The Truth About Cars » Driving The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Mon, 28 Jul 2014 13:00:51 +0000 en-US hourly 1 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » Driving Review: 2015 Honda Fit Thu, 10 Apr 2014 15:01:44 +0000 2015-honda-fit_main

There’s really no way to lead into this, so I’ll just come out and say it: the 2015 Honda Fit is a fantastic car. Around town, at speed on Southern California’s twisty canyon roads, on the highway, stuck in traffic- there wasn’t a single situation we put our EX and EX-L testers into that it didn’t handle with aplomb. Even some light off-roading didn’t twist up the Fit’s rigid frame.

Diving into corners at twice the posted advisory speed, the made-in-Mexico 2015 Honda Fit‘s electric steering does exactly what you’d expect it to. The new, 130 HP Earth Dreams engine pulls the car out the corner effectively enough, too- especially for a long-stroke 1.5 liter. The brakes are direct, drama-free, and the ABS kicks in right when you’d want it to.

After a quick lunch, Jeff (my co-driver for the day) and I decided to make some solo runs in the “comparison cars” Honda had on-hand for the event. These included a Chevy Sonic, a Toyota Yaris, and a Nissan Versa Note- all optioned up to about $17,000.

Simply put, the 2015 Honda Fit blew them all away. The Fit was a generation newer than the non-turbo Chevy Sonic, and it showed. The interior of the Nissan Versa was almost laughably cheap in comparison to the other cars, and the car, itself, got frighteningly squirrel-y under braking. The Toyota, alone, had an interior I’d call “comparable” to the Fit- but I certainly wouldn’t call it better and, on the canyon roads surrounding our Don Quixote-looking lunch stop …


… the Yaris was simply no match for the Honda.

It was such a one-sided Honda blowout, in fact, that I started to get a bit snarky about the whole event. “Do you think there’s much of a science to picking the comparison cars for these things?” I asked Jeff.

If you don’t know Jeff Palmer, trust me on this: he’s smart. You can tell. When you ask him a question, for example, he thinks about it for two or three seconds, then answers in complete, well-formed sentences. “I think Honda wants to its present competitor’s cars in a situation where they won’t perform as well as their car.”

Here’s where I (tried) to get snarky. “I dunno- I think all Honda’s really proven today is that they can build a $25,000 car better than other people can build a $17,000 car.”

I’d expected to get a giggle or a laugh out of Jeff, but he just looked confused. “How do you mean?” he asked.

“Well, this Honda- what’s it cost? There’s no sticker on it, so what’s it gonna cost? 22,000? 23?”

“No, this is an EX,” explained Jeff. “It’s replacing the old Fit Sport, which was about 17. It’s not going to be more than 17, $18,000.”

No way. There was no way that the 2015 Honda Fit EX (with an excellent 6-speed manual, I should add) we were driving was the same price as the cars we’d just driven. I refused to believe it, and the exchange that followed saw us pull over, open the trunk, and dig furiously through our notes to see just how far upmarket Honda had dragged its little hatchback.


The 2015 Honda Fit EX with a 6-speed manual transmission will sell for $17,435- and, if you’re shopping new subcompacts under $20K, you’d be a fool to spend your $17K on anything else. Really.

Properly chastened, I flipped and flopped the 2015 Honda Fit’s Magic Seats into Refresh Mode, kicked up my feet, and asked Jeff to drive me back to the hotel bar. When you’re a professional blogger (well- paid, anyway), and you can’t find any way to be snarky or s***ty about something, it’s time to pack it in for the day.

The new for 2015 Honda Fit should be arriving at dealerships soon, with 30+ MPG fuel economy and your choice of 6-speed manual or CVT. If I had to come up with a complaint, it would be that the 6 speed’s top gear is too short for American highways, and the engine buzzed at more than 3500 RPM at a 77 MPH cruise. If you drive 68, the buzz is gone- so, yeah. Small price to pay for the privilege of rowing your own, you know?

You can see how the new 2015 Honda Fit looks in red and yellow, below, and let us know what you think about the new Fit in the comments.


2015 Honda Fit in Red

red-fit_3 red-fit_2 red-fit_4 red-fit_1


2015 Honda Fit in Yellow

yellow-fit_2 yellow-fit_1 yellow-fit_3 yellow-fit_4


Originally published on Gas 2.

