Category: Media

By on August 3, 2017

Top Gear America screengrab

Automotive television is, at best, a mixed bag. At worst, it’s a cultural wasteland of gimmicky programing that persists only because of our deep love for cars, bolstered by a handful of engaging personalities. Suggesting that I am generally dubious of any new car-related entry into the entertainment landscape would be a gross understatement. So, when the rebooted Top Gear America aired over the weekend, my expectations were already incredibly low.

I suppose the nicest way to phrase this is by saying it did not exceed those expectations.

While it attempts to capture the magic of vintage Top Gear in much the same way the current British version strives to, the first episode fell far short of the mark. Whether that’s down to the hosts not having adequate time to develop legitimate chemistry or a systematic flaw in the show’s design remains to be seen. But something is definitely wrong here.

Episode One felt extremely awkward, although not entirely hopeless. And I’ve reminded myself that I didn’t much care for Richard Hammond the first time I saw him on the screen, either. Fast forward 15 years and I enter into a panic every time he’s in a scrape, terrified that God might take that adorable little man away from me. Read More >

By on July 11, 2017

2018 Honda Odyssey Silver Driver Front quarter

Who knew the well-equipped 2018 Honda Odyssey was so… titillating? An unsuspecting journalist over at Forbes saw a few more — let’s call them entertainment options — than she expected while browsing through the video selection offered via her Odyssey tester’s rear media screen.

At that point, things became a little hot under the collar at Honda.

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By on April 25, 2017

2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Demon, Image: FCA

Update: We’ve redacted a sentence from this editorial. You can find an explanation here.

Jay-Z and Beyonce got nothing on the marketing people from Dodge. The last low-volume vehicle to get this kind of publicity and raise this kind of ruckus was probably the LaFerrari, which was definitely not based on a $29.99/day rental car. (Trust me, I’ve driven the LaFerrari.) It will also toss, by my back-of-envelope estimation, somewhere between $100m and $200m into the company coffers, even if you don’t take into account all the lower-spec Challengers — even Hellcats — the Demon will sell just by drawing traffic into dealers.

The media response to the Demon has been half predictable and half rather refreshing.

The predictable part is the Motor Trend-style cheerleading, which in this case has spread far beyond MT because — let’s face it — anybody can get excited over a nine-second street car. (By contrast, it takes a seasoned hack, erm, a real pro to get excited about the Bolt.) The refreshing half of the commentary has come from the half of the media that likes to style itself as an un-elected and un-appointed fiscal watchdog of the industry. These are the people who whine a certain car “won’t sell” or “doesn’t make money” as if they are major shareholders of GM instead of underwater-basketweaving-degree-holders sitting in rent-controlled apartments on a mountain of student debt.

Normally, these people would be up in arms that an automaker has taken time off from the critical business of building suppository-shaped RX300 clones to briefly indulge in a bout of misguided enthusiasm about automobiles. In this case, however, the Demon is so obviously going to be wildly profitable that they’ve been forced to shut up and/or join the chorus of approbation. Except, that is, for one crusty old relic of the legacy media who’s found a new tune to play.

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By on April 14, 2016

apple_car_mt

Motor Trend,” TTAC alum and occasional minor-event organizer Brock Yates once declared, “is for people who move their lips when they read.” Were Yates still with us, he’d likely be somewhat less than surprised at the breakneck pace with which MT is attempting to transform itself into a YouTube video first and a magazine-for-morons second. It’s a sound business model; why limit your content to the even vaguely literate when you can break the shackles of the written word entirely and deliver extended advertorials to the lowest possible common denominator?

Of course, it would be both crass and impolite for us to imply that Motor Trend thinks its consumers are complete idiots who will eagerly place their lips on the corporate cloaca of “TEN: The Enthusiast Network” and eagerly lap up whatever poorly digested material is splattered into their open mouths.

It would also be unnecessary, because — as of last night — Motor Trend has made that point for us.

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By on March 4, 2016

golf_tdi_sets_guinness_world_records_achievement__5069

When a self-described automotive journalist attempts a fuel economy record, you expect his attempt to be objective — or, at least, as objective as such an attempt can be.

However, when an automaker is willing to pay that automotive journalist thousands of dollars for the effort, with payment possibly dependent on achieving the desired record, objectivity falls by the wayside and, along with it, the credibility of someone believed to be a hero in high-fuel-efficiency circles.

Wayne Gerdes, if you aren’t familiar, owns a website called CleanMPG.com. It’s a forum dedicated to those squeezing every bit of fuel efficiency possible from their vehicles — also known as “hypermiling.”

Automotive journalist Gerdes set two records — in 2013 and 2015 — using Volkswagen TDI Clean Diesels. In doing so, the journalist lined his pockets with Volkswagen’s marketing cash.

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By on February 11, 2016

motortrend2.

If you’re reading this, chances are that you have little to no familiarity with Motor Trend. The audience here at The Truth About Cars, as we all know, is a superbly well-educated and successful group of detail-oriented people from all parts of the (autism) spectrum. The readers of MT, on the other hand, are almost all drooling morons who move their lips very slowly when they read, and are exceeded only in their ability to excite repugnance by the chronically inbred half-wits who watch Motor Trend videos, their crystal-meth-addled eyes jumping randomly with perpetual, idiotic surprise at the public-access-TV-level antics spooned contemptuously into the permanently dropping corners of their toothless mouths.

I’m just kidding about that last part, of course. I’d known plenty of very nice people who subscribed to Motor Trend. On the other hand, I don’t apologize for characterizing TTAC readers as Aspies. There’s something wrong with all of you. You’d rather read a Camry review than a story about jumping an Aventador over a river filled with piranhas. I love you for it. Please keep reading. I need the money.

