Category: Car Reviews

By on December 2, 2016

2016 McLaren 570S Front 3/4 in front of McLaren Engineering, Image: © 2016 Ronnie Schreiber/The Truth About Cars

After I spent some time with the McLaren 570s, the British supercar company’s entry-level model for North America, I asked Jack Baruth if he thought the 675LT was worth $200,000 dollars more than the 570S.

I’d driven the 675LT around Los Angeles back in January and Jack’s driven both cars as well. The 570S’ performance impressed me, but I wanted the opinion of someone with more experience driving six-figure sports cars than I do.

Jack’s reply was simple: “Yes, it is.”

I don’t have the income to afford either car, but I realized two things upon consideration. The first was Jack was correct: if I had $400,000 to spend on a car, I’d probably go with the 675LT. Though edging into diminishing returns, the differences are noticeable to even a ham-fisted driver such as myself.

The second realization: at around $200,000, the 570S is a bargain. Read More >

By on November 30, 2016

2017 Mazda 3 5-Door - Image: © Timothy Cain/The Truth About Cars

American consumers acquire more than 200,000 new compact cars every month. Only 4 percent of those cars are Mazda 3s.

Compact car buyers are far more likely to drive away from a new car dealer in a Corolla, Civic, Sentra, Elantra, or Cruze; more likely to choose a Focus, Jetta, or Forte, too.

While U.S. sales of compact cars are down 4 percent this year, Mazda 3 volume is down 11 percent.

I’ve spent a lot of time in the more popular compacts. The 2017 Mazda 3 is better than those cars. And this particular 2017 Mazda 3, a hatchback in top Grand Touring trim with the 2.5-liter engine upgrade and — oh my goodness, a manual transmission — is better than other Mazda 3s.

But you remain unconvinced. Read More >

By on November 28, 2016

2017 Ford Escape Titanium EcoBoost - Image: © Timothy Cain/The Truth About Cars

Hop out of your 1992 Toyota Camry Wagon in the Costco parking lot and tell me what you see. Plenty of Accords and Altimas and Camrys, I’m assuming. Large numbers of F-150s and Silverados and Rams, maybe even the odd Tacoma here and there. Some minivans and big SUVs.

And legions of small crossovers.

Many of those small crossovers — call them SUVs if you want, it matters not — are downright affordable. Some are powerful. Few are both.

Fewer still are affordable, powerful, and a real joy to drive. The 2017 Ford Escape EcoBoost 2.0 is affordable and powerful. It’s also the best small, affordable, and powerful crossover to drive. Read More >

By on November 28, 2016

2017 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport

A friend once asked me — jokingly, mind you — what vehicle would be the ride least likely to arouse suspicion from the police. The anti-heat score, if you will. As a proud (multiple) past owner, I knew the correct answer — a grey, ubiquitous, anonymous five- to 10-year-old General Motors sedan. At least, I thought I did.

Well, I take it all back.

Only while driving a Hyundai Santa Fe Sport does one realize that everyone else drives a Hyundai Santa Fe Sport. Everyone. In fact, you’re probably reading this in a Hyundai Santa Fe Sport. Allegedly, Hyundai sells the popular crossover in splashy colors like red, but a shade reminiscent of the slate-grey November sky that murdered the Edmund Fitzgerald’s crew seems to be the go-to choice  for most buyers. Would-be bank robbers, scofflaws and undercover cops, take note.

If you’re one of the few who hasn’t yet signed on the dotted line for the Big Blue H’s lower-midsize crossover — newly refreshed for 2017, in case you weren’t aware — I drove one so you won’t have to.

Now, why does my mind keep returning to the ocean? Read More >

By on November 25, 2016

2017 Subaru BRZ Front 3/4, Image: © 2016 Jeff WIlson

Back in May of this year, TTAC reported the list of changes coming for the 2017 Subaru BRZ and asked if what amounted to a rather modest workover would get consumers excited enough to reverse the sports coupe’s declining sales trend.