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Is Driving the new Smoking? Thu, 19 Sep 2013 11:30:03 +0000  

copyright Chris Bruntlett

copyright Chris Bruntlett

I love to smoke. That’s not a cool thing to admit; in fact it’s socially irresponsible. But there is something very satisfying about lighting up, and the sensation of that first drag. For me it’s not about nicotine. No I enjoy the act of smoking. Fortunately I also love to run and the two habits are rarely complementary. Save the occasional relapse, I quit some 16 years ago. But if smokes were only as bad for me as coffee, I would still light up, social pressures be dammed.

Apparently it’s a personal inclination. The automobile as evil is not new, but Chris Bruntlett wants to start a social trend that equates driving with smoking. He wants a communal backlash and public shaming of drivers. I am not upset because he hates cars; I am upset because I can almost agree with him.

In a recent submission to Vancouver magazine Hush, self-professed bike-geek Bruntlett calls driving “selfish, anti-social, unhealthy, and destructive.”

“Let’s face it: when someone gets into a car, they are entering a bubble. Not just a physical bubble of metal and glass, but also a figurative one, where all logic and reasoning is barred from entering…”

Apparently, we have shared the same morning commute.

“…They seem oblivious to the simple truth that the motor vehicle is the most inefficient mode of transportation ever devised. Without thinking, they squander millions of years of stored solar energy to haul around two tons of metal, fiberglass, machinery, and electronics, along with their meager frame. This machine demands a colossal amount of space: 300 square feet when parked, and 3,000 square feet when moving at 50 km/hr. As a result, we carelessly hand over vast chunks of our public realm to the parasitic automobile; space that could be put to much better use.”

The hybrid owners reading this can remove your smug expression now. It’s not just the pollution; it’s driving. According the Bruntlett, your green car is just as evil as my El Camino.

I am not entirely convinced the automobile is less efficient than say, an F-4 Phantom, but my old 1978 Mercury Colony park wagon came pretty close. Much has been opined about the swelling mass of even the most frugal of automobiles. I agree we could put that space to better use. Freeways are like your mother-in-law; they’re getting wider and uglier.

Jay Leno noted that alternative transportation will save the automobile in the same ilk the automobile saved the horse. Horses are now kept for sporting and pleasure. As a result, the quality of life for most horses is infinitely superior to the pedestrian mare of the old west. As better ways of moving people about arise, the car will become less of a need and more about leisure and entertainment. I’m surprisingly comfortable with that.

No worries, I won’t be scuttling my fleet anytime soon, and it’s not Chris Bruntlett’s logic winning me over. The shock numbers of his “warning label” for example;

copyright Chris Bruntlett

copyright Chris Bruntlett

“Perhaps no other symptom of car culture is more prevalent – and ignored – than the daily carnage that takes place on our streets. Every single day on this planet, 3,561 people suffer a horrific death inside a car. If another consumer product – such as a toaster – was causing this amount of death and destruction, we would immediately fix or ban the toaster. Instead, we treat road deaths as inevitable, collateral damage in our modern lives.”

He sneaks “3,561″ in right after “planet.” Quick Georgia public-school math tells me that this is just under 1.3 million annually. Despite the World Health Organization listing Road Injury as the 9th leading cause of death, that figure could multiply 10 times the current rate and still not equate to 2% of the global population. I am not being flippant about 1.3 million, but diarrhea-related diseases claimed 1.9 million in the same period, one could argue about the horrific nature of that death as well our ability to prevent it.

I don’t dislike Chris Bruntlett, in fact I respect him. He is a man of passion, and puts his money where his mouth is, riding a bicycle in hilly and (in the winter) wet, Vancouver. I can’t agree with his total mindset, but I can see a version of his world;

“We need a massive public education campaign to remind folks how dangerous, expensive and inefficient cars really are. In doing so, we might finally break the cycle of car addiction, and we’ll all be a little healthier, wealthier and happier for it.”

The way I see it, that means a utopian vision of easy, affordable and reliable public transportation that will take me to work, social engagements and the Midwest safely, efficiently and with the same pleasure I get from hopping in my Land Rover and jetting hallway across the US. The air will be clean and the cities full of green areas for children to play. The costs of that network and its upkeep would be staggering, but if it keeps those promises I’m in.

But I won’t quit driving.

