Category: Car Reviews

By on April 5, 2016

2016 GMC Yukon, Image: © 2016 Bark M./The Truth About Cars

“My advice for aspiring writers is go to New York. And if you can’t go to New York, go to the place that represents New York to you, where the standards for writing are high, there are other people who share your dreams, and where you can talk, talk, talk about your interests.”

— Walter Kirn 

I quote Mr. Kirn to begin this review not only because his novel, Up In The Air, may as well be an unauthorized Bark M. biography, but because he’s right. Writers need to go to New York. More specifically, autowriters need to go to the New York International Auto Show. Detroit is the biggest. Geneva gets all the supercars. But to see and be seen? To network with fellow writers? To get your finger on the pulse of what’s shaking in the car biz?

There’s only one show that matters, and that’s New York.

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By on April 4, 2016

2016 Audi A3 Sportback E-tron Exterior Front 3/4, Image: © 2016 Alex L. Dykes/The Truth About Cars

Emissions legislation politics is a hairy subject at the company holiday party. But there are some unexpected benefits regardless of your take on California’s ZEV mandate or the EPA’s CAFE standards.

Without this legislation we may never have seen Audi’s smallest station wagon return to America. Yep, Audi’s first plug-in hybrid comes in the form of a small hatchback-cum-station-wagon. That means if you want an Audi plug-in, a compact wagon is in your future. If you want a compact wagon, you aren’t going to get one without a plug.

Fortunately, the Audi in question is the tasty new A3 Sportback E-tron.

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By on March 30, 2016

2016 Ford Mustang and Boeing 747, Image: © 2016 Seth Parks/The Truth About Cars

The automotive press expends much effort (present company included) telling OEMs what they should and should not do. Automakers may not always take action, much less seem to care, but they value your opinion. Otherwise they wouldn’t have given me a car for a week in hopes of influencing your next buying decision.

I’m thankful they did. The 2016 Ford Mustang contains a long list of items the fourth estate has been asking for: contemporary design, competitive interior, independent rear-suspension, and a roaring V8. And this from a nameplate that’s been near death multiple times, almost been forced to go front-wheel drive, and was inches away from shedding cylinders in favor of forced induction.

Thankfully, none of those doomsday scenarios came to pass. This is now the pony journalists have been asking for in Mustang reviews from the last decade.

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By on March 30, 2016

2016 BMW 340i Exterior Front 3/4, Image: © 2016 Alex L. Dykes/The Truth About Cars

The BMW 3 Series has been the benchmark to which all manner of vehicles are measured. The comparisons go beyond the likes of the Audi A4, Mercedes-Benz C-Class and Volvo S60, and include BMW M3 vs Chevy Camaro and BMW 328d vs Toyota Prius. It seems that every car company in America makes at least one “3-Series fighter.” But there’s a problem with your largest volume product being put on this kind of pedestal: die-hard fans hate change.

Enthusiasts claim that BMW ruined the 3 Series when they redesigned it in 2012. The “F30″ sedan got bigger, fatter, softer, and more gadget-filled than ever before. BMW fanbois cried in their gemüsesuppe, Road & Track called it an “also ran” and … BMW laughed all the way to the bank.

For 2016 the 3-Series gets a facelift, new engines and a redesigned suspension. What isn’t changed, however, is BMW’s new direction. And that’s a good thing in my book.

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By on March 29, 2016

Jack Baruth sits inside the six-speed Toyota Matrix, Image: © 2016 Jack Baruth/The Truth About Cars

It was the winter of my friend’s discontent. The unsupported bearing shaft in his five-speed Toyota Matrix had failed. It was a common problem, since the five-speed was a deliberate customer punishment with unintended consequences on Toyota’s part. The only difference between the five-speed and six-speed transmissions in those cars was the presence or absence of the actual sixth cog. If you got a five-speed Matrix, you got the shaft (instead of the cog). What was Chris to do?

He asked me (and all of you) that question back in November, receiving about a hundred different responses. What he chose to do in the end was to replace the failed five-speed with a junkyard six-speed from a Matrix XRS. Then he drove it to central Ohio so I could check it out.

