Category: Editorials

By on December 8, 2016

Car Not A Costume, Ford/Land Rover

True story: Many, many years ago I briefly dated a young woman who, at the age of 16, was the subject of a custody battle between her hard-luck mother and her suburban aunt. You’d expect this to go the way of the aunt, and you’d be right. But what you would not expect is that the aunt was married to a fellow who, some 15 years earlier, had been L. Ron Hubbard’s personal bodyguard. He was deeply involved in the “Sea Org” and a bunch of other Scientology-related stuff. He also claimed to have been a Green Beret and a decorated Vietnam veteran. (More information on the dude here, if you’re interested.)

Scientology in general, and my girlfriend’s foster dad in particular, was notorious for “fair-gaming” its lapsed members and anybody else who gets in the way of the organization. “Fair Game” is an L. Ron Hubbard phrase that means, basically, no action that can be taken by church members against the person in question is off-limits. It’s okay to attack them, kidnap them, have their home “SWATted”, destroy their careers or their credit rating. Being “fair gamed” by the Church of Scientology is very far from a picnic. The Church now disavows “fair gaming”. (More info here.)

The Ford Motor Company, on the other hand, doesn’t seem too reluctant to “fair game” a few of its lapsed members, as you’ll see.

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By on December 8, 2016

1995 Lotec C1000, Image: eBay

Countless hours of development, design and and construction. Exacting details wrought in board rooms and wind tunnels. Exotic materials, experimental engine designs, hand crafted bodies. The goal?

Simple. Make the fastest car in the world.

But even if a designer or firm achieves that goal, they don’t necessarily have a winner on their hands. Even when the facts and figures support the superiority of one supercar design over another, intangibles often determine which one will be a success.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at some superlative automobiles over a few decades and see how fate played out.
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By on December 7, 2016

2017 Honda Civic Hatchback - Image: © Timothy Cain/The Truth About Cars

As I exited the grocery store this past Sunday night thronged by late night shoppers, the expressions on the faces of those who walked past the 2017 Honda Civic Hatchback LX, parked right in front of the store, were not difficult to discern.

Then, as it became obvious I was the “owner” of said Civic, previously repulsed glances shifted toward me, now full of pity. Can’t say I was surprised. The exterior design Honda foisted upon an otherwise excellent car is downright horrifying.

I wanted to shout across the grocery store parking lot, “It’s not mine.”
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By on December 7, 2016

2018 Euro VW GTI Golf

Alexis writes:

I give advice to everyone about what to get and not get, and yet I’m finding it impossible to decide for myself.

I’m a moderately successful realtor living in Toronto, and my 2005 Saturn Ion is about to give up the ghost. Yes, I know, an enthusiast driving an Ion doesn’t really make sense, and I admit it’s a car for people who just gave up — that’s why I bought it four years ago.

Alas, it’s time for something else.

Read More >

By on December 7, 2016

2017 VW Golf

Sometimes a manufacturer churns out a base trim that might not be the best of its range but represents a merciful departure from the rattletrap boxes of sadness which, not too many years ago, used to be hawked by OEMS as their base wheels. Here’s an example.

Sure, it’s easy to mock Volkswagen these days. The diesel emissions scandal has scuppered the brand in the eyes of a number of consumers, adding to traditional VW stereotypes such as high repair and maintenance costs. All the same, excluding an entire brand from consideration because of a single wayward trimline is akin to throwing out a fifty pound sack of potatoes because of one rotten spud.

In the past, Americans treated hatchbacks with a degree of disdain generally leveled at soiled copies of Utne Reader. The Golf is definitely one of the better hatchbacks out there. Does its base S model pass the Ace of Base litmus test?

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By on December 6, 2016

GM rear seat reminder dashboard

General Motors’ Rear Seat Reminder technology, designed to alert drivers to check the back seat when exiting their vehicles, will be offered on a multitude of Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet and GMC vehicles by the 2018 model year.

Having made its debut in the 2017 GMC Acadia earlier this year, the technology aims to prevent heatstroke-related deaths and reduce the number of children left unattended in parking lots. Read More >

By on December 6, 2016

2017 Toyota Prius Prime

Toyota has announced it will expand the development of hybrid technology over the next five years to get ahead of strict global emissions standards.

The  automaker plans to increase staff on its hybrid technology development team 30 percent by 2021, setting the goal of 19 emissions-friendly drivetrain components. The fuel-sipping technology could soon find its way into the majority of Toyota vehicles. Read More >

By on December 6, 2016

2013-ford-taurus-sel-20l-ecoboost-grille-and-badge-photo-529274-s-1280x782

An evolving lineup that matches consumer demand is the hallmark of any healthy automaker, and Ford has no problem dropping unpopular models.

That’s the message delivered by Joe Hinrichs, Ford’s president of the Americas, who hinted that changes could be in store for the company’s car lineup in the face of a crossover and SUV-hungry marketplace. Read More >

By on December 6, 2016

2017 Chevrolet Camaro V6 V8 1LE - Image: General Motors

Well, that was short-lived. After somewhat positive, very incentive-fueled results for the Chevrolet Camaro in September and October, November’s numbers told a very different story.

General Motors’ underwhelming launch of the sixth-generation Chevrolet Camaro produced significantly fewer sales in 2016 than the old Camaro managed in its final year. Camaro sales through the first eight months of 2016 were down 15 percent, year-over-year. But GM then threw down the incentive gauntlet in September with massive discounts, intending to clear an inventory glut.

It worked. Sort of. The Chevrolet Camaro outsold the Ford Mustang in September — and again in October — but inventory levels scarcely decreased. Autumn simply isn’t the time to sell large numbers of pony cars, even if the Camaro attracted more buyers thanks to average discounts of $4,700 per car.

Regardless, that two-month Camaro win streak turned out to be a two-month blip. General Motors scaled back Camaro incentives in November 2016. Consequently, Camaro volume declined, the Camaro was once again handily outsold by the Ford Mustang, and there are now 177 days of Camaro supply across America. Read More >

By on December 6, 2016

New York City's Department of Transportation fleet of Toyota Prius, Manhattan, NYC., Image: By Mariordo Mario Roberto Duran Ortiz (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Peter writes:

I drive a 2010 Toyota Prius. From top to bottom, I’m thoroughly impressed by the technology in this car. And yet this engineering marvel is so easily disabled by its inferior owner leaving a dome light on overnight and draining the 12V battery.

Is there any technical reason cars allow the 12V battery to be drained down beyond the point where the car will start? Who needs that extra 6 hours of dome lighting?

Read More >

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