Tag: QOTD

By on February 23, 2017

Accord-Camry-Passat-Altima V6 sedans - Images: Nissan/Honda/Toyota/VW

Horsepower doesn’t necessarily cure all that ails you. Potent powertrains aren’t invariably linked to progress. The greater pony count is not unfailingly found under the hood of the greater car.

All too often, auto enthusiasts fall into the trap of believing that a deeply flawed car can be made better if they’d only put a proper engine under the hood. In reality, huge power increases often do more to highlight, rather than mask, a car’s flaws.

The overwhelming majority of 2017’s crop of midsize sedans are not deeply flawed cars, of course. But it’s generally accepted, at least by people like you and me, that they can all be made better by upgrading the basic four-cylinder powerplant with an optional V6. By spending a fair chunk of extra change. By tolerating a sharp increase in fuel consumption. By challenging two front wheels to sometimes fulfill two starkly different missions. (Read More…)

By on February 22, 2017

Generic Sedan

It happens every day on the road. Vehicle-shaped appliances pass by in the other lanes, or perhaps cross an intersection in front of you. You don’t take notice, because they’re the same ovoid or trapezoidal shape as the rest of the Frost Beige blobs on your thrilling commute to the cubicle farm.

But focus your eyes and clear the fog for a moment, because I want to ask you something.

(Read More…)

By on February 21, 2017

1969 Chrysler New Yorker (Alden Jewell/Flickr)

Those who know me well — the lucky souls who’ve plumbed the deepest depths of my dark psyche and returned alive — know my strange and beautiful lust for 1970s land yachts. It needn’t be seen as a weird kink. I mean, who doesn’t like vast swaths of interior room, pillowed velour, and a narcolepsy-inducing ride? Weirdos, most likely.

If two sad, motherless puppies ever crawled their way to my doorstep, shivering and scared, I’d immediately rename them Brougham and Landau, and I don’t care who knows it.

As full-size cars shrink in popularity, the cues of those past Interstate barges — padded roofs, opera windows, flip-up headlights — are nowhere to be seen in today’s automotive landscape. Another common feature of those overstuffed rides, one that rose to prominence in the heady 1950s and met its death before the end of the 1970s, currently occupies an endangered micro niche.

I’m talking about the missing B-pillar. Yes, the alluring and illustrious pillarless hardtop. (Read More…)

By on February 16, 2017

5 Honda CR-V generations - Images: HondaHonda Canada delivered a 2017 Honda CR-V Touring to my driveway less than 100 hours ago.

It is, in so many ways, an exemplary means of transporting one’s family: surprisingly efficient, sufficiently powerful, wonderfully spacious, and undeniably refined.

But it’s not pretty. (Read More…)

By on February 15, 2017

Trabant (Wikimedia Commons)

Last Labor Day weekend, when snow was a hazy memory and the warm days seemed as if they’d last forever, I spent some time in a small cottage about three hours northwest of Montreal.

The nearest village, accessible by twisty backroads with an asphalt surface strangely superior to most Montreal highways, contained exactly what you’d expect for a tiny hamlet in a remote, low-rent section of the Laurentian Mountains. General store. Liquor store. Bank. Post office. Poutine store. Okay, that last one’s not true, as this place ascribed to the BYOC rule (Bring Your Own Curds).

Walking back to my car after picking up supplies, which in this case consisted of beer, more beer, and an extra-large bottle white wine for the fairer sex, I saw it. “What the hell are you doing here?” I muttered under my breath. (Read More…)

By on February 14, 2017

Holden Commodore Calais V Sportwagon

The Internet Car Enthusiast, or ICE (see what I did there?), is always telling us how they would purchase Vehicle X if it were only offered in a wagon variant. But because it invariably isn’t offered in a wagon variant, they purchase a Toyota Highlander or equivalent instead. Woe is the ICE and their lack of enthusiast vehicle choice!

Well, here’s your chance for a flight of fancy. I want you to tell me which wagon you’d choose if the Gods of Motoring smiled upon ye and provided you the wagon of your dreams.

(Read More…)

By on February 13, 2017

A touching moment of solidarity crowned the inaugural series event. During the second race’s podium, the winner and Nissan GT Academy driver decided to offer his two Nissan Canada cheques of 1,500 worth of parts to new driver Mario Berthiaume, who was unable to start the race after seriously damaging his car in a practice session accident. Image: Nissan Canada

There’s an old saying, coined by NASCAR legend Junior Johnson, that suggests the quickest way to make a small fortune in racing is to start with a big one. While my yard is notably devoid of multi-million dollar race haulers, I can certainly understand the seeds of truth in this cautionary tale: when the powers-that-be decide to change the rules in a particular series, it causes all hands to reach for their checkbooks.

There have been plenty of rule changes in motorsport over the years. Formula 1 changes its downforce packages more often than my wife’s teenage sister changes her Snapchat filters, for example. F1 is also known for decreeing the use of new engines, ranging over the years from turbo V6s to honkin’ V10s to small-displacement V12s, not to mention the bizarre powertrain configurations that appeared in the ’60s and ’70s. The amount of adaptation beggars belief.

