The Truth About Cars » ttac The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Sun, 27 Jul 2014 20:45:49 +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 » ttac TTAC Wants YOU – To Be Part Of Our Reader Review Program Wed, 04 Jun 2014 14:10:51 +0000 readerride

Less than a month after our “Reader Review” program began (with Bark M taking TTAC reader Gene’s Chevrolet SS for a spin), the program is picking up momentum: we have now chalked up our fourth review, and we’d like to take the chance to formally extend this opportunity to all of our readers.

Thanks to our busy travel schedules, myself, Jack and Bark M are frequently criss-crossing the continent, and taking time to meet with readers along the way. Recently, we’ve also been either a) driving their cars or b) riding along with them and helping them write their own reviews. In the past month alone, we’ve taken some cool rides out aside from the SS. Among them are a new WRX premium, Davefromcalgary’s Buick Verano and a brand new Ram 1500 V6.

And we’re looking to do more. We want to break the monotony of manufacturer-supplied press cars. We want to get an understanding of why you bought your car. And most of all, we want to hang out with our readers. We’ll even buy you dinner for your troubles.

If you want to sign up, send an email to editors at ttac dot com and let us know where you live, what you drive and whether you’d like us to drive the car or if you just want to send in a review. We can’t promise that we’ll be able to make it out, or that we’ll select your review, but we will do our best.

]]> 72
TTAC Mini-Meet Up Tonight In Calgary Tue, 20 May 2014 15:07:21 +0000 450x337xfiestast-450x337.jpg.pagespeed.ic.qJ9uiYhYu9

According to Google Analytics, Calgary, Alberta is one of the top cities where TTAC is read. And in honor of that (and the fact that I’m out here right now), myself and reader Daveincalgary are hosting a mini-meet up, and bringing along a couple of cool cars as well.

Tonight at 6 PM, myself, Dave and a few others will be meeting at Cafe 22, at 8720 Macleod Trail SE at 6 PM. I’ll be bringing along the Tresmonos-built Fiesta ST, while Dave is bringing his rare unicorn: a brand new Buick Verano Turbo with a manual transmission. Alas, the Verano does not have a Trifecta Tune, but perhaps we can all convince Dave to do this, and then realize unworldly power and fuel economy gains.

If you’d like to attend, feel free to RSVP (editors at ttac dot com). I’ll tell you how to get in touch so you can track us down. Stay tuned to our Twitter feed (@TTAC) as well for updates.

]]> 26
TTAC Editors Pick Their Best And Worst Of 2013 Thu, 26 Dec 2013 13:00:55 +0000 FiestaSTExterior12-main_rdax_646x396

Over the past year, we’ve collectively driven hundreds of cars between us. We thought that we’d bring you an unofficial list of some of our favorites for the year.

Jack Baruth:

Best car: Regrettably, it’s the Mercedes SLS AMG Black Series. It combines all the drama and thrill of the Viper with a buttoned-down suspension that makes it usable on fast back roads. Did I mention the gullwing doors? You can drive the car with them up. This car causes more dropped panties than a Victoria’s Secret changing room. It’s so far above the other $296,000 cars on the market it isn’t funny.
Honorable Mention: If you don’t have $296,000, then this year I’m recommending the Camry SE in four-cylinder trim. Supple, capable, trackable. Probably will last forever. And for 2014 they upgraded the interior just a bit.
Least favorite car of the year? Probably the BMW 435i, which isn’t a bad car measured objectively against the Audi and Mercedes competition but which utterly fails to evoke any of the delight you used to get from the E46 or even the outgoing E90 coupe.
Derek Kreindler:
Best car: The Ford Fiesta ST lives up to the hype, and is even better than the “warm hatch” Focus ST.  On a 250 mile highway round trip, while returning 34 mpg. The 1.6L Ecoboost chugged along, delivering tugboat-like thrust, and I sat comfortably in the fat-bolstered Recaro bucket seats, enjoying a relatively civilized ride. It may not beat Jack’s beloved Camry V6 in a stoplight drag race, but when the road deviates from straight, it delivers the “driving a slow car fast” thrills of a Miata without being all that slow. If you can get past the build quality issues (which were present on my tester), it’s the most enjoyable junior performance car on sale today, bar none.
Honorable mention: The Jaguar F-Type is not as competent on track as its rivals, but nothing I’ve driven this year makes you feel so alive. On the truck side, the Ram 1500 Diesel delivers outstanding fuel economy in a capable, half-ton package.
Worst car: The Lincoln MKZ. My review may have been a bit harsh, but it offers no real compelling reason to buy one over any competitor. The Jeep Cherokee I drove was competent off-road but immensely disappointing on-road considering how much promise it had – and how good the Grand Cherokee is – but I’ll be getting another production example in March to re-evaluate it.

Ronnie Schreiber:

Both cars are Chrysler products. The car that impressed me the most was the Chrysler 300S AWD and the car that disappointed me the most was the Dodge Dart Limited.

Favorite car I drove all-year: Last year I reviewed a Chrysler 300 Luxury Series that was fully loaded save for the fact that it came with a Pentastar V6 and an 8 speed automatic transmission, not the Hemi and a six speed. I happened to have driven it back to back with a Jaguar XF Supercharged and since the cars were both 5 passenger RWD sedans with tons of features, I couldn’t help but ask if the Jaguar was worth $25,000 more than the Chrysler. I decided that the refinement and the extra 200 horsepower of the XF explained the difference. This year I got to drive a Hemi powered AWD Chrysler 300S and while it didn’t have quite as many luxury features as the 300 I drove last year, if that Luxury Series 300 had been equipped with the Hemi, that $25,000 question would have been much harder to answer. The 300 is a fine automobile, evidence that American car companies are capable of building a great sedan.

Biggest let-down: the Dodge Dart to see if the folks in Auburn Hills had made a class competitive compact car for the American market from the bones of an Alfa Romeo platform. There were things about it that I liked, it’s spacious and comfortable and can almost handle but the 2.0L/automatic drivetrain was such a dog that it impacted my overall impression of the car. I rarely used paddle shifters or autostick it in cars so equipped but it was necessary to keep up with traffic safely in the 2.0/auto Dart. Also, driving it back to back with the Chrysler 300 drove home the fact that there are substantial differences in component and build quality between a car with a base MSRP of ~$17,000 and one that starts closer to $30K. While photographing the car I noticed a paint flaw, where the paint had left a “run” about an inch and a half long. I used to work in an automotive paint R&am
p;D lab and I haven’t seen a flaw on a production car’s paint like that in about 20 years.

Special Honorable Mention: the Toyota Crown Royal I got to drive at a Toyota hybrid event, because I’m old and I sometimes like a little insulation from the world. In many ways it’s the antithesis of the Chrysler 300S or the Jaguar XF. There is nothing sporty about the Crown Royal, it has no S setting, but it was just so smooth and serene that it was worthy of note. There were a lot of unusual and interesting vehicles to drive at that event, but just about everyone wanted to try out the Crown Royal and all that did exited the car with smiles on their faces.

