Junkyard Find: 1985 Cadillac Cimarron
Way back in 2007, I kicked off the Down On the Street series (which was supposed to be a one-time reference to the title of a Stooges song beloved by me and the late Davey J. Johnson) with the first of what would turn out to be hundreds of interesting street-parked cars: a 1984 Cadillac Cimarron d’Oro. That led to something of a Cimarron obsession, and I’ve spent the past 15 years documenting every semi– intact Cadillac J-Body I find during my junkyard adventures. You’d think they’d all have been crushed by now, but such is not the case; I found this loaded Brown Overload Edition ’85 in a yard near Pikes Peak earlier this year.
The Right Spec: 2022 Mazda 3
Believe it or not, people do still actually buy small cars in this country. Yes, there’s a continuing mass exodus for SUVs and crossover-type vehicles but a few level-headed souls remain who choose to open their wallets for an affordable compact machine.
This migration of buyers has pushed several major automakers to put their efforts into this segment In The Bin which, fortunately for us, means the remaining competitors are some good’uns. One of the best? The little Mazda 3.
The Right Spec: 2022 Honda Civic Hatchback
We’ve covered the Civic sedan on these digital pages in the past, noting improvements in several areas over its predecessor save for one detail – a manual transmission. Honda gets it right with the ’22 hatch variant, offering a six-speed stick in this body style.
Sure, the build-n-price tool isn’t officially live on Honda’s site as of this writing but there’s no lack of information about this model on their media site. Which is the best bang for your Honda hatchback buck?
The Right Spec: 2022 Toyota Corolla
It might surprise readers to learn that the writing staff at TTAC do not spend the majority of their time in gullwinged supercars or week-old BMWs. We do occasionally put down the jar of Grey Poupon and clamber aboard practical cars – y’know, the type which people actually buy.
The humble Corolla is likely at or near the top of the list made by shoppers who want simple transportation. Your author knows more than a couple of people for whom Corolla could actually be a parallel for the term ‘default car’. This series examined the Civic a couple of months ago, so it’s only right we do the same for the other popular machine in this segment.
We’ll return to six-figure hypercars next week.
Ace of Base: 2019 Mitsubishi Mirage
It has come to our attention that there has been a dearth of Mitsubishi products in this Ace of Base series. Seeing what’s on offer at the instant noodle end of a particular price spectrum can be entertaining, so there’s little reason for us to have ignored one of the least-expensive new cars on sale in America today.
Poking fun at an entry-level car is low hanging fruit, one that’s been picked clean by many corners of the internet. Ignoring that dross, what exactly does Mitsubishi offer in an entry-level Mirage? The answer: more than I expected.
2019 Kia Forte Review - Basic Done Best
I’ll grant that I’ve established a pretty cool second job for myself with this gig writing about cars. What gearhead wouldn’t love to get paid to talk (well, write) about their favorite subject — and often, drive some of the coolest new cars around? It sure beats flipping burgers to put extra cash in the wallet.
The not-so-secret side of this? It’s generally not the coolest cars that generate the most clicks. Most readers tend to care about cars they’ll legitimately consider buying, rather than a $100k sportscar. Thus, reviews of basic commuter cars, while not nearly as fun to drive, are much more important.
My job was made easy for me with the 2019 Kia Forte. It doesn’t overwhelm with outlandish styling. It doesn’t get the juices flowing with incredible performance. It simply makes the daily commute effortless and economical. What else can you ask from a car?
Ace of Base: 2019 Chevrolet Cruze L
Today is the last day of Chevrolet Cruze production in America. Much to the chagrin of hard-working Lordstown Assembly employees and one Associate Editor, a compact Chevy sedan will no longer roll off production lines in Ohio. The Cruze continues to be built south of the border for other markets.
We’re sending it off the only way we know how. It’s time to pour one out for the last-ever base model Cruze.
Ace of Base: 2020 Toyota Corolla L
Yes, yes. It’s a Corolla. I’ve cursed them in traffic, you’ve done the same, and more than a few of them are purchased by a segment of the driving public who view the car as an appliance.
The little sedan from Toyota didn’t become a success for no reason; they’re scattered around this country like litter after a ticker-tape parade, after all. Can the new-for-2020 base model pull the pursestrings of this flinty-eyed author? Or is the frugal shopper better off spending $450 and upgrading to the LE trim?
Ace of Base: 2018 Hyundai Elantra SE
Surprises are rare in the car world, given that most companies leak like a screen door on a submarine (or endlessly tease a new model *ahem, Challenger, ahem*), but it occasionally does happen. Last night in Park City, Utah, Hyundai took the wraps off a mid-cycle refresh for its Elantra, an event that was unexpected by all hands.
The 2019 model’s styling will surely be commented upon by a news author here on the site later today. Until then, it is worth revisiting the current model in an effort to understand how it continues to hoover up sales to the tune of about 200,000 cars annually.
Ace of Base: 2019 Kia Soul Base
Annual sales of this upright little Kia regularly crest 100,000 units, despite casting roughly the same shadow since its introduction 10 model years ago — though it did grow slightly in wheelbase and width during its 2014 restyle.
