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By on February 4, 2016

2016 Mazda CX-3 GT (18 of 25)

Ben writes:

Hi Bark,

I am currently in my second year of a 3 1/2 year lease on a 2015 Mazda3 GT — which is probably the most engaging, convenient and efficient vehicle I’ve ever owned. Everything
they say about Mazda nailing the driving dynamics is spot on.

I wasn’t married prior to leasing the vehicle, nor did I have my first child, nor was I expecting another child 14 months after having my first (almost Irish twins). I drove less, hated my job more and didn’t understand the joy a family can bring you. Now I have a 100+ mile total commute daily that I don’t even notice because of my quality of life, job and quite possibly my vehicle.

Yet, I feel the urge to make a vehicle change for 3 reasons:

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By on February 4, 2016

IMG_1122

Like cockroaches scattering in the light, Americans are fleeing sedans for the upright comfort and wagon-like space of crossovers.

The full-size sedan segment has recently been hit hard, Maxima included. Since 2012, the auto market has expanded 20 percent, while full-size sedan sales have contracted 14 percent. Based on an aging design and the entrance of Korean rivals, the Maxima’s 12-percent market share in 2012 dwindled to eight percent in 2015.

There is a fair chance no more than six people will read this review, and five of those readers will be future doctoral students deconstructing the final days of the sedan. Does that mean no matter how good the Maxima is — or could be — it’s doomed to fail?

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By on February 4, 2016

2006-2009_Chrysler_PT_Cruiser

Kenneth writes:

Which cars and trucks that have throwaway motors? I was one payment from finishing my debt on a 2006 Chrysler PT Cruiser and my timing belt came off. Immediately, my valves were destroyed. I would not want to buy another engine like that. I am now $20,000 in debt buying another car. (Toyota Corolla)

Thanks Sajeev

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By on February 4, 2016

Screen Shot 2016-02-04 at 8.28.08 AM

Former “Friends” star and current “Episodes” main character Matt LeBlanc will be heading to the BBC to co-host Top Gear with Chris Evans, Top Gear announced Thursday.

The news comes just before Evans, who’s experienced numerous setbacks with taping the new series, is set to headline BBC Worldwide’s annual showcase where he’ll be expected to sell the show to international broadcasters.

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By on February 3, 2016

2015 Dodge Charger V6 AWD Rallye (3 of 13)

More than half a million 2011 through 2016 Dodge Chargers are being recalled because they can’t stay up.

Jack points on the Chargers may become deformed, causing the cars to slip off their jacks when owners are changing a flat.

Three minor injuries have been attributed to the issue, said Fiat Chrysler Automobiles. One minor headline joke can also be attributed to Dodge’s problem of keeping it up. There’s no word on whether Dodge will be asking sister-brand Fiat for blue pills to rectify the issue. Read More >

By on February 3, 2016

buick lemons park bench ttac

Mark recently asked me a question: “Why do you race a Buick?”

No one has ever asked me that directly. Frankly, I didn’t have a specific answer. My team and I were simply playing by the strict-ish-ly simple 24 Hours of Lemons rule: “Vehicles must be acquired and prepared for a maximum of $500.”

The rest is history — but that wouldn’t make for a good story. So, to find a more specific reason, I looked back at the history of our battered Buick.

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By on February 3, 2016

Scion-tC

Sir, I don’t think you understand how our pricing model works.”

It was the winter of 2004, and a sad-sack of a salesman sat at the desk across from Mrs. Bark and me at a morbidly depressing Toyota-Scion dealership near Dayton, Ohio. My dear wife was the less-than-proud owner of a 2001 Hyundai Elantra that had been the very first car she’d ever purchased new. That Elantra came with war wounds; it had been hit in the rear door a week after she bought it, and the car was so cheap that the small dent it caused wasn’t worth fixing.

We had recently become upwardly mobile, thanks to a promotion I got at work, so I wanted to buy her something nicer; something sporty, but not actually sporty. She was a graduate music student, and all of her friends drove shitboxes from the ’90s. I wanted them to know that her husband was somebody, not just another poor grad student. Alas, youthful pride.

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By on February 3, 2016

Keep both hands inside the car at all times.

One coupe flies, two coupes die.

By the time that Akio Toyoda was standing on that Detroit stage crowing about the triumph of the LC500, the nails were already being hammered into Scion’s coffin. The Scion tC, perhaps the best combination of practicality, style, and durability available for under twenty-five grand in the United States, will be taken out back and unceremoniously shot. The FR-S … your guess is as good as mine, but I’d be surprised if Toyota brought it over as the Celica, no matter how personally gratified I would be by such a move.

The story of Toyota’s American sub-marques could not be more different. Lexus has gone from strength to strength, effortlessly assuming a position as the thinking man’s luxury car with the LS460 while also flooding the market with Camry-platform high-profit product. Scion, on the other hand, has struggled from its first day with customer perception, dealer-satisfaction issues, and schizophrenic product planning.

Yet it’s easy to show that Lexus has been just as poorly managed as Scion; take a look at the Lexus lineup over the past 27 years and tell me that you can’t spot quite a few duffers and misfires. So why is the Official Toyota Brand of McMansion Owners soaring while the Official Toyota Brand of Dubstep Aficionados crashes? The answer, naturally, is: Barack Obama.

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By on February 3, 2016

2016 Scion iM

Beyond the funky metal, there’s one element that set Scion apart from its Toyota mothership: monospec pricing.

By offering up only a single trim for each models and reducing options to paint colors, transmissions and accessories, Scion was able to market its vehicles to a different audience and offer a no-haggle sales approach.

For the 2017 model year, that monospec approach will continue, but Toyota is evaluating its future. Also, Scion’s no-haggle pricing model won’t be surviving the transition to Toyota.

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By on February 3, 2016

1991 Oldsmobile 442

I love road racing. I grew up about an hour away from the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course and spent many summer weekends wandering the grounds while soaking in the sounds and smells unique to the track. I’m pretty sure my first race was the Lumbermens Six Hours IMSA race in 1983, won by my local hero Bobby Rahal. I was four.

While I certainly enjoyed watching the CART and IMSA races, I always looked forward to the support races leading up to the main events. The best battles of the weekend were often dealt by the showroom stock classes, with small coupes and sedans bashing fenders and doors to get an edge in the corner.

Perhaps even as a kid I knew that I’d never be able to afford to race the big bore stuff, and adjusted my expectations downward. That must be why I adore homologation specials.

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  • Jack Baruth, United States
  • Bark M., United States
  • Chris Tonn, United States
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  • Cameron Aubernon, United States

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