The Truth About Cars » Premium http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Tue, 01 Sep 2015 16:00:24 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.2.4 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 editors@ttac.com editors@ttac.com (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars » Premium http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com Last Rides Premium Selects: You Goin’ Nowhere http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/last-rides-premium-selects-goin-nowhere/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/last-rides-premium-selects-goin-nowhere/#comments Tue, 25 Aug 2015 14:00:03 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1105953 Today’s morbidly interesting victim is a friggin’ Yugo. If you know where this is going, I think there’s little else I could possibly say to encourage you to click the jump. My taste in cars strays wildly from that of most everyone. For me, exotics sit on opposite ends of the spectrum. If a car […]

The post Last Rides Premium Selects: You Goin’ Nowhere appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
IMG_1447

Today’s morbidly interesting victim is a friggin’ Yugo. If you know where this is going, I think there’s little else I could possibly say to encourage you to click the jump.

My taste in cars strays wildly from that of most everyone. For me, exotics sit on opposite ends of the spectrum. If a car is bad enough, I will probably relish the idea of re-engineering it so its road-worthiness is actually somewhat plausible, not to mention more…uhh…thrilling.

See, you have the guy in the Ferrari owning something exclusive due to his bank account. I can tell you I don’t have money. But what I do have is a very particular set of skills, skills I have acquired over a very long career. Skills that make me a nightmare for people who take cars too seriously. Sitting way on the other end of this spectrum is the famously terrible Yugo, also exclusive, but for different reasons.

Maybe now you can perhaps understand my delight when I stumbled upon our subject car… and my sadness.

IMG_1446

This wasn’t just any commoner-spec GV though, but a genuine GVL. From what I gather, the difference consisted of a fake basketball court glued to the dash and a special sticker on the air cleaner — you know, to show off when you have your hood open. The elemental-level modifications to the tin have been underway for some time, courtesy of Morton Salt the air.

IMG_1452

I climbed inside, and pretended to make sportbike sounds while admiring the peculiar placement of the village sticker collection. I then became trapped inside the Yugo.

IMG_1459

Coolly, I determined that the dried grease of the door lock mechanism must be overwhelmed by a sharp blow to the lock rocker switch. Only then did the Yugoslavian import release me from its not-just-metaphorical grip.

IMG_1457

I found this section of intact shipping plastic and the car’s low mileage remarkable. However, there was no hard evidence to be found that could be used to forge a tall tale of the Yugo’s final days of ownership. That is, until I found this picture of our protagonist at the helm of this very machine, taken back in August of last year.

yugo1

How did I get this image, you ask? A magician never reveals his secrets. License plate frames are one of those things that seem to rarely stay with a car when it changes hands. This one matches the weathered dealer sticker on the car from long-extinct Ruby Chevrolet. I’m pretty sure what we’re looking at here is cradle-to-grave, daily-driven Yugo ownership. I’m getting extreme tightwad vibes here.


 

Tomasz was an eccentric hero.

Tomasz chewed the last bite of Mrs. T’s pierogi, finding even more shredded bits of plastic. He spit them out onto the plate, and continued chewing. It disturbed him somewhat, but he thought, “Mama would be furious, but food is not to be wasted.”

He relaxed in the second-hand chair, and looked up at the flag of his mother country that was pinned to the wall of his one bedroom flat. The flag sagged in the middle, and the top half of the heraldic crest was covered in a light tinge of dust. Eurovision blared out of the small-tube television sitting on the TV cart next to the table.

After swallowing that last mouthful, Tomasz walked into the bathroom for a piss. He zipped up and admired the poster on the wall of a European prize fighter in a ready stance. Tomasz raised his fists as if squaring off with the man, and threw a few light blows to the air.

It was two o’clock in the afternoon, and he was now ready to face the work day.

The 55 year old exited the apartment into the thick air of Summit, IL. Stench from human waste, left to dry out in the sun in large vats, filled his nostrils and mixed with the nearby corn sweetener and asphalt plants. An orange and purple jetliner blasted overhead in a climb-out. The cacophony of truck parks, hissing gas valves, a rail yard, and a major interstate combined into a roaring din of industry.

Tomasz found the Yugo in the usual spot in the parking lot, squatting over its oil stain. He took the time today to perform some routine maintenance on his automobile. After all, he would tell others that this is why “There are no more Yugo left, because Americans are lazy and irresponsible,” and that given a little routine attention (like replacing the carburetor right after buying the car), this frugal machine will run forever. Tomasz added the missing quart of engine oil with his special blend of bottom shelf 10W-30, STP motor honey, and DEXRON in equal parts. The addition of transmission oil was a trick he learned long ago to boost gas mileage. He walked around, kicking the tires to insure they were still inflated to the self-imposed spec of 40 psi. “The high pressure is key for the excellent fuel burn,” he told himself, as was a clean air filter element. He would have liked to replace this vapor-soaked piece with a genuine Yugo part as specified, but those were in short supply. Instead, Tomasz resorted to throwing it to the ground repeatedly to shake off any dust. On a nice day like today, he might give the Yugo a bath with dishwashing liquid. However, thanks to the rust penetrating enough to stain the door cards, those days were long gone. Finally, he unsnapped the distributor cap, and inspected inside. “Hrrmmm.”

At Advance Auto Parts, the familiar sound of the little bucket droned, and then puttered outside. One counter person said to the other, “Hey, wait till you get a load of this guy. He drives a Yugo.” Tomasz walked up to the counter with the young man eagerly awaiting to serve him.

“I need a rotor bug.”

The employee asked with bated breath, as if confirming the unbelievable, “For…what kind of car?”

Tomasz replied, “1989 Yugo Gee Vee El.”

The young man peered into the monitor with stunned disbelief.

QTY DC 763: [34]

QTY ON HAND: [1]

Tomasz paid his $13 in cash and left with his new part. One of the employees watched out the window as the Yugo fired up and sputtered out onto Harlem Avenue. He then whipped his head around to face his fellow man, exclaiming, “Holy shit!”

