Tag: Review

By on September 6, 2016

2016 Volkswagen Beetle Dune front quarter, Image: © 2016 Chris Tonn/The Truth About Cars

The youthful squealing could be heard down the long driveway and through several panes of glass. When I told my daughters that I’d be picking them up from the babysitter’s house in something different, they had no idea what chariot would ferry them to softball and cheerleading practice that eventing.

My girls aren’t gearheads by most definitions. While I’m not necessarily brainwashing their preteen skulls with minutiae and data about every car on the road, I’m not letting them become numb to the wonder that is the modern car. My youngest, soon to be eight, ran screaming from the door: “BEETLE!” That’s the power of an iconic brand.

However, I’m thinking the girls reacted most viscerally to the searing yellow paint.

(Read More…)

By on August 24, 2016

2017 Mitsubishi Mirage G4

I’m sitting on the pit lane of my local track — Atlantic Motorsports Park in Shubenacadie, Nova Scotia — surveying the empty course. My helmet is on the seat beside me, my hands are gripping the leather-wrapped wheel, and I can hear the low growl of three-cylinders idling as they wait for me.

But before I get to that, a bit about what I’m driving.

This is the Mitsubishi Mirage G4. It’s what happens when the oft-cheapest new hatchback in Canada (depending on who is offering what cash on the hood that month) grows a trunk. Under the hood: a 1.2-liter three-cylinder engine that has 78 horses in there somewhere. Connected to that is a continuously variable transmission, the only transmission available on this SEL trim tester.

I do a quick check of the course to make sure it’s still empty. My foot hits the floor.

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By on August 12, 2016

U-Haul U-Box Portable Storage

Kleenex is to facial tissue as Google is to searching the web; as Coke is to any soft drink in Metro Atlanta; as Nintendo was to video gaming in the ’90s.

In that vein, U-Haul is the Kleenex of moving vans.

At the beginning of each month, you’re bound to see at least five orange-and-white U-Haul misery machines piloted by sweaty-faced individuals attempting to transport their belongings, which they’ve hoarded over the last X number of years, to their new abodes. Their faces tell the tale: Moving is horrible. Everything about it is a nightmare. And U-Haul is intrinsically part of that nightmare.

But U-Haul doesn’t do just moving vans, trucks, and trailers.

During our move from Nova Scotia, on Canada’s Atlantic coast, to Oshawa, Ontario, some thousand miles to the west, we decided to give U-Haul’s newest product a whirl. It’s called U-Box and it promises to alleviate the needless torture of long-distance moving.

Promises are made to be broken.

(Read More…)

By on August 11, 2016

2016 Fiat 500X, Image: © 2016 Rebecca Turrell/The Truth About Cars

Fiat is marketing its new crossover as bigger, more powerful, and ready for action.

If you caught Fiat’s Super Bowl ad for the 500X, it relies heavily on sex appeal. The implication: that the 500X is more … erm … “excited” than the 500. So I was intrigued when a rental car branch recently told me the only SUV they had left was the 2016 Fiat 500X.

(Read More…)

By on August 3, 2016

Tesla Model S 85D, Image: © 2016 David Marek/The Truth About Cars

The Tesla Model S is neither new nor surprising anymore. When the electric sedan entered the market in 2012, it shattered perceptions of electric cars and proved electric motoring viable.

Since then, Tesla has established itself as the go-to brand for geeks and early adopters. We’ve driven the Tesla Model S before, so there’s no need to talk about its most obvious features. But recent events make this a great time to talk about its second-most-important feature: Autopilot.

Is Tesla’s autonomous system any good? Can it be dangerous? How far is it from being truly autonomous? And, besides that, how did the Model S improve over the last few years?
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By on July 26, 2016

2014 Honda Accord V6 Coupe 6MT, Image: © 2016 Jack Baruth/The Truth About Cars

Just slightly over twenty-nine months since taking delivery of my 2014 Accord V6 Coupe 6MT and I’m already out of warranty. That’s not strictly true; there’s still powertrain coverage until the 50,000-mile mark. Certain items, like seatbelts and airbags and catalytic converters, will be replaced on Honda’s time for the rest of this decade, if not longer. But that 3/36,000 bumper-to-bumper honeymoon period of being able to take the car to the dealer for noises and clunks and little broken parts? As my future third wife, Este, would say — those days are gone.

