsing Reddit. Someone also needs to tell them that most canines have remarkably poor credit ratings, because the newest Nissan Rogue Dogue concept — revealed Tuesday ahead of the 2017 New York International Auto Show — is very clearly for the dogs.

I envy the copywriter who wrote the press release, as they likely waited a lifetime to use the words “side wall mounted poop bag dispenser” in a professional capacity. Sigh.

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By on April 11, 2017

2018 Lexus LS 500 F SPORT Front 3/4, Image: Lexus

Back in the day, a properly large luxury sedan was just that — large and luxurious. No sporting pretensions were found, as any special package simply piled on the brougham.

However, Lexus has said no to a padded roof or opera lights for its newest full-size package, as it’s given the F Sport treatment to the new LS 500. Available for the twin-turbo V6 and V6 hybrid powertrains, the F Sport package adds a dash of sporting pretense to an otherwise posh sedan.

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By on April 7, 2017

For whatever reason, Volkswagen has shied away from the mainstream, large, family vehicle market for decades. When most American parents and spawn headed to Wally World in massive station wagons, Volkswagen offered the Microbus. When minivans became the rage, the sages of Wolfsburg set forth the quirky, rear-engined Vanagon. And through the ‘90s, as the SUV […]

By on March 31, 2017

Midsized luxury cars are a tough sell these days. The SUV craze shows no sign of ebbing, with new models coming out frequently from nearly every automaker (though if Caterham starts offering an assemble-it-yourself crossover, I’ll hang up my keyboard for good). Further, these midsizers are squeezed by models upmarket and down — the compacts […]

By on March 22, 2017

Is it or isn’t it? A crossover, I mean. That’s been the discussion over the 2017 Kia Niro ever since it bowed. No one seems to care whether the all-new hybrid functions as it should. Instead, the argument revolves around dimensions, and everyone knows that no one wins when someone whips out a ruler. A […]

By on March 3, 2017

It’s been the butt of jokes from journalists for years. It’s too small. It’s underpowered. It’s noisy. It’s funny looking. It’s cheap. I’m not going to disagree. Yet I don’t hate the 2017 Mitsubishi Mirage GT. Granted, I wouldn’t look forward to taking a cross-country journey in it with the family, but it’s not a […]

By on February 24, 2017

The squeals of delight from the back seat were nearly deafening. My eight-year-old had discovered the rear seat heater button while pawing at the door-mounted armrest. She tends to underdress for the climate, and as usual, she was sporting shorts for her basketball game that morning — in 38 degree weather. Mercifully, the Kia Cadenza […]

By on February 10, 2017

2017 Chrysler Pacifica Braun Ability Van

One in five Americans lives with some sort of disability, per the U.S. Census Bureau, including 3.8 million veterans. Not every disability requires a customized vehicle, but the minivan has become the ideal solution for those who do.

BraunAbility has worked since 1972 to adapt vehicles for those who need them, and unveiled its new upfitted Chrysler Pacifica at the Chicago Auto Show.

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By on February 9, 2017

2017 Nissan Titan King Cab and Titan XD King Cab, Image: Nissan

In 1977, Nissan released the revolutionary King Cab option for the Datsun 620 pickup, which opened up 10 extra inches of space behind the front row of seats for people or stuff.

Forty years later, Nissan has revealed the new King Cab for the Titan and Titan XD, joining the Crew Cab and Single Cab options to round out the product line.

Interestingly, the Titan and Titan XD King Cab is offered with a rear-seat delete option, giving extra cargo space behind the front row for the coveted work-truck market.

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