What is the purpose of the Crosstour? I asked as I waited for my test car to be readied. Pause. Finally an answer, The Crosstour is now the high-end Accord. It is designed to compete with the Toyota Venza. Ah, I get it: monkey see monkey do. What better way to give the marque a [...]
Posts By: William C Montgomery
Cross a car and a truck, you get an SUV. Cross a SUV with a car and you get a CUV. Cross that CUV with a car and you get a Crossover Sedan, the term used by Toyota marketing mavens for their Camry-based Venza. With this step the evolution comes full circle, as the Venza [...]
Ten years ago I test drove the then new to North America Ford Focus ZTS. “Give it some gas,” the salesman prodded as we entered a freeway onramp. I showed her the whip. “Can you feel that,” he yelled enthusiastically over the buzz of the straining engine. “Well, it’s certainly making a lot of noise,” [...]
In recent months we have seen the Obama administration nationalize the majority of the domestic automobile industry. A recent poll indicates that a decisive majority of Americans think this is a really, really bad idea. Furthermore, the action is illegal. The Constitution of the United States of America has endowed the congressional branch of the government with the sole power to spend money. Article 1, Section 9: “No money shall be drawn from the treasury, but in consequence of appropriations made by law [i.e. by the legislative branch].” This makes the financial seizure of General Motors with money appropriated by congress for the use of stabilize the banking system a brazen act of embezzlement. (The witless leader of the House of Representatives says that King Obama has not requested that they pass legislation authorizing expenditures to GM and Chrysler, so it must not be needed.) And so there has been cry among some right wing bombasts to boycott the purchase of GM cars. This too is a bad idea.
If speed killed, we would all be dead. After all, we are rotating around earth’s axis at up to 1038 mph (1670 kmh) and Earth is zipping around the sun at a whopping 66,660 mph (107,279 kmh). Speed’s not a problem. The problem is when we collide with objects that are moving at speeds that are substantially different than our own. Jack Baruth would have us believe that if we follow the advice he imparts in his “Maximum Street Speed Explained” series, that we can safely navigate American highways and byways, day or night while traveling at two or three times faster than the prevailing traffic norm. Unfortunately, his advice ranges from the obvious to absurdly dangerous (if he’s trying to be ironic or funny, he has very poor timing).
On the day that The General announces involuntary gastric bypass surgery at the hands of Dr. O and while Crash Cart Chrysler waltzes with the Grim Reaper, not all is well with Toyota. The nosy newsmen at Boston’s ABC affiliate exposed a nasty little secret hiding under Toyota’s hospital gown. Yesterday, Team 5 divulged “more than two dozen complaints filed with the National Highway Traffic Administration” regarding 2001 and 2002 model year Tundra frames that are rusting and blowing away. Today Toyota implied responsibility when they offered to buy back the rust buckets at full retail value. Keep in mind that this issue is limited to certain areas of the USA and Canada where salt is used as the predominant ice melting material.
I oppose driver cell phone usage bans on principle. It is already against the law to drive while distracted in every State of the Union. Even so, several states and many cities have enacted wholesale bans on the use of hand-held cell phones by drivers. Other states and local governments ban teenagers from using the devices or prohibit their use in school zones. So what’s the harm? The additional legislation is surely no worse than wearing a belt and suspenders – by itself either will keep your pants up, but it’s nice to know that there’s a backup in case one of the modesty preservation systems fails. Comforting, isn’t it? NO! It makes my liberty loving soul retch. I say, down with the tyranny of the Nanny State! Nonetheless, the more time I spend outside of my ivory attic and driving America’s highways and byways, the harder it is for me to maintain this ideal.
Do you ever feel trapped in Monty Python movie? The B&B discussion following Edward Niedermeyer’s post, CARB So Crazy: California To Ban Black Cars, made me think so. First soldier: What? A swallow carrying a coconut? King Arthur: I could grip it by the husk! First soldier: It’s not a question of where he grips it! It’s a simple question of weight ratios! A five ounce bird could not carry a one pound coconut. King Arthur: Well, it doesn’t matter. First soldier: Listen. In order to maintain air-speed velocity, a swallow needs to beat its wings forty-three times every second, right? King Arthur: Please! First soldier: Am I right? I’m no Michael Palin or Graham Chapman, but I’ve got an idea or two about white and black colored cars.
