Category: Rants

By on January 3, 2019

During my wayward youth in the Aughts/early this decade, a friend of mine decided it would be funny if he got me involved in a weird little bar game called “icing.” The idea of this game was to order your friend a Smirnoff Ice surreptitiously and/or hide it somewhere, and when he received the drink he must drop to one knee and chug it. There may be other variations to the game, but that’s all I recall.

Like many things that happened culturally during that decade, icing was quite stupid. Stupid as it was, it was also relatively harmless. The “iced” got a free drink out of it, even if it was a terrible vodka drink, and everyone else got a laugh. The late Aughts were such innocent times.

Fast-forward a decade and now there’s a new type of “icing” afoot, though it’s now called “ICE-ing.” It has nothing to do with booze, but it still involves bros.

Read More >

By on October 17, 2018

Jaguar has delivered its first I-Pace electric crossover in North America, a little ahead of next month’s retail sales, to a picture-perfect family living in Florida. Who are these fortunate environmentalists? None other than Lakewood Ranch residents Mark and Holly Pascarella, according to Jaguar Land Rover’s Tuesday press release and the multitude of auto outlets that reported it as news without commentary.

“When you have a family of five you always need space, so we were looking for an SUV,” explained Mr. Pascarella. “We’ve always had a seven-passenger SUV, but one of my daughters just went off to college, so now a five-passenger SUV will be large enough. When I looked at the I-PACE I could see that it was a typical first-class product made by Jaguar, with top of the line appointments and great looks. It doesn’t look like a typical SUV, and on top of that, being electric was very appealing.”

Based on Mark’s very natural and clearly unprompted manner of speaking, it certainly sounds like the perfect automotive product for families living in a city with an average household income of $100,991 — which, coincidentally, is exactly the case in Lakewood Range, Florida. Plus, it has that coveted electric appeal, allowing you to indicate you’re environmentally conscious when you aren’t firing up your other Jaguar’s 5.0-liter V8 every morning.  Read More >

By on February 15, 2018

concept-i

It’s starting to feel like people in the automotive industry simply cannot help but blurt out ludicrous claims involving a hypothetical future nobody on the outside seems to care about. These people, in charge of the the automobile’s ultimate form, appear to be so singularly obsessed with the vague concept of “mobility” that they can’t imagine any other alternative.

This week’s example came from Simon Humphries, the new general manager of Toyota’s advanced R&D, who mused about a tomorrow that didn’t need mass-market models. However, we’re not satisfied to condemn the design chief. Media outlets deserve a share of the blame for promoting these concepts without much logical backing. Read More >

By on November 7, 2017

stunt driving

On Friday’s “Real Time With Bill Maher,” the titular host said something pretty dumb about cars, driving, and the stunt driving seen in car chase movies that have graced movie screens for ages.

It’s not the most galactically stupid thing he’s said this year – that award goes to use his use of a racial slur while interviewing a sitting U.S. senator – but it was so off the mark that I felt compelled to rant.

In the interest of disclosure, I generally like Bill Maher. I don’t watch every week, but I catch the show when I can. Politically I agree with him on some things and not others (we’ll leave it at that), but as a TV host I find him to be relatively funny and smart, and I applaud his willingness to invite folks from all political stripes onto his show.

However, he can be smarmy, and occasionally I wonder if his staff has fact-checked something he’s prattling on about. And sometimes he just goes off the rails.

Read More >

By on September 19, 2017

Tesla Model 3, Image: Tesla

Before joining the gang at TTAC, I was freelancing, and a lot of my work centered around electric vehicles. Which means I was reading and writing a lot about Tesla, especially during that time a few months ago when the small California-based automaker somehow became the most valuable automaker in the world, at least from Wall Street’s perspective, based solely on its potential.

Some of my work took me into the depths of the pro-Tesla blogosphere. While these sites can serve as valuable sources for news about the company, they also have an unabashed pro-Tesla stance. Objective, they (mostly) ain’t.

And that’s okay – while many, if not most, media outlets default towards being as objective as possible, there’s no rule stating that your blog or outlet has to be objective. It’s okay for HuffPo to be leftist and National Review to lean right. And so it is with outlets that cover Tesla – no one expects Teslarati to be critical of the brand.

It’s one thing to have pro-Tesla blogs, of course, but another to be unable to even talk about the brand without dividing into two tribes – the fanboys who think Tesla is the best company ever and can do no wrong (as it disrupts the industry and solves every one of the world’s problems), and the “haters” who think that Tesla is doomed to fail any day now and it’s a minor miracle the company has lasted this long.

Read More >

By on August 3, 2017

Top Gear America screengrab

Automotive television is, at best, a mixed bag. At worst, it’s a cultural wasteland of gimmicky programing that persists only because of our deep love for cars, bolstered by a handful of engaging personalities. Suggesting that I am generally dubious of any new car-related entry into the entertainment landscape would be a gross understatement. So, when the rebooted Top Gear America aired over the weekend, my expectations were already incredibly low.

I suppose the nicest way to phrase this is by saying it did not exceed those expectations.

While it attempts to capture the magic of vintage Top Gear in much the same way the current British version strives to, the first episode fell far short of the mark. Whether that’s down to the hosts not having adequate time to develop legitimate chemistry or a systematic flaw in the show’s design remains to be seen. But something is definitely wrong here.

