The Truth About Cars » Features The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Wed, 23 Jul 2014 16:29:19 +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 » Features Answers: The Best Automotive Details Tue, 13 Aug 2013 17:26:27 +0000 Screen Shot 2013-08-13 at 12.46.48 PM

A few weeks ago, I asked everyone for their opinions on which items make up the best automotive details. Well, you guys weren’t shy. We got 266 different responses, and while not all of them contained details, many included dozens. Some guy (user Wheeljack) even responded with something like two full pages of details solely from the Merkur Scorpio. This, ladies and gentlemen, is what makes the TTAC community so great.

Anyway, I went through the list and picked out a few of my favorites from your suggestions. Here goes:

Holden Commodore Very Low Fuel Warning – APaGttH

No, APaGttH has not warned me that I’m low on fuel. Instead, he has revealed possibly the greatest automotive detail ever for a driver like me. I’m referring to the Holden Commodore’s dual-stage fuel reminders: one for low, and one for very low. This is brilliant engineering, although I do have one quibble: Let’s be completely honest. If you know a “very low” light is going to be coming on soon, wouldn’t you start to ignore the “low” light? I know I would. And that’s why I have AAA.

Nissan Around View – LeeK

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One of the coolest modern features in existence is a Nissan system dubbed “Around View.” Here’s how it works: there are four cameras mounted on all four sides of the vehicle. When you’re backing up, you can activate the cameras to get a top-down view of the spot you’re entering. In other words, you can see both sides, the front, and the back. This is perfect for tight parking spots, but it’s even better for nasty curbs. Goodbye, curb rash!!

Buick Regal GS Gauges – kjb911

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We all love the Buick Regal GS. I mean, I certainly love it, and if you don’t then I must ask: What do you hate more, the awesome styling or the loads of well-priced horsepower? (You would answer: “the front-wheel drive,” which is why these posts aren’t Q&A sessions.)

Anyway: the Regal GS has a neat touch suggested by kjb911. When you push the “GS” button, the gauges actually change colors to let you know that it’s time to do some serious driving. Now that is the kind of unnecessary money spending that once catapulted Mercedes to the top of the luxury car world. (Mercedes fell to the bottom when they were sitting around a poorly ventilated conference room in Stuttgart and someone said: I bet it would be cheaper to build cars in Alabama!)

Volkswagen CC Rearview Camera – dmw

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I admit to being totally smitten with this one. Apparently, if you have a rearview camera in your Volkswagen CC like dmw does, it activates by popping out from under the Volkswagen logo on the trunk. One minute, the Volkswagen logo is sitting there like normal, minding its own business; the next, it’s slightly tilted upwards and you can see if you’re about to back over a flowerbed.

This detail, by the way, should also be filed under: “Reasons why you’d never want to own a Volkswagen CC out of warranty.”

Mercedes R-Class Bottle Opener – tatracitroensaab

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This is awesome. The R-Class has two center-mounted cupholders just like virtually every other car on the market, except for my old Lotus Elise which didn’t have two center-mounted anything. But here’s the R-Class trick: pull out the divider between the cupholders, flip it over, and – tada! – it’s a bottle opener. You have to assume the Germans have used this to open every single bottle of beer Gerolsteiner Mineral Water they could find.

BMW Glovebox Flashlight – Car Ramrod

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I know this isn’t unique to BMW, but it’s a good idea that definitely deserves mentioning. For years, BMWs had a small flashlight in the glovebox that was hooked up to a charger powered, presumably, by the engine. The result was there was always a flashlight around if you need it. This is especially helpful for BMW drivers since they’re far more prone to slashed tires after pissing off someone on the street.

Toyota 4Runner Rear Window – all people in other SUVs

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A few folks suggested this, and I can’t believe I forgot it in the original post. For those who aren’t aware, here’s the deal: the 4Runner’s rear window rolls down. Not the side windows for the rear seats (OK, they roll down too). I mean the rear window, behind the cargo area.