The Yugo’s split muffler bleated past the GM Electromotive plant like a sheep in the Bosnian countryside. Tomasz employed 4th gear at 38 mph for fuel conservation. The plucky automobile responded by vibrating like a paint shaker. Then, he turned on the radio…in his mind, and hummed a favorite tune.

“Żadnego już nie powiesz jutro
OOOooooooohhhhh Ooooooooooohhh
 nie powiesz jutro
Żadnego z nich nie będziesz jutro czuć”

Tomasz turned on his signal for East Avenue — not just to indicate a left turn, but to supply power to the fuel and temperature gauges. As he always had, Tomasz watched as they gradually powered up. The temp was in the normal range, and the fuel gauge indicated half a tank remaining. The needles pulsed slightly with the indicator in unison. (Yes, this is really a thing they do). Tomasz eased the GVL carefully through the turn so as not to slosh fuel out of the tank from the rotten filler neck. The Yugo finished its five-mile commute at the end of the frontage road, and it gasped out a “putt-putt-putt-putt-pitter-putt” before being shut down.

Tomasz checked his Casio. He was right on time to begin another eighteen-hour shift.

Tomasz clocked in, and took his place in the end booth on the northbound side. He then hung his yellow placard in the window.

Illinois Tollway Plaza 37

Your toll collector: Tomasz Kuszczak

The veteran collector of twenty years seniority was as good at his job as you would expect. He warmed up with the building traffic that would form an onslaught of vehicles within minutes. His lane always flowed the fastest. Monies flew through his blue, condom-clad fingertips. An hour in, and his hands already had the tinge of silver and schmutz.

“Hello, how are you?” a man asked, handing Tomasz yet another $20 bill. He ignored the friendly gesture entirely, as it was nothing more than a burden of .014 seconds. Just fractions of seconds that would build exponentially until it deprived the field of motorists sprawled out behind this rig. Tomasz craned his neck out, counting the axles on the man’s trailer, and responded, “Dollar twenty.” Then the money flowed. In this rush hour, he had two “This is bullshit” type comments for taking what the motorists thought were excessive, and one for taking what they thought was too little yet imposing the inconvenience.

It was getting late. The flow through his flashing booth turned into a trickle. The clientele appeared to turn more weary, drunk, and belligerent. Some cackling teens in a beat-up Saturn slapped a pile of filthy pennies in front of him in an attempt to stick it to The Man.

Tomasz responded, “Oh! It’s just like Christmas!”, and slowly counted each penny.

“Twenty-five, twenty-six…”, the Saturn crept forward out of his periphery, “…twenty-nine, thirty-STOP!!” The startled teen mashed the brakes.

“…thirty-three…”

It was 3 a.m. when the murdered-out Dodge Ram stopped at his window. The angry man asked “Is this really your job?” Tomasz was unaffected, and handed him his change. The man in the truck shook his head, snorted, and throttled out into the night. Tomasz just grinned. This was really his job. He was quite content here at Plaza 37 on I-294, right next door to the sewage treatment plant. As the temps rose hotter, that sucker would pump out its rich funk, and the seasonal hires would duck out. He could get all the hours he wanted here. On track to clear $90,000 in 2015 with full benefits. He wished Mr. Ram all the best, watching his one tail light disappear around the bend.

“Break time!”

After handling most of the morning rush, Tomasz punched his time card and left the chaos for his tinny sled. As he prodded the gas pedal to warm the engine so it wouldn’t stall, he dreamed of being back at his place, handling some light chores before hitting the sack. The Yugo avoided the frenetic danger of LaGrange Road and I-55, cutting its way back along old Route 66. Tomasz waited in the right lane for 55th Street. His indicator flashed, and he checked his gauges again. Then, something peculiar happened. The clicking slowed to a stop. Tomasz was puzzled by this, and clicked the signal lever off and then back on. There was a buzz, and that’s when the smoke rolled out of all the dash vents. Tomasz whipped off his seat belts, and bolted out the door.

“Kurwaaaa mac!!”

He waited for a short time for the smoke to dissipate before nervously getting back into the idling Yugo and limping home.

In the weeks that followed, Tomasz tried in vain to get his Yugo’s lighting circuit working again. There was a brief eureka moment when he discovered the burnt-out fuse, but its replacement only resulted in even more smoke. The boys at Advance Auto Parts sadly could not help with finding “the wires” in their computer either. He began skipping all the shifts at work that required a nighttime commute. He could have a professional take a look at it, but realized his machine required specialized foreign auto technicians. Those were expensive. Tomasz came to the conclusion that purchasing this car in 1989 for $4,600 after rustproofing had a pretty good final ROI. He opened the hatch and examined the rust hole in the strut tower again. This area looked important. He sighed, closed the hatch and said, “You’re not costing me any money.”

The GVL left the apartments and puttered across the street to Pick-N-Pull. Tomasz parked his car for the last time. He perused the cars for sale with wonder. He didn’t know that the junkyard sold cars, and they were cheap!

“This Neon here. This good car?”

yugo1 IMG_1452 IMG_1451 IMG_1460 IMG_1448 IMG_1449 IMG_1450 IMG_1445 IMG_1446 IMG_1447 IMG_1443 IMG_1444 IMG_1462 IMG_1458 IMG_1459 IMG_1461 IMG_1453 IMG_1454 IMG_1455 IMG_1456 IMG_1457

The post Last Rides Premium Selects: You Goin’ Nowhere appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/last-rides-premium-selects-goin-nowhere/feed/ 41
2015 Ford Mustang EcoBoost Review http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/2015-ford-mustang-ecoboost-review/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/2015-ford-mustang-ecoboost-review/#comments Fri, 12 Jun 2015 15:00:24 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1084361 I’m giddy like a school girl when the Mustang shows up. This is my ride to southern New Jersey for the 24 Hours of Lemons race, and it’s a perfect tool for the job. I think the new Mustang looks much better in person than pictures. This color combination is love at first sight. Upon closer inspection, it has the coveted […]

The post 2015 Ford Mustang EcoBoost Review appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
2015 ford mustang ecoboost front side

I’m giddy like a school girl when the Mustang shows up. This is my ride to southern New Jersey for the 24 Hours of Lemons race, and it’s a perfect tool for the job.

