In Defense Of

Elon Musk Takes Center Stage on Saturday Night Live

Billionaire Elon Musk will host “Saturday Night Live” on May 8th, the comedy series announced last week. Known for his controversial, biting remarks, the Tesla and SpaceX CEO apparently did not win over any fans among the cast. Cast members were not happy with Musk’s invitation. Social media comments indicated their displeasure.

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Tesla CEO Accused of Kowtowing to China: A Tale of Two Musks?

Tesla CEO Elon Musk came under fire this week after Bloomberg wrote a piece accusing him of playing nice with totalitarian China following years of showing totalitarian California a complete lack of respect. With the semiconductor shortage leaving the industry in a holding pattern, tabloid journalism seems to be filling in the gaps to the dismay of yours truly. However, Musk’s relationship with both countries remains relevant since they represent the two largest automotive markets on the planet and will dictate the trajectory of the business.

He’s being accused of being extremely apologetic to Chinese regulators, despite having become infamous for acting in the exact opposite manner in the United States. As you might recall, American Musk is all about flagrantly ignoring the rules and telling the government regulators to take their concerns into the bathroom where they’ll have the privacy necessary to stick them where the sun doesn’t shine. When it comes to high-IQ billionaires, our Elon is the bad boy’s bad boy. But Chinese Musk is said to be deferential and happy to comply with the request of oversight groups before they become official mandates.

He sounds like a total traitor! At least, that’s how China’s state-run media framed it before Western outlets took the reporting and made Elon seem even worse on Tuesday. The story has since been spreading online, encouraging this website to take another look to see if Mr. Musk is actually the double-crossing villain that’s being claimed.

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In Defense Of: A Review Of The 2016 Chevrolet Spark LS

I could live with this car … under a couple of conditions.

Air conditioning is a must have, and I may have told you about the need for an aftermarket shifter solution.

But GM Canada’s $9,995 2016 Chevrolet Spark LS, which lacks A/C and a tolerable shifter, is nevertheless an acceptable place to spend time. Though it drives with far less verve than the not-sold-in-Freedomland $9,988 2016 Nissan Micra S, the Spark is the more comfortable and refined option.

Up the price with an array of options and the argument for North America’s second Chevrolet Spark falls apart. As a $10,000 car, however, there’s a case to be made.

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In Defense Of: The Jeep Patriot

Editor’s Note: Please welcome Matt Pericles, a.k.a. FormerFF, as the first reader featured during TTAC’s Reader Submission week. We’ll post more submissions throughout the week. Stay tuned!

Consider the Jeep Patriot, whipping boy of automotive journalists everywhere, number 18 out of 18 in U.S. News’s “ Best Compact SUVs” list.

Does it deserve such scorn?

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Android Auto Vs. Apple CarPlay Vs. Your Precious Bodily Fluids

At yesterday’s Google I/O keynote speech, Google laid out its vision for Android Auto (reported here yesterday), which is quite similar to Apple’s CarPlay. I’ve ranted here before about Apple’s CarPlay when it was first announced and after more details came out last March. Both have the idea that your phone can hijack the screen in your car. What’s newsworthy from Google is that we have an enlarged list of vendors who are playing along. ( Wired has the full list. Suffice to say that you’ll have plenty of choices if you want a car that goes both ways, if you know what I mean. Most interesting factoid: Tesla isn’t playing with either Apple or Google. Hear that? It’s the sounds of thousands of alpha-nerd Tesla owners crying out in terror.)

Today, I want to address why you should stop worrying and learn to love having your phone in charge of your car’s telematics display.

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Bring Back a BOF 5-seater or I'll Buy a Saab

I have a problem. I own a 2002 GMC Envoy. No, my ownership of a GMT360 SUV isn’t the problem although it is probably enough to get me committed to a mental institution. At 140,000 hard miles, my Envoy is getting old and there’s nothing out there to replace it. That’s a problem.

