Category: Car Reviews

By on November 30, 2020

2020 Ford Mustang BullittWe all know about the Ford Mustang Bullitt’s heritage and its connection to the movie Bullitt. We all know the main chase scene with McQueen in a Mustang and the bad guys in a Dodge Charger cemented its status as one of the great car chases in Hollywood history. The actual car used in the movie, a GT390, was owned by a family for decades, and the owner even turned down an offer from Steve McQueen himself, documented by a letter in their possession. This tale just adds to the legend.

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By on November 30, 2020

2021 Mazda CX5 and CX9 - Images: © Timothy CainWe all asked Mazda for more power. It was a cry rising up from virtually every corner of the automotive industry – enthusiasts, observers, analysts, insiders, owners, fans – largely due to the fact that  Mazda marketed an entire lineup of vehicles as machines for keen drivers, and none of those machines offered meaningful horsepower.

The Mazda 6 dropped its V6 engine after the 2013 model year, which led to horsepower maxing out at 184 in the following iteration. The Mazdaspeed 3 and its sub-14-second quarter-mile likewise called it quits in 2013. In 2014, the Mazda 2 was still fighting with a measly 100 horsepower. While Ford sold Escapes with 245 horsepower (and 275 lb-ft of torque), the 187-horsepower Mazda CX-5’s naturally aspirated 2.5-liter was merely enough. In fact, up until 2018, the only Mazda with more than 200 horsepower was the roughly 4,400-pound Mazda CX-9.

By way of the CX-9’s 2.5-liter turbo, 2018 brought more than 300 lb-ft of torque to the Mazda 6. The same engine appeared in the CX-5 for 2019 (when Mazda amped up the MX-5 to the tune of a sub-6-second 0-60 time), and is now finding its way under the hood of the Mazda 3 and Mazda CX-30.

Two-hundred and fifty horsepower at 5,000 rpm. Three-hundred and twenty lb-ft of torque at 2,500 rpm. Six distinct body styles. Base prices (including freight) ranging from $31,000 to $35,060. Doesn’t it kind of sound as though the officially defunct Mazdaspeed performance sub-brand is actually, what’s the word we’re looking for here … alive? Read More >

By on November 30, 2020

Honda Talon. Pic: Rob Eckaus

I’ve been very fortunate to attend eight driving schools. This one was definitely the slowest, but the fun factor was unquestionably among the highest. I was driving a four-passenger Honda Talon 1000X-4; a fantastic machine for the miles of trails present in the northwestern region of Maui. Yes, that Maui.

Featuring stadium seating for the rear passengers, Honda Talons are quite accommodating. Utilizing a 116.4-inch wheelbase (think Dodge Challenger), they are powered by a 999 cc parallel twin-cylinder engine. The acceleration was very good, even with the throttle rarely pinned to the floor. When was the last time you said that about a rental car – or off-roader?

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By on November 30, 2020

Putting a Hellcat motor in every vehicle you sell, at this point, comes off as a bit lazy. We’ve become almost numb to cars in the Dodge lineup making 700 horsepower or more, so numb that we sometimes forget how insane 700 horsepower is in a family car. But the tactic works for Dodge, and each subsequent Hellcat I drive I find them more and more surprising. For the 2021 Dodge Durango Hellcat, the same thing applies.

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By on November 20, 2020

2021 Mazda 3 Turbo

In my mid-20s I had a boss who once said to me “We all gotta grow up sometime”.

I don’t remember the specifics of why he said that, other than he wasn’t chewing me out or anything like that. I think maybe we were talking generally about post-college life and the responsibilities of adulthood.

The specifics don’t matter. What does, at least for the purposes of this post, is that the Mazda 3 is learning that lesson. With Mazdaspeed more or less shelved and the manufacturer trying to move the 3 upscale, away from its spunky past, while not leaving the “zoom-zoom” reputation fully behind, the 3 is supposed to be all grown up yet still cool.

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By on November 19, 2020

Ford Motor Company’s 2021 Model Year is full of new trucks, crossovers, and SUVs. The one hundred and seventeen-year-old company has a renewed focus on these profitable categories while no longer offering a sedan in North America. The Bronco, Bronco Sport, and Mustang Mach-E expand Ford’s vehicle portfolio while adding new segments for the brand. These are all very important products for the future of Ford Motor Company. However, none of those vehicles provide the company with the same level of revenue as the other new vehicle in the 2021 lineup; the 2021 Ford F-150.

It’s safe to say that the F-150 is Ford’s most important product. It has been the best-selling vehicle in America since 1977 and is in a segment where average transaction prices are near $50,000. In 2014, in order to create a more capable and more fuel-efficient truck, Ford moved the thirteenth-generation F-150 to an all-aluminum exterior. But between that release and today, the full-sized truck segment has become even more competitive. General Motors released an all-new Silverado 1500 and Sierra 1500 and FCA introduced a brand new RAM 1500.

