By on December 2, 2016

2016 McLaren 570S Front 3/4 in front of McLaren Engineering, Image: © 2016 Ronnie Schreiber/The Truth About Cars

After I spent some time with the McLaren 570s, the British supercar company’s entry-level model for North America, I asked Jack Baruth if he thought the 675LT was worth $200,000 dollars more than the 570S.

I’d driven the 675LT around Los Angeles back in January and Jack’s driven both cars as well. The 570S’ performance impressed me, but I wanted the opinion of someone with more experience driving six-figure sports cars than I do.

Jack’s reply was simple: “Yes, it is.”

I don’t have the income to afford either car, but I realized two things upon consideration. The first was Jack was correct: if I had $400,000 to spend on a car, I’d probably go with the 675LT. Though edging into diminishing returns, the differences are noticeable to even a ham-fisted driver such as myself.

The second realization: at around $200,000, the 570S is a bargain. (Read More…)

By on November 30, 2016

2017 Mazda 3 5-Door - Image: © Timothy Cain/The Truth About Cars

American consumers acquire more than 200,000 new compact cars every month. Only 4 percent of those cars are Mazda 3s.

Compact car buyers are far more likely to drive away from a new car dealer in a Corolla, Civic, Sentra, Elantra, or Cruze; more likely to choose a Focus, Jetta, or Forte, too.

While U.S. sales of compact cars are down 4 percent this year, Mazda 3 volume is down 11 percent.

I’ve spent a lot of time in the more popular compacts. The 2017 Mazda 3 is better than those cars. And this particular 2017 Mazda 3, a hatchback in top Grand Touring trim with the 2.5-liter engine upgrade and — oh my goodness, a manual transmission — is better than other Mazda 3s.

But you remain unconvinced. (Read More…)

By on November 28, 2016

2017 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport

A friend once asked me — jokingly, mind you — what vehicle would be the ride least likely to arouse suspicion from the police. The anti-heat score, if you will. As a proud (multiple) past owner, I knew the correct answer — a grey, ubiquitous, anonymous five- to 10-year-old General Motors sedan. At least, I thought I did.

Well, I take it all back.

Only while driving a Hyundai Santa Fe Sport does one realize that everyone else drives a Hyundai Santa Fe Sport. Everyone. In fact, you’re probably reading this in a Hyundai Santa Fe Sport. Allegedly, Hyundai sells the popular crossover in splashy colors like red, but a shade reminiscent of the slate-grey November sky that murdered the Edmund Fitzgerald’s crew seems to be the go-to choice  for most buyers. Would-be bank robbers, scofflaws and undercover cops, take note.

If you’re one of the few who hasn’t yet signed on the dotted line for the Big Blue H’s lower-midsize crossover — newly refreshed for 2017, in case you weren’t aware — I drove one so you won’t have to.

Now, why does my mind keep returning to the ocean? (Read More…)

By on November 21, 2016

2004 toyota camry le v6 pei farm - Image: © Timothy Cain/The Truth About Cars

Having endured 12 hard Canadian winters on an island covered in red dirt, this 2004 Toyota Camry is about to enter its thirteenth; its tenth since my father-in-law took ownership.

That red dirt is truly key to the story, because its color comes from Prince Edward Island’s high iron oxide content. Yes, that iron oxide. Rust.

But the Camry, undercoated three times since 2007, is an almost rust-free wonder with nearly 340,000 miles under its belt. (Read More…)

By on November 10, 2016

2017 Audi A4 Allroad Glacier White lobster trapsThe Land Of The Free America may be, but the American car buyer’s right to buy wagons is increasingly encroached upon by government overreach. Or perhaps it’s just automakers’ collective desire to sell you a high-margin crossover.

Affordable wagons? There are a few left: the Volkswagen Golf SportWagen, the Toyota Prius V, the Mini Clubman (if the definition is stretched). Premium wagons persist at Volvo. The BMW 3 Series Sports Wagon continues. (For now.) Mercedes-Benz does an E-Class Wagon.

But if wagons that were available in the relatively recent past — TSX, A6, CTS, 5 Series, Magnum, Focus, Taurus, Elantra, C-Class, Lancer, 9-3, Legacy, Passat — were to return to the United States, they would likely have to do so in elevated fashion.

Just look here. This is an Audi A4 Avant, a successor to the car that finished its course in 2012. Add up to 4.5 inches of matte black cladding, raise the ride height by nine-tenths of an inch for 6.5 inches of ground clearance, and you have a 2017 Audi A4 Allroad. The Avant that’s available. (Read More…)

By on October 31, 2016

2017 Mercedes-Benz E300 4Matic Rainbow Haven

Style is subjective. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. You believe the Mini Paceman is the ugliest of Minis; I say it’s the best. You believe the X6 is BMW at its masculine and modern best; I believe the X6 stands in stark and unfortunate contrast to the beautiful delicacy of the BMW 2002tii.

We disagree. And that’s okay.

Therefore, when we approach the 2017 Mercedes-Benz E-Class — supplied here by Mercedes-Benz Canada in E300 4Matic form — we may differ on the merits and demerits of the new midsize sedan’s design. But surely on this we can concur: the E-Class is now less distinguishable from its baby C-Class brother than ever before.

Is that a good thing? Perhaps not. But on the other hand, the new E-Class is now less distinguishable from its big S-Class brother than ever before.

Regardless of the image it presents to the world, the fifth-generation E-Class is much more Benz than the C-Class, and very nearly as much Benz as the S-Class. (Read More…)

By on October 26, 2016

2016 Hyundai Veloster Turbo rearRed sky at morning, sailors take warning

Although the old adage operates with impeccable accuracy where I live, near the 45th parallel, the sign of a red sky in the morning lacks the same meaning closer to the equator where winds are less likely to blow west to east.

Likewise, in vehicular terms, there are signs that hold true in most corners of the industry but fail to prognosticate with perfect consistency across the board.

Apparently, against reasonable expectations and legends painted in the eastern sky, a supremely stiff suspension, weighty steering, and a Golf GTI-like weight-to-power ratio do not automatically result in the issuance of performance car credentials.

Hooked up to a dual-clutch transmission, the 2016 Hyundai Veloster Turbo isn’t all that quick, doesn’t corner with uncommon verve, and isn’t particularly enjoyable to engage on twisty rural roads.

But the Veloster looks the part, and it’s loaded with enough equipment to embarrass many a premium car. Oh, the conundrum. (Read More…)

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…)

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