Stock car racing isn’t immune to this trend, either.

(Read More…)

By on February 9, 2017

Suburban/Yukon and 2018 Expedition - Images: GM & Ford

On Tuesday, Ford Motor Company unveiled the all-new, fourth-generation 2018 Ford Expedition outside the Dallas Cowboys’ AT&T Stadium.

But does the Expedition matter?

With the Chevrolet Suburban and Tahoe plus GMC’s Yukon and Yukon XL — setting aside the degree to which the Cadillac Escalade crushes the Lincoln Navigator — General Motors owns 75 percent of America’s full-size, body-on-frame, truck-based SUV market.

Seventy-five per cent. (Read More…)

By on February 8, 2017

Saab 9000

Maybe it’s not reliable, or sucks down fuel like it’s going out of style. Maybe it’s prone to tipping over, catching fire, or having spiders live in it. Or perhaps parts availability is such that the mere thought of owning and driving the thing causes undue stress.

But you just can’t help yourself.

Today I ask: What lousy vehicle do you covet despite the ways it would inevitably ruin your life?

(Read More…)

By on February 7, 2017

Oldsmobile Vista Cruiser (Alden Jewel/Flickr (CC BY 2.0))

At some point in the late 1980s or early 1990s, the minivan officially took the lead in the race for family-hauling supremacy. Various models, most notably the Ford Taurus, soldiered on into the 2000s, joined by a fading Volvo lineup and a few other models. But the jig was up.

With minivans already fielded by almost every mainstream automaker, the burgeoning SUV craze sealed the wagon’s fate, sending the once-hot bodystyle into the category of rare, boutique niche vehicle — usually bought by affluent Euro-centric snobs.

In their heyday, however, boxy wagons signaled to the world that the driver’s free-wheeling single life was now collecting dust in attic-bound photo albums. Sorry, no time for that anymore — too busy building a nuclear family here, pal. And hey, it’s so convenient for hauling Crisco and Velveeta and marshmallow fluff and various other Baby Boom food staples! (Read More…)

By on February 6, 2017

1972 Dodge D200 Pickup in Colorado Junkyard, CUSTOM emblem - ©2016 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

What type of extra-curricular activity do you enjoy taking on with your car or truck? No, not that type of extra-curricular activity, gutter brain. I’m talking about what we can do with our vehicles other than the mundane commute to work five days a week. Towing. Drag racing. Off-roading. Y’know, more than the basics. The fun stuff.

(Read More…)

By on February 1, 2017

chrysler crossfire

“God, that looks awful.”

We’ve all uttered the sentence above at one time or another. We’re sitting in traffic and are suddenly faced with something grotesque, something which was undoubtedly “of the moment” for only a moment, and which is now part of recent history best forgotten. But enough about the hooker leaning on a Crossfire.

Today I’m going to ask you to think back in time — up to ten years ago (which may be a challenge for some of our more wizened commenters) — and reflect on car designs. Tell me your pick for the most aged design of 2007-2017.

(Read More…)

By on January 31, 2017

David Lofink/Flickr Speed Limit 55

The Interstate Highway System is pretty much set in stone (or concrete and asphalt, to be exact), so there’s little hope of more driving engagement for bored motorists who long for a few twisties during their long-distance slogs.

Governments can raise or lower speed limits, but they sure can’t do much to alleviate boredom. In our morning discussion here at TTAC, Indiana and Pennsylvania came up as the worst offenders for yawn-inducing drives. Geography is fickle like that. Of course, a sure-fire way to reduce the boredom that sets in between cities is to simply close the gap in less time.

Just think: fewer awkward silences between yourself and a passenger, fewer awful songs on local radio, and more time saved, at the expense of more gas consumed. It seems a decent trade-off. We’ve come a long way since the dark days of the 1970s, when crossing a state at 55 miles per hour felt like taking the Oregon Trail.

However, have we come far enough? (Read More…)

By on January 30, 2017

Homeless Toyota Van Home

Homelessness is an issue in all major cities across the U.S., but it’s particularly acute in large ones fortunate enough to have a pleasant climate year-round. Los Angeles has both of these attributes, and that means there’s quite a large homeless population. A recent article from the LA Times caught my eye.

With over 6,000 homeless people sleeping in their cars every night, the city is enacting a new ordinance to give them somewhere to (legally) park.
(Read More…)

By on January 30, 2017

FCA Windsor minivan assembly Dodge Grand Caravan 2011 - Image: FCA

A good many questions that start with the phrase, “Given an unlimited budget … ” tend to focus on what a person would buy with a bottomless pit of money — and why not? It’s fun to fill our imaginary garages with machines made of moonbeams and unobtanium.

Not this time. Right now, I’m here to ask you: what car makes you froth at the mouth? What car offends you worse than a gunnysack full or rotting tuna? What car would you never buy?

(Read More…)

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