(Read More…)

By on July 8, 2016

2017 Kia Sportage Front 3:4, Image: Kia

The SUV’s rise to king of the automotive fiefdom is well documented. Seizing the chance for fat profits and sales glory, manufacturers took their existing product, added a couple of doors and ladled on the chrome. Buyers flocked to them like Brexiters lining up to change their vote. In time, thanks to Prius driving tofu-twinks wearing nuclear-free peace sandals, these brutes became as politically correct as a Monsanto home fracking kit and, with a few exceptions, have been resigned to the dustbin of history.

OEMs recognized the trend, slowly backing away from the behemoth machines. Modifying their smaller unibody offerings, tall two-box crossovers soon dotted the landscape, watering down the SUV formula until buyers were left with the automotive equivalent of Metamucil.

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By on June 10, 2016

1981 Fiat 2000 Spider Side, Image: © 2016 Kamil Kaluski/The Truth About Cars

The new Fiat 124 Spider may be thought of as a spiritual successor to the classic Fiat 2000 Spider. It’s no secret, however, that the new car is really a re-skinned Mazda MX-5 Miata powered by the same engine as the current Fiat 500 Abarth. The only parts truly new to the Fiat are some exterior panels. That’s not a bad thing as the new Miata seems to be quite amazing in all regards.

The question, despite Jack’s opinions, is whether the Abarth engine and some suspension tuning will give the 124 Spider that much coveted Italian flair, the sales numbers Fiat desperately needs, and the passion and drama that we all love so much. For better or worse, that’s been somewhat absent from the Miata over the years.

To answer that question, and to discover the ingredients in that secret Italian sauce, I recently spent some time in the classic Fiat roadster.

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By on May 25, 2016

2016 Kia Sedona Exterior Front, Image: © 2016 Alex L. Dykes/The Truth About Cars

Let’s face it: Nobody wants to drive what their parents drove, even if it’s the right vehicle for the task at hand. Minivan shoppers balked at their parent’s station wagon, and CUV shoppers seem to believe that minivans are the gateway to mom-jeans and velcro sneakers.

My sister-in-law is the perfect example of a conflicted minivan shopper. With four kids, she needs a minivan. However, because she grew up sitting in the back of a string of Chevrolet Astro vans, she has a special hatred reserved for minivans. It probably doesn’t help that her parents recently traded in an Oldsmobile Silhouette for a Chrysler Town & Country.

Technically, a family of six will fit in your average three-row crossover, but even the biggest CUVs have a cramped back seat and limited cargo compared to the average minivan.

Seeing an opportunity to differentiate itself, Kia decided to put a different twist on the Sedona when it was redesigned for 2015. The latest Sedona gives up some traditional minivan practicality in an attempt to appeal to crossover shoppers on the fence.

(Read More…)

By on May 23, 2016

2016 Mazda CX-9, Image: © 2016 Alex L. Dykes/The Truth About Cars

When Mazda initially launched the CX-9, it aimed the crossover firmly at American buyers — 80 percent of CX-9 production came to the U.S., and exactly 0 percent stayed in Japan. It was an American under the sheetmetal, too, built on an older platform shared with Ford.

For 2016, Mazda completely redesigned its large, three-row crossover with an eye on improving dynamics, efficiency and giving the brand a near-luxury alternative. Yep, Mazda believes its new Signature trim — featuring such adornments as heads-up display, Nappa leather, and real wood trim — is an alternative to the Acura MDX.

Mazda hasn’t gone completely upscale, however. Most of the CX-9 lineup aims squarely at the Nissan Pathfinder, Toyota Highlander, Honda Pilot, Ford Explorer, and Chevrolet Traverse.

(Read More…)

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