I think the new Mustang looks much better in person than pictures. This color combination is love at first sight. Upon closer inspection, it has the coveted Performance Package, and a peek inside reveals its optional Recaro seats and, most importantly, a proper six-speed manual transmission! Yes, the car Gods have smiled upon me.

Yet, the biggest surprise is when I start the engine…

2015 ford mustang ecoboost engine

…which sounds like the Ford Escape.

Yup – it’s the new four-cylinder Mustang EcoBoost. That deep V8 tone, pronounced by a sweet rumble at start-up that makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand up, is gone. Instead, I get the sound and fury of a CUV.

I keep an open mind because surely no one at Ford would put this four-banger into a Mustang if it’s anything but great. To be honest, to me, this is the most interesting engine of the three available, if for no other reason than I simply don’t not know what to expect.

Right away, this engine feels different than most sporty turbocharged fours. For one, it feels heavy. It does not rev very freely, as if there is a heavy flywheel attached. Interestingly, I said the exact same thing of the 1.0-liter three-cylinder in the Fiesta. Secondly, the torque curve is very flat and without much lag, both good. Ford says the engine’s peak 320 lb.-ft. is available between 2500 and 4500 rpm. There are 310 horsepower at 5500 rpm and it seems to drop off when approaching the redline.

2015 ford mustang ecoboost rear side

Accompanying that power from 2500 rpm up is the sweet sound of turbo whistle – quite addictive. During street acceleration or highway passing, this engine whistles blissfully while pulling hard, and it almost makes up for the lack of the V8 sound. Almost. But I question the noise: is it organic or is Ford fooling me?

So it’s got torque, but is it fast? That’s depends on your definition of fast. Buff books say the EcoBoost ‘Stang will achieve 0-60 mph in 5.5 seconds and complete the quarter in 13.9 seconds. That was fast some years ago, but today that’s hardly quick; a V6 Accord is just two tenths slower through the traps. The EcoBoost Mustang requires persuasion to really move fast, whereas a V8 engine would seemingly have all the power, all the time.

Even when driven in anger, I wouldn’t go racing any V8 Mustangs and, trust me, every Mustang driver on the road will want to race you. Just look away. If you’re into modifying, you’ll be happy to know there are EcoBoost Mustangs running around with 400 horsepower at the rear wheels.

2015 ford mustang ecoboost dash

Despite being the smallest of the three American muscle cars, the Mustang isn’t a small sports car, being six inches longer and two and a half inches wider than the BMW 428i coupe. It weighs 3,532 pounds, which is about 100 pounds more than the Bimmer and 170 less than an equivalent Mustang GT.

While it feels heavy, Ford has somehow managed to make this weight work, and it’s damn fun to drive on any road. Despite being at a race track, I did not have permission to do any laps in the ‘Stang, but I am certain it would do quite well with the Pirelli P-Zeros as part of the Performance Package.

What I’m disappointed with is the fact Ford went through all this effort to make the F-150 body out of aluminum but only the hood and fenders on the ‘Stang. Less weight, which one would expect in the change to a four-cylinder engine, would drive the fun factor way up. It would improve the fuel economy, too, which the EPA rates at 22 mpg in the city, 31 mpg on the highway and 26 mpg combined. On my somewhat casual New Jersey Turnpike drive I got about 27 mpg. With the overall trip average, which included the fun Merritt Parkway and crowded Bergen County, I averaged 23 mpg. For comparison, the manual V6 gets 17 mpg city and 28 highway, while the V8 manual is rated for 15 mpg city and 25 highway. Not that fuel economy is a selling point of the Mustang.

2015 ford mustang ecoboost interior details 2

The rest of the car, to be brief, is great. The Recaro seats, despite lacking side bolster adjustments or bottom cushion extension, are very comfortable for the six-foot-two me and drew cheers from the dozen guys who asked me if they could check out the car. While supportive, the seats are not difficult to get in and out of and not at all tiring over my six hour drive. Unlike the conventional seats, the Recaros are not heated or ventilated, and they don’t return to their original position after accessing the rear seat. If I had one wish, it would be for slightly more headroom for the times one is wearing a helmet. The rear seats are best suited for shorter folks.

The shifter is damn near perfect for enthusiastic driving – not too short, with only the sixth gear not always where expected; little to the right. It was as if the car wanted to shift naturally from fifth to fourth, but going into sixth requires more decisiveness, which makes sense. The clutch pedal feels a bit stiff, reminding you this is no econobox, but it is not difficult when stuck in gridlocked traffic on the George Washington Bridge approach.

2015 ford mustang ecoboost exterior details

Once seated, forward visibility is very good and much improved over the previous generation, but the side mirrors are a bit small. The dash is nicely laid out, with all controls within easy access. Some things, such as the toggle switches chrome-like trim or the “ground speed” speedometer, may not be to everyone’s taste, but everything worked very well. It has taken me many years, but I have finally warmed up to the love-it-or-hate-it, soon to be replaced MyFord Touch system, which in this car was complimented by the Shaker audio system. The HID headlights are excellent, too.

What irks me are the selectable drive and steering modes. There are four driving modes (normal, snow-wet, sport, and track) and three steering modes (comfort, normal and sport). With each restart they default to normal. I understand all automakers do this now for various reasons, but I shouldn’t need to tell my Mustang to be sporty each time I get into it. It should have two modes: Go! and LMHBSMA!, let-me-hoon-but-save-my-ass track mode.

