Category: Car Reviews

By on August 31, 2016

2015 Honda Odyssey EX front

Update: Added statement from Honda Canada 

Surely part of the reasoning behind a minivan buyer’s decision to end up with a Honda Odyssey or Toyota Sienna relates to reliability reputations. For most buyers in most trade-in situations, a similarly equipped Dodge Grand Caravan will cost a lot less. But the belief that the Odyssey or Sienna will be more reliable over a longer period of time supports the idea of spending more on the Honda or Toyota.

In our relatively short-term leasing case, reliability wasn’t a top concern, and we weren’t spending extra to acquire reliability anyway. (Because of trade-in issues, local Chrysler dealers wouldn’t play ball, not that we were desperate for them to do so.) And truthfully, there are other reasons a minivan buyer may choose an Odyssey or Sienna over a Grand Caravan: an eighth seat, greater space, more comfortable seats, exterior styling, unique feature content, or any number of things.

For our long-termer, we wanted a minivan that drove more like an Accord than a minivan. There was one option. 14 months later, our 2015 Honda Odyssey EX has spent three unscheduled days at the dealer and has by no means been a picture of reliability.

Stranded on the side of the road? No, not yet. But the front struts failed at 11,000 miles. Read More >

By on August 31, 2016

2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata Automatic, Image: © 2016 Mike Allen

Please welcome TTAC reader Mike Allen. He recently took delivery of an automatic-transmission MX-5 and drove it through California in search of enlightenment!

The fourth-generation Miata is no stranger to these pages, having been reviewed by Tim Cain and Alex Dykes in the past year. But these reviews, like most of those you’ll find out there on the Internet, are based on short drives of manual-transmission models.

For many auto enthusiasts, the idea of buying a Miata with an automatic transmission verges on a Pelagian level of heresy. Yet for those of us who are condemned to the purgatory of Los Angeles traffic, even the most damnable heresy eventually becomes palatable. That’s why my loaded-up, Grand-Touring-spec MX-5 has just two pedals.

As you’ll see below, that doesn’t mean it’s not worthy of your consideration. Shortly after taking delivery last month, I took it on a 900-mile trip to the heart of inland California and found that out for myself.

Read More >

By on August 30, 2016

2016 Chevrolet Spark LS

I could live with this car … under a couple of conditions.

Air conditioning is a must have, and I may have told you about the need for an aftermarket shifter solution.

But GM Canada’s $9,995 2016 Chevrolet Spark LS, which lacks A/C and a tolerable shifter, is nevertheless an acceptable place to spend time. Though it drives with far less verve than the not-sold-in-Freedomland $9,988 2016 Nissan Micra S, the Spark is the more comfortable and refined option.

Up the price with an array of options and the argument for North America’s second Chevrolet Spark falls apart. As a $10,000 car, however, there’s a case to be made. Read More >

By on August 29, 2016

2017 Nissan Pathfinder blue front quarter

Car shoppers who need to carry more than four people should buy vans. Full stop. The minivan form factor is superior in nearly every manner to the SUV; from passenger comfort, to cargo room, to flexibility, the van wins. Yet American shoppers have largely abandoned the symbol of Eighties momness for the three-row crossover, this decade’s mom taxi.

While Nissan has offered minivans in various forms since the mid-80s, it’s a relative newcomer to the three-row CUV market with the 2013 Pathfinder. For 2017, Nissan has refreshed the Pathfinder — inside, outside, and underneath — all in an effort to make this big wagon appeal to all manner of drivers.

Including those who should be buying vans.

Read More >

By on August 26, 2016

2016 BMW M3 Competition Package, Image: © 2016 Danger Girl/The Truth About Cars

Welcome to the $82,470 “small” BMW.

I suppose it’s not that outrageous; correct the $34,810 MSRP of the original 1988 M3 to modern Bernankified pesos, and it’s just over seventy grand for a car that had less than half the power of this 2016 M3 Competition/Executive Package and absolutely none of the luxury accoutrements.

