Category: Car Reviews

By on May 13, 2016

2016 Volkswagen Beetle Dune Low Angle Front 3/4, Image: © 2016 Kamil Kaluski/The Truth About Cars

When a concept car is introduced at a major auto show, it provides a glimpse into the future of an automaker’s next model. Some concepts are really cool. Some are not. Most never make it into production. A few do. The Baja Bug-inspired VW New Beetle Dune Concept was unveiled at the 2000 Los Angeles Auto Show. It was an off-road-ready New Beetle powered by a 2.3-liter VR5 that sent its power to all four wheels via a six-speed manual transmission.

More than a decade later, a similar, but water-downed, Beetle Dune Concept was shown at the 2014 North American International Auto Show. That car was raised two inches, had a 210 horsepower engine, a cool ski rack, but was front wheel drive. That concept car finally made it into production this year with relatively minor changes — but should it have?

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By on May 12, 2016

2016 Honda HR-V Exterior Front 3/4, Image: © 2016 Alex Dykes/The Truth About Cars

It’s no secret that Honda strives to offer a “Goldilocks-just-right” option in just about every segment  — not too big, not too small; not too cheap, not too expensive; not too flashy, not too bland, and with a dollop of practicality on top. This formula has led to a lineup of sales successes with few exceptions. Oddly enough, Honda’s new-to-America HR-V is one of those exceptions.

Based on numbers from GoodCarBadCar, the Jeep Renegade is outselling the HR-V at a clip of 1.4:1 so far this year. Even Buick shifted more Encores — just — than Honda sold HR-Vs.

What gives? Have subcompact CUV shoppers forsaken Honda? Is the Renegade that good? Or is there some other explanation?

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By on May 6, 2016

2015 Ford Fiesta SFE Front 3/4, Image: © 2016 Mark Stevenson/The Truth About Cars

Earlier this year, I was planning on showcasing on TTAC my 2008 Saturn Astra as a testbed of Millennial ingenuity.

Us Millennials want the latest technology in our rides, but we don’t necessarily have the funds to buy brand-new cars. We’re a debt-laden demographic, thanks to a combination of rising education and living costs, but we want all that fancy connectivity. I figured I could probably get away with adding all the technology I wanted to a car that’s eight years old, thus saving on the outlay demanded by a new vehicle purchase and the corresponding increase in my insurance premium.

Then the Fiesta happened.

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By on May 6, 2016

2016 Nissan Murano Front Three-Quarter, Image: © 2016 Seth Parks/The Truth About Cars

Upon its introduction in 2003, the Murano possessed a unique combination of traits that, in retrospect, make its La Jolla, California design studio and Design Chief Taiji Toyota look genius.

The Murano was built on the Altima platform, making it relatively inexpensive to build. It had a segment-first four-wheel independent suspension, imparting a genuine car-like driving experience. It featured generous proportions, yet eschewed three-rows in favor of spacious seating for five. Combined with its catchy anti-establishment styling, snappy 245-horsepower V6, and total lack of off-road pretension, it was the 21st century spiritual successor to the personal luxury car.

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By on May 5, 2016

15 - 1982 Buick LeSabre Diesel in California junkyard - photo by Murilee Martin

With European regulators taking a closer look at the continent’s wonder fuel — diesel, that is — in the wake of Volkswagen’s emissions scandal, oil burners could hasten their disappearance from European Union streets.

That would be great for police officers in the UK, who seem increasingly confused about what kind of fuel goes in their patrol car’s tank. Read More >

By on May 5, 2016

2016 Lincoln MKX EcoBoost Exterior, Image: © 2016 Alex Dykes/The Truth About Cars

The Lexus RX isn’t a sales success; it’s a sales phenomenon. It’s a magical cash generating unicorn that can seemingly do no wrong. The RX outsells every other luxury vehicle in America. Despite sales being down 6.5 percent in 2015, the RX crossover nearly outsold the entire Lincoln brand. When the numbers were tallied, Lincoln brand as a whole beat the single Lexus model by just 617 units.

Why do I bring up the Lexus RX so early in a review ostensibly about a Lincoln crossover? Two reasons. We might as well talk about the elephant in the room and I genuinely don’t understand why the RX outsells the MKX by nearly 5:1. As I discovered during a week with the latest incarnation of Lincoln’s MKX, the Lincoln is quite simply a better Lexus than the RX.

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By on May 4, 2016

2016 Ford Taurus Limited

Well, Ford, I’ve gotta hand it to you. You did it, something that TTAC readers probably thought unlikely, improbable, maybe even downright impossible. I’m about to type some words that most of you never expected me to say.

I found a Ford that I don’t like. Its name? Taurus Limited. And we had a wretched week together.

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By on May 2, 2016

2015 Volkswagen GTI, Image: © 2016 Steve Lynch/The Truth About Cars

The automotive media slobbered over the redesigned 2015 Volkswagen GTI sporty hatchback ever since its introduction two years ago. I put 13,500 miles on mine over the past year and I agree that it is one of the great all-around fun cars available today.

I just went through the process of selling it, and that is when the real fun began.  Read More >

By on May 2, 2016

McLaren 570S

In the middle of a desert, a fleet of gorgeous supercars sat patiently, awaiting the next slightly hungover bachelor party, or group of corporate khaki-wearers. Yet, I could feel the unmistakable sense of power as I arrived at Exotics Racing in Las Vegas. These beasts waited to be unchained by a capable driver.

Exotics Racing is the brainchild of stunt driver and former Euro NASCAR champion Romain Thievin.

“I started with almost nothing,” says Thievin. “And now, I own over 50 exotic cars.”

With locations outside of Las Vegas and Los Angeles, Exotics Racing is the perfect place for pleated Dockers-wearing cubicle dwellers to have team-building events. Thievin’s fleet includes everything from Lamborghini Huracans to Audi R8s to Porsche 991 GT3s. But when I called Exotics Racing to let them know I was in town, Thievin and his team insisted that I drive the latest addition to their impressive fleet.

Behold, the McLaren 570S.

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By on April 29, 2016

Opel Astra 1.4 Turbo Front 3/4, Image: © 2016 Viola Procházková/The Truth About Cars

When the previous generation of Astra made it to American shores — dressed in leather, wood and Buick Verano badges — it wasn’t a foreign invasion. Instead, the Astra-cum-Verano was a good soldier coming home; the Astra J always felt like a Buick.

The brand-new Astra, now wearing the K designator, is lighter, more agile and stuffed with lots of new-fangled tech. Europeans love it, as shown by its European Car of the Year award. But will Americans love the next Verano, which is bound to be based on this European compact?

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