By on October 30, 2015

1999 Isuzu Vehicross

Most mainstream consumers don’t recall much about Isuzu. If asked, they’ll either remember their friends’ droptop Amigo back in college, or if they are of a certain age, they’ll know Joe Isuzu and his outlandish claims. Some enthusiasts might know Isuzu as the partner in numerous joint ventures with GM, Honda and Subaru, among others.

That said, Isuzu built some remarkably good SUVs worthy of both halves of that descriptor. The Trooper especially was a good, sturdy off-roader that could handle family duties.

However, for a few short years, Isuzu made a wacky, limited-edition truck that could handle nearly any terrain in style.

(Read More…)

By on October 9, 2015


2016 Infiniti QX50 RWD

3.7-liter VQ37VHR V-6, with Variable Valve and Event Lift (325 horsepower @ 7,000 rpm; 267 pounds-feet of torque @ 5,200 rpm)

7-speed automatic transmission with manual shift mode and Downshift Rev Matching

17 city/24 highway/20 combined (EPA Rating, MPG)

19 mpg on the 70/30 city/hwy grocery loop (Observed, MPG)

Tested Options: Technology Package — $2,750 (Intelligent cruise, blind-spot monitoring, lane departure warning); Deluxe Touring Package — $2,400 (19-inch wheels, power folding up second-row seats); Illuminated Kick Plates — $440 (!); Premium Package — $500 (Bose 11-speaker sound system, maple interior accents, aluminum roof rails); Premium Plus Package — $2,000 (Navigation, 7-inch touch-screen display, Bluetooth).

Base Price:
As Tested Price:

* All prices include $995 destination fee.

Cars will be built in China.

Scratch that — cars are being built in China already, but cars sold in America will soon be built in China.

It’s an inevitability that American car buyers will understand when Volvo brings over its long-wheelbase S60 that promises to be the first Chinese-made car sold in America. It’s already happened in most markets around the world — including Canada — but Americans are averse to cars being built in the C-word like, well, the C-word.

The 2016 Infiniti QX50 (formerly the EX35 in old-Infiniti nomenclature) was not built in China — but for all purposes that we’ll discuss, it was made in China. That’s because the car, which sold at a phenomenally slow pace in the U.S., has been thrown a lifeline from overseas. In China, the QX50 launched six months ago with a longer wheelbase to satisfy that country’s appetite for driving everyone, everywhere, all the time. It was a no-brainer for the U.S., but to justify significantly updating the car for our market, it needed sales — and to sell, it needed to be upgraded. And you can see where this is going.

We’ve had plenty of chances to buy one before now, it’s that just Infiniti hasn’t really ever given us a reason.

(Read More…)

By on April 22, 2015

13 - 1997 Oldsmobile Bravada Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe Olds Bravada started out as an Oldsmobized Chevy Blazer and ended (along with Oldsmobile itself) as an Oldsmobated Chevy Trailblazer. They show up in Colorado junkyards in startlingly large numbers. Who bought Bravadas? For that matter, who bought Isuzu Ascenders? Anyway, because the idea of an Oldsmobile-badged midsize SUV made about as much sense as an Oldsmobile-badged cruel-parody-of-a-luxury-car J-body and is thus sort of interesting, I’ve finally decided to do a Bravada Junkyard Find. We’ll return to the usual Pontiac-badged Daewoos soon enough. (Read More…)

By on September 6, 2012

The SUV arms race has been over for a few years now, with four-ton, leather-lined, full-framed trucks no longer appearing to be viable as the middle-class commuter machines they were during the SUV-crazed 1990s and 2000s. Oh, sure, you can still buy the things, but Times Have Changed. If we are to draw a parallel between the Golden Age of the Muscle Car (during which Detroit slapped off-the-shelf luxury-car engines and $27 worth of scoops and graphics on midsize commuter cars and made crazy money) and the Golden Age of the Big-Ass SUV (during which Detroit slapped off-the-shelf pleather and Simu-Wood™ trim and $27 worth of badging on full-sized work-truck chassis and made crazy money), then we are now in the SUV equivalent of about 1976. If so, this means that, in another decade or two, nostalgia for Navigators and Escalades will kick in, just as it did for GTOs and Super Bees in about 1985, and— just as with muscle cars— the love of these absurd luxo-trucks will take on symbolic connotations of past glory, an era before nanny-state killjoys, and so on. (Read More…)

By on December 9, 2011

This whole craze with the leather-trimmed luxury trucks, I’m against it. In my opinion, a real passenger truck is a big steel box with rear-wheel-drive, a floor-shift three-speed manual transmission, an AM radio, and a metal dash. Oh yeah, and it has to be built by a farm-equipment manufacturer. (Read More…)

By on July 14, 2011

A couple months back, Cadillac gave me a bright red, three-ton, rollin’-on-22s, chrome-drenched, hybrid-electric, $88,140 luxury truck to drive while in Michigan for the Campaign To Prevent Gingervitis 24 Hours of LeMons. Since that time, the effort of attempting to write a meaningful review for this ridiculous-yet-amazing machine has caused my brain to develop a severe rod knock. Who is supposed to buy this thing? I asked myself. What can you do with it? (Read More…)

By on March 21, 2011

As Detroit was skipping a decade or two of car R&D by concentrating on packing increasing numbers of 128-ouncer-ready cup holders and faux-wood trim into big trucks, it became necessary to make it clear to the targeted buyer demographics that these trucks really weren’t, you know, trucks. In fact, they were more about protection from street crime and potholes than anything else, which is where slapping Mercury badges on the Explorer and Oldsmobile badges on the Blazer came in. (Read More…)

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