The Truth About Cars » Review Podcasts http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Fri, 29 Apr 2016 19:27:59 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.2.4 Pontiac Solstice GXP Review http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2007/03/pontiac-solstice-gxp/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2007/03/pontiac-solstice-gxp/#comments Thu, 01 Mar 2007 11:37:37 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=3243 x07pn_st001.jpgI once drove off the road, screaming, at 80mph. Why? I was in love. When love turns blind, men do irrational things. As far as healthy, loving relationships go, the one presaging my off-highway excursion was a malignant tumor wrapped in an iron lung. I imagine that owning a Pontiac Solstice GXP is a similar affair. Ladies and gentlemen of the jury; the prosecution calls her a “femme fatale on wheels.” I ask you: how could something this beautiful be so damn dangerous?

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x07pn_st001.jpgI once drove off the road, screaming, at 80mph. Why? I was in love. When love turns blind, men do irrational things. As far as healthy, loving relationships go, the one presaging my off-highway excursion was a malignant tumor wrapped in an iron lung. I imagine that owning a Pontiac Solstice GXP is a similar affair. Ladies and gentlemen of the jury; the prosecution calls her a “femme fatale on wheels.” I ask you: how could something this beautiful be so damn dangerous?

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Mercedes SL550 Review http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2006/09/mercedes-sl550/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2006/09/mercedes-sl550/#comments Thu, 07 Sep 2006 11:16:23 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=2184 front.jpgYou may have noticed this website tends to celebrate performance automobiles. While this predilection for dynamic distraction places us within the media mainstream, it doesn’t square with urban car culture. I'm sure you know that car owners who inflict double-dubs on their whips happily sacrifice ride and handling on the altar of, gulp, style. Even so, ladies and gentlemen, I’ve seen the light. Thanks to the Mercedes SL550, I now know middle aged white people can stunt and floss with the best (worst?) of them.

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front.jpgYou may have noticed this website tends to celebrate performance automobiles. While this predilection for dynamic distraction places us within the media mainstream, it doesn’t square with urban car culture. I'm sure you know that car owners who inflict double-dubs on their whips happily sacrifice ride and handling on the altar of, gulp, style. Even so, ladies and gentlemen, I’ve seen the light. Thanks to the Mercedes SL550, I now know middle aged white people can stunt and floss with the best (worst?) of them.

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Porsche Cayman S Revisited http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2006/07/porsche-cayman-s-revisited/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2006/07/porsche-cayman-s-revisited/#comments Thu, 06 Jul 2006 20:05:08 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1783 CaymanS_1024c.jpgThe moment I dropped the hammer on the Porsche Cayman S, an entirely unexpected emotion welled-up inside: fear.  I was holding the wheel of the world’s best sports car on a perfectly-groomed country road and I couldn’t fully commit to a corner.  I wasn’t afraid of crashing— the Cayman is far too accomplished and forgiving and electronically mindful for that.  I was afraid of the unknown.  What if some dumb ass pulled out of a hidden drive without looking?  What if a child’s bike suddenly appeared just beyond the apex of a turn?  My sightlines were good, but my nerves were shot.  I suppose that’s what happens when you spend too much seat time in a Honda Odyssey.  

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CaymanS_1024c.jpgThe moment I dropped the hammer on the Porsche Cayman S, an entirely unexpected emotion welled-up inside: fear.  I was holding the wheel of the world’s best sports car on a perfectly-groomed country road and I couldn’t fully commit to a corner.  I wasn’t afraid of crashing— the Cayman is far too accomplished and forgiving and electronically mindful for that.  I was afraid of the unknown.  What if some dumb ass pulled out of a hidden drive without looking?  What if a child’s bike suddenly appeared just beyond the apex of a turn?  My sightlines were good, but my nerves were shot.  I suppose that’s what happens when you spend too much seat time in a Honda Odyssey.  

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Toyota Yaris Liftback Review http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2006/05/toyota-yaris-liftback/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2006/05/toyota-yaris-liftback/#comments Thu, 11 May 2006 00:00:00 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=492  My automotive odyssey began in a Ford Pinto. I didn't need Ralph Nader to tell me that The Blue Oval's first sub-compact was a death trap. The Pinto was so nasty on so many levels I'm surprised it didn't spontaneously combust in shame. Then again, why would it? Ford had no shame. Like the rest of the Big Three, their greed, arrogance and incompetence handed the small car market to the Japanese. As far as I can tell, nothing much has changed in the last 35 years. Once again, gas prices are squeezing cash-strapped motorists. Once again, domestics don't have a compelling answer. And once again, Toyota does: the Toyota Yaris.

Do without any optional frills (power windows, remote keyless, a radio) and an autobox Yaris Liftback will set you back about twelve large. If the repo man has never darkened your drive and you have a grand to put down (or are willing to also do your own shifting), payments are within spitting distance of $200. That's to own the car, not a lease with a phone book's worth of fine print. And not just any car, but a brand spankin' new, made-in-Japan, everyone's-sister-knows-it'll-never-break Toyota. A Hummer driver spends twice as much just to keep the tank topped off. Speaking of which, you get over 35 mpg in a Yaris, with a three-year bumper-to-bumper hakuna mutata.

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 My automotive odyssey began in a Ford Pinto. I didn't need Ralph Nader to tell me that The Blue Oval's first sub-compact was a death trap. The Pinto was so nasty on so many levels I'm surprised it didn't spontaneously combust in shame. Then again, why would it? Ford had no shame. Like the rest of the Big Three, their greed, arrogance and incompetence handed the small car market to the Japanese. As far as I can tell, nothing much has changed in the last 35 years. Once again, gas prices are squeezing cash-strapped motorists. Once again, domestics don't have a compelling answer. And once again, Toyota does: the Toyota Yaris.

Do without any optional frills (power windows, remote keyless, a radio) and an autobox Yaris Liftback will set you back about twelve large. If the repo man has never darkened your drive and you have a grand to put down (or are willing to also do your own shifting), payments are within spitting distance of $200. That's to own the car, not a lease with a phone book's worth of fine print. And not just any car, but a brand spankin' new, made-in-Japan, everyone's-sister-knows-it'll-never-break Toyota. A Hummer driver spends twice as much just to keep the tank topped off. Speaking of which, you get over 35 mpg in a Yaris, with a three-year bumper-to-bumper hakuna mutata.

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Honda Fit Sport Review http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2006/04/honda-fit-sport/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2006/04/honda-fit-sport/#comments Sat, 29 Apr 2006 00:00:00 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=268  Fit. That's a good one. At the exact moment that America's obese SUV's are giving the country petrochemical chest pains, Honda invites us to get healthy. Why chug-a-lug gas and stagger around like a big-bellied lummox when you can sip petrol and sashay around town with all the moral superiority of a marathoner? OK, but getting fit involves sacrifices: unpleasant bending, less grunt, no street cred, etc. Or does it? Let's face it: the less we give up, the higher the likelihood we'll do it. Does the Honda Fit let us frugalize without fear?