Why is this cool? Dozens of reasons. Dogs love it. People who want ventilation love it. But most importantly, it’s cool just because it’s sort of a 4Runner insider thing – and while Toyota could’ve done away with it each time they redesign the 4Runner, they never have. This requires extra engineering for the rear wiper and the tailgate, but they do it anyway.

Mazda Oscillating Vents – deanst

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The pinnacle of Mazda luxury came when they debuted oscillating vents. A lot of people will tell you the Volkswagen Phaeton pioneered this brilliance, but – in modern times, at least – Mazda was the technology leader. With the press of the “swing” button, the vents would swivel back and forth while the air was on, sending heat or cold air to all parts of the cabin.

Chrysler Audio Buttons – Wodehouse

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Through all of Chrysler’s well-documented early-2000s-to-now low points, and there have been many, the brand did one thing absolutely right: audio buttons. Hidden on the back of most Chrysler steering wheels are buttons that control the track, the radio station, the volume, and the stereo mode.

They’re unlabeled, which pisses off car journalists who aren’t familiar with the design. But if you actually own a Chrysler, they become your best friend. Not only do you never have to remove your hand from the wheel to change any audio setting, but they allow Chrysler to leave the rest of the wheel clean and simple. And, unfortunately, full of cheap plastic.

There are many more suggestions to cover, but not enough time – or space – to cover them all! Thanks to everyone who participated and, as always, feel free to suggest more in the space below.

@DougDeMuro is the author of Plays With Cars and the operator of He’s owned an E63 AMG wagon, road-tripped across the US in a Lotus without air conditioning, and posted a six-minute lap time on the Circuit de Monaco in a rented Ford Fiesta. One year after becoming Porsche Cars North America’s youngest manager, he quit to become a writer. His parents are very disappointed.

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QOTD: What Automotive Details Are You Missing? Wed, 07 Aug 2013 16:40:46 +0000 Screen Shot 2013-08-07 at 12.21.46 PM

OK, folks: time for one last question of the day (for now, anyway). As you know, we’ve covered the best automotive details and the worst automotive details, both of which garnered well over 200 comments. Interestingly, the “worst” thread got about 100 more comments than the “best” thread, proving that we TTACers are a “glass is half empty” kind of crowd.

With that knowledge in mind, I’ve decided to ask one more pressing question: what automotive details are you missing? In other words: you’re driving down the road and you think to yourself: Why the hell doesn’t it have that? And then you get even more upset when someone tells you that the latest subcompact General Motors vehicle does have that, and it’s standard.

These can be from your own car, a friend’s car, or the industry as whole. And with that in mind, let’s get started:

Convertible Top Open/Close With Key Fob

At Porsche, I discovered that all European convertible models have a feature that allows the convertible top to open and close with the press of a key fob button. Hold down the unlock button in your 911 Cabriolet, for example, and the windows and top all go down. Seems brilliant, right?

Except that feature isn’t offered in the States, presumably for liability reasons. You know: because an American will place a baby on the roof of a convertible, press the button, then sue the automaker for $25 million, which will turn into $95 million once the jurors start crying.

Sliding Doors

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If you’ve been to Europe, chances are you’ve seen the Peugeot 1007, which was recently voted the coolest car ever in a scientific poll taken on the Peugeot 1007 Facebook group.

I love the 1007 because it’s unique in one very important way: it features sliding doors, and it isn’t a minivan. The doors aren’t for the rear passengers, you see, but for the front seats. This allows you to park virtually anywhere and get out of your car, making it the exact opposite of the Ford GT.

Swiveling Headlights

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I know, I know, a few luxury cars have this. And that means in about 10 years, all cars will have it. But to me, that moment couldn’t come soon enough. I think swiveling headlights are one of the greatest things currently offered: they save your neck in dark corners, and they seem to shine exactly where you want them to.

Rear-Facing Third-Row Seats


I used to own a car with rear-facing third-row seats, which qualifies me as to be an expert on the hotly contested issue of: Should cars have rear-facing third row seats?

