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By on December 30, 2016

coffee while driving (bluemini/Flickr)

Maybe there is common sense to be found in California.

A driver who was charged for driving under the influence — even though a blood test revealed only caffeine — won’t have to enter a courtroom to plead his innocence. That, a gas station attendant takes the Florida Woman meme and runs with it (into another woman’s car), and Canadian heavy truck drivers just refuse to lower their beds while on the highway. (Read More…)

By on December 30, 2016

FFZERO1 Faraday Future

Faraday Future continues to dispense epoch-making levels of hype as the company seemingly implodes. Last week, Faraday’s chief brand and commercial officer and its vice president for product marketing both abandoned the company. This week, they were followed by elusive Chinese overseer and “unofficial” CEO, Ding Lei. Of course, Faraday Future has already spent the last two years without a CEO — much in the same way it has functioned without sufficient capital, a clear business plan, or a tangible product.

Meanwhile, the company’s Twitter feed is excitedly counting down the days until it unveils something at the Consumer Electronics Show — making use of slogans such as, “When electricity could travel further, so could ideas.” At this point, I’m wagering ideas are just about all Faraday has left to offer.  (Read More…)

By on December 30, 2016

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You’ve heard a lot in the media about how 2016 has been Literally Hitler Terrible. Princess Leia died. Donald Trump was elected. The McRib only returned in selected markets.

I can’t sympathize with those people. 2016 worked out fine for me, and it was the first year since 2012 that I wasn’t hospitalized for some injury. That doesn’t mean that I’m not resolved to make 2017 even better. Have you made your resolutions yet? If not, I have a few suggestions:

(Read More…)

By on December 30, 2016

nissan leaf charging electric car

Even though they’ve been around since the late 1800s, 60 percent of Americans surveyed this year said that they were “unaware” of electric cars. While one is forced to wonder exactly how the question was worded, no possible answer inspires confidence in the public’s knowledge on the subject of EVs.

It would seem, at least in this instance, that modern-day America is largely unfamiliar with the electric car. There is also an underlying range anxiety afflicting prospective buyers. That doesn’t bode well for the rapid normalization that many automakers are anticipating in the years to come. However, there is a silver lining for an electric future.  (Read More…)

By on December 30, 2016

2016 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited red

Amid all the hand wringing and social media sobbing over the celebrities we’ve lost in 2016, no one thought to mention the Jeep Compass and Patriot — strong-selling, affordable yet archaic vehicles that were loathed by the automotive press.

Well, the decade-old twins are dead. Gone. Finito. Pushing up daisies. The Toledo Blade reports that the Patriot and Compass ceased production on December 23, paving the way for a much-improved second-generation global Compass.

While the new, larger Compass prepares for its launch, the next-generation of the Jeepiest of all Jeeps — the 2018 Wrangler — remains heavily shrouded. We’ve seen details leaked about its appearance and drivetrain, but Fiat Chrysler Automobiles remains silent on a production timeline. Well, always count on a union representative to spill some beans. (Read More…)

By on December 30, 2016

Volvo 90 center display

A few years after Alexander Graham Bell beat Elisha Gray in patenting the telephone, someone conceptualized the telephonoscope and the world became bedeviled by the notion of seeing someone while you conversed remotely. Video phones appeared in Fritz Lang’s Metropolis (1927), Jay Roach’s timeless classic Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery (1997), and just about everywhere in between. They even cropped up in real life. AT&T tested the waters in the 1920s by pairing mechanical television receivers to telephones before blowing half a billion dollars on the Picturephone a few decades later.

Things are different today. You can easily bring up any number of applications on your hand-held device and video chat with people from practically anywhere on the planet. However, we never really got a dedicated video phone in our cars, creating a compellingly retro-futuristic need for such a thing.

Then Volvo announced that it was adding Skype for Business to its 90 Series cars and I began imagining a universe where I would notify besuited men — face-to-face — that I did not have anymore time to talk because I was much too busy driving. It was a perfect fantasy where I told nervous industrialists which robots should build the smaller robots and who to fire all from the comfort of my mobile office — and while looking them right in their terrified eyes. (Read More…)

By on December 30, 2016

infiniti-qx50-concept-jpg

Infiniti has had enough of the QX50’s voluptuous curves.

An edgier future awaits the brand’s midsize crossover, as shown by photos of the QX50 “Concept” released ahead of the North American International Auto Show. If this concept looks almost production-ready, that’s because it is.

Borrowing heavily from the earlier QX Sport Inspiration concept, the QX50 Concept’s updated design language isn’t the only way Infiniti plans to lure prospective buyers. Underneath the newly creased sheetmetal beats a very different kind of heart — one two decades in the making. (Read More…)

By on December 30, 2016

caterham_7

Postwar British nostalgia and racing heritage is nice, but there’s no denying the kick an automaker can get from launching a wholly new vehicle.