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 Fit. That's a good one. At the exact moment that America's obese SUV's are giving the country petrochemical chest pains, Honda invites us to get healthy. Why chug-a-lug gas and stagger around like a big-bellied lummox when you can sip petrol and sashay around town with all the moral superiority of a marathoner? OK, but getting fit involves sacrifices: unpleasant bending, less grunt, no street cred, etc. Or does it? Let's face it: the less we give up, the higher the likelihood we'll do it. Does the Honda Fit let us frugalize without fear?

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Toyota FJ Cruiser Review http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2006/04/toyota-fj-cruiser/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2006/04/toyota-fj-cruiser/#comments Fri, 28 Apr 2006 00:00:00 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=63  Toyota is the master of the pastiche. The company's designers never met a Mercedes they couldn't morph, or a Bangled BMW they couldn't bootleg. Granted, capturing the essence of a rival's design without ending up on a hard bench outside the World Intellectual Property Organization is something of an art form. But quite what Toyota had in mind with the FJ Cruiser is hard to fathom. In one sense, they're finally getting 'round to ripping themselves off: riffing on the FJ40 Land Cruiser's riff on the original Jeep. On the other hand, anyone who clocks the FJ Cruiser's brick-like bearing and doesn't think Hummer just isn't trying hard enough-- which ain't something you can say about Toyota. Ever.

From the front, the FJ Cruiser is a Lego Transformer. Funky chunky bumpers-- complete with molded silver "wings"-- combine with a cylindrical light assembly, swooping sides and a gun slit front window to create a mondo-bizarre snap-to-fit aesthetic. The FJ's hood-- which looks like a half-submerged bomber hangar-- doesn't quite work. But it's Henry Moore to the side profile's Dali-esque dissonance. The FJ's rear windows makes the SUV look like it's sagging in the middle, while the gigantic C-pillars are almost as funny (both humorous and peculiar) as the mini-flares over the rear arches. And the FJ's back end makes the full-size spare hanging on the door look like a child's inflatable pool.

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 Toyota is the master of the pastiche. The company's designers never met a Mercedes they couldn't morph, or a Bangled BMW they couldn't bootleg. Granted, capturing the essence of a rival's design without ending up on a hard bench outside the World Intellectual Property Organization is something of an art form. But quite what Toyota had in mind with the FJ Cruiser is hard to fathom. In one sense, they're finally getting 'round to ripping themselves off: riffing on the FJ40 Land Cruiser's riff on the original Jeep. On the other hand, anyone who clocks the FJ Cruiser's brick-like bearing and doesn't think Hummer just isn't trying hard enough-- which ain't something you can say about Toyota. Ever.

From the front, the FJ Cruiser is a Lego Transformer. Funky chunky bumpers-- complete with molded silver "wings"-- combine with a cylindrical light assembly, swooping sides and a gun slit front window to create a mondo-bizarre snap-to-fit aesthetic. The FJ's hood-- which looks like a half-submerged bomber hangar-- doesn't quite work. But it's Henry Moore to the side profile's Dali-esque dissonance. The FJ's rear windows makes the SUV look like it's sagging in the middle, while the gigantic C-pillars are almost as funny (both humorous and peculiar) as the mini-flares over the rear arches. And the FJ's back end makes the full-size spare hanging on the door look like a child's inflatable pool.

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Cadillac Escalade Review http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2006/04/cadillac-escalade-2/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2006/04/cadillac-escalade-2/#comments Wed, 19 Apr 2006 00:00:00 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=538  The new Cadillac Escalade is a mission critical machine. It's one of the few remaining General Motors products whose sales don't depend on Mexican-sized kickbacks and/or a Day-Glo "Closing Down, Everything Must Go" sticker on the windshield. What's more, as a badge-engineered Chevrolet Tahoe, it's only slightly more expensive to build than a Chevrolet Tahoe. In other words, the 'Slade's is a cash cow on factory double dubs, trying to keep it real for GM's ten point six billion dollar man, Rabid Rick Wagoner; know what I mean? No? Let me spell it out for you: if the 'Slade ain't da bomb, it's a nail in the General's coffin. Well guess what? RIP.

Clock those side vents. At the precise moment when Caddy's luxury SUV should swagger into town with unabashed American style, the 'Slade arrives with its main design cue "borrowed" from Land Rover's Range Rover Sport. While the cynical amongst you might assert that the Escalade's target market is no more likely to connect the two vehicles than smoke crack and drive (as if), the fact remains: the porthole plagiarism betrays a staggering lack of confidence and originality. Of course, badge engineering a Chevrolet Tahoe betrays a staggering lack of confidence and originality, but, um… where was I? Something about the enormous gap in the SUV's wheel arches making the 'Slade look like a punk ass bitch? No… that wasn't it. Or was it?

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 The new Cadillac Escalade is a mission critical machine. It's one of the few remaining General Motors products whose sales don't depend on Mexican-sized kickbacks and/or a Day-Glo "Closing Down, Everything Must Go" sticker on the windshield. What's more, as a badge-engineered Chevrolet Tahoe, it's only slightly more expensive to build than a Chevrolet Tahoe. In other words, the 'Slade's is a cash cow on factory double dubs, trying to keep it real for GM's ten point six billion dollar man, Rabid Rick Wagoner; know what I mean? No? Let me spell it out for you: if the 'Slade ain't da bomb, it's a nail in the General's coffin. Well guess what? RIP.

Clock those side vents. At the precise moment when Caddy's luxury SUV should swagger into town with unabashed American style, the 'Slade arrives with its main design cue "borrowed" from Land Rover's Range Rover Sport. While the cynical amongst you might assert that the Escalade's target market is no more likely to connect the two vehicles than smoke crack and drive (as if), the fact remains: the porthole plagiarism betrays a staggering lack of confidence and originality. Of course, badge engineering a Chevrolet Tahoe betrays a staggering lack of confidence and originality, but, um… where was I? Something about the enormous gap in the SUV's wheel arches making the 'Slade look like a punk ass bitch? No… that wasn't it. Or was it?

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Volkswagen Golf GTI DSG Reviews http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2006/04/volkswagen-golf-gti-dsg/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2006/04/volkswagen-golf-gti-dsg/#comments Thu, 06 Apr 2006 00:00:00 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=700 De-pimp this!I don't know about you, but I've been feeling sorry for Volkswagen for a while now. VW didn't so much lose their mojo as strap it to the nose of a Titan IVB and fire it into deep space. No disrespect to the world's fifth most populous country, but was anyone really surprised when a Brazilian Golf turned out like German bobo de camarao? Now that Vee Dub's got THAT out of their system, here comes the new, Wolfsburg-built Golf GTI. It's an Old School hot hatch with a Masters in Engineering. Viva VW!

For reasons best left to The International Museum of Marketing Doublespeak, Volkswagen decided to begin their mission-critical US Golf refresh with a two-door. More's the pity. The fifth-gen four-door is a far more handsome beast than the coupe-- if only because the Golf's rear portals soften the enormous disparity between the front windscreen's bottom edge and the side windows' lower boundary. This bizarre asymmetry pisses on the Golf's 32-year history of two-box harmony. The resulting rear end trades brand recognition for something vaguely Japanese-- as if the Golf suddenly decided to play the Accordian. And then there's the front end's unresolved echo of Audi's unconscionable house snout...