The answer is, of course: yes they should. Because let’s be honest: rear-facing third-row seats pretty much always lead to a happy childhood. Also, for those who believe they aren’t safe, here’s a thought: in a rear-end collision, wouldn’t you rather have your legs get hit than the back of your head? I thought so.

Hands-Free Texting


If you’re like me, you view texting as a necessary evil with which we, as a society, are forced to cope. And if you’re like me, you probably send the occasional text message at a traffic light. Well, guess what? Most people are not like me. Most people are texting at all hours of the day and night, including while driving down the street, the highway, the alley, and, occasionally, the sidewalk.

I recently read a study on texting that said around 60 percent of 13-to-25-year-olds consider it the preferred method of communication. And since texting is so easy to distract us from driving, this is something that automakers will need to integrate better in the coming years. Voice controls? Mind controls? I don’t know. But something.

So, TTAC, what details are you missing? And don’t worry: I promise we’ll have “answers of the day” posts coming soon.

@DougDeMuro is the author of Plays With Cars and the operator of He’s owned an E63 AMG wagon, road-tripped across the US in a Lotus without air conditioning, and posted a six-minute lap time on the Circuit de Monaco in a rented Ford Fiesta. One year after becoming Porsche Cars North America’s youngest manager, he quit to become a writer. His parents are very disappointed.

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Ten Simple Things The Industry Could Do For Me This Christmas Sat, 24 Dec 2011 20:08:26 +0000

All told, this has been a successful holiday season for your humble editor. I have showered myself with gifts, avoided annoying family entanglements, kept my pimp hand weak strong, and made sure there’s a three-hour gap in my Christmas to re-watch Michael Mann’s Heat in its glorious entirety.

And yet… I’m dissatisfied. Perhaps because there are ten simple things the automotive industry and/or its various players could do to make this the best season ever, and as of yet, none of them have been done. So here’s my list, delivered nice and late. Warning: mixture of hatred, sarcasm, and foolish sincerity ahead.

#10: Get the Chinese crap out of iconic American automobiles. There’s no simpler way to say it. Ford, please fit a decent, American-made transmission to all the Mustangs. If you need to, just toss in the GT500 transmission, charge everyone a fair amount for the difference, and rest secure in the knowledge that the right thing has been done. GM, you don’t get a pass on this either. Every Corvette sold in this country should have American-made wheels. It’s that simple. I don’t want to do 195mph on wheels made by suppliers who can just close their doors and reopen the next day under a different name. We won’t even talk about the electronics. Just fix the running parts, okay?

#9: Mercedes-Benz should formally apologize for the W220 and W210. Every customer who purchased a new S-Class or E-Class from those infamously troubled generations should receive a letter in the mail, hand-signed by Dr. Panzer Kampf-Wagen or whoever is running the show nowadays, apologizing for selling them an utter piece of junk. Hundreds of thousands of customers were basically swindled. They thought they were buying a Mercedes-Benz, not a cost-cut half-plastic embarrassment. Make it right. And throw them a little incentive towards the price of a new (and presumably better) Benz, just to make up for the abysmal resale on, say, the 2001 S430.

#8: Kill the Caliber. Okay, I guess that one’s been done.

#7: Buy all the Calibers back. Well, a guy can dream.

#6: Extend the warranty on the Cadillac Northstar. All of them. As dismal as the Mercedes-Benz S430 was, at least the basic mechanical parts were generally sound. Not so the Caddy four-valver. It’s great to drive and the name is also really cool, but they have become infamous for reliability issues. Now would be a good time for GM to show that they are serious about making Cadillac a world-class brand. They could do this by extending the warranty to match that of existing world-class brands like Hyundai, Kia, and Mitsubishi. If you really want to impress people, and if you really want to do something about Cadillac residuals, extend the warranty backwards in time. There’s precedent. Honda did it on the exploding-tranny Acuras. Surely Cadillac can match Acura.