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Thanks To Suburbia, The Car Can Never Be The Next Cigarette

I have two interests that are often in conflict with one another. One is my love of the automobile. The second is urban planning. Recently, I was reading a response piece to the notion that the car will become the next cigarette, or a similar “socially unacceptable vice”. Derek Kreindler wrote the following in his response:

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Abu Dhabi Dispatches: How I Nearly Met Jack Baruth At The International Defense Expo

A few days ago, I was at the International Defense Expo here in Abu Dhabi. It prides itself as “the most strategically important tri-service defence exhibition in the world.” Many tanks were on display, among them an armored Audi A8. I wanted to inspect that car a bit closer, when a man approached the white-haired product specialist of Audi. The man had a gold lame jacket, and he needed a haircut. They gave away free parabolic mikes at the AVIC booth, but being Chinese, it would only pick up the voice of the salesman. Here is the transcript.

Product specialist: “Mr.Baruth! Welcome to Abu Dhabi! If you are tired of lightweight cars, you have come to the right place!”

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In Defense Of: The Cadillac CTS-V Wagon

If you are unfamiliar with the type of car pictured above, then may I congratulate you on finally getting a WiFi connection all the way up there in your cave on the moon. Yes indeedy, this is the much-publicized Cadillac CTS-V wagon.

No, on the other hand, it is not a press car. Let me explain.

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In Defense Of: The Press Junket

You know, it’s getting goddamned hard for a chap to enjoy a decent corporate-sponsored nosebag from time to time what with the ever-imminent prospect of Jack “Banquo” Baruth popping out from behind a silver soup tureen and shouting “J’accuse!” like some sort of admonitory, jort-clad Visigoth. At least, such I was thinking to myself as I lined the walls of my pericardium with the rich yellow fat best produced by overly-sauced food and moderately crappy wines.

This was in the latter stages of a lunch – sorry – launch I was attending in, admittedly, a very unprofessional capacity. I’m still not entirely sure how I ended up here, but I’m one of those people who can’t say no when offered work; here though there would be no byline, and theoretically therefore, no conflict of interest.

Still, I was keeping one eye open, metaphorically-speaking, for our own favourite Sword of Damocles, as – pardon me good sir, but I believe your trotter is in my trough!

Lifer Automotive Journalist the Size of a Small Moon: “Oh, do beg pardon. Snarfle-snarfle-glub.”

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Requiem For The Last American Car

[Editor’s note: Today, at 12:25 pm, the very last Panther-platform Crown Victoria rolled off the line at St. Thomas Assembly Plant. Ryan Paradis, a.k.a. “86er,” has the honor of eulogizing the beloved beast in his first-ever contribution to TTAC]

It has become beyond trite by this point to say that, with the end of the Crown Victoria, Grand Marquis and Town Car, an era comes to an end. And yet it is thus: the last of the body-on-frame, rear wheel drive and eight cylinder engine passenger cars, once a species unique to North America, have now reached the end of an 80 year span that commenced with the advent of the 1932 Ford V-8.

Having transported generations of Americans through some of the nation’s finest decades, full-size cars like the Crown Victoria, Grand Marquis, and Town Car are now an anomaly. While large V8-powered sedans made a comeback in the 21st century, the Ford Panther chassis was one of the very few full-size, rear-drive sedans that never left. And today we bid it farewell.

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In Defense Of: Enthusiasm In Automotive Journalism

When bearded flip-flop enthusiast and serial-ruiner Jonny Lieberman recently wrote about his new long-term-tester fantasy ride – a stick-shifted, murda’d-out Caddy CTS-V wagon – he facebooked a prediction, “Cue the Baruth-venom in 3…2…1…” Quoth JB in response, “No venom here. In the best liberal fashion I have censured you for the ethics of it and moved on.”

