Category: Editorials

By on July 15, 2019

Amazon is striving to put Alexa, the home assistant/listening device, into more automobiles in the coming years. As a result, the company is working feverishly to enhance her vehicular-related capabilities — including wriggling her way into the embedded software systems of new cars.

On the surface, it sounds great. Networking your car with your smart home device opens up a bevy of new conveniences and Alexa should also help your car get better at understanding everyday voice commands. In the future, you’ll be able to order groceries, check the stock market, call the office, and adjust the thermostat of your house and car without ever having to take your hands off the steering wheel. But this also opens up a bevy of concerns, now that we know Amazon’s employees listen to and record pretty much everything you say to the device — sometimes doing the same for background conversations that were never intended for Alexa’s ears.  Read More >

By on July 15, 2019

1960 Chevrolet Brookwood wagon in Colorado wrecking yard, RH side view - ©2019 Murilee Martin- The Truth About Cars

Once the original 1955-1957 Chevy Nomad two-door wagon became a sacred icon among those who prize Detroit machinery of the Eisenhower Era, all GM two-door wagons attained a certain prestige among those who enjoy cruise nights, car shows, Time Out dolls, and the 119,544th repetition of Hot Rod Lincoln (no, not the gloriously hillbilly original 1955 Charlie Ryan version, the still-excellent-but-now-overplayed 1971 Commander Cody version, which incorrectly refers to the souped-up Lincoln motor as a V8). I would have thought that a genuine two-door 1960 Biscayne wagon ought to have found someone willing to keep it on the street, but this car in a northeastern Colorado yard proves me wrong. Read More >

By on July 15, 2019

The Rare Rides series has visited a performance 442 Oldsmobile previously, when we took a look at a one-off Hurst Intrigue 442 (which most everyone hated). Today we’ll see the very last time 442 appeared on a factory Oldsmobile.

It’s a Cutlass Calais Quad 442 W41, from 1991.

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By on July 12, 2019

2016 Chevrolet Silverado crew cab blue

General Motors is issuing a recall on select Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra pickups, including HD models. According to Transport Canada, trucks equipped with a power sliding rear window could have a defroster circuit that can melt itself or, in rare instances, catch fire.

As no fix currently exists, GM is asking owners to bring their vehicles into the dealership so that the fuse for the rear defroster can be disconnected while it works on finding a better solution. The recall encompasses 159,240 trucks from the 2014-2019 model years.  Read More >

By on July 12, 2019

2020 Hyundai Palisade

Hyundai and sibling brand Kia were once known for being cheap, but not necessarily the best value. That’s because cheap and value aren’t always synonymous — especially when it comes to consumer products.

That’s changed over time. Both brands have mostly shed their reputation for crap quality and have been steadily offering up products that can compete with everyone else on that front while still offering value pricing.

Kia’s Telluride is an example of that — it’s a well-built machine with premium content available at a price that undercuts rivals like the redesigned Ford Explorer. Logically, it follows that the Hyundai Palisade would pursue a similar path, since it and the Telluride are strongly related.

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By on July 12, 2019

Portland seems to be a relative hot spot for old, well-maintained Saabs, and Rare Rides covered this Portland-based 99 previously. And while that little blue sedan racked up 195,000 miles, today’s 900 has covered several times more than that. Just how far can an old Saab go?

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By on July 12, 2019

Car2go

After suspending manual background checks to encourage fresh users in April, Daimler subsidiary Car2Go found itself with a problem in Chicago — its new customers were stealing cars by the gross.

On the April 15th, the ride-sharing service notice an uptick in usage that was well above the norm. However, as the day progressed, the company found that a lot of its higher-end vehicles weren’t coming back. Instead, they were convening on Chicago’s West Side. Two days later, the Chicago Police Department announced that it had been notified by Car2Go that some of the company’s vehicles may have been rented by deceptive or fraudulent means and was officially on the prowl for justice.  Read More >

By on July 12, 2019

Clear Snow from tops of cars. Image: Ottawa Police Twitter

After our last installment, I feel nothing but regret for misrepresenting butchering TTAC Commentator Arthur Dailey’s query.  Because people do get in their car to warm it up before beginning the process of rooftop snow removal. And they’d prefer to remove roof snow, not snow that fell into power window switch pods.

So after multiple emails, a promise to try again. To which Mr. Dailey’s reply was:

“OK.  But perhaps you could expand that to explain something related to car design?  Which is why I sent the question to your attention.”

