The Truth About Cars » News Blog http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Wed, 30 Jul 2014 14:05:22 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.1 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars editors@ttac.com editors@ttac.com (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » News Blog http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/category/news-blog/ European Review: Peugeot 208 GTi http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/european-review-peugeot-208-gti/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/european-review-peugeot-208-gti/#comments Wed, 30 Jul 2014 14:05:22 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=875793   The Peugeot 205 GTI is one of the legends of hot hatch history. It took off where the original VW Golf GTI started, with sufficient space and practicality, lots of speed and a reasonable price. And it was even more fun to drive. With about 120 horsepower and weighing under a ton, it was […]

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 208GTI_02-450x299

The Peugeot 205 GTI is one of the legends of hot hatch history. It took off where the original VW Golf GTI started, with sufficient space and practicality, lots of speed and a reasonable price. And it was even more fun to drive. With about 120 horsepower and weighing under a ton, it was quite quick for 1980s, and its tail-happy attitude gave it the reputation of a challenging car to drive. Its fondness of going through the hedges backwards may helped its popularity – people like to think that they are better drivers than others, and driving a car notorious for unforgiving handling can thus be a great ego booster.

Now, after nearly three decades and a string of lackluster hot hatches in recent years, Peugeot wants to reignite the flame with the 208 GTi. It promises to be much more interesting and fun to drive than the fast versions of previous 206 and 207, but it also enters a market segment full of very competent rivals.

While the 205 was sleek and chic, the 208 is a bit fat and too complex in its design. But what modern car isn’t? Besides, the beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so you better just look at the pictures and decide for yourself.

The interior is a bit different matter. Here, the design is not just about beauty, but also about useability and ergonomics. We can ignore the mish-mash of shapes, colors and materials. It’s even not important that the nav screen looks like an afterthought (after all, the ones in modern Mercedes products are even worse). But there are a few things that need to be mentioned.

First, the steering wheel. I don’t know what’s wrong with the round ones, and this one is not only flat at the bottom, but is weirdly shaped overall. It’s strange to look at, and it’s awkward to hold – too thick, too small, too unevenly shaped. On the other hand, it’s good it’s so small, because with the strange placement of instrument cluster (very high up, like in cars with the mid-mounted instruments), the only way to get a good view of the instruments is to set it very low in your lap and look over it instead of through it. With the bigger wheel in the standard car, this must be a royal pain.

Second, there’s the gear knob. Much like with the steering wheel, someone probably tried too hard to make the driver feel like he’s driving an alien racing spaceship. Which may be the reason why gear knob looks like severed alien’s head. Made of metal. Which makes it rather unpleasant to hold under most circumstances, and almost impossible to hold when the car has been left in the sun.

But we’re not here to look around. We’re here to drive.

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First impressions: deep bucket seats are very good, with lots of comfort and lateral support. The controls are well placed, and most of all, very light. Only the gearshift has a whiff of mechanical clunkiness in it, but not too much – just enough for you to feel like you’re really driving a real machine.

The lightness of controls in a car like this may come as a bit of a surprise. Most hot hatches try quite hard to be as sporty as possible, with meaty steering and pedal feel, stiff suspension and intense sound. The 208 GTi does almost exact the opposite.

The first thing you notice is probably the sound, of lack of any. We know that the turbocharged 1.6 under the hood can sound pretty awesome – it’s the powerplant of choice for roaring, burbling and cracking, fire-spitting Mini Cooper S John Cooper Works after all. Even in Peugeot’s own RCZ, it at least sounds interesting from the inside, even though it’s more similar to a loud vacuum cleaner from the outside. But here, nothing. Just the vacuum cleaner. I think that has to be intentional, but we’ll get to that.

The next thing to notice is the lightness of the pedals. Here, it posses no problem at all for the sporting pretensions of the car. On the contrary, the light and quick-to-react accelerator makes heel’n’toe throttle blips incredibly easy. Just a touch of the gas pedal with the right edge of your shoe, and the revs shoot up.

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It’s when you reach the first corner at speed when you notice the biggest problem: the steering. While its lightness is totally in keeping with the lack of any sporty sound and featherlight pedal action, it may actually be the single biggest flaw of this vehicle. While the lightness itself wouldn’t pose a huge problem, the total and utter lack of feel does. Judging by the steering wheel reactions, you have no idea whether you have plenty of grip left, or whether your front wheels are ploughing out of the corner.

But this wouldn’t be such a great problem, if it weren’t for the GTi’s chassis balance. Like many other modern hot hatches, the 208 GTi makes full use of the fact that the mandatory ESP can correct the inherent unstable behaviour, and is set to be quite a bit tail-happy in the corners. It is a bit like the jet fighters are set up in a way that they wouldn’t even fly without a computer.

This is, by the way, one of the biggest things the electronic nannies brought to the “driving enthusiasts’” world – car makers are now not afraid of building a fun to drive, oversteery car, which would, had it not been for the ESP, make it all too easy for drivers to kill themselves, bringing negative press and expensive lawsuits along the way. As it is, you can turn the ESP off and have fun, and if you crash (like I did, with the Focus ST), it’s totally your fault for being stupid.

208GTI_06

In this case, though, the playfulness of the 208′s tiny French ass is a bit of a problem. With the absent steering feel, you constantly worry that you overshoot the steering input, sending your car ass-backwards into the ditch. And while this scenario will most likely never happen (I only managed to send the car into oversteer with especially harsh treatment on slightly wet track), it is enough to discourage you from exploring the car’s limits, or even going anywhere near them, on public road.

Is it a bad hot hatch, then? Not at all. While the 208 GTi is not a hardcore tiny sportscar like hot Mini Coopers or the previous generation Clio RS, it offers other things. It’s still mighty fast, but it also offers surprising ride quality. It resembles the old Peugeots of 1990s, like 306 or 406, with their fluid, stable, but not stiff suspensions. And with the ride quality and quite comfy seats added to the mix, the whole car starts to make sense.

208GTI_07

While most hot hatches chase after the “hardcore sportscar” ideal, with loud exhausts, beefy controls and harsh suspensions, the 208 GTi puts emphasis on the first two letters in its name. For those who need one practical car for little cash, this is a “poor man’s GT”. It can cover ground at a great rate of speed – in fact, I think it is as fast a car as you may ever need. It is quite comfortable and if need be, it can transport four adults. And it can even offer a bit of a driving fun from time to time, although not as much as the best competitors in its class.

I would call it an “adult’s hot hatch”. And it’s up to its potential buyers to decide whether that’s a good or bad thing.

@VojtaDobes is motoring journalist from Czech Republic, who previously worked for local editions of Autocar and TopGear magazines. Today, he runs his own website, www.Autickar.cz and serves as editor-in-chief at www.USmotors.cz. After a failed adventure with importing classic American cars to Europe, he is utterly broke, so he drives a borrowed Lincoln Town Car. His previous cars included a 1988 Caprice in NYC Taxi livery, a hot-rodded Opel Diplomat, two Dodge Coronets, a Simca, a Fiat 600 and Austin Maestro. He has never owned a diesel, manual wagon.

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Thank You And Goodbye (Sort Of) http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/theres-no-pill-for-contextual-dysfunction/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/theres-no-pill-for-contextual-dysfunction/#comments Wed, 30 Jul 2014 13:00:56 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=455824 Tomorrow will be my last day as the Editor-In-Chief pro tem of The Truth About Cars. This was always meant to be a temporary situation, despite what some of the B&B thought. Given some of the differences in opinion I have recently had with TTAC’s owners, this is a good time for us to call […]

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jcb

Tomorrow will be my last day as the Editor-In-Chief pro tem of The Truth About Cars. This was always meant to be a temporary situation, despite what some of the B&B thought. Given some of the differences in opinion I have recently had with TTAC’s owners, this is a good time for us to call it quits. I will not be replaced; the site will be managed by the leadership team at VerticalScope in Toronto and Derek will continue in his capacity as Managing Editor. There will be other changes, detailed below.

I made some promises to you, the readers, and I’d like to discuss whether or not those promises have been kept. But the tl;dr crowd can best understand the situation like this: TTAC is basically Fleetwood Mac.

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The original Fleetwood Mac was founded by Peter Green, who was a one-of-a-kind talent. Kind of like Robert Farago, our august founder. Like him or hate him, there is only one Robert Farago and when he brought me on at TTAC I was humbled and thrilled all at once.

When Peter Green left the Mac due to a variety of issues, the band hoped that Danny Kirwan would be able to fill Green’s shoes. The problem was that Danny sounded kind of like a copy of Peter Green, only younger and with less experience, and he couldn’t come up with the original ideas that Peter Green generated seemingly without effort. You can say that Ed Niedermeyer was like Danny Kirwan. From a distance, his writing kind of looked like Robert’s, but it wasn’t quite the same thing. Which is not to say that Ed wasn’t occasionally bang-on correct about things, because he was.

