By on October 14, 2016

2016 Ram 1500 Rebel

FCA, and Ram in particular, is not exactly known for its subtlety. Witness the Rebel TRX Concept unveiled at the State Fair of Texas, yet another salvo in the continuing effort by the mad scientists in Auburn Hills to Hellcat all the things.

This pleased me greatly, as my own outspoken personality gives the thumbs-up to any machine exhibiting the raw utility of a woodsman’s axe. A hint of smoky-burnout lairiness and jump-the-creek attitude doesn’t hurt either. The Ram 1500 Rebel, decked out with 33-inch Toyos and a handlebar moustache grille, has more than enough lead in its pencil to make Crocodile Dundee look like Liberace. It comes standard with a case of fireworks and is equipped with a beard in the glovebox.

(Read More…)

By on September 16, 2016

2017 Chrysler Pacifica Limited

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, Toyota, and Honda produce nine out of every ten minivans sold in the United States. In a category little more than half the size now than it was a decade ago and with an ever-shrinking number of competitors, the dawn of a truly new people-carrying, grocery-getting, pickup-truck-aping van has the potential to upset the apple cart.

Two years ago, the Kia Sedona shook things up. Although the Sedona remains a relatively small player, Kia’s share of the minivan market is nearly seven times stronger now than it was two years ago.

Next year will be the turn of the Honda Odyssey, as the van with which we’re so familiar follows its Pilot and Ridgeline platform partners to market. Better than one in five minivans sold in America are Odysseys.

This year, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles dramatically altered its minivan strategy by confirming the top-selling Dodge Grand Caravan’s departure and by launching the supremely stylish, Town & Country-replacing Chrysler Pacifica.

The new Pacifica, a successor to the alleged minivan originator, is by most measurements the best minivan you can drive today. But a few glaring faults leave a large window open for Chrysler’s two key competitors, both of which suffer from advanced age. (Read More…)

By on September 9, 2016

2017 Audi A4 Technik QuattroIt’s the new version of an always desirable German luxury sports sedan.

Shocker: it’s good.

Though the 2017 Audi A4 looks like a carbon copy of the 2016 model, it’s a new car with a new platform, new dimensions, new interior, and a revamped powertrain.

The A4’s turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder is more powerful than before. Horsepower is up from 220 to 252. Torque jumps by 15 pounds-feet to 273, and it all comes on strong at 1,600 rpm. The new car is about an inch longer than before and nearly an inch wider. U.S. pricing for Quattro models begins at $40,350. Equipped similarly to our Audi Canada-supplied model ($60,285 in heavily optioned Technik trim north of the border), the 2017 Audi A4 Quattro Prestige would be $54,025, a 33-percent leap beyond the basic A4 Quattro’s price.

Yup, it’s good. At $54,025 it oughta be. Audi will tell you it how good it is. So too will your Audi dealer’s sales consultant. In fact, potential Audi A4 buyer that you are, you are able to tell yourself how good the 2017 A4 is.

I can join in the fun. But as TTAC’s own Bark. M explained yesterday, that’s easy. (Read More…)

By on September 8, 2016

Couple buying cat Courtesy

Let’s be real with each other for a minute, okay? Car reviews are just plain awful. They serve no real purpose for today’s in-market automotive consumer — they only serve to boost the SEO rankings for anybody searching for “MID-SIZE SEDAN UNDER $30,000 NEAR ME,” which is approximately nobody.

Your friend Bark is here to tell you how this, um, industry of car reviewing needs to be improved in order to help customers find and buy the car they need instead of the car they’ve already decided that they want.

(Read More…)

By on September 1, 2016

2017 Cadillac XT5, Image: © 2016 Matthew Guy/The Truth About Cars

When the original Cadillac SRX appeared for the 2004 model year, it rode atop a rear-wheel-drive unibody platform, offered three rows of seats, and asked a question rarely asked today: “V8 with that?”

Six years later, General Motors saw fit to yank the SRX out of that class and plunge it into the murderously competitive front-wheel drive, two-row luxury crossover field, shoving it in direct competition with the segment’s dominant sales king, the Lexus RX. Hand-wringing ensued, yet that iteration of the SRX sold nearly 100,000 copies globally in 2015. Not bad for a five-year-old model on the outs.

For 2017, Cadillac — drunk on the New York City skyline and “image spaces” in SoHo — introduced its CT6 sedan before turning its attention to updating its best seller.

Will Cadillac’s new utility, now christened XT5 and built in Saturn’s old Spring Hill digs in Tennessee, follow the brand’s relentless path to Audi-ization?
(Read More…)

By on August 30, 2016

2016 Chevrolet Spark LS

I could live with this car … under a couple of conditions.

Air conditioning is a must have, and I may have told you about the need for an aftermarket shifter solution.

But GM Canada’s $9,995 2016 Chevrolet Spark LS, which lacks A/C and a tolerable shifter, is nevertheless an acceptable place to spend time. Though it drives with far less verve than the not-sold-in-Freedomland $9,988 2016 Nissan Micra S, the Spark is the more comfortable and refined option.

Up the price with an array of options and the argument for North America’s second Chevrolet Spark falls apart. As a $10,000 car, however, there’s a case to be made. (Read More…)

By on August 11, 2016

2012 Ford Mustang Boss 302

“How do you get a job like that?”

Since June 13th, 2012, I’ve been asked this question more times than I can count. That was the day that my first post appeared on TTAC. Between then and now, I’ve been fortunate enough to be published on several sites around the internet and in print. As a result, I can’t sit next to somebody on a plane or work a corner at an autocross with a group of Tilley-wearers without being asked some variation of that same question.

I typically respond in the same way. “Start writing.” You can’t be a writer without writing — seems simple enough, but that’s where most people get stuck. Never fear. Your Uncle Bark is here to help you get started. If you want to get free flights to Tenerife, I can’t help you. But if you want to share your love of cars with the world, keep reading.


(Read More…)

By on June 30, 2016

Screen Shot 2016-06-29 at 6.58.43 PM

Here at TTAC, it’s been a tradition of sorts to call out poor examples of car reviews. In fact, we’ve done it so often over the years that I wondered if doing it again would be overkill. There’s such a multitude of miserably bad car reviewers on the minor car blogs of the Internet that it hardly seemed worth pointing out yet another case.

Well, I did wonder that. Then I read some reviews by Tim Esterdahl of Car Revs Daily. I wondered no longer.

(Read More…)

By on April 21, 2016

Vehicle Virgins still

Always dreamed of becoming a YouTube sensation? Wish you could get millions of clicks and finance your life from it?

That dream is a reality for Parker Nirenstein, a 21-year-old automotive engineering student at the University of Michigan and star of YouTube’s Vehicle Virgins channel.

Young, tech-savvy entrepreneurs always draw a crowd, and the BBC is the latest to take notice of this creator of viral car videos. Filmed on his own time, featuring supercars one day or simple used car advice the next, the channel sometimes generates nearly $1,000 of revenue a day. (Read More…)

By on January 1, 2016

2016 Volvo XC90 Exterior-001

Checking the files, I drove over 120 different cars, trucks, SUVs and crossovers in 2015. On track, off road, and in the Taco Bell drive-thru line. No wonder I’m tired and fat.

Here are my eight top picks from 2015. If you’re car shopping and you don’t buy one of these, you should be forced to own a Mitsubishi Mirage. Yes, I said it.

(Read More…)

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