Bark M:
Favorite Car of the Year: 2014 Shelby GT500 Mustang. Yes, yes, it’s predictable that the Mustang owner would pick a Mustang as his favorite car of the year, but it’s also just the truth. We may never see its kind again—a whomping 662 horses in a no-excuses package. They removed the grill, for chrissakes. It’s hard to see Ford greenlighting another monster like this one. Grab one if you still can. It’s just insanity on four wheels.
Worst car of the year: 2013 Chevrolet Captiva Sport/2013 Volkwagen Passat. The Captiva is just a discredit to everybody involved—GM, the rental car companies, the dealers who buy it at auction. It’s based on a platform that’s a nearly a decade old, with none of the modern conveniences one would come to expect with a vehicle labled as a “2013.” If they kept it rental-only, fine. It’s when it shows up as a late-model on a Chevy lot that it becomes truly embarrassing.
The Volkswagen Passat (The American version, that is) has done nothing but get worse and worse every year, to where it’s barely recognizable as a Volkswagen. Even VW has apparently realized the damage they’re doing to their nameplate with this car and is restoring a few features to it for 2014. Thank God.

Alex Dykes:

RAM 1500 Diesel – The car company lampooned last decade for doing everything wrong seems to have found their mojo. 2014 combines a sweet 3.0L V6 turbo diesel engine with a ZF 8-speed automatic, healthy tow ratings and one of the best infotainment systems on the market. Chrysler will gladly stuff the torque-happy towing champ in their base Tradesman pickup or their cowboy Cadillac with stitched leather dash bits and real wood trim. Yeehaw!

Honda Accord Hybrid – Honda has tried dethroning the Prius for ages with hybrid Civics and even dedicated hybrid models to no avail. Until now. The 2014 Accord is combines decent handling, traditional sedan looks and impressive fuel economy numbers. There have been others that have claimed 47 MPG, but the Accord is the first to deliver in the real world putting the better handling, more attractive and more comfortable Accord just 3 MPG shy of Toyota’s fuel sipper. By not attacking the Prius head, on Honda has accidentally created the best Prius alternative to date.


MitsubishiOutlander – Let’s face it, unless Mitsubishi pulls a rabbit out of their hat, they are the latest dead brand walking. The new Outback is unremarkable inside and out.  Old engines combine with slow transmissions and 1990s interior styling to create a completely forgettable crossover. The Outlander is $4,000 less than a 7-seat Kia Sorento, unfortunately for Mitsubishi, the Sorento is totally worth the $4,000 bump.

Smart FourTwo – At $13,270 the Smart sounds like a great idea. Until you look at the price and discover a Nissan Versa sedan is 10% cheaper, seats 150% more people, carries more stuff, gets better fuel economy and has a transmission that doesn’t shift like a drunk 14 year old learning to drive a stick. If you really must own a 3-cylinder conveyance in America, get a 3-cylinder Fiesta or a Mitsubishi Mirage.

Murilee Martin:

Best car: Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution with manual transmission. This car is so spirally-eyed ridiculous and its powertrain such an engineering masterpiece that you won’t mind the tooth-loosening ride, tinny Lancer bodywork, and dismaying thirst for fuel. Of all the press cars I’ve driven in recent years, this is the one I’m most tempted to go out and buy. You must get the manual transmission to appreciate this car, even though it’s an early-90s-style 5-speed that keeps the engine screaming at nearly four grand on the highway.

Best light truck: Piaggio Ape. So small it barely exists, yet does most of what a truck should do: haul stuff, keep the rain off you, repair easily. Needs a stereo, though.

Worst: Rental-car-grade Nissan Altima. The civilian Altima might be just fine, but the several rentals I had over the last year managed to be even more unpleasant to drive than the previous LeMons Staffer Worst Rental Car of All Time (the Dodge Nitro). Steering feels disconnected from driver input (a pro racer says it feels like there’s a built-in 1/10th-second delay in steering input), resulting in exhausting and constant overcorrections on the highway. CVT howls, hunts for ratios, can’t find them. If you have a choice between the Altima and a Little Tikes Cozy Coupe at the rental-car counter, take the Cozy Coupe.

]]> 168
QOTD: What Do YOU Want To See As Part Of A TTAC Forum? Wed, 13 Nov 2013 16:46:58 +0000 0

For the past little while, we’ve been working on a new project expressly for our readers: a TTAC forum. And we want your input to help shape it.

The comments section of TTAC is unquestionably as important as the articles themselves, and the discussions within it help shape our editorial direction. At the same time, we know that carrying on discussions can be a bit cumbersome, and starting new topics is not possible at all.

With that in mind, we are working on a forum that will allow the Best & Brightest to start and maintain discussions on topics of their choosing. We are currently wrestling with a couple issues, namely, allowing registered commenters to use the forum with their current usernames and without having to re-register for the forum. The second matter is “what kinds of sub-forums should we create?”. This is where you come in. So far, I have a few ideas, namely

  • Suggest A Story (to give readers a say in stories that they’d like to see covered)
  • New and Future Product Discussion
  • Industry Discussion
  • Reader Rides and Project Cars
  • Used Car Discussion (for all things used cars, be it purchasing, maintenance, insurance, selling)
  • Classic and Collector Car Discussion

These are just a starting point as far as we’re concerned. Let us know what you’d like to see or what you’d like to stay away from. After all, this is your forum.

]]> 93
TTAC Shirt Winners Announced! Tue, 22 Oct 2013 14:29:43 +0000

We gave you two different chances to win. Time to announce the winners. We don’t have good email addresses for everyone, particularly some of our longer-serving commenters, so make sure we don’t miss you.

We picked these by pulling the comment numbers from the thread and using a random function in Perl to pick the lucky few. Some of you are no doubt already griping that Perl doesn’t have any true random function; it’s all psuedorandom. You fucking nerds, I bet you read Cryptonomicon and snorted when the “peeking into the ball hopper” was enough to let Rudy reverse-engineer the algorithm. I know I did. Anyway. The ten eleven winners from the original post are:

route88 (Not random, he was First Post)
thegamper (not random, he posted too late and we reward misbehavior)

The five eight winners from the followup:

DeadWeight (not random, he made a Bertel joke, plus he was the target of that Top Troll stupidity)
supremembrougham (not random, we’ve been stealing his content from his website)
EducatorDan (not random, he’s PrincipalDan)

We have more to give away, and we’ll do that in the upcoming weeks.

If you don’t hear from me via e-mail by Thursday, email us to get us your shipping information. Thanks to everyone for participating!

]]> 58
Housekeeping: How Are We Doing? Mon, 19 Aug 2013 14:00:37 +0000 GPP

Slightly over a month ago, we had a spot of regime change here at The Truth About Cars. At the time, we unveiled a five-point program to improve the site and improve the reader experience. I’d like to take a moment to review these five points and give you a chance to provide further feedback on our progress so far.

Our points of improvement were:

Point One: TTAC Homecoming. To the best of our knowledge and ability, we have unbanned and restored every commenter who was removed from the conversation during the previous administration. I’m pleased to note that no commenters have required banning since then. If you’re aware of an account that has not been restored, or if you have an account that has not been restored, please let us know. Furthermore, some previously banned commenters have noticed that their comments are being held in the spam queue. We’re checking said queue frequently but if we miss you, let us know. I’d also like to thank the B&B for being civil and decent during the past month. Please try to keep that up.