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By on July 11, 2019

Clear Snow from tops of cars. Image: Ottawa Police Twitter

TTAC Commentator Arthur Dailey writes (and edited to remove confusion):

Sajeev,

Opening my 2011 Hyundai Sonata’s door this morning after a beautiful overnight snowfall (Yes, it takes that long to answer Piston Slap questions – SM), I once again was confronted with a driver’s seat and inside door panel, covered in snow.

Those living in the snow belt will often park their car at the rink, library, ski hill, mall, at work etc. and return to find it covered in snow. You don’t bring your scraper with you in these situations. And even if you use your glove/arm/hand to clear some of the snow, when you open your door, the residue falls. Onto your power window/mirror/door lock mechanisms. And often onto the seat. You get into your car and start it to warm it up and help clear the windshield. And that residue melts.

This is a re-occurring problem: happening in many other vehicles that I have recently rented/owned. With the sloped roofs now common on cars, snow regularly falls into the passenger compartment when you open the door. There used to be gutters/sills along the edges of car rooflines. In fact I believe that up until the 1960’s they might have been an optional extra, as they were often chromed. Later they were just an integrated part of the roof.

I can’t remember exactly when roofline gutters disappeared from cars, but I understand that this was probably due to aerodynamic issues. I also noticed that there are a number of aftermarket options now available, sometimes referred to as ‘rain guards’.

However why can’t auto designers develop a roofline that prevents snow from dropping onto the car seats whenever the door is opened?

Read More >

By on July 10, 2019

Toyota Motor Corp announced on Wednesday it would be building a new sport utility vehicle at its $1.6 billion joint venture assembly plant in Alabama, rather than the Corolla. This brings its strategy in line with Mazda, which announced it would also be building an SUV at the facility earlier this year.

Officially, Toyota said the change was due to “changing market demands and a growing consumer appetite for light trucks and SUVs,” while slipping in a mention of how well the RAV4 has been selling for good measure.  Read More >

By on July 10, 2019

2019 Hyundai Tucson front quarter

I’ve owned this pair of New Balance running shoes for at least 10 years. I don’t know why I call them running shoes – I’m a fat, middle-aged guy who doesn’t run unless being chased by a predator. Anyhow, they are old, worn, with dark stains from 10w-30 and greenish stains from mowing the lawn. These are not casual shoes to wear out on the town – unless your idea of date night is a run to Home Depot. They aren’t fancy, but they are always comfortable and will seemingly never wear out.

This 2019 Hyundai Tucson is the automotive equivalent of those shoes. I’m not saying it’s covered in grass stains or is otherwise ugly – but neither is it a flashy special collectors-edition limited colorway pair of hypebeast sneakers. It’s simply a solid, comfortable car that is incredibly easy to live with. I put a ton of miles on the Tucson in my week with it, and it felt like home. Like those old suburban dad shoes.

Read More >

By on July 10, 2019

Automotive retail sales in China rose slightly last month, representing the first uptick in volume over the last year, according to Bloomberg. But those gains were the result of a nationwide fire sale of backed-up inventory that dealers were tired of seeing clutter up their lots. Officially, the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers (CAAM) says the new vehicle market still kind of sucks.

For June, wholesale deliveries of new passenger vehicles fell 7.8 percent to 1.73 million units. That’s twelve straight months of negative growth.  Read More >

By on July 10, 2019

Last week, in our Wednesday QOTD post, we switched over to the darker side of truck and SUV design from the Nineties. It seemed many of our dear readers were less than fans of the so-called “jellybean” Ford F-150. This week, attention shifts to east — to Europe. Which trucks and SUVs from that most stylish of continents have aged the worst in terms of styling?

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By on July 10, 2019

Our always (sometimes) reliable Ace of Base meter loves a good econocar, one that deigns to a low monthly payment but still doles out features like a benevolent reverend doles out candy at Easter. The diminutive Sonic has never been featured in this series, primarily due to the presence of its little brother — the Chevy Spark.

American auto-buyers seem to have shunned the Sonic as well, with the current model set to sail off into the twilight after this model year. Compared to the popular and evergreen Hyundai Accent sedan, can it secure an Ace of Base parting gift?

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By on July 10, 2019

Earlier this year, we took a look at the unique fastback style worn by the original Plymouth Barracuda. A few years after the Barracuda, British manufacturer Sunbeam decided to make their own miniaturized version. Don’t fear the Rapier.

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