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De-pimp this!I don't know about you, but I've been feeling sorry for Volkswagen for a while now. VW didn't so much lose their mojo as strap it to the nose of a Titan IVB and fire it into deep space. No disrespect to the world's fifth most populous country, but was anyone really surprised when a Brazilian Golf turned out like German bobo de camarao? Now that Vee Dub's got THAT out of their system, here comes the new, Wolfsburg-built Golf GTI. It's an Old School hot hatch with a Masters in Engineering. Viva VW!

For reasons best left to The International Museum of Marketing Doublespeak, Volkswagen decided to begin their mission-critical US Golf refresh with a two-door. More's the pity. The fifth-gen four-door is a far more handsome beast than the coupe-- if only because the Golf's rear portals soften the enormous disparity between the front windscreen's bottom edge and the side windows' lower boundary. This bizarre asymmetry pisses on the Golf's 32-year history of two-box harmony. The resulting rear end trades brand recognition for something vaguely Japanese-- as if the Golf suddenly decided to play the Accordian. And then there's the front end's unresolved echo of Audi's unconscionable house snout...

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Lamborghini Gallardo SE Review http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2006/03/lamborghini-gallardo-se/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2006/03/lamborghini-gallardo-se/#comments Tue, 28 Mar 2006 00:00:00 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=695 Profile of a German - Italian half-breed.Testing a Gallardo SE in Miami is like sipping Chateau Lafite Rothschild in a public urinal. The little Lambo was born to annihilate the twisting mountain roads surrounding Italy's supercar valley, or flirt with V3 on a derestricted German autobahn. Miami's geometric streets and traffic-choked highways offer the Gallardo driver nothing more than a sinuous onramp and an occasional half-mile sprint-- which is plenty damn exciting but about as satisfying as red wine slammers. So, whilst fending-off a frantic flackmeister preoccupied with the definition of the words "driving impression," I guided the baby bull towards the nearest race track.

As I quick-quick-slowed through the cars clogging I-95 North, I was taken aback by the lack of stare and attention given the Gallardo. With its strange combination of diminutive footprint, cab forward stance, drop snout, near horizontal windshield and unrelenting angularity, the Gallardo lacks what native S-Class owners call "uberholprestige": that indefinable yet unmistakable car-isma that convinces fellow road users to move the Hell over. Either that or Floridians are fed-up with the automotive tastes of Bolivian drug lords. In any case, we now know what happens when a Belgian designs a supercar for a legendary Italian nameplate under the wary eye of a German conglomerate; and it ain't what I'd call pretty.

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Profile of a German - Italian half-breed.Testing a Gallardo SE in Miami is like sipping Chateau Lafite Rothschild in a public urinal. The little Lambo was born to annihilate the twisting mountain roads surrounding Italy's supercar valley, or flirt with V3 on a derestricted German autobahn. Miami's geometric streets and traffic-choked highways offer the Gallardo driver nothing more than a sinuous onramp and an occasional half-mile sprint-- which is plenty damn exciting but about as satisfying as red wine slammers. So, whilst fending-off a frantic flackmeister preoccupied with the definition of the words "driving impression," I guided the baby bull towards the nearest race track.

As I quick-quick-slowed through the cars clogging I-95 North, I was taken aback by the lack of stare and attention given the Gallardo. With its strange combination of diminutive footprint, cab forward stance, drop snout, near horizontal windshield and unrelenting angularity, the Gallardo lacks what native S-Class owners call "uberholprestige": that indefinable yet unmistakable car-isma that convinces fellow road users to move the Hell over. Either that or Floridians are fed-up with the automotive tastes of Bolivian drug lords. In any case, we now know what happens when a Belgian designs a supercar for a legendary Italian nameplate under the wary eye of a German conglomerate; and it ain't what I'd call pretty.

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Lincoln Zephyr Review http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2006/03/lincoln-zephyr/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2006/03/lincoln-zephyr/#comments Wed, 08 Mar 2006 00:00:00 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1264 A Fusion by another name still smells like badge engineering.Badge-engineering. You know the drill: take a run-of-the-mill bog standard plain Jane vanilla sort of car, add some external bits and internal pieces, tweak the ride, slap on a more prestigious badge and jack-up the price. More specifically, the "new" Lincoln Zephyr is a Ford Fusion with a modified grill, wood trim, floatier ride, Lincoln logo and an inflated sticker price. So rather than badge engineer my Ford Fusion review, I'm going to tell you what Ford-- sorry, Lincoln, should have done with this car.

The obvious answer is nothing. Lincoln needs a front-wheel-drive mid-size sedan like Hummer needs a camouflage SMART (unless they use it as an H2 escape pod). Even if we ignore Lincoln's illustrious past-- first betrayed in 1936 by a funny-looking car called a Zephyr-- the brand's recent history sets the standard. Exhibitionist A: the Lincoln Continental Mark IV: a huge, thirsty, poorly-built, foul-handling beast from a time when jeans had bells at the bottom. While the infinitely smaller [modern] Zephyr is so safe and reliable it Hertz and boasts twice as much everything room than the old Mark, Lincoln's '70's luxobarge holstered a 7.5-liter V8 with more swagger than Ludacris at a Kapp Alpha Theta. Now THAT'S what I'm talking about.

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A Fusion by another name still smells like badge engineering.Badge-engineering. You know the drill: take a run-of-the-mill bog standard plain Jane vanilla sort of car, add some external bits and internal pieces, tweak the ride, slap on a more prestigious badge and jack-up the price. More specifically, the "new" Lincoln Zephyr is a Ford Fusion with a modified grill, wood trim, floatier ride, Lincoln logo and an inflated sticker price. So rather than badge engineer my Ford Fusion review, I'm going to tell you what Ford-- sorry, Lincoln, should have done with this car.

The obvious answer is nothing. Lincoln needs a front-wheel-drive mid-size sedan like Hummer needs a camouflage SMART (unless they use it as an H2 escape pod). Even if we ignore Lincoln's illustrious past-- first betrayed in 1936 by a funny-looking car called a Zephyr-- the brand's recent history sets the standard. Exhibitionist A: the Lincoln Continental Mark IV: a huge, thirsty, poorly-built, foul-handling beast from a time when jeans had bells at the bottom. While the infinitely smaller [modern] Zephyr is so safe and reliable it Hertz and boasts twice as much everything room than the old Mark, Lincoln's '70's luxobarge holstered a 7.5-liter V8 with more swagger than Ludacris at a Kapp Alpha Theta. Now THAT'S what I'm talking about.

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Volkswagen Beetle Review http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2006/03/volkswagen-beetle/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2006/03/volkswagen-beetle/#comments Wed, 01 Mar 2006 00:00:00 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=462 A Volkswagen Golf by any other name is still a lot less spacious.  The power of love is a curious thing. It makes one brand weep, another brand sing. Change a bug into a little white Dub. More than a feeling; that's the power of love. Yes, I know it's old News, but Volkswagen's Beetle still gets a lot of love. You would've thought a retro reissue of Hitler's people's car would've fallen down the same rat hole that swallowed-up the mustachioed Plymouth Prowler, Chevrolet's WTF SSR and Ford's turkey T-bird. But no. Eight years after its re-introduction into the US market, VW's self-titled "New Beetle" is still here, people still adore it, and I still don't get it.

