By on July 10, 2019

Our always (sometimes) reliable Ace of Base meter loves a good econocar, one that deigns to a low monthly payment but still doles out features like a benevolent reverend doles out candy at Easter. The diminutive Sonic has never been featured in this series, primarily due to the presence of its little brother — the Chevy Spark.

American auto-buyers seem to have shunned the Sonic as well, with the current model set to sail off into the twilight after this model year. Compared to the popular and evergreen Hyundai Accent sedan, can it secure an Ace of Base parting gift?

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By on July 3, 2019

Digging up names from the past is a popular hobby at most car makers, to the point that a few of them would be well served to hire their own archaeologists to smooth out the process. Some are wantonly ditched prematurely in the pursuit of alphanumerics (*ahem* Legend, Vigor *ahem*) while others are relegated to the dustbin of history after being appended to a particularly horrid car.

Others simply slip away into the night like a silent bandit after the shuttering of its brand. Voyager is one of these, with FCA deciding to trot it out again and apply it to entry-level versions of the Pacifica (which, by itself, is a recycled name).

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By on June 19, 2019

When exactly did it come to pass that hatchback versions of small cars were generally priced higher than their sedan counterparts? It’s not true in every example but, more often than not, one will shell out a few more simoleons for a five-door. I’ll posit that the original Ford Focus started this trend.

At least customers get a more practical car and, in many cases, a more stylish one.

Such is the case with Kia’s littlest family member. Its five-door variant is priced just ever so slightly above its two-box brother. The Korean automaker has a trophy case packed with Ace of Base awards, largely thanks to its strong value for money proposition. Let’s check this one out.

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By on June 12, 2019

Today’s post is not meant to convince you that any particular crossover ranks super high on my personal Top Forty. Indeed, I would prefer if the Lincoln Motor Company was still cranking out Town Cars and Versailles (ok, maybe not the Versailles) than a myriad of tall wagons. However, market conditions rule the roost and here we are.

Longtime readers (thanks, both of you) know my unreasonable Stockholm Syndrome relationship with the Lincoln brand. This helps explain today’s choice, but you know what also helps its selection? That’s right — this platform’s return to rear-drive architecture.

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By on June 7, 2019
  1. After our most recent Rare Rides post, your author perused The Big List of BDB Ideas and discovered a suggestion commenter Sgeffe made many moons ago. He suggested the most basic coupe A-bodies on offer in 1979. Feeling cheap? Let’s get weird.

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By on June 5, 2019

It’ll not have escaped your notice that neither the Dodge Charger nor the Challenger has made an appearance in this series. Why? Because we try (emphasis on try) to include models which we think have base trims that might very well be the best of the line. With 797-horsepower options on the table, it’s hard to make that argument for the Dodge.

But what about its Chrysler cousin? A well-timed and much appreciated email from a reader suggested the 300 Touring might make a good candidate, especially since deep discounts can be had just for asking. We don’t usually consider incentive spending in Ace of Base, but when that figure routinely touches 25 percent — or more — of sticker price, it’s difficult to ignore.

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By on May 29, 2019

In all the years we’ve been presenting this series, Ace of Base has never focused on what was Hyundai’s first stepping stone into the world of crossovers and SUVs: the Santa Fe. Let’s correct that oversight with this new-for-2019 model.

To be clear, this is the two-row model, not the three-row which currently has an “XL” suffix appended to its name. That machine will vanish when the new Palisade appears later this year. Whatever it’s called, Hyundai sells a lot of ‘em; there must be a reason for that, right?

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By on May 22, 2019

Betcha forgot about this one. That’s okay – most people have. Thanks to Nissan’s glacier-like design cycle, the 2020 Z isn’t significantly different than when it first appeared in the late Jurassic period for the 2009 model year.

That doesn’t mean it isn’t worthy of our attention in this series, though, especially since it is one of the few remaining cars in today’s market that still offers a manual transmission, let alone two doors and a fast roofline. In fact, that steep chop aft of the windshield puts your author in mind of Godzilla, which is not bad company to keep.

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By on May 15, 2019

The Korean brand is no stranger to these frugal pages, stacking its Ace of Base trophy shelf by offering expressively styled machines packed with features that peg the value-for-dollar meter.

Kia’s Sportage has been around as a model name for nearly twenty years. Recently restyled with an atomic egg appearance, the compact crossover continues its missive of providing a tall-riding crossover for families who don’t yet want (or need) to move into a three-row rig.

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By on May 9, 2019

This variant of the Golf family inhabits a grey area in which it’s not quite a crossover but is also not quite a station wagon. VW will still happily sell you one of those, sans this model’s taller suspenders and black over-the-wheel trim. The Alltrack is kinda like a SportWagen that’s clomping around in dad’s big boots.

As always, we’re suckers for a good wagon. Let’s see what it has to offer in base S trim.

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By on May 1, 2019

Let’s get one thing clear: it is my opinion that the 2020 Explorer XLT is not the best 2020 Explorer. Powered by a 2.3-liter Ecoboost four-pot, the XLT falls far short of the 400 horsepower 3.0-liter Ecoboost V6 found in ST trim. As a proponent of acceleration, your author will always select the biggest engine.

Not everyone will, however. Scads of buyers, many of whom lie directly in the target market of Ford’s new Explorer, will think the 300 horse mill is more than suitable. In that frame of mind, let’s find out what $36,675 buys you at a Ford store these days.

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By on April 24, 2019

With each iteration, Kia has been refining its shaped-like-a-toaster rig, sharpening its styling and broadening its appeal. What some dismissed as a too-weird little box at it introduction has found plenty of traction and is now in its third generation.

A dozen years removed from its debut at the 2008 Paris Motor Show, the new Soul remains an affordable proposition for those who don’t want to resign themselves to the low seating position of a small sedan. And, yes, three pedals are still available for 2020.

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By on April 18, 2019

Yep, they still sell this thing. Betcha forgot all about it.

Or perhaps not. The “styled with a t-square” profile of the Flex has always appealed to the funkier side of the crossover/SUV customer base and, if my eight years of toiling for this publication has taught me anything, the B&B is nothing if not funky. Let’s see what this coffin-shaped crossover offers in base form.

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By on April 10, 2019

Yes, the ZR2 is far from a base truck. But based on a suggestion from the peanut gallery  (*waves at PrincipalDan*) we thought it would be a good idea to see if a “base” off-roader is a healthier bet than upgrading to the full meal deal.

In fact, calling the ZR2 a base truck – with its DSSV dampers and other gonzo off-road kit – seems like heresy to your author. Jumping a Colorado ZR2 at 40 mph over an obstacle on a trophy truck track proves just how capable the thing is.

(How’s that Ranger Raptor coming, Ford? Oh, it isn’t? I see. Thanks for the mobility scooter, then.)

Chevy has, however, added another layer onto the ZR2 cake. Called the Bison, is its extra gear worth the cash? Or are gearheads better off with a “base” ZR2 and spending the money on mods of their own? Let’s see.

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By on April 3, 2019

Yeah, I know. It’s a crossover. Most of the B&B would prefer I write about some hawt hatch or a 1993 Ford Ranger but the reality is this: more consumers than ever before are signing a note on vehicles such as this Passport, making them worthy of our attention. Hey, at least this one doesn’t have a CVT.

Designed as a foil to the likes of the Ford Edge and Nissan Murano, the two-row Honda Passport not only revives a name but jumps onto a very profitable bandwagon. With the same powertrain throughout the entire range, is the base model your best bet?

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