Its early marketing efforts, featuring life-sized animated hamsters that frequently haunt my dreams, were actually inducted into the Madison Avenue Walk of Fame. The people who decide such things deemed the hamsters such a hit they now reside along the Aflac Duck and Tony the Tiger as advertising superstars. Hmm.
With robust sales, the Soul is doing anything but spinning on a stationary hamster wheel, particularly in base trim.
2017 Volkswagen Jetta GLI Review - Potent, Painted, Pricey
I was lost. Rather, I was about to be lost.
As I drove an eye-catching white silver metallic 2017 Volkswagen Jetta GLI onto the MV Confederation in Caribou, Nova Scotia, it dawned on me. I had never driven across Prince Edward Island by myself. But I was about to, if I could find my way.
Mrs. Cain and the kids had already made it to Prince Edward Island, having departed earlier in the week to begin our house hunt after our Nova Scotian home sold in 24 hours. Sunshine and a quick car made me realize that the MV Confederation’s perfectly timed departure would allow for some sorely needed blood pressure reduction, sitting on the deck of a ferry for an hour in the middle of a Friday afternoon.
But I left my iPhone charge cord at home on the dining room table. My phone’s battery was below 5 percent with pictures yet to be snapped. I couldn’t use my phone for directions. I didn’t trust the island signage to be sufficient — we’re not big on signs around these parts. And then a light came on: the ferry’s tourist bureau would have maps. Maps! Maps, my dear Watson. Maps. I studied that arcane sheet for, well, it had to be minutes. In the belly of the ship, with everybody else back in their cars, I spent a few more minutes folding that sucker up with every ounce of dexterity my parents’ genetics afforded me.
Not until I arrived at my Summerside destination did it dawn on me. The 2017 Volkswagen Jetta GLI has a navigation system.
Maybe that’s why it costs $29,815.
2017 Toyota Corolla XSE Review - A Little Respect
So you say you want to understand Toyota. You want to look the company in the eye and get a sense of its soul. Without spending hours studying kaizen and poring over 2000GT imagery and learning the significance of the number 86, you want to know why Toyota is different from, say, Porsche.
Allow the 2017 Toyota Corolla to be your tutor. In LE Eco guise, the fuel-sipping Corolla’s 1.8-liter four-cylinder produces 140 horsepower. In “sporty” SE and XSE trims, the 1.8-liter produces eight fewer horsepower.
With nothing more substantive than rear disc brakes, bigger wheels, and wider low-profile tires, the 2017 Toyota Corolla XSE and its less luxurious SE sibling hardly bring performance to the Corolla lineup. The loss of eight horsepower — and the gain of two pound-feet of torque – compared to the more efficient LE Eco aren’t performance-altering characteristics, either.
Think then of this Corolla XSE as just a Corolla, as merely a Corolla, as only a Corolla, as perhaps the most prudent transportation-oriented purchase a North American car buyer can make this year.
Or as the most joyless way to spend $24,130 on a new car.
2016 Ford Focus EV Review - Choice in a Familiar Wrapper
The debate about the relative merits of electric vehicles is certain to be ongoing for years to come. For some, it represents the new frontier in automotive engineering and design. Electric powered vehicles for the masses; no more oil taken from the ground and clean air for all. It’s an interesting concept, but I am not fully convinced at this time in history to throw all my gasoline-powered chips in that pile and call.
Companies such as Tesla have made significant waves in the industry and I do think they’ll continue to experience success going forward. In my opinion, Elon Musk is a true automotive pioneer in the same vein as Karl Benz and Henry Ford. I don’t dispute the idea of EV’s for all; I just see a balance between gasoline, diesel, electric and possibly hydrogen-powered vehicles as a better alternative; at least for now.
It appears Ford is hedging its bets on this combination as well. I recently had the chance to test drive the 2016 Ford Focus EV for a week. In short, I was very impressed for the most part. It was comfortable, quick to accelerate, looks un-EV-like and turned a surprising number of heads, which to me is always a good thing.
But is it a car I would buy? On that question, I am keeping my cards to close to my chest.
Cadillac is Cruzin' for a Sub-ATS CLA Rival
Based on internal platform codes, sources are telling us Cadillac is working on a Delta-based Mercedes CLA rival.
General Motors has spent significant time and effort refining the Delta platform – as noted in our Cruze review, this platform is well worthy of premiums above the Cruze’s $17, 495 MSRP.
Based on what sources are sending our way, it looks like General Motors is planning exactly that, a premium vehicle based on the new D2XX platform.
2016 Buick Cascada Review - Best-Before Date
After years of covering the automotive industry, I’m still amused by the enormous gulf between auto enthusiasts and “real people.” (I’m talking to you, B&B!) We get excited when Honda decides to offer a manual transmission in the V6 Accord, despite the tens of buyers who will come running for it, or General Motors’ confidence to sell the Chevrolet SS here at all. “Real people” like it when there’s a less expensive way to get into a BMW M product, as well as the ability to go into a showroom and walk out the same day with the same nameplate they know and trust.
A great example of this chasm/schism is the Buick Cascada. Here’s how we imagine the reaction of each affinity group:
Auto enthusiasts/press: “Buick’s decided to rebadge an aging Opel and try to pass it off in the United States as The New Thing in the segment abandoned by the Volkswagen Eos and Chrysler 200 convertible?”
Real people: “There’s a convertible Buick now?”