Tag: AWD

By on June 6, 2012

As I’ve mentioned before, Colorado junkyards are full of Subarus of the late 1970s through the early 1990s. Mostly I’m sort of indifferent to Subarus of this era, with two important exceptions: the BRAT and the XT. Both are fairly rare (the last time I saw a junked XT was last year, when I found this Juggalo-abused ’91), so I came to a screeching halt when I found this XT6. (Read More…)

By on May 22, 2012

Every time I do a Junkyard Find with a Subaru (for example, the ’79 BRAT we saw yesterday), I mention the large numbers of other old Subarus to be found in the same yard. How many? Well, at the Denver U-Pull-&-Pay (where I found the BRAT), I decided to walk through the entire Imports section and get a photograph of every Subaru from the early 1990s or earlier. (Read More…)

By on May 13, 2012

Despite debuting over seven years ago, extensively refreshed in 2009 and nip/tucked again in 2011, the Acura RL remains a mystery. Flagship products usually sell in small numbers, but the RL is one of the rarest sedans in America. This isn’t exactly been a badge of honor for Acura. Overlooked by shoppers who flock to the cheaper Acura TL and largely forgotten by the automotive press (after all these years, TTAC has never fully reviewed the RL) With a full replacement due next year in the form of the RLX concept, I hit Acura up for an RL for a week to see how a flagship product from a major brand could manage to sell just 56 vehicles in Canada and 1,096 in the USA in 2011. For those who like statistics, the TL outsold the RL by 2,850%. Ouch.

(Read More…)

By on May 9, 2012

 

Jonathon writes:

Hi Sajeev,

Long time reader, not a commenter though. I have simple situation, and a simple question. Last Friday my beloved, and owned from birth, 1995 Grand Prix GTP developed a head gasket leak. This is something I can, with father-in law help, tackle in the summer. However living in Northern Ontario, a driveway repair is just not an option right now. It’s time for a new ride.

Since all those years ago I did not give my wife (g.f. at the time) any option into the purchase, this time around it will be something we both are in love with. Sadly that leaves a V6 Mustang or the 2013 Genesis 3.8 out. Also we lost our niece at the beginning of the year in a highway car accident that killed three other teenagers (the quality of highway maintenance is now privatized and sub-par). Anyways, that has my wife eying a 4×4\awd even more then ever.

Top on her list is a 2012 Wrangler Sahara Unlimited (bare bones except auto & A\C). The mileage for this is 16\20. Our car, new, apparently was 16\24. From our sleepy little city to Toronto is ~360km. At the current 1.28\l, it would mean another $14 there and back for one of our escapes to the big city. So the question I have is, when the EPA tested the wrangler did they do it in 4wd, so that we could expect to see better mileage, or 2wd, and that is what we should expect?

Regards,

Jonathan

ps…anyone have any suggestions for a driveway mechanic preparing to replace a headgasket on a 1995 Pontiac 3.4 with DOHC? (Read More…)

By on March 7, 2012

Here’s a car that you still see frequently in Colorado, both on the street and in the junkyard. You see Tercel 4WD wagons on the street here because they’re cheap, sensible winter cars and they tend to keep grinding out the hundreds of thousands of miles in their Tercelian slow-motion fashion… and you see them in the junkyard because they’re not worth enough to fix when something major finally fails. (Read More…)

By on February 13, 2012

 

John writes:

Hey Sajeev,

Since you requested goofy questions for Piston Slap, I’ve got one:

A friend of mine told me that her dad had a Subaru (I don’t know what particular model). He had one of the tires blow out, and even though he knew he should either replace all four tires, or have the new one shaved down to match the other three, he decided to risk it and just use the one new tire as is. Consequently, the all wheel drive system got messed up due to the ever so slight mismatch in tire diameters. Is this for real? I’ve never heard anything like that before. (Read More…)

By on January 24, 2012

Today, TTAC was treated to what might be the first look at Acura’s newest flagship. While we saw renderings of the new car, we weren’t allowed to take photographs – but none of the information released was embargoed.

(Read More…)

By on January 16, 2012

If you thought high gas prices and a questionable economy meant the era of big SUVs was over, you’d be wrong; 2011 saw large SUV sales in the US grow 3.7% with a 7.4% growth in the luxury SUV segment. If you are one of those people with six-figure salaries and snow-filled school runs, the Cadillac Escalade is probably on your short list. But what about the person who isn’t ready to look “gangsta” while dropping Jimmy Jr. off at softball practice? Infiniti might just have the answer: the all-new, all-enormous QX56. Michael Karesh snagged a QX56 from a dealer back in March 2011, and in December Infiniti tossed me the keys to a 7-seat QX to see what the behemoth is like to live with for a week.

