The Truth About Cars » Motor Trend The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Thu, 17 Jul 2014 13:26:26 +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 » Motor Trend When We Say TTAC Homecoming, We Mean It Fri, 23 Aug 2013 13:30:59 +0000

Long-time TTAC readers will recall that some time ago, I accidentally became embroiled in a Facebook-wall argument with Motor Trend editor (and TTAC alum) Jonny Lieberman. When Jonny’s best friend and boss, Edward Loh, quite sensibly leapt to his defense, I said a lot of mean things that I probably should have just thought quietly to myself. Sometimes I forget that it’s not my job to make sure other people adhere to particular standards, ethical, aesthetic, or otherwise. I’ll do a better job of remembering that in the future.

As part of TTAC Homecoming, I’m featuring one of Jonny’s videos. In this episode of “The One”, Jonny pretends to be a British auto journalist as he drives the Challenger SRT-8 “Core” around what I think is probably the Streets of Willow. While I will freely admit that this sort of automotive journalism is not for me — the last straw on the proverbial camel’s back is probably when Jonny talks about his “good friend” Ralph Gilles, I’m of the opinion that our readers, not the PR people, should be our good friends — it’s definitely unique and it’s all part of the MT YouTube channel which, I am reliably informed, is the biggest automotive media source in North America. Not bad for a guy who used to write here for free, huh?

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Geo Storm EV Mule, The Chevrolet Volt’s Baby Daddy? Thu, 31 May 2012 15:23:12 +0000

While on the Infiniti JX launch event, I met a gentleman who now works with Nissan. He had a number of interesting stories about his tenure at GM, and what it was like to work on the EV1 program, as well as the technology that he swears was the forerunner to the Chevrolet Volt.

According to him, GM engineers in 1991 needed a way to keep the batteries in their GM Storm EV mules charged. A crude range extender was fashioned out of a Honda generator, which would kick in when the batteries dropped below a certain point.

The Storm mules were gutted and filled with batteries and a generator and driven around during development. He swears that, with the number of EV1 and Impact (the original GM EV) people left kicking around for the Volt’s development, the range extender idea must have lived on in someone’s mind for a very long time, until it came time to put it in operation.

I begged him to grant me an interview, or at least let me quote him, but he wouldn’t indulge me. I was left wondering about the early days of the program, until I stumbled upon this article in the January 1992 edition of Motor Trend. The big difference here is that GM has ditched the range extender and worked out a proper 220V charging system (apparently that was an obstacle in the early days).  Note that the EV1 charging paddle is absent here, and it seems to use a very-1990s flashing LED charge port, similar to the L.A. Gear running shoes that were found to have mercury in them.

Since there seems to be a fair amount of Storm love on TTAC these days, it’s worth recognizing the irony of a largely forgotten car paving the way for perhaps the biggest automotive lightning rod since the Edsel.

You can see the full-size scan in the gallery below

Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail stormmule ev1-paddle-2


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Nissan Horrifies Automotive Media With Lack Of Juke-R Long-Term Testers Thu, 03 May 2012 16:14:09 +0000

Nissan sent a blow to the automotive press today, with the announcement that none of the upcoming limited production Juke-R crossovers would be allocated for long-term testing.

Tom Barnard of Nissan GB made a brief announcement via Twitter stating

“Just announced that we’re going to put the Juke R into limited production. No, we won’t be doing long termers. Or company cars.”

The announcement was felt across the automotive media industry, with journalists issuing last-ditch attempts at persuading Nissan to lend them a Juke-R. Some even resorted to effusive, sycophantic praise in a desperate attempt to establish enthusiast credibility by professing undying love for the pointless engineering exercise.

An anonymous observer noted that producing the Juke-R isn’t particularly “courageous”, since it counts as a mere marketing exercise using existing components to create a halo vehicle. The same observer also noted the vitriolic hate for the car’s design and packaging when it first debuted in 2010, despite the fact that it’s a great vehicle. Auto journalists have strangely suspended their irrational group-think hatred of crossovers when reporting on the Juke-R, despite the fact that it looks sillier than the standard Juke and may in fact be more of a rolling nerd magnet than Nissan’s GT-R sports coupe.