Because in that utopian world, those of us who insist of feeding our automotive addiction will become the smokers in your building, achieving solidarity through being outcasts. The fringe of society will huddle in forgotten corners of your neighborhood around an idling engine we maintain for our own pleasure and enjoyment. Mirroring the evolution of the picnic area behind your parking lot, vast stretches of highway will be re-purposed as designated “driving areas.” They will exist just for me and my smelly cohorts. The stench of gasoline will permeate our clothes, and the grease under our nails will stand out like nicotine stains. The masses of society will cast disapproving stares, and we’ll smile back.

No, the automobile as evil is not new, but neither is the automobile as rebellion.

W. Christian Mental Ward has owned over 70 cars and destroyed most of them. He is married to the most patient woman in the world; actually rides a bicycle and so far in 2013 has run over 630 miles.

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Is America’s Love Affair With The Car Over? Americans Driving Less Mon, 02 Sep 2013 16:39:45 +0000

Click here to view the embedded video.

Is the American love affair with the automobile over? Total miles driven in the United States peaked in August of 2007, then dropped during the recession and has leveled off since then, though the economy is growing slightly and the population is increasing. According to the Detroit News, the Federal Highway Administration just reported that miles traveled during the first six months of 2013 continued the trend, being down slightly from 2012.

Individual miles traveled actually peaked in 2004, at about 900 miles per driver per month. By mid 2012, that had dropped to 820 miles per month. Per capita automobile use is now about where it was in the late 1990s. Until then, driving mileage generally tracked economic growth, according to U.S. Transportation Department economists Don Pickrell and David Pace (PDF presentation here). Since the late 1990s, though, the when the economy has grown, it has grown more rapidly than car use.


Meanwhile, the percentage of young people in their teens, 20s and 30s that don’t have driver’s licenses has been growing leading some to suggest that getting a driver’s license is no longer the American rite of passage it once was.

Researchers are divided on the reasons. One group blames the economy. Another group says that financial matters are a factor but that there are fundamental changes going on in how Americans see the personal automobile. In some urban areas a car is seen as more of a headache than fun.

Lifestyles are changing. People do more shopping online. Social networking is replacing in person visits with friends. Public transit, biking and walking to work are said to be on the increase. Pickerel and Pace say that these popular explanations do not necessarily match the data.

Demographics are also a factor. For all of the emphasis on younger drivers, baby boomers are exiting normal peak driving years between the ages of 45 and 55, also peak earning years. “They are still the dominant players, and they are moving toward a quieter transportation lifestyle,” Alan Pisarski, author of Commuting in America, said.

There is also a gender gap. Men generally drive more than women and now there are more women than men in the U.S. who have driver’s licenses. Also male employment was hard hit during the recession, and driving closely tracks to employment.

In any case, many economists say that a large number of Americans, especially teens and young adults, simply can’t afford to buy and insure a new car.

The driving decline has public policy implications. Less driving means less federal and state gas tax revenues, but it also means fewer resources need to be allocated to road building and maintenance.

We apologize for the shaky video. Unfortunately the DoT’s Volpe Center did not put it on YouTube or provide embedding code, so we had to do a screen capture and the results were not ideal. However, the information in the presentation is worthwhile so we put it up.

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Piston Slap: Limited Use but Unlimited Potential? Tue, 09 Apr 2013 11:00:10 +0000 TTAC commentator jdmcomp writes:

I own a Jaguar (Ford Era) that gets driven only about once a week, with jaunts of a few miles to several hundred. I keep syn oil in the engine. I have owned this car for several years and the only problem to date is the flat spotting of the tires. What should I do to keep this vehicle in good running condition? Is weekly driving enough?

Sajeev answers:

As someone with more cars than sense I could use, let me tell you: weekly driving is the best place to start.  Driving prevents leaks from dried out gaskets, keeps fuel (especially E10 blends) fresh by never letting it go bad, recharges the battery, keeps tires round, prevents fluids from separating into its base ingredients (coolant turning into jelly or crystals),  brakes (caliper pistons) free of rust and ensures your HVAC system doesn’t get sticky mechanisms/stale smelling.

This driving regiment will highlight “old car” problems: some major enough for immediate attention, others not important enough to ever address for the life of the vehicle. It’s all part of the process, and it’s a fun process.  Why?