(Read More…)

By on December 18, 2011

I appreciate the novelty of a new design as much as the next guy, but have never understood the four-door-coupé. I mean, aren’t these terms mutually exclusive? A coupé can’t have four doors and a car with four doors can’t be a coupé? Mercedes started this conundrum with the CLS back in 2004, and then Volkswagen decided to jump on the bandwagon to bolster Passat sales with the CC in 2008. It was only a matter of time before VAG decided to compete with the CLS head on with the A7. After all, Audi has had model envy for years, and if they are to stay on track with world domination, they need to attack the mainline Germans at every body style. Not one to rest on laurels, Mercedes has redesigned the CLS for 2011. Michael Karesh wrangled an A7 out of Audi back in July, and Mercedes let me take theirs for a week. Let’s see if the CLS has what it takes to reign supreme in this extremely small niche.

(Read More…)

By on November 28, 2011

If you ask a certain segment of the automotive press, it seems that BMW is rapidly losing the plot. While I agree that BMW’s latest wares are bigger, heavier and more leather-clad than ever before, I can’t say thing is a bad thing in my mind. I upset a few people when I reviewed the then-new 335is by saying “BMW is the new Mercedes”. I’m not sure why noses were “rankled”, but there seems to be a large segment of TTAC’s readership that believe BMW has abandoned “sport” for “luxury”. Maybe they are right; the M3 and M5 have been gaining weight an alarming pace and now we have the X5M and X6M, a pair of 5,400lb SUVs wearing full-on M badges. The burning question at TTAC is: should the guy responsible for designing it be committed? Or should the vehicle be put in a straight-jacket for being a totally insane machine?

(Read More…)

By on November 27, 2011

 

Kevin writes:

Sajeev & Steve:

I am currently cruising through all four Canadian seasons in my 2008 6MT Audi S5. Could be worse, I know. The car is owned by Audi Finance, and apparently they want it back at the end of November – something about the lease term coming to an end. As of late, conversations about the S5 have gone something like this:

Q1. Do you like it?
A1. Unequivocally It’s amazing.

Q2. Are you going to buy it out or extend the lease?
A2. Absof@!%inglutely not.

Q3. Why not – you just said you loved it?!
A3. True, but it’s a constant reminder of the adages (i) never buy a first year vehicle (ii) never lease a car out of warranty and (iii) someone, somewhere, is tired of her sh!t. Well, maybe just the first two.

The car itself is amazing to drive in any conditions on any road – almost too good. It’s very, very fast, comfortable, handles beautifully (with the usual Quattro understeer), beautiful to look at, has rear view camera, parking sensors, iPod integration, heated seats, bluetooth, navigation, B&O sound system, etc. I’ve had it at the track a number of times, drive it to work in traffic every day and have dedicated rims and brilliant snow tires for winter (making snow and ice something to smile about). The trunk is massive; I have taken two other people and all our ski and snowboard gear to Blue Mountain, and often take a passenger and two full hockey bags two the rink once a week. Hell, I have even managed to escape the concentric circle of hell that is IKEA with a twin mattress in the back and still been able to see out the back window. For some inexplicable reason, I still hand wash it and park it far away from anything or anybody; it looks and drives like it’s brand new.

That said, it also has had at least $5000 worth of work done to it under warranty, including new front control arms, an entire new clutch assembly and master slave cylinder, new blower motor and fan and new window regulator. On top of the repairs, the 4.2L V8 is a very thirsty beast and it costs a second king’s ransom to lease and insure every month.

So – the question isn’t whether or not to buy it out or extend the lease. I won’t own this car one second out of warranty and I don’t see any point extending the lease on a 2008 when you can spend the same money leasing a newer model.

The question is – where do I go from here? November isn’t exactly the best time to be putting a new car on the road in this part of the world. Hell, I’m not even close to being convinced that I want a brand new car. This was my first new, never driven by anyone else, vehicle. Definitely the nicest car I’ve ever owned as well. I previously had a nice 2004 Infiniti G35 I picked up off of Leasebusters after some chump put $7000 down, didn’t drive it and then walked away. Prior to that I had a well used Integra that simply wouldn’t die no matter how much it was abused. Previous rides are of varying levels of embarrassment and, for that matter alone, deemed irrelevant.

What else has the style, handling and versatility of the S5? I’ve toyed with the idea of a GT-R, but those things are now almost $130K here (taxes in). I am going to have a hard time justifying spending $100K on anything given the (i) state of the roads (i) lack of parking lot manners (iii) inadequacy of driver training and (iv) lack of traffic violation enforcement for anything other than speeding in a straight line on an empty road.

Do I insist on AWD? I think it’s brilliant. especially after driving the G35 (not to mention having to dig it out of the driveway numerous times). Do I suck it up, put on my big boy pants and get a 9114S? Do I buy a winter AWD vehicle like a used FJ Cruiser and then look for a three season, perfectly balanced, gently used and good for the occasional track day, as yet to be determined, second car? I find myself looking at 993 Turbos online fairly often.