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By on March 28, 2016

2016 Infiniti Q70L 3.7 AWD, image: © 2016 Jeff Voth/The Truth About Cars

It’s been somewhat challenging in the recent past to keep up with all the model name changes at Infiniti, but such is the case in the automotive luxury marketplace. One year real names are the ultimate fashion statement; the next it’s letters and numbers.

Infiniti seems to have taken this into consideration with naming its 2016 Infiniti Q70L 3.7 AWD.

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By on March 22, 2016

Bark and Danger Girl's Ford Fiesta STs, Image: © 2016 Bark M./The Truth About Cars

It’s hard to believe it, but I’m over halfway done with my Fiesta ST. It’s been 13 months since little Zippy made My Old Kentucky Home his semi-permanent residence, displacing the Boss (RIP) in the process. And while my attention has turned somewhat to Zippy’s ultimate replacement, I still smile every time that I press the Start button in the FiST.

My son, whom you may remember for his tearful goodbye to the 302, now hoots and hollers from his booster seat with every press of the accelerator, the yellow beast expunged from his memory. My daughter, ever mindful of the fact that we only get to keep Zippy for another 11 months, has requested that we get another one just like it at the end of the lease.

So imagine their excitement when another Performance Blue Fiesta ST rolled into our driveway over the weekend.

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By on March 22, 2016

2015 Honda Fit EX 6MT Front 3/4, Image: Ronnie Schreiber/The Truth About Cars

My first thought was that a constant velocity joint on the left axle exploded again. However, Mike the mechanic (not to be confused with Mike and the Mechanics) told me there was “a hole in the transmission” in the ’02 Saturn that’s been my daily driver the past few years. I spent a few days asking myself whether it made any sense putting $1,000 into a 15 year old car that’s gone on pretty much unchanged since it was first designed in the early ’90s. My second thought: What’s the next thing that’s going to break?

I started looking around for a small, inexpensive, new car, with a focus on subcompacts. I also asked my colleagues who review a lot more cars than I do for their recommendations and settled on two finalists, the Ford Fiesta and Honda Fit. Read More >

By on March 21, 2016

2016-Chevrolet-Camaro-1LT

Sometimes, in the wasteland that is the rental car lot of the Detroit Metropolitan Airport, fate can smile upon you. Most of the time, however, it doesn’t. When I hopped off of the bus this past Monday, I was confronted by rows and rows of Altimas and Passats, each of them just as base and boring as the next.

I had just resigned myself to a week of paying the automotive price for whatever sins I had recently committed when I noticed a glistening, dripping wet 2016 Camaro being driven slowly into the Emerald Aisle by a lot attendant, practicing his best pimp lean and blasting XM Radio Hip-Hop from the pony car. I didn’t even wait for him to fully exit the car before positioning myself behind the rear bumper, ready to place my bags in the trunk. As I situated myself behind the wheel, I noticed that the Camaro had a whopping five miles on the clock. It looked like I’d be the one responsible for a gentle break-in period.

Child, please.

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By on March 18, 2016

2016 Jeep Wrangler, Yokohama Geolandar G015 Launch, Moab, Utah, Image: Lerry Liu/Yokohama

It can take you a long time to start truly missing someone. Three years ago, I was dating a lovely federal attorney who had ordered herself a six-speed Wrangler Unlimited Sahara as a sort of step-stool to get her to the more adventurous life she thought we’d end up living together. In March of 2013, after taking delivery of her Jeep, she left it in my custody, got on a plane, and joined one of her oldest friends on a sight-seeing trip to Utah. She’d asked me to go but I’d refused; I had a date with someone else planned for the same week and at the time I took a sort of cruel joy in crushing every dream she had about our future. “I’m busy. Go to Moab,” I told her, “and see the Delicate Arch.”

“Too far north,” she replied. “Anyway, I want to save it for a trip with you.” We never took that trip. The last time I saw her was when she came to visit me in the hospital eight months later, the day after my January 2014 crash. I was incandescent with pain and incoherent from painkillers. She did something to upset me. I told her to leave the room and never come back. In the years between now and then, I didn’t think about her much. Too many other people and things on my mind.

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Staff

  • Contributing Writers

  • Bark M., United States
  • Chris Tonn, United States
  • Bozi Tatarevic, United States
  • Vojta Dobes, Czech Republic

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