By on June 21, 2017

2017 Ford Focus SE Hatch

With fresh news showing up yesterday of Ford shifting production of the Focus to China, it seemed an opportune time to revisit the Blue Oval’s offering in the compact segment. Last time around, we *ahem* focused on the sedan version and found it lacking.

Today, we’ll take a look at the five-door hatch which, in base trim, is better equipped with more features.

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By on June 14, 2017

Ford Taurus Police Interceptor

Despite what y’all may think sometimes, we do listen to you guys around here. Take this week’s Ace of Base as an example: Suggested by an alert reader, Ford’s current foray into the fleet of police forces across the nation do fit the Ace of Base ethos: a sparsely equipped example of a mass-market car offered at a rock bottom price.

Seven investigations on Autotrader quickly turned up several examples of current model year Ford Taurus Police Interceptors with under 100 miles on their clocks for around $22,000.

Barren interiors, steel wheels, plus Blues Brothers-style cop car modifications? Watch your head getting in, sir; we’re going for a ride.

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By on June 7, 2017

2017 Jeep Wrangler Sport

Jeep is fixin’ to launch a redesigned Wrangler as early as next calendar year, meaning this generation of the venerable off-road brute is slowly marching towards its best-before date. When we last looked at the base Wrangler ten months ago, we found it to be an agreeable steed whose Mohawk Vodka price point more than made up for any deficiencies compared to its snazzier cousins.

Has anything changed for 2017? Let’s find out.

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By on May 31, 2017

2017 Toyota 4Runner

A great advantage to being one of the world’s largest automakers is that one can afford to wait for a bet to pay off. Witness this body-on-frame fifth-generation 4Runner, introduced to an apathetic and SUV-adverse public in the dark days of the 2009 as a ’10 model. It is still sharing showroom space with Corollas and Camrys today. Contrast this to Kia that introduced its body-on-frame SUV – the Borrego – at around the same time. It landed in the market with a dull thud and quickly resigned itself to the automotive dustbin of history in North America.

The 4Runner’s fortunes are on the upswing assisted by consumers consuming SUVs with all the restraint of a record producer with a garbage bag full of cocaine and a garden hose. Toyota sold more 4Runners in 2016 than at any other time in the last dozen years despite the brand’s glacier-like design cycle and the 4Runner being largely unchanged since the turn of the decade.

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By on May 24, 2017

[Kletr/Bigstock.com]

It’s always fun to see how the other half lives. In Europe, thanks in part to narrow roads that wind between ancient monuments and fuel prices several orders of magnitude greater than our own, small cars are king. When Citroën left our market in 1974, its only offering was the great-when-it-worked SM coupe.

These days, Citroën hawks a large range of cars on the other side of the pond. Compared to small base cars on our shores, does the C1 exhibit radical ideas or a dose of common sense? Whatever it is, there’s scads of it scattered all over the thing.

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By on May 17, 2017

2017 Ford Fiesta ST

After being taken to task for selecting an Ace of Base with all the financial restraint of MC Hammer during his peak earning years, I went on a bit of a hatchback kick. Nothin’ wrong with hatchbacks, even if they are often shunned like lepers by the American buying public. I learned to drive in a hatchback, then endured enjoyed a parade of five-doors during my, erm, formative years.

With that in mind, let’s see what the Blue Oval has in store for us at its most basic of five-door price points: a base Fiesta S Hatch.

… ah … um … oh dear.

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By on May 10, 2017

2017 Toyota Yaris

Last week, my Ace of Base selection was met with loud derision from certain corners of the web. My intent was to prove how it’s possible for one to get into a comfortable, well-equipped, diesel-powered Canyon pickup without springing for an SLT or Denali trim. Nevertheless, my efforts were met with a chorus of WHY DON’T YOU JUST DO AN ACE OF BASE ON A ROLLS-ROYCE RABBLE RABBLE RABBLE.

Well then, without further delay…

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By on May 3, 2017

2017 GMC Canyon Diesel

Sometimes, a manufacturer sees fit to offer its newest ‘you-gotta-try-this’ feature on a range of trims in a particular model. Is it worth getting the most expensive example just to try the new toy? Or should one save their scratch and get the least expensive model? 

With the inclusion of a diesel mill, the 2017 GMC Canyon puts us on par with the rest of the world. Everywhere else, this isn’t a mid-size truck — it’s simply a truck. Only in the land of bald eagles and freedom (or maple syrup and hockey sticks) is this machine considered small – or, at least, smaller. The now horribly mislabeled half-ton class of Rams, Silverados, F-150s, Titans, and Tundras aren’t disappearing anytime soon, but there is a sizable group of buyers who don’t want to pilot a Dreadnought-class battleship around city streets.