2015 ford mustang ecoboost other details

The 2015 Mustang EcoBoost starts at $25,300. This Premium model punches it up to $29,300. The Shaker audio system is $1,795, adaptive cruise control is $1,195, Performance Package (19” wheels with Pirellis, 3.55 LSD, thicker rear sway bar, bracing, larger rotors and 4-piston front calipers, larger radiator, gauge pack) is well worth $1,995, $1,595 for Recaro seats, few other minor options and destination charge bring the price of the reviewed vehicle to $38,585. For comparison, an equally equipped GT model would cost over $5,000 more.

Minor annoyances aside, I really like this ‘Stang. I love how it looks (especially in this color combination, which seemed especially tricky to photograph). I like all the features, the fun-to-drive factor, comfort, refinement, and its surprisingly large trunk – but it does leave me somewhat puzzled. It’s not significantly lighter, cheaper, or economical than a Mustang with the proper V8 engine. It’s also not much faster than the V6. It exists so Ford can sell the Mustang around the world, but anyone who buys one anywhere will be reminded they should have gotten the V8 every time they start the engine.

2015 ford mustang ecoboost

Kamil Kaluski is the East Coast Editor for Hooniverse.com. His ramblings on Eastern European cars, $500 racers, and other miscellaneous automotive stuff can be found there. He and his team were doing really great in the race right until they blew the engine

Ford Motor Company provided the vehicle for the purpose of this review. 

The post 2015 Ford Mustang EcoBoost Review appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/2015-ford-mustang-ecoboost-review/feed/ 126
Last Rides Premium Selects: All XUsed Up http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/last-rides-premium-selects-xused/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/last-rides-premium-selects-xused/#comments Fri, 29 May 2015 15:00:14 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1060698 The Envoy XUV is one of those unicorns I seem to recognize on the street immediately. As the owner of a Taurus X, I sometimes wonder how my arduous life would change had Ford went ahead with it’s transformer counterpoint to this sub-niche of vehicle. Then I realize, “Probably, I would be scrounging for more […]

The post Last Rides Premium Selects: All XUsed Up appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
04xuv1

The Envoy XUV is one of those unicorns I seem to recognize on the street immediately. As the owner of a Taurus X, I sometimes wonder how my arduous life would change had Ford went ahead with it’s transformer counterpoint to this sub-niche of vehicle. Then I realize, “Probably, I would be scrounging for more weird, rare electric roof trim garnish power regulators at the junkyard.” “Probably not much.”

I imagine the boys in Ford’s marketing department took one look at their competitor’s commercial, mouth agape, and finally decided they just couldn’t compete with such formidable before-it-was-cool ’80s promotional panache. One of them, no doubt, pointed out, “They’ve even got the sort-of a song that I kind of know!”

The thing that struck me about this example, found in a Joliet yard, was it’s fantastic condition (other than vultures lightly pecking at the fresh carcass). I mean, you just don’t see many ten year old models at all, unless they’re irreparably smashed, or irreparably a Sebring.

04xuv5

Quarter million miles be damned, times must not be too bad in America anymore.

04xuv11

The 5.3 under the hood is still in one piece, so chances are good the your camshaft is trashed, too sort of dialogue wasn’t a factor in it’s demise.

04xuv3

It’s unicorn horn removable mid-gate was still waiting for a patron to have the “This isn’t a tailgate. It’s a trim panel,” argument at the checkout counter.

04xuv6

Then, evidence of the previous owner’s medical afflictions helped fill in the blanks. Nothing will send a Mitsubishi to the junkyard faster than a piece of paper that looks like this, it seems. The name on this one, is “high profile” around these parts, and if you can somehow figure out what I have omitted, please don’t. This is a fictional piece, and I would like to keep it that way.

04xuv17

The McGill empire was going through a transitional period.

“I’m just saying…don’t be surprised when I graduate, that there’s nothing for me,” Reece told his father.

The old man broiled in the passenger seat. “Don’t give me that bullshit. Your ancestors, who lived out their lives in indentured servitude, would punch you right in the mouth if they heard you say that,” said an irate Patrick.

The young Reece withdrew to the driver’s door of the Envoy. He should have known. At any moment, the old man would additionally remind him about working for the family business, most likely reminding him about how he started it all with a single questionable 1970 Autocar. “…and you can always work for me,” added Patrick, pulling out his Medtronic Access Review DBS controller. Ever vigilant after going through some issues with his implant’s battery, he checked it’s condition. Holding the remote to his chest, it beeped, and verified a good state of charge. Such an action repeated itself several times throughout the day, mostly done out of habit, and boredom.

As the Envoy cruised high above the Des Plaines River with a smoothness rivaling a maglev train, Reece observed the filthy snow that was still piled up along the sides of the tollway well into March. The frigid sight induced an application of Carmex. A crosswind came out of the west, causing the wind whistle from the aft-most window to intensify. Reece compensated by turning up the volume on his My Gold Mask CD, which was hopelessly jammed in the radio. This track was one of his favorites. He hadn’t listened to it in over a year, since leaving for FAU. However, when Dad said, “Give it a rest,” and turned on XM MSNBC, he didn’t protest.

Reece slowed the XUV on the off ramp for Route 7 where the brakes cried out their hunger for more pads. Reece and McGill senior did what they normally did, which was simply glance in the general direction of the anomaly.

As they waited for the light the boy inquired, “So how is the new…calibration?” regarding his father’s follow up procedure.

“It’s a little better. There’s still some little tremors…but I don’t think anything will change that now,” said the man, lifting his hands to show a faint car-waxing motion with his right extremity.

Reece faced forward, realizing the light had turned green. The S…UV arched across the intersection, and then summoned their attention with a “Boong Boong Boong”. Reece looked down at the information center, and turned to his father almost with glee. “Reduced engine power!”

Reece buried his foot in the gas and turned his hazards on in preparation for what would assuredly be a lazy journey back to McGill Trucking. The men were experienced in these matters from when the throttle body failed five years prior.