With files from Frank Bacon

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Car of the Year Revisionism, 1995 Edition: If Not the Cirrus, What? Fri, 09 Dec 2011 19:00:16 +0000 There’s a nice comfortable cushion of years between the present and the 1970 and 1976 Motor Trend Cars of the Year, which gave our discussions about What Might Have Been a certain detachment. Today’s Car of the Year Revisionism discussion, however, takes as its subject a car that’s still with us in large numbers.
The Cirrus wasn’t exactly a smash hit (unless you count sales to rental-car companies), and it hasn’t left a deep impression in our minds. Perhaps MT might have made a better choice… and here’s your chance to look back with 16 years of hindsight and make some suggestions. If you’d like to include imports for the sake of argument, do so; the Maxima was the Import COTY for ’95. So, what’s it gonna be? The Neon? The Accent? The Aurora? The VAZ-21099?

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Car of the Year Revisionism, 1976 Edition: If Not the Volaré/Aspen, What? Thu, 08 Dec 2011 18:30:32 +0000 We went all 20/20 hindsight on the 1970 Motor Trend COTY choice yesterday, and today we’ll be jumping right into the depths of the Malaise Era for the MT gurus’ 1976 choice: the Dodge Aspen/Plymouth Volaré
The Volaré and Aspen were the successors to the successful-but-aging-poorly A-Body compacts, the Dodge Dart and Plymouth Valiant (though the Dart and Valiant were available along with the Volaré and Aspen for the 1976 model year). The new Mopar compacts had reasonably modern chassis and suspension design, but the styling was frumpy and they were far thirstier than the Dodge- and Plymouth-badged Simca and Mitsubishi captive imports. Car of the Year material, or not? For the sake of flame wars argument, we’ll include imports (for reference, the Toyota Celica Liftback won MT‘s Import Car of the Year award in ’76). What’s it going to be? The hot-selling ’76 Cutlass Supreme, with its perfect-for-the-time styling? The Pucci Edition Lincoln Mark IV? The Plymouth Arrow? Discuss.

Image source: Old Car Brochures

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Car of the Year Revisionism, 1970 Edition: If Not the Torino, What? Wed, 07 Dec 2011 18:00:46 +0000 Having just spent a weekend officiating at a race with one of the perpetrators of the latest Motor Trend Car of the Year choice, I got to thinking about past controversial COTY choices… and what choices we might make today, with the benefit of hindsight. Second-guessing the 1971 and 1983 choices is fish-in-a-barrel stuff (though I think the very radical-for-Detroit Vega deserved the award in spite of its terrible execution), but you can find tough choices all the way back to 1949. Today we’re going to talk about 1970′s Car of the Year winner: the Ford Torino.
The Torino wasn’t a fundamentally new car for 1970 (though it did get a sheetmetal redesign and a longer and wider chassis than its predecessor), and it didn’t break any new technological ground. It was a good-looking machine, to be sure, and it could be had with a mighty 375-horse 429-cubic-inch engine, but did it deserve the award? If not, what new or “substantially upgraded” 1970 car would you choose, were you to go back in time equipped with Svengali-grade hypnotic powers to change the minds of the MT War Council? To make things more interesting, we might revise the rules to allow imports to be considered for the purposes of this debate (the Porsche 914 won the Motor Trend Import Car of the Year Award in ’70, by the way), but that’s up to you. The AMC Hornet? The second-generation GM F-body? The Saab Sonett III? Discuss.

Image source: Old Car Brochures

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Motor Trend’s Car Of The Year: As Relevant As You’d Expect Wed, 16 Nov 2011 23:56:21 +0000

Click here to view the embedded video.

Motor Trend’s Car of the Year award has been a lightning rod of criticism among automotive gadflies ever since… well, you decide. Corvair? Vega? Mustang II?  Every year, MT picks one “best” car from a market that serves a wide variety of needs, and every year, the autoblogosphere rushes to help the tottering “contest” collapse under the weight of its own pretense. This year, with Motor Trend picking Volkswagen’s new de-Euro’d Passat (a car that has received a decidedly mixed critical reception) for its highest honor, is it any wonder that the peanut gallery is frothing over the choice?

Jalopnik, the gaddiest of automotive gadflies, swung for the moon with their headline of “Golden Shower” superimposed atop a picture of Editor-In-Chief Angus Mackenzie. Mike Spinelli’s satirical rant, praising Motor Trend for giving the award to a car that has been watered-down and decontented for the American market, would be funny if there weren’t legions of people who earnestly believed the Passat could qualify as some kind of enthusiast vehicle beyond the mere fact that it was a Volkswagen, and therefore obscure to most consumers.

The previous Passats were great cars. I lobbied hard for my folks to buy a B6 Wagon in high school but they ended up going with a Hyundai Santa Fe. The inside of a Passat was, to quote a popular movie at the time “lined with rich mahogany and filled with leather [bound books]…” and the 2.0T engine provided a nice kick. The dealer even had a parts counter guy who offered to re-flash the ECU for another 40 horsepower and 90 lb-ft, but alas, it wasn’t to be. Otherwise, the Passats were just “meh” to drive. More fun than a CamCord to be certain, but eating diabetic candy is more fun than eating celery sticks.

