By on January 20, 2017

2001-2004 Ford Escape

About a quarter century ago, my father’s wife declared that she was tired of her 7-Series Bimmer and that she just wanted “a nice, basic car, like a Saturn.”

“Okay,” I replied, “sounds like a good idea. What options do you need?”

“Nothing special… just the standard things, the basic things.”

“Okay, what are those?”

“Power locks… power windows… A/C where you just pick the temperature number… tilt wheel… leather upholstery… a nice stereo… I want the mirror that gets dark where there are headlights behind you… the remote entry button thing… I don’t want hubcaps… cruise control… it should have some kind of theft alarm…”

“Let me stop you right there,” I said, “I don’t think you’re Saturn material.” Sure enough, her next car was a loaded Audi 100. The funny thing is that most of the things that she considered to be “standard equipment” back in ’92 actually are standard equipment in 2017. But the question remains: When it comes to equipment, how low can you go?

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By on January 19, 2017

1997-honda-accord-art-carI’m of the opinion that a true auto enthusiast is never content with the status of their fleet. A wandering eye is constantly looking for the next toy, the next project, the next opportunity to flip for a profit. I’m no different — I’m figuratively digging in the couch cushions every time a funky car pops up on eBay or Craigslist.

But those cushions are bare. Two kids tend to consume every spare penny. I’m trying to put away cash for a potential cheap toy, but the classics I really want have ballooned in value well beyond a reasonable figure. I’m thinking I can scrape together about five thousand dollars to buy a new toy for the garage.

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By on January 16, 2017

At the 2015 Palm Beach Auction, driver Herb – on his birthday – got to drive “Herbie” across the block. Image: Barrett-Jackson

This week, the deep-pocketed guys and girls of the car collecting world will descend upon the state of Arizona for the annual collector car auctions. From the televised glitz of Barrett-Jackson to the white-gloved stratosphere of RM Sotheby’s, there is something on the docket to fit everyone’s taste.

For years, I’d watch the events on television or follow the sale prices online with a certain amount of apoplexy. “They paid how much? For that?!?” I’d routinely fume, reliably waking my spouse and buying myself yet another night in the guest room.

A couple of years ago, though, I had a minor revelation.

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By on January 13, 2017

gibraltar_g1_tesla_motors_model_s

Earlier today, one of the commenters on Bark’s article reiterated the oft-discredited claim that the Tesla P-whatever-D in “Ludicrous Mode” is the quickest production vehicle. Listen — I think the Tesla is a great car, and I accept that there is probably some highly-specific situation in which it’s the quickest production sedan.

But quickest production vehicle? No fuggin’ way. It would be the fifth-quickest vehicle in my garage, if I owned one…. and I don’t have a particularly quick set of vehicles.

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By on January 12, 2017

1990-toyota-corolla-blue-front-quarter

This Monday, I sat among a herd of journalists and executives waiting for the Honda Odyssey press reveal to begin. While nominally I was there to cover the event on behalf of this fine publication, I was also considering my next family car purchase.

Jack wrote at length yesterday about the relatively recent phenomenon of at once coddling and ignoring the spawn relegated to the stern of the family vehicle. While I don’t intend to completely answer the questions raised, I’d like to consider what might affect our choice of family conveyance.

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By on January 11, 2017

2018 Lexus LS at NAIAS Front, Image: © 2017 Mark Stevenson/The Truth About Cars

On Monday at NAIAS, something interesting happened at the corner of Predator Maw and Sporty Junction: Lexus revealed a new 2018 LS500.

As a fan of the LS model since inception, I was interested. And as far as I can tell, this is the first LS that breaks with a few traditions dating back to its introduction for model year 1990. In no particular order, I’m going to come up with a list, and I’m going to create this list without any judgment, contrary to normal lists around here or created by anyone with real opinions. (Hey, I could end up on the front page of a major search engine’s automotive page!)