Point Two: Accountability and Civility. I think we’ve done a good job of staying work-safe; if I’m wrong, let me know. We’ve had numerous pieces from contributors on both sides of the political fence and will continue to do so. Some commenters were upset at the flippant attitude I assumed towards the United States Government on the recent “Super Blue” piece, so I’ll take that criticism to heart. At the same time, this isn’t the Huffington Post or Fox News and we’re going to primarily judge political figures based on how they treat the motorist. I want to hear your opinion any time we lean too far to one side.

Point Three: Refocus on the B&B. We now allow commenters to criticize the authors, self included, and you’ve certainly taken advantage of that freedom, which is fine. We haven’t had a public shaming or banning of any commenter (or even a silent banning). This is one that’s tough to do over the long haul, for everyone. People get passionate about the issues that are important to them. Sometimes passion takes over. Just remember: we’re all in this together.

Point Four: Opening The Conversation. TTAC readers are contributing in record numbers. We’re looking forward to even more of that. Keep writing, keep sending it. We’re still catching up on the submissions we have, but don’t let that stop you. We want you to continue to participate, and as our budget frees up we will be able to pay for unique or interesting stories, particularly from inside the industry.

Point Five: The Truth A few readers (thanks, Mom!) said they didn’t want a complete ban on fiction, so we created “Sunday Stories” for that stuff. It’s clearly labeled so you can avoid it if you don’t like it. We’re renting more cars, getting more different voices on reviews. I’m pleased to announce that we’re about to go toe-to-toe with a major manufacturer on an issue of journalistic freedom, unless said manufacturer gets their act together in the next 48 hours, and I’m looking forward to it. Time to crack some heads and tell the truth.

So that’s how I think we’ve done so far. How about you? What else do you want to see changed, improved, or replaced? We’re listening. It’s important. One final thing: It had never occurred to me that I would wind up being the inmate in charge of this asylum. In general, you’ve been supportive and decent and great about the whole thing. Thanks for that. And for those of you who hate my guts: the pro tem after “E-I-C” is there for a reason. As always, thanks for reading!

]]> 130
What’s This S#!+ About A TTAC E-Newsletter Wed, 07 Aug 2013 14:12:54 +0000 spam022

Have you noticed that lately we’ve added a little box at the end of most stories asking you to sign up for the “TTAC E-Newsletter”? Sure you have. You’re observant like that. But why would you possibly want to do such a thing?

It’s simple, really. Once a week or so, we’re going to send a wrap-up of the week’s best stuff to you. That way, if you’ve been busy, distracted, incarcerated, whatever, you won’t miss the topics and articles that stirred the most discussion and interest. If you decide you don’t want it, we’ll take you back off the list.

Some of the newsletters — as many as we can manage — will also have some “behind-the-scenes” stuff. Why didn’t we get Car X to review? What did So-and-So say to us when we exposed their political/textual/on-track maneuvering? That sort of thing.

As of yet, we haven’t actually sent any E-newsletters. We’re still working on the format. But if you want to be first in line, now’s the time to do it. And yeah, we’ll probably give something away to our newsletter readers. Don’t worry, it won’t be a new Aventador or anything like that. Maybe a new Aventador brochure. Assuming we can’t sell said brochure on eBay. What are you waiting for? Sign up already!

]]> 15
QOTD: What Should We Rent Next? Mon, 22 Jul 2013 15:52:22 +0000 photo-45-450x337

It’s no secret that over here at TTAC, we like to pay for it – at least when it comes to test cars. Sure, we do go to the press fleet frequently, but when time and budget allow, abusing our Hertz #1 Club Gold membership is a great way to get behind the wheel of select automobiles.

For starters, press fleet vehicles tend to be heavily optioned variants of popular models, the kind that most shoppers would never drive off the lot. Rental cars, on the other hand, are typically “fleet specials”, with base powertrains and few options. If you’re lucky, you might wind up with an Impala LT instead of an LS, or a Camry Sport rather than the stripped-out LE model. They also live much harsher lives than press vehicles and tend to come with more miles on the clock, giving us a better idea of how the cars will hold up under harsh conditions.

Let us know what rental cars you’d like to see reviewed. While Jack is known for his reviews of straight up rental cars, I am not afraid of going to Zipcar to get impressions of vehicles that aren’t available in the fleet (or are off-limits to TTAC).

Let us know what you’d like to see in the comments.

]]> 68
We’re Not Getting The Holden Ute, But Not For Reasons You’d Expect Mon, 03 Jun 2013 15:59:37 +0000 ge5547549213459505029

Every so often, the same tired rumor will pop up again, like a particularly resilient pimple that habitually reappears in the same conspicuous spot. Thanks to the incessant hunger for clicks among auto websites, these rumors refuse to die, no matter how asinine they are. How many times have you seen a “BREAKING” or “EXCLUSIVE” story on the next Toyota Supra or some absurd BS fabrication regarding a diesel Mazda MX-5?

The latest round of bollocks concerns the Holden Ute, another car that tickles the fancy of enthusiasts on all sides of the globe, but would be a commercial nightmare if they ever tried to export it to America. One Australian publication is now claiming that a guerilla marketing campaign showing Mark Reuss lapping the Nurburgring in a brand new Ute is part of a ploy to export the Ute to America. Of course, other car blogs have been lathering themselves up into a frenzy over the prospect of a very expensive quasi-pickup that they will not purchase once it gets here.

Holden claims that there will be some kind of major announcement regarding the Ute next month. I’m going to be the first to say it will not be related to any Ute exports. There are two simple reasons here: the US-Australian dollar exchange rate is abominable as far as exports are concerned, and there is likely little to no demand for a very pricey product that is neither fish nor fowl. Who is going to pay $50k for Corvette powered pseudo-pickup wearing a Chevrolet badge. Did we discuss the UAW’s reaction to an Australian built pickup, or the whole “cannibalizing GM’s new ‘lifestyle pickup’ thing “either? Both of those matter, but would require their own articles to really get into.

One thing that is not a factor is the chicken tax. Not long ago, Holden used the chicken tax as an excuse for why it’s been unable to export Utes to America. TTAC commenters soon produced plenty of evidence showing that Australian cars and “light commercial vehicles” (i.e. pickups and Utes) can be brought to America duty free. So that excuse is out. I feel for Holden though. The Australian domestic car industry is going down the tubes, their signature product is about to become just another boring front-drive appliance and all they want to do is send some good product to world markets.

The problem is nobody wants it. No matter how loud the internet cries out for it.

]]> 125
Ed Niedermeyer In Today’s Wall Street Journal Sat, 03 Nov 2012 19:18:12 +0000

TTAC alumni Ed Niedermeyer has an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal. The piece discusses the spin surrounding the bailout in this year’s campaign. Check it out here.

]]> 250
TTAC’s Ten Best Shortlist Thu, 11 Oct 2012 15:37:20 +0000

Similar to the TWATs, we are seeking to nominate the 10 Best cars on sale today. The nominees are selected exclusively be our readership, just like the TWATs. During the nomination process, we recieved nominations for different models of the same vehicle line (i.e. Corvette 427 and Corvette ZR1, Mustang and Shelby GT500). For the purposes of our contest, these will only count as a single model. If you want to vote for the Ford Focus ST or the Boss 302, you will be voting for the Focus or the Mustang. Voting will be announced shortly. The whole list is below.