“Goddamit,” said Patrick, “Try to turn it back off…or on…fuck.” He was referring to ‘the trick’ they had learned from Trailvoy.com. Sometimes that would make the problem go away for a short time. Reece tried this technique in a church parking lot, but the power remained elusive.

“Come on stupid!” Reece shouted at his rear view mirror. A Cavalier honked behind them, it’s driver dumbstruck by the meaning of a pair of flashing tail lamps and a pointby. The Cavalier finally made the pass, it’s exhaust sounding like compressed air being released while the man at the wheel delivered a Luigi death stare at the hapless GMC.

“I told you that you needed to get rid of this piece. What’s gonna happen when I’m not around to drive you? They’re gonna find you in a snowbank somewhere after you get stranded,” Reece told his father.

Patrick didn’t respond. He pulled the Blackberry from his pocket and dialed his wife. “We’re having some car trouble right now. Yeah. It’s just driving slow again. We’re gonna be late to the meeting. Just see if those guys can wait a bit longer.”

Reese felt a shock. Oh shit, he thought, how did he know about the meeting? He braced himself against the wheel in anticipation of the shitstorm.

“What do you mean it’s already over?!” Patrick yelled. “Look. I’m still a part of this damn company!” Reese could hear his mother on the other end trying to break things to his father gently. His grandiose plans of acquiring another dead trucking firm, when they were struggling to hire and pay more drivers, just wasn’t going to work. A rift was growing between the elder McGill, his wife, and his best friend.

Reece tuned out and listened to the click-clock of the hazards as his father yelled into the phone. I don’t want any of this crap, he thought to himself. Working with family is the worst. A career of surfing, golfing, and traveling Europe would suit him just fine. And when the facility to do that ran out? Whatever.

Finally, the screaming stopped.

“I’m just going to head home,” said Reece.

Patrick washed down a pill with some bottled water. The meds kicked in. His anger was gone. He now felt dejected, betrayed, robbed of the world he created.

“You should just take me to the casino,” Reece replied, laughing. “I’m not taking you to Joliet! Especially, not in this thing.” He hit the overhead Homelink button and the double wrought iron gates swung open.

The old man punctuated the end of their journey with a depressing statement of fact. “I told you this would be the last car I ever own.”

Reece could only respond with “Come on, Dad,” while his father waddled into the large manor house with an abbreviated gait.

Reece stayed out on the drive and began to vape. As French Vanilla filled his lungs, he observed the flurry-laden dark clouds rolling in to put an end to an already shortened day.

“This is bullshit,” he said. This meaning not-Florida during spring break. He puffed and looked at the Envoy, juxtaposed to the fancy stonework and brick paver driveway. Sure, back in the day, the $40,000 fully-loaded GMC was impressive. Reeve even showed off the clever engineering of the magic gate and retractable roof to his buddies. That was back before the “Clear Roof Obstruction” notices, failed glass regulators, smoked switches, a transmission, bad HVAC components, a weary fan clutch, some dead lifters, and lots of puzzled technician labor hours turned it into an Envoy of Theseus. For the amount spent, Reece estimated there could have been a ‘sweet-ass G Wagen’ sitting there.

“Hrmfff,”, he exhaled.

When Reece came into the house, his father greeted him with the signed pink slip to the Envoy.

“Here. It’s yours. Do whatever you want with it.” The last part of that statement was said in a way to allude “Get it fixed, and use it.” Reece clumsily replied, “What? I…come on…” The old man then disappeared into his study.

The Envoy’s shifter was put into neutral to coast down the hill at a higher rate of non-PCM-regulated speed as it entered “the prison city”. Reece silenced the hazard relay for the final time. He summoned the man from the office that he had spoken to on the phone earlier, who popped off his chair with an excited “Let’s take a look.”

“Hey, this doesn’t look too bad. I might just sell this.”, said the man.

“I would strongly recommend that you don’t,” said Reece.

04xuv11 04xuv13 04xuv12 04xuv17 04xuv15 04xuv14 04xuv7 04xuv10 04xuv9 04xuv8 04xuv5 04xuv3 04xuv2 04xuv6 04xuv1

The post Last Rides Premium Selects: All XUsed Up appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/last-rides-premium-selects-xused/feed/ 41
Piston Slap: What makes Premium Fuel More Expensive? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/piston-slap-makes-premium-fuel-expensive/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/piston-slap-makes-premium-fuel-expensive/#comments Mon, 13 Apr 2015 12:21:28 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1041953   TTAC Commentator sastexan writes: Sajeev, I’ve been driving cars requiring premium fuel (91+ octane). When I bought my Contour SVT in 1998, high test was $0.20 more a gallon (just under a 20% premium over regular). But it was regularly always only $0.20 more. In the past decade or so, I noticed the delta […]

The post Piston Slap: What makes Premium Fuel More Expensive? appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
 

Just the long and short of it. (photo courtesy: chemistryland.com)

TTAC Commentator sastexan writes:

Sajeev,

I’ve been driving cars requiring premium fuel (91+ octane). When I bought my Contour SVT in 1998, high test was $0.20 more a gallon (just under a 20% premium over regular). But it was regularly always only $0.20 more. In the past decade or so, I noticed the delta going to $0.30 and even more. The correlation did not seem to be to the price (eg, premium did not seem to track a consistent 15% increase). Rather, the difference appears to be a flat rate.

Question for the best and brightest – what in higher octane fuel makes it more expensive?

What inputs are there and how much more does it cost to manufacture?

This is not intended to be a debate about the “requirement” for premium – my SVT had an extreme dislike of 87 octane and I won’t try it in my FRS with the high compression engine. However my mother runs 87 in her  with no issue for the past 5 years despite the assertion from the salesman that the “premium product requires premium fuel” and did the same for her old I30 for 14 years (Camry engine and Maxima engine, respectively).

Sajeev answers:

I’m far from an oil and gas expert, but let’s hyperlink to relevant sources and give it the ‘ol college try.