With calm, collected thought, I’ll run through them quickly before I get to our Question Of The Day. Come along.

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By on January 10, 2017

2018 LS500 at NAIAS

Ask anyone who was there, and attendees of this year’s North American International Auto Show will likely describe an event lacking luster. Depleted of energy. Devoid of the excitement that normally comes from splashy, much-anticipated launches.

Could it be that the Consumer Electronics Show held a week earlier in sunny Las Vegas sapped some of the life out of Detroit? Consider this: the top-selling midsize car in the U.S. — the Toyota Camry — suffered through an underwhelming unveiling that should have had people talking. At least, more than the number who did.

What were radio news segments talking about on the way to this year’s show? Highlights of the just-wrapped-up CES. Oh, that Chrysler Portal. My, what a car that Faraday Future FF 91 is. A taste of the future, the tech geeks gushed. So, where does this leave traditional auto shows? What becomes of Detroit, New York, Los Angeles, or Chicago? What about Geneva? Paris? Read More >

By on January 9, 2017

naias 2017TTAC has an intrepid team on the ground at this year’s North American International Auto Show who’ll be bringing you reports from the buffet lines OEM press conferences throughout Media Preview Day. We’ve seen a few debuts already: the grille-of-your-dreams Ford F-150, the not-a-four-door-coupe Kia Stinger, and the blink-and-you’ll-miss-its-changes Mercedes GLA.

Even in this day and age of instant communication and information leaks, the manufacturers still sometimes manage to keep a surprise or two in their back pockets. The Ford GT and Buick Avista spring immediately to mind. This year, I’m hoping for a surprise announcement on a decades-old rumour.

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By on January 6, 2017

FF 91 Reveal

Faraday Future, the Chinese-answer-to-Tesla car company whose travails have been worthy of three concurrently running soap operas even though they have yet to put a single car anywhere near a showroom, debuted a sorta-concepty-production thing this week. And boy oh boy did the knives come out. But why?

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By on January 5, 2017

2002 Dodge Razor Concept, Image: Zombieite/Flickr

Brace yourself. Detroit is coming. Car blogs will be bursting with news and hot takes from frosty southeast Michigan as the North American International Auto Show opens on Monday. Every utterance from any executive will be tweeted, every statement will be parsed, and every press release will be copied and pasted.

Naturally, TTAC will be there in force. And while the numerous reveals of production-ready cars will be the highlight for most, I’m personally looking forward to the concepts. The weird, the funky, or even the batshit crazy — those far-from-production ideas are what make the major auto shows great.

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By on January 4, 2017

Super Car Garage

A new year dawns and a lot of people are making resolutions about what they’d like to do or not do, depending on whether you’re talking about going to the gym or smoking. So, while most of those resolutions will come to naught — like they have for the past All Of The Years — I was thinking about something else that will never happen.

Follow me on a little flight of fantasy, and let’s see where we end up. Read More >

By on January 3, 2017

2016 Ford Mustang GT

So, Ford’s press conference earlier today took a cluster bomb approach to the act of doling out news. Are you ready for a hybrid F-150? Will Chevrolet film a commercial showing how easy it is to pierce the battery pack with a toolbox?

Never mind that for now — it’s the looming hybrid Mustang that’s the real shocker, though perhaps it shouldn’t be. We’re all pretty certain that the V6 ‘Stang is a dead pony walking (trotting?), and that 2017 will be the 3.7-liter’s last go-around. That leaves a big gap between the 2.3-liter EcoBoost and the 5.0-liter Coyote, which Ford will soon swap for a 4.8-liter unit with gobs of refinement.

Mark Fields wasn’t dishing too many details this morning, but he did make it pretty clear that the mid-range power choice in future Mustangs will be a hybrid setup with “V8 levels of power,” starting in 2020. Undoubtedly, you’ll find a four-cylinder engine married to that battery pack and electric motor. Read More >

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