Category: Editorials

By on July 21, 2016

2016 Mazda 3 sedan red

Enthusiast praise for the Mazda3 began before the current-generation compact Mazda arrived in late 2013. Previous iterations benefited from hugely positive reviews. “We’re going to love the 3 once it arrives in America,” Automobile wrote in December 2003. Credit for dynamic excellence was the norm a generation later. “Steering is direct and the suspension is firm enough for spirited driving and equally competent at soaking up bumps,” said AutoGuide in early 2009. I haven’t hesitated to get in on the action, writing in my second review of the latest compact Mazda, “The Mazda3 is still the best compact car you can buy.”

It’s therefore not surprising to see that in a five-way compact car comparison for the magazine’s July edition, Car and Driver named the 2016 Mazda3 i Grand Touring the winner of the test. Car and Driver handed the Mazda 203 points, 44-percent more than the fifth-ranked 2016 Nissan Sentra SL achieved.

Industry observers also won’t be surprised to learn that Car and Driver’s fifth-ranked Nissan Sentra produced 139-percent more first-half sales than the Mazda, while the other three losers all roundly outsold the Mazda, as well. Read More >

By on July 20, 2016

Renaissance Center At Night Circa January 2011

It was 8:18 p.m. on a Sunday night, and the situation was seeming grim. I had just returned a press car to the Parking Spot at the Philadelphia airport, and not a single rental car agency in Philly was willing to rent me a car.

A combination of poor communication and piss-poor planning on my part made it necessary for me to drive home nine hours through the darkness of Appalachia just so I could turn around and leave again in the morning. I had been awake since 6:00 a.m., and it seemed likely that the clock would make three full rotations before I’d shut my eyes again.

Through deceit and sheer willpower, I saw the bluegrass of central Kentucky at 5:07 a.m., but not before I discovered a few things about myself, not all of which I wanted to discover.

Read More >

By on July 20, 2016

2013 Ford Fiesta SYNC basic, Image: Ford

“I hate this thing,” my significant other exclaimed as she tried for the upteenth time to switch from line to USB input in our 2015 Ford Fiesta.

I was in the driver’s seat and she in the front passenger seat as she extended her hand across the cabin to depress the voice recognition button on the steering wheel. This, in her mind, is the easiest way to change the audio input source on the basic version of Ford SYNC, the much-derided infotainment system from the Blue Oval.

And she’s absolutely right. It is the easiest way to do what should be a simple function in the Fiesta. Hit the VR button, say “USB Input,” and SYNC switches from the default line input to USB. (For whatever reason, the system doesn’t remembers that we use USB input every single time.)

This method of switching audio input is also the most dangerous way to perform this function as a passenger, and I’m about to tell you why.

Read More >

By on July 19, 2016

'95-'97 Ford Windstar, Oak Vacation Resort Hotel, Image: By Bull-Doser (Own work.) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Long-time TTAC readers will recall that I had a reputation for selling the un-sellable when I worked as a Ford salesman in the halcyon days of the First Clinton Administration. This was particularly true when it came to cars that were considered showroom poison simply because of their color. I delighted in selling pink Aspires to recovering alcoholics and Tauruses with pink interiors to color-blind customers.

In the spring of 1995, the new-car manager at my dealer decided to order 25 identical Windstars to take advantage of a particularly felicitous upcoming combination of Red Carpet Lease residuals and rates.

Read More >

By on July 19, 2016

IMG_0405

When we started doing Ask Bark earlier in the year, I had no idea that it would grow into a weekly column, nor did I know that it would become the most popular series on TTAC. It’s rare that an Ask Bark is not the most-read post of the day when one runs, and I know that has very little to do with me. Rather, it’s an effect caused by the great readership of this site. Without your questions and your responses, this column wouldn’t exist. I thank you for continuing to send your questions and for your continued participation.

As a result, I have over 200 unanswered questions sitting in my email inbox. Not all of them require a full thousand-word response, so I’m going to tackle a few of the shorter questions today. Oh, and the hero image is just a pic of my son with the vehicle he designed for Disney’s Test Track that I’ve wanted to use. Click the jump and let’s help our fellow readers together.

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By on July 19, 2016

Deer Crossing Dixboro Road, Superior Township, Michigan, Image: By Dwight Burdette (Own work) [CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Michael writes:

Hi Sajeev,

Back in December, I purchased a new 2016 Ford Mustang 2.3-liter Ecoboost. Awesome car, my first Ecoboost and my first “sports” car. Anyway, the vehicle only has 2,200 miles and I’m still very much breaking it in.

Much to my dismay, last week while driving home through a wooded stretch, I struck a deer in the middle of the road. The deer was already dead, laying across multiple lanes with no way for me to avoid.

Read More >

By on July 18, 2016

3rd Generation Toyota Prius HEV Battery, Image: Toyota

Many industry reporters and enthusiasts attached stigma to early mass market hybrids because of the unknown reliability of their batteries. Potential owners worried that a failed battery would stick them with an expensive, out-of-warranty repair bill.

The first generation of hybrid vehicles hit the streets right around the turn of the century, right at the same time the domestic market was in love with SUVs. Anecdotes abounded about how dangerous and expensive hybrids would be to fix and maintain. Now that they’ve been on the road for over a decade, data shows — for the most part — there was no reason to fear these electrified fuel sippers.

Read More >

By on July 18, 2016

1991 Infiniti M30 in California junkyard, RH front view - ©2016 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

When Nissan decided to push some chips into the serious North American luxury-car-market game, they didn’t have the resources to do what Toyota did and build an all-new machine from scratch. Instead, they turned the President luxury sedan into the Q45 and the Leopard sport coupe into the M30. Infiniti sold the M30 for just a few years before being replaced by the J30 for the 1993 model year. It’s been nearly forgotten today.

Here’s a very rare ’91 that I spotted in a San Francisco Bay Area self-service wrecking yard a couple of weeks ago. Read More >

By on July 17, 2016

Social_occasion_featuring_a_wedding_dinner_party,_Dawson,_Yukon_Territory,_ca_1899_(HEGG_98).jpeg

Colin Chapman is given credit to an infamous line overused by today’s automotive cognoscenti: Simplify, then add lightness.

We’ve applied Mr. Chapman’s philosophy to our commenting policy, which will now be rigorously enforced.

These are TTAC’s Six Rules of Civility.

Read More >

By on July 15, 2016

2016 Hyundai Sonata, Image: Hyundai Motor America

“Well, I mean, all this is basic and terrible,” said Mrs. Bark, pointing to the dash of our rental Hyundai Sonata. “But this could work for us.”

Mrs. Bark just turned 40. She’s an educated woman with four college degrees. She’s a college professor, almost the definition of a middle-class job. And yet she’s never owned the most middle class of vehicles — a mid-sized sedan.

When she became pregnant with our first child in 2007, she owned a 2005 Scion tC that we bought new from the dealership. After roughly a month of dealing with taking a baby seat in and out of the back seat of the little coupe, she decided that she needed something more suitable for motherhood. Since I owned an RX-8 then, I decided that we’d look at Mazda’s offerings, the Mazda5 and the CX-7.

Strangely enough, we never even considered a mid-sized sedan … but maybe we should have.

Read More >

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