Because NOT driving a car is a death sentence. Drive the Jag sometimes and drive it hard.  You already trust it for long journeys, this is a no brainer. The Jag will like it, and you will love it.**

  • Bad day at work? Take the Jag to the corporate car park tomorrow.  Shock/impress/intimidate your co-workers.  They need it, too.
  • Want to make a statement at a party?  Motor in the Jag and come correct, like a Boss.
  • Nervous about a first date? Not in a Shaguar you ain’t!  Yeeeah baby, yeah!

**Weather pending. I’m looking at you, Rust Belt.


Bonus! A Piston Slap Nugget of Wisdom:

In the above, replace Jaguar with Cougar and you have my basic story. My story is the truth, especially once the cat was old enough for classic car insurance. I know my story applies to anyone with a vehicular “toy” in the garage for occasional use.  Man or woman. Rich or Poor.  Black or White.  Bus pass or mundane daily driver. Jaguar or Cougar. 

Please believe: You gotta Do It, To It.


Send your queries to Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry…but be realistic, and use your make/model specific forums instead of TTAC for more timely advice.

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San Francisco Begins Investigating Cost-Per-Mile Driving Tue, 24 Jul 2012 15:45:49 +0000

The San Francisco Bay area will investigate a proposal to implement cost-per-mile driving, as a way to raise money for public transit and road repair while reducing pollution and congestion. reports that

“…drivers could be required to install GPS-like odometers or other devices in their vehicles and pay from less than a penny to as much as a dime for every mile driven. The idea could take a decade or more to be launched.”

The proposed mileage-based revenue collection would add an estimated $15 million per day to Bay Area coffers. Other proposals, like road tolls, HOV lanes and expanded public transit in suburban counties.

Before the Bay-Area stereotype diatribes begin, it’s worth noting that Atlanta has already investigated cost-per-mile driving…as well as locales in Oregon and Washington. Concerns about privacy and government monitoring were denied by one transit official, who was quoted by MercuryNews as stating “the last thing we’re interested in is where you go and what you do…”, but that’s unlikely to soothe any concerns about unnecessary surveillance.

As unpalatable as cost-per-mile driving is, this won’t be the last we hear of it, and it won’t be for the purposes of reducing greenhouse gas emissions - how do you think our roads will get repaired if people start using EVs or alternative fuel vehicles, and gas tax revenues plummet?

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Generation Why: If You Are Under 25 Or An Idiot, Please Don’t Buy A Scion FR-S Or Subaru BRZ Sat, 21 Apr 2012 13:00:45 +0000 Click here to view the embedded video.

With the release of the SciBaru FRZ just weeks away, everyone’s been caught up in the sticker price, available options and aftermarket support for the car, but nobody has asked a crucial question; what about insurance?

Insurance premiums tend to vary by jurisdiction, but under-25 males (such as myself) always suffer from financial trauma when trying to insure anything remotely interesting. In some places, paying double digits to insure a Corvette Z06 is considered robbery. Here in Ontario, anything under $150 a month for a young person is a steal, and the cars that can be insured for that little are not even remotely cool.

I don’t really care whether the FR-S/BRZ will drift easily or not, but I know lots of people will. There will be a percentage of people who will confine their behind-the-wheel adventures to the track, but there will also be another percentage that will attempt to play Formula D on public roads, or engage in other forms of reckless behavior. And this group, no matter how small, may ruin it for everyone.

While the sticker price of the cars aren’t exactly exorbitant, my friend Michael Banovsky over at Sympatico Autos raised the idea that high insurance premiums could conceivably kill the car’s appeal to a significant portion of its target market. Even though it’s a 2+2 coupe with a naturally aspirated engine, a few too many accident claims or speeding tickets could see premiums spike upwards to a level where even the most car-obsessed fanboy with a terminal lack of financial acumen might shy away from buying one. In Ontario, insurance for cars like the Honda S2000 or Subaru WRX can cost hundreds of dollars per month (I was once quoted over $500 per month for a WRX. I was 21, but without any tickets or claims) thanks to high theft rates and their adoption by local idiots who insist on racking up tickets for illegal car modifications, speeding, street racing and reckless driving. One of the reasons my Miata doesn’t have such high premiums is because owners tend to be closer to collecting their pensions than paying off student loans and they’re rarely crashed or stolen.