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By on November 16, 2020

While the world seems to be abandoning small cars, Hyundai is committed to making them and making them great. How great? We spent some time in the entire lineup of Elantras recently to find out, including special access to the new Hyundai Elantra N.

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By on November 10, 2020

2021 Honda Accord Hybrid

When Honda sent out the press release detailing the updates for the 2021 model-year Accord and Accord Hybrid, I shed a tear (figuratively) for the loss of the manual-transmission option in the gas models, and wondered why they were bothering with the hybrid. There didn’t seem to be much changed.

That may be true, but perhaps it’s because there wasn’t much to fix to begin with?

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By on November 3, 2020

2020 Jeep Gladiator Sport SJeep loves to talk about its off-road heritage. And it has the goods to back the claims of boulder-bashing prowess that it makes.

That said, most utility vehicles spend most of their time on pavement. And sometimes, the tradeoffs made for off-road capability aren’t worth it.

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By on October 30, 2020

2021 Chevrolet Tahoe front quarter

Let me indulge in a bit of inside baseball for a moment. Those of us who make (at least something resembling) a living talking about cars tend to read a good bit of our colleagues’ work – and then discuss it at length via whatever channel we have at our disposal. Indeed, that’s what has made TTAC great over the years – we’ve brought light upon those who are clearly in this field for the perks.

At times, you get the feeling that some of these people don’t even like cars. It’s like sending a vegan to rank the best barbecue joints in North Carolina.

Anyhow, we who live most of our lives online have clucked our tongues lately at a number of automotive journalists trying to bring shame upon both the makers and buyers of modern trucks and SUVs, much like this 2020 Chevrolet Tahoe. These pearl-clutching writers have willfully ignored the strides that have been made in these markets over the past few years. Shame, really, because this latest Tahoe is a genuinely great SUV.

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By on October 29, 2020

2020 Dodge Durango SRT 392

There’s a stereotype of the American tourist in Europe being loud, brash, crude, and rude – all while being what doctors would call “overweight.” It’s a popular trope to be mocked in pop culture – The Simpsons, Family Guy, and others have done it many, many times. I’m pretty sure both those two animated shows about buffoonish men and their families have hit on the theme in multiple episodes.

National Lampoon went there, too, in the ‘80s, with European Vacation, though Chevy Chase looked pretty skinny back then.

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By on October 27, 2020

2020 Audi Q8

Maybe I am softening in my old age, or maybe crossovers are getting a bit better to drive, or both, but I found myself semi-charmed by Audi’s Q8 crossover. Of course, a luxury crossover should be somewhat enticing, lest the buyer feel he or she wasted money each month when that car payment auto drafts out of the bank account.

I say semi-charmed for a few reasons. One, the Q8 is still a crossover, not a sport sedan. Two, there were tradeoffs.

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By on October 26, 2020

2020 Honda Civic Si front quarter

There was a time, not all that long ago, when I was all about Honda. I’ve lost count – at least seven variants of the big H have spent time in my various garages. Once, I even owned a Civic race car – no, it never raced in my care, but that’s a long story for another day.

Honda, despite the staid image presented by the majority of the lineup, makes it clear there are some gearheads building their vehicles. Full disclosure – some of those gearheads are friends of mine. They’ve always offered a few cars that make the experience of driving a genuine joy. Many have worn the red Si badge on the trunklid.

The thing is…after spending a week with the latest 2020 Honda Civic Si HPT, I don’t feel like I’ve driven the best that Honda can do. It leaves me wanting more. And that baffles me.

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By on October 23, 2020

For many years, the Ford Raptor has lived without any competition. Sure, there are trucks out there that claim to be “Raptor killers,” but none have competed head-on with Dearborn’s flying aluminum monster. That is, until now. The 2021 Ram TRX is not only legitimate competition for the Raptor, it beats the Raptor in a lot of ways that matter.

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By on October 20, 2020

2020 Ford Expediton. Image: Rob Eckaus/TTAC

In August of 2009, I wrote in the Ode To The Suburban that I couldn’t imagine hauling seven people around without at least a cylinder per person. Thanks to Ford’s Ecoboost 3.5-liter turbocharged V6, the Expedition Max King Ranch does just fine with only six cylinders. This engine pairs well with the joint venture Ford/GM 10-speed automatic transmission.

Ford built the massive Excursion in its lineup to counter the market-leader Suburban until 2006. The Expedition Max was introduced for 2007, adding approximately one foot in length to the cargo space, which translates to about 15 more cubic feet of space thanks to a 9.1-inch wheelbase increase. This fourth and latest-generation Expedition was introduced in 2018.

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