Category: Features

By on October 24, 2016

2016 Fiat 500L, Image: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles

Consumer Reports released its new car reliability ratings today, and one company should take a long hard look at itself in the Italian-American mirror.

The annual report covers brand reliability and includes a list of the 10 best, and worst, vehicles in terms of reliability. While there are some predicable favorites, Buick managed to hit an unexpected home run and electric vehicle manufacturer Tesla surprised everyone with reports of mechanical issues stemming from — get this — the electronics.  Read More >

By on October 23, 2016

Third-generation Buick GL8, Image: GM

It’s no secret General Motors’ Buick division does the majority of its business in China. The tri-shield brand offers up six separate nameplates in North America for 2017 while giving customers in China the choice of 10 (or 11, depending on how you count them) different nameplates.

One of the models Buick offers in China that it doesn’t offer here is this: the Buick GL8 — and it has a 30-year-old secret beneath its newly redesigned skin.

Read More >

By on October 22, 2016

2015 Volvo S60 Sedan

Autumn is here, leaves are falling, and dealers are marking down remaining 2016 inventory to free up room for models that won’t sound old in three months.

It’s a good time to hunt for that smoking deal on the 2016 vehicle of your dreams, but if your dreams — and bank balance — fail to reach that goal, looking back another model year could save you a lot of money.

New car looks and a low entry price can be yours if you’re willing to live with a vehicle boasting limited appeal and awful resale value. These are your best bets. Read More >

By on October 19, 2016


Manufacturers want you to believe that their vehicles are durable, but at the same time they want to make money. So, they make continuous improvements and updates in order to keep buyers coming back. Setting a hard limit for how long a vehicle should last would be detrimental to any brand, but soft limits — like the five-digit odometers of the 60s and 70s — made owners aware that they should dump their car before the 100,000 mile mark rolls around.

We’re well into six digit territory now, as the commonly accepted lifetime for vehicles has doubled to 200,000 miles. However, according to its service software BMW thinks its cars shouldn’t be on the road that long. Read More >

By on October 19, 2016

2017-2014 BMW 5-Series profile_128

The new 2017 BMW 5 Series, BMW’s seventh in a long line of revered midsize sedans, looks exactly like the outgoing BMW 5 Series.

Chip off the proverbial old block. Spitting image. Germany’s vehicular Dolly The Sheep.

If the new 5 Series, codename G30 in Bimmerphile parlance, were nothing more than a facelift of the departing F10 5 Series that will shortly end its 2011-2016 run, we would all surely consider the facelift to be an insufficient attempt at spicing things up.

But the new 5 Series isn’t just a mid-cycle refresh, it’s not merely a freshening of a tired old dog, it’s not the standard Munich riposte to a Stuttgart incursion.

This is the all-new BMW 5 Series. Or rather, one of these cars is the all-new BMW 5 Series. Can you say for sure which one it is? Read More >

By on October 19, 2016

2016 Porsche 911 Carrera

Let’s get one thing clear straight away: this car doesn’t exist on any Porsche lot. Finding a no-options Porsche 911 is like finding leftover beer at a frat party or a Prius owner who isn’t smug. If you want this, you’ll have to order it.

The base Porsche 911 Carrera starts at $89,400 and is devoid of extraneous technical frippery, making it closer in spirit to mythical 911s of the past than anything else in the current catalog. And yes, I’m aware of the existence of the psychotic 911 R and GT3 RS.
Read More >

By on October 18, 2016


Ryan writes:

Hey Bark,

I’m in the final year of my lease on a 2014 Cadillac ATS 2.0T and the itch to start shopping for my next car has kicked in. Ownership has not been perfect. CUE annoys me on a regular basis, the 2.0T noticeably shakes the car at idle when the engine is cold, it’s been recalled four times for its sunroof, and its automatic transmission is way too eager to up shift. While my wife loves how quiet and smooth the car is, I am a bit ambivalent. The handling is great, but the car itself lacks character when you cane it.

I’ve owned an E46 BMW M3, both eighth and ninth generations of the Honda Civic Si, and a Toyota MR2 targa top in the past. Recently, I put a refundable deposit on a 2017 Subaru BRZ with a manual transmission in hopes of getting back into something that’s a bit more raw, but it seems Canadian customers are not receiving some ’17 updates and my wife hates being a passenger in it.

I was eyeing the new Chevrolet Camaro SS, BMW M2 and used Porsche Caymans when, on a whim, I test drove a 2015 Lexus RC F.

Read More >

By on October 18, 2016


Chris writes:

I’ve noticed various new-ish cars, ranging from Kias to Lincolns, with a flash-then-steady mode on their center high-mount stop lights. Is this becoming standard? I expect it’s not federally mandated, but I can’t imagine where else it’s coming from.

More importantly, how is it being implemented? I’m thinking about grabbing one from a salvage yard in a few years.

Read More >

By on October 17, 2016

Lincoln Driven at Speed of Depreciation

As our own Matthew Guy has marvelously demonstrated recently, it’s widely known a new-car purchase’s best value can often be found in the base-level trim. Rarely is a vehicle improved in proportion to the cost of additional options. Nor is the money spent on additional options or higher trim levels recovered in resale as secondhand customers are reluctant to pay more money for bells and whistles because, quite often, they’re obsolete by the time the car sells the second time around.

If we take these truths to an obvious conclusion, it can be said that the higher the trim level, the worse the resale value — and in my years of experience working for Autotrader, I can tell you that’s true. Many of the low-end pricing tools used by dealers to determine used car values often don’t even take trim into account.

Is it any wonder then that General Motors’ and Ford’s top trim levels have wretched resale values?

No, I’m not talking about “LTZ” or “Titanium.” I’m talking about Cadillac and Lincoln.

Read More >

By on October 17, 2016

Chrysler 300 SRT-8

Friends and roamin’ countrymen, lend me your ears! The Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk is on the way. It might not be in dealer order books quite yet, but it’s been spotted all over the place. As a business proposition, you can’t beat it; the first Grand Cherokee SRT-8 was a very satisfying automobile, and the current one is even better. Sure, every SRT Grand Cherokee ever built is a kind of ironic statement on the idiocy of the modern consumer, who is willing to pay extra money to get less room and worse handling as long as he can sit six inches higher than his neighbor, but adding the Hellcat engine to it makes it perfectly ironic. It’s the combination of added-then-removed off-road capability and an engine that is simply too powerful to use fully unless you are willing to go full-sociopath on your fellow motorists. Nothing could be more American, nothing could be more THE_CURRENT_YEAR. I accept the existence of the Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk and urge you to do the same.

But as long as we’re expanding the availability of what is probably the Greatest American V8 in History, shouldn’t we also take a moment to give it a home that is both appropriate and respectful of Chrysler tradition? That’s right: I’m talkin’ ’bout a 300C Hellcat.

Read More >

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