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By on November 12, 2019

best performance tires

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Yes, yes — we’re aware of the date on the calendar. While most of the East Coast is getting buried in snow, the middle part of the country is enduring untold misery falling from the sky, and the less said about road conditions in high elevations, the better.

Like time and gas from last night’s tacos, though, this too shall pass. There’s nothing wrong with a bit of forward planning, which is why we’ve assembled a gallery of performance tires to mount to your rig when conditions finally permit.

Not all of the tires presented here are direct competitors. Rather, we’ve taken a cross section of the segment, some of which are meant for supercar lap times and some of which are meant for eating up Autobahn miles. We’ve hit up the folks at TireBuyer to bring you a few of the best performance tire options this year, presented in alphabetical order.

Read More >

By on November 12, 2019

Noise-canceling technologies have become a handy little tool wedged inside the belt of many automakers. Aimed at reducing unpleasant road noise, most systems invert incoming sound waves to produce an exact negative of the ambient sound you don’t want to hear. They work best when you don’t notice them, which is pretty much always, but Hyundai Group claims there’s more work to be done before the tech is perfect.

As a result, the Korean manufacturer has developed an upgraded version of its current active noise control setup (ANC), one it calls “the world’s first Road Noise Active Noise Control.” Rather than simply piping in sounds designed to offset road noise, the new system (referred to as “RANC” by the automaker) also analyses in-cabin sound to make adjustments to help nullify unpalatable engine and road drone.  Read More >

By on November 12, 2019

A yet-to-be-revealed engine that’s kept the rumor mill in Mopar circles churning continues to make its possible presence known. It’s an engine supposedly tapped for a new line of Fiat Chrysler products, and might find a home in existing vehicles, too.

It’s an engine that comes to the table with (arguably) the sexiest cylinder layout on the market: six of ’em, all in a row. Read More >

By on November 12, 2019

Fulfilling earlier promises that the company had hit a wall and might require several years to recover, Nissan reported a 70-percent decline in quarterly operating profit on Tuesday. It also pulled back its full-year operating profit forecast by 35 percent to 150 billion yen, representing the automaker’s worst annual performance in 11 years. The business now expects to see global retail volume somewhere around 5.2 million vehicles (down from estimates 5.5 million).

“We are revisiting all our assumptions, and as you can see that is why we revised down our forecast for sales volume for the full year,” incoming CFO Stephen Ma explained to Reuters after releasing its first-half results for 2019 (ending September 30th). That was swiftly followed by the announcement of an extraordinary shareholders meeting to decide on proposals for current directors leaving their positions (Hiroto Saikawa, Yasuhiro Yamauchi, Thierry Bolloré) and the new director nominees.  Read More >

By on November 12, 2019

Image: Honda

Count Honda among the dwindling number of automakers that believe a sudden market shift to electric drive technology is little more than a pipe dream. As you read yesterday, the company’s CEO, Takahiro Hachigo, is on the record as saying, “I do not believe there will be a dramatic increase in demand for battery vehicles, and I believe this situation is true globally.”

While rival automakers like Toyota, Mazda, and Subaru have teamed up to advance their electrified ambitions, Honda chose to take it slow and go its own way. Its efforts have already born fruit, and continue to do so. Honda was the first automaker with a mass-market hybrid, but the ensuing two decades has seen the automaker temper its expectations of a fickle, gas-loving public. The brand’s product reflects its outlook.

So, how’s that product doing? Read More >

By on November 12, 2019

2019 Hyundai Kona front quarter

Crossovers are our future, it seems. Every time I crack open another issue of this dusty website, I’m confronted and confounded by the proliferation of tall (and not-so-tall) hatchbacks in every possible size category.

The 2019 Hyundai Kona is, for the moment, the smallest of five crossovers in the Hyundai lineup – at least until the inexplicably-smaller Venue shows up very soon. Where does it fit? Or is it destined to be a misfit?

Read More >

By on November 12, 2019

Certain Fiat Chrysler dealers aren’t happy with the inventory buildup that took place over the summer, claiming the automaker is headed back to the bad old days with the creation of a sales bank.

