Category: Editorials

By on February 15, 2017

2017 Alfa Romeo Giulia

There’s been no shortage of digital ink spilled over the impending return of Alfa Romeo to North American shores, with declarations of a grand return being touted all the way back in 2000 when the company entered into a partnership with General Motors. Yes, General Motors.

Now, of course, we know Alfa’s part in Sergio’s grand plan for the House of FCA. Since the introduction of the sinewy Giulia, the hot and unpronounceable Quadrifoglio has gotten all the press. How does a base Giulia stack up at $37,995?

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By on February 15, 2017

audiad

You might not have heard about it, but Audi ran a rather controversial advertisement during the Super Bowl a couple of weeks ago. If the Lords Of The Four Rings wanted to get people talking, they certainly succeeded, although not all the reaction was positive. Right-wing websites screeched that the ad was a “SJW hugbox” or a “feminist fantasy.” At the same time, the decidedly lefty Twitter hive mind was attempting to crucify Audi for offering a weasel-word response to queries about its own compensation policies for women. One rather suspects that the company did not forecast this kind of bipartisan draw-and-quarter when they were laying out their goals for their $10M Super Bowl spend.

My brief analysis of the ad spot was remarkably popular and it was linked out from all over the Internet. It was also very far from the only think piece generated by Audi’s gorgeous but problematic mini-film. The day after the Super Bowl, you could go anywhere from “Arf-com” to the “Last Psychiatrist” sub-Reddit to find a vigorous discussion on the merits of the ad. You’d be hard-pressed at this point to find someone who didn’t have at least a casual opinion on the subject.

With that said, I can give you a few names of some people who clearly didn’t see Audi’s paean to empowered, independent young women who are worth just as much as their male counterparts in the only scale that has ever mattered — cold, hard cash, naturally. These people, rather surprisingly, appear to work for Audi Atlanta’s promotional team.

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By on February 14, 2017

Oldsmobile Intrigue 442

Last week, we kicked off this Rare Rides series with a shockingly wedge-y Ghia Probe, but that feels a little international, a bit foreign.

Let’s see a familiar brand from the good old USA that’s never pretended to be international. It wears an Oldsmobile badge and stripes tinted with that familiar shade of Hurst gold.

Behold, the 1999 Oldsmobile Intrigue 442.

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By on February 14, 2017

smart fortwo electric

It would appear that the Smart money is literally on electric cars. Daimler says it plans to stop selling combustion-engined Smart models in North America entirely. If you live in the United States or Canada and want a goofy gas-powered mini car, you’d better buy one now.

Mercedes-Benz USA CEO Dietmar Exler has issued a letter to dealers explaining that the sale of Smart cars with gasoline engines will stop when the 2017 model year ends this fall. Read More >

By on February 14, 2017

Premier Badge on 2017 Chevrolet Tahoe, Image: © 2017 Mark Stevenson/The Truth About Cars

Now after all these years, and no matter what damage it does to the B&B’s conception of me as a redneck reactionary from Bumpkin, Ohio, the story can finally be told: I was a full thirteen and a half years old when I first set foot in an honest-to-nine-pound-baby-Jesus pickup truck. Not the front seat of said all-American conveyance, mind you. The bed of a pickup truck.

The scenario was this: At the time, my high school was about 50-percent residents of a new tournament golf course and about 50-percent residents of the farms that didn’t get absorbed into said course. My pal Brent was dating a hillbilly girl from across the tracks. She had a stunning friend. I suggested a double date. The friend agreed, presumably driven by the kind of self-destructive farm-bound boredom that makes rural kids steal tractors, torture animals, and ingest crystal meth.

One of the girls’ fathers agreed to drive us to the local theater. He showed up at my friend’s house behind the wheel of a light-blue Dodge Ram 150 2WD Regular Cab, festooned in country fashion with a bubble-windowed cap in a fetching combination of gloss white and dull rust. There were silhouettes moving behind those bubble windows. I turned to run; I’d heard a plot summary of Deliverance from my father. But my friend grabbed my shoulder and dragged me to where the overalls-wearing father was dropping the tailgate to reveal not a pack of snarling hounds or a toothless rapist but our dates for the evening, prettily perched on a pair of carpeted boxes covering the wheelwells. “Get in,” Farmer Dad growled.

“I … don’t think I can,” I replied.

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By on February 14, 2017

Aston Martin and Mustang, Image: www.dailycarblog.com

Bill writes:

I am considering adding a fourth car to my family fleet, and I’m seriously weighing the options between a new Ford Mustang GT coupe with a manual or a 2005-2008 (or so) Aston Martin DB9. This would be a car I would drive around 3,000 miles per year.

In anticipation of your first questions, my other cars are a 2004 Honda S2000 AP2, which I plan to keep forever, a 2013 VW Touareg VR6 and an utterly original 1991 Mercedes-Benz 420 SEL (W 126) with just 113k miles. I can afford, within reason, higher ownership costs associated with a luxury GT as long as the engine doesn’t have to come out of the car for service (like seemingly every Ferrari before the 360).

It looks like a DB9 coupe with under 30,000 miles can be had for around $45k or so. I’d love to find a manual gearbox but they are rare.