Mitsubishi Evo X
Chevrolet Corvette
Ford Mustang
Mazda CX-5
BMW 3-Series
Audi A5/S5
Volkswagen GTI/Golf R
Jeep Wrangler
BMW M3 (N.B. this is a different platform, so I will allow it to be seperate)
Ford Escape
Dodge Dart
Volkswagen Jetta
Volkswagen Passat
Honda Accord
Ford Focus ST
Hyundai Veloster Turbo
Toyobaru Twins (Also an exception for obvious reasons)
Mazda MX-5
Cadillac ATS
Jeep Grand Cherokee
Ford F-Series/SVT Raptor
Dodge Charger
Hyundai Santa Fe
Chevrolet Volt
Mazda3 Skyactiv
Ford Fusion
Subaru Outback
Ford C-Max
Chevrolet Sonic
Fiat 500 Abarth
Ford Shelby GT500
Chevrolet Impala
Toyota Prius
Chrysler 300
Toyota Prius C
Kia Optima
Volkswagen Jetta TDI Wagon
Mitsubishi i
Honda Civic
Kia Rio
Porsche Boxster
Ram 1500
Cadillac CTS-V Wagon

]]> 58
Hey Readers; Tell Us About Your TWATs Tue, 11 Sep 2012 14:00:12 +0000

Some time ago in TTACs history, the site held an award for the poorest choices in the automobile kingdom. We called it the Ten Worst Automobiles Today – or, the TWATs, for short. It’s been almost 4 years since the TWATs were last run, but for 2012, they’re back.

Conventional wisdom has it that it’s pretty hard to buy a bad car nowadays. In 2008, that wasn’t the case. But 4 years on, the crop of cars has undeniably gotten much better. Boring may be the operative word, but it’s hard to find a truly wretched vehicle for sale.

Rather than handing down the gospel from on high, like every other auto site, we’re opening up the floor to you, the readers, to nominate cars for the TWAT awards.

Rules will be similar to the Farago era. We are still tweaking the rules for this year’s competition, but here are the old rules, for reference.

1.  Any car or light truck offered for sale as a new vehicle in the U.S. between January 1 and today is eligible for nomination. I know those of you in Canada and other countries feel left out, but we have to draw the line somewhere to keep this under control.  It doesn’t matter who built it or where, just that it’s sold legally in the States.

2.  All nominations have to be justified.  That doesn’t mean just saying it’s a POS car.  Tell us WHY it’s a POS car.  Nominations may be deleted unceremoniously and without warning for any of the following reasons:  insufficient justification, excessive verbosity or pontification, foul language or patent absurdity.

3.  All nominations must meet TTAC’s house rules on flaming or trolling (i.e., don’t).  Offensive comments about other readers will be summarily deleted and the writer could be banned from TTAC.  However, offensive observations about the nominees are encouraged.

4.  Blatantly badge-engineered siblings can be nominated jointly if they all suck equally (see winner #8 above).  Platform mates can be nominated separately, but may be combined at the whim of the editor for the final vote.

5.  If we can wake them up long enough, TTAC’s writers will select finalists from the nominees, give or take a few.  The number of times a vehicle is nominated is irrelevant so don’t waste the pixels on typing “me too.”

6.  Readers will vote via an electronic survey on the finalists to determine America’s Ten Worst Vehicles.  Multiple voting ain’t kosher so don’t even try.

7.  Nominations begin today and will continue until midnight EDT, Sunday December 8, with the 20 finalists presented for voting a few days afterwards.  The winners will be announced whenever we get around to it.  We have nothing to give the winners but our disdain, so the winning manufacturers will find out about it like everyone else.

How do you decide what crapmoblies are worthy of your attention?

- Styling so bad it could even make Stevie Wonder look the other way.

- A market misfit that makes you wonder what the product planners were smoking, drinking, shooting up or otherwise self-administering.

- Engineering malpractice that makes the vehicle practically undrivable or so bland you wouldn’t want to drive it.

- Something that you can’t quite put your finger on but gives you the urge to regurge anytime you think about it.

So now it’s in your court.  Make your nominations below and tell us which ones you think are really deserving of being named one of TTAC’s Ten Worst Vehicles.

Following the poll, our editors will chime in with some of their own choices, and Murilee will present his list of most wretched rental cars.

]]> 223
Housekeeping: Niedermeyer Parts Ways With TTAC Tue, 31 Jul 2012 17:56:29 +0000

“And all the troubled world around us
Seems an eternity away
And all the debt collectors
Rent collectors
All will be behind us
But they’ll never find us
‘Cos we’ll be dri-i-i-i-ivin’”

-The Kinks “Drivin’”

The last time I made an announcement about my status here at TTAC, I made it clear in the headline that I was bidding the site “au revoir” rather than “adieu.” Having taken an opportunity to work in politics for a year, I was absolutely planning on returning to the fold. Unfortunately, that plan has now changed, and I have informed TTAC’s owners that today will be my last day on the site’s masthead.

With my planned yearlong sojourn over halfway complete, why would I choose to part ways with TTAC now? As with all business relationships, the answer isn’t simple. However, in hopes of avoiding the kind of speculation swirling around GM’s mysteriously-departed Chief Marketing Officer, Joel Ewanick, I’ll explain the situation as well as I can. After receiving permission from TTAC’s owners, VerticalScope, to take a year’s absence from the site, I was told that the company was interested in discussing an opportunity with me upon my return. Starting several months ago, I began discussing that opportunity with VerticalScope, and spent a not inconsiderable amount of time developing a proposal for them. After several meetings, the company informed me that my plans would not be adopted, for reasons that I had an extremely difficult time understanding. The thinking underlying the company’s decision and my experience interacting with it led me to believe that its goals and culture are incompatible with my continued professional development, which in turn led me to this decision.

On one point I want to be perfectly clear: this decision is not about TTAC, its future or its management. Though I may not see eye-to-eye with TTAC’s owners on a variety of broader issues, I give the company immense credit for its dedication to TTAC’s independence. This site’s freedom to publish what it wishes, and VerticalScope’s support for its continued growth are not in question here; my decision to leave TTAC is a personal one, based on my personal passions and ambitions. And as long as TTAC’s independence and brand values remain, I am convinced that this site will continue to grow into an ever-more crucial role in the auto media landscape.

As for myself, the picture is less clear. After my current contract expires at the end of this year, I intend to return to the automotive world in some capacity… although I currently have no specific plans for where and how that will happen. Having studied politics in college, I now find that my education at TTAC was by far the more formative experience, and I look forward to finding a new outlet for the kind of learning, growth and engagement I quite accidentally found here at TTAC. I’ve never been a “car guy” in the traditional sense, but TTAC’s readers have shown that there is a market for automotive writing that goes beyond the sheetmetal and into the laws, economics, politics and culture of the automobile. Having had the privilege of learning from some of the sharpest minds in the auto industry, both on TTAC’s masthead and in its commenter pool, I take this step into the unknown with confidence.