Desperately seeking someone to lead the band, Mick Fleetwood and John McVie hired a fellow named Bob Welch, who took the band in a completely different direction. Some of the music was pretty good, some of it was terrible, almost none of it was memorable. The Welch era is more notable for the lawsuits and the personnel conflicts and the “fake Mac” tour and a bunch of other things that were fundamentally tangential to the business of making great tunes. You could say that Bertel was kind of the Bob Welch of TTAC. Sometimes he’d come up with a really great post but most of the time he was busy stirring controversy and pushing an agenda.

All true Fleetwood Mac fans know what happened next: they hired Lindsey Buckingham, who brought Stevie Nicks along with him. That’s how the Mac went from a great blues band to a lousy one to a bad pop band to a great one. Lindsey wasn’t interested in playing the blues and he wasn’t interested in the detritus of the music business. He just wanted to write, and play, the hits.

During my time at TTAC I’ve tried to be Lindsey Buckingham. Much of what made TTAC great — the Deathwatch, the bailout hysteria, the seek-and-destroy reviews of otherwise unremarkable cars — wasn’t relevant or topical any more, so I let it go. Instead, I focused on bringing the readers into the picture, expanding our range of coverage, and updating the site so it had a fighting chance against the Leviathans of the auto-blogging world.
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Last July, I made some promises to the readers. How’d I do?

I promised a TTAC Homecoming. We unbanned everybody and in general it worked. We’ve banned five users in twelve months by my count and at least two of them were directly related to the site’s previous management. No dunce hats, no Top Troll stupidity. I trusted you and you all came through.

I said we’d have Accountability and Civility, and I believe that goal was mostly met. No dildo pictures, no shibari rope bondage, no creepy Asian-girl fetish material. Every once in a while things got openly political. Sometimes it was my fault. However, during my tenure we expanded the writer base to include contributors from every political and personal walk of life. My greatest failure as TTAC’s editor, I think, was that I was unable to prevent one of those contributors, Alex Dykes, from parting ways with us. I apologize for that wholeheartedly. You can find him on my blog, jackbaruth.com, if you want to.

We tried to Refocus on the B&B and Open The Conversation. In the past year, reader submissions and reader-ride reviews are through the ceiling. Thank you for that. I believe that the private discussions I had with wayward commenters were mostly successful as well.

I promised you The Truth and only you can determine how well I delivered.

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After some discussion with Derek and the site management, I’ve agreed to stay on until the end of the year as a contributor. You won’t see me on these pages nearly as often. If you want to read work by me and Bark M., I’d encourage you to check out Road&Track, both online and print. My blog, JackBaruth.com, tracks my major contributions and has a bunch of stupid guitar pictures. Many of the contributors whom I’ve worked with on this site will stay with me until the end of the year and some may stay beyond that.

Last but not least, I’ll be releasing a book, tentatively titled Avoidable Contact: A Jack Baruth Reader, in October. Like The Itchy And Scratchy Movie, it will have at least 30% new content.

And now is the time where I say something personal. So check it out, right? I’ve tried every approach to living. I’ve tried, tried it all. I haven’t tried every thing, but I’ve tried every approach. Sometimes you don’t have to try every thing to get the approach the same.

I tried it all, I bought a bunch of stuff and went: “eh, I don’t like that”, I kinda came in and out of that a couple of times. I thought I would shut myself off, I thought maybe that’s cool. Maybe that’s what you have to do to be a genius, is you have to be mad. So if you get “mad” before the word “genius”, then maybe you can make genius appear, right?

That doesn’t work either. And I’m in a good place, I’ve paced myself pretty well. I’m forty-two, I’ve seen some cool stuff. I made a lot of stuff happen for myself. I made a lot of stuff happen for myself, right. That’s a really cool sentence when you’re in your thirties. “I made it happen for myself.”

But all that means is that I’ve just somehow or another found another way to synthesize automotive expertise or synthesize hooning. But you can’t get that. And what I’m saying is that I’ve messed with all the approaches, except for one and it’s gonna sound really corny but that’s just love. That’s just love.

I’ve done everything in my life that I’ve wanted to do except just give and feel love for my living. And I don’t mean like, Roman-candle-firework-Hollywood-hot-pink-love. I mean like: I-got-your-back love.

I don’t need to hear “I love you.” You guys love me, I love you. We got that down. But some of the people who will tell you they love you, are the same people will be the last to just have your back.

So, I’m gonna experiment with this love thing. Giving love, feeling love. I know it sounds really corny but it’s the last thing I got to check out, before I check out.

Take me to the solo! So long, and thanks for all the fish!

heashot

Photo credits: Michelle Baruth, Bobby Ang, Drama McHourglass aka Xtina Rivera, Rachel Gibbs

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Versatile 2015 Mercedes Vito Van Puts Power To Front, Rear Or All http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/versatile-2015-mercedes-vito-van-puts-power-to-front-rear-or-all/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/versatile-2015-mercedes-vito-van-puts-power-to-front-rear-or-all/#comments Wed, 30 Jul 2014 13:00:28 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=876185 If you run a very large flower shop somewhere in Europe, and are in need of a van that could be configured to your needs — including where the power from the engine will go — Mercedes has a van just for you. Jalopnik subsidiary Truck Yeah! reports the 2015 Vito — part of Mercedes’ […]

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Der neue Vito / The New Vito

If you run a very large flower shop somewhere in Europe, and are in need of a van that could be configured to your needs — including where the power from the engine will go — Mercedes has a van just for you.

Jalopnik subsidiary Truck Yeah! reports the 2015 Vito — part of Mercedes’ V-Class — can be had with RWD and AWD — like the V-Class — as well as optional FWD. The previous Vito had FWD for only the EV variant, while the new one puts diesel power to the front of the line alongside the rest of the family.

Autoblog adds said power comes turbocharged through four-pots ranging from 1.6 liters to 2.1 liters, with anywhere from 136 to 190 horsepower pushed to wherever it’s meant to go through either a six-speed manual or seven-speed automatic.

Der neue Vito / The New Vito Der neue Vito / The New Vito Der neue Vito / The New Vito Der neue Vito / The New Vito

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NLRB: Mercedes Violated Labor Act In Alabama Facility http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/nlrb-mercedes-violated-labor-act-in-alabama-facility/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/nlrb-mercedes-violated-labor-act-in-alabama-facility/#comments Wed, 30 Jul 2014 12:00:53 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=876081 The National Labor Relations Board ruled this week that the U.S. branch of Mercedes-Benz violated the right to organize among its employees at the automaker’s Vance, Ala. plant by prohibiting the distribution of union literature in common areas outside working hours. Automotive News reports Judge Keltner Locke found for the plaintiffs on one complaint out […]

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MBUSI Mercedes-Benz Alabama

The National Labor Relations Board ruled this week that the U.S. branch of Mercedes-Benz violated the right to organize among its employees at the automaker’s Vance, Ala. plant by prohibiting the distribution of union literature in common areas outside working hours.

Automotive News reports Judge Keltner Locke found for the plaintiffs on one complaint out of a number of complaints made against MBUSI regarding its violation of the National Labor Relations Act. In his decision, Judge Locke determined the areas where the subsidiary considered off-limits to dissemination were mixed-use areas — and thus, areas where material could be distributed freely — and that by “maintaining a solicitation and distribution rule which employees reasonably could understand to prohibit all solicitation in work areas,” MBUSI was in violation of the act.

Though no penalties were levied in the decision, the ruling ordered MBUSI to amend its rule so that off-the-clock employees may solicit other such employees. Mercedes stated that while they were pleased with most of Judge Locke’s ruling, citing his affirmation of its neutrality with regard to its employees, they disagreed with some aspects and were “evaluating next steps.”

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Piston Slap: 4Runner to A New Life? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/piston-slap-4runner-to-a-new-life-one-last-trip/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/piston-slap-4runner-to-a-new-life-one-last-trip/#comments Wed, 30 Jul 2014 11:49:34 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=873921   TTAC Commentator Ralph Schpoilschport writes: Hi Sajeev, Got a quick one for you and only asking because you begged!  But.  I am preparing to make a 3000 mile one-way trip from beautiful Vermontto, well, not so beautiful southern CA.  My rig is a 1997 Toyota 4Runner (V6, 5 speed manual).  Known problems: leaking rear diff (rust cracks) […]

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Driveway Smudge

TTAC Commentator Ralph Schpoilschport writes:

Hi Sajeev,

Got a quick one for you and only asking because you begged!  But.  I am preparing to make a 3000 mile one-way trip from beautiful Vermontto, well, not so beautiful southern CA.  My rig is a 1997 Toyota 4Runner (V6, 5 speed manual).  Known problems: leaking rear diff (rust cracks) and a muffler on its last leg.  Spark plugs, starter, timing belt and water pump are recent repairs/maintenance.  As I type, an attempt is being made to seal the rear diff.  If that is successful I am having the mechanic give the chassis a once-over.

If the inspection is clear or things are easily fixed I am planning on making the trip with this car.  I figure the car is worth approx $2500 – 3000 as it sits.  Am I nuts?