Please give me three good reasons why I should run to my local Ford dealer and find a ‘Stang. Or not. Thank you! Read More >

By on February 13, 2017

2016 Lexus RX450h

December is typically a peak month for automotive sales, especially among premium brands. With more holiday-themed ads than the majority of its competition, Lexus always sees the year’s final month of sales as its best. However, it did so well last December that January saw a 26 percent drop in sales due to an exhausted supply of sport utility vehicles.

With the narrowest of exceptions for the LX, last December turned out to be the best month in the history of all of Lexus’ SUVs. The bad news is that most of those sales came at the expense of the automaker’s sedans, which saw comparatively low sales. At around 41,000 units, December 2016 wasn’t all that much different from 2015. However, cars made up a significantly smaller piece of that pie. Read More >

By on February 13, 2017

1992 Honda Prelude Si Manual, Image: Austin Hartman

This is my new 1992 Honda Prelude Si five-speed, which passed 100,000 miles last week while I was driving it home from Tampa to Tucson.

The car was for sale on eBay and I was in the market for a vintage stickshift Prelude as the ultimate souvenir from my Honda days. In addition, my wife and I had always wanted to do a cross-country drive. My sister and her husband recently moved to Florida, a hundred miles south of where the car was located. My wife had never been to New Orleans. We decided, what the heck, let’s buy the car and drive it home.

Did I mention that this Prelude was the closest thing to a barn-find car I’ve ever bought? Read More >

By on February 13, 2017

2017 Subaru Crosstrek 2.0i Limited

The 2017 Subaru Crosstrek has the bad luck of living in the shadow of a vehicle that doesn’t yet exist. That phantom would be the looming 2018 Crosstrek, which borrows the new-for-2017 Impreza’s modular platform and, no doubt, enough technological, mechanical and appearance upgrades to make the old model look ancient overnight.

So, if you’re stuck living in northern climes and counting pennies is your idea of a thrilling good time, now’s a great time to sit back and wait patiently for a killer deal on the outgoing model. Because, replacement or not, it’s popular for good reason. And no, not just because of Subaru’s newfound status as the go-to conveyor of the nonconformist middle class.

With little changed since its 2013 model year debut, save for the elimination of the “XV” prefix, a minor 2016 facelift, and the disappearance of a short-lived hybrid variant, the Crosstrek enters the last year of its first generation with confidence. This jacked-up Impreza 5-door has a life ahead of it and a fan base behind it. Anyone who questions the reasons for the model’s popularity had best pack their bags, head north, and experience a month where it snowed at least every other day. Read More >

By on February 13, 2017

1987 Dodge 600 in Denver wrecking yard, RH front view - ©2017 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

For most of the 1980s and well into the 1990s, most cars made by Chrysler were members of the many-branched K-Car family tree. In the early years, the K was sold as an all-American economy car for the frugal, but Lee Iacocca had his eye on stealing some sales from European luxury marques. Perhaps a K made to look something like a Mercedes-Benz would do the job? Read More >

By on February 12, 2017

MAVEN APP

While Ford is currently the domestic automaker making the biggest push into in mobility services — which seem to entail practically anything outside of traditional manufacturing and distribution — it isn’t the only company preparing itself for an era of declining vehicle ownership. FCA has partnered with Waymo to develop a fleet of self-driving Pacificas and General Motors has a personal mobility brand, called Maven, that acts as a car-sharing service.

While it isn’t quite so technologically advanced as autonomous vehicles or automotive A.I., Maven provides additional revenue immediately and furnishes GM with a unique opportunity to cope with some of the ownership problems of tomorrow. Car-sharing is good way for GM to profit from people who don’t own cars, but it’s also a clever method of getting young urban drivers to spend money on becoming more familiar with their product — especially on the coasts where import brands tend to outsell their domestic counterparts. Read More >

By on February 12, 2017

engine parts

A Houston man says his Lexus went missing after the local auto repair shop, which he entrusted to fix his car, closed without notice. Returning to the mechanic to make a prearranged twice-monthly payment, he noticed an eviction notice and a completely empty parking lot.

“I’m thinking this guy has stolen my car,” said Randy Exom of the mechanic after being unable to find his automobile.  Read More >

By on February 11, 2017

2016 Nissan Frontier, Image: Nissan

European drivers have a problem. Motorists who own Nissan Navara pickups keep finding their trips cut short by an annoying noise: the sound of their trucks splitting in half.

So many Navaras — sold in North America as the Nissan Frontier — are snapping in two due to extreme frame rust that owners are pressuring governments to do something about. Check out these photos if you think it’s an isolated problem. Read More >

By on February 10, 2017

Infiniti QX50 quarter window, Image: © 2017 Sajeev Mehta/The Truth About Cars

My long-standing personal vendetta against DLO FAIL — an internet-slang definition of black plastic “cheater panels” — takes center stage in this episode of Detroit Auto Show coverage.

Consider this: if manufacturing and design teams cannot decide on the same roof, if they cheat to make it right, did they design something worthy of the auto show lights?

I complain report, you make the final decision!

Read More >

By on February 9, 2017

2018_toyota_tundra_trd_sport_01_8ee19ebe1c41ad354b59edf3a42fdf0bac4ded48

It’s hard to go a day without overhearing people on the street whispering excitedly about the scandalous Toyota Sequoia. Okay, that statement is completely false, and no doubt part of the reason why Toyota saw fit to add an off-road-minded sport trim to its lightly refreshed full-size SUV for 2018.

Ah, hell, why not add it to the full-size Toyota Tundra pickup, as well? Read More >

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