FCA, which just sealed a merger agreement with France’s Groupe PSA, claims its inventory is under control, touting a significant reduction in unsold vehicles during the third quarter. Read More >

By on November 12, 2019

Kia

A decade — isn’t that hard to believe? — after the debut of the radically styled third-generation Kia Optima, the automaker has another salvo waiting to launch against midsize boredom. Trailing its equally daring 2020 Hyundai Sonata sibling by a model year, the revamped 2021 Optima ditches the downgraded clothes that appeared in its closet for 2016.

Like Hyundai, Kia feels that style is its best bet to capture attention — and buyers — as the midsize sedan market contracts. Read More >

By on November 12, 2019

Toyota and Japanese weather information provider Weathernews Inc. have been running tests aimed at improving the accuracy of rain forecasts by using driving data from connected cars — or, more specifically, their windshield wipers. Based on the assumption that wiper operations correspond with the presence of precipitation, matching the severity to speed settings, the pair feel they can leverage customer information to close info gaps created by low-altitude rain clouds that are difficult to track.

With an official announcement issued earlier this month, both companies are framing this as an effective way to bolster roadway safety and offer new services to its customers. But it also raises the usual round of privacy concerns re: connected vehicles, while potentially offering some interesting and useful features — like localized flood warnings and other traffic advisories.  Read More >

By on November 12, 2019

Image: Ford

No, we’re not talking about the long-gone Honda Element today, but perhaps one day we will. As bad as vehicle design was in the 2000s, the Element at least offered buyers a quirky choice in their family hauler.

Today we’re talking about that fun, exciting, aspirational ride you bought to cruise the warm, sun-baked streets of Anytown, North America back in late spring or early summer… and what happened come November. Read More >

By on November 11, 2019

The tide of praise and promise that swept in at the impetus of the 21st century to support electric vehicles is receding. The same goes for the entire concept of autonomy — though this has been pulling back faster than Nicholas Cage’s hairline, and with only a fraction of its grace. Over the last few years, the number of voices shrugging off advanced technologies has increased, creating a rift between cynics and believers.

While largely disinterested in the ramifications of the technology, automakers have also tamped down their previously bloated expectations. Those pushing alternative powertrains and vehicular autonomy are becoming more based, but so too are the companies that never bothered chasing them quite so zealously in the first place.

Honda CEO Takahiro Hachigo says his company still has serious doubts as to just how lucrative electrification and mobility projects will actually be, suggesting the costs and complications of such technologies probably aren’t worth pursuing as a primary objective.  Read More >

By on November 11, 2019

“You can have any color you want, so long as it’s white… or silver,” General Motors not so famously told this writer last summer, after a disheveled man walked through their doors in search of a bargain-basement ride.

Yours truly made the right choice, and it seems the rest of the world followed. White is by far the world’s most popular automotive paint color, topping a palette that shuns vividness and excitement with a passion. Thankfully, a color this writer loathes due to its overuse in the previous decade is still dropping, falling to its lowest point in more than a decade. Read More >

By on November 11, 2019

Reports have come in from Germany that Mercedes-Benz has decided to reduce its management staff by around 10 percent globally. On Friday, German newspaper Suddeutsche Zeitung wrote that Daimler CEO Ola Källenius wishes to delete around 1,100 management posts while freezing wages for all 300,000 German employees — citing internal documents from the automaker’s works council.

Handelsblatt also said it intercepted a copy of the letter, with both outlets claiming Daimler would elaborate further on the plan this Thursday. While Mercedes said it couldn’t comment on the matter, its restructuring push was no secret, even before Källenius took over as chairman in May.  Read More >

By on November 11, 2019

Riviera. The mere mention of the name brings to mind visions of luxury. Perhaps of a CRT that glowed brightly on a stormy night, as your grandmother drove you home from a 4:55 p.m. dinner at Old Country Buffet. Or perhaps of the GM 3800 V6, maybe in elite supercharged form.

Today’s Rare Ride predates either of those anecdotes, and is special for a very different reason: It’s a last-of moment.

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By on November 11, 2019

The biggest news concerning the mildly updated 2020 Honda Civic Si is either the changed final drive ratio, the addition of a volume knob, or the inclusion of Honda Sensing — the company’s safety suite of driving aids — as standard equipment.

Obviously, this means the car hasn’t changed a whole hell of a lot.

That’s a very good thing.

Read More >

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