Tag: Ask Bark

By on September 13, 2016

15FordEdge-Sport_15_HR

Michael writes:

For the past decade my daily driver has been a 2007 F-150, now sold. It’s time for something lighter and smaller to drive around the city in, not having enough need of a truck any longer to warrant keeping one. As an example of the drastic downsizing we were wanting to do, initially we’d ordered an Escape, believing it to be large enough to meet the need.

When that didn’t work out as planned, we revisited the decision and decided to order an Edge instead. The extra couple of inches in every dimension makes for a much more livable vehicle for two large people and a dog, without sacrificing much suburban city maneuverability. Neither of us liked driving the Explorer much, and we don’t need the interior space offered by the Flex. We’ve decided on a fully loaded AWD model with all the latest electronic gadgetry as this will be another decade long ownership experience.

So the problem isn’t so much what vehicle to buy, but what engine, as the Edge is available with three.

(Read More…)

By on September 6, 2016

2010_Lexus_GX_460_003

Austin writes:

Bark,

For the last two years, my daily driver has been a used 2006 Audi A6 Avant (bought outright in cash). Living in Minnesota and attending college in a rural part of the state, it’s the ultimate vehicle. It swallows 4 people and gear for a spring break Chicago vacation, gets through the snowstorms, and has heated seats and steering wheel. It even averages 24 mpg!

However, its mileage has reached the point where it’s no longer economically feasible to hold onto (repair-wise) going into the spring of 2017. I’m trying to hold off until used car prices fall, because of lease returns. With a budget of $15,000, I’m hoping to get five-plus years of use out of my next vehicle. My search has gravitated towards larger vehicles that are kinda low-volume players (with a slightly better reliability record) like the Lincoln MKT, Toyota Sequoia, Lexus LS/GX, Volvo S80, etc. Something bigger and a little more cushy. So, what do you recommend?

(Read More…)

By on September 2, 2016

Screen Shot 2016-09-02 at 9.01.34 AM

That’s right! Your friend, Bark M., is going live on Facebook at 12:00 p.m. EST today. This is your chance to ask me anything you want. We can talk about cars, clothing, music, the upcoming NFL season … whatever floats your boat.

If you’re not already following us on Facebook (and God knows we’ve been asking you to do it pretty blatantly for the last several months), then go ahead and head on over to our Facebook page and subscribe so you’ll know every time that we go live in the future. Who knows — if it goes well, maybe we’ll do it again!

If you don’t want to do that, hit the jump for some embedded live video goodness.

(Read More…)

By on August 30, 2016

2016 Ford Focus RS

Alex writes:

Hi Bark,

The lease on my BMW M235i runs out next summer and I’m looking at options for my next car. I’m mostly considering the Ford Focus RS, Honda Civic Type R, and Volkswagen Golf R, but also the Ford Fiesta ST (since you’ve praised your FiST so much) and Ford Mustang GT (because it’s a Mustang?).

I don’t really like the Golf R because it’s the only car on this list that doesn’t have Recaro seats and, well, it looks almost identical to the much cheaper, baseline Golf.

I contacted my local Ford dealer about the RS and they urged me to put down a $2,000 deposit since they don’t get many units and they’re selling fast.

My hesitation: I’ve never really driven a manual car outside of iRacing (online racing simulator) and an hour I had with a Corolla with 170,000 km on the clock, so I’m not sure that I’d like to drive a manual every day.

What do you think would be my best course of action?

Sincerely,
Alex

Alex, my friend, sit down. We need to talk.

(Read More…)

By on August 23, 2016

New York City (MsSaraKelly/Flickr)

Micah writes:

Hi –

My wife and I live in New York City. For most people, this would mean no car, but our neighborhood isn’t on subway lines, necessitating wheels for errands, and we often leave the city on day trips. Our car – a ’98 Jetta – has needed nearly $2,000 in repairs over the past 18 months (and repairs are necessary, at an increasing rate), so it might be time to move on. We both agree that the best car for us is a Mercedes-Benz GLK Bluetec (yes, we test drove the previous generation), but that’s more for when we plan on moving out of the city next summer. We sorta need something until then. What are our options?

