Category: Car Reviews

By on November 24, 2014

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About five years ago, I made a career decision that I wish I had made much earlier: I decided to get into the Learning and Development field. Unfortunately for about twenty or so people, I had spent the previous fifteen years managing sales people, and I fired a lot of them.

As a result, I also spent a great deal of time interviewing people. One of the things that every HR person will tell you about interviewing is that you’re supposed to look for what they call “contrary evidence.” As an interviewer, you’re going to form an opinion about a candidate pretty quickly—it’s human nature. So you’re supposed to ask questions that could lead to evidence that is contrary to your original impression. If you naturally like a candidate, you should ask questions that could reveal negative things about him, and vice versa.

Thus, when I selected a 2015 Solar Yellow Kia Soul Plus for my one-day trip to the ATL last week, I looked for things to dislike about it.

Spoiler alert: I didn’t find any.
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By on November 17, 2014

Mercedes Benz GLA 45 AMG side

Per Mercedes-Benz’s own naming strategy, anything with a G is considered an SUV, even if the GLA45 AMG is classified as a car. That would make this GLA45 AMG a hatchback – a hot-hatch if you will. Since no one in United States buys hatchbacks, it’s being called an SUV anyways. I went along with this until I pulled up next to a cross-over SUV called Range Rover at a light and noticed that its door handle was above this cute-ute’s roofline. Truth is that it doesn’t matter what you call it because it’s a blast!

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By on November 13, 2014

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What was supposed to be a milestone in my life – taking delivery of my first new car - ended up being thrown off by a slight mishap during PDI. And one that raises questions about Mazda’s Mexican operations.

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By on November 12, 2014

2015 Mercedes-Benz C400 frontWe use a lot of terminology in our quest to classify automobiles which actively pursue thicker portions of your pocketbook.

No matter how many E-Class Benzes ply their trade as German taxicabs, we still allow the S-Class’s high-class image to rub off on the CLA in order to call the entry-level Mercedes sedan an “entry-luxury” car. A 3-Series without leather, lacking a six-cylinder, can still be called a luxury sports sedan. Lexus’s CT200h uses a Prius powertrain, but hey, it’s a Lexus, so it must be “premium” right?

Upscale. High-end. Executive. Premium. Luxury. The words, commandeered by the manufacturers themselves, have lost so much of their meaning because we have lost our ability to place any faith in words which too often turn out to be nothing more than marketing catch-phrases.

But words don’t matter. Forget the words. Ignore the words. Discard the words. Do whatever you have to render the traditional classifying terms null and void.

Doing so will help you accept the truthful message that the new W205 2015 Mercedes-Benz C-Class, tested here in C400 4Matic form, is an honest-to-goodness, legitimate luxury car. Not because it wears a three-pointed star on its key fob, steering wheel, trunk lid, grille, and bonnet, but because it positions you in “the state of great comfort and extravagant living.” Read More >

By on November 11, 2014

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First it was Jack. Then my Grandma. Now it’s my turn to buy a new car.

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By on November 10, 2014

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At a base price of $30,900, the BMW X1 is the cheapest new vehicle you can buy with a Roundel. That price tag, as well as the crossover body style and a lack of a manual transmission, hasn’t endeared the X1 to the BMW faithful, or the enthusiast crowd.

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By on November 4, 2014

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In 1992, the Toyota Camry was perhaps the most respected sedan in the midsize segment. Not all consumers could afford one, but most would have preferred one. The 1997 model represented Toyota’s changed focus. Rather than adding features and content, they started adding profitability “affordability”. Steve Lang and Ed Niedermeyer discussed this in detail, but here’s the short version: With every successive redesign, Toyota promised that its cost-controls would be transparent to consumers. With every successive redesign, consumers noticed a few more cut corners but kept buying.  Sales first grew organically but then became increasingly dependent on incentives.

This takes us to 2015. The Camry is America’s best-selling passenger car 12 years running and sold 408,000 units in 2013. The lead is tenuous though as competitors are gaining marketshare through fashionable sheetmetal, tech-laden interiors and superior dynamics.

Sounds like it’s time for a midcycle refresh then.

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By on November 2, 2014

2015 Porsche Macan SThe Porsche Macan’s diving roofline severely cramps cargo capacity. The centre hump in the rearward portion of the cabin is almost as high as the seat cushion, which could force the Macan into becoming a four-seater depending on the number of legs possessed by its passengers.

The driver’s view out the back is far from expansive, and the driver must also deal with some odd layouts for cruise control, rear wipers, and centre-console mounted switches which are sometimes blocked by the shifter.

The Macan is a pricey piece of kit, with options required on a (USD) $50,895 Macan S to turn it into a car with parking sensors, a backup camera, heated rear seats, and navigation. Our tester costs $58,145 (U.S. market pricing including destination) and it still doesn’t have cooled seats, auto-dimming mirrors, keyless go, blind spot monitoring, sunshades, a proper hi-lux audio system, or any of Porsche’s performance options.

Moreover, even with optional 19-inch wheels, which are free of charge in the U.S. but cost $1440 in Canada, the Macan S still looks like it’s wearing base footwear.

Life’s rough. Read More >

By on November 1, 2014

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Volvo might have been one of the beneficiaries of the headlong rush towards European non-luxury in the Seventies but it, like Porsche, was permanently crippled by the American public’s confusion of “unhurried model cycle” with “should only make one specific car, forever”. For the boys from Stuttgart, it was the Yankee preference for the 911 that warped the next thirty years of their product plan into 911-looking things that were not at all like the 911, even if they said “911” on the rump.

Volvo made a different choice when they decided that the twenty-seven years between the 1966 debut of the 144 and the final 1993-model-year 240 were enough and that it was proper to make a clean break between those boxy RWD sedans and the boxy FWD sedans that followed. In so doing, they both doomed the company to permanent irrelevance and inadvertently created a cult.

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By on November 1, 2014

2014 Audi SQ5The number of double-takes was odd, I thought. In the summer, with the top down in a red Camaro ZL1, rubberneckers are a dime a dozen. But the SQ5 is a subtly enhanced version of the Audi Q5, a small crossover that’s been around for more than five years; the best-selling model at one of America’s/Canada’s fastest-growing luxury brands. Sure, this one has optional 21-inch alloy wheels, valued at $800, but are big wheels enough to cause the majority of passersby to turn for another look?

Ah yes, the noise, that’s what did it. Audi’s supercharged 3.0L V6 does have the tendency to bark melodically, particularly when Audi Drive Select is used to switch engine noise (along with engine/transmission and steering) to Dynamic mode, up a notch from Comfort and Auto. Added to that was the 14-speaker Bang & Olufsen sound system, which was used extensively at wake-the-neighbours volume. How civilized. Read More >

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