Of course, I owe an eternal debt to the people who have made my experience here at TTAC what it’s been. Most importantly, I must thank Robert Farago for founding this site and believing in me… without him, none of this would have been possible. I also have to thank my father, Paul Niedermeyer, both for encouraging me to start freelancing here in the first place, and providing crucial support ever since. TTAC’s current Editor-in-Chief, Bertel Schmitt, has been a true mentor to me, and for taking TTAC’s reins in his capable hands, I can not thank him enough. And all of TTAC’s amazingly talented editors and writers, especially those who believed in me when few others did, will forever hold a special place in my heart. It’s been an honor to work with each of you.

Finally, my deepest regards go out to TTAC’s commentariat, the Best and Brightest. I think every writer on this site, indeed everyone who regularly visits automotive blogs, can agree that the discourse here at TTAC is some of the finest to be found anywhere on the web. Certainly you have collectively served as the greatest teacher I have ever had. And in contrast to the kinds of discourse I’m regularly exposed to in the world of politics, I can say without hesitation that TTAC’s comment section gives me faith in this country’s ability to reason its way through problems. To those of you I’ve met and known individually, stay in touch and I hope to see you again soon. To those of you who remain my anonymous teachers and friends, thank you for your wisdom and support.

Before this gets too emotional for me, I’ll just note that I can always be found on Twitter at @Tweetermeyer. Oh, and I’ll definitely be found in the comments section here when time permits. TTAC may be losing an editor, but it’s gaining a commenter… and a fan for life.

]]> 60
TTAC Gives, And TTAC Taketh Away; Blessed Be Thy Name Of TTAC Fri, 22 Jun 2012 12:51:58 +0000

A TTAC contributor who shall remain nameless recently raised an issue at our secret conclave regarding the free gifts that automakers sometimes give out to journalists during press trips. Said writer was due to receive a very big ticket item (less expensive than a Rolex, but more than an iPod) and wanted to know if he should accept or refuse it. The answer, handed down by our very own BS, was “take it – and then send it to Derek so he can give it away as a contest prize.”

While I have yet to find a large parcel sitting on my desk containing said item, I did get a pair of Oakley Karting shoes on a recent junket. They are size 11, which is not only my shoe size, but that a fairly common one. As per TTAC regulations, I informed Bertel of my gift, but I was met with a stern rebuke.

“Keep them,” he barked in his gravelly Bavarian baritone. “Nobody wants smelly shoes or sweaty t-shirts.” The shoes, I can assure you, are brand new, never worn, though they may not have the original box due to packing restrictions. I already have a pair of authentic Made in Pakistan karting boots I bought for $40 at Mosport, and they not only work well, but my girlfriend has forbid me from wearing any motorsports apparel outside the house.

If you want them, just write an 800-word piece praising me to the high heavens about my Semitic good looks or my superlative prose  tell me why you deserve them. Otherwise I’ll leave them in my hotel room. The winner gets the shoes, mailed to them at my expense, as well as their essay published as a “Ur-Turn” contribution.

]]> 22
Meet TTAC: Coast To Lake Edition Wed, 20 Jun 2012 16:19:22 +0000

Interested in meeting your least favorite TTAC author? Perhaps you’re a fan of my unique lyrical styles, or you’re a lonely female journalist stuck on the West Coast with a boyfriend who plays Goth music through a Les Paul that isn’t even from the f**king Custom Shop. Maybe you’re one of the GM forum loons who nearly crashed your ’96 Grand Am GT automatic into a Jersey barrier when you saw that my awesome article on the Crapillac ATS was translated into German, complete with fun illustrations, and now you want to choke me with the power of your massive, Cavalier-tattooed biceps. Failing all that, perhaps you’d like to appear in the next TTAC video?

Good news! I am doing an international tour during the next two weekends!

This upcoming Monday, June 25, we will be shooting the long-awaited sequel to our Hyundai Genesis 3.8 Track Test video at Toronto Motorsports Park. What are we testing? Well, disclosing the test car in advance is a bit of a scary notion, and I don’t know if I should reveal the secret or not. Come on out, meet the crew, and become famous!

Just four days later, Friday, June 29, at Buttonwillow Raceway Park, I will be working with the editors of Hooniverse to create an interesting story about doing racetrack instruction in, shall we say, an unexpected vehicle. After that, I’ll stick around to run the 24 Hours of LeMons in the Neon pictured above. I have every confidence that we will win by at least the 52-lap margin I put on Car and Driver’s cheating-ass, dirty-driving, low-talent team of inbreds back in ’07.

Stop by and say hello!

]]> 38
Project G-Body Part 3: The Grand National Lives! Thu, 14 Jun 2012 13:00:03 +0000

When we last left off with Project G-Body in March, Joey was about to pull the trigger on a Grand National. Three months later, the Grand National is home, and nearly in showroom condition.

A number of ratty cars with shady owners eventually led us to a ratty car with a shady owner – and only 38,000 miles on the clock. A thorough inspection by Joey’s mechanic (which doubles as a GM performance shop) revealed a car that was in pretty good shape despite sitting in a garage for a number of years.

The main issue was the interior – the seats were in abominable condition, full of rips and tears. Joey made a bet that a rust-free, low mileage car was preferable to a car with a rusty frame or rockers, even if the fabric to re-upholster the seats might be hard to find.

Over the next three months, the car was brought up to what some call “Stage Zero” – a return to solid mechanical condition, albeit without any performance gains. A full tune-up was performed, along with new tires, brakes and suspension components.

On the cosmetic front, the window and door seals – most of the rubber components, really – were replaced, their cracked, brittle originals swapped out for New Old Stock bits. Joey was tempted to dive right in to the world of big turbos and drag strips, but wisely decided to enjoy the car in its original state for a few years before going too crazy.

Searching for the correct interior fabric took the better part of three months. All the Google searches and Ebay stalking ended up being for nought, as it turned out that a local upholstery shop that deals in high end restorations had some of the last New Old Stock fabric and seat covers. Joey bought their entire stock, though 98 percent of it is currently inside his car. The interior looks as good as new, and is good enough to go up against any low mileage garage queen. The beauty of Project G-Body is that it will be Joey’s daily driver. Joey believes that cars are meant to be driven and enjoyed, not detailed and admired from afar.

At this point, the car could use a good detail job, and perhaps a fresh coat of paint. But it’s driveable, and having never driven a G-Body, it’s certainly eye-opening. The turbo comes online right around the time you’ve finished your Philly Blunt, the steering wheel can be moved 15 degrees before the car changes direction and the novelty of peering over the hood and seeing “3.8 SFI Turbo” never really gets old.


]]> 33
TTAC Project $1500 Volvo Is Here Thu, 24 May 2012 13:00:27 +0000

With the my Miata now gone (sold to a friend who has given me the right of first refusal when it comes time for him to sell it), I needed a new car with a bit more practicality, and a low price tag. A quick call to my friend Vasco, who functions as Toronto’s version of our own Steve Lang, led me to the car you see above. Did I mention it’s a manual?

Originally, my plan was to sell the Miata and pick up a friend’s high mileage but well cared-for E36 BMW 328i. I’d already sold the Miata (for a sum that was impossible to refuse) and was looking forward to getting behind the wheel. The car drove well and was in great shape overall, save for one minor detail – during the government safety inspection, a portion of the frame near the jacking point was discovered to have rotted out. It was a double blow for me, since it wouldn’t be worth fixing, and I suddenly felt a wave of regret over selling my beloved first car, despite my now healthy bank balance.

