It seems we have a theme this week on the Digestible Collectible/Crapwagon Outtake beat. IT’S SWEDEN WEEK! Throw back some akvavit, heat up some meatballs, plug in an ABBA 8-track, and let’s look at another sweet Scandinavian hotrod of the ’80s.
No, I really didn’t plan this. I don’t think I can come up with another Swedish car for Friday anyhow, unless someone can find me a barn-find Koenigsegg, or perhaps a couple BILLY bookcases powered by a Husqvarna chainsaw engine. I have been looking for a clean Volvo wagon to feature for some time, as I have occasional fond memories of the 745 I briefly owned before my wife attempted to set a Great Lakes record in the conrod toss.
If you’re keeping score at home, that’s two of my cars my dearest has obliterated via external combustion.
Kia gained a well-deserved reputation in the ’90s for cheap and nasty transportation, but lately they are the greatest social climber since Cinderella. “2016 Kia” and “1996 Kia” are totally different from one another. Even “2006 Kia” seems like a distant memory.
Unusual for a car company, Kia doesn’t shy away from its troubled beginnings in America, which can be seen both in its marketing toward the press and in its product portfolio.
The 2016 Sorento is a perfect example. While the model we were lent for a week is a solid contender to the Ford Edge, Toyota Highlander and even the Acura MDX, Kia also sells a model priced at $24,900, just above the Toyota RAV4, Honda CR-V and Ford Escape.
Does this make the Sorento conflicted? Or is the Korean born, German designed and American built crossover the “just right” CUV?
The contrast was so stark, it was breathtaking.
Dad was driving his company car, some sort of GM A-Body, as we pulled into the parking lot of a golf course north of Columbus. Golf, of course, is another hobby my dad introduced me to that is as sure as car collecting to drive me into debilitating debt. Anyhow, we were meeting a friend of his for a weekend round, and we parked next to his new Saab.
I was blown away. Of course, I read all of the car magazines, so I knew what a Saab was, but dad’s buddy had a 900 SPG — the high-performance, limited edition hot Swede. Black, with grey three-spoke wheels just like the car shown above. The buff book photos did not do the car justice. It’s such a vivid memory of a not-that-exotic car that is so overwhelming.
Many of you have asked why we bother to review a car we’ve already reviewed based on a few hours at a launch event. The all-new 2016 Volvo XC90 is a textbook example of why more time with a car allows for a more complete review.
At launch events, you have no time to perform acceleration or brake tests of a vehicle (and, of course, you aren’t testing the car on the same circuit that the rest of the cars have been tested upon) and you have no ability to drive the competition back-to-back to get a sense of comparison. There is a reason that first drive reviews tend to be fact based: it’s hard to review a car in a vacuum.
So why is the XC90 a textbook example? Because of my own biases. Biases are interesting things. They can blind you to a car’s faults, or they can lead you to overcompensate and find fault.
After digesting my time with the XC90, I started falling into the latter camp. Edmunds 0-60 tested the XC90 and found it slower than expected. I started wondering if I had been wearing rose-colored glasses and asked myself: “Was it really that good?” Therefore, I had to get my hand on one again so I could run it through our battery of tests and drive it on my own for a week to find the answer.
The answer: It is better.
Many of us laugh at the Starion now, but it was considered genuinely badass by me and my high-school peers back in 1983 or 1984. It looked fast and mean and had the magical-in-the-1980s word “TURBO” on every possible surface.
Of course, it was also a flaky, breakdown-prone money pit, but it took a few years for that to become clear to everyone. Still, Starions show up in self-service wrecking yards to this day. Here’s a battered ’84 that I saw in the San Francisco Bay Area a while back. (Read More…)
While Honda has traditionally been a company of engineers pushing the boundaries of their know how, the 1.5-liter turbocharged engine in the 10th generation Civic almost didn’t happen for 2016 due to some reluctance within the company, reported Automotive News on Sunday.
The new mill was initially slated to be offered as part of a mid-cycle refresh in 2017 or 2018 (possibly for the 2018 or 2019 model years), but with the Civic getting such a thorough overhaul, key people involved in the Civic project made a case for the turbo engine to be offered earlier.
“The thinking was that the new Civic needs this engine to go where we want it to go, to make this model such a leapfrog event, such a strong competitor, not just in North America but around the world,” Gary Evert, the Civic’s chief engineer and North American development leader, told AN.
As Opel begins its retail roll out of the new Astra across Europe, some enterprising spy shooters have found the Opel’s Chinese-market twin wearing Buick tri-shields and Verano GS badging.
And holy shit, this is about to get very, very confusing.
According to Autohome, the Verano GS — marketed as Buick Weilang GS in China — is expected to be revealed at the Guangzhou Auto Show with GM’s 169 horsepower, 1.5-liter turbocharged engine and 7-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. The same engine will be used in North America in the new Malibu, albeit with a six-speed automatic transmission.
Now before you get too excited about those GS badges, it may not mean what you think it means, at least in this case.
Earlier this week, several friends separately sent me this eBay Motors article, highlighting this relatively obscure performance machine sold at Chrysler/Dodge/Plymouth dealers back in the late Eighties.
No, it never carried the vaunted Shelby badges, nor was it an R/T — though one could (and I almost did) buy such a vehicle these days. However, with proper application of a well-stocked junkyard or two (or eBay, naturally), one could easily build a family hauler that could haul down the quarter mile in around twelve seconds.
Thanks for the recent advice on winter tires & wheels for my new Focus ST. I took delivery of the car two weeks ago and I’m having a blast. The first thing I did when I got it home was take Bark M’s advice and sign up for the Octane Academy.
So here’s another question: What’s your take on fuel octane and the ST?