Futhermore, there are a few men of steely courage and razor-sharp intellect out there among the B&B who are willing to brave the foetid depths of Motor Trend’s website just to get the latest breaking news about THE NEW CAMARO TELLS THE MUSTANG TO STEP OUTSIDE! or, possibly, THE NEW MUSTANG TELLS THE CAMARO TO STEP OUTSIDE! One of them e-mailed us this morning to tell a strange tale: last night, a Motor Trend editor published a scathing editorial attacking the Specialty Equipment Manufacturers Association (SEMA), only to have it disappear in the light of the next day.

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By on January 13, 2016

porsche-ceo-matthias-muller

On Monday, Volkswagen CEO Matthias Müller told NPR that the automaker didn’t lie in 2014 when regulators asked the automaker why its cars were polluting way more than advertised:

“We didn’t lie. We didn’t understand the question first. And then we worked since 2014 to solve the problem.”

Immediately realizing that wasn’t the thing to say, Müller asked NPR for a do-over Monday, which he got:

“Yeah, the situation is, first of all we fully accept the violation. There is no doubt about it. Second, we have to apologize on behalf of Volkswagen for that situation we have created in front of customers, in front of dealers and, of course, to the authorities. …”

Which sounds much more conciliatory, but doesn’t necessarily contradict his earlier statement. So, yeah, this isn’t good. Read More >

By on June 16, 2015

I don’t mind being preached to. Or being preached at. I mean, I’ve played guitar in a few church bands, and not all of the churches in question would let me sleep in my car during the sermon. Once in a while, I’d toss a couple of bucks in the collection plate, as well. So you could even argue that I’m okay with paying for the privilege of being preached at.

Insofar as I have an Internet connection and the ability to use it, I knew prior to walking into the new “Mad Max” film that I’d be effectively paying to be preached at, and the sermon would be the American-media orthodoxy of 2015: Women are just like men, only smarter, braver, and tougher. Old white men are the source of all the world’s evil and they are always trying to “own” babies, er, fetuses, er, tissue, that should be the property of women. Only by becoming a “feminist ally” can a man have any worth in society.

I knew all of this before the first digital frame of this movie appeared on the screen, and I was prepared to live with it. What I was not prepared for was this: Mad Max: Fury Road just plain sucks.

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By on May 8, 2015

pcarskotaku

Project CARS is probably the most hotly-anticipated automobile-related video game to “drop” in the past few years. It’s ridden a positively Kanagawan wave of media hype and compensated “viral” marketing to its release – but at least one well-informed source is saying that this new emperor is decidedly trouserless.

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By on April 30, 2015

Mayweather with owner of Fusion Luxury Motors

This headline is as true as any other you’ve read over the past few days.

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By on February 28, 2015

MN_Tow_Truck-550px

Kansas City’s KCTV reported this week on an attempt to repair a 2012 Missouri state law that has led to a dramatic increase in car thefts. The law, which allows people to sell vehicles 10 years or older without a title, was originally intended to help rural property owners dispose of derelict vehicles and outdated machinery that would otherwise be left to rot. Criminals, however, soon discovered that they could scoop up virtually any vehicle that met the standard and sell it to scrap yards for a tidy profit. Read More >

By on November 5, 2014

ford-dealership-newark-1950s Courtesy grayflannelsuit.net

It appears that I am a few days behind Matt in cruising westbound down Route 66 in New Mexico. We checked into the legendary Blue Swallow Motel in Tucumcari last night and discovered that our room came equipped with the December 24, 1956 issue of Automotive News, unearthed from a long-closed dealership down the street. Some of the articles in the trade rag proved that today’s car biz is indeed, in the words of Yankee great Yogi Berra, “deja vu all over again”… Read More >

By on May 28, 2014

Last week, an amazing video popped up on my Facebook feed. Produced by a small Idaho based startup seeking funding from the public via an IndieGoGo campaign, it offers a glimpse into a possible future where the roads are made out of reinforced glass panels that contain solar cells, microprocessors and LEDs. The company, Solar Roadways, has been working on this product for years and it has already attracted a considerable amount of attention from the tech community. Now, as it seeks money to hire a team of engineers to perfect and streamline the production process, it appears as though Solar Roadways is finally ready for the big time. Read More >

By on April 11, 2014

tesla-model-s-11

Tesla has fired back against the accusations brought in a lawsuit filed against the company earlier this week by a Wisconsin attorney and self-described “Lemon law King” Vince Megna. Mr. Megna’s client, a physician who took delivery of his Model S in March of last year, alleges that he has had repeated problems with the car’s doors and main fuse and that repeated attempts to remedy the problem have met with no success. He is asking that, after four attempts at resolving the issues, the company re-purchase the car under Wisconsin lemon laws intended to protect buyers if a product is faulty and cannot be repaired by the manufacturer. Read More >

By on March 22, 2014

6-speed manual transmission

I was browsing the internet the other day and came across a website that purports to be “A guy’s post-college guide to growing up.” Normally I avoid websites like this. I learned about the manly arts the old fashioned way, dangerous experimentation, but since I have been wrestling with an especially verdant crop of nose hair recently I thought I might find some grooming tips and so I decided to check it out. Amongst all the articles on slick, greasy-looking haircuts, sensual massage techniques and the power of positive self-development, I found this handy beginners’ guide on how to drive a stick shift. Since it was one of the only things on the site I had any real experience with, I looked it over and decided it was pretty good. Naturally, I thought I would share it.

Read More >

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