Category: Editorials

By on February 13, 2020

You may remember when Mercedes-Benz worked with McLaren to develop the SLR McLaren in the early 2000s. The supercar birthed from those creative loins trumped most everything else on the market upon its debut. As expected, it was very rare and very expensive. But did you know there was a further development of the car that was even rarer, and off-limits to all but a select few?

Presenting the SLR Stirling Moss.

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By on February 12, 2020

At first blush, the confusingly-named 2020 Mazda CX-30 might seem to be simply a CX-3 appended with an errant naught. They do, after all, appear similar now that Mazda has adopted Audi’s different-lengths-of-sausage styling credo. Fortunately for us, the look is a good one.

About 4 inches of length, 40 horses of power, and about 400 pounds of weight separate the CX-30 from the CX-3 (makes it easy to remember, eh? Maybe they shoulda called this the CX-4). As always, the Ace of Base meter is primarily concerned with the entry level model, simply called the “CX-30.”

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By on February 12, 2020

With Europe increasingly fixated on regulating vehicular emissions, German automakers are throwing themselves into electrification like ’90s moms did with Beanie Babies. As with those moms, the investment has yet to pay off. Still, that hasn’t encouraged anyone to change course. Every player understood from the outset that transitioning to EVs was bound to be costly and, with increasingly stringent regulations proposed every month, there aren’t many alternatives.

Volkswagen placed its very existence on electrification after Dieselgate, quickly running into problems with battery suppliers. And while VW claims it’s solved the issue for the next few years, it isn’t out of the woods yet. VW and Daimler have reportedly commissioned a study into sustainable lithium mining in Chile, but it’s already receiving pushback from environmental groups concerned about the delicate nature of the region’s Atacama salt flat — where the metal is found in abundance.  Read More >

By on February 12, 2020

2011 BMW 535i GT - Image: BMWOn Wednesday last week we looked back on the recently ended decade, seeking the best design found on the sort of cars people can actually afford. Today, we’ll flip the question and go in search of the design failures.

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By on February 11, 2020

Hyundai Motor America is recalling nearly 430,000 vehicles in the United States over a short risk that could create a fire hazard. Affected models include Hyundai Elantras from the 2006-2011 model years and the Hyundai Elantra Touring from 2007-2011.

Even though the problem is really similar to the one that afflicted older Azera and Sonatas manufactured around the same time, Hyundai says the recall is not related to previous Hyundai recalls. Both cases involved moisture getting into the antilock brake module, which then overheats and creates a fire risk. In both cases, Hyundai said fires can occur after the vehicle is turned off.  Read More >

By on February 11, 2020

Today’s Rare Ride hails from the first two decades of Toyota’s North American tenure. The Corona line was midsize, luxurious, and the pinnacle of the company’s offerings on this continent.

Come along and experience Corona.

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By on February 10, 2020

Image: FCA

Jeep dealers are now discounting Gladiator models by as much as $9,000, indicating demand for the Wangler-based pickup has seriously cooled off. Considering the insane markups we saw at launch, that’s not much of an insult.

Now that Fiat Chrysler only reports sales on a quarterly basis — an obnoxious trend sweeping through the industry like a plague — we don’t know how many Gladiators leave dealer lots month-to-month. It looks like the pickup averaged a hair above 5,000 U.S. deliveries every thirty days in 2019. That’s a far cry from the midsize pickup segment leaders, but it was also the first year of Gladiator production.

With oodles of character, legitimate off-road capabilities and higher-than-average pricing, it’s also a bit of an odd duck. While interesting designs can occasionally be too much for a (sometimes large) subset of shoppers, pricing can make or break a car’s sales prowess. Some are of the mind that Jeep expected too much from consumers and that these lofty discounts are proof.  Read More >

By on February 10, 2020

1990 Volvo 740 Turbo wagon in California junkyard, RH side view - ©2020 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsOne of the frustrating things about my job looking for interesting discarded vehicles is the fact that most cars and light trucks didn’t start getting six-digit odometers until the 1980s or even the 1990s. I find vehicles that I know must have racked up incredible total mileage figures, but their odometers all turned over (once? ten times?) when they got past 99,999 miles.