But a rant like Jalopnik’s, as funny as it is, is just as disingenuous as Motor Trend’s award – it’s not really about the quality of the car or of Motor Trend’s journalism, but a sly bit of branding and status whoring, intending to position Jalopnik as a site of integrity, by the enthusiasts, for enthusiasts. We’ve seen this before with the Jeff Glucker hit-piece, in spite of the rampant XBOX whoring and other questionable tactics like misleading headlines that lead to single sentence posts. Motor Trend may have made a bad call, but trotting out the typical “enthusiasts are being ignored” canard is the wrong move when our target for attack has given the COTY award to illustrious candidates like the 2002 Ford Thunderbird and the 2001 Chrysler PT Cruiser. Spinelli asks rhetorically “Why would Motor Trend cater to the whims of “enthusiasts” over the marketplace?” Because, as we’ve established long ago, enthusiasts complain endlessly and buy seldom. Meanwhile, the new Jetta is setting sales records, despite it apparently being the enthusiast Antichrist on four wheels [Ed: to the point where Forbes calls it a "flop," despite its 27% bump in sales]

On to the next bête noire – Motor Trend brags about this year’s field of cars being one of the largest and most competitive, at 35. Looking at the field, I can see about, oh, 33 more worthy candidates (aside from the Fisker Karma, which is vaporware and looks like a kosher sausage that stayed in the frying pan too long). Why not the Ford Focus or the Chevrolet Sonic, two small cars that prove that American cars can beat the imports at their own game [Ed: Might this not have been the best year in history for MT to give a GM small car the honor, after so many embarrassments?]? Why not the Audi A7, which should win for no other reason than being heartbreakingly beautiful? Why not the Nissan LEAF for being a mass market EV that actually works?

If you ask me, the reason is because Motor Trend is out of touch with everything and everyone else outside of Planet Motor Trend, and has officially become irrelevant. They slam the Ford Explorer, but again, it seems to do just fine in the sales race. Their endless advertorial love affair with the CTS-V wagon “long term tester” is almost a parody of auto journalisms excesses. And don’t forget MacKenzie’s own piece for Subaru’s magazine (and MT) which detailed his all-expenses paid jaunt to the Australian Outback in – A Subaru Outback! More than anything else, this seems like MT is betting that the new Passat will sell well, rather than rewarding a manufacturer for a truly significant achievement. And who precisely learns what from that?

Ed described the new Passat to me as “A German Impala” and that’s a pretty apt, if uncharitable description. It’s a lot better than the “enthusiast” vanguard would have you believe, but there’s still something not quite right. It’s a little watered down, a little soft around the edges – just right for everyone else who isn’t totally immersed in the world of automotive trivia. And they’ve never bought a car based on an annual award anyways.

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What’s Wrong With This Picture: Totally Unrelated Edition Thu, 10 Dec 2009 22:47:36 +0000 Groan

What’s that you say? Chrysler’s planning on spending $170 per projected vehicle sale on advertising next year? That could be as much as $1.4b! Well, we can’t give the Journey a prize for obvious reasons, but they do have a new Ram out this year… Truck Of The Year it is!

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Ford Fusion Named Motor Trend Car of the Year Tue, 17 Nov 2009 19:42:50 +0000 (courtesy: Motor Trend)

The Ford Fusion is a perfectly competent yet utterly bland vehicle. It’s proof that American firms can compete in the mass-market vanilla sedan segment, but not because it does anything particularly well. Its strength is nothing more than an absence of the glaring issues that kept Detroit out of the Accord/Camry sweepstakes. Which is why Motor Trend doesn’t get overly carried away with the credibility-straining praise of the vehicle itself (with the requisite glaring exceptions, to wit: “the Fusion SE goes from mild-mannered commuter to worthy canyon charger”). So instead, the praise gets spread to the lineup as a whole: “the 2010 Ford Fusion’s impressive bandwidth as a model range was one of the many factors that helped it earn the 2010 Motor Trend Car of the Year award,” we’re told. What this boils down to: you can get a hybrid powertrain in addition to four-pot and six-pot engines. In short, MT gave the Fusion COTY because it does everything a Camry does, but, crucially, it’s from Detroit. Well, Hermosillo, Mexico, actually. Still, its advertising budget still comes from Detroit, and that makes all the difference.

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