The General’s Chevrolet Malibu LS won this competition versus the Chrysler Sebring LX and Ford Fusion S because it’s a complete car with no manifest weaknesses. For less than $18K, I could have driven away from the Chevy dealership in the only vehicle capable of going head to head with the very best entry level cars in its class. In a prior competition, I compared the Honda Accord LX, Toyota Camry (base model), Nissan Altima 2.5 and Mazda Mazda6i Sport. Neither the dismally shameful Sebring nor the uninspired Fusion compares well to even the weakest of these Japanese models. On the other hand, this Malibu fully deserves serious consideration by cost conscious consumers.
I believe that the 2009 Ford Fusion S is the most unremarkable car I have driven. Ever. When I sat down to record notes immediately after concluding my test of this blessed blandmobile, I had a hard time recalling anything about it. I got in. Transportation happened. I got out. That’s it. This car’s striking anonymity served both to prevent it from winning this comparison – not even close to defeating the Chevrolet Malibu LS. At the same time, I suppose flying under the radar preserved it from a potential loss. Actually, the Chrysler Sebring LX is so dreadful that defeating it isn’t much of a victory. So the Fusion S ingloriously falls into second place. Read on as I attempt to fill 800 words… about nothing.
Last October, I wrote a series of articles comparing economical family sedans from the Land of the Rising Sun. Numerous readers challenged me to perform a similar comparison of similar cars from American manufacturers. Define “American.” [ED: just step back from the can of worms and walk away.] This time ’round, I’ve tested the Ford Fusion S, Chevrolet Malibu LS, and Chrysler Sebring LX with automatic transmissions and common, entry level features. While I anguished to find positive or negative attributes that would distinguish one Japanese car from another, evaluating the relative virtue of the American’s was a slam dunk piece of cake. In distant third place: the Chrysler Sebring LX.
Public relations people say the darndest things. Shills for the car companies that chose to speak to the press at the 2009 Dallas Auto Show were no exception. The folks at Chevy are still, “excited about the Camaro,” a full three years after they excitedly announced the product. What impressive stamina they have. Buick intends to, “shatter the myth that Buick only builds sedans for old people.” Good luck with that. Chrysler Corp. claims twenty-four new cars and trucks under development. “If tax payers can support us, we’ll have some sweet products for you to test drive.” Goodie, maybe I’ll get to drive another redesigned Sebring. That’d be super sweet! But the biggest story coming from the show is what the PR refused to talk about.
If you like to drive like your hair’s on fire, deciding between the athletic American 2008 Chevrolet Corvette hardtop coupe and the Bavarian corner carver 2008 BMW 335i is a bit like choosing between cocaine and cocaine. If you’re a more sensible motorist, it’s like choosing between A.H. Hirsch 16 Year Old Reserve Pot Stilled Sour Mash Straight Bourbon Whiskey and Schloss Rüdesheim VSOP brandy. in either case, the question is a matter of taste and price. Hence this test: which performance car offers the better buzz for $40k?
“Screw you, Steve McQueen and your fancy Mustang! I wanna ‘Vette!” I shouted (to no one) while tearing a rift in the space-time continuum through the peaceful pastoral Texas countryside. Clearly, I was imbibing heartily from a bottle of Chateau Corvette, vintage 2008. But I forgot myself. And my objectivity. I was there to perform a head-to-head comparison between said ’08 Chevy hardtop and an ’08 BMW 335i. Unlikely rivals, to be sure. But both are answers to the same question spoken in the quintessential voice of their respective source countries, America and Germany. Both are powerful sports cars designed to appeal to aging upper middle class drivers that can afford to treat themselves to something sporty and nice, just not too expensive. In this case, both cars were available at CarMax for just under $40K.
Ah, the first snow of the year. The frozen blanket transforms even the ugliest landscapes into crystalline sanctuaries. Crisp air fills the lungs and the inevitable homey smell of a wood fire tells of a distant warming hearth. Earth’s annual metamorphosis triggers a few moments when we get to live a dream stolen from the cover of an old December issue Saturday Evening Post. But for too many, this winter wonderland fantasy is abruptly cut short by the sickening sound of exploding metal, glass and plastic, because the first snow of winter also invites a rash of traffic accidents.