Other options:

  • Rent a car one way.  Haven’t looked but figure this to be well over $1000.
  • Trade the rig in.  Nice leases for Rav 4’s going on right now.  Not sure how the bank would feel about my plan esp. considering I am leaving my job of 9 years for a new one in SoCA.
  • Buy a newer used vehicle.  This doesn’t seem like a good idea.  If I were to do this I’d rather do it in CA than here (rust).

Sajeev answers:

You aren’t exactly taking a trip:  moving to California, needing something to move your stuff is more of a life-changing moment.

  • Renting is out of the question: sell the 4Runner instead, then take a plane and ship all your stuff instead.
  • You are averse to getting a new car, which is acceptable in your position.
  • Getting another used vehicle is both buying someone else’s problems and asking to lose more money on two trade-ins in the near future instead of one.

Honestly, you need this thing to make one last road trip. Sounds like the motor is fine, and hopefully there’s a decent band-aid fix for the axle. If not, just swap the axle with a junkyard unit to give peace of mind and increase resale value.

My biggest concern is the tires: if they are worn and/or 5+ years old, they might not survive that much highway cruising.  And odds are the spare isn’t in better shape!  So get new tires for the same reasons you’d replace the axle. Ditto other rubber items you’ve overlooked (belts, hoses, vacuum lines, etc) but could explode on the trip.  Because your 4Runner (or any Toyota from that era, for that matter)  is a hot commodity in any market, especially California.  New rubber and a non-rusty axle speeds up the sale and adds value. You’re not gonna waste your money here.

Best of luck in your new career AND your new digs. Do the basics and the 4Runner will do just fine.

Who knows, you might just keep it!

Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry…but be realistic, and use your make/model specific forums instead of TTAC for more timely advice. 

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British Police To Confiscate Phones Immediately After Accidents http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/british-police-to-confiscate-phones-immediately-after-accidents/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/british-police-to-confiscate-phones-immediately-after-accidents/#comments Wed, 30 Jul 2014 11:00:47 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=876033 UK drivers who find themselves in an accident may also see their cell phones confiscated by the police to determine if they were used prior to said accident. Visordown reports one Suzette Davenport, chief constable in Gloucestershire in charge of roads policing for the Association of Chief Police Officers, issued the order to check all […]

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texting behind the wheel of death

UK drivers who find themselves in an accident may also see their cell phones confiscated by the police to determine if they were used prior to said accident.

Visordown reports one Suzette Davenport, chief constable in Gloucestershire in charge of roads policing for the Association of Chief Police Officers, issued the order to check all phones on the scene, no matter the severity of the accident.

Alliance of British Drivers treasurer Hugh Bladon fears the order could be abused:

I am 100 per cent against anyone texting while driving, and those caught deserve everything they get. But I’m worried police could overdo it. Just because someone is involved in a minor shunt, surely it shouldn’t mean they should lose their phone.

The order comes as Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin proclaimed those who are caught using their phones while driving should see six points knocked off of their license, leading to a driving ban if a driver is caught twice in three years; newly minted drivers would lose their license if caught once during the first two years of holding said license.

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GM: Colorado, Canyon Aimed At Small Crossover, Pickup Shoppers http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/gm-colorado-canyon-aimed-at-small-crossover-pickup-shoppers/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/gm-colorado-canyon-aimed-at-small-crossover-pickup-shoppers/#comments Wed, 30 Jul 2014 10:00:47 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=874897 General Motors’ upcoming midsize truck twins — the Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon — look to do more than attract those seeking a smaller pickup by also seeking out small crossover consumers. Autoblog reports GM wants to go after crossover shoppers for their new pickups, going as far as to bring a Ford Escape for […]

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2015-Chevy-Colorado-3

General Motors’ upcoming midsize truck twins — the Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon — look to do more than attract those seeking a smaller pickup by also seeking out small crossover consumers.

Autoblog reports GM wants to go after crossover shoppers for their new pickups, going as far as to bring a Ford Escape for a competitive test drive at the automaker’s Milford, Mich. facility during the twins’ media day.

On paper, GM believes the interior quality and exterior styling will be the main draws for those looking at Escapes, CR-Vs and RAV4s. The pickups’ power and utility could also help sway those buyers, along with pricing similar to those on the windows of small crossovers. Mileage, on the other hand, may be less than what said consumers prefer, especially when the aforementioned trio delivers a combined 26 mpg.

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2015 Ford F-150 Order Guide Released http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/2015-ford-f-150-order-guide-released/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/2015-ford-f-150-order-guide-released/#comments Tue, 29 Jul 2014 20:50:10 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=875473 Courtesy of Jalopnik comes the Ford F-150 order guide for the all-aluminum 2015 model.   It looks like Ford has simplified a lot of the trim levels and packages, with the STX and FX4 disappearing (though you can still order nearly identical configurations). I’ll defer to the pickup experts among the B&B for a thorough […]

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450x275x2015-ford-f-150-platinum-450x275.jpg.pagespeed.ic.seH6vp303A

Courtesy of Jalopnik comes the Ford F-150 order guide for the all-aluminum 2015 model.

 

It looks like Ford has simplified a lot of the trim levels and packages, with the STX and FX4 disappearing (though you can still order nearly identical configurations).

I’ll defer to the pickup experts among the B&B for a thorough analysis. From my skimming, it appears that there is an SSV package for police and other heavy duty use, and only on XL models with the 3.5L Ecoboost or 5.0L V8. The V8 is also the standard engine on the King Ranch and Platinum trim levels.

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Dispatches Do Brasil: Young Americans http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/dispatches-do-brasil-young-americans/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/dispatches-do-brasil-young-americans/#comments Tue, 29 Jul 2014 20:41:18 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=875449 FCA has been trying to broaden the appeal of its Fiat line in the US. Success may be a ways off, into the future, or at least won’t materialize until the Jeep Renegade and Fiat 500X are launch. But that won’t stop the Italians from trying. In a bid to show off its minivan as a […]

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FCA has been trying to broaden the appeal of its Fiat line in the US. Success may be a ways off, into the future, or at least won’t materialize until the Jeep Renegade and Fiat 500X are launch. But that won’t stop the Italians from trying. In a bid to show off its minivan as a viable alternative for active young folks, Fiat will introduce its 500L Vans edition at the upcoming US Open – of surfing (yes, surfing, not the famous tennis tournament).

Co-sponsored by Vans (a shoe company), this concept relies heavily on visual cues to draw the attention of the cool dudes and gals that gather at such venues.

This 500L distinguishes itself by the four DRLs grafted on to the front bumper that look like the heavy duty lights seen on “adventure” vehicles, a blue and white two-tone paint job, a plaid roof, tennis sole looking pedals, special upholstery for the seats (that will remind some of a palm tree, others of a different plant), blacked out wheels, roof rack for surf boards and other items and some decals on the dashboard featuring myriad brands.

I love the paintjob and seat covers. I think the plaid roof is silly, but apparently plaid is “in” right now. I’m not old by any stretch of the imagination, but perhaps I’m out of touch.

Motivation is provided by Fiat’s 1.4 turbo good for 160 horses. It also features a 6-speed manual. And that, to me, is the most puzzling feature? How are American kids going to drive a stick?

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Question Of The Day: Who Will Win The Luxury Compact Crossover Sales Race? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/question-of-the-day-who-will-win-the-luxury-compact-crossover-sales-race/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/question-of-the-day-who-will-win-the-luxury-compact-crossover-sales-race/#comments Tue, 29 Jul 2014 17:28:43 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=875425 With pricing for the Audi Q3 and Mercedes-Benz GLA announced, the fight for the luxury compact crossover sales crown is officially on. It’s going to be the most important battle of the year for the luxury car market. Crossovers are, without a doubt, the hottest sales segment right now, and one of the most profitable […]

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With pricing for the Audi Q3 and Mercedes-Benz GLA announced, the fight for the luxury compact crossover sales crown is officially on. It’s going to be the most important battle of the year for the luxury car market.

Crossovers are, without a doubt, the hottest sales segment right now, and one of the most profitable segments for OEMs. Take some normal car underpinnings, add a bit of cladding, a higher ride height and a two-box body and all of a sudden, you can charge a hefty premium over what you’d normally have to sell a sedan for. And what better way to lower your CAFE rating than to sell a ton of “light trucks” that get the kind of fuel economy that you’d normally find in a compact or mid-size car? These little trucklets/wagonlets are going to float the ability of the German brands to keep making AMG, M and RS cars by keeping things kosher with the Feds. Remember that when you bemoan the lack of wagons on sale today.

Audi’s Q3 starts at $33,325, versus $29,900 for an A3, though the Q3, unlike the A3, does come standard with AWD .  The Q3 is front-drive, but it does have a 2.0T engine, unlike the A3′s 1.8T mill. A Mercedes-Benz GLA starts at $32,225 for a front-drive model versus $29,900 for a front-drive CLA. The one wildcard is the BMW X1, which is both rear-wheel drive and $30,900, making it the cheapest BMW in the entire model range.

I’m going to put my money on the Q3 taking the crown, just because Audi is very much the brand of the moment. This segment is a fickle, fashion-driven one, and products live and die by how cool they are. The Audi A3 quickly toppled the Mercedes-Benz CLA from the small sedan sales charts, and this won’t be any different.