(Read More…)

By on August 16, 2016

2013 Lexus GS350

Mike writes:

If you were shopping for a reliable, full featured, cheap to own, and generally “good” car, why would you not get a Lexus? I’ve been struggling with this question for the better part of a year now.

The problem: I need a car I’ll drive every single day in God-awful urban traffic. There’s little to no fun had behind the wheel in congestion. No using the sporting personality of whatever machine I’m operating. The only reasons I want a Lexus are for the comfort and peace of mind that come with one, along with working AC and a great stereo that’ll truly brings out the subtleties in Jad Abumrad’s diphthongs. Since I can’t afford nor really want a brand new car, I’ve been looking at used.

(Read More…)

By on August 9, 2016

2014 Nissan Xterra

John writes:

I guess I have some dumb questions here, but first some context: I’m 22, a recently certified teacher who can’t find a teaching job (thanks Obama and/or Chris Christie?). I have a full-time job as a line cook in the interim that pays Not A Lot but will suffice for the time being.

I currently drive a 2011 Nissan Xterra. It’s OK. It does things in an OK manner. It drives OK. It gets OK gas mileage. It’s just so… OK. It’s boring and I miss driving something even remotely interesting. I bought it after I wrecked my bright douchebag yellow 2006 Mustang GT because I thought I wanted to get into camping and off-roading. Well, best-laid plans of mice and men and all that. I don’t do any of these things and therefore I have a truck that, while competent and thoroughly OK, doesn’t really excite the senses.

I’d like to get into something different and I’ve been test driving a few different things to that end like a Fiesta ST and a Mazdaspeed 3, which I fell particularly hard for.

(Read More…)

By on August 2, 2016

2012 Mazda3 Hatchback, Image: Mazda

MrKiwi writes:

I’m currently driving a 2011 Ford Fusion with 80,000 miles. It’s good, reliable, and utterly boring. I’ll have it completely paid off in a couple of months. Here’s where I’m going to get myself into trouble.

The responsible thing to do would be to keep the Fusion and enjoy a paid-off car. But …

While driving a rental car recently, I remembered how much I enjoy a manual transmission. There are also a couple of times a year when I could use the extra capacity of a hatch. I’m starting to look at the listings for lightly used Ford Focuses and Mazda3s with manual transmissions, thinking, “Wouldn’t it be fun?”

(Read More…)

By on July 26, 2016

2016 Honda CR-Z, Image: Honda

Lichtronamo writes:

Hi Bark,

I’m starting the process of finding a used car for my daughter who turns 16 in September and will (hopefully) get her license afterwards.

She’s 5’3″ and about 90 pounds, so a B- or C-segment car would be right in terms of size. She’s also listened to me go on about how great it is to drive a manual transmission since she was born, and believes this to be a fundamental need of any car purchase. Our budget is upwards of $10,000 with driver safety the other primary criteria. Fuel economy and reliability aren’t negatives. While I should probably zero in on finding a nice Corolla, I’m looking for an out-of-the-box choice with some car-guy (and girl) cred. Golf? Mini? Mazda3?

(Read More…)

By on July 19, 2016

IMG_0405

When we started doing Ask Bark earlier in the year, I had no idea that it would grow into a weekly column, nor did I know that it would become the most popular series on TTAC. It’s rare that an Ask Bark is not the most-read post of the day when one runs, and I know that has very little to do with me. Rather, it’s an effect caused by the great readership of this site. Without your questions and your responses, this column wouldn’t exist. I thank you for continuing to send your questions and for your continued participation.

As a result, I have over 200 unanswered questions sitting in my email inbox. Not all of them require a full thousand-word response, so I’m going to tackle a few of the shorter questions today. Oh, and the hero image is just a pic of my son with the vehicle he designed for Disney’s Test Track that I’ve wanted to use. Click the jump and let’s help our fellow readers together.