Episode One felt extremely awkward, although not entirely hopeless. And I’ve reminded myself that I didn’t much care for Richard Hammond the first time I saw him on the screen, either. Fast forward 15 years and I enter into a panic every time he’s in a scrape, terrified that God might take that adorable little man away from me. Read More >

By on March 31, 2016

Chrysler 300M, Image: © 2015 Thomas Kreutzer/The Truth About Cars

The shopping center had seen better days.

Most of its smaller spaces were vacant, long since abandoned with only the leaves left scuttling about on the breeze to give the empty storefronts the illusion of life. Now, only the anchor stores remained. On one end of the complex, a dollar store. It somehow managed to look even more run down than most and had perhaps a dozen cars parked out front. At the other end, a cut rate supermarket — one of those places that sell mostly canned food and dried goods on the verge of expiry — had a dozen more cars sitting at its doors.

Much to my disappointment, a Chrysler 300M was among them. Read More >

By on December 8, 2015

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The North American Car and Truck/Utility of the Year finalists were announced Tuesday and clearly the jurors read our September handicap — and completely mostly disregarded our odds.

According to jurors, the finalists for 2016 North American Car of the Year are the Honda Civic, Chevrolet Malibu and Mazda MX-5 Miata. The finalists for the 2016 Truck/Utility of the Year are the Volvo XC90, Nissan Titan XD and Honda Pilot. The winners will be announced at the North American International Auto Show in January.

Let’s review the finalists and definitively state in each capsule why that car will absolutely win: Read More >

By on August 12, 2015

Buick-Regal-GS_17

We tend to armchair quarterback what’s wrong with specific automotive brands quite a bit in the TTAC comments. Meanwhile, there are people in the real world who get caught up in what’s actually wrong with some of these brands’ products by buying them — for example: the Buick Regal GS.

Jeremy writes:

I owned a 2013 Regal GS manual, bought brand new in Jan 2014 and sold (at a loss) on December 31 2014.

This should be good.

Read More >

By on July 23, 2015

2014 Porsche Cayman S at 2014 Los Angeles Auto Show

There’s a considerable need for independent research and analysis, especially when it comes to cars.

But I have something to tell you about J.D. Power and Associate’s annual Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout study: it’s remarkably flawed.

Read More >

By on March 9, 2015

Obligatory XKCD

You’d think that, after all these years, I’d have a tougher skin for people who say stupid things on the Internet. And I’m pretty good about that, but now that I own a Tesla, it strangely gets under my skin when people write ill-informed drivel about the car. Here at TTAC, we’re all about well-informed drivel. It’s a subtle distinction, but we’re proud of it. Anyway, here’s a bit of unfortunately typical writing, found on a random Internet chat board (not TTAC, because the B&B would never stoop to this). All grammar and spelling have been left untouched.

Tesla interior is junk far away from luxury. BMW 335i has better interior design, and 550i in whole different league. Road noise, cheap panels, flimsy speaker grille, seat comfort, ceiling height, sound quality (premium sound!!) all materials that tesla uses belong to 20$K Honda. So rest of money goes into battery price.

Let’s break this down, shall we?

Read More >

By on June 27, 2014

tumblr_m9hum9gnmd1rsen2io1_500At 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.

Read More >

By on November 12, 2013

After/Before
Image courtesy of tofugu.com

I hear the SEMA show was last week. You know the SEMA show, right? It’s that important aftermarket manufacturers’ show held each autumn in Las Vegas where various companies try to pitch their products to customizers and retailers. Like all good automotive trade shows, SEMA features hundreds of companies and dozens upon dozens of custom vehicles. The fancy, hand-built cars draw people to the displays and form a pretty canvas on which a company can display its wares. But like any fashion show there is a hidden truth. The special parts on this or that big-name builder’s hot rod won’t have the same effect on your own, more mundane vehicle. No, for most of us beauty is an illusion; the phrase “lipstick on a pig” exists for a reason. Read More >

By on November 8, 2013

A tailgater is a bully par excellence and his weapon is the “I’m not touching you” game. You remember that game, don’t you? It’s the one where your older brother tries to hit you as hard as he can but always manages to miss by a fraction of an inch. When you flinch or complain to your mom the refrain is always the same: “I never even touched you.” Of course, to keep things interesting, sometimes he does actually hit you – if he always missed you’d have nothing to fear, right? On the road the game is almost exactly the same and nine times out of ten the bully never hits you. But once in a while – once in a great while – it’s “metal up your ass.” Read More >

By on November 1, 2013

Photo courtesy of GMauthority.com

So I read earlier this week that Bob Lutz is saying that the US Government killed Pontiac. He says that GM had big plans to rescue the struggling brand with innovative, rear-wheel designs that included small performance cars that would have set the Germans back on their heels. Had these plans come to fruition, he hints, enthusiasts would have been busting down the doors and the brand would have quickly returned to good health. Sounds like new golden age for Pontiac was just around the corner. And it would have worked too, if it weren’t for those meddling Feds. That’s what Bob says anyhow, but I’m not so sure. The way I remember it, I had a hand in killing Pontiac, too. Read More >

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