#5: Go ahead and release the real 2012 Honda lineup. Oh, you’ve certainly had your fun with us, you crazy Japan-people, you. We Got Punked! I’m laughing. I really am. So now you can pull the wraps off the Civic, Acura TL/TSX, and CR-Z that you really want people to buy. I can hardly wait. DO EEET NOW. Obviously anybody who accidentally bought the current cars will get to trade, right?

#4: Let’s get Car and Driver and Road & Track off the newsstands. And AutoWeek while you’re at it. Seriously. Those of us who remember these magazines in their prime (not that AutoWeek ever had a prime, but you get the idea) are just depressed by reading them now — and the younger drivers don’t care. Close their doors and give existing subscribers, none of whom paid more than $6.95 a year anyway, their choice of Grassroots Motorsports or Shaved Asians to finish out their terms. Reading these once-great magazines now produces the same uncomfortable feeling I had when I heard that Jaco Pastorius had died in a gutter. Let’s make the dignified choice.

#3: End trim discrimination for manual transmissions. We live in an era where just-in-time manufacturing and supply have revolutionized the way cars are built. There is no reason whatsoever why the Hyundai Elantra Limited can’t be had with a manual transmission. Same goes for any other number of cars on the market. I’m not asking anybody to take the completely wacky step of fitting optional manuals on cars which don’t have them available now. I’m not living in dreamland. I understand that it’s critical for every Nissan Maxima sold to be crippled with that ridiculous Completely Vapid Transmission, and I can see how it’s simply too much hassle to offer a stick-shift in US-market Mercedes-Benz sedans, what with the extra $10 million it would cost to test the powertrain combination. That kind of cash pays for a lot of hidden goodwill programs on the W210 (see #9, above). I’m just saying: if you offer a manual transmission in one trim level, offer it in all of them. TSX Wagon, I’m looking directly at you. It can be special order only. That’s okay. I will wait.

#2: Porsche. Try finding it in your God-damned hearts to engineer, build, and sell a sporting 2+2 made to last a lifetime under a combination of four-season street and casual racetrack usage. Take all the money you waste on lifestyle marketing, accessories catalogs, special promotions, unique tie-ins, PR, free trans-Atlantic business-class flights for sycophants, hybrid drivetrains for five-thousand-pound crapwagons, special advertising sections, long-term loaners, Peter Cheney’s garage door, full-color glossy posters featuring frog-faced, thyroid-deficient trucksedans, whatever special tools are required to make sure the Cayman’s engine pushes less air than the 911′s, and any other unbelievably stupid thing you’re currently doing — and put all of it into creating a decent car. Just do that. Just put aside the thirty years of self-aggrandizing detritus you’ve built up around a once-legendary brand. Just build a car that will run 200,000 miles with careful maintenance the way (some of) the air-cooled cars did. I want to buy a Porsche. But I’m not a big enough fool to give you $85,000 for something that will have major, unresolved defects and a 35% residual five years after I take delivery.

#1: I’d like my colleagues to look in the mirror. If you’re writing in this business, today would be a good day to take stock of who you are, what you’re written, and the things for which you personally stand. Today would be a good day to remember that, although your super-best-friends in the PR business may pay for your daily driver, send your family on vacations, and pick up the tab for your drinks, your genuine and true responsibility is to the people who read your articles. My son is two and a half years old. The day will come when I am dead and he will only have what I’ve written to guide him as to who I was. He will see that I was flawed, intemperate, promiscuous, and occasionally naive to a fault — but he will also see that I believed in my readers and was passionate about creating content in which they could believe. Will your son be able to say the same? Or will he say, “My father (or mother) was a pawn of people who bought and sold him for the price of a monthly car payment”? Here’s a litmus test. If you had more interactions with PR people, fleet managers, and industry buddies than you did with your own readers last month, you’re part of the problem. Fix your wagon.

What are the chances I will get any of these gifts? Let’s be honest. It’s between slim and none. I have received one thing for which I am grateful, however: all of you at TTAC. Time and time again you have demonstrated that, collectively, you are the greatest group of partners any writer in the automotive world could wish to have. Merry Christmas to me, indeed.

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