Admittedly, I'm not gay. While I do enjoy a well-formed six-pack, and consider myself a far better interior decorator than that stuck-up Connecticut con artist, I can't understand how anyone could find VeeDub's Bauhaus Bug "cute." I reckon J Mays drew the St. Louis arch over a Kohler bathtub and called it good. All the superb detailing that gave the 60's version its cutesy-tootsie cartoon character has been replaced with generic post-modern jewelery. To my eyes, the slab-sided minimalist Beetle is about as emotionally engaging as a Braun razor. The '06 facelift offers rounder headlights, more tapered wrap-around air dams and flat-edged wheel arches. It looks like… a slightly newer Braun razor.

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A Volkswagen Golf by any other name is still a lot less spacious.  The power of love is a curious thing. It makes one brand weep, another brand sing. Change a bug into a little white Dub. More than a feeling; that's the power of love. Yes, I know it's old News, but Volkswagen's Beetle still gets a lot of love. You would've thought a retro reissue of Hitler's people's car would've fallen down the same rat hole that swallowed-up the mustachioed Plymouth Prowler, Chevrolet's WTF SSR and Ford's turkey T-bird. But no. Eight years after its re-introduction into the US market, VW's self-titled "New Beetle" is still here, people still adore it, and I still don't get it.

Admittedly, I'm not gay. While I do enjoy a well-formed six-pack, and consider myself a far better interior decorator than that stuck-up Connecticut con artist, I can't understand how anyone could find VeeDub's Bauhaus Bug "cute." I reckon J Mays drew the St. Louis arch over a Kohler bathtub and called it good. All the superb detailing that gave the 60's version its cutesy-tootsie cartoon character has been replaced with generic post-modern jewelery. To my eyes, the slab-sided minimalist Beetle is about as emotionally engaging as a Braun razor. The '06 facelift offers rounder headlights, more tapered wrap-around air dams and flat-edged wheel arches. It looks like… a slightly newer Braun razor.

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Audi A3 3.2 DSG Review http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2006/02/audi-a3-32-dsg/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2006/02/audi-a3-32-dsg/#comments Wed, 22 Feb 2006 00:00:00 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1418 Another M. C. Escher mini wagon. Anyone who looks at the new Audi A3 3.2 DSG and sees an overpriced economy car should not be allowed to play with Rottweiler puppies. While Ingolstadt's diminutive four-door may seem like a hatchback for badge snobs willing to sacrifice size for breeding, it's actually a four-wheeled fiend, a beast born and bred to take a bite out of the time - space continuum. Everything else about the A3-- the foot on the Audi ownership ladder thing, the four-wheel-drive peace-of-mind shtick-- is nothing more than a glossy coat on a vicious little monster. And I mean that in the nicest possible way.

The A3's aesthetic dissonance should tip off neophytes that something wikkid this way driveth. Calling the little Audi "ungainly" is like saying a Saab stretch limo lacks a certain finesse. The unconscionable gaping maw that is Audi's house snout never looked as hideous as it does here, attached to a car whose creators seems to have given up around the halfway mark. I presume the A3's sloping rear roofline was designed to distance Audi's $35k 'entry level' hatchback from the traditional econobox. At best, the A3 looks like a dwarf station wagon. At worst, it joins Mercedes' SLK as another petite whip suffering from Peter North syndrome.

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Another M. C. Escher mini wagon. Anyone who looks at the new Audi A3 3.2 DSG and sees an overpriced economy car should not be allowed to play with Rottweiler puppies. While Ingolstadt's diminutive four-door may seem like a hatchback for badge snobs willing to sacrifice size for breeding, it's actually a four-wheeled fiend, a beast born and bred to take a bite out of the time - space continuum. Everything else about the A3-- the foot on the Audi ownership ladder thing, the four-wheel-drive peace-of-mind shtick-- is nothing more than a glossy coat on a vicious little monster. And I mean that in the nicest possible way.

The A3's aesthetic dissonance should tip off neophytes that something wikkid this way driveth. Calling the little Audi "ungainly" is like saying a Saab stretch limo lacks a certain finesse. The unconscionable gaping maw that is Audi's house snout never looked as hideous as it does here, attached to a car whose creators seems to have given up around the halfway mark. I presume the A3's sloping rear roofline was designed to distance Audi's $35k 'entry level' hatchback from the traditional econobox. At best, the A3 looks like a dwarf station wagon. At worst, it joins Mercedes' SLK as another petite whip suffering from Peter North syndrome.

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Chevrolet Tahoe LT Review http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2006/02/chevrolet-tahoe-lt/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2006/02/chevrolet-tahoe-lt/#comments Fri, 10 Feb 2006 00:00:00 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=683 The Chevrolet Tahoe's sheetmetal plays a Zero sub gameThe SUV is dead. Long live the sedan on stilts! Yes folks, Chevrolet has transformed their Tahoe from a cheap and cheerful workhorse for environmentally insensitive soccer Moms, to a deluxe cruiser for environmentally insensitive soccer Moms. The change is so well executed, so completely earnest in both scope and scale, you almost feel sorry for the beast. Like the Wild Things watching Max sailing back to his bedroom (already regretting his rumpus at the pumpus), the new Tahoe cries out to departing SUV buyers "Come back! We love you so!" What say you, America?

The new Tahoe is certainly a more alluring monster than the big bland boring box it replaces. Bob Lutz-- the GM executive who once dismissed a passel of motor show concept cars as "angry appliances"-- will be delighted with what Chevy's American Revolution has wrought: a happy appliance. The Tahoe's sheetmetal displays all the subdued modernism, implied practicality and aesthetic solidity of a Sub-Zero refrigerator, right down to the sleek door handles-- I mean "pulls". The Tahoe's hood is as perfectly creased as an Armani suit. The SUV's bowed nose and tail, the gently curving C-pillar, the side mirrors' blacked-out bottoms - every detail reflects an entirely successful attempt to give the Tahoe's exterior a contemporary kitchen's supercool coherence.

The post Chevrolet Tahoe LT Review appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

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The Chevrolet Tahoe's sheetmetal plays a Zero sub gameThe SUV is dead. Long live the sedan on stilts! Yes folks, Chevrolet has transformed their Tahoe from a cheap and cheerful workhorse for environmentally insensitive soccer Moms, to a deluxe cruiser for environmentally insensitive soccer Moms. The change is so well executed, so completely earnest in both scope and scale, you almost feel sorry for the beast. Like the Wild Things watching Max sailing back to his bedroom (already regretting his rumpus at the pumpus), the new Tahoe cries out to departing SUV buyers "Come back! We love you so!" What say you, America?

