By on January 18, 2017

2016 Honda Odyssey Touring Elite

Sometimes a manufacturer churns out a base trim that — all things considered — might just be the best choice for that particular model. Here’s a candidate.

Wait, wait, wait! Yes, this is a minivan … but before you scroll past this post to revel in Steph’s news reports or one of Jack’s adventures, consider this: when was the last time you bought something which truly made your life easier? Because that’s what minivans are all about.

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By on January 11, 2017

Ford Bronco

Sometimes, we’ll reach into the past and find a model that pegs our Ace of Base meter. Not all base vehicles from the pages of history were appalling dumpster fires of mediocrity. Most were, but not all. Here’s a good example.

During Ford’s Monday morning press conference at NAIAS in Detroit, it was finally confirmed that the Bronco nameplate will be returning in 2020. This news made our Managing Ed giddy with delight, enamored as he is with all things Bronco, and seemed to be a fitting announcement for what will likely be the last automotive product announcement in Joe Louis Arena (which is scheduled for demolition later this year).

Dispensing with fripperies like information on drivetrains, styling, and actual details, Ford left a lot to the imagination of Bronco fans. My mind immediately wandered to the fifth-generation Bronco, which bucked its way off dealer lots from the 1992 to 1996 model years.

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By on January 4, 2017

2017 Ford Expedition XLT EL

Sometimes a manufacturer churns out a base trim that is — all things considered — the primo choice for that particular model. Here’s a candidate.

While I may have dipped into the good cheer while penning last week’s Ace of Base, the B&B can rest easy knowing I have been off the sauce for at least the last couple of hours. Hey, where I’m from, the Christmas season extends to January 6th.

Ford made a lot of noise yesterday, broadcasting announcements ranging from a sudden aversion to the label “Hecho en Mexico” to the imminent construction of hybrid Mustangs and F-150s. Now, I get the appeal of hybridization — especially when it results in MOAR POWERRR for fun stuff like burnouts or towing a four-ton trailer. Taking technology that was originally developed to save fuel and subverting it to produce shocking 0-60 times or stump-pulling torque is akin to weaponizing a wind farm.

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By on December 28, 2016

Question Mark Car

Sometimes a manufacturer churns out a base trim that — all things considered — might just be a great choice for that particular model. Here’s an example.

It’s the end of the year, which means the internet is awash with anodyne Best Of pieces, designed to distract readers from the fact that journalists are deep into their third consecutive forty-ouncer of Mohawk vodka and too blitzed to write original material in the week between Christmas and New Year’s. This piece may qualify in that vein.

Let’s coast over to Mr. Cain’s handy sales charts, shall we? Hmm. Which nameplates are expected to occupy the podium once all the deals are tallied for 2016? Can we do an Ace of Base on one of those? *swigs vodka straight from the bottle* Hmm. F-Series? Nope. Already done that. Silverado and Ram are similar propositions; no help there. Ah! The first actual car on the list. It’s the … oh, crap. Alright, let’s get this over with.

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By on December 21, 2016

2017 Mazda3

Sometimes a manufacturer churns out a base trim that — all things considered — might just be the primo choice for that particular model. Here’s an example.

When we started this nonsense Ace of Base series all the way back at the beginning of August, our very first contendah was the 2016 Mazda3 i Sport. Since then, the boffins in Hiroshima Prefecture put their heads together and applied their considerable skill in updating their compact sedan. Can a slathering of new styling and a further refined driving experience keep the 3 in the hunt for base-model supremacy? Is G-Vectoring Control simply a marketing gimmick only found on top trims? That’s what we’re here to find out.

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By on December 14, 2016

2017 MINI Cooper Hardtop

Sometimes a manufacturer churns out a base trim that — all things considered — just might be the primo choice for that particular model. Here’s an example.

When the new Mini was introduced way back in 2000, some saw it as a means to cash in on the burgeoning niche of retro-themed cars, then populated by the New Beetle, PT Cruiser, and — erm — Ford Thunderbird. Oh dear.

Since then, the Mini brand has grown into a full line of cars, ranging from the original Hardtop to the jacked-up Countryman. It’s shockingly easy to spend upwards of $40,000 on a Mini today, but how does one stack up as a base model at half that price?

Let’s find out.