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Hacking traffic lights for fun and profit! http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/hacking-traffic-lights-for-fun-and-profit/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/hacking-traffic-lights-for-fun-and-profit/#comments Tue, 29 Jul 2014 17:00:07 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=875361 In a few weeks, at WOOT (the USENIX Workshop on Offensive Technologies — an academic conference where security researchers demonstrate broken stuff), a team from the University of Michigan will be presenting a lovely paper, Green Lights Forever: Analyzing the Security of Traffic Infrastructure. It’s a short and fun read. In summary, it’s common for […]

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In a few weeks, at WOOT (the USENIX Workshop on Offensive Technologies — an academic conference where security researchers demonstrate broken stuff), a team from the University of Michigan will be presenting a lovely paper, Green Lights Forever: Analyzing the Security of Traffic Infrastructure. It’s a short and fun read. In summary, it’s common for traffic light controllers to speak to each other over a 5.8GHz wireless channel (much like WiFi, but a dedicated frequency) with no cryptography, default usernames and passwords, and well-known and exploitable bugs. Oh boy. And what can we do with that?

We want our traffic lights to coordinate with one another. This streamlines the flow of traffic. If an attacker can mess with that coordination in an arbitrary fashion, then they can for example ensure they always have green lights. They can ensure others don’t. The opportunities for mayhem may seemingly allow your imagination to wander to the low point of Bruce Willis’s career: Live Free or Die Hard, wherein cyber-baddies redirected traffic in a vain attempt to squish our action hero. In reality, probably not. One of the curious things about the computer design for traffic light controllers is that there are really two computers stacked one atop the other. The “MMU” computer has a bunch of basic rules it has to enforce (e.g., minimum duration of yellow lights) and if the fancy controller tries to create panic at the disco, the MMU says “umm, no” and goes into flashing red, requiring somebody to manually come out and reset it. Which is to say, an attacker who wants to do more than a little tweaking here and there is likely to just dump all the lights into blinking-red mode and just piss everybody off.

So… I’m sure you’ve got questions. Let me see if I can anticipate them and act like I know what I’m talking about:

How hard is it to pull this off? Surprisingly easy. About the only thing that’s non-trivial is getting hold of the proper radio hardware, and that’s a pretty low bar.

How hard is it to fix this? Harder than you’d think. These radios do support WPA2 (the same crypto standard used to protect WiFi networks), and cities could deploy it. They’d inevitably end up using the same key material everywhere, but that’s certainly better than doing everything in the clear. More importantly, these signal lights were never really engineered to be easy to apply software updates, unlike your smartphone or something that happily updates itself in the background. This means that latent bugs can be more easily found and exploited, simply by rummaging around in the list of bugs fixed in newer versions of the system.

Come on, nobody’s going to really do this. Sure, you go ahead and believe that, but wouldn’t you like to know that somebody can’t just arbitrarily screw with traffic? I can think of all sorts of nefarious reasons why an attacker might be financially incentivized to create carefully chosen local traffic jams.

This kind of information is too dangerous to be out in public! Whoa there. Just because it’s new to you doesn’t mean it’s new to the nefarious sorts. Sometimes, a little bit of public pressure is a very good thing to push vendors to fix their products and push customers to adopt the fixes. (There’s also an analogy here to the argument that gun control only limits the good guys’ guns. That particular argument is generally stronger when we’re talking about cyber weapons versus the traditional kinetic variety.)

Gosh, what would happen if future traffic light controllers didn’t have the MMU contraption? Arguably the MMU saved their bacon. Otherwise, the U. Michigan team would have been able to do much nastier things. Also, if we ever get autonomous intersections (great work from UT Austin, by the way), where self-driving robo-cars are negotiating their paths well in advance, getting rid of traditional stop lights altogether, then the security vulnerabilities would be a much, much more serious concern. Just watch the video below and cringe a bit.

Click here to view the embedded video.

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Review: 2015 Chevrolet Malibu Eco LS http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/review-2015-chevrolet-malibu-eco-ls/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/review-2015-chevrolet-malibu-eco-ls/#comments Tue, 29 Jul 2014 15:45:31 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=875249 Exterior photography by Rachel Gibbs What did the American people get for the fifty billion dollars they spent and the eleven billion they lost on the General Motors bailout? Well, they got stability, they got the retention of perhaps a million jobs, they avoided what might have been a last straw in what a posterity […]

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Exterior photography by Rachel Gibbs

What did the American people get for the fifty billion dollars they spent and the eleven billion they lost on the General Motors bailout? Well, they got stability, they got the retention of perhaps a million jobs, they avoided what might have been a last straw in what a posterity unblinded by the contemporaneous media’s Obama-as-messiah drumbeat will recognize as the greatest depression since the Great one, and they got the C7 Corvette.

All good things, if you ask me.

But they also got garbage like this.

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I thought the original Malibu was pretty okay. Its replacement, I felt, was worse, but I held out the possibility that a round of 2014-model-year changes might improve the situation somewhat. It has to be said that General Motors did a good job of getting its tame mouthpieces to spread the word about the “new” Eco drivetrain being just as efficient as the old-for-2013 edition despite the fact that it loses eAssist in favor of a simple stop-start system. For that reason I thought that perhaps the 2014 Malibu wouldn’t be a disaster.

Well, here’s the good news up front, for what it’s worth: I couldn’t get the 2013 Malibu LTZ four-cylinder to exceed 27mpg average. The 2015 Malibu Eco LS that I drove from Columbus to Evansville, IN and back did this:

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over this distance:

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That’s approximately what I saw in a 2014 Accord EX-L CVT. It’s not a surprise that General Motors, a company which has focused on the raw numbers when measuring competitiveness to a sometimes embarrassing extent, (cf.: the ads for the Pontiac 6000 where they compared it with the BMW 533i) has managed to come within striking distance of Honda’s four-cylinder fuel economy. It’s also not a surprise that the experience of operating the Malibu powertrain is, subjectively speaking, monstrously unpleasant in contrast to the Accord setup.

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On the move, the Malibu is spectacularly gutless, digging deep into the transmission with a herk and a jerk for the mildest grades. The Accord four is a rocketship compared to this. I’m not going to say it’s dangerously slow because it isn’t. However, we’ve come to take a certain amount of, shall we say, adjustability via the throttle in a modern car. As in: “If this merge is dicey I can jam the throttle and just get in front of this truck.” In the Malibu, you won’t have that adjustability. You’d better plan ahead. Not like you would in a 240D, but like you would in a three-liter Taurus from 1995. If your current car is an old four-cylinder Malibu, you’re unlikely to have any complaints. If it’s a four-cylinder Camry of recent vintage, you’re going to be unpleasantly surprised.

Everyone else will be unpleasantly surprised by the unbelievably cack-handed stop-start. Whatever nonsense you thought about stop-start when you first heard about in reference to the Insight or Prius or AMG E63 wagon or whatever — it isn’t reliable, it takes a bit of time to start, it’s noisy, it sounds like you’re wearing the car out — is actually true in the case of the Malibu Eco.

Most of the time, coming to a halt in the ‘Bu will cause the engine to fall dead and the tach needle to fall to “auto stop”. So far so good and other than a discernible drop in the efficacy of the A/C there’s not much about which you could complain. Release the brakes and the engine immediately spins up and delivers power, and off you go.

No, wait.

That’s how it works in other cars.

In the Malibu it goes WHIRRRRRRRRRRRREEEEEEAAARRRRRRRRGH and the engine reluctantly coughs into life like a freakin’ 1982 Citation Iron Duke and the car briefly shudders with the violence of it and THEN the car moves forward. It’s easily the least confidence-inspiring powertrain I’ve experienced in a post-Millennium automobile. In what should be perfect weather for this sort of system — eighty degrees and sunny — I had genuine concerns that the Malibu just wouldn’t come back to life at a given stop. Performing left turns across traffic and whatnot were made frightening, so I developed the “Malibu Pokey”:

You put your right foot in
You take your right foot out
It makes the stop-start start up
and run the engine
That’s what it’s all about!

As satisfying as the Malibu Pokey was while driving around downtown Louisville, I resigned myself to the fact that I couldn’t do it very often because it wouldn’t let the Chevrolet post its best possible fuel economy. Left turns became exciting again.

The removal of the eAssist from the Malibu Eco was supposed to give us the trunk back, but if that’s the case I’d hate to see what it was like before. This has to be the smallest trunk in a mid-sized car by some amount; it’s significantly less useful than the cargo area in my Accord Coupe and the Altima I drove immediately after this Malibu shamed it in that regard. A normal-sized guitar hard case fits very awkwardly in this Malibu, to the point that I gave up and started putting everything in the back seat. I was willing to accept the old Malibu’s restricted storage room because I dug the minimalist aesthetic of the whole car, but this thing is to its predecessor like a ’77 Colonnade Monte Carlo is to a ’68 Chevelle, styling-wise. GM Design pulled out all the Malaise stops on this indifferently flame-surfaced disaster and the result is an odd combination of a Silverado, a Camaro, and a Pinewood Derby car. It literally couldn’t have any more front end on it, likely because GM wanted it to share “design DNA” with the trucks, and therefore it tapers to the back like one of those nightmare lantern-jaw fish of the unfathomable deep.