That’s the situation Caterham finds itself in. After dutifully cranking out continuously updated examples of the original Lotus Seven since 1973, the company now wants to court drivers who have never seen the opening titles of The Prisoner. While the British company has a pretty good idea of the car it wants to build, it first needs to find a partner. (Read More…)

By on December 29, 2016

Ford Police Interceptor Utility

North America’s romantic entanglement with the sport utility vehicle is not limited to retail consumers, as police fleets in the United States and Canada have been getting in on the action for a while now. Valuing durability and flexibility above all else, law enforcement’s gradual shift toward SUVs seems to have been inevitable.

Ford said that sales of its Explorer-based Interceptor Utility surpassed its Taurus-based Interceptor Sedan in 2014, claiming that the SUV had “officially” become North America’s most popular police vehicle. While that might not be entirely accurate until current fleets retire the horde of large sedans that proved so popular in the past, the utility trend is growing and departments have plenty of praise for them — especially departments rife with oversized officers.  (Read More…)

By on December 29, 2016

chief

The secret is out: my intrepid and long(ish)-suffering wife, Danger Girl, is the new owner of Matt Farah’s Corvette. This was my idea, for better or worse. She was all set on ordering a new Grand Sport for the 2017 autocross/trackday season, but I thought that it would be a better idea for her to experience all of the new-Vette-owner rituals (nose scraping, rocker panel ripping, mirror scratching, lurid 130mph backwards-facing exits into Mid-Ohio’s “China Beach”) with a used car. So now she has a “learner” Vette, albeit one with 421RWHP, Pfadt coilovers, a half-cage, and fixed Sparcos.

With just 32,200 miles at the time of sale, DG’s Corvette is still well out of warranty thanks to an in-service date from the (Bill) Clinton administration. (I guess I don’t have to put that qualifier in there any more, do I?) As my wife found out last week, however, having a car that’s under warranty isn’t always a blessing. In fact, sometimes it’s an outright curse.

(Read More…)

By on December 29, 2016

Winter city snow

Boston, the city that gave us both the New Kids On The Block and Click and Clack, the Tappet Brothers, placed dead last on Allstate’s 2016 America’s Best Drivers List. With the weather in Beantown turning blustery and cold, the Car Talk slogan of “don’t drive like my brother” has become hauntingly sound advice.

However Boston isn’t a singular example of a city with overzealous insurance claimants and certainly isn’t only location about to get hit with seasonally inclement weather. There are plenty of places where you’ll want to look out for other drivers just as much as you will icy patches of road this winter.  (Read More…)

By on December 29, 2016

Nissan Qashqai

Nissan will add the overseas Qashqai crossover to its U.S. lineup, with the model debuting at next month’s North American International Auto Show in Detroit, multiple sources tell TTAC.

Pressed into domestic service to satisfy a crossover-hungry marketplace, the compact Qashqai will slot just below the popular Rogue. (Read More…)

By on December 29, 2016

2016 Land Rover Range Rover Sport

Guam, besides having the highest per-capita Spam consumption in the world (16 tins per person, on average), is also home to a recently uncovered fraud scheme that placed high-end vehicles in the driveways of island residents.

On paper, anyway. The unsuspecting residents — over 50 of them, authorities say — had no idea their names were placed next to luxury SUV registrations in the Department of Motor Vehicles database. (Read More…)

By on December 29, 2016

1995 Ford Transit Supervan 3, Image: Ford

There comes a dreaded moment in many automobile enthusiasts’ lives when the reality of having a family and the need for practicality outweighs all other considerations.

Enter that dreaded “V” word.

Getting a van — especially a minivan — is for many the automotive equivalent of getting neutered. You’ve given up, capitulated. Your desires to apex corners and outrace sports cars are now parked firmly in the third-row tier of importance, and haulin’ ass has been replaced by just hauling asses.

But getting a people-hauler doesn’t have to be all bad. In fact, there are quite a few vans people claim are “good to drive.” While I’ll take their word on such things for the time being and soldier on with my wagon addiction, let’s take a look at some more inspired options for heavy-duty hauling that made the prospect of a van actually seem quite cool.

(Read More…)

By on December 29, 2016

1992-ford-escort-rs-cosworth-white-front-quarter

It’s the last week of the year, which means it’s time for end-of-year or new-year listicles. Time  to recount all the celebrities who’ve passed, or to predict what will happen in the coming year. It’s a convenient time, certainly, as the turning of the calendar page allows one to mentally erase the past in favor of a potentially brighter future.

For guys like me, though, the lists of legally importable 25-year-old cars are the ones I’ll read the most. Heck, I wrote one last year.

(Read More…)

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