Part of becoming a parent is making compromises. Instead of a weekend in Vegas with some friends, you spend your vacation money taking the kids to visit a rat in a Florida swamp. Instead of enjoying a variety of interesting meals each night, it’s chicken fingers with boxed mac and cheese night after night after night.
There are pros and cons to living in Ohio while attempting to convince people that I’m a motoring journalist. On the plus side, I don’t have to live with the horrendous roads or the stifling car insurance rates that come with living near Detroit.
Downside? I’m not in the heart of the action. Many times, a last-minute invite to an event will materialize – but I need to plan an entire day around it, as I’m 200 miles from Detroit. I need to take an entire day away from work – mind you, I really don’t mind missing work – but it takes more planning than my Detroit colleagues.
An unexpected win, however, comes with loaner cars. Since the beginning of the pandemic, the various press fleets have generally been sending me cars in a non-stop weekly rotation as they don’t want to have two drivers (one driving and one retrieving my loaner) in a car together for three-plus hours. Thus, I’ve had two (occasionally three) cars in my driveway nearly continuously for over a year.
The thing is – I don’t have time to review them all. So we’ll try a new monthly feature on for size. Since this fat-ass isn’t allowed to go to a REAL buffet anymore, I’m bringing you small, bite-sized samplers of the variety of cars I’m driving each month. It’s possible some of these might get the full review treatment at some point – or one of us here might have already done a full review. Still, I’m here to bring you a bit of everything.
Ed. note: We will still be doing the regular full reviews, as well, the ones that are mostly written by either Chris or myself. So stay tuned for those.
Some of the best driving roads on the continent, the Hocking Hills of southeastern Ohio, lie roughly one hour from my front door. Not coincidentally, those roads are also merely four hours from every Detroit-based ride-and-handling engineer, not to mention the buff books. These twisties, shaped by the glaciers, have been worn smooth by generations of gearheads.
The hour of driving to get to the hills, however, is via a mind-numbing highway slog, often well patrolled by the local constabulary and the notorious Ohio Highway Patrol. There’s no shortcut.
This is where the 2020 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray shines. Making a sportscar manage sportscar things, while certainly no easy feat, is right in the wheelhouse of the speed-addled engineers. Making that same car not just livable on the highway, but genuinely excellent, takes some serious doing. Chevrolet has done exactly that here with the C8.
I had a nickname for the Toyota Corolla once. Back in my days as an overly judgmental prepubescent teenage boy, I used to call Toyota’s honest economy car the “Crapolla.” Growing up in an affluent North Jersey neighborhood in the ‘90s, everyone and their mother had a Bimmer, Benz, or even a Bentley. If you drove a Corolla, you were either a maid at the McMansion down the street or the underpaid seventh-grade social studies teacher of the local school district.
Although a by-word for cheap, efficient, reliable, and honest transportation, I simply couldn’t see beyond its reputation as a soulless tin econobox. It was far from a total dog. Yet, it still clearly gave off the impression that it was for people who didn’t have a pulse and couldn’t care less about cars or driving them. And let’s be honest, with the Toyota Corolla surpassing the Volkswagen Beetle as the best-selling automotive nameplate in history – over 46 million Corollas sold over its 11 generations – the vast majority of the car-buying public might have a questionable pulse.
My teen years were almost 20 years ago and the Corolla has certainly changed since then. Up until 2012, the Toyota Corolla maintained complete anonymity and was more inconspicuous than a loaf of Wonder Bread. It was hardly any more exciting than the loaf in nearly every aspect.
Editor’s Note: This article is written by contributor Jeff Taylor. Due to technical difficulties, it is under the TTAC Staff byline. Once those difficulties are fixed, Jeff’s name will be properly attached.
Jaguar’s new I-Pace EV is the first vehicle in the automaker’s plan to fully electrify — or electrically assist — all of its vehicles beginning in 2020.
The I-Pace raises the question: can Jaguar’s EV powertrain live up to everyday driving demands and deliver the premium experience luxury buyers demand without a huge power-suck mileage penalty?
Additionally, mainstream and luxury manufacturers have announced aggressive electrification plans of their own, which puts more heat on Jaguar to get it right or risk its plug being pulled.
To gauge Jaguar’s level of success, I spent some time in Lisbon, Portugal for the I-Pace Media Drive. During the launch program, I put the I-Pace through some tough driving situations and made some surprising discoveries about both the vehicle and what it means for the industry moving forward.
Yes, you read the headline correctly — this is indeed a review, running in June 2018, of a 2017 model year vehicle. Chalk it up to other priorities (after all, writing isn’t my full-time gig) but honestly, it doesn’t really matter in this case.
Toyota hasn’t really made significant changes its minivan since the early years of the Obama administration. Sure, minor details are always tweaked year over year, but the essence of the 2017 Toyota Sienna XLE AWD isn’t significantly different from that of the 2011 model. And that’s not a bad thing — no matter the age, minivan owners keep flocking back to the Swagger Wagon.