Things don’t improve once you get inside, particularly at night, where the trademark “GM Aqua LCD” color is extended to some, ahem, mood lighting. The General’s managed to do something unprecedented in human history: they’ve managed to make a color feel cheap. After well over two decades of indifferently-backlit aqua-esque instrument panels in cars that committed sins from subterranean resale value all the way to attempted-murder-via-ignition-switch-was-the-case-that-they-gave-me, the use of this color should require a “trigger warning” on the door jamb.

The seats are uncomfortable, the steering’s dead, the brakes are touchy, and everything you touch in this LS variant has the mark of cost-cutting Cain all over it.

In other words, this heavily-revised Malibu is significantly less pleasant to operate than an old Cruze. I cannot imagine than anybody would test-drive this and Ye Olde Daewoo Laecetti back-to-back and pick this. I cannot imagine that anybody would test-drive this and an Altima, Camry, or Accord back-to-back and pick this. I have no idea why anybody would buy this car. As tested, it’s $23,165. For that money you can get any number of decent cars, including a Cruze 2LT. If you can wait a few months, you can get the revised Cruze, even. Or you could take advantage of whatever incentives can be had now and you can buy a Cruze LTZ. There is no way in which a Cruze LTZ is not preferable to this Malibu.

That’s disappointing as hell because the Cruze is a Daewoo, excuse me, GM Korea, and the Malibu is a product of the home team and it’s a half-decade newer. We should be able to do better. We can do better. Go try out a C7 Corvette. It’s brilliant in ways I can’t describe without sounding like Dan Neil desperately firing the third spasm of the day into his battered thesaurus. Go check out a Cadillac ATS. The interior’s cramped and sucky but they’ve completely cracked the handling code. Take a look at a current Tahoe; it’s the finest, fastest, most spacious station wagon in history.

It isn’t that GM can’t make good product. It’s that sometimes they don’t try. So in the case of the Malibu, you shouldn’t bother.
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Toyota FCV To Get “Mirai” Moniker, Hefty Rebates In Japan http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/toyota-fcv-to-get-mirai-moniker-hefty-rebates-in-japan/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/toyota-fcv-to-get-mirai-moniker-hefty-rebates-in-japan/#comments Tue, 29 Jul 2014 15:40:31 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=875241 Toyota’s upcoming fuel-cell vehicle will reportedly get the name “Mirai” when it launches in 2015, along with a hefty rebate program in its home market of Japan. Bloomberg reports that the Mirai name has been trademarked in the United States, but the actual name won’t be revealed until closer to its 2015 on sale date. […]

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Toyota’s upcoming fuel-cell vehicle will reportedly get the name “Mirai” when it launches in 2015, along with a hefty rebate program in its home market of Japan.

Bloomberg reports that the Mirai name has been trademarked in the United States, but the actual name won’t be revealed until closer to its 2015 on sale date. The word Mirai is said to mean “future” in Japanese.

Just-Auto is reporting that Japan’s government could offer rebates as high as 2 million yen (about $20,000 at current exchange rates), bringing the Toyota FCV’s pricetag down from 7 million yen ($70,000) to about 50,000 yen ($50,000). The government is also piloting an infrastructure project to bring 100 hydrogen fuel stations to the country by March 31, 2015, in an effort to help spur demand.

Plans are afoot to use the first hydrogen cars as taxis and other service vehicles, as a means of creating broader acceptance and reducing petroleum usage.

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2015 Cadillac ATS-L Is “Coming With Length” http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/2015-cadillac-ats-l-is-coming-with-length/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/2015-cadillac-ats-l-is-coming-with-length/#comments Tue, 29 Jul 2014 14:18:42 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=875137 Our most recent review of the Cadillac ATS determined that Cadillac had finally made a sports sedan worthy of besting the F30 BMW 3-Series. But the ATS was also docked points for providing E36 3-Series-esque rear passenger space. Cadillac’s Chinese division appears to have remedied the problem, with a rather unfortunate English marketing slogan. For […]

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Our most recent review of the Cadillac ATS determined that Cadillac had finally made a sports sedan worthy of besting the F30 BMW 3-Series. But the ATS was also docked points for providing E36 3-Series-esque rear passenger space. Cadillac’s Chinese division appears to have remedied the problem, with a rather unfortunate English marketing slogan.

For the Cadillac ATS-L’s launch, Cadillac has decided to go with the rather unfortunate slogan “I’m Coming With Length”. We’ll leave it at that.

The ATS-L really is packing more size. With an additional 3 inches of wheelbase, .79 inches of width and a .25 inch lower ride height, the ATS-L is the car that we should have gotten all along. From the photos, it doesn’t look like the car’s proportions were compromised either. Powertrains are the same as well, but only the 2.0T and 3.6L engines are available.

We now return to your regularly scheduled, less juvenile programming.

 

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General Motors Bumps Up Next Pickups, Will Feature Aluminum Panels, Downsized Engines http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/general-motors-bumps-up-next-pickups-will-feature-aluminum-panels-downsized-engines/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/general-motors-bumps-up-next-pickups-will-feature-aluminum-panels-downsized-engines/#comments Tue, 29 Jul 2014 13:53:51 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=875113 General Motors is advancing the launch of their next-generation pickups by 9 months, with the next-generation trucks due by 2018. Reuters is reporting that the fairly new generation of full-size trucks will undergo a thorough redesign by 2018, with new full-size SUVs arriving in 2019. While a new 8-speed automatic will arrive in GM’s full […]

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General Motors is advancing the launch of their next-generation pickups by 9 months, with the next-generation trucks due by 2018.

Reuters is reporting that the fairly new generation of full-size trucks will undergo a thorough redesign by 2018, with new full-size SUVs arriving in 2019.

While a new 8-speed automatic will arrive in GM’s full size trucks and SUVs for 2015, the next generation is expected to be even more radical. TTAC has previously reported that the next generation trucks will use substantial amounts of aluminum in the body panels, and a new manufacturing process is expected to reduce both cost and complexity.

The new trucks will also reportedly use a 10-speed automatic transmission (jointly developed with Ford) as well as smaller engines that feature fuel injection, turbocharging and stop-start systems. The end result is a major paradigm shift for the truck market. Consumers may still care about payload and tow ratings, but auto makers are pulling out all the stops to make sure that their trucks meet stringent CAFE rules, which kick in around 2017.

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Spare Me the Details: Cleaning Your Wheels, Rims, Shoes, Dubs… http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/spare-me-the-details-cleaning-your-wheels-rims-shoes-dubs/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/spare-me-the-details-cleaning-your-wheels-rims-shoes-dubs/#comments Tue, 29 Jul 2014 13:31:56 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=874745 Whatever you call them, everyone can agree that wheels need to be clean in order to look good. Whether they are the 14″ wheels that came with your new Mitsubishi Mirage, of the monster 22s that come on a Escalade, keeping your wheels clean can make or break your vehicle’s appearance. Am I the only […]

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Whatever you call them, everyone can agree that wheels need to be clean in order to look good. Whether they are the 14″ wheels that came with your new Mitsubishi Mirage, of the monster 22s that come on a Escalade, keeping your wheels clean can make or break your vehicle’s appearance.