High insurance premiums are cited (along with gas prices) as a reason for the death of the muscle car. I really hope they don’t torpedo the BR-Z either. There’s really not much that can be done about it, save for people driving responsibly and not screwing it up for the rest of us. Unfortunately, wishing that the world was a certain way rather than accepting it on reality’s terms has consistently proven to be a losing strategy.

I called my insurer to get a quote on the BRZ/FR-S for this article. They didn’t even have it in their database yet.

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The War On Drivers: “Car-To-X” Communication System Testing Begins Sat, 22 Oct 2011 19:30:05 +0000

Though the idea that there is a “war on cars” appeals to certain segments of society, there’s little evidence for any such effort. On the other hand, it’s pretty clear that there’s a “war on drivers” on, and it’s being led by the automotive industry. On the one hand, cars are being ever-more laden with distracting gizmos and toys, while simultaneously, companies are testing systems that minimize the need for drivers at all. Though Google’s autonomous cars get a lot of media play in this country, another system is moving Europe towards a similar endgame. Known as “Car-To-X,” the system allows cars to swap information like speed and direction, not just with each other but with traffic lights and traffic data collectors. The idea is to avoid traffic and crashes, by warning drivers of oncoming traffic in a left-hand turn scenario, for example. Because who wants to use their eyes to make sure they’re safe when technology can do it for you?

According to Autobild, the first public German test of the system will begin next spring, with 120 vehicles taking part. GM is currently testing a similar system. If all goes according to plan, systems like this and Google’s autonomous technology will fulfill GM’s prediction that autonomous vehicles will be a reality by 2020, and the war on driving will be won. Or lost, depending on your perspective.

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Fuel Economy: It’s Your Problem Too Mon, 17 Oct 2011 16:29:07 +0000 A University of Michigan study [PDF] shows that, in the 85 years between 1923 and 2008, average on-road fuel economy in the US has improved a mere 3.5 MPG. In fact, the study shows that driving a car is even more energy-intensive (per occupant-mile) than flying on an airplane (3,501 BTU per mile versus 2,931 BTU per mile). Some will blame weak government regulations for this unimpressive result, but the study found that the convenient government scapegoat is not completely to blame.

This report presents information about the effects of decisions that a driver can make to influence on-road fuel economy of light-duty vehicles. These include strategic decisions (vehicle selection and maintenance), tactical decisions (route selection and vehicle load), and operational decisions (driver behavior).

The results indicate that vehicle selection has by far the most dominant effect: The best vehicle currently available for sale in the U.S. is nine times more fuel efficient than the worst vehicle. Nevertheless, the remaining factors that a driver has control over can contribute, in total, to about a 45% reduction in the on-road fuel economy per driver—a magnitude well worth emphasizing. Furthermore, increased efforts should also be directed at increasing vehicle occupancy, which has dropped by 30% from 1960. That drop, by itself, increased the energy intensity of driving per occupant by about 30%

So, the industry (and its government regulators) still have a huge impact on overall on-road fuel economy, as there is still a major swing between the most and the least fuel-efficient car. But, as the chart above shows, even if you do pick an efficient vehicle (36 MPG in this example), it’s still possible to operate it at a serious penalty to fuel economy. According to the report, consumers have the power to cut emissions by a much as 45% by paying closer attention to the following issues:

Maintenance: Keeping your engine tuned, using fuel-efficient tires, and using low-friction engine oils.

Route selection: Maximizing highway use, optimizing the route’s grade/elevation profile, avoiding traffic

Driving techniques: Minimizing idle time, minimizing engine revolutions, using cruise control, minimizing a/c use, and driving less aggressively

And this emphasis on personal responsibility for fuel economy even touches lifestyle choices you never associated with driving. For example, the study notes

the average adult in the U.S. in 2002 was about 24 pounds heavier than in 1960 (Ogden, Fryar, Carroll, and Flegel, 2004). This weight gain results in a reduction in fuel economy of up to about 0.5%.

In other words, fuel economy as a holistic goal is a partnership between the industry and consumers. After all, even if the government mandates super-high fuel economy standards, it’s still up to consumers to operate their vehicles such that they actually achieve their promised efficiency. The power is in our hands to ruin our own fuel economy by as much as 45%, whether we drive a fuel-sipping subcompact or a gas-guzzling pickup. The only problem is that consumers no more want to drive super-efficiently than manufacturers want to make super-efficient cars. But sooner or later, something’s got to give… especially since on-road fuel economy has improved by .04 MPG per year since 1923.


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