Category: Editorials

By on January 19, 2017

2018 Ford Mustang

“Somewhere out there, a mom or dad is explaining to Mustang-loving children they didn’t get to see the new model because Ford was playing ‘I’ve Got A Secret’ when the family spent its time and money on a day at the show.”

The Detroit Free Press is madder than the proverbial hatter over Ford’s decision to delay the introduction of the 2018 Mustang until the Tuesday of the NAIAS public week. But you can ignore all the hysteria, including Freep’s suggestion that Ford offered refunds to everybody who attended the Charity Preview and the first three public days, because once again, Ford’s got a better idea — and it’s one that is going to be used everywhere from Audi to Volvo in years to come.

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By on January 19, 2017

Martin Winterkorn, Image: Volkswagen AG [CC BY 3.0]/Wikimedia Commons

As far as anyone knows, former Volkswagen CEO Martin Winterkorn spent the last 16 months on a desert island.

After resigning his post in the turbulent days after the diesel emissions scandal went public, Winterkorn stayed out of the spotlight, shying from any public appearances. That is, until now. As indictments land in executives’ laps and top brass grow wary of leaving the country, Winterkorn showed his face to a parliamentary committee in Berlin. Read More >

By on January 18, 2017

Pontiac G8 GT at Ulurau 2

Cory writes:

My 2009 Pontiac G8 GT is finally getting to the mileage where a replacement may soon be needed. It has 103,000 miles on the odometer but still runs fine and has not been abused. Just the random aging that comes with a high mileage car that I’d prefer not to deal with (headliner coming down, seats lacking support, ride getting softer, leather on steering wheel coming off, side mirror motors not working, dents and dings). I’d love to go the SS route, but can’t support the price tag. I need four doors and like larger vehicles — new Chevy Malibu Hybrid, new Mazda 6, Acura TLX, used Volvo S60 (doesn’t hold resale), used Maxima (ditto)?

I know, none will be as fun as the G8 (I love it), but it’s time to update.

Ugh, this letter depresses me. Why? Read on.

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By on January 18, 2017

Hyundai Sonata Rental with broken rear window, Image: © 2017 Jack Baruth

I closed the driver’s door and the back window of the 2017 Hyundai Sonata simply fell into the passenger compartment, a thousand little pieces sprinkled over my luggage, my spare pair of shoes, my son’s child seat. It was about 10:45 on a Saturday night. Danger Girl, my son, and I were nearly 400 miles away from home. It was 26 degrees outside. And we were about 40 miles from the nearest town with more than one stoplight.

Did I mention that the car in question was a rental?

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By on January 18, 2017

2017 Honda Odyssey LX

Sometimes a manufacturer churns out a base trim that — all things considered — might just be the best choice for that particular model. Here’s a candidate.

Wait, wait, wait! Yes, this is a minivan … but before you scroll past this post to revel in Steph’s news reports or one of Jack’s adventures, consider this: when was the last time you bought something which truly made your life easier? Because that’s what minivans are all about.

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By on January 17, 2017

2016 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel HFE

The Environmental Protection Agency alleged last week Fiat Chrysler Automobiles had installed undisclosed emissions software in 104,000 of its diesel vehicles — issuing the company a notice of violation for its Jeep Grand Cherokee and Ram 1500.

While the EPA continues its investigation into whether or not FCA will become the next Volkswagen, Canadian law firm Sotos LLP and America’s Heninger Garrison Davis LLC have coincidentally teamed-up to launch class action lawsuits on behalf of consumers. Read More >

By on January 17, 2017

pumping fuel

It would be fair to suggest that government agencies have held the automotive industry by the testicles with both hands for much of the Obama administration. America’s fuel economy and emissions targets are noble, but have cost manufacturers peace of mind and plenty of money. Enter President-elect Donald Trump, who spent a great deal of his campaign promising to repeal some of those standards and change things for the industry.

Are the current targets too lofty? Most automakers would say yes, but it depends on who you’re asking. However, the odds of Trump rolling back efficiency standards in a meaningful way is on par with us returning to the Bronze Age. While not impossible, it’s incredibly difficult to turn back the tide of progress. Even if the 45th President of the United States did manage to dismantle the EPA, abolish Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) regulations, and convince China to nuke us into the Stone Age, there remains the outside world to consider. Read More >

By on January 17, 2017

FF 91 Reveal, Image: Seth Parks

After much anticipation, Faraday Future finally revealed its production car, the FF 91. The presentation introduced the FF 91 as “the smartest car you’ll ever drive” and described capabilities of advanced sensors, machine learning, and autonomous driving — all great buzzwords. We saw a live demonstration of the FF 91’s ability to drive itself with the “driverless valet” feature. The car successfully parked itself in a parking lot outside the reveal and we were told to “never worry about parking again.”

Except, I watched the rest of the reveal and I’m pretty worried.

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By on January 17, 2017

2017 Bolt

Chevrolet has released the state-by-state distribution plan for the Chevrolet Bolt, with the all-electric subcompact gradually trickling inland from the coats from now until the third quarter. Nineteen states will see a preliminary wave of deliveries completed by summer’s end. That’s assuming, of course, that dealerships ordered the EV in a punctual manner and production keeps pace.

The manufacturer was careful to call this an “approximate” timeline.  Read More >

By on January 17, 2017

2016 Nissan Frontier

Some people have one mid-life crisis; I’ve had a series of them, rearing their ugly heads in widely disparate manners, off and on over the past 20 years. In fact, I’m now having midlife crises that are repeats of previous crises.

Example: After a fairly successful knee surgery last month, I decided to buy some new BMX bikes and go riding again, the same way I did back in 2001 or thereabouts. Last time, my partners in this ill-advised venture were a bunch of Bolivian pro BMX racers whose constant orbits around my house combined with the glossy presence of a CL55 AMG and an Audi S8 in my driveway to convince my neighbors that I was involved with the cartels. This time, my main homeboy is my seven-year-old son, newly mounted-up on a watermelon-green Sunday Primer 16 skatepark bike.

The last time I got this serious about riding, I bought a Nissan Frontier. This time I’ve thought long and hard about doing something similar. True, I have a very nice Tahoe Z71 as part of the dowry from my recent marriage, but driving anything as profoundly elephantine as a Tahoe depresses the hell out of me. What to do?

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By on January 17, 2017

1981 Datsun 280ZX in California wrecking yard, LH front view - ©2017 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

The Datsun 280ZX was sold in the United States for the 1979 through 1983 model years, and many a line of cocaine was sniffed inside these cars during their heyday as affordable sports cars. The 280ZX still shows up regularly in California wrecking yards, but most of them go unphotographed as I continue seeking out the really rare stuff. However, since I’ve never included a 280ZX in this series, and this one in the San Francisco Bay Area was an especially ugly rare 2+2 version, I decided to photograph it. Read More >

By on January 16, 2017

ford logoAbout a month after Ford began deliveries of the 2013 Escape, it suddenly recalled every single unit equipped with a 1.6-liter EcoBoost engine. A faulty fuel line in the engine compartment posed a fire risk so bad that Ford actually urged people not to drive their cars until the necessary repairs had been carried out.

However, the 1.6 liter Ford Kugas sold in South Africa — essentially renamed world-market Escapes — never received the same sort of attention. Almost 50 Kugas have spontaneously combusted so far, leading to one fatality, and the Blue Oval is just now issuing a “voluntary” recall.

Anyone recall the 1970s Ford Pinto? Read More >

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