Am I the only one who judges people that drive nice cars with really dirty wheels? I don’t mean to. Inside I know the cleanliness of your wheels doesn’t really say anything about you as a person… but I can’t help it. I think to myself, “So you can afford your lease on that M5, but somehow you don’t have 3 minutes every few weeks to wipe off the wheels? Does that mean you also don’t have time to check the tire pressure, change the oil, water your plants, feed your dog…? What’s wrong with you man! Feed your dog and give that car to someone who would appreciate it.” Never does it dawn on me that perhaps not everyone values clean wheels as much as I do. Call me shallow if you want, but when my car’s wheels are real clean it makes me happy. I swear I enjoy driving my car more when the wheels are clean, even though I obviously can’t seen them from the driver’s seat.
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Nothing beats the shine of some finely polished automotive wheels. Like a new engagement ring being shown off, nice car wheels seem to accentuate every angle of light hitting the surrounding metal. Sitting still or moving on the highway, you can’t but notice them.
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There are a variety of materials that wheels can come in. As with all my detailing articles, this is for the average car owner using tools that most people have at home. Since most cars come with clear coated alloy wheels today, that is what I’ll look at. If you are confident you know the material of your wheels, there are specific tools and chemicals that can be purchased for it. Just be careful, some chemicals can damage wheels when used on the wrong material. Roughcast aluminum and chrome can withstand stronger cleaners than coated, painted, or anodized wheels. The cleaner will say what it is suited for on the label. For example, Mother’s All Purpose Wheel Mist can be used on any type of wheel, but their Chrome/Wire Wheel Cleaner is not safe for coated wheels, so read carefully. If you are not sure what kind of wheels you have, use a cleaner that is safe for all wheels. I use a water based wheel cleaner from Meguiars that is safe for all wheels and also loosens dirt on tires. In general always use the least aggressive cleaners first, and preferably no chemicals at all.
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So how do you know if you need to clean them? Let’s just say that when your wheels are turning the color of your tires, its time to take action. I understand we are all busy but the thing is, cleaning your wheels doesn’t have to take long at all. Once you have them clean, it is easy to wipe them off every couple weeks with a dry towel. Brake dust is from the devil, this I’m sure of. Not only does it look bad, but it is corrosive as well. This means that not only am I silently judging you when I see your dirty wheels, but you are also potentially damaging the finish on your rims. If left for too long, it can eat into the coating (if there is one) and pit the metal.
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We will start by assuming you are looking at a pretty dirty set of wheels that haven’t been cleaned a while, like this set from a Boxster. In this case, I’d say just go to the nearest automatic car wash and make sure to pay extra for the wheel cleaner. Just kidding that’s a terrible idea, I just wanted to just see who was paying attention. Automatic car washes don’t do crap for your wheels. There I said it. Plus they have been known to use acid based cleaners and abrasive brushes. I recommend a first step of using an all purpose water based wheel cleaning product. Most of the major brands offer a product like this. I like to use a cleaner that works on the tires, too. Whenever you are cleaning wheels, I think you should also clean the tires and wheel wells at the same time so begin by spraying just a little water on the wheel, tire, and up into the wheel well.
It is very important that you have a specific wheel cleaning sponge. The sponge can be used to clean wheels, tires, and wheel wells only. It is not worth the risk to have brake dust stuck in a sponge scratch your paint. If you don’t want to read any further I’d understand, but at least promise me you’ll get a sponge you designate as your “wheel” sponge. Thanks, it means a lot to me.
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After wetting the wheel go ahead and spray the wheel, tire, and wheel well liberally with your mild cleaning product. It is important to never let the wheel cleaner dry on the wheel. Follow the instructions on the bottle, but it’s usually less than 1 minute of soaking time needed, which means you should always work on one wheel at a time.
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Then scrub the wheel with your sponge. Dipping your sponge in a bucket of car wash doesn’t hurt. Make sure to get all the difference angles of the spokes. In my opinion it is not necessary to reach inside the face of the rim and clean on all wheels designs. If the spokes are far enough apart that you can easily see behind them, then it makes a big difference to clean that area though. On this Boxster example, I got my whole arm in there to clean the entire thing.
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If your wheels haven’t been cleaned recently, this step may not get all the dirt/dust in the corners, but that’s ok. Leave it for now.
After scrubbing the wheel, I run the sponge over the tire, then also wipe down the wheel well. This is important because you shouldn’t be cleaning any of those things with the same sponge you use on that paint later. Now spray off the wheel using the strongest setting you have on your nozzle. After each wheel, spray off the sponge to remove all the junk you just got off your wheels, especially if there was some dirt and mud in the wheel wells. Repeat for each wheel, but you’re not finished yet.
Once the wheel is dry it is time to get serious. That is when I recommend using a product called Nevr-Dull. Basically it cleans and polishes metal automotive surfaces while removing brake dust, rust, and corrosion. But that doesn’t really do it justice. Lots of products make similar claims, but let me tell you that this product actually does what it says it will do. Of all the wheel polishes out there, this is the only one I have seen consistent results with. This stuff has been around since Roosevelt was in office, so it is a time tested product you can trust.
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The product is cotton wadding soaked in solvents that can be used on any metal surface. Rip off a wad about the size of a cherry tomato and begin rubbing it all over the wheels. Really scrub spots where there is pitting from brake dust. With enough elbow grease, most brake dust and corrosion will come clean.
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With no harmful abrasives, it’s safe too. Cover the entire face of the wheel and all the little crevices. Even parts that were already clean will be need to be wiped with the cotton. Once you do this process to each wheel, make sure you hit the exhaust pipe if you have a finished tip that can be shined. Then you wait. Depending on the weather it usually takes about 30 minutes for the product to dry to a haze.
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Grab a towel and begin wiping off the haze. You may want to wear some sunglasses for this part because your wheels are going to be crazy shiny! Don’t worry about using too much Never-Dull. The can says the shelf life is about 2 years, meaning it’s really difficult to ever use up the whole can before it begins to dry out (though I have some that is older than that and still works great).
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Once your wheels are clean, it is MUCH easier to maintain them. If you have 3 minutes to wipe them down with a dry towel once a week you’d be amazed at how great they will continue to look. It doesn’t always have to be this long cleaning process. Keeping wheels relatively clean on a more regular basis is much easier than trying to restore them once the brake dust has set in and the road salts and acids have taken their toll.
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Nevr-Dull even adds a layer of protection for the future and can safety be used on chrome and other wheel finishes. I’ve heard of people using it clean to everything from drum cymbals to chrome valve covers.

There are lots of wheel brushes on the market, but I’ve yet to find one that I like. The ones I have tried all have metal components to them that can easily scratch wheels when you scrub hard. Other than a towel and elbow grease, the only other tool I will consider using is a soft tooth brush to get around lug nuts. I’ve heard of all kinds of crazy things used to clean wheels like aluminum foil soaked in Coke, vinegar, and lemon juice. The only real out of the box product I’ve seen work was actually oven cleaner, though I wouldn’t really recommend it (it was used as a last ditch effort to save some 25+ year old wheels that had no clear coat and years of oxidation). I’ve tried the Mother’s Polish Power Ball and similar products, and they work great, but I’ve never seen them do anything I couldn’t do myself with elbow grease. Let us know what tools you have used that work well for you. Of course there is the other option of installing brake dust shields, but I’ve never seen any that look good. Next time we’ll take a look at tire dressing.

Additional Tips:
-To do a thorough job you really need to take the wheels off the car to get to the back, but obviously that can be quite a hassle. Twice a year when I’m switching from summer to winter wheels/tires I clean them when they are off the car. This is also a good time to apply a good coat of wax.
-Despite what you have heard, don’t use steel wool on your wheels.
-You can clay bar a wheel as well, but never use the same piece of clay on a wheel as the paint.

 

How often I do it:
My car – Every 2 months
My wife’s car – Every 4 months
Another before and after to encourage you to try this on your wheels:
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IMG_2025

 

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Millennials Start With Sharing, End With Individual Ownership http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/millennials-start-with-sharing-end-with-individual-ownership/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/millennials-start-with-sharing-end-with-individual-ownership/#comments Tue, 29 Jul 2014 13:00:36 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=875073 Though companies such as Lyft, Car2Go and Uber aim to help the young and the carless get around town without the need for owning a car — Uber wanting to go as far as to replace car ownership, period — the millennials eventually decide to go all in on individual car ownership. Automotive News reports […]

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Though companies such as Lyft, Car2Go and Uber aim to help the young and the carless get around town without the need for owning a car — Uber wanting to go as far as to replace car ownership, period — the millennials eventually decide to go all in on individual car ownership.

Automotive News reports the transition from using ridesharing and car sharing services to ownership comes when cohorts of the generational group begin families, sometimes moving out of the urban core to do so. The delays in starting a family and purchasing a car are linked to student loan debt and a recovering, highly competitive job market, pushing the age of first-time buyers to the mid-20s at the youngest.

Meanwhile, those who live in cities like Austin, Boston, New York and Seattle are helping to make sharing services a success, with a projected 3.8 million users coming on-board by 2020. In turn, a total of 50 percent either sell a car or postpone buying a car, substituting ownership for sharing, leading to 1.9 million vehicles sold-off or not bought by 2020.

Though sharing may mean fewer vehicles leave the showroom, overall sales are climbing. Over 16 million units are forecast to head out onto the highway by the end of 2014 according to many an analyst. In the long-term, sharing services may also help send their consumer base to the showroom, with those shoppers looking a vehicle based on what they drove as a member of the service.

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Equifax: Auto Lending At Record Highs, Delinquencies At Record Lows http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/equifax-auto-lending-at-record-highs-delinquencies-at-record-lows/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/equifax-auto-lending-at-record-highs-delinquencies-at-record-lows/#comments Tue, 29 Jul 2014 12:00:08 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=874985 Six years after the dark days of the Great Recession, automotive lending is back on the rise, while delinquencies on those loans remain grounded. Ward’s Auto reports the total balance of the loans after the first half of 2014, according to a report by credit reporting agency Equifax, is a record $902.2 billion. Equifax economist […]

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Six years after the dark days of the Great Recession, automotive lending is back on the rise, while delinquencies on those loans remain grounded.

Ward’s Auto reports the total balance of the loans after the first half of 2014, according to a report by credit reporting agency Equifax, is a record $902.2 billion. Equifax economist Dennis Carlson adds that auto lending accounts for more than half of all new non-mortgage lending during the first four months of the year, with delinquencies making up less than 1 percent of the total balance:

Lenders are responding to record low delinquencies by offering great rates and terms, while consumers are responding to the improving economic conditions by making the decision to purchase newer vehicles.