A quick message to Vasco asking for “anything decent and cheap”, came up with the Volvo. It was his brother’s car, and Vasco had bought it at auction, using it briefly as his own car before handing it off to his older brother. For the last year, it had carried his brother, sister-in-law, their three kids and a large Rhodesian Ridgeback. It was a1998  non-turbo 2.4L with 162,800 miles on the clock, but it had a 5-speed manual and Vasco only wanted $1500 for it.

I hemmed and hawed for a few minutes (and looked at a couple S70 T5s – V70 turbos were all automatic, save for one V70 AWD that was questionable enough to make me walk away) but ultimately decided to take a chance with it. The Carfax came back clean, and although there were a number of scratches and stone chips, there was no rust on the rockers, quarter panels or frame rails. To pass inspection, it would need a further $325 for new rear brakes, parking brake shoes and a tie rod, plus $75 for the inspection and $30 for an emissions test. Another $200 or so for taxes, fees and licensing and it now sits in my driveway.

For now, the V70 will be a great shuttle to take me to Mosport for my bi-monthly karting series, as well as a bit of a beater to leave in parking lots while I have press cars. With the Miata, I always worried about leaving it sitting in outdoor lots for weeks at a time – it was in beautiful shape, but a few steps away from looking like crap. The Volvo is liberating in the sense that it’s totally anonymous, and any cosmetic damage is frankly inconsequential.

Although it’s not the most thrilling to drive, the V70 is enjoyable in its own right. As a manual wagon, it has its own novelty, and even with all those miles on the odometer, the engine is strong, the clutch feels like there’s lots of life left, and the interior is far better than the one in my Miata. The Volvo is also much better equipped (heated seats are going to make the frigid winters infinitely better), will fare far better in a crash and has some decent highway manners. With that said, I will likely have another Miata sooner than later (or something faster. who knows). The Volvo will go to my brother as a reward for his eventual graduation from a very demanding business school (and entry into law school, if he so chooses) – and also because his roommate has the exact same car, down to the wheels and missing roof rack.

Over at Edmunds, the team has started “Project Debt Free”, to prove that one can buy a decent car for a relatively modest sum of cash. They managed to come away with a $3800 1996 Lexus ES300 with fewer miles. Personally, I think our car is more interesting, but it may not have the clockwork reliability of the Lexus. In the spirit of that project, I’ll also keep everyone updated on any maintenance, issues and positive experiences. So far, the car will need some body work (14 years of stone chips has necessitated a re-spray of the front end), not to mention a good wash and a tune-up. But the V70, as boring as it may be, it’s not something I’d be embarrassed to drive, and is just interesting enough to make me look forward to driving it.

By the way, Project G-Body and Project Rallycross are still on. The Grand National is still in the shop awaiting some new old stock interior bits. Once that’s on the road, the hunt for a suitable Rallycross Project will begin.

]]> 46
Review: 2012 Acura RL Sun, 13 May 2012 13:00:36 +0000

Despite debuting over seven years ago, extensively refreshed in 2009 and nip/tucked again in 2011, the Acura RL remains a mystery. Flagship products usually sell in small numbers, but the RL is one of the rarest sedans in America. This isn’t exactly been a badge of honor for Acura. Overlooked by shoppers who flock to the cheaper Acura TL and largely forgotten by the automotive press (after all these years, TTAC has never fully reviewed the RL) With a full replacement due next year in the form of the RLX concept, I hit Acura up for an RL for a week to see how a flagship product from a major brand could manage to sell just 56 vehicles in Canada and 1,096 in the USA in 2011. For those who like statistics, the TL outsold the RL by 2,850%. Ouch.

Click here to view the embedded video.


Like Audi, Acura believes in the “same sausage, different lengths” school of design. The RL’s form combines an angular nose with slab sides, a rounded rear and thankfully, (new for 2011) the most demure Acura beak available. While beauty is always in the eye of the beholder, I find the RL more attractive than the TL (even with the TL’s beak-reduction.) There is a problem however: the RL is only 1.7 inches longer than the TL and rides on a wheelbase that is only .9 inches longer. These identical proportions are only the beginning of the sibling rivalry. Nearly identical proportions aside, the RL has aged well and still strikes an elegant pose that is decidedly more exciting than the sedate Volvo S80.


Once you sit inside the RL, you begin to understand why the TL gets all the attention. It’s not that there is anything wrong with the RL, it’s just not as flashy. While the TL borrows from the European play book with an interior that could have been carved out of a single piece of black plastic, the RL goes for a more elegant two-tone approach. The only real feature differentiation between the RL and TL can be found in the optional real-wood trim and radar cruise control neither of which are available in the “smaller”  Acura.

Not all is peachy-keen inside however. Automotive interiors age faster than a powder-blue tux and the RL is no exception. Aside from the lack of stitched-dash-love, the fact that faux-tree is standard when even Lincoln gets their trim from the forest is a problem. Acura’s well-known love affair with buttons results in no less than 65 buttons (not including toggle or the joystick controller) within easy reach of the driver. Is that good or bad? I’m torn. Tell us what you think the comment section.


As a statement of how “ahead of the curve” Acura was in 2005, the RL’s 8-inch infotainment system provides all the features a luxury shopper could ask for, from voice control to full USB, Bluetooth and iPod integration. The problem isn’t the functionality, it’s the aesthetics. It’s like un-boxing a new PC only to discover it has Windows XP. It might be  just as fast as a model with Windows 7, and it will do everything you need - it just won’t look as snazzy while it’s doing it.

On the audio front, the Bose system is absolutely top-notch with a very natural balance, crisp highs and a wide dynamic range. Acura continues to push the rare DVD-Audio format in all Acura models. DVD Audio’s discrete 5.1 channel recordings do sound fantastic on the RL, but unlike some of the other luxury systems you can’t play video DVDs on the system at all. Good luck finding DVD-A discs as well. The RL uses Bose Active Noise Cancellation technology to cut cabin noise, while it wasn’t really possible to disable the system, the RL’s cabin is very quiet.


Beating “sideways” under the hood of the RL is Acura’s ubiquitous 3.7L V6, good for 300HP and 271lb-ft of twist at a lofty 5,000RPM. 300HP may have been a selling point back in 2005, but in today’s luxury market, 300 is where things start, not end. The 3.7′s 271lb-ft is practically meager when pitted against the 350lb-ft cranked out by Lincoln’s Ecoboost V6, not to mention BMW’s twin turbo V8. Rubbing some salt on the wound, the TL’s optional 3.7L engine cranks out 5 more ponies. Ouch. Still, the MKS Ecoboost and S80 T6 are on the high-end of the competition’s scale which, more realistically, includes the GS350 AWD and the Cadillac XTS.

For 2011 Acura updated the RL with a new 6-speed transmission. The extra cog cut the RL’s dash to 60 by almost a full half second vs the 2010 model (5.9 as tested.) Mercedes may advertise a 7-speed automatic and BMW and Audi tout their ZF 8-speed, but let’s be honest here – the E350, 535xi or A6 3.0T don’t compete head-on with the RL. When you scale back the competition to the more natural competitors of the S80, MKS,  GS350 and XTS, the right number of gears for this crowd is six. The 2012 RL is now rated for 17/24MPG (City/Highway) which is 1MPG better than before. Over our 745 miles with the RL we averaged a middling 19MPG. In comparison, Cadillac’s XTS promises to be the most efficient AWD sedan in this size class at 17/28MPG.