The new Tahoe is certainly a more alluring monster than the big bland boring box it replaces. Bob Lutz-- the GM executive who once dismissed a passel of motor show concept cars as "angry appliances"-- will be delighted with what Chevy's American Revolution has wrought: a happy appliance. The Tahoe's sheetmetal displays all the subdued modernism, implied practicality and aesthetic solidity of a Sub-Zero refrigerator, right down to the sleek door handles-- I mean "pulls". The Tahoe's hood is as perfectly creased as an Armani suit. The SUV's bowed nose and tail, the gently curving C-pillar, the side mirrors' blacked-out bottoms - every detail reflects an entirely successful attempt to give the Tahoe's exterior a contemporary kitchen's supercool coherence.

The post Chevrolet Tahoe LT Review appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

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Mercedes E350 4Matic Review http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2006/02/mercedes-e350-4matic/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2006/02/mercedes-e350-4matic/#comments Thu, 02 Feb 2006 00:00:00 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=211 Come join the conservative party!  Um, make that 'get together'.Getting old is not for sissies. Aside from a general degradation in motor skills, sensory perception, memory and earnings, the 401K set is prone to health complaints that are both fantastically expensive and endlessly annoying. Fortunately, there are compensations: grandchildren (kids free from a no-deposit, no-return policy) and the Mercedes Benz E350 4Matic. I'm not saying the E350 was specifically designed to salve the fading sensibilities of the blue rinse brigade, but any car this numb, beige and expensive is clearly aimed at Baby Boomers who are wealthy as Hell and aren't going to take it anymore. Unless you ask nicely.

The E350 is a polite request on wheels. While Mercedes' product developers have been busy performing bizarre genetic experiments in pursuit of The Next Big Thing-- carbon fiber supercars, mutant crossovers, four-door chop tops, re-imagined Nazi staff cars-- their mid-sized model remains reassuringly bland-- I mean, conservative. On the downside, the E still suffers from the swoopy dorkiness of its oval headlights, which make the grill look small, which denies the E350 get-out-my-way gravitas. And it continues to share far too many family traits with the lower-priced C-Class to please the legions of status conscious Mercedes buyers.

The post Mercedes E350 4Matic Review appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

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Come join the conservative party!  Um, make that 'get together'.Getting old is not for sissies. Aside from a general degradation in motor skills, sensory perception, memory and earnings, the 401K set is prone to health complaints that are both fantastically expensive and endlessly annoying. Fortunately, there are compensations: grandchildren (kids free from a no-deposit, no-return policy) and the Mercedes Benz E350 4Matic. I'm not saying the E350 was specifically designed to salve the fading sensibilities of the blue rinse brigade, but any car this numb, beige and expensive is clearly aimed at Baby Boomers who are wealthy as Hell and aren't going to take it anymore. Unless you ask nicely.

The E350 is a polite request on wheels. While Mercedes' product developers have been busy performing bizarre genetic experiments in pursuit of The Next Big Thing-- carbon fiber supercars, mutant crossovers, four-door chop tops, re-imagined Nazi staff cars-- their mid-sized model remains reassuringly bland-- I mean, conservative. On the downside, the E still suffers from the swoopy dorkiness of its oval headlights, which make the grill look small, which denies the E350 get-out-my-way gravitas. And it continues to share far too many family traits with the lower-priced C-Class to please the legions of status conscious Mercedes buyers.

The post Mercedes E350 4Matic Review appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

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BMW M5 Review http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2006/01/bmw-m5-2/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2006/01/bmw-m5-2/#comments Mon, 23 Jan 2006 00:00:00 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=980 Open the door and the new M5 tells it like it is: BLING, BLING!When I saw a mustard-colored Bentley GT rocketing towards my all time favorite highway exit, I knew lunch was served. Paddling from seventh to third and pressing go, I closed the gap between the M5's voracious prow and Bentley Boy's behind before the adrenalin could hit my bloodstream. As we entered the ramp, the Bimmer's heads-up display assured me I had enough rpm-age to blow-off anything that wasn't built out of carbon fiber and/or jet-powered. When the off-ramp widened for a few yards, I dove inside and dusted Bentley Boy into a fine powder. Despite my obvious, riotous supremacy, nothing changed. BMW's uber-sedan was not my friend.

Supercar scalping in a family four-door is a terrific way to kill an afternoon, but the original M5 earned its place in automotive Valhalla as the consumate all-rounder: a car that can schlep, thrash, coddle, cruise, potter and impress with equal aplomb. Make no mistake: while the M5's accelerative aggression and Nürburgring-fettled handling got the headlines, the uber-Bimmer's core appeal lay within its relatively humble origins, daily practicality and circumspect sheet metal. No other car-- at any price-- offered such a potent blend of ability and humility.

The post BMW M5 Review appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

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Open the door and the new M5 tells it like it is: BLING, BLING!When I saw a mustard-colored Bentley GT rocketing towards my all time favorite highway exit, I knew lunch was served. Paddling from seventh to third and pressing go, I closed the gap between the M5's voracious prow and Bentley Boy's behind before the adrenalin could hit my bloodstream. As we entered the ramp, the Bimmer's heads-up display assured me I had enough rpm-age to blow-off anything that wasn't built out of carbon fiber and/or jet-powered. When the off-ramp widened for a few yards, I dove inside and dusted Bentley Boy into a fine powder. Despite my obvious, riotous supremacy, nothing changed. BMW's uber-sedan was not my friend.

Supercar scalping in a family four-door is a terrific way to kill an afternoon, but the original M5 earned its place in automotive Valhalla as the consumate all-rounder: a car that can schlep, thrash, coddle, cruise, potter and impress with equal aplomb. Make no mistake: while the M5's accelerative aggression and Nürburgring-fettled handling got the headlines, the uber-Bimmer's core appeal lay within its relatively humble origins, daily practicality and circumspect sheet metal. No other car-- at any price-- offered such a potent blend of ability and humility.

The post BMW M5 Review appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

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BMW 325iX Sports Wagon Review http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2006/01/bmw-325ix-sports-wagon/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2006/01/bmw-325ix-sports-wagon/#comments Wed, 18 Jan 2006 00:00:00 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=823 The MC Escher of station wagons. Call me an oxymoron, but I don't get the whole sports wagon thing. Fast wagon, sure. Hey kids! Watch Daddy wipe the smile off that smug bastard in the baby car. But "sports wagon" clearly implies high-speed cornering. Centrifugal force has this nasty habit of upending juice boxes, sending toys into black holes and making protective mothers scream with homicidal fury. I'd like to say BMW's 325xI Sports Wagon (SW) is an ideal high performance load lugger for lifestylers who don't share my domestic concerns, but I can't because it isn't.

The 325xI Sports Wagon's basic proportions look promising enough for wagon-loving corner carvers-- should enough of them exist to establish a consensus. Although it's a fair distance between the front and rear wheels, the SW's overhangs could double as window ledges, and the car itself is athletically compact. Or not. It's hard to tell. Thanks to BMW's kooky "flame-surfacing", their 3 Series five-door's perceived size depends entirely on the viewing distance, the angle chosen and the amount of time spent staring at the thing. Taken as a whole, the flat-nosed SW says "road rocket" like a pepperoni pizza says "dessert."