What makes premium fuel more expensive is the effort to adjust the ratio of long to short chain hydrocarbons in grades of gasoline. A notable quote from the Quora link above.

“Effectively, the long-chain hydrocarbons (like asphalt and diesel) can be broken into shorter-chain hydrocarbons (like gasoline). You end up with more gasoline. You can also adjust the regular/premium output ratios with these methods.”

Perhaps more importantly, overall fuel cost is proportional to oil quality.

Not all crude oil is created equal. The Keystone XL pipeline (that everyone’s formed an opinion about) is proof: the quality of “tar sand” oil delivered to my Texas backyard is poor. Light, sweet crude is the good stuff: more expensive as a raw material but easier to refine. But there are varying grades here too: light crude oil is “defined as having an API gravity higher than 31.1 °API (less than 870 kg/m3).” 

Whatever that means.

Need more detail? Too bad I didn’t accept that Petroleum Engineering scholarship when I was a freshman. Perhaps there’s one within the ranks of our Best and Brightest?

Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com. 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.

The post Piston Slap: What makes Premium Fuel More Expensive? appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/piston-slap-makes-premium-fuel-expensive/feed/ 153
Review: 2015 Subaru Outback 2.5i Premium http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/review-2015-subaru-outback-2-5i-premium/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/review-2015-subaru-outback-2-5i-premium/#comments Fri, 13 Feb 2015 14:00:52 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=995058 The SUV craze of the 1990s caught Subaru by surprise. The company simply did not have a product that everyone wanted. The North American division of Fuji Heavy Industries had no choice but to play the cards they were dealt.  The engineers looked into the VW Golf Country 4×4 for inspiration, then took a Legacy […]

The post Review: 2015 Subaru Outback 2.5i Premium appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
2015 Subaru Outback side

The SUV craze of the 1990s caught Subaru by surprise. The company simply did not have a product that everyone wanted. The North American division of Fuji Heavy Industries had no choice but to play the cards they were dealt.  The engineers looked into the VW Golf Country 4×4 for inspiration, then took a Legacy wagon and lifted it, added some molding, big fog lights with mesh screens, and a roof rack. The marketing people ingeniously called it the Outback and hired the best known Aussie in America, Paul Hogan, to promote it.

The results of this marketing brilliance were sales that exceeded expectations, possibly saving the company. The Outback was such a huge hit Volvo and Audi followed suit and jacked up their own wagons, creating the Cross Country XC and the allroad quattro.  At the 2014 New York International Auto Show, with yours truly in attendance, two models first dressed as vegan organic French-press coffee drinking hipster hikers, and later as that blissfully ignorant well-dressed couple that every thirty year old yuppie think they will always be, unveiled the fifth generation of the Outback.

2015 Subaru Outback front

Three inches taller, four inches longer, and five inches wider than the original, the new Outback is the same as the old Outback. Some found the styling of the new car lacking originality. Those are the same people who would have complained that Subaru killed a great product had the Outback looked any different. I was never a fan of the previous generation Legacy/Outback, so I found the new, dare I say more generic, look rather refreshing.

But Subarus have never been about looks. In fact I would go so far as to the say that most Subaru cars have been ugly in a cute way, sort of like a Pug or a Bulldog. Subarus have always been about functionality, reliability, all-weather traction, and price. The new Outback continues these traditions placing function over form and cost over perceived opulence. From the outside, the two-tone scheme of the original has been reduced, the fog lights got smaller, and the roof rack more pronounced but the two-box shape on stilts cannot be mistaken for anything other than an Outback.

2015 Subaru Outback interior frotn details

Inside, functionality and simplicity triumphs, but its quality has significantly improved over the previous generations. The infotainment system is much improved, it is now easier to see, and simpler to use and set up. The test vehicle did not have a navigational system, but controlling the radio, phone, and auxiliary input devices is similar to using a Windows tablet. In the front of the center console is an auxiliary audio input and two USB ports (that’s two more than Audi). The audio system did sound pretty good, too, for what is essentially a base vehicle. Looking from inside out, at night, the headlights are not overly bright given the recent technical advances in headlight technology.

Dual zone climate controls are equally simple to use, but there are no vents for rear passengers. There are cup-holders in the center console, bottle holders in the doors, big door pockets, sunglass holder on the roof, a simple covered cubby for phones, and a large glove box. It’s these little things that make daily life easy and it’s amazing how many automakers cannot get that right (I’m looking at you Range Rover). Nothing is perfect, however, and my eight year old daughter, who reads a dozen books a week, completely wrote the Outback off for not having reading lights for rear passengers.

The front seats are comfortable, but the headrests could use a rake adjustment and bottom cushions could be longer. Someone at Subaru finally figured out that heated seat buttons are invisible when they are located under the center armrest and moved them to climate control panel. The rear bench is wide with plenty of leg and head room. The seatback is split 60:40, but there is no center pass-thru, so skiers with more than two rear passengers have to use the meaty-looking roof rack. That roof rack itself is functional, too, with standard cross-bars that slide and fold into the rails when not in use. There are also four tie down loops which can secure up to 150 pounds of cargo.

2015 Subaru Outback details

With high ground clearance and a high center of gravity, Subaru did not intend to make a driver’s car out of the Outback. The 2.5-liter pancake engine also won’t impress anyone with its 175hp and 174 lb-ft of torque. Worse, this engine is attached to a continuously variable transmission. This powertrain combination makes buzzy and whiney noises turning an otherwise quiet cabin into a noisy one. For that noise buyers are rewarded with fuel economy of 25mpg in the city and 33mpg on the highway, which was once considered excellent for a small econobox. Despite all that, the Outback somehow manages not to be a soulless appliance and is somewhat fun to drive. Perhaps it’s the car-like seating position and the jacked-up ride height, along with suspension tuned to nicely absorb the winter ridden roads, that create the feeling of being a rally driver.