(Read More…)

By on July 12, 2016

2016 Chevrolet Impala V6-008

An anonymous GM employee writes:

I have a field role with General Motors that affords me the luxury of driving (mostly) anything in The General’s portfolio. I can choose from any brand except Cadillac, and can’t drive a Corvette or pickup (because of retail demand and limited supply). I’m 22 with student debt down into the low four digits. GM pays for gas, insurance, and incidentals like oil changes and winter tires because I need a car to do my job. I live in a snow-heavy state where I’m expected to do around 30,000 miles a year for business travel alone. Finally, I switch out cars every four months because that means it remains eligible for new vehicle incentives and programs when it’s sold back to the dealer at a big discount.

Here’s the catch: the vehicle is considered a taxable benefit.

(Read More…)

By on July 5, 2016

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Kevin writes:

Here’s my struggle:

I’m a Saab fanatic. Fanboi. Devotee. Whatever you want to call it. It’s a total #saabobsession. I’m currently driving a 2001 9-5 sedan, a 2.3-liter car that my wife and I have owned since new. I also own a 2006 9-3 Aero convertible, and I’m the vice-president of our regional Saab owners club. I’m in deep. We do have a 2011 Ford Flex Ecoboost as the main family hauler.

My 9-5 has just 118,000 miles on it, and has been meticulously maintained. For the first ten years of its life, it was my wife’s daily driver. When we got the Flex, I inherited it from her, got an ECU tune and upgraded the suspension. It’s nothing extreme, but it’s fast enough, plenty of fun, reliable, and I don’t worry about where I leave it parked.

A couple of weeks ago, the 9-5 started leaking oil onto the driveway. I took it to my good friends at my local Saab repair shop, and they told me that a seal needs to be replaced behind the timing chain cover, maybe between the head and the block? Whatever, the important takeaway is the repair estimate: $2,400. It also needs new brakes ($600), and a new clutch is on the horizon ($1,700) as the car’s still on its original clutch and it chatters when cold. So, here I am looking at over $4,500 in repairs on my beloved 9-5. Those repairs exceed the cash value of the car, and as much as it pains me to admit it, I don’t think it’s worth sinking that kind of money into it.

(Read More…)

By on June 28, 2016

2015 Dodge Dart Limited, Image: FCA

Isaac writes:

Bark,

I graduated from college six months ago and took my first real paying job four states away from my family and anyone I know. In the process, I needed a different car, as for the past four years I was daily driving a 1988 Pontiac Fiero Formula. While I love my Fiero and will never sell it (my dad and I restored it when I was in high school), daily driving a ’80s GM car is playing with fire. My parents were very gracious and were willing to sell me their 2013 Dodge Dart (Multiair, six-speed manual) for $8,000. I took it as that was the best deal I was going to find at the time.

Fast forward six months and I regret that decision.

(Read More…)

By on June 21, 2016

Screen Shot 2016-06-21 at 10.12.27 AM

Scott writes:

Dear Bark,

Can you explain the continued existence of dealer sales and service surveys? I recently had my stick-shift 2013 Accord Sport in for a required maintenance, which included an oil change. When I picked up the car, I noticed that the technician had not reset the oil life indicator. So I did it myself.

Two days later, I received a call from the service department asking about the quality of service I received. When I told them everything was fine except that they didn’t reset the oil life indicator, the service rep asked, “Would that prevent you from giving us a passing grade on a customer survey?” I said that given the almost-perfect service, I’d award them four stars out of five. (Read More…)

By on June 7, 2016

flexdriveway

John writes:

Bark,

We (me M52, F39, M15, F10) really need to step up our fleet (2006 Honda Pilot 240K mi, 2005 Honda Element 170K mi). We need to replace the Pilot as family car, and probably (for now) keep both Hondas rolling for my use and, soon, my son’s use too.

In the fullness of time I’d like to get us a plugin C-Max, especially given the uneventuality of the TTAC Long-Term Test C-Max. But, the rear legroom is less than our Pilot and our 15-yo boy is not getting any smaller. This would not be a good solution for weekend family expeditions of any length.

For now I’d like to start the fleet upgrade with a used Flex, post 2013 for the design refresh, has to be AWD because we have snow and a very steep, twisty drive home, really want the 6-pass version to keep the kids out of each others’ hair (2nd-row bench seat has proven contentious in the Pilot), really want Ecoboost and Limited/Titanium because why buy used if you can’t get it loaded?

(Read More…)

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