It’s not the acceleration that makes the RL an interesting companion on the road, it’s the handling. Oddly enough, the nearly 4,100lb RL is a willing companion on the twisties thanks to Acura’s “Super Handling All Wheel Drive” system. The AWD system used by Lexus, BMW and Mercedes-Benz employs a traditional RWD transmission with a transfer case sending power to the front. In the GS350 AWD, the end result is massive understeer, excessive for even a large rear-drive luxury car. The XTS, MKS and S80 use a Haldex system, with an open differential in the front and rear and none in the center. Instead of a center diff, there is a clutch pack that can vary the mechanical connection to the rear. When fully engaged, the input shaft of the front and rear differentials are mechanically tied together. Acura’s SH-AWD system on the other hand is far more complicated. By making the rear wheels spin up to 5.8% faster than the front wheels, SH-AWD can essentially shift 70% of the power to the rear, and direct 100% of that rear-bound power to one wheel. If you want to know more about that, check out our video link.

The system’s ability to “overdrive”  the outside rear wheel in a corner makes the RL feel strangely neutral even when pressed hard. While SH-AWD is as close to a miracle worker as Acura can get, sales indicate that the snazzier AWD system isn’t a good reason to spend $6,000 more over the cost of a comparably equipped TL. What a pity.

The RL is perhaps one of the most forgotten and misunderstood vehicles of our time. Looking at the sales numbers, you’d think there was something horribly wrong with the RL. In 2011 only 1,096 RLs found a home meaning even the unloved Volvo S80 outsold it nearly 5:1 and the MKS bested it by 12:1. However, the problem with the RL isn’t that the Volvo, Lexus and Lincoln competition is more modern. The problem is the new TL with SH-AWD. With a thoroughly modern interior and electronics, the TL might have a less capable AWD system, but with a lower price tag it is no wonder it outsells the RL 31:1. Still, if you’re shopping for a $50,000 luxury sedan, the RL isn’t a bad choice, but the new RL couldn’t come any sooner.

Acura provided the vehicle, insurance and one tank of gasoline for this review

Specifications as tested

0-30: 2.31 Seconds

0-60: 5.9 Seconds

1/4 Mile: 14.4 Seconds @ 97 MPH

2012 Acura RL, Trunk, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Acura RL, Trunk, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Acura RL, SH-AWD badge, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Acura RL, Acura badge, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Acura RL, Acura logo, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Acura RL, 3.7L 300HP V6, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Acura RL, 3.7L 300HP V6, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Acura RL, Exterior, beak, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Acura RL, Interior, steering wheel controls, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Acura RL, Interior, steering wheel controls, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Acura RL, Exterior, side, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Acura RL, Exterior, front, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Acura RL, Exterior, front, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Acura RL, Exterior, rear 3/4, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Acura RL, Exterior, rear, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Acura RL, Exterior, rear, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Acura RL, Exterior, headlamps, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Acura RL, Interior, gauges, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Acura RL, Interior, gauges, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Acura RL, Interior, infotainment, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Acura RL, Interior, infotainment screen, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Acura RL, Interior, infotainment, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Acura RL, Interior, dashboard, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Acura RL, Interior, center console, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Acura RL, Interior, dashboard, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Acura RL, Interior, driver's side, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Acura RL, Interior, dashboard, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Acura RL, Interior, rear seats, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Acura RL, Interior, rear seats, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Acura RL, Interior, rear door, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Acura RL, Interior, rear seats, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Acura RL, Interior, center console, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Acura RL, Interior, door, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Acura RL, Interior, dashboard, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Acura RL, Exterior, rear 3/4, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Acura RL, Exterior, rear 3/4, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Acura RL, Exterior, rear 3/4, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Acura RL, Exterior, front 3/4, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Acura RL, Exterior, front grille, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Acura RL, Exterior, wheels, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Acura RL, Exterior, wheels, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail ]]> 78
Happy Holidays From TTAC Sat, 24 Dec 2011 03:56:06 +0000 From our family to yours, TTAC wishes all its readers the best of holiday wishes. We’ll be enjoying the company of our loved ones for the next few chilly winter nights, but we’ll return to regular service on Tuesday. And who knows, maybe Santa will leave something for your reading enjoyment over the weekend…


]]> 29
Housekeeping: Has It Really Been… Two Years? Sun, 18 Sep 2011 18:54:53 +0000

I’m not generally much for anniversaries. Heck, after more than six years together, my steady sweetie and I can’t remember our actual anniversary, so we had to make one up… and we (both) still forget it most years. But here on the internet, there’s a record of everything. And looking back, it seems that it was exactly two years ago today that Robert Farago called me to say that The Truth About Cars was going to be my problem from now on.

Even two years removed from that tumultuous weekend, just thinking about it causes my stomach to shift uneasily. Though I’d had some indication that I might at some point become Editor-in-Chief of this fine site, the actual transition took me completely by surprise. And as I scrambled to figure out what it would take to run this site without its founder and editorial touchstone, the sense of nervous anticipation was palpable in the comments from TTAC’s regular readers. Our traffic took a graceful swan dive, key writers left (understandably), and I was almost completely overwhelmed by the challenge of taking a brand that had always relied on one immensely talented voice and guiding it into the future. If I’d known at the time that, two years later I’d be sitting where I am now, this anniversary might not be the occasion for such a flood of intense, nerve-wracking memories. But the journey from there to here is something for which I’m immensely grateful. Through the immense challenges of that fateful transition, I’ve become a better writer, a better editor, and I’ve become close with some of the most talented people I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting. And, as a result, I like to think that TTAC has become a better site.

Of course none of that would have been possible had Robert Farago not created the strongest, most compelling brand in automotive journalism… or taken a chance on a young freelancer with no automotive experience. Though the circumstances of Robert’s departure were difficult for me (as, I’m sure they were for him), my respect for, and gratitude to him remain undimmed. It took a true visionary to create a brand like TTAC and build it around DNA that would sustain it past his departure.

Similarly, I owe my father, Paul Niedermeyer, a special debt of thanks: when I took over, he quickly agreed to become my Managing Editor, providing critical moral and professional support in my, and TTAC’s, hour of need. Though the last two years have been as tumultuous for our personal relationship as they’ve been for me professionally, and though he no longer writes for TTAC, the opportunity to work with ones father is something that sticks with you. And though I often wish we could still work together, my heart swells with pride at the success he’s achieved with his own site,

Another special thanks must be reserved for the man who replaced my father as TTAC’s Managing Editor: Bertel Schmitt. Few people were as instrumental in keeping TTAC together in the post-Farago chaos, and I thank the mysterious forces of the universe every day that Bertel continues to stick by my side. His deep industry experience, his razor-sharp mind, his passionate work ethic and his wonderful sense of humor have become an indispensable part of both the TTAC brand and my own life. Anybody in this car-writing game would be honored to have Bertel as their right-hand-man, and I’m doubly honored by the knowledge that he’s stuck with me despite receiving several offers from far more established outlets.

