By on May 24, 2021

1983 Chrysler New Yorker in Colorado junkyard, LH front view - ©2021 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsWhen Lee Iacocca’s K-cars finally hit American showrooms for the 1981 model year, the ax that had seemed poised over Chrysler’s neck for much of the late 1970s seemed to pull back. For model year 1983, a stretched version of the K chassis became the basis of such luxurious machines as the Dodge 600, Plymouth Caravelle, and Chrysler E-Class. Just to confuse everybody, the New Yorker line bifurcated that year, with the New Yorker Fifth Avenue remaining on the same platform as the rear-wheel-drive Dodge Diplomat and the regular New Yorker becoming an E-platform sibling to the 600/E-Class/Caravelle. Here’s one of those first-year New Yorkers, found in very clean condition in a Denver-area self-service yard last week. (Read More…)

By on April 7, 2021

If you were in the market for a midsized luxury sedan from Europe, you could certainly do worse than the Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class. While it sacrifices a bit of interior volume for the sake of style, it remains an opulent and sedate experience for the driver with just enough performance to keep the office commute from becoming dull. Of course, those seeking enhanced trills could pay AMG to transform the sedan into the 429 horsepower CLS53. But it has been retired for the 2022 model year, along with the base CLS450 with rear-wheel drive.

That just leaves the CLS450 4Matic, which Mercedes has given some new accouterments — perhaps to take the sting out of the company dumping the more interesting trims.  (Read More…)

By on March 8, 2021

1991 Toyota Cressida in Colorado junkyard, LH side view - ©2021 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsAfter Americans proved uninterested in buying the luxurious-for-its-time Toyota Crown during the early 1970s, Toyota brought over the new Corona Mark II, then gave its American-market, Chaser-based successor the Cressida name starting in the 1977 model year. The Cressida remained King of Toyotas in North America throughout the 1980s, but the appearance of the Lexus LS400 for the 1990 model year changed everything; Cressida sales collapsed. However, we could buy new Cressidas here all the way through 1992, and I’m always looking for the rare early-1990s models during my junkyard travels. Here’s a ’91 in Denver. (Read More…)

By on October 20, 2020

Genesis has been planning a mid-cycle update for the G70 sedan for a while and has been obliging us with previews showing off how good its designers are at their jobs for months. But Hyundai Motor Group recently previewed the model in South Korea to prove that the improvements made went beyond mere aesthetics.

While the split headlamps and updated grille bring the model more in line with other Genesis products, sacrificing a bit of visual menace for a more upscale appearance, technological changes ensure it’s no less capable from a performance standpoint. Next year, the Genesis G70 will receive a new sports+ driving mode that tightens engine and transmission programming to squeeze out every ounce of performance available, a new dynamic AWD system featuring a built-in drift mode, and an exhaust with active valves to make the V6 sound as sweet as possible on demand.

(Read More…)

By on May 11, 2020

1992 Mercedes-Benz W140 500SEL in Arizona junkyard, RH front view - ©2020 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsTop-of-the-line German luxury sedans are worth plenty… until, suddenly, their values slam down to salvage-title Hyundai Scoupe territory. For today’s Junkyard Find, an early W140 S-Class that sold new for the 2020 equivalent of $175,000, now parked between a couple of prole-grade Japanese machines in a Phoenix yard. (Read More…)

By on March 2, 2020

1987 Nissan Maxima in California junkyard, RH front view - ©2020 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsThe Nissan Maxima of the 1980s remains one of my favorite Junkyard Finds, partly because it began the decade as a sporty rear-wheel-drive cousin to the Z-Car and ended it as a swanky front-wheel-drive pseudo-luxury machine… but mostly because these cars came stuffed full of the quirky futuristic technology that made Japanese cars so interesting during The Turbo Decade.

Here’s a high-mile ’87 Maxima I spotted in an East Bay self-service yard last month. (Read More…)

By on July 26, 2019

2019 Kia K900 front quarter

I’m not quite to the tin foil hat stage, but I’m certain that Google’s ad servers have their cameras trained on me. No, I didn’t get caught up in that face aging app nonsense a couple weeks ago — and I’m not one for selfies. Rather, I’m sure I’m being watched, as with every new gray hair that sprouts on my beard, I seem to get more advertisements for products meant to help with aging.

From retirement planning advice, to literal beard dying products, to (ahem) virility potions and devices, there seems to be no end to the market reminders that I’m much closer to the dirt nap than I am to a nap in a crib. And the vitamin ads never stop.

Maybe this 2019 Kia K900 is yet another solution to my advanced years, with comfort and luxury meant to coddle my aching back. But I like to think of it as one of those once a day vitamins. It’s easy to use, just like a simple daily pill — but like that pill, you don’t think about it much when you’re done swallowing it. And, again like the daily dose, it’s forgettable for Kia, who sold roughly one K900 per day last year.

(Read More…)

By on April 16, 2019

Last month, Cadillac digitally unveiled the all-new CT5 sedan — leaving little to the imagination. We learned Caddy’s upcoming model will come with either a turbocharged 2.0-liter four or a twin-turbo 3.0-liter V6, though General Motors decided to stop short of sharing output figures and pricing.