Subaru makes a big deal of their AWD system, so it was a nice coincidence that the Northeast got hit with a big snow storm while the Outback was in my possession. It is common knowledge that tires are the most important thing in winter driving but this car was equipped with a set mediocre Bridgestone Dueler H/P Sport. Automakers like to use these tires because they are cheap, quiet, comfortable, and last long. I have personally had some bad experiences with these tires, so I was very cautions driving the Outback in the snow. To my surprise, the big wagon proved capable; granted the snow was packed and it wasn’t deep. In an empty lot near my work I turned the hoon knob up a little and even then, with stability control off, the vehicle stayed totally composed and controllable. There is a good reason why New England and Denver are Subaru’s biggest markets – with a proper set of snow tires this would be an amazing winter vehicle.

2015 Subaru Outback rear hatch open

The test vehicle was equipped with Subaru’s EyeSight system, which is optional on all but the base Outback. The system works off two cameras mounted between the rear view mirror and the windshield. The system is able to detect speed differentials, brake lights, pedestrians, and bicycles. It has the ability to cut power, apply brakes, and bring the vehicle to a complete stop, if not avoiding an accident completely, than at least minimizing the impact. It tells those who bury their heads into their phones at traffic lights that the vehicle in front has moved. When reversing, it calmly alerts you that a vehicle is coming from the side. The whole system can be fully disabled for those with mad driving skillz, but for the majority of buyers this is a no-brainer option – it can protect the not only vehicle occupants but everyone else on the road, too, and will likely repay for itself in the first near-hit.

The base Outback, steel wheels and all, starts at about $26,045. The 2.5i Premium model seen here starts at $27,295. EyeSight with power tailgate package is $1695, mirror compass is $199, and rubber floor mats are a bargain at $72. For some reason Subaru charges a mandatory $300 for the vehicle to meet the Partial Zero Emissions Vehicle standard. Total price, with destination charges, is a very reasonable $30,111. Other options on the 2.5i Premium are sunroof and a nav system. Limited model comes with leather and the 3.5R Limited has more powah!

For thirty grand, the mid-level Outback gives you large SUV functionality, solid reliability, and all-weather traction while not looking like a cookie-cutter CRA-V4. Fun-to-drive factor, latest and greatest safety systems, and good gas mileage are the icing on this frosty cake. I was surprised by home much I liked this Outback and I would put it high on my shopping list of two-row SUV-ish vehicles, along with the Grand Cherokee and the 4Runner.

2015 Subaru Outback rear

Kamil Kaluski is the East Coast Editor for Hooniverse.com. His ramblings on Eastern European cars, $500 racers, and other miscellaneous automotive stuff can be found there. He is known to enjoy organic coffee made in a French press, day hikes, and nights out on the town. He has yet to find one ideal vehicle for all those activities.

Subaru of America, Inc. provided the vehicle for the purpose of this review. 

The post Review: 2015 Subaru Outback 2.5i Premium appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/review-2015-subaru-outback-2-5i-premium/feed/ 95
DS Brand Could Spearhead PSA’s American Revival http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/ds-brand-spearhead-psas-american-revival/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/ds-brand-spearhead-psas-american-revival/#comments Mon, 06 Oct 2014 15:23:42 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=926625 The long-awaited return of Peugeot Citroen to North America could be in the form of their new premium DS brand, but don’t get your hopes up just yet. Automotive News is reporting that the DS brand has ambitions to become a global premium brand – and according to DS brand CEO Yves Bonnefort, “and you cannot […]

The post DS Brand Could Spearhead PSA’s American Revival appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
DS_5LS_China_2014-04-15

The long-awaited return of Peugeot Citroen to North America could be in the form of their new premium DS brand, but don’t get your hopes up just yet.

Automotive News is reporting that the DS brand has ambitions to become a global premium brand – and according to DS brand CEO Yves Bonnefort, “and you cannot be global without the U.S.”

Bonnefort said that a decision wouldn’t be made until 2017, with sales not commencing until after 2020. Presumably, this would give PSA a chance to develop U.S. compliant models. DS models are currently based off of existing Citroen products, largely front-drive based smaller cars and crossovers.

Launching a new brand, and a premium one at that, is an incredibly expensive endeavor – figure about $1 billion by the time all is said and done. Whether it’s worth it for PSA to try and launch a premium brand in a mature market that has traditionally not taken to French cars is a matter that they’ll have to decide for themselves. Not long ago, PSA seemed to be on the ropes. Concentrating on their core business (mainstream cars) in their traditional markets (France and the developing economies of Africa, Asia and other European nations) might serve them better than a vanity project such as this.

The post DS Brand Could Spearhead PSA’s American Revival appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/ds-brand-spearhead-psas-american-revival/feed/ 38
Chart Of The Day: The Hollowing Out Of Europe’s Middle Class Car Market http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/chart-of-the-day-the-hollowing-out-of-europes-middle-class-car-market/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/chart-of-the-day-the-hollowing-out-of-europes-middle-class-car-market/#comments Wed, 07 May 2014 14:21:59 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=817410   One of the frequent themes discussed on TTAC is the rising inequality of the mainstream car market in Europe. Since the Great Financial Crisis, Europe’s auto market has not only undergone a severe contraction in terms of volume, but also a radical shift in its composition. Prior to the Great Financial Crisis, the “mainstream” […]

The post Chart Of The Day: The Hollowing Out Of Europe’s Middle Class Car Market appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
FCAEuropeSlide

 

One of the frequent themes discussed on TTAC is the rising inequality of the mainstream car market in Europe. Since the Great Financial Crisis, Europe’s auto market has not only undergone a severe contraction in terms of volume, but also a radical shift in its composition.

