Category: Features

By on February 5, 2016

2016 Toyota 4Runner TRD Pro front

Since the introduction of its fifth generation, the Toyota 4Runner has been sold in three flavors: the base SR5, the loaded Limited, and the off-road focused Trail. But Toyota has a history of making small batches of special edition models and, for 2015, the carmaker showed off the Trail-based TRD Pro.

The TRD Pro featured unique suspension with remote reservoir Bilstein shocks and taller springs, black TRD wheels wrapped in Nitto Terra Grappler A/T tires, unique skid-plates, grille, badges, interior trim, and one special red color.

For 2016, the TRD Pro is back, and this time it’s in everyone’s favorite color: Brown Quicksand!

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By on February 4, 2016

2006-2009_Chrysler_PT_Cruiser

Kenneth writes:

Which cars and trucks that have throwaway motors? I was one payment from finishing my debt on a 2006 Chrysler PT Cruiser and my timing belt came off. Immediately, my valves were destroyed. I would not want to buy another engine like that. I am now $20,000 in debt buying another car. (Toyota Corolla)

Thanks Sajeev

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By on February 3, 2016

Scion-tC

Sir, I don’t think you understand how our pricing model works.”

It was the winter of 2004, and a sad-sack of a salesman sat at the desk across from Mrs. Bark and me at a morbidly depressing Toyota-Scion dealership near Dayton, Ohio. My dear wife was the less-than-proud owner of a 2001 Hyundai Elantra that had been the very first car she’d ever purchased new. That Elantra came with war wounds; it had been hit in the rear door a week after she bought it, and the car was so cheap that the small dent it caused wasn’t worth fixing.

We had recently become upwardly mobile, thanks to a promotion I got at work, so I wanted to buy her something nicer; something sporty, but not actually sporty. She was a graduate music student, and all of her friends drove shitboxes from the ’90s. I wanted them to know that her husband was somebody, not just another poor grad student. Alas, youthful pride.

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By on February 3, 2016

Keep both hands inside the car at all times.

One coupe flies, two coupes die.

By the time that Akio Toyoda was standing on that Detroit stage crowing about the triumph of the LC500, the nails were already being hammered into Scion’s coffin. The Scion tC, perhaps the best combination of practicality, style, and durability available for under twenty-five grand in the United States, will be taken out back and unceremoniously shot. The FR-S … your guess is as good as mine, but I’d be surprised if Toyota brought it over as the Celica, no matter how personally gratified I would be by such a move.

The story of Toyota’s American sub-marques could not be more different. Lexus has gone from strength to strength, effortlessly assuming a position as the thinking man’s luxury car with the LS460 while also flooding the market with Camry-platform high-profit product. Scion, on the other hand, has struggled from its first day with customer perception, dealer-satisfaction issues, and schizophrenic product planning.

Yet it’s easy to show that Lexus has been just as poorly managed as Scion; take a look at the Lexus lineup over the past 27 years and tell me that you can’t spot quite a few duffers and misfires. So why is the Official Toyota Brand of McMansion Owners soaring while the Official Toyota Brand of Dubstep Aficionados crashes? The answer, naturally, is: Barack Obama.

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By on February 2, 2016

2016 Honda Civic Engine 2.0L-001

CivicX is reporting that Honda has ordered a stop sale on all 2-liter four-cylinder-equipped 2016 Honda Civics. To blame: piston pin snap rings, which may be incorrectly installed or not installed at all.

This is the first recall of Honda’s tenth-generation Civic and includes 33,735 units in the United States and an additional 8,000 units in Canada. The recall has not yet been disclosed by the National Traffic Highway Safety Administration or Transport Canada.

According to an official Honda communication to dealers, the missing or incorrectly installed piston pin snap rings “may cause engine stall or failure.”

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By on February 2, 2016

CTS-V front

Best & Brightest, you certainly didn’t disappoint in the last installment of Ask Bark. While some of you seem to be confused about the difference between asking for friendly advice and asking for a full evaluation of one’s values, I know that Greg appreciated your advice almost as much as he appreciated mine. Well done, B&B.

Now, let’s examine this week’s e-mail from a man whose remarks I resemble.

Jordan writes:

Hey Bark,

As a family man, you understand the balance between the needs of your children (chocolate milk, corn dogs, shelter, etc.) and the needs of an enthusiast trying to maintain sanity. I’ve owned a number of sporty cars over the years and typically move on to something different every 12-18 months (my kind of guy —Bark). My “dad shoes” have heel-toed in the likes of a Volkswagen GTI MkV, Honda S2000 AP2, Mini Cooper S and, more recently, a ’14 Ford Fiesta ST.

I am looking to get into something different; perhaps more mature. The proposed dad-mobile would need to serve as occasional kid hauler (two booster seats), summer commuter, and track day toy (three to five weekend events a year). With a budget up to $40,000 and an eye toward a more serious car, I would love to hear your insights on balancing the conflict between the inner boy racer and the outer family man.

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By on February 1, 2016

Roger and Me, Michael Moore

I’ve always been a fan of Michael Moore — the “Me” in “Roger and Me” and creator of many other documentaries over the years — for tackling controversial topics. However, many of his points have to be put in better context. To wit: his latest Top 10 article at EcoWatch regarding the water crisis in Flint, Michigan.

Let’s see what Mikey has to say.

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By on February 1, 2016

2016 Nissan Sentra-006

Traditional car shoppers are moving away from small sedans and toward compact crossovers. That’s the conventional wisdom used to explain the slowing sales we see in some models. But could there be another reason? Could it simply be a lack of focus and attention to the compact segment?

There is one model that’s seen a meteoric rise in sales since 2013: the Sentra. Nissan’s complete overhaul three years ago and aggressive pricing doubled Sentra sales since then, moving it from a “top 15″ player in sales to number five in 2015.

In an effort to maintain the trajectory, Nissan opted for a major refresh after just three years on sale. (Sounds like the Honda plan with the Civic, doesn’t it?) Perhaps the key to compact success is a combination of frequent updates and more gadgets for shoppers to choose from. That sums up the 2016 Sentra perfectly.

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By on January 29, 2016

DSC01993

I wish I had $100 for every time someone told me their rare car was going to shoot up in value. If I did, I would invest it in the stock market, which is something that actually might shoot up in value. Their rare car, of course, will stay behind, largely due to the old adage that just because something’s rare doesn’t mean it’s valuable.

I remember the first time someone told me their car was rare and so it would increase in value. I was in high school, and a classmate of mine had just bought a Jeep Liberty Freedom Edition, or some such bizarre Jeep special edition where they change the wheels and add two-tone seats in an attempt to get people to buy it.

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By on January 29, 2016

060

Did you ever have to find a way to survive and you knew your choices were bad, but you had to survive?

Irving Rosenfeld, “American Hustle

The rental car lottery is a funny thing. Some days you win; other days you end up having your olfactory receptors assaulted by an invisible army of plastic-forming chemical fumes.

Faced with choosing between a Dodge Dart, Chrysler 200, Toyota Corolla and Hyundai Veloster this past Monday, I called our fearless leader: “Which one of these things do we need a review of?”

After Mark did a quick perusal of the site’s history, we agreed that, since our last Veloster review was over four years old, I would grab the keys to the visually, erm, interesting Hyundai.

It’s a decision I’ve been regretting ever since.

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Staff

  • Contributing Writers

  • Jack Baruth, United States
  • Bark M., United States
  • Chris Tonn, United States
  • Doug DeMuro, United States
  • Vojta Dobes, Czech Republic
  • W. Christian 'Mental' Ward, United States
  • Cameron Aubernon, United States

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