For those first months of 2014, the total balance of new auto loans is $163.5 billion, with 8.1 million loans out and about. Further, 2.6 million of those loans went to subprime consumers, while the total balance of the loans is $46.2 billion, making up 28.2 percent of the overall new loan balance.

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BMW Unveils $6,500 Suitcase-Size EV Charger http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/bmw-unveils-6500-suitcase-size-ev-charger/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/bmw-unveils-6500-suitcase-size-ev-charger/#comments Tue, 29 Jul 2014 11:00:58 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=874913 Owners of BMWs i Series vehicles may soon have more places to charge their vehicles, all thanks to the automaker’s new, less-expensive, suitcase-sized charger. Automotive News reports the 100-pound, 24-kilowatt chargers, made by Bosch Automotive Service Solutions, will be available to companies who partner with BMW for the low price of $6,500, and can recharge […]

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Owners of BMWs i Series vehicles may soon have more places to charge their vehicles, all thanks to the automaker’s new, less-expensive, suitcase-sized charger.

Automotive News reports the 100-pound, 24-kilowatt chargers, made by Bosch Automotive Service Solutions, will be available to companies who partner with BMW for the low price of $6,500, and can recharge other EVs from other automakers like General Motors, Volkswagen and Ford.

According to BMW of North America EV infrastructure manager Robert Healey, BMW hopes that by making its new charger available at a discount, the companies who sign on would help the automaker establish a nationwide network similar to Tesla’s exclusive Supercharger network:

Our focus is on getting as many DC fast chargers out there as possible, but the cost has been a hindrance. We want to remove every perceived barrier for our potential customers. We want to ensure that customers see these chargers.

The first of the new chargers will go online at BMW dealerships in August, with more to come as third-party companies begin to partner with BMW.

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Panasonic, Tesla Enter Into Production Equipment Agreement http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/panasonic-tesla-enter-into-production-equipment-agreement/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/panasonic-tesla-enter-into-production-equipment-agreement/#comments Tue, 29 Jul 2014 10:00:51 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=874865 It’s almost official: Panasonic and Tesla will enter into a basic agreement where the former will supply the latter with battery-production machines for the automaker’s up-and-coming Gigafactory. Reuters reports the deal — which will be officially announced by the end of this month — comes with a price tag of ¥20 billion – ¥30 billion […]

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Tesla Model S Test Drive At The Panasonic Center Tokyo

It’s almost official: Panasonic and Tesla will enter into a basic agreement where the former will supply the latter with battery-production machines for the automaker’s up-and-coming Gigafactory.

Reuters reports the deal — which will be officially announced by the end of this month — comes with a price tag of ¥20 billion – ¥30 billion ($196.4 million – $294.7 million USD) paid to Tesla by Panasonic.

The battery maker, which wants to be the sole entity under the roof of the as-yet-to-be-located factory, will invest $1 billion overall into the ambitious project, estimated to cost $5 billion in total investment.

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Buick Envision Photos Leaked http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/buick-envision-photos-leaked/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/buick-envision-photos-leaked/#comments Mon, 28 Jul 2014 21:27:46 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=874801 The first photos of the Buick Envision have leaked, with prices said to be ranging from $26,000-$32,000 USD. Car News China is reporting that the Envison will be unveiled at the Chengdu Auto Show, with sales starting in Q4 of this year. The Envision is also said to be based on the Delta compact car […]

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The first photos of the Buick Envision have leaked, with prices said to be ranging from $26,000-$32,000 USD.

Car News China is reporting that the Envison will be unveiled at the Chengdu Auto Show, with sales starting in Q4 of this year. The Envision is also said to be based on the Delta compact car platform, rather than the Theta CUV platform that underpins the Chevrolet Terrain and GMC Equinox.

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Ford Announces 2015 F-150 Pricing http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/ford-announces-2015-f-150-pricing/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/ford-announces-2015-f-150-pricing/#comments Mon, 28 Jul 2014 17:02:33 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=874697 The 2015 Ford F-150 will get a price bump, but the upgrade fee for an Ecoboost engine won’t be the most substantial part of the hike. For 2015, the 3.5L Ecoboost will carry a premium of $1,995, or $100 less than the 2014 model. The all-new 2.7L Ecoboost will carry a premium of just $495. […]

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The 2015 Ford F-150 will get a price bump, but the upgrade fee for an Ecoboost engine won’t be the most substantial part of the hike.

For 2015, the 3.5L Ecoboost will carry a premium of $1,995, or $100 less than the 2014 model. The all-new 2.7L Ecoboost will carry a premium of just $495.

The breakdown for trim levels looks like this (prices include a $1,195 destination charge:

•XL: $26,615, an increase f $395. The XL, a basic work truck, will come standard as a regular cab with rear-wheel drive and 6.5-foot bed.

•XLT: $31,890, up $395. The base price is quoted for the same RWD/regular cab/6.5 foot bed configuration.

•Lariat:$39,880, or an increase of $895. Its basic spec is an extended cab RWD truck with a 6.5 foot bed.

•King Ranch: $49,460, an increase of $3,515.

•Platinum: $52,155, up $3,055.

Prices will change depending on the bed length, whether 4WD is selected, various option packages and other factors. Ford is also touting higher standard levels of content, and the fact that the XL through Lariat versions, which see only modest price increases, make up 85 percent of their F-150 sales. The King Ranch and Platinum trucks will get steep increases, since they are the profit-rich trim levels, and keeping prices low is likely less critical.

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Mitsubishi Vans Are A Delica-te Matter In Canada http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/mitsubishi-vans-are-a-delica-te-matter-in-canada/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/mitsubishi-vans-are-a-delica-te-matter-in-canada/#comments Mon, 28 Jul 2014 16:17:53 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=874665 For the first and possibly last time ever, the Mitsubishi Delica was a front page story in a national newspaper, with The Globe and Mail reporting on the “backlash” resulting from these “quirky” cars. The Globe, which is widely regarded as Canada’s paper of record, chose to put the venerable van on page A1, ahead of […]

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For the first and possibly last time ever, the Mitsubishi Delica was a front page story in a national newspaper, with The Globe and Mail reporting on the “backlash” resulting from these “quirky” cars.

The Globe, which is widely regarded as Canada’s paper of record, chose to put the venerable van on page A1, ahead of stories about Syria, ISIS, Boko Haram, Libya and the lack of new manual station wagons.

According to the paper, the Mitsubishi Delica is raising ire, to the point where

“…various provinces and organizations across the country mobilizing to prevent even more of the vehicles from washing up on Canada’s shores…Concerned by the rising number of right-wheel-drive imports, ICBC analyzed crashes involving vehicles like the Delica. In 2009, the agency published its alarming findings: Right-wheel drive vehicles were 40 per cent more likely to be in a crash, and 56 per cent more likely to cause one, than left-wheel-drive vehicles. The driver’s position is believed to make everyday manoeuvres – such as pulling away from a curb or making a left-hand turn – much more dangerous.”

Granted, there are legitimate safety concerns regarding right-hand drive vehicles. For one, the positioning of the headlights must be modified. If they aren’t, then they tend to be angled right into oncoming traffic, which presents an obvious safety hazard.

But there’s also the unspoken fact that many right-hand drive vehicles are performance models like the Nissan Skyline GT-R and Toyota Celica GT-Four. They tend to be purchased by young, testosterone-addled males who are likely to drive them at dangerous speeds on public roads. This is likely to contribute to the alarming crash rates, and a reason why Quebec and Prince Edward Island moved to ban right-hand drive cars earlier in the decade.

There is also pressure from dealer groups and other parties who stand to lose out economically. Although BC’s government-regulated insurer has asked for changes in the rules, they don’t appear to be coming any time soon

Mark Francis, an ICBC manager of provincial vehicle registration who is on a national working group on the issue, says they asked Transport Canada to increase the number of years before a vehicle can be imported from 15 to 25. That number – which would be in line with the United States – would effectively kill the importation of modern Delicas by making it no longer economic for Japanese exporters to warehouse them.

“We’re taking their junk, as we view it,” Mr. Francis says. He adds, however, that the lack of any high-profile crashes involving these vehicles means there’s little incentive to act. “We’re not expecting them to do anything in the near future.”

Surely, the government has a whole host of priorities that are far higher than restricting what a niche group of enthusiasts can import into the country, right?

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Reader Review: 2010 Volkswagen Jetta Sportwagen http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/reader-review-2010-volkswagen-jetta-sportwagen/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/reader-review-2010-volkswagen-jetta-sportwagen/#comments Mon, 28 Jul 2014 15:51:04 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=874393 Reader Phil Brown shares his experiences with his Jetta Wagon Volkswagen still has the temerity to sell a compact station wagon in an American market scarfing up CUVs, and bless them for it. I should have been in the heart of the CUV market when looking for a new vehicle in 2010, but I ended […]

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Reader Phil Brown shares his experiences with his Jetta Wagon

Volkswagen still has the temerity to sell a compact station wagon in an American market scarfing up CUVs, and bless them for it. I should have been in the heart of the CUV market when looking for a new vehicle in 2010, but I ended up in a MkVI Jetta Sportwagen. It isn’t brown and it doesn’t burn diesel, but after four years and 51K miles of ownership I can understand some of the fervor of wagon fans here on TTAC. There is just something so fundamentally sound and good about the way this car drives, the way it goes down the road, and the surprising utility it offers. With the recent ascension of the Volkswagen Golf to the MQB platform and the 1.8TSI engine on North American shores, I thought it would be an appropriate time to share my longer-term ownership experience of the outgoing platform.