Having spent a week acting barely responsible in Subaru’s only two-wheel-drive offering, my belief is no, the BRZ will not buck the trend. After commuting in it, doing school pick up duty and grocery runs — all in a most irresponsible way, revving the little four-cylinder boxer engine to redline again and again — I expect there will be a blip on the sales radar this year. Sadly, I also expect the BRZ (and its Toyota 86 twin) to slowly slip into automotive obscurity.

This terribly depressing thought has mostly to do with declining overall consumer interest in fun, driver-oriented cars, and it does nothing to celebrate what a wildly fun machine this is.

Read More >

By on November 21, 2016

2004 toyota camry le v6 pei farm - Image: © Timothy Cain/The Truth About Cars

Having endured 12 hard Canadian winters on an island covered in red dirt, this 2004 Toyota Camry is about to enter its thirteenth; its tenth since my father-in-law took ownership.

That red dirt is truly key to the story, because its color comes from Prince Edward Island’s high iron oxide content. Yes, that iron oxide. Rust.

But the Camry, undercoated three times since 2007, is an almost rust-free wonder with nearly 340,000 miles under its belt. Read More >

By on November 20, 2016

2017 Chevrolet Camaro 1LE pulled over by police

It’s fall in the Mojave Desert. Morning greets us with a cool and blinding brightness at Spring Mountain Motorsports Ranch in Pahrump, Nevada. Several of us mill about like the speed freaks we are, anxiously awaiting our next fix, sipping coffee, smoking cigarettes, pacing in anticipation.

And then it happens: someone hits the little rectangular start button on the SS 1LE to my left. Synapses fire up in unison with the 6.2-liter LT1 V8, brain buzzing to the rhythmic burble pouring from the quad tips of the Camaro’s Active Exhaust, one swift kick of the right foot away from liberating bliss.

Read More >

By on November 10, 2016

2017 Audi A4 Allroad Glacier White lobster trapsThe Land Of The Free America may be, but the American car buyer’s right to buy wagons is increasingly encroached upon by government overreach. Or perhaps it’s just automakers’ collective desire to sell you a high-margin crossover.

Affordable wagons? There are a few left: the Volkswagen Golf SportWagen, the Toyota Prius V, the Mini Clubman (if the definition is stretched). Premium wagons persist at Volvo. The BMW 3 Series Sports Wagon continues. (For now.) Mercedes-Benz does an E-Class Wagon.

But if wagons that were available in the relatively recent past — TSX, A6, CTS, 5 Series, Magnum, Focus, Taurus, Elantra, C-Class, Lancer, 9-3, Legacy, Passat — were to return to the United States, they would likely have to do so in elevated fashion.

Just look here. This is an Audi A4 Avant, a successor to the car that finished its course in 2012. Add up to 4.5 inches of matte black cladding, raise the ride height by nine-tenths of an inch for 6.5 inches of ground clearance, and you have a 2017 Audi A4 Allroad. The Avant that’s available. Read More >

By on November 8, 2016

2017 Honda Civic Hatchback white rear through trees, Image: © 2016 Mark Stevenson/The Truth About Cars

As I drive the new 2017 Honda Civic Hatchback through the yellow leaves of Ontario’s autumn, a very tired metaphor comes to mind. You probably know the one. It includes a guy with the initials R.F. — and no, not the one who founded this particular corner of the internet.

I’m going to refuse this inspiration. Leveraging The Road Not Taken in automotive journalism is as banal as quoting Dom Toretto.

Instead, let’s talk about something else entirely: The ’70s.

Read More >

By on November 7, 2016

2016 Lexus RC-F Front quarter

In fairness, I was going too quickly even for the interstate. Even then, I’m pretty certain I saw a third numeral flicker on the dash display as I apexed the off-ramp onto the unfamiliar rural divided four-lane.

Then I saw a black and gold Dodge Charger sitting in the median.

I immediately asked myself if I can legitimately write off a speeding ticket as a business expense.

Fortunately, the deputy sheriff was either napping or texting, as the bellowing orange 2016 Lexus RC F was distinctly conspicuous as I slowed to socially acceptable speeds. I unclenched, took a breath, and continued in search of more enjoyable roads.

Read More >

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