Category: Features

By on October 11, 2015

2016 Honda Civic Sedan Touring

While Honda has traditionally been a company of engineers pushing the boundaries of their know how, the 1.5-liter turbocharged engine in the 10th generation Civic almost didn’t happen for 2016 due to some reluctance within the company, reported Automotive News on Sunday.

The new mill was initially slated to be offered as part of a mid-cycle refresh in 2017 or 2018 (possibly for the 2018 or 2019 model years), but with the Civic getting such a thorough overhaul, key people involved in the Civic project made a case for the turbo engine to be offered earlier.

“The thinking was that the new Civic needs this engine to go where we want it to go, to make this model such a leapfrog event, such a strong competitor, not just in North America but around the world,” Gary Evert, the Civic’s chief engineer and North American development leader, told AN.

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By on October 9, 2015


There has been a lot of coverage recently devoted to that scandal where Volkswagen revealed that its vehicles have been polluting like a chemical company that dumps out its waste in poor neighborhoods late at night.

But this scandal seems to have taken our eye off the Volkswagen ball. I say this because the whole “cheating on diesel” thing is not Volkswagen’s only issue. It is merely one of a myriad of problems that has launched the brand into the mediocre, also-ran position where they find themselves in America today. And right now, I’m here to remind you of the largest of these problems: that they spend their money on absolutely the wrong things.

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By on October 7, 2015

18 - 1983 Lincoln Continental in California junkyard - photo by Murilee Martin

In 1982, the 7th-generation Lincoln Continental went to the Fox Platform, elbowing the Fox-based Lincoln Versailles aside. These cars didn’t hold their value so well, which meant that you won’t see many these days.

Here’s a reasonably solid example I saw at a San Francisco Bay Area self-service yard two months ago. Read More >

By on October 5, 2015

Kreutzer Japan 1

Back in July, just days before my family boarded a Boeing 777 to wing our way to Japan, a truck arrived at my home to haul away my Chrysler Town & Country. In the ensuing weeks, while we struggled through lost luggage and looked for a place to live, the van was trucked to California, loaded into a container and placed aboard a ship. As the summer wore on, while we worked through the details of an overpriced lease and did our best to get the kids enrolled in their new school, the ship crossed the wide expanse of the Pacific and made port in Yokohama. While we were accepting delivery of our household goods, the ship was being unloaded and its containers sent to a customs warehouse. Finally, just as we were beginning to settle into our new lives, I was contacted by a Japanese customs broker. The Town & Country had finally and irrevocably arrived. Read More >

By on October 4, 2015


A researcher from Leeds University says that at least four other automakers’ cars are polluting above the legal limits for Europe, including Ford, BMW, Mazda and Mercedes-Benz, the Daily Mail reported.

James Tate, a researcher and lecturer at the university measured over 300 new cars to comply with new Euro 6 diesel emissions standards. According to Tate, Mazda’s diesel engines, on average, emitted more than six times the European limit for nitrogen oxide emissions in new cars. Ford’s cars may have polluted more, but Tate said the automaker’s sample size was too small to tell.

According to the report, Tate used a roadside sniffer for testing in the UK, similar to ones used in the United States.

“This research shows that building cars so they perform well in laboratory emissions tests but emit high amounts of NOx in real urban driving is an endemic practice across the industry,” Tate said, according to the Daily Mail. “There is very little known about how the manufacturers conduct their tests because they take place behind closed doors.”

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By on October 3, 2015

Volkswagen is working on a fix to bring their “defeat device” equipped cars back into EPA compliance. The SCR upgrade option is very costly and another possibility is a software fix. The latter option would likely come in the form of an ECM calibration that would work similar to “test mode” at all times, possibly robbing power and fuel economy.

The crew over at TFLCar attempted to emulate this test mode on a dyno but fell short of collecting reliable results.

While I applaud the idea of finding an affected car and trying to generate real-world test results, the tests and analysis in the video do not correlate to an actual EPA test.

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By on October 2, 2015


In 1996, Ford sold about 28,000 Broncos. This was the same year the Explorer finally cracked 400,000 units, the vast majority of them XLT trim or above, and each one carrying a healthy markup over the Rangers from which they were unashamedly derived.

The Ford dealership where Rodney and I worked sixty-five hours a week to earn thirty grand a year stocked at least four Medium Willow Green Explorers with the XLT 945A Popular Equipment Package (PEP 945A) at all times and sometimes even a Medium Willow Green Explorer XLT with the lowbrow, cloth-seat PEP 941A, but we did not, I repeat, we did not stock the Bronco. In fact, during my year at the dealership, I only saw two brand-new Broncos come on the lot.

There was a reason for that.

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By on October 2, 2015


While working on a story about some very old cars, I stumbled upon something relevant to the latest big story in the automotive world.

I ran into a Model T collector who’s also a powertrain engineer for Ford. Seizing the opportunity, I asked him if he could tell me what he was working on (sometimes they say no). He said that he was responsible for developing computerized engine controls. Because of that expertise, I started to ask him some questions about the software program that Volkswagen apparently used to cheat on the EPA’s diesel emissions testing.

What he was willing to say and what he wouldn’t say intrigued me. Read More >

By on October 1, 2015

Jim Ellis VW

Twenty-two vehicles on the front line and not a single one of them a Volkswagen.

This wouldn’t be surprising if this were a used car lot or a new car store that sold a different brand, but this is Jim Ellis VW — the most successful Volkswagen dealership in the entire metro-Atlanta area.

How successful? They have two locations and sold Volkswagens every day for well over 44 years. This dealership was founded on day one with Volkswagens exclusively in their blood. No competitor in the southeast can come close to that level of enduring success.

So what does it mean when one of your most loyal dealers in the entire nation won’t even put your vehicles on their front line?

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By on September 30, 2015

1968 Comparison Test (23 of 26)

Confession time: I’ve never driven a car built before the 1980s.

Actually, scratch that. I may have driven a car built before the ’80s — likely late ’70s — but it wasn’t memorable enough for me to actually, well, remember.

Thankfully, my hobby-turned-career has afforded certain pleasures, such as driving two incredible examples of what Detroit had to offer the buying public more than 40 years ago.

It was time to right my dark secret. These two cars — a 1968 Ford Mustang GT and an Oldsmobile Cutlass S of the same vintage — would allow me to do just that.

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  • Contributing Writers

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