The VW replaced a second-hand 1996 “champagne” beige Camry (how appropriate, for what better title could you give a 1996 Camry than the Champagne of Beiges?) which I had owned for 8 responsible years. Despite being the crème de la crème of 1990s sedans and exhibiting a build quality rarely seen in a Toyota showroom since, it was completely lifeless from behind the wheel and falling badly behind on safety features. Kids were coming. ABS, side airbags, and LATCH anchors were suddenly a priority, and I wanted at least a whiff of driver involvement. Time in a Focus ZX5 and the joker-faced Mazda 3 had opened my eyes to affordable driving enjoyment, and I wanted some of that in a package that could haul a couple of kids and their accompanying detritus.

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Turns out that was a lot to ask from a $21K budget when a hatchback/wagon body style was mandatory. Lightly used CUVs were ruled out after realizing they were as dull as the Camry despite acing the functional criteria. It’s hard to swallow 4 years of payments on a used vehicle when you don’t actually like it. Every other hatchback or wagon had a fatal flaw, whether too small in the cargo area (xB & Soul), too small in the backseat (Mazda3), or too cheap and nasty to warrant the asking price (Matrix). The Jetta Sportwagen was about the only offering left, and poking around one at an auto show left a really good impression. Subsequent test drives only improved on that.

I never thought I’d walk into a VW dealership after seeing the pages of Consumer Reports splattered like a crime scene with black dots from the infamous Mk IV days, but once those Mk Vs landed in 2005 the dots turned to white and red. So I put aside brand bias and worked with a very professional and low-pressure sales manager to order a base S model with the 5 cylinder engine and 5 speed manual from the factory. Five weeks later, the Mexican-assembled wagon arrived wrapped in bug-splattered plastic.

Most will openly wonder why on God’s Green Earth one would special order a gas Sportwagen instead of picking a TDI already on the lot. The answer is $4500, the price difference between the cheapest TDI with its obligatory bundled options and an already well-equipped base 2.5S. Being trendy and undersupplied, TDI Sportwagen inventories were low in my area that year and the dealers weren’t about to budge a nickel on them. I wasn’t seeing $4500 worth of value there, but time will tell if the higher depreciation and fuel costs wash out the initial price savings.

Regardless of engine choice, this car treats both the driver and passengers well. It provides some feedback and involvement without beating up or cramping passengers, and provides class-atypical levels comfort and refinement without completely anesthetizing the driving experience. The suspension and structure absorb broken pavement, potholes, and jarring ripples with poise and composure that no Civic or Elantra can manage, yet the handling is still responsive. The steering provides respectable feel and precision at speed, with no center dead zone and none of the tiring dartiness some quick ratio systems provide. The driving position is excellent and seat comfort is superb. It is hushed, stable and confident on the highway and just eats up miles for hours on end without fatiguing you. I’m six feet tall and can still find a good driving position with twin rear-facing toddler seats behind me, although anyone taller will have trouble. An SUV’s worth of cargo capacity resides behind the backseat so I can haul both kids and gear. Without the family aboard, I can turn off the traction control and dump-n-ride the clutch to shriek the tires across half an intersection if I’m feeling like an abusive imbecile. That is a smile you cannot get from a CR-V.

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The interior of this generation of Golf/Jetta received unanimous praise in the media, and it is well-deserved because the materials quality is closer to an entry-level luxury car than a $20K compact. Happy little details are hidden everywhere, from the glovebox lined in faux felt to the brilliant tilt-and-telescope center armrest to the standard heated seats to the real metal door pulls that release the latch with such a satisfying feel and sound. The speedometer is absolute genius, marked in 10 mph increments until 80 and in 20 mph increments beyond, so you can have your stupid obligatory 160 mph speedometer and not sacrifice legibility in the 0-80 mph range. The interior shows no wear on the touch points, so whatever shoddy craftsmanship plagued the MkIV interiors is not present here.

The interior and solid structure can perhaps be cheerfully compared to Audi, but several things remind you this car was built to a low price. The HVAC fan roars like a tornado and the air conditioning is a bit tepid. There is no modern infotainment technology to speak of. No trip computer. No Bluetooth. No USB integration. You get AUX and a CD slot with a stereo head unit that is laughably basic even if the sound that it routes through the eight speakers isn’t bad. My biggest complaint involves the brakes, which are mushy and require a surprisingly good stomp to extract all of the mediocre performance despite being four-wheel disc. The unparalleled bitching about the 2011 Jetta’s rear drums was amusing considering it stops in a shorter distance than my car.

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The engine won’t fool an Audi owner either, but for $20K why should it? VW’s 2.5 liter 5 cylinder is controversial, I believe it deserves a final defense. The 5 cylinder was never going to engender anything but irritation from journalists narrowly focused on acceleration stats or how vigorously the needle swings to redline. Well, ignore their regurgitated groupthink because this is an affordable workhorse that is more relaxed and well-suited to everyday driving than most C-segment engines it competed with. The oft-quoted torque peak occurs above 4000 rpm, but 90% of that is available at 2000 rpm, so it pulls better at those engine speeds than a GLI with its sleeping turbo. Going for a hole in traffic doesn’t usually require a downshift. You can move out nicely in 3rd gear at 30mph and that gives you an advantage against a lot of other average cars that need to wake up and downshift before they can provide much thrust. In Everyday Car and Driver Land, this is more important than a 0-60 sprint.

If those sprints still interest you, the tires will chirp going into second but the engine doesn’t really rev eagerly and feels pretty much done by 5000 rpm. Expect an automatic Sonata to keep pace with you. Expect the GLI to flatten you. You’re just not going to win many stoplight races. Rest in peace anyway, noble 5-cylinder. You were a decent effort considering VW has approximately zero interest in normally aspirated engines.

I find the notorious fuel economy of this engine to be…adequate, but getting less so each year, as the industry extracts more power from the same amount of fuel. I get 28-34 mpg on the highway depending on whatever. It’s a 3200 pound car with 170hp so I wasn’t expecting 40 mpg, but cars of this weight and power should be getting 10-15% better. A section of the brain fixates on that, even if it doesn’t really dent the pocketbook.

I suppose we need to discuss reliability. No VW review is complete without stories of hellacious repair records, preferably of experiences 10, 20, or 30 years ago extrapolated far beyond the proper scope of inference to every VW model and powertrain produced today. Look, either you believe data collected by Consumer Reports and TrueDelta or you don’t. Those sources show the MkV Golf/Jetta far outperforming the MkIV and achieving parity or better with the rest of the industry, particularly for 5-cylinder cars. This is my personal experience: in 51K miles I’ve had one repair stop, a faulty ignition coil at 15K miles that didn’t leave me stranded or make me late to anything. The rear seat ski pass-through likes to jam as well and I have had that addressed 3 times during oil changes. Apparently it is a model-wide design flaw, but it’s not as if the window is dropping into the door. Otherwise, the car has been flawless. I don’t expect an easy 200K, but if I can run it for 10 years and 150K miles without headache you won’t ever see me criticizing this model’s reliability on the comment boards. Bulletproof reliability beyond 200K is something for the second owner to worry about, as the Camry taught me that 15 years of perfect operation is a critical asset only if you want to keep the car for 15 years.

I’ll probably pay for that reliability gap when I try to sell this thing in a world where used Civics fetch such high prices, and I’m fairly certain the manual transmission will be a resale hurdle as well. That’s OK. The modest gain in resale at the tail end of the depreciation curve is not worth driving a car I do not enjoy for a full decade. Volkswagen converted a skeptic here, and should this wagon not implode on me in the next 100K miles and render me an embittered hater of all budget German metal, I may just move into a GTI.

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2015 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Spied http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/2015-dodge-charger-srt-hellcat-spied/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/2015-dodge-charger-srt-hellcat-spied/#comments Mon, 28 Jul 2014 15:45:07 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=874545 Just after we got word of an SAE-certified Charger Hellcat, prototypes have been spied testing on Detroit roads. The 707-horsepower Charger will become the world’s most powerful sedan if put into production. Even though its arch-rival, the Chevrolet SS, will get a manual transmission starting in the 2015 model year, I’m becoming increasingly comfortable with […]

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Just after we got word of an SAE-certified Charger Hellcat, prototypes have been spied testing on Detroit roads.

The 707-horsepower Charger will become the world’s most powerful sedan if put into production. Even though its arch-rival, the Chevrolet SS, will get a manual transmission starting in the 2015 model year, I’m becoming increasingly comfortable with the idea of an automatic only Charger Hellcat. The 8-speed automatic is not only a great gearbox, but I love the idea of perfect, launch control starts at every occassion. It’s better than the alternative: wrapping the thing around a telephone pole.

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