While the cost continues to remain a mystery, GM provided output specs and loads of additional details for the CT5’s physical debut at the New York International Auto Show. (Read More…)

By on February 4, 2019

1992 Jaguar XJ6 Vanden Plas Majestic in Colorado wrecking yard, RH front view - ©2019 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsJaguar XJ40s are so plentiful in U-Wrench-It yards that I don’t even notice them as I wander around searching for the elusive Suzuki Equator (no luck there, yet). In fact, none of the Jags I’ve photographed prior to today’s Junkyard Find have been XJ40s, but we’ve got a one-of-121-built super-rarity here in Denver: a genuine Vanden Plas Majestic! (Read More…)

By on March 31, 2017

2017 Lexus GS200t front quarter

Midsized luxury cars are a tough sell these days. The SUV craze shows no sign of ebbing, with new models coming out frequently from nearly every automaker (though if Caterham starts offering an assemble-it-yourself crossover, I’ll hang up my keyboard for good). Further, these midsizers are squeezed by models upmarket and down — the compacts keep adding content, while smaller engines in the full-size models offer space and economy for not much more cost.

Lexus is unique in this space with two very different models: the front-wheel drive ES, and this GS, offered with either rear or all-wheel drive. While the Avalon-based ES is perennially one of the best-selling, this GS lingers mid-pack. Thus, it’s no surprise rumors have swirled.

Still, Lexus has generally impressed me, so I was intrigued when this 2017 Lexus GS 200t appeared since I see so few of them in the wild.

(Read More…)

By on March 3, 2017

2017 Jaguar XE 35t AWD R-Sport Front 3/4, Image: © 2017 Jeff Wilson

It smells like a proper Jaguar.

That’s what came to mind after climbing into the XE’s driver’s seat for the first time. Jaguars tend to play on the senses – and consequently the heart – more than other cars, which has surely helped many owners look past some of the brand’s idiosyncrasies (and, let’s face it, quality woes) in the past. This one seems to have its sensory appeal in check.

Several years ago I drove a then-new XJ, a supercharged V8 model that somehow dazzled me despite a clunky transmission and sagging suede headliner. It was a car that’d be hard to recommend a friend or loved one spend a hundred large on, but somehow still appealed to the irrational side of me. The sound of the exhaust note, the sensual styling and yes, the smell of those cattle hides swathing the interior all conspire to blur one’s vision toward the (ahem) occasional quality lapse.

Since then I’ve logged seat time in several other Jaguars, including a 2,200-mile journey in a flawless XF a few years ago. The modern-day Jaguar – now ruled by Tata Motors – seems to be wringing out the English from the electrics and producing competitive and wholly contemporary luxury cars, for better or worse.

The new compact XE sedan has generated positive buzz in the automotive media for being an engaging drive, and as a past owner of three different BMW 3 Series sedans, I was keen to see how the Jaguar’s first compact since the lamentable X-Type stacks up.

(Read More…)

By on November 1, 2016

2016 Lexus IS200t front quarter

To say I was shocked at the color is an understatement. Like many, I’ve always known Lexus as a builder of staid, solid, but uninspiring sedans for “older” people. As an impressionable youth who watched too much TV, I always wanted a Lexus commercial to come immediately after the “Not Your Father’s Oldsmobile” spot for the perfect “This Is Your Father’s Oldsmobile” juxtaposition.

I once even asked an exchange student if Lexus was a Japanese acronym for champagne beige pearl metallic.

No, this bright red (Lexus calls it Redline) 2016 Lexus IS200t F-Sport that appeared in my parking spot isn’t the dull sedan your dad may have driven. It’s potentially the sports sedan this dad wants to drive — but with one trivial flaw that might keep me from signing a note.

(Read More…)

By on March 4, 2016

2016 Infiniti Q50 Red Sport 400 Front 3/4, Image: © 2016 Alex Dykes/The Truth About Cars

The promise of improved performance and tree-hugging fuel economy has made turbocharged engines all the rage in luxury cars. Despite the often failure of those boosted motors to meet their lofty, published fuel economy ratings in the real world, forced induction has a significant — and positive — impact on performance.

It seems Infiniti had gotten the memo.

(Read More…)

By on February 17, 2016

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There’s something unique about Jaguars. For some people it’s the aristocratically British character, sporty pedigree and classic, elegant style of Jaguars that make them special. For others it’s the strange technical solutions, uncomfortable compromises and utter lack of reliability that make Jaguars a non-option.

These two groups aren’t likely to agree about much when it comes to Britain’s luxury marque, but both camps will likely be of the opinion that a four-cylinder diesel engine doesn’t fit the driving experience emoted by Jaguar’s iconic Leaper.

Will the upcoming Jaguar XF 2.0-liter diesel still be a proper Jag? Or will its stops at oily diesel pumps also frequented by Ford Super Duty pickups and NOx-belching Volkswagens cover the brand’s grand sporting image in a thin layer of soot?

We already have it in Europe, so I took the opportunity to find out.

(Read More…)

By on January 25, 2016

022

Stress and nervous tension are now serious social problems in all parts of the Galaxy, and it is in order that this situation should not be in any way exacerbated that the following facts will now be revealed in advance.

Douglas Adams, “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”

The Cadillac XTS is a good car.

Those who wish to know why I feel this to be true, or to shout angrily at me in the comments, may feel free to click the “Read More” button now.

(Read More…)

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