Those of us in the peanut gallery goggled at the collegiality of the kaijus of contrarianism; thank goodness they weren’t going to start throwing buildings at each other again. Now Frank Greve’s AJR piece on auto-journo shillsterism has shown up, basically lauding Mr. Baruth as the Last Honest Man In Auto Journalism™ and intimating that Motor Trend is, by comparison, the painted whore of Babylon. Jeez, hasn’t Tokyo suffered enough?

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The Tragedy Of The Gas Tax

General Motors CEO Dan Akerson set off something of a firestorm a few weeks ago, when he said, in response to a question about forthcoming CAFE increases:

You know what I’d rather have them do — this will make my Republican friends puke — as gas is going to go down here now, we ought to just slap a 50-cent or a dollar tax on a gallon of gas.

Predictably, populists and economic alarmists of all stripes took great umbrage at Akerson’s candor, questioning his leadership of GM as well as his perspective on the shaky US economy. But Akerson is not alone in his support of some form of gas-tax increase. Bob Lutz and Tom Friedman (an odd couple right there, if ever there was one) agree with him. Edmunds CEO Jeremy Anwyl defended Akerson and even suggested a $2/gallon tax earlier this year. Bill Ford and AutoNation’s Mike Jackson are of the same mind as now-retired Republican Senator George Voinovich on the issue. And yet, inside the Beltway, the subject tends to draw a chuckle and a roll of the eyes. Everyone wants it, but nobody wants it.

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In Defense Of: The Mazda MX-5

In the rarefied world of auto journalism, EVO magazine has assumed a place at the top of the food chain, for its derring-do tales of “flat out motoring”, performance car snobbery of the highest order and rich douchebag “contributors” whose only qualification is owning an absurdly expensive car that masquerades as a “long term tester”.

Like foodies, hipsters and other urban vermin, the EVO crew clearly gets off on the elitism of motoring rather than the appreciation of an automobile or the joy of driving. Figures then, that Chris Harris, supposedly a thinking man’s Jeremy Clarkson, criticized the Mazda MX-5 as being “shit”. According to Harris, the Mazda is “slow, imprecise and unsatisfying”. On what planet?

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Bumper Sticker of the Week!

I spotted this sticker on a (disc brake-equipped) Nissan pickup in the parking lot of the San Jose North Pick-Your-Part during my last trip to California.

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In Defense of Sex

First off: Bertel needs no defense. I however felt compelled to write this editorial. Don’t you go thinking the latest round of “naughty” videos was all his idea. I egged him on. I think we are privileged to have him. So…

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Panther Appreciation Week: Defining Panther Love

As someone who has driven over 300,000 non-livery, private-owner miles in various iterations of Ford’s Panther, TTAC’s Panther Appreciation Week struck a bittersweet chord for me. I’ve enjoyed seeing this versatile vehicle-from-another-era get the admiration and respect I believe it deserves, and the peek at the other side of the philosophical coin – courtesy of some Best & Brightest commentators (and Paul) – has also been interesting. But this tribute to the platform’s imminent demise has saddened me, as it highlights how the Panther has represented such a stoic constant on North American roads for so many years. Regardless, change is the only true constant, and it won’t be long before the pride of St. Thomas Assembly is irretrievably crushed by the ever-advancing juggernaut of modernity. Standing at the precipice of this retirement, I feel compelled to look at what the Panther has meant, both in my life, and in the market over these past three decades.

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In Defense (Defence?) Of Top Gear

I ought to start this article off with the reasons as to why I decided to write this article. I got scalded recently for criticizing Jack Baruth’s article on why Top Gear USA will fail. On reflection, the scalding was well earned. It’s a bit unprofessional to criticize a fellow worker’s work no matter how much you disagree with it.

But this set off a light bulb in my head. Why should I post a comment about why I disagree with an article, and get browbeaten, if I can write an article of my own, highlighting my thoughts? Isn’t that the American way? Why give something away for free, when you can sell it?