But here’s the crazy part: for Brayden, the car’s owner, this is the cheaper of the two 2016 M3s that he just bought.
Read More >

By on August 24, 2016

2017 Mitsubishi Mirage G4

I’m sitting on the pit lane of my local track — Atlantic Motorsports Park in Shubenacadie, Nova Scotia — surveying the empty course. My helmet is on the seat beside me, my hands are gripping the leather-wrapped wheel, and I can hear the low growl of three-cylinders idling as they wait for me.

But before I get to that, a bit about what I’m driving.

This is the Mitsubishi Mirage G4. It’s what happens when the oft-cheapest new hatchback in Canada (depending on who is offering what cash on the hood that month) grows a trunk. Under the hood: a 1.2-liter three-cylinder engine that has 78 horses in there somewhere. Connected to that is a continuously variable transmission, the only transmission available on this SEL trim tester.

I do a quick check of the course to make sure it’s still empty. My foot hits the floor.

Read More >

By on August 22, 2016


It’s hard to believe that it’s been a year and a half since I said “I do” to Ford Credit and the 2015 Ford Fiesta ST. In that time, we’ve gone autocrossing, battled tractor trailers, bought a whole lot of groceries, and even got rid of the FiST’s big brother.

However, it’s been a little while since I’ve given you an update on TTAC’s first Fiesta, and as I made my eighteenth electronic payment on it this week, now seems as good a time as any to let you know how the little four-door is doing.

Spoiler alert: it’s still the best car I’ve ever owned.

Read More >

By on August 18, 2016

2017 Genesis G90, Image: © 2016 Steph Willems/The Truth About Cars

A paranoid person, or maybe just a very cynical one, might have suspected the man of being a covert OEM plant.

“Is that a Bentley?” asked a well-to-do looking gentleman outside our Kelowna, British Columbia hotel, where a line of Genesis G90s rested after our drive up from Vancouver. Had they been within earshot, the automaker’s PR reps might have broken out into guarded, nervous smiles. Read More >

By on August 17, 2016

2017 Ford Explorer Limited, Image: © 2016 Jack Baruth/The Truth About Cars

I’ve long since given up on the idea that it’s possible to have a truly unbiased review of an automobile — or anything else, for that matter. Nevertheless, we should not let the perfect be the enemy of the good. In the service of that, I’m going to say up front that I completely despise this generation of Explorer. I didn’t like it when I reviewed an early model five and a half years ago, and I like it even less now that alternatives like the refreshed Grand Cherokee exist.

The worst thing about the Explorer is that it’s fundamentally a crappy version of the Ford Flex. The Flex is a thinking person’s station wagon. The Explorer is an idiot’s SUV. Perhaps a kinder, and more accurate, way to put it is this: the Explorer is a Flex remixed to appeal to women. I’ve yet to meet a woman who likes the Flex. In order to stop this from being a 1,200-word combo-diss-fest-and-Flex-hagiography, I’ve hired the infamous Danger Girl to offer some balance in my review of this brand-spanking-new-with-24-miles, $44,065, front-wheel-drive SUV.

Let’s do this.

Read More >

By on August 12, 2016

2017 Lincoln MKZ Reserve Hybrid

With your left hand’s thumb, scroll through the steering wheel-mounted controls and select Settings. Move up to Driver Assist. Proceed to Drive Control. Then select Comfort.

Now your 2017 Lincoln MKZ Reserve Hybrid is a good ol’ fashioned barge of an American car, with enough rear end float to make pregnant women seasick. Firm? Far from it. That dip in the pavement half a mile ago is still causing the rear occupants’ bellies to teeter-totter as the MKZ attempts to locate its equilibrium.

Pair this menu selection with a prod of the Eco button to the right of the central touchscreen and you now have a modern Lincoln that mostly ignores throttle input, steers with remarkable lightness, and turns potholes into pillows. That sounds like the perfect Lincoln for a customer base that has all but gone extinct.

Fortunately, the refreshed MKZ Hybrid does not need to be driven in Comfort/Eco mode. In fact, the 2017 MKZ is at its best when, as is often the case, Lincoln allows the MKZ to manifest its deep-seated Ford Fusion roots.

So why not buy a Ford Fusion instead? Read More >

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