QOTD: No One Got Your Back?

Comfort comes up as a topic quite often around these parts, and a recent QOTD asked which unlikely vehicle surprised you with its level of coddling and tranquility. We’re definitely not talking about that today.

No, today we’re talking about physical misery so bad, so acute, that it costs an automaker a sale. It’s amazing that, after constructing a vehicle out of thousands of components both major and minor, OEMs sometimes succeed in making a mass-market automobile that’s literally a pain in the ass.

I’ve mentioned the 11th-generation Toyota Corolla and its iM cousin before as glaring examples of “I could never daily drive this,” but in this installment, we’re singling out another very accessible automaker for crimes against vertebrae.

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QOTD: What Price Do You Put on Comfort?

Thinking back on the vehicles I’ve owned over the course of my life, not a single one stands out for reasons related to discomfort. Physical discomfort, to be clear, as a couple drove me to drink due to embarrassing unreliability (Hi, Chrysler Corp!) and infuriating electrical gremlins (Ahoy, Honda!).

I’m sure my back (and backside) would factor more heavily into this discussion if tinkering on cheap foreign exotics played any kind of role in my life. It’s not easy squeezing this lanky frame into a cramped cockpit, and that could surely drain the joy from any man-machine relationship. Yes, front seat comfort ranks extremely high on my list of automotive demands. If a vehicle is to be anything more than a pastime plaything, comfort needs to be assured.

Some very common vehicles are simply out of the question for this reason alone. Ford Taurus? Unacceptable. Toyota Corolla and (outgoing) Corolla iM? No way. Third-generation Nissan Altima? Forget it. Nissan Rogue? Maybe if I was shorter. Fiat 500? Maybe if I was much, much shorter.

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QOTD: Too Big For Your Car's Britches?

Uh oh. We’re talkin’ size today. That’s right, a topic tailor-made for awkwardness, embarrassment, even shame — something best not spoken of in polite company. Just amongst your close friends and, perhaps, a doctor… whose brother is a salesman.

The fact of the matter is, sometimes we don’t fit in the cars we love. Or, we can’t cram our gangly or girthy frames into a less desirable car with several redeeming qualities, thus striking it from our mental list of automotive “maybes.”

It’s happy times for those whose height or weight deviates from the norm. Vehicles in all segments are growing like Western nations’ deficits, stretching in wheelbase and expanding in interior room, providing us all with far more comfortable cabin than the vehicles of yesteryear. Remember the Ford Contour? Midsize, my ass.

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Piston Slap: A Scion's Ideal All Season Tire?

TTAC Commentator Sam Hell Jr. writes:

Hi, Sanjeev!

The first car I bought for myself was a 2011 Scion tC. Compared with some other decisions I made three years ago (cough, cough, career in human resources, cough), this one’s turned out okay — to date, I’ve put 40k on the odo with no repair costs but regular maintenance, and the hatchback utility and decent fuel economy have both matched up well with my needs. I’ll probably have the tC paid off this year, and I’m looking forward to debt-free living, so the car and I are stuck with each other for some time to come.

My biggest complaint is with the car’s interstate manners. I take a handful of significant road trips every year, and at freeway speeds on anything but pristine pavement (of the kind one does not often traverse on I-80), the ride gets jittery, and the tire noise is, well, tiresome.

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Piston Slap: Run Flat Tires and Parties A, B, C

TTAC commentator WheelMcCoy writes:

Hi Sajeev,

With MINIs, fun is directly proportional to repair bills. A couple with a 2009 MINI Cooper S bought an extended warranty which expires in February 2015. They hope to sell their MINI around then, but the run flat tires are worn down to their wear bars. To tide them over for 6 or 7 months, I suggested they buy some good handling low tread wear all season tires (they are in the Northeast) and an air compressor with goo. With normal tires, I’d argue they’d enjoy their MINI even more and might even want keep it after the extended warranty. But they are inclined on getting expensive run-flats to not hurt the resale value. Most likely, they will trade-in rather than sell on their own.

Appreciate your input and any alternatives we haven’t considered.

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Piston Slap: The Fallacy of Miata Ride Comfort?

photo courtesy: www.flyinmiata.com

TTAC Commentator johnny ro writes:

Hi Sajeev,

So I like my new 2010 Miata Touring (second car and half time daily driver), and picked it because it looked good on the side of the road by my house, low miles (19k), priced OK(mid 14’s), I had the dough saved up for a bike and I am happy with the current Vstrom, and last but not least it is an automatic. The OEM suspension seems firm to me but obviously not race ready. Roads in Northeast are usually not-so-new ranging down to horrible. Miata people say its mushy and floaty, those who want to autocross or race.

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