By on April 28, 2020

Steph Willems/TTAC

Yes, one day this could all be yours. When the last leases signed for this now defunct model run their course, the base Chevy Cruze could be the depreciation special that finds its way into your driveway.

I’ll still be paying mine off.

Of course, you can’t criticize anything you read here today too harshly, as, regardless of what you think of the purchase decision, I spent my own damn money on this unexciting, domestic, high-MPG compact sedan. Yes, a person who types car-related words foolishly spent his meager income on a sensible new vehicle that suits his day-to-day needs, rather than a Peugeot or Porsche project car. I guess it’s now up to General Motors to retain me — again — as a customer.

And that nearly didn’t happen back in May of 2018, until Hyundai gave me plenty of reason to reconsider. (Read More…)

By on August 27, 2019

The past decade hasn’t been kind to entry-level Lexus cars. From the lackluster HS 250h hybrid sedan (Harmonious Sedan, actually) to the more appealing yet similarly ill-fated CT 200h, hybrid power seems to act as a boat anchor when combined with a lower-priced Lexus.

Yet the brand has no intention of splitting its range between gas-only and electric-only vehicles. Lexus and Toyota still love hybrids, so expect more of ’em. What’s still up in the air, however, is whether we’ll see a new entry-level Lexus positioned below the UX crossover — a vehicle that starts at $33,175 after destination.

What form should such a model take? (Read More…)

By on August 28, 2018

dealership

Serious question: What kind of experience do you need in order to write credibly about the automobile? If you were to ask some of the autojourno Boomers, they might tell you that the minimum requirement would be the career path followed by my time-and-again boss, Larry Webster: engineering degree, followed immediately by a magazine employment history that starts at “road warrior” and ends at “E-I-C of the most solvent color rag in the business”.

Some people would say that my boon companion Sam Smith did it right: college degree, time as a professional BMW mechanic, many years as a self-funded club racer in concert with his experienced and mechanically knowledgeable father. I’d like to argue for my own path: mildly successful car salesman, F&I experience with multiple captive finance firms, ground-floor experience with automotive tech and production, eighteen years of motorsports with a sack full of wins and lap records.

Ah, but these are means and not ends. They are how and not why. They detail the pathway by which expertise is acquired but they are not expertise themselves. If you read everything that Larry and Sam and I have written, you would know a major percentage of the things we know, and then you would be free to go forth and apply that knowledge to future situations. All you would need at that point would be an ability to write.

You could get by with less. LJK Setright was frequently dead wrong but I’d rather read his mistakes than labor through Csaba Csere’s researched conclusions. Gordon Baxter was not a great pilot and he was a worse driver. As a teenager, I read the work of gunwriter Jeff Cooper until I knew much of it by heart; years later, a mutual friend confessed to me that Cooper was only just competent with a .45 caliber pistol.

This is what you cannot be and still succeed, not if there is any justice in this world or the next: ignorant and proud of it, stupid yet blase about it, stilted in prose but unwilling to fix it. Which brings us to this week’s question.

(Read More…)

By on June 26, 2017

2017 Chrysler 300C - Image: FCA

Sure, there’s no vinyl bench seats and standard Slant Six engine, but this isn’t 1981 and Chrysler Corporation isn’t trying to boost sales by stripping down a LeBaron and calling it Special. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles is, however, trying to make three models more appealing to the buying masses, meaning trim changes are afoot for 2018.

What models, you ask? Two very old sedans and a crossover. According to ordering documents sent to dealers, FCA plans to ratchet down the entry-level price of the 2018 Chrysler 300 and Jeep Cherokee, while also shaking up the bottom end of the Dodge Charger.  (Read More…)

By on February 24, 2017

2017 Chevy Equinox L

Most readers are aware of my unbridled enthusiasm for base model cars. Sure, there are a few luxury models that spring to mind where it’s imperative buyers select the top trim, lest they run the risk of an arch nemesis pulling alongside them in an Escalade Platinum when they are piloting a lowly Escalade Luxury.

Thing is, it behooves the frugal customer to pay attention before they sign the note on a set of base wheels. For years, commercials told us “America Runs on Dunkin” when we all know that America Runs on Monthly Payments. Most shoppers have a monthly or biweekly figure in mind and, examined through that lens, base cars aren’t always the best deal.

(Read More…)

By on February 15, 2017

2017 Alfa Romeo Giulia

There’s been no shortage of digital ink spilled over the impending return of Alfa Romeo to North American shores, with declarations of a grand return being touted all the way back in 2000 when the company entered into a partnership with General Motors. Yes, General Motors.

Now, of course, we know Alfa’s part in Sergio’s grand plan for the House of FCA. Since the introduction of the sinewy Giulia, the hot and unpronounceable Quadrifoglio has gotten all the press. How does a base Giulia stack up at $37,995?

(Read More…)

By on May 28, 2015

2015 Buick Verano Turbo

In the market for a new Buick Regal or Verano? The brand introduced a new pair of base models aimed at the entry-level luxury market for consideration.

(Read More…)

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