The post BMW 325iX Sports Wagon Review appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

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The MC Escher of station wagons. Call me an oxymoron, but I don't get the whole sports wagon thing. Fast wagon, sure. Hey kids! Watch Daddy wipe the smile off that smug bastard in the baby car. But "sports wagon" clearly implies high-speed cornering. Centrifugal force has this nasty habit of upending juice boxes, sending toys into black holes and making protective mothers scream with homicidal fury. I'd like to say BMW's 325xI Sports Wagon (SW) is an ideal high performance load lugger for lifestylers who don't share my domestic concerns, but I can't because it isn't.

The 325xI Sports Wagon's basic proportions look promising enough for wagon-loving corner carvers-- should enough of them exist to establish a consensus. Although it's a fair distance between the front and rear wheels, the SW's overhangs could double as window ledges, and the car itself is athletically compact. Or not. It's hard to tell. Thanks to BMW's kooky "flame-surfacing", their 3 Series five-door's perceived size depends entirely on the viewing distance, the angle chosen and the amount of time spent staring at the thing. Taken as a whole, the flat-nosed SW says "road rocket" like a pepperoni pizza says "dessert."

The post BMW 325iX Sports Wagon Review appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

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Porsche Cayman S Review http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2006/01/porsche-cayman-s/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2006/01/porsche-cayman-s/#comments Fri, 13 Jan 2006 00:00:00 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=688 Sweet, but not quite an obscure object of irresistable desire.If Porsche's new Boxster hardtop is a misspelled caiman, its 911 Carrera is a crocodile. While the two species share a common ancestor, put them in the same territory and one of them will end-up lunch. Maybe that's why Porsche rigged the fight; when you make a living selling Carreras, you don't want Caymans cannibalizing their cousins. Well guess what? Evolution will not, CAN not be denied. One blast around the block in a Cayman S and its future alpha status is inescapable. But let's drop this discussion of internecine conflict for a moment and consider the Cayman on its own merits…

Physically, it's no stunner. Yes, the Cayman's muscular fastback and sculpted haunches are exquisite: a deeply alluring shape that finally eliminates the Boxster's insipid push-me, pull-you design. But the Cayman's bootylicious butt draws new attention to the exceedingly bland Porsche family nose. Embedded fog lights may separate the model from its stablemates, but they do nothing to lift the miasma of mediocrity that has bedeviled the Boxster's face since birth. The Cayman's side air intakes are another distraction, lacking in both shape and scale. The German/Finnish roadster is also more color-sensitive than Martha Stewart; in anything other than black, the Cayman looks like a small and frivolous sports car souffle. Which it bloody well isn't.

The post Porsche Cayman S Review appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

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Sweet, but not quite an obscure object of irresistable desire.If Porsche's new Boxster hardtop is a misspelled caiman, its 911 Carrera is a crocodile. While the two species share a common ancestor, put them in the same territory and one of them will end-up lunch. Maybe that's why Porsche rigged the fight; when you make a living selling Carreras, you don't want Caymans cannibalizing their cousins. Well guess what? Evolution will not, CAN not be denied. One blast around the block in a Cayman S and its future alpha status is inescapable. But let's drop this discussion of internecine conflict for a moment and consider the Cayman on its own merits…

Physically, it's no stunner. Yes, the Cayman's muscular fastback and sculpted haunches are exquisite: a deeply alluring shape that finally eliminates the Boxster's insipid push-me, pull-you design. But the Cayman's bootylicious butt draws new attention to the exceedingly bland Porsche family nose. Embedded fog lights may separate the model from its stablemates, but they do nothing to lift the miasma of mediocrity that has bedeviled the Boxster's face since birth. The Cayman's side air intakes are another distraction, lacking in both shape and scale. The German/Finnish roadster is also more color-sensitive than Martha Stewart; in anything other than black, the Cayman looks like a small and frivolous sports car souffle. Which it bloody well isn't.

The post Porsche Cayman S Review appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

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Lexus IS 350 Review http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2005/12/lexus-is-350/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2005/12/lexus-is-350/#comments Mon, 19 Dec 2005 00:00:00 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=513 A hedge against ego inflation?Jinking through traffic somewhere above the ton, it quickly became apparent that the Lexus IS 350 wasn't the ideal car for the job. The erstwhile sports sedan bumped and jiggled over surface imperfections like a tied-down tunermobile. It rolled through directional transitions like a luxobarge, helming with unacceptable imprecision and unwelcome lean. While the powerplant provided more than enough shove for the work at hand, the IS 350's dynamics drew a definitive line between "doable" and "enjoyable." If further proof were needed that I was in the wrong car at the wrong speed, the BMW M3 keeping pace provided it.

After a few polite lead exchanges, the M3 dropped the hammer and disappeared. I rejected the idea of visiting V-Max. The IS 350's 3.5-liter V6 holsters a surprising percentage of the mighty M3's oomph (at a fraction of the price), but it's no Bimmer beater. More specifically, maxxing-out a 3-Series anything is like gently drifting through the tunnel of love, compared to the baby Lexus' Autobahn of Doom stunt show. What upmarket motorist needs THAT kind of excitement? Indeed, why would anyone suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous ride and handling when any number of similarly priced cars offer a more pleasurable driving experience?

The post Lexus IS 350 Review appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

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A hedge against ego inflation?Jinking through traffic somewhere above the ton, it quickly became apparent that the Lexus IS 350 wasn't the ideal car for the job. The erstwhile sports sedan bumped and jiggled over surface imperfections like a tied-down tunermobile. It rolled through directional transitions like a luxobarge, helming with unacceptable imprecision and unwelcome lean. While the powerplant provided more than enough shove for the work at hand, the IS 350's dynamics drew a definitive line between "doable" and "enjoyable." If further proof were needed that I was in the wrong car at the wrong speed, the BMW M3 keeping pace provided it.

After a few polite lead exchanges, the M3 dropped the hammer and disappeared. I rejected the idea of visiting V-Max. The IS 350's 3.5-liter V6 holsters a surprising percentage of the mighty M3's oomph (at a fraction of the price), but it's no Bimmer beater. More specifically, maxxing-out a 3-Series anything is like gently drifting through the tunnel of love, compared to the baby Lexus' Autobahn of Doom stunt show. What upmarket motorist needs THAT kind of excitement? Indeed, why would anyone suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous ride and handling when any number of similarly priced cars offer a more pleasurable driving experience?

The post Lexus IS 350 Review appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

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Ford Fusion SEL Review http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2005/12/ford-fusion-sel/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2005/12/ford-fusion-sel/#comments Thu, 01 Dec 2005 00:00:00 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=932 Cadillac called.  They want their creases back.  BIC on line 2.What's the difference between a rental car and a mass market motor? Not a lot. But this much is true: the new Fusion's headlight switch wouldn't seem out of place on an EASY-BAKE oven. Actually, Ford should be so lucky; Kenner has sold over 16 million cookers since the feminist's least favorite toy debuted in 1963. The probability that the Fusion will deliver similar amounts of EASY-PROFIT depends entirely on the Y factor. Why would anyone buy an automobile that's had any hint of personality professionally removed by a crack squad of cost-conscious engineers? Purchase price? Reliability? You tell me and then we'll both know.

