Category: Editorials

By on December 4, 2016

Mercedes-Benz Sprinter 2016

We have, perhaps unfairly, categorized German automakers as far more calculating and efficient than their American counterparts. While there is certainly a case to be made for this positive stereotyping, there are also plenty of examples calling this perceived Germanic precision into question. One such instance is the absolutely ridiculous lengths Mercedes-Benz have been going to avoid the chicken tax on its imported vans. Read More >

By on December 3, 2016

Mark-Fields (Image: Ford)

Ford Motor Company CEO Mark Fields doesn’t have kind words for the Environmental Protection Agency’s surprise decision to keep long-term fuel economy targets in place.

A mid-term review of corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) targets set in 2012 kicked off earlier this year, but the timing of the agency’s recent decision to maintain the 54.5 mile-per-gallon goal reeks of politics, Fields claims.

For automakers, reaching 54.5 mpg means extra costs. To avoid this, Ford is prepared to turn to its election campaign sparring partner — President-elect Donald Trump — for help. Read More >

By on December 2, 2016

1992 Nissan Altima (public domain)

I had somewhat of a unique high school experience, in the sense that it was the most after-school special, stereotypical experience possible. I went to a suburban school with just the right amount of ethnic diversity — which is to say that even the black and Hispanic and Asian kids listened to Pearl Jam and wore Ralph Lauren.

When it came to our first cars, we didn’t just go down to the local dirt lot and buy something with our savings from fast food jobs. No, we were spoiled brats who were given sensible compact to mid-sized sedans by our parents. We didn’t lust after MK II GTIs or Geo Storms — no, we sat around the lunch table in 1994 and debated the merits of the fifth-gen Honda Accord, the basic but steady Ford Taurus, and the GOAT XV10 Toyota Camry, especially the blingy “American Edition.”

As for me, I had my heart set on the recently introduced Nissan Stanza Altima.

Read More >

By on December 2, 2016

VW LOGO Ice

The California regulator that played an important part in uncovering Volkswagen Group’s emissions cheating plot detailed a list of options on how the automaker will be required to spend the $800 million penance by advancing green tech and nonpolluting cars.

Some of the choices the California Air Resources Board came up with are truly terrible.  Read More >

By on December 2, 2016

2013 Toyota Avalon Limited, Exterior, Avalon badge, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes

“Well, I bought that car last night.” Craig has this unnerving habit of simply appearing at my cubicle while I’m trying to do something productive, like texting people or reading random articles from the Last Psychiatrist archive on my phone. He’s a soft-spoken fellow, entering late middle age the same way that I am but not showing nearly as much evidence of blunt trauma, well-compensated in his engineering job but modest in appearance and disinclined to spend money.

Regarding my life and temperament, I like to follow the example of Robert Bly in quoting Cesar Vallejo: “Well, / On the day that I was born / God was sick / gravely.” I suspect that on the day that Craig was born, by contrast, God was in perfect health and settling down with the newest issue of Consumer Reports. About a month ago, Craig started seriously thinking about replacing his 150,000-mile Honda CR-V. It’s been a faithful companion for a freeway commute that takes about an hour in each direction, but even the most prosaic of Hondas eventually reaches a point where the cost of maintenance starts to become a factor. Not in money, necessarily, but in time.

Knowing that I dabble a bit in things automotive, Craig had asked what I thought about the new CR-V. This was a subject on which I was glad to speak, because I absolutely despise the “cute-utes” and will take every opportunity to rooster-block the purchase of one.

Read More >

By on December 1, 2016

LUCID prototype

Lucid Motors, which hopes to someday be an EV manufacturing heavyweight rivaling Tesla, took an important step on Tuesday by announcing plans for an assembly plant in Casa Grande, Arizona. The automotive startup claims it could create up to 2,000 jobs over five years. Governor Doug Ducey seems particularly pleased to divulge Lucid’s commitment to training and hiring Arizona veterans.

For its part, Arizona will offer $46 million in subsidies dependent upon the company reaching milestones as it approaches vehicle production. Read More >

By on December 1, 2016

2017 Subaru Forester 20XT Touring - Image: Subaru

U.S. sales of new vehicles, year-over-year, declined in three consecutive months between August and October 2016.

Forecasters expected November 2016 to be a much brighter month thanks to buoyant incentives, a lack of post-election economic turmoil, and a lengthier sales month. Indeed, auto sales rose by nearly 4 percent thanks in no small part to big gains at General Motors, America’s highest-volume manufacturer of automobiles. Read More >

By on December 1, 2016

Mazda Dog

Mazda, which has seen its previously strong sales slip in Israel, feels the brand has developed a bum rap. Its once-exciting cars have become unworthy of praise in the Jewish republic — claims the company finds flagrantly objectionable.

So, rather than take the perceived abuse lying down, the automaker developed the “Prepare to be Amazed” campaign in response. Its essence isn’t that Mazda begs to differ with naysayers, but that the general public is simply wrong in its assumptions.

It’s the advertising equivalent of telling off the school bully while putting on a pair of sunglasses and moonwalking home. Read More >

By on December 1, 2016

2017 Ford F-150 Raptor

Pickup trucks are about as stereotypically American as firearms, baseball, Coca-Cola, and landing on the moon. However, General Motors and Ford don’t want us hoarding all that goodness and plan on exporting their piece of the American pie to the East. The Big Two want to place large American trucks in the hands of upscale Chinese buyers and establish the eminence of a vehicle China currently sees as little more than a tool for farming or construction.

Coincidentally, that is exactly how our love affair with the truck began.  Read More >

By on December 1, 2016

1971 Lamborghini LP500 Prototype, Image: Bertone

Though it may seem hard to believe, we’re only a month away from celebrating the 50th anniversary of the start of the Wedge Era in automotive designs.

To those of us who still think of the Countach as a sharp enough design to be considered cutting edge, this is a sad reality. Yet the prototype of what would become the 1980s poster child was first shown in a hard-to-conceptualize 1971.

The influence of the angle extended far beyond the Countach in the 1980s. It also started before the scissored doors opened on the stand in Geneva in 1971 and was seen in many more marques than just those wearing the Raging Bull. Even more impressive than its age is the reach of these designs, some of which are still being refined today. So, let’s take a look at some of the interesting and influential doorstop shapes and where they later found a home.

Read More >

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