Why Infiniti needs a subcompact crossover that shares its platform with the Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class is a mystery that only the folks at Nissan HQ know the answer to.
After all, I spent four days wheeling one all over Los Angeles, from the airport to downtown and back, and I still don’t know the answer to that question.
Separating the QX30 from its platform mate and judging it on its own merits, however, is nonetheless revealing.
I groaned when I saw the Ford Raptor on my press car schedule.
That’s because trucks and the part of Chicago I live in don’t mix well, necessarily. Parking is a hassle, streets are crowded, and miles-per-gallon figures are comically abysmal in city traffic.
In the Raptor’s case, I worried I wouldn’t be able to use it the way Ford intended: Off-road.
That said, I do get the appeal of trucks. Whether it’s the image of toughness or the utility on offer, I understand why so many people snap up pickups from dealer lots, especially when gas prices drop, even if most truck owners never use them for their intended purpose.
And after I put it through its paces (and then some), I get the appeal of the Raptor.
I tried in vain, but I couldn’t track down a proper early ‘60s surf rock station on the SiriusXM radio during my time driving the 2018 Chevrolet Equinox. I was imagining the Beach Boys’ classic “409” every time I planted my right pedal in this improbably powerful compact crossover. Sadly, the basic facts and figures don’t lend themselves to poetic lines like “She’s real fine/my four oh nine:”
She can go/my two point oh.
My nine-speed, front-drive, direct-injected two point oh.
Giddy Up, two point oh.
My apologies for the not-quite-Brian Wilson earworm. Few crossovers inspire anything, let alone any hint of song. This Chevrolet Equinox has plenty of power (and torque steer), but can it measure up beyond the engine room?
The 2017 Infiniti QX30, launched in the United States in late August, is the product of a now tenuous partnership between the Renault-Nissan Alliance and Daimler. There’ll be more such vehicles, most notably the Mercedes-Benz X-Class pickup truck that uses the Nissan Navara as its foundation.
That truck won’t come to America. But by procuring the Mercedes-Benz GLA’s architecture, Nissan now has an entrant in the rapidly growing subcompact luxury utility vehicle sector. Built in Sunderland, England, rather than the GLA’s German factory, the Infiniti QX30 shares its powertrain with the GLA250 and benefits from an Infiniti renovation.
Fittingly, there’s a meaningful discount available for a buyer who’s willing to consider the Infiniti variant instead of the original Benz. A fully optioned 2017 Infiniti QX30 AWD enters the playing field with a haughty $45,495 MSRP, absent a number of features you’d expect on a much less costly car, lacking the space of a typical compact car, and deprived of the illustrious three-pointed star that adorns its twin. Yet this QX30 costs roughly $5,000 less than a comparably equipped Mercedes-Benz GLA250 4Matic.
$5,000 less, but better. Marginally better.
Let’s be real with each other for a minute, okay? Car reviews are just plain awful. They serve no real purpose for today’s in-market automotive consumer — they only serve to boost the SEO rankings for anybody searching for “MID-SIZE SEDAN UNDER $30,000 NEAR ME,” which is approximately nobody.
Your friend Bark is here to tell you how this, um, industry of car reviewing needs to be improved in order to help customers find and buy the car they need instead of the car they’ve already decided that they want.
I call Scions “the acronyms from hell” because even I have trouble keeping up with all of them.
iQ, iA, iM, tC, xB, xD. Did I forget one? The xA and…wait! I forgot the FR-S, but that’s only because I rarely see those go through the auction block. Everything else, save the two new iA and iM models, seems to make a perennial pilgrimage to the wholesale heaven of unwanted used cars for one unfortunate reason.
Scion, historically, can’t help but hit ’em where the customers ain’t.
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- Eric Here’s a couple of pics.
- Eric The shock towers have the typical rust, the body is very straight surprisingly , little surface rust at the bottom of the quarter panels but not too bad. The interior isn’t as bad as it looks, I’ll throw on a dash cover and I think it will clean up nicely. I’ve owned an MN12 for almost 20 years now, this is my first fox platform, it’ll be a great restoration project!
- EBFlex So all the reasons that were present and caused Ford to substantially raise prices less then a year ago are no longer present? What changed? Does it still cost Ford $25K more to make a fake Mustang than it does a comparable Edge? “The Michigan-based company cites “significant material cost increases,” supply chain issues and changing demand for the new higher prices. ”So those issues are solved?
- Stanley Steamer What is that white roadster in the background?
- Bufguy The Seville was not an X car....Yes the Seville was based on the x car platform but the changes were so extensive that GM designated the platform “K,” because it very little in common with the X. Only the rear subframe, front suspension, part of the floor and the roof were carried over unchanged.