If customers swim into their local Ford dealer's fishbowl to spawn between $17k and $21k on behalf of a new Fusion, they won't be doing so because the sedan's sheet metal haunts their dreams-- unless it's a nightmare about being pursued by a giant razor. The Fusion's three-blade front foil is the car's only attempt to make a visual statement; to my eyes it looks as if it's saying "I want to be an Infiniti when I grow up". From any angle other than the front, Ford's family four-door is so generic that the binocular fusion required to scan it hardly seems worth the effort. To be fair, the Fusion's Euro-blanditude obscures its proletarian roots with unrelenting unobjectionality. How great is that?

The post Ford Fusion SEL Review appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

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Cadillac called.  They want their creases back.  BIC on line 2.What's the difference between a rental car and a mass market motor? Not a lot. But this much is true: the new Fusion's headlight switch wouldn't seem out of place on an EASY-BAKE oven. Actually, Ford should be so lucky; Kenner has sold over 16 million cookers since the feminist's least favorite toy debuted in 1963. The probability that the Fusion will deliver similar amounts of EASY-PROFIT depends entirely on the Y factor. Why would anyone buy an automobile that's had any hint of personality professionally removed by a crack squad of cost-conscious engineers? Purchase price? Reliability? You tell me and then we'll both know.

If customers swim into their local Ford dealer's fishbowl to spawn between $17k and $21k on behalf of a new Fusion, they won't be doing so because the sedan's sheet metal haunts their dreams-- unless it's a nightmare about being pursued by a giant razor. The Fusion's three-blade front foil is the car's only attempt to make a visual statement; to my eyes it looks as if it's saying "I want to be an Infiniti when I grow up". From any angle other than the front, Ford's family four-door is so generic that the binocular fusion required to scan it hardly seems worth the effort. To be fair, the Fusion's Euro-blanditude obscures its proletarian roots with unrelenting unobjectionality. How great is that?

The post Ford Fusion SEL Review appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

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2005 Jeep Commander Review http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2005/11/jeep-commander/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2005/11/jeep-commander/#comments Thu, 17 Nov 2005 00:00:00 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=526 The flying brick is back.You can't blame Jeep for launching a retro-styled seven-seater at a time when dealers' forecourts have become sport utility tar pits. The Dark Lords of DCX pulled the trigger on the Commander when the petrochemical sun was shining, hay was being made and the word "hybrid" applied to orchids, vegetables and farm animals. The logic was sound: build a more commodious SUV to keep fecund followers of Jeep's trail rated trucks within the fold. Something that would also lure lifestylers helming less venerable vehicles. But the execution is inexcusable. Even if Shell V-Power was free, you wouldn't want to waste it on the new Jeep Commander.

The post 2005 Jeep Commander Review appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

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The flying brick is back.You can't blame Jeep for launching a retro-styled seven-seater at a time when dealers' forecourts have become sport utility tar pits. The Dark Lords of DCX pulled the trigger on the Commander when the petrochemical sun was shining, hay was being made and the word "hybrid" applied to orchids, vegetables and farm animals. The logic was sound: build a more commodious SUV to keep fecund followers of Jeep's trail rated trucks within the fold. Something that would also lure lifestylers helming less venerable vehicles. But the execution is inexcusable. Even if Shell V-Power was free, you wouldn't want to waste it on the new Jeep Commander.

The post 2005 Jeep Commander Review appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

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Honda Civic EX Review http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2005/11/honda-civic-ex/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2005/11/honda-civic-ex/#comments Fri, 11 Nov 2005 00:00:00 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=288 Where's the reset button? I probably shouldn't admit to auditory hallucinations, but every time I sat behind the new Civic's diminutive silver and black steering wheel, I heard the Star Wars theme welling-up inside my head. I know it's crazy: a vehicle known throughout the galaxy as the automotive equivalent of a pair of Birkenstock nurse's shoes suddenly inspiring thoughts of an Incom T-65 X-wing Starfighter. But there it is: an electroluminescent mass market motor clearly designed to appeal to the light saber set. In other words, the eighth gen Honda Civic sedan is the car of the future, straight from the past.

The post Honda Civic EX Review appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

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Where's the reset button? I probably shouldn't admit to auditory hallucinations, but every time I sat behind the new Civic's diminutive silver and black steering wheel, I heard the Star Wars theme welling-up inside my head. I know it's crazy: a vehicle known throughout the galaxy as the automotive equivalent of a pair of Birkenstock nurse's shoes suddenly inspiring thoughts of an Incom T-65 X-wing Starfighter. But there it is: an electroluminescent mass market motor clearly designed to appeal to the light saber set. In other words, the eighth gen Honda Civic sedan is the car of the future, straight from the past.

The post Honda Civic EX Review appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

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Lexus GS300 Review http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2005/11/lexus-gs300/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2005/11/lexus-gs300/#comments Sat, 05 Nov 2005 00:00:00 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=119 Imperious wafters need not apply.Generally speaking, I'm not partial to cars that remind me of death. But I respect Lexus for selling a model lineup that keeps faith with their "luxury car as mobile mausoleum" brand heritage. That said, the Japanese automaker's sensory deprivation shtick has taken a couple of major hits since the debut of the LS400, in the form of leathered-up, badge-engineered Toyotas. But the "new" GS300 is a far more worrying development: a bespoke model that turns its back on everything that made The Big L successful in the first place.

Visually, that's a good thing. The new GS300 represents a bold and beautiful break from Lexus' amorphous aesthetic. The four-door's front end seems a bit of an 8-Series crib, and the rear is as confused as an absinthe drinker, but the GS300's hunkered stance and nose-heavy proportions project a genuine sense of aggression. The rear pillars are especially wikkid, and the swageless sides add a statement of streamlined modernity. If ever a car promised to give the BMW 530i a decent run for the money-- and quite a lot of money it is too-- the GS300 is it.

The post Lexus GS300 Review appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

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Imperious wafters need not apply.Generally speaking, I'm not partial to cars that remind me of death. But I respect Lexus for selling a model lineup that keeps faith with their "luxury car as mobile mausoleum" brand heritage. That said, the Japanese automaker's sensory deprivation shtick has taken a couple of major hits since the debut of the LS400, in the form of leathered-up, badge-engineered Toyotas. But the "new" GS300 is a far more worrying development: a bespoke model that turns its back on everything that made The Big L successful in the first place.

Visually, that's a good thing. The new GS300 represents a bold and beautiful break from Lexus' amorphous aesthetic. The four-door's front end seems a bit of an 8-Series crib, and the rear is as confused as an absinthe drinker, but the GS300's hunkered stance and nose-heavy proportions project a genuine sense of aggression. The rear pillars are especially wikkid, and the swageless sides add a statement of streamlined modernity. If ever a car promised to give the BMW 530i a decent run for the money-- and quite a lot of money it is too-- the GS300 is it.