Fortunately, Volvo felt sufficiently optimistic to adopt the six-digit odometer way back in the 1960s, so I was able to read a very impressive figure on the one in this 740 wagon: 493,549 miles. Read More >

By on February 7, 2020

Tesla Model S Grey - Image: Tesla

I’m a broken record when it comes to consumer protections. Environmentalism may be more fashionable but the green movement has already amassed a sizable army in the current year. Someone needs to be watching out for Joe Customer because companies are stepping up their game. While we’ve often focused on data privacy, right-to-repair laws, and the hidden perils of subscription services, ownership rights also deserve a bit of attention because they’re all sort of interconnected.

As products become increasingly digital, it’s becoming fuzzy as to who actually owns something. In previous decades, someone wanting to outfit their computer with the latest software meant they had to go out and buy it. Now you can simply download stuff over wifi, with no need to have the physical copy cluttering up your desk. But this convenience factor has ramifications. A subset of the video-game community is up in arms over backwards compatibility and the ability to truly own their purchases. With games and movies beginning to occupy internal storage almost exclusively, they’ve grown concerned that companies will attempt to force them to repurchase old games on new platforms to turn a quick buck.

Why is this being explained to you on a car website? Because the automotive industry may be about to engage in similar practices. Jalopnik recently published an account of a man buying a secondhand Tesla Model S, only to see it stripped of thousands of dollars in features.  Read More >

By on February 7, 2020

Jaguar Land Rover has decided to stall production at two of its British factories for several weeks. Starting in late February, JLR intends to stop work at both its Castle Bromwich Assembly and Solihull plants until the end of March. The factories won’t be totally inactive for the duration; the manufacturer claims there will be half days intermixed with full-day closures.

Unlike the bulk of plant idlings taking place across the globe (though mostly in China), this has nothing to do with the coronavirus. While the outbreak has begun disrupting supply chains as the PRC attempts to keep the illness in check by barring people inside their homes, JLR said it’s stalling UK production to address falling demand and Brexit complications — the latter of which is beginning to feel like a lame excuse.  Read More >

By on February 7, 2020

Volkswagen bestowed the mildest of refreshes on its midsize Passat for 2020, but you’ll be forgiven if you didn’t notice. These days, people are too busy trying to tell the recently enlarged Jetta apart from its slightly beefier stablemate.

Even the previous Passat’s six-speed automatic carried over for 2020.

With Volkswagen charging ahead (ahem) on electrification, the automaker now admits the current Passat may be the last. Read More >

By on February 7, 2020

Today’s Rare Ride has a checkered history, as it served as quiet shuttle for secret police and terrorist spies alike. Let’s find out more about this rear-engine Czechoslovakian V8 luxury car.

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By on February 7, 2020

Toyota Corolla owned by Lucas, Image: OPLucas writes:

Hello, Sajeev. I have a 1993 Toyota Corolla (Aussie spec, pictured here) and am contemplating getting a set of Eibach springs for it. What other costs might be associated aside from installation? What other products would I need to purchase, if any? Read More >

By on February 6, 2020

2019 Mini Cooper Oxford front quarter

I’ll admit it. I’m a bit of an Anglophile — at least in the automotive realm. I don’t take any interest in the drama surrounding England’s monarchy, nor do I drape my clothing with any form of the Union Jack. I’ve simply come to enjoy the cars of the British motoring industry.

After all, I did spend many nights and weekends as a kid rolling around a cold concrete floor, dusted in stale Castrol and kitty litter, helping to get my dad’s 1970 MGB running. I lost a pair of eyebrows to a massive backfire while sorting out tuning issues on the pair of SU carburetors. And I fondly recall the 2002 Mini Cooper S my dad and stepmother bought new — a car she still owns fifteen years after dad’s passing.

So when a new British car passes my way, I’m sure to take notice. Especially when it’s a car that has potential to create new young enthusiasts. This 2019 Mini Cooper Oxford Edition is one of those things — a bargain-price runabout that promises affordable fun.

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By on February 5, 2020

General Motors Renaissance Center

General Motors CEO Mary Barra went to New York on Wednesday to hold an investor conference. The day’s theme was: convincing everyone that GM deserves a higher valuation because, like Tesla, it’s supposed to be more than a car company.

While it seems slightly presumptuous for GM to expect the same overblown share price when Tesla probably doesn’t deserve it, either, the Good Book is supposed to say something about getting what you ask for. Still, having not read it in a while, I sincerely doubt it was referencing giant corporations or huge amounts of money.

Barra and company are attempting to show that GM hasn’t sat back on electrification and the same kind of advanced automotive technologies that wooed Tesla investors. Nobody said the rival automaker’s name during their speech, of course. Of course, they wouldn’t really need to, either.  Read More >

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