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By on May 26, 2016

2016 GMC Yukon SLT Premium Edition, Image: GM

Stop the presses! There’s a new GMC Yukon in town!

Until this morning, humanity was only familiar with three trim levels of GMC’s Suburban clone. There was the SLE, which does not have push-button start and is therefore beneath contempt. There is the SLT, which is the Yukon your neighbors got when they couldn’t swing the lease payments on the Denali. Finally, there is the Denali, with which you are no doubt familiar from the line of “cars” waiting to pick up kids at your local private school. With the exception of devoted George Strait fans, everybody who imagines a Yukon in their head imagines a Denali.

I’m not aware of anybody ever questioning the density of the Yukon lineup, but it’s obviously been done quite a bit because now there’s an SLT Premium. It slots between the SLT and the Denali on price. Unless they’re holding something back in the GMC press release of which we aren’t aware, the SLT Premium package is strictly an appearance package, featuring a new shinier grille, “exclusive” 22-inch wheels, and a few extra chrome trim pieces thrown in to sweeten the deal.

Do you have the next five or so minutes free? Would you like to talk for a moment about what this all means — this new Premium trim level and the associated discontents which led to its production? If so, you’re in luck, my friend, because that is precisely the thing about which I would like to talk this fine morning.

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By on May 26, 2016

ReliefBand, source ReliefBand Technologies

They say the Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away.

I was blessed with an appreciation for road racing and cars that corner and handle well. Unfortunately, I’m also very prone to motion sickness. That means I can’t race cars.

Back when I was riding around in the rear facing far back seat in the Buick station wagon belonging to my best friend Stevie Margolin’s mom, this affliction was called “car sickness.” It was either in that Buick or on one of Detroit’s Bob-Lo boats that I recall first experiencing nausea when in motion.

Nausea and motion have a long association. The term nausea in fact comes to use from the ancient Greek word for boat. Up to 95 percent of the population experiences some form of motion sickness, with 5-15 percent being extremely sensitive to it. Placebos, pharmaceuticals, over the counter medications, pressure bands, and even skin patches behind the ear have all been tried as treatments to varying degrees of success and side effects.

A new wearable medical device called the ReliefBand may make that motion induced nausea a thing of the past — and finally let me go racing. Read More >

By on May 26, 2016

65aa04726cce3fd097bfe1b9cd27fd18d148fc4d

Dan writes:

I was hoping you might do an article on the lost art of exhaust tuning.

I feel like the norm these days in anything sporty is to just make it as loud as possible with an obnoxious rumble and perpetual popping/crackling. I really miss the exhaust sounds of 10-15 years ago that were quite distinct and matched the car; the one that comes to mind (and still sounds great) is that of the original Infiniti G35 coupe/Nissan 350Z. It was refined yet had a nice wail to it when you added enough throttle. Nowadays, I hear a Jaguar F-Type driving past and it sounds like an old beater Mustang with a straight-pipe exhaust, not a $100,000 car.

Have manufacturers gotten lazy, or has this notion of obnoxious exhausts just become the new norm?

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By on May 25, 2016

Uber

Not wanting to be left out of the mobility party, Toyota and Volkswagen recently invested in two ride-sharing companies, becoming the latest automakers to sink cash into the sharing economy.

Toyota invested a rumored $100 million in the ubiquitous ride-sharing company Uber, while Volkswagen, which has to meter out its dough carefully (thanks to a pesky little scandal), dropped $300 million on Uber’s taxi-hailing rival Gett. Read More >

By on May 25, 2016

"Mad Max: Fury Road" Tank Truck

In a post-apocalyptic world, tank trucks are driven non-stop to quench an unending thirst for fuel. Those drivers pilot their big rigs day and night, running on little sleep, as they plow through a desolate wasteland.

Now change “post-apocalyptic world” to “Michigan” and you have this week’s dumb decision made by governor Rick Snyder.

Snyder, as a way to deal with a “state of energy emergency” in the Michigan’s Upper Peninsula caused by a pipeline shutdown, lifted driving time restrictions on heavy-duty truck drivers carrying gasoline and other transportation fuels.

Because nothing — nothing — can go wrong when you combine tired truck drivers and tons of flammable liquid.

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By on May 25, 2016

Ethanol Plant In South Dakota.

Serendipitously, Sajeev Mehta’s post about the possible damage to older cars from gasoline-ethanol blends went up just a few days after the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency proposed a new mandate to mix another 700 million gallons of biofuels — including 300 million gallons of corn-based ethanol — into the country’s fuel supply.

The objective of the new mandate: hit a 18.8 billion gallon 2017 target for biofuels.

The move has both critics and supporters of ethanol unhappy. Read More >

By on May 25, 2016

2015 Jeep Renegade Trailhawk, Image: FCA

Brent writes:

I’ve located a 2015 Jeep Renegade Trailhawk demo. The owner’s 16-year-old daughter was presented this car on her 16th birthday, and she piloted it for 3,000 miles (a fact that doesn’t altogether leave me with warm fuzzies).

The dealer’s first offer, which included a trade-in of my 2005 Ford Ranger XLT with 51,444 mi, was $17,497 difference — without seeing my truck. My Ranger a very clean, well maintained, two-owner example. Black Book values its trade-in value at $4,400, but I wouldn’t give it up for less than $5,000.

My needs are few, and the truck meets them. However, I’d be happy if I could get into the Renegade for my trade plus $15,000. I’ve always wanted to enjoy the local Jeep jamborees and trail runs, and I need a “Trail Rated” Jeep to participate.

Is this deal feasible or am I being unreasonable? And what things should I keep in mind buying a demo?

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By on May 25, 2016

2014 Honda Odyssey IIHS Crash Test

Modern technology helps vehicles avoid collisions and prevents injury, but the potential for a deadly collision inside the vehicle is being overlooked, some say.

Seat back collapses have killed or seriously injured 100 people since 1989, a CBS News investigation found, and lawmakers in Congress are now joining victims in calling for action. Read More >

By on May 25, 2016

Lexus Enform Website Graphic, Image: Lexus

My email address [email protected], and this XKCD comic is a very real part of my life. Others confuse me for all sorts of other Wallachs out there in the world. I’ve been invited to bachelorette parties in New York, received electronic court filings from Florida, and recently I got something new: an email welcoming me to my new Lexus that invited me to take part in exclusive consumer surveys.

Of course, I didn’t recently purchase a Lexus, and there was no “hey, wrong email address” button anywhere to be found. So what did I do? I “forgot” my password, logged in to someone else’s Lexus account, and figured out who actually owned the Lexus. After all, they’d probably want to know.

Read More >

By on May 25, 2016

Volkswagen TDI

Owners of 2.0-liter Volkswagen diesels will have to wait a little longer before learning exactly when their rolling pariahs will leave their driveways.

The automaker is on track to meet a June 21 settlement deadline, a federal judge stated yesterday, but details on the wildly expensive U.S. buyback and compensation program won’t be made public just yet. Read More >

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