The post Lexus GS300 Review appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

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Hyundai Sonata LX Review http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2005/10/hyundai-sonata-lx/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2005/10/hyundai-sonata-lx/#comments Thu, 27 Oct 2005 00:00:00 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=937 A peach of a pastiche; perfect for its niche.You know what I love about the new Hyundai Sonata? Nothing. You know what I hate about it? Nothing. In other words, it's a hit. Out there in the real world-- away from the elitist, over-educated automotive palate of a professional car reviewer-- any vehicle that asks nothing whatsoever of its owner is guaranteed a place in the average American motorists' affections. If the automobile in question is cheap, reliable, comfortable and inoffensive, millions of people will buy it, love it and, eventually, buy another one. The new Hyundai Sonata is all that, and more. Not much more, but some…

Aesthetically, you've got to credit Hyundai for their tireless pursuit of total inoffensiveness. Rather than stick with any one of the company's four previous schnozzes, the Sonata's designers opted for yet another round of plastic surgery. This one's a winner; it's vaguely Japanese, completely unobjectionable and utterly forgettable. The Sonata's front end is proof positive that it's easier to copy a copy (i.e. the Honda Accord) than it is to knock-off an original. The same principle holds true for the rest of the Sonata's sheet metal; it's a riff on the Ford 500's riff on the Audi A6. For people who can't afford the real deal, or even recognize it when they see it, the Sonata is a perfectly judged pastiche.

The post Hyundai Sonata LX Review appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

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A peach of a pastiche; perfect for its niche.You know what I love about the new Hyundai Sonata? Nothing. You know what I hate about it? Nothing. In other words, it's a hit. Out there in the real world-- away from the elitist, over-educated automotive palate of a professional car reviewer-- any vehicle that asks nothing whatsoever of its owner is guaranteed a place in the average American motorists' affections. If the automobile in question is cheap, reliable, comfortable and inoffensive, millions of people will buy it, love it and, eventually, buy another one. The new Hyundai Sonata is all that, and more. Not much more, but some…

Aesthetically, you've got to credit Hyundai for their tireless pursuit of total inoffensiveness. Rather than stick with any one of the company's four previous schnozzes, the Sonata's designers opted for yet another round of plastic surgery. This one's a winner; it's vaguely Japanese, completely unobjectionable and utterly forgettable. The Sonata's front end is proof positive that it's easier to copy a copy (i.e. the Honda Accord) than it is to knock-off an original. The same principle holds true for the rest of the Sonata's sheet metal; it's a riff on the Ford 500's riff on the Audi A6. For people who can't afford the real deal, or even recognize it when they see it, the Sonata is a perfectly judged pastiche.

The post Hyundai Sonata LX Review appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

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Porsche 911 C4 Review http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2005/10/porsche-911-c4/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2005/10/porsche-911-c4/#comments Fri, 21 Oct 2005 00:00:00 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=705  Greed is good, but gluttony is better. Greed means you have an insatiable desire for more. Gluttony means you're busy catering to your insatiability. Although many observers still consider the Porsche 911 a Gordon Gecko greedmobile, it's actually a glutton. For curves. No matter what kind of corner you throw at it-- from a highway sweeper to a twisting country lane to a freshly laid race track-- the C4 wants, needs, must have more. Reverse camber, broken surface, bad weather-- it doesn't matter. As soon as it's exited one corner, the C4 is ready for the next. And the next. No question: the way this thing handles is a sin.

The C4 is the next-up next-gen 911: a wide-hipped iteration of the new Carrera's Coke-bottle-as-suppository design theme. As such, it's also a minimalist vision of the forthcoming be-winged and bi-gilled Turbo. Although the C4 offers Porsche-spotters a few cosmetic tweaks to the basic model's retro-modern mix, it is, at its core, another Armani-clad psycho-killer. Considering the C4's inherent potential for luring its pilot into legal entanglements, the stealth wealth aesthetic is probably a blessing in disguise.

The post Porsche 911 C4 Review appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

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 Greed is good, but gluttony is better. Greed means you have an insatiable desire for more. Gluttony means you're busy catering to your insatiability. Although many observers still consider the Porsche 911 a Gordon Gecko greedmobile, it's actually a glutton. For curves. No matter what kind of corner you throw at it-- from a highway sweeper to a twisting country lane to a freshly laid race track-- the C4 wants, needs, must have more. Reverse camber, broken surface, bad weather-- it doesn't matter. As soon as it's exited one corner, the C4 is ready for the next. And the next. No question: the way this thing handles is a sin.

The C4 is the next-up next-gen 911: a wide-hipped iteration of the new Carrera's Coke-bottle-as-suppository design theme. As such, it's also a minimalist vision of the forthcoming be-winged and bi-gilled Turbo. Although the C4 offers Porsche-spotters a few cosmetic tweaks to the basic model's retro-modern mix, it is, at its core, another Armani-clad psycho-killer. Considering the C4's inherent potential for luring its pilot into legal entanglements, the stealth wealth aesthetic is probably a blessing in disguise.

The post Porsche 911 C4 Review appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

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Audi A4 Avant 2.0T Quattro Review http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2005/09/audi-a4-avant-20t-quattro/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2005/09/audi-a4-avant-20t-quattro/#comments Fri, 16 Sep 2005 00:00:00 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=372 The A4 Avant (mit Euro-plate). Is it-- finally-- Audi's tipping point? You gotta love Audi. Despite its rivals' explosive growth, The Boys from Ingolstadt have resisted the lure of sudden intended niche acceleration. While questions about reliability and resale value have shadowed the brand's progress like a pack of predatory wolves, Audi keeps on plugging away with a limited line of luxury limos, waiting for their turn to fill US owners' heated garages. As always, the A4 is both the point man and the mainstay of Audi's long march. Does the latest evolution finally signal the beginning of the end of the beginning?

From a sheet metal standpoint, the A4 is perfectly positioned to enjoy a rare window of unopposed conservatism. BMW's once-staid products have been turning Japanese (I really think so), Mercedes has renounced their discreet design heritage, Jaguar has overexploited theirs, Cadillac continues to live on the edge and the Asian brands are stuck in Pasticheland (save Infiniti). Aside from its inappropriately voracious snout-- perfectly designed to make US license plates look ugly and stupid-- the A4 is the ideal choice for drivers who believe discretion is the better part of showing off. It's old money on wheels.

The post Audi A4 Avant 2.0T Quattro Review appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

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The A4 Avant (mit Euro-plate). Is it-- finally-- Audi's tipping point? You gotta love Audi. Despite its rivals' explosive growth, The Boys from Ingolstadt have resisted the lure of sudden intended niche acceleration. While questions about reliability and resale value have shadowed the brand's progress like a pack of predatory wolves, Audi keeps on plugging away with a limited line of luxury limos, waiting for their turn to fill US owners' heated garages. As always, the A4 is both the point man and the mainstay of Audi's long march. Does the latest evolution finally signal the beginning of the end of the beginning?

From a sheet metal standpoint, the A4 is perfectly positioned to enjoy a rare window of unopposed conservatism. BMW's once-staid products have been turning Japanese (I really think so), Mercedes has renounced their discreet design heritage, Jaguar has overexploited theirs, Cadillac continues to live on the edge and the Asian brands are stuck in Pasticheland (save Infiniti). Aside from its inappropriately voracious snout-- perfectly designed to make US license plates look ugly and stupid-- the A4 is the ideal choice for drivers who believe discretion is the better part of showing off. It's old money on wheels.

The post Audi A4 Avant 2.0T Quattro Review appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

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