By on May 7, 2016

2017 Elantra Eco

Hyundai sent its newly redesigned compact away for a lifestyle change, and it returned as the fuel-sipping Elantra Eco.

Sporting a new drivetrain and an EPA-estimated highway fuel economy rating of 40 miles per gallon, the 2017 Elantra Eco retails for $21,485 (after freight). City and combined ratings are 32 and 35 mpg, respectively.

The 2017 Elantra Limited we tested was no gas guzzler, often surpassing its 37 mpg highway rating, but the new Eco clearly has its competitors’ 40-plus mpg ratings in its sights. It’s also possible that Hyundai still has some lingering guilt over the not-yet-forgotten gas mileage scandal of four years ago. (Read More…)

By on May 4, 2016

1992 Geo Metro Convertible in California Junkyard, RH front view - © 2016 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

The Geo Metro, a Suzuki Cultus imported by GM, came after the Chevrolet Sprint version of the Cultus but before GM axed the Geo brand and started selling Chevrolet Metros, which sold in respectable numbers during its 1989-1997 run.

There was a convertible version of the Metro, which allowed thin-walleted drivers to enjoy open-air driving without having to take a Sawzall to a 20-year-old Corolla, and I’ve found one of the few remaining ones at a San Francisco Bay Area self-service yard. (Read More…)

By on March 1, 2016

2016 Dacia Duster Essential front 3/4, Image: Renault

Romanian automaker Dacia is crafting limited-edition versions of its most popular models and wants its online fans to name them.

To mark the initiative, Dacia brought its first such model — the Swiss market-bound Duster Essential — to show off at the 2016 Geneva Motor Show.

Creature comforts like power windows and doors, alloy wheels, Bluetooth connectivity and a new specialty body color (which even covers the bumpers!) are what sets these versions apart from their entry-level brethren. It also puts greater distance between the brand and its crude Eastern Bloc origins.

(Read More…)

By on October 14, 2013

2014 Toyota Corolla Exterior, Front, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes

Calling the Corolla “Toyota’s most important car” would be an understatement. This single model accounts for 38 percent of all Toyotas ever sold in the USA and they expect to shift 330,000 next year alone. If the sheer quantity wasn’t amazing enough, ponder this reality: 75% of sales will be split between just four different configurations. If you’re in a 2014 Corolla, the odds are about one in five that the Corolla next to you is identical save for paint color. Often derided by the automotive press as a “driving appliance,” is there more to the 2014 Corolla or is it just a toaster with wheels? Let’s find out.

(Read More…)

By on September 17, 2013

2014 Scion tC Exterior, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes

Many assumed that with the new FR-S hitting the dealers, it would only be a matter of time before the front-wheel-drive tC was sent out to pasture. However with an average buyer age of 28, the tC is isn’t just the youngest Toyota, it’s the youngest car in America. With demographics like that, product planners would be fools to kill off the tC and so the “two coupé strategy” was born. The last time we looked at the tC, the FR-S had yet to be born, this time the tC has been refreshed in the FR-S’ image. Which two door is right for you? Click past the jump, the answer might surprise you.

(Read More…)

By on February 26, 2013
Photo courtesy of www.asphaltwa.com

Descent into the Columbia river gorge on I 90 during summer

A few miles East of Ellensburg, WA, on the long winding descent into the Columbia river gorge, the little car, too small to run smoothly in both sets of the deep ruts that the semi trucks had worn into the pavement of Interstate 90, rolled from groove it had been following on the left side of the lane and dropped abruptly into the groove on the right. The lateral movement of the car within the lane was not great, maybe a foot or two, and I accounted for the motion with a simple counter of the steering wheel as I speed steadily along through the dark winter night.

(Read More…)

By on November 15, 2009

(courtesy:hogansclassiccars.com)

Passenger pigeons were the most common bird found in North America. So common that flocks numbering 2 billion were up to a mile wide and 300 miles long. In other words, the average North American in the 18th and 19th Century saw a lot of these pigeons. You could easily argue that a passenger pigeon sighting in 1812 was something on the same scale today as seeing mind-numbing crap on TV. Not a particularly noteworthy or unique experience. So what took the passenger pigeon down? It was a combination of things but the biggest factor was that these pigeons tasted pretty good (a lot like chicken) and they were plentiful-hence a cheap source of food.bThey were wiped out at the pace of millions per year, so the last documented passenger pigeon named Martha died on September 1st 1914. In other words, something the average American had seen every day was extinct in a matter of a few decades. Quick extinction of a very common species is not a phenomenon exclusive to Mother Nature because cars can disappear overnight too. Here are a few that will soon be joining that “whatever happened to…” list.
(Read More…)

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