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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By on March 8, 2017

Toyota MR2 AW11, Image: Toyota Europe

On occasion, Ace of Base will scour the web for the details and minutiae of a ride from the past that we feel fits the Ace of Base ethos. This is one of those cars.

Offered in naturally aspirated and supercharged guises for 1989, the MR2 found itself in the last model year of its deliciously wedgy styling language. Travelling back in time to the late ‘80s, let’s find out what one could expect to get for their money in a base Toyota MR2.

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By on March 1, 2017

2017 Ford Focus

It wasn’t long ago that small sedans and hatchbacks were a sure-fire ticket to penalty box crudeness and motoring misery. In 2017, things have changed at the low-end of the price scale.

This week’s Ace of Base is brought to you courtesy of an inadvertent trip down memory lane thanks to Facebook’s infernal yet addictive ‘On This Day’ feature.

A few years ago, someone tagged me in a shot depicting a 17-year old Matthew standing next to his first set of hand-me-down wheels — a rusty, late ’80s Ford Escort LX. I recall learning the original owners paid $13,000 maple-sodden Canadian dollars for it in 1989, about $23,000 in today’s money.

This got me thinking: what does one find in a base Focus nearly 30 years later? And does the Focus pass the Ace of Base test? Let’s find out.

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By on February 24, 2017

2017 Chevy Equinox L

Most readers are aware of my unbridled enthusiasm for base model cars. Sure, there are a few luxury models that spring to mind where it’s imperative buyers select the top trim, lest they run the risk of an arch nemesis pulling alongside them in an Escalade Platinum when they are piloting a lowly Escalade Luxury.

Thing is, it behooves the frugal customer to pay attention before they sign the note on a set of base wheels. For years, commercials told us “America Runs on Dunkin” when we all know that America Runs on Monthly Payments. Most shoppers have a monthly or biweekly figure in mind and, examined through that lens, base cars aren’t always the best deal.

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By on February 22, 2017

2017 Honda Civic LX Coupe

It wouldn’t have escaped your attention that there have been some bumpy years in #CivicNation. Honda acknowledged this itself, scuttling back to the drawing board for an “emergency refresh” in 2013 after the people with adenoids Consumer Reports pulled its Recommended rating.

What caused the problem? A misfire in focus groups? Bean counters? Aliens? Alien bean counters in focus groups? We may never know. What we do know is the 2017 Honda Civic is quite good, so let’s see how the coupe version stacks up in base LX trim against its higher-spec brothers.

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By on February 15, 2017

2017 Alfa Romeo Giulia

There’s been no shortage of digital ink spilled over the impending return of Alfa Romeo to North American shores, with declarations of a grand return being touted all the way back in 2000 when the company entered into a partnership with General Motors. Yes, General Motors.

Now, of course, we know Alfa’s part in Sergio’s grand plan for the House of FCA. Since the introduction of the sinewy Giulia, the hot and unpronounceable Quadrifoglio has gotten all the press. How does a base Giulia stack up at $37,995?

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By on February 8, 2017

Chevrolet Spark LS Manual

Base model. What does that image conjure? Vinyl seats? Tinny AM radio? A low rent penalty box on wheels? A few years ago, you’d be right on the money. Driving misery was available for voluntary purchase at the showrooms of just about every major car maker.

Now, though … it’s tougher to find. This series has focused on vehicles out there that, in their cheapest guise, won’t make you cringe with each pull of the driver’s door handle. Here’s an example.

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By on February 1, 2017

Chevy SS 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.

The selection for this week’s Ace of Base will likely surprise approximately zero percent of our reading population, given my known affinity for larger-than-necessary engines and interiors which comfortably house Large Persons.

The General introduced the SS arguably as a mea culpa to American gearheads who pined for the dearly departed Pontiac G8 GT. We’ll simply gloss over the missed opportunity which was the G8 ST, an apple pie and bald eagle variant of the excellent Holden Ute in Australia, lest I start weeping onto my keyboard.

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By on January 26, 2017

Detroit Three Work Trucks

Earlier this morning, Jack regaled us with a tale of a young man buying himself a loaded regular-cab F-150. Such a beast still exists, often selling at the rate of glacier progression and celebrating birthdays as they loiter on dealer lots. At the other end of the spectrum, rear-drive regular cab base models – with an 8-foot box, natch – ply the roads and work for a living.

How do entry-level trucks from the Detroit Three stack up when compared to each other? Ace of Base breaks them down in alphabetical order with the caveat that, based on price and feature content, there is a clear winner.

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