Prior to the Great Financial Crisis, the “mainstream” brands (think Ford, Opel/Vauxhall, Renault, Peugeot, Citroen) had a firm grip on the majority of the market. Budget brands were not yet established – only Skoda had any real legitimacy, Dacia was still a punchline and GM’s Korean offerings were more like the Nexia than the Cruze. Premium brands like Mercedes-Benz, Audi and BMW were offering smaller, more affordable nameplates (like the A-Class, A3 and 1-Series), but they were still confined to the upper echelons of the segment.

What a difference a decade makes.  Budget offerings have grown increased their market share by 37 percent, while premium cars have grown another 28 percent. And it’s all coming out of the mainstream segments. And that situation is only going continue over the next 5 years.

From a product perspective, it’s easy to understand just why this happened. At the bottom end, brands like Dacia have been aggressively expanding in European markets, as well as rolling out new models. While nobody would try to pass them off as any sort of premium transportation, they are gaining a certain sort of “cheap chic” cachet as basic, unpretentious transportation. The fact that they’re winning critical acclaim doesn’t hurt either.

The premium end of the market is a bit more complex. On the one hand, the luxury auto makers have been chipping away at the traditional territory of the mainstream auto makers. Mercedes, Audi and BMW still offer the A-Class, A3 and 1-Series, but there are more lower-end nameplates too: the Audi A1 and Q3, the Mercedes B-Class, CLA and GLA and the BMW X1. Pricing for most of these models is within the upper-end of a well-equipped conventional car. Given the choice between a very well-equipped Ford Focus and a more modestly equipped German luxury car, a good number of consumers will opt for the latter – even if the premium car might be qualitatively inferior.

The other, more politically dicey argument to be made, relates to income inequality. Car ownership in Europe has always been a more expensive and difficult proposition than in North America. Middle class consumers who can afford a car in Europe’s current economic climate might be more inclined to go with a low-cost car like a Dacia, rather than spend the extra money on the Renault equivalent. Meanwhile, increasing inequality means that there is more demand for premium cars of all stripes. Luxury brands offer more performance car and SUV nameplates in 2014 than they did in 2004, and the demand has to be coming from somewhere. Not all of it can be in the lower tiers of the segment.

So what’s the solution if you’re a mainstream brand, and your customer base is as weary of ever buying a new car? Simple. Make a cool product that’s easy to afford.

Thanks to Fiat Chrysler for the chart, which was shown in their latest Five Year Plan.

The post Chart Of The Day: The Hollowing Out Of Europe’s Middle Class Car Market appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/chart-of-the-day-the-hollowing-out-of-europes-middle-class-car-market/feed/ 87
QOTD: What Does Premium Mean Anyways? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/10/qotd-what-does-premium-mean-anyways/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/10/qotd-what-does-premium-mean-anyways/#comments Wed, 31 Oct 2012 13:00:14 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=465394 “Take BMW. In the near term, they will have nine entries in the compact segment. This is basically our heartland,” he told me on the sidelines of the Paris auto show. “With the brand reputation they have, you start to have a massive problem.” -Gunnar Herrmann, Ford of Europe’s Vice President of Quality Roughly a […]

The post QOTD: What Does Premium Mean Anyways? appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>

“Take BMW. In the near term, they will have nine entries in the compact segment. This is basically our heartland,” he told me on the sidelines of the Paris auto show. “With the brand reputation they have, you start to have a massive problem.”

-Gunnar Herrmann, Ford of Europe’s Vice President of Quality

Roughly a decade ago, BMW Canada started advertising how their new 320i (Canada-only, not for the USA) was retailing for $34,000, about the same price as a generously-equipped Honda Accord. The implied question was, what would you rather have? A Honda Accord, or a Beemer.

The first shot in the paradox of aspirational marketing may have been the Mercedes-Benz A-Class, a Golf competitor from the brand that made the 600 Großer. Rumor has it that Ferdinand Peich was so incesnsed by this, it spurred him to create the Phaeton, a Volkswagen that could compete with the S-Class. We all know how that turned out.

As the Automotive News article notes, a base model turbocharged BMW 1-Series is only 500 euro more than a mid-range Ford Focus with a similar powertrain. The quality gaps between the two must be nil, otherwise Ford risks losing customers to BMW. But what happens when the brand equity of BMW is so devalued that it ceases to mean anything? Mercedes answer to this question was an enormous flop. But if this strategy continues to be pursued, then prole drift is inevitable, and the only way for the wealthy to distinguish themselves via consumption will be Bentley, Rolls-Royce, Aston Martin, Ferrari and the like. ‘

The post QOTD: What Does Premium Mean Anyways? appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/10/qotd-what-does-premium-mean-anyways/feed/ 105
May Sales Analysis: “Premium” and Large Family Sedans http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/06/may-sales-analysis-premium-and-large-family-sedans/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/06/may-sales-analysis-premium-and-large-family-sedans/#comments Thu, 03 Jun 2010 20:57:41 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=358050 Ah, segment analysis. Each automaker has its own product strategy, and none of them are designed to make apples-to-apples comparisons easy. So we’ve lumped large family sedans from automakers with a mass-market sedan positioned above their mainline D-segment sedan (Impala, Azera, Avalon, Taurus) in with entry-premium FWD cars like the ES350 and Buick LaCrosse. Since […]

The post May Sales Analysis: “Premium” and Large Family Sedans appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>

Ah, segment analysis. Each automaker has its own product strategy, and none of them are designed to make apples-to-apples comparisons easy. So we’ve lumped large family sedans from automakers with a mass-market sedan positioned above their mainline D-segment sedan (Impala, Azera, Avalon, Taurus) in with entry-premium FWD cars like the ES350 and Buick LaCrosse. Since we’re comparing a nebulous segment anyway, we threw in the entire sales performances from entry-premium brands like Volvo, Saab and Acura. Not a perfect comparison in many ways (Impala would be better compared to the D-segment sedans below, for starters), but then we’re not charging you a damn consulting fee, are we?

The post May Sales Analysis: “Premium” and Large Family Sedans appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/06/may-sales-analysis-premium-and-large-family-sedans/feed/ 40