Category: Editorials

By on August 22, 2016

Jeep Patriot, Image: © 2016 Matt Pericles/The Truth About Cars

Editor’s Note: Please welcome Matt Pericles, a.k.a. FormerFF, as the first reader featured during TTAC’s Reader Submission week. We’ll post more submissions throughout the week. Stay tuned!

Consider the Jeep Patriot, whipping boy of automotive journalists everywhere, number 18 out of 18 in U.S. News’s “Best Compact SUVs” list.

Does it deserve such scorn?

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By on August 22, 2016

1989 Plymouth Reliant America in Minnesota junkyard, LH front view - ©2016 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

In last week’s Junkyard Find, I shared the first discarded BMW E30 I have photographed after nearly a decade of writing about junkyard vehicles. Yes, the E30 was a fine automobile (though right-thinking car experts recognize that its Alfa Romeo Milano competitor was faster, cheaper, and had a much better-sounding engine) and we should take a moment to appreciate this important piece of German automotive history.

Right, now that we’re done with that, let’s admire a piece of automotive history I find much more fascinating: an example of the final model year of Chrysler’s company-rescuing K-Car, photographed in a muggy, buggy, cocklebur-overgrown Minneapolis self-service yard. Read More >

By on August 21, 2016

2017 Volkswagen Golf Alltrack, Image: Volkswagen

Updated with details on all-wheel drive being standard equipment for Alltrack.

Volkswagen of America needs a winner as it reels from the ongoing diesel emissions scandal, and its forthcoming Alltrack — a jacked-up, all-wheel-drive version of the SportWagen — is hopefully just the ticket.

As Volkswagen prepares to launch the new model on American shores, it’s all hands on deck for the German automaker as it sends representatives from its internal training department to every single dealership in the United States.

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By on August 19, 2016

U-Box on trailer in driveway

Last week, I wrote about our dramas and dilemmas with U-Haul’s newest product/service, U-Box, which we decided employ for our move from Nova Scotia to Ontario.

I tweeted out the link and made sure to mention the U-Haul Customer Service Twitter account.

This is what happened.

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By on August 19, 2016

Monterey Historics, Image: Tim Hill via Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca

Don’t look now, but it’s starting. The Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion, often called the “Monterey Historics” by those in the know and simply “Monterey” by people who maintain a sort of willful, deliberate ignorance of anything else happening at Laguna Seca for the rest of the year, will be casting its usual ghoulish pall over the world of automotive enthusiasm this weekend.

Founded by Steve Earle (the non-famous Steve Earle, mind you, not the fellow who once said that thing about Townes and Dylan) four decades ago, the event was quasi-hijacked away from its founder a few years back and now exists primarily as a way for rich guys to show off their cars and for mass-market manufacturers like Cadillac to spend money blathering about their heritage to a bunch of people who hold them in utter and complete contempt. Read More >

By on August 18, 2016

Bark and Danger Girl's Ford Fiesta STs, Image: © 2016 Bark M./The Truth About Cars

I own a Ford Flex. It’s true. Well, technically, Ford Credit owns it, but I’m only 12 months or so away from getting the real title in my hands. I’m constantly being told by people — hell, even by commenters on this website — that the Flex is a great car, but that people just don’t seem to like it. Of course, since I bought one, I completely disagree.

The Flex is just one example of a car that people who fill up comment sections of automotive websites seem to love but never buy for themselves. The list of such automobiles is quite long: The Pontiac G8. The Mazda RX-8. The Fiesta ST — wait a second, what the hell is going on here, I’ve owned all of these!

Just what is it that makes a car popular with enthusiasts but unpopular with the general public?

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By on August 18, 2016

2017 Genesis G90, Image: © 2016 Steph Willems/The Truth About Cars

A paranoid person, or maybe just a very cynical one, might have suspected the man of being a covert OEM plant.

“Is that a Bentley?” asked a well-to-do looking gentleman outside our Kelowna, British Columbia hotel, where a line of Genesis G90s rested after our drive up from Vancouver. Had they been within earshot, the automaker’s PR reps might have broken out into guarded, nervous smiles. Read More >

By on August 18, 2016

1970 Plymouth EPA Superbird Blue front quarter, Image: Barrett-Jackson

Indeed, car shoppers looking for a bargain can potentially find fleet gold at surplus auctions, where municipal, county, state, and federal agencies dispose of (usually) lightly used domestic cars and trucks. Knowing how those agencies use their vehicles can make or break the value of your find; buying an ex-Border Patrol Raptor in Texas may not be the best idea if you want a long-lived, trouble free truck.

A keen eye and a bit of luck, however, can yield a magnificent treasure. In 1979, a high-school shop teacher spotted this old Plymouth up for bid, and took it home for a measly $500. It’s no ordinary Plymouth, of course — it’s the legendary Superbird, with the NASCAR-ready homologation wing and aero nose.

It’s up for auction again in October, though it’ll cross the stage under bright lights and TV cameras at the glitzy Barrett-Jackson auction in Las Vegas instead of a dreary government service facility. As these rare ‘Birds tend to trade for well over six figures, we’d have to say this is likely the best surplus find yet.

However, the story behind this example might make it worth even more: This particular Superbird was owned by the Environmental Protection Agency.

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By on August 17, 2016

2017 Ford Explorer Limited, Image: © 2016 Jack Baruth/The Truth About Cars

I’ve long since given up on the idea that it’s possible to have a truly unbiased review of an automobile — or anything else, for that matter. Nevertheless, we should not let the perfect be the enemy of the good. In the service of that, I’m going to say up front that I completely despise this generation of Explorer. I didn’t like it when I reviewed an early model five and a half years ago, and I like it even less now that alternatives like the refreshed Grand Cherokee exist.

The worst thing about the Explorer is that it’s fundamentally a crappy version of the Ford Flex. The Flex is a thinking person’s station wagon. The Explorer is an idiot’s SUV. Perhaps a kinder, and more accurate, way to put it is this: the Explorer is a Flex remixed to appeal to women. I’ve yet to meet a woman who likes the Flex. In order to stop this from being a 1,200-word combo-diss-fest-and-Flex-hagiography, I’ve hired the infamous Danger Girl to offer some balance in my review of this brand-spanking-new-with-24-miles, $44,065, front-wheel-drive SUV.

Let’s do this.

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By on August 17, 2016

Chevy Suburban profile

Sometimes a manufacturer churns out a base trim that is — all things considered — the primo choice for that particular model. Here’s an example.

A couple of weeks ago, Tim spelled it out for us: Americans finally bought more SUVs than cars.

Now, a good many of these weren’t real SUVs: Rouges, RAVs, and RDXs are pathetic shadows of the segment’s forebears. The Suburban, however, has been unabashedly truck based since 1935. The current model is powered by a 355-horsepower V8 engine fuelled by ground up Priuses and oiled with the tears of David Attenborough. Cargo space is measured in acres instead of square feet.

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