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In Defense Of The Chevrolet Volt

[Editor’s note: In the absence of an official rebuttal to Edward Niedermeyer’s NY Times Op-Ed on the Chevrolet Volt, TTAC’s own Ken Elias has volunteered to come to the Volt’s defense.]

The Chevy Volt should be a brilliant piece of engineering achievement if it works as advertised. That’s a big “if” and I wouldn’t bet my life that GM’s first iteration of the car will live up to the hype. And that’s only because of the long string of overhyped vehicles that came out of the former GM that simply never delivered. But that’s three decades of history talking – and GM’s a new company today with a different mindset and competitive spirit. Its newest products – the LaCrosse, SRX, Equinox, and Camaro for example – have been well received by the public and there’s no shame putting one of these rigs in your driveway. So let’s start out giving GM the benefit of the big doubt that the new Volt will work as advertised.

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Farewell Mercury

If you scan the autoblogosphere on a regular basis, you’ve read some half-hearted eulogies to the best and worst of Mercury. Fair enough, as the Mercury brand deserves every one of those backhanded compliments: sharing too much content with a comparable Fords and (sometimes) sharing too many styling cues with the Lincolns means it couldn’t die off without a dig or two. And it is an easy target: aside from the (lead-sled) post war Yuppie clientele that inspired Mercury’s creation, the original sleeky-Sable and a few old Cougars, this was bound to happen.

But obviously my love for Mercury ( here, here, and here) means I’m not going to bury Mercury, but to praise it. And to make sure the brand remains in our collective consciousness just as long as it’s GM counterpart, Pontiac. Wishful thinking, Mehta?

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Toyota Aren't Number One … In Recalls

According to popular wisdom, the flood of recalls will change Toyota and will permanently damage Toyota’s market share in the United States (much like what happened to Mitsubishi and their cover up scandal). But there are some people who believe (like I do) that this is “man bites dog” journalism. That the Toyota recall (whilst serious) is being blown out of proportion. It seems that other people are starting to see it that way.

US Recall News‘ reason for being is recalls. They would be dead without recalls. US Recall News has written an article that says that the real recall bogeyman doesn’t live in Toyota City, but in Detroit. The identity of the true bogeyman’s name may surprise some.

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The Pretty Side Of Honda

There has been a lot of, well, criticism, of Honda on these pages lately, including allegations that Honda had lost it. So far, more that fifty of the Best & Brightest offered advice on how to save the company from certain annihilation.

Today’s Nikkei says “domo arigato gozaimashita” for all the support, and runs a different story: “Honda Motor Co. has emerged from the economic turmoil at the head of the pack, thanks in good part to a nimble production network that can meet the latest consumer preferences at relatively low cost.” Here is why.