This isn’t about money. It is, however, about smart money. I’m barely over 40, gainfully employed, have my own hair and am financially secure. That said, I don’t need a bright orange lambo in the driveway in order to impress the neighbours, the ladies or both.

Next steps?

Steve answers:

I see you are suffering from Audi syndrome. Symptoms include but not limited to…

1) Bitching about the lack of reliability.
2) Bitching about the cost of repair.
3) Delusions of grandeur involving even more expensive vehicles… all of which have abysmal ownership costs.
4) Inability to perform simple addition
5) Bitching, bitching, moaning, whining, and even more bitching!

So let’s get to the point…

Do you like the car?

If so then keep it. The maintenance costs will likely cost less than the monthly payment. Plus if we’re talking about ‘smart money’ then leasing should be as far away from your vocabulary as Mercury is from Pluto.

I would look at lowering the overall costs by opting for a good independent shop that specializes in Audis. Subscribe to a few forums that are Audi-centric. Figure out what parts companies offer high quality replacements for the lackluster and under-engineered components… and have at it.

Sajeev answers:

Wow, that’s a nice list of things to fix under warranty! I am sure Jack Baruth had a similar level of torrid romance with his S5, pictured above.

We all know that modern German cars are crap relative to their Japanese and American counterparts. Fine. But I am still dumbfounded as to why modern German cars eat through control arms in the infancy of their lives. Two Benzes in the Mehta family, a friend’s BMW, another friend’s VW, and your Audi. And here I was bitching because the complex suspension in my Lincoln Mark VIII needed a full rebuild after 10 years and 130,000 miles on the road!

Short answer? Just least another Audi. You need them, and I don’t know if a BMW will charm you enough to justify jumping ship. I suspect your gut is telling you the same thing, especially if you love AWD.

As to your reference of smart money? Join me in the ranks of Ford Ranger ownership, but go ahead and spring for a quattro-like 4×4. Keepin’ it too real? Stick with the four ring brand, buy according to your pocketbook and what has the sweetest lease deals at the time.

Need help with a car buying conundrum? Email your particulars to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com , and let TTAC’s collective wisdom make the decision easier… or possibly much, much harder.

By on November 14, 2011

I know what you’re thinking.

I’m thinking it too.

Why me? How, with a host of competent hot-shoes, seriously-journalistic scribes and industry insiders here at TTAC, do the keys to a presser Porsche 911 get handed to the guy who publicly admitted to being not a very good driver and who has an unfortunate tendency to use four long words where one short one would do nicely? Would not the readership be better served by someone who could give you an in-depth, accurate 10/10ths dynamic assessment, or a brief, sober buyer’s summary?

Oh, probably. But there are two very good reasons I’ve got this thing.

(Read More…)

By on September 20, 2011


The Mercedes CL550 is one of the most exclusive Mercedes models sold on our side of the pond. With the highest base MSRP of any non-AMG product, and rarer on American roads than all but the boxy G-class and the incredibly rare SLS AMG, the CL plays in quite a different league than the S-class on which it is based. I am told that Ford sells more F150s in a day the CL’s yearly sales figure and judging by the number I see on the road, I am inclined to agree. The CL was separated from the S-Class line in 1998 to help aid in the exclusive reputation of the model. For those that wonder, CL supposedly stands for Comfort Leicht (or Comfort Light in my native tongue). The comfort is obvious (and mandatory at this price point), but “light” must truly be a relative term as the CL tips the scales at a biscuits-and-gravy fed 4,700lbs. Does this matter? Let’s find out.
(Read More…)

By on September 19, 2011

Let me be frank: I’m not a very good driver. Now, I don’t mean that I careen from lamppost to lamppost like a drunken pinball, nor that I have to spend my afternoons picking teeth out of the bumper and pressure-washing old-ladies and kittens out of the undercarriage; no, I’m merely pointing out that I’m not a racecar driver in real life, only on the podium of my own imagination.

I’ve had some professional driver training, so I know how to position a seat, how to set my mirrors, how to use peripheral vision, how to look through the corners and so on, but the fact remains that my driving skills are fairly average. At best.

My fingers are of purest butter. When clenched, they form fists of finest Virginia ham. My right foot is composed of an amalgam of the entire bottom row of the periodic table of the elements, alloyed with lead for extra heft. All these appendages are fastened by spindly arms and legs to a buffoon with a block of wood for a head and a pea-sized amount of cotton wool for a brain.

Luckily, none of these considerable drawbacks matter, because I am currently the greatest driver in the history of the universe, better than Senna, better than Vittel, better than Zaphod Beeblebrox. Ladies and gentleman, the Mitsubishi EVO.

(Read More…)

By on September 8, 2011

I find a lot of AMC Eagles in Denver, both in and out of the junkyards, but almost all of them are wagons. During a recent junkyard visit, I spotted the first Spirit-based Eagle I’ve seen in a long time. (Read More…)

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