Tim reviewed the Canyon Diesel earlier this week, finding it to be a left-field choice that nevertheless ticked many of the right boxes. With that in mind, let’s strip away the options and see if it’s still worth buying.

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By on April 26, 2017

2017 Honda Fit LX

Eight months ago, we took a sojourn through the build and price tool for the Honda Fit LX. Since then, Honda’s increased the price and added a paint option.

So far in 2017, the Fit has sold at a more rapid pace than last year, despite the addition of an HR-V that logically should have cannibalized some Fit sales. As we well know, logic has no place in the car business. Perhaps shoppers are being lured to Honda showrooms by the new HR-V, then flipped by an alert member of the sales staff to the more affordable Fit.

Let’s see what one gets for their extra Fit cash in 2017.

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By on April 19, 2017

2017 Mazda MX-5 Sport

Sometimes a manufacturer churns out a base model in which it might be more prudent to spend one’s extra cash on aftermarket upgrades and not a more expensive trim. Here’s a candidate.

Many songs of praise have been penned and much digital ink spilled of Mazda’s rear-wheel drive, two-seat roadster. From the original version in 1990 to the current fourth-gen model, Mazda has always managed to keep a lid on cost and weight, two things which generally spiral out of control in both successive iterations of a popular vehicle and my own personal lifestyle as I age.

A total of $5,150 separates the base MX-5 Sport from the top rung Grand Touring model. Is that sum of cash better spent on DIY upgrades? Or should buyers spring for the high-zoot MX-5? Let’s find out.

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By on April 13, 2017

2017 Mazda 6 Sport

Before we start this Ace of Base, we need to get one thing clear: no one listens to automotive journalists. We can carp about bad cars and exhort the good ones, but at the end of the day, customers go out and buy whatever they want.

I’m saying this with tongue firmly in cheek, of course, but there is a nugget of truth. The Mazda 6 is one of the best driving sedans in the mid-size segment, wrapped up in a good-looking body with plenty of interior space. Naturally, it sells at approximately the pace of glacier progression.

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By on April 5, 2017

2017 Nissan Frontier S

There’s something innately endearing about a small pickup truck. Like an overeager puppy who yaps and seems to bounce instead of walk, fun-sized pick-‘em-ups just appear to be excited all the time. Come on! Come on! Let’s work! Let’s play! Are you ready? Can we play? Huh? Huh? Are you ready? How about now? To me, that’s the soundtrack of a small truck.

Nissan has been a large player in the small truck market ever since Methuselah was a boy, with the Hardbody (what a great name for a truck, by the way) finding itself on the nation’s gravel roads in a whole bunch of trims. In the Great White North, they even used the fantastic Hustler name. Hardbody Hustler. Tremendous.

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By on March 29, 2017

2017 Kia Rio LX

Yesterday, we learned the Kia badge might not be good enough for Stingers in its home country. Around here, the slinky sedan will still carry the nameplate, despite the brand’s humble beginnings.

Twenty years ago, Kia made a name for itself on these shores hawking bargain-basement priced entry-level cars, many of which quickly returned to the earth in the form of iron oxide. Today, Kia’s smallest offering has since gone to finishing school, earning a major in Economics.

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By on March 22, 2017

WorkbootsLet’s get one thing straight right from the start: like last week, this comparison isn’t going to change anyone’s mind. Truck buyers are a notoriously loyal lot, so the online bleatings of a shrimp-filled journalist are unlikely to curry favor with folks whose work boots are firmly entrenched in one of these three camps.

Thing is, though, I do know a thing or two about trucks. Plus, I had a deadline to meet and needed a topic for today. Having recently completed the trifecta by finally getting the chance to drive all three diesel behemoths listed here, I started to ask myself how these workhorses would compare in single cab, four-wheel drive, base trim. Fleet managers, please click on through: we’re about to step into the world of bare-bones diesel trucks.

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By on March 15, 2017

American V8 Muscle

A few months ago, I promised the B&B they would never see American muscle cars in this Ace of Base series. Why? Well, it’s my firm belief the likes of Mustang, Camaro, and Challenger should be permanently equipped with a V8 engine and its accompanying sultry exhaust note.

I am here before you today not to break my promise, but — as I’ve said to my wife on occasion — to creatively keep my promise. Let’s find out what shoppers get for their cash in a no-option, V8-equipped example of the hairy-chested coupes hawked by the Detroit Three.

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