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By on December 7, 2016

2017 VW Golf

Sometimes a manufacturer churns out a base trim that might not be the best of its range but represents a merciful departure from the rattletrap boxes of sadness which, not too many years ago, used to be hawked by OEMS as their base wheels. Here’s an example.

Sure, it’s easy to mock Volkswagen these days. The diesel emissions scandal has scuppered the brand in the eyes of a number of consumers, adding to traditional VW stereotypes such as high repair and maintenance costs. All the same, excluding an entire brand from consideration because of a single wayward trimline is akin to throwing out a fifty pound sack of potatoes because of one rotten spud.

In the past, Americans treated hatchbacks with a degree of disdain generally leveled at soiled copies of Utne Reader. The Golf is definitely one of the better hatchbacks out there. Does its base S model pass the Ace of Base litmus test?

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By on November 30, 2016

1995 Buick Riviera

Let’s play a game: I’ll name a few cars and you tell me if you think they’ll ever be found plying the roads of their real life namesake. Ready? Sebring. Ha! Corsica. Pfft. Monaco. Nope. Colorado. Wait, hang on; that one actually works.

You know another one that works? The Buick Riviera, especially in its first and final iterations. Not unlike the stunning Avista concept unveiled back in January, the 1995 Riv dropped jaws with its curvaceous  sheetmetal when it debuted at auto shows in the mid-90s. Unlike the Avista, though, they actually built the Riviera. The gamble paid off because once in production, it piled up first-year sales like cordwood.

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By on November 23, 2016

2017 Jaguar F-Type Coupe

Sometimes a manufacturer churns out a base trim that — all things considered — might just be the primo choice for that particular model. Here’s an example.

The Jaguar F-Type has been around since 2013 creating leagues of bug-eyed gearheads whose jaws invariably hit the ground when they finally see one in person. It’s one of those rare cars that looks a gazillion times better in the metal than on paper. The slinky Coupe version showed up in dealers a year later, with Jaguar periodically adjusting trim levels and feature content.

An alert reader (thanks for writing in!) hinted we should use the F-Type for this series, and I was buoyed by the suggestion. Why? It’s well-known I tend to choose the largest engine and loudest colour available when spending my own hard-earned dollars on a vehicle. Yet, the base V6 F-Type appears to make a compelling case for itself.

Does one need to pop for the F-Type’s optional bellowing V8? Let’s find out.

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By on November 16, 2016

2016 Hyundai Genesis Coupe

Sometimes a manufacturer churns out a base trim that — all things considered — might just be the primo choice for that particular model. Here’s an example.

No one talks about this car anymore. When it was introduced a scant seven model years ago, many noises were made about Hyundai’s newfound ability to compete with the Camaro, Mustang, and G37 of the day. Since then, marketeers at Hyundai carved Genesis into its own brand, leaving the Hyundai-badged Genesis Coupe an outlier on the Korean automaker’s showroom floor. Headed for the chopping block at the end of this year, dealers are likely eager to shift these two-door coupes off their lot and out of their floorplan.

That’s great news for bargain hunters seeking performance.
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By on November 9, 2016

2017 Subaru Impreza 2.0i

Sometimes a manufacturer churns out a base trim that — all things considered — might just be the primo choice for that particular model. Here’s an example.

A few weeks ago, Ace of Base looked at a base model truck from The General. The thing is, at an instant ramen price point, the compact truck is a rear-drive-only affair. Let’s now imagine a base-model shopper who doesn’t care about payload or bringing home grandfather clocks from estate sales but does want their power shuttled to all four wheels. What to do?

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By on November 2, 2016

Ferrari 488GTB

By all accounts, the Ferrari 488GTB is an incredible machine. Twin turbos coax 661 horsepower from V8 displacing a scant 3.9 litres (my own 3.9-litre V8 cannot accomplish this feat), hustling its 3,362 pounds to felonious speeds in under four seconds. Slick aero and really weird door handles contribute to the 488GTB having 50-percent less drag and 50-percent more downforce than its predecessor.

Like the Porsche we examined a few weeks back, Ferrari has perfected the art of making doryloads of money on each transaction. Buyers can spend upwards of $100,000 on superfluous options that don’t make the quarter-million dollar supercar go any faster. A zero-option Ferrari exists only in the realm of unicorns and healthy fast food. But what would the 1 percent find in their driveway if they custom ordered such a machine? Let’s find out.
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