One of the conclusions I reached within hours of digesting the reality that I would be in charge of TTAC, was that I couldn’t do it alone. I needed a core of talented, inspired and passionate writers to fill in the many gaps in my automotive understanding. And I literally could not ask for a better core of editors than Jack, Murilee, Steve, Sajeev and Michael. Seriously, I’ve given the topic much thought, and there’s literally no team of automotive writers with the same mix of talent, perspective, dedication, passion and diversity. These guys are my dream team. I know it hasn’t always been easy for us to pull together as a team… after all, there’s enough passion and diversity of perspective in this group to make personality clashes inevitable. But deep mutual respect inevitably carries us through, and I would always rather we fight like dogs because we’re too passionate than harmoniously churn out mediocre, uninspired pap.

Speaking of which, I feel an immense sense of gratitude to the readers and commenters who have stuck with (or even left and come back to) TTAC since I took over. Looking back at your comments from two years ago, I see as much nervousness in your comments as I see support for TTAC’s unproven new editor… and that nervousness was well-founded. In many ways, TTAC was and is lightning in a bottle, and I could have very easily fucked the entire thing up. To those of you who uncritically supported me through the entire thing, thank you for your confidence. To those of you who lacked confidence but still gave me the chance to prove myself, and to prove that this site is bigger than any one person, a double shot of thanks. I would not be where I am today without your willingness to keep me and my writers honest, every day and on every story. And none of us would be here at all if your visits and occasional ad-click-throughs didn’t keep the lights on.

I could go on and on with the thanks… certainly VerticalScope deserves thanks for allowing us to keep our independence while paying our bills, and the Automakers deserve thanks for giving increasing access to the brand that can only shoot straight. Also, TTAC’s occasional contributors who pepper our regular content with their flashes of insight and lively prose, are the seasoning that make TTAC such a consistently delicious read. But instead of waffling on, I’ll just shut up and get back to work. After all, TTAC isn’t about basking in glory and good vibes… it’s about keeping your head down, keeping your mind sharp, and never forgetting that readers always deserve better than they’re getting. I figure if I stick to that formula, we’ll be back here celebrating another year before you know it.

I can’t wait…

]]> 58
TTAC Announces Polish Edition Thu, 10 Feb 2011 14:33:59 +0000

The Truth About Cars is excited to announce that in our relentless drive towards globalization, TTAC has now added a Polish edition.

Articles appearing in appear in real time in the Polish language.

“The content of TTAC has so much polish,” said Franciszek Ksawery Postbischil, Warsaw-based editor of TTAC Poland, “that a Polish edition is simply germane.”

The layout of the Polish edition caters to the eclectic tastes of our Central European readership. Instead of cars, which attract the attention of our predominantly North American readership, readers in Poland can feast their eyes on pictures of nature, taken at random from Flickr.

TTAC Poland is called “Samochody”, which is Polish for “cars”. The truth has been omitted.

]]> 9
Thank You For Making TTAC Possible! Thu, 25 Nov 2010 18:37:54 +0000
Gratitude doesn’t always come easy for a bunch of opinionated car-mudgeons (just ask our pals in the PR business) but today we all have plenty to be thankful for. As Editor-in-Chief of this fine site, I am eternally indebted to TTAC’s immensely talented writers, our faithful fans, and our dedicated owners. I feel incredibly lucky to have what I believe to be the best team of auto writers in the world backing me up each day, overcoming the challenges, sacrifices and personality clashes that are our daily bread and putting out the finest car-related content to be found anywhere. Our owners at VerticalScope are owed a special thanks as well, for paying the bills while allowing us to work in complete freedom. And of course, without you, our faithful readers and commenters, none of this would be possible (or necessary). Your faithfulness to this site, your dedication to the truth, and your occasional ad clicks allow TTAC to persist, keeping our talented writers working at continually improving their craft.

So thank you to everyone who makes TTAC what it is…. without your dedicated support, TTAC might not have survived to see this day. And please believe that your trust and time has earned more than a mere post of thanks: I will carry this sense of gratitude with me every day as inspiration to make TTAC the very best site it can possibly be.

Yours in Kaizen,

Edward Niedermeyer, Editor-in-Chief of TTAC

]]> 20
TTAC Welcomes Murilee Martin Wed, 17 Nov 2010 21:21:33 +0000

From the moment I took over as TTAC’s Editor-in-Chief, I knew that I was going to need a lot of help in order to live up to the brand that had been built here for the better part of a decade. I was stepping into some big shoes, and filling them would have to be a team effort. I was lucky enough to inherit some of the best car writers on the web, and we’ve been able add even more talent to the roster over the last year. Now, as we welcome Murilee Martin (formerly of Jalopnik fame, also of and, we mark an important point in TTAC’s development: maturity (or something like it).

With the addition of Murilee, TTAC has a dream team of editors who will keep TTAC stocked with the freshest, most engaging car-related content on the web, and as a result we’re moving to a streamlined masthead. My faithful Managing Editor Bertel Schmitt and I will continue to handle major editorial and blogging duties while Paul Niedermeyer, Michael Karesh, Jack Baruth, Sajeev Mehta, Steve Lang and Murilee Martin each tackle the world of cars from their unique perspectives. Thanks to a major commitment from our owners, VerticalScope, we’re now able to keep this core team cranking out regular content while we augment their work with the best contributions from our worldwide  TTAC contributor family and from around the web. The goal of all this is to consistently provide the very highest quality content, to host the most engaging debates and to keep you connected with the latest developments in the world of cars.

So, please join me in welcoming Murilee and thanking our owners for empowering TTAC to be the best damn car site on the web. I’m truly honored to have the opportunity to work with my personal dream team of writers as well as to serve you, our dedicated readers and commentators. Thank you all for making TTAC’s continued success possible.

]]> 74
TTAC Wants You Fri, 03 Sep 2010 22:17:38 +0000

How would you like to see your writing published at TTAC? Over the years we’ve always taken contributions from new writers, indeed many of TTAC’s current staffers (Editor-in-Chief included) started out here by pitching a story to our editors email. In hopes of highlighting new talent, giving our commentators a new stage, and generally providing a little more variety around here, we’ve decided to feature a piece by a TTAC reader or commenter every Saturday. We’re calling it Ur-Turn and the rules are very simple: When the spirit moves you to write something insightful, passionate or entertaining about cars, car ownership, the car industry, car sales, buying cars, or any other topic that you might about read on TTAC, send it to editors [at] ttac [dot] com. We will select the choicest pieces as they come in, provide the lightest of edits, and let you know which Saturday your piece will run. Keep in mind that because we cannot guarantee that your piece will run on a given week, time-sensitive pieces might not be the best idea. Contributions should be at least 600 words, but no more than 1500 words… although we’re willing to make exceptions for the right piece.

TTAC’s greatest strength has always been its dedicated, well-informed and tough-minded commentariat. This is your opportunity to share that story that was too long for a comments section, or start the debate that we’ve never gotten around to. And if you appreciate the kind of high-quality writing that TTAC provides, this is your chance to give back. After all, we ask for so very little…

]]> 20
TTAC On FBN Thu, 19 Aug 2010 14:14:53 +0000

I will be appearing on Fox Business again, at 11:15 Eastern (8:15 Pacific) to talk Volt and GM’s IPO. Please excuse a brief slowdown in content this morning, and rest assured, TTAC will be back in action ASAP.

]]> 11