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Editorial: Collector Car Market: The Sky Hasn't Fallen; Just a Few Prices
In a recent news article, RF stated: “…here’s another story where the web pulls the rug from under auto industry types seeking to hide the…
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In Defense of . . . the United Auto Workers (UAW)
This website has stood out front in condemning the pro-corporate cowardice of the paper car mags, and rightly so. But when they show some courage and get it…
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Editorial: In Defense of . . . Cash4Clunkers
Well, it looks like the American version of cash-for-clunkers is going to get past Capitol Hill, and I find myself conflicted. On the one hand, I’m get…
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In Defense of . . . The Chrysler and GM Bailout
Over the last year, as this unparalleled automotive sales depression has picked up steam, I have observed unprecedented vitriol directed at both Chrysler and…
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In Defense of . . . The Jeep Jinx
I’m a Jeep owner, a Jeep historian and a Jeep enthusiast. I’ve published more than a dozen Jeep articles. I’ve attended dozens of Jeep Jamb…
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In Praise of: Detroit's HVAC Engineering
With all that the domestic automakers have done wrong, it’s important to remember the things they’ve done– and continue to do– well.…
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Editorial: In Defense of: The Detroit Bailout
Editorial: In Defense of: The Detroit Bailout
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Editorial: In Defense of: Bailing Out Detroit
Editorial: In Defense of: Bailing Out Detroit
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In Defense of: The Mazda RX-8
In Defense of: The Mazda RX-8
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In Defense of: The Suburban
Oil shock version three-point-something is roiling the global economy. SUVs are doing a fair imitation of the dinosaurs in Fantasia. As the U.S. auto industr…
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In Defense of… Regular Gas
A guy says he’s stopped using premium gas in his “premium gas required” car because it’s too damn expensive. It’s a joke, right…
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In Defense of… the Chevrolet Volt. Ish.
Critics of Chevrolet's upcoming plug-in gas-electric hybrid Volt fail to realize one thing: it doesn't matter if the car isn't perfect. It doesn't even matte…
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In Defense of… Saturn
Does the head of Saturn have photos of important movers and shakers with goats? How else can you explain Saturn’s survival? All that’s left of GM…
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In Defense of… GM's ADD
Chris Haak says GM needs to develop a number of alternative propulsion technologies.
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In Defense of: Crappy Handling Cars
Despite this website’s constant ruminations on the handling capabilities of various contemporary automobiles, the truth about cars is this: on any road…
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In Defense of: The Porsche Panamera
For all intents and purposes, a Porsche sports car is the very definition of luxury; an indication that there's another car in the garage for the daily to an…
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In Defense of: GM's Hybrid SUVs
Autumn in Texas plays host to a weekly cultural phenomenon known as high school football. Burgeoning grid iron gods burst on to the field of play from inflat…
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In Defense of "In Defense of Saab"
Before I respond to Steven Wade’s article “In Defense of Saab” and the resulting comments, I want to say a few words about the medium of di…
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In Defense of: American Automakers
I’d just slipped the nozzle into my Cadillac XLR-V. A dark Merc SL550 rolled up, its driver eyeing my Bowling Green Batmobile. As he busied himself wit…
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In Defense of: Saab
If one word describes Saab’s recent past, it’s underinvestment. Back when the Swedish brand was self-sustaining, they operated their R&D departme…
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In Defense of: The Lincoln Town Car
The “tumblehome” is the narrowing of a car’s profile from its beltline to its roof. This design trick creates a sleek, visually trim appear…
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In Defense of: The Audi 5000
here] When I first heard about the Audi “sudden unintended acceleration” segment on CBS’s 60 Minutes in 1986, I knew immediately that the…
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In Defense of: The Chevrolet Corvair
Fifty years ago, GM’s engineers and designers worked overtime to create a radical new economy or “compact” car. Its mission: take on the VW…
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In Defense Of: The Pontiac Aztek
Automotive history is littered with titanic failures. For every hot-selling Mustang, there’s a hatful (hateful?) of Vegas, Pintos, Excels, Yugos, Edsel…
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  • Panther Platform I had a 98 Lincoln Mark VIII so I have a soft spot for this. The Mark VIII styling was not appreciated by all.
  • Grant P Farrell Oh no the dealership kept the car for hours on two occasions before giving me a loaner for two months while they supposedly replaced the ECU. I hate cords so I've only connected it wirelessly. Next I'm gonna try using the usb-c in the center console and leaving the phone plugged in in there, not as convenient but it might lower my blood pressure.
  • Jeff Tiny electrical parts are ruining today's cars! What can they ...
  • CEastwood From zero there is nowhere to go but up . BYD isn't sold in the U.S. and most Teslas are ugly azz 90s looking plain jane drone mobiles . I've only seen one Rivian on the road and it 's not looking good for them . I live out in the sticks of NW NJ and EVs just aren't practical here , but the local drag strip thrives in the warmer months with most cars making the trip from New York .
  • Lorenzo Aw, that's just the base price. Toyota dealers aren't in the same class as BMW/Porsche upsellers, and the Toyota base is more complete, but nobody will be driving that model off the lot at that price.