Tag: Review

By on June 25, 2019

2019 Buick Envision front quarter

Around these digital pages, Buick gets a bad rap. Some have negative connotations of Buick as an old person’s car (disclaimer, my paternal grandfather was a Buick man) or hold grudges simply because the brand was continued while Oldsmobile and Pontiac were killed off during the Great Recession (disclaimer, my father was an Oldsmobile man), seems few have good things to say about the division from Flint.

Disclaimer: I hate the theme music from Buick’s TV commercials.

Let’s make a deal, then. Let’s try and ignore the badges on this 2019 Buick Envision for a few minutes. Let’s evaluate this entry-level luxury crossover against the competition, rather than against whatever demons lurk within our collective subconscious.

(Read More…)

By on June 24, 2019

2019 Chevrolet Blazer front quarter

As I’ve been reviewing cars for this venerable publication for nearly three years, I’ve noticed how easy it is to become jaded about new cars. While I’m not like some journalists, getting handed keys to six figure exotics every week, I am rather lucky to experience cars on a regular basis that frequently cost more than I’d likely ever spend with my own money.

I’m reminded of this most often when something unusual graces my driveway, and a neighbor strikes up a conversation — or when I’m walking back to the car from the supermarket and someone is waiting to ask about the car. It doesn’t happen often — but this new 2019 Chevrolet Blazer RS seemingly compels conversation.

Plan your trips accordingly.

(Read More…)

By on December 11, 2018

2018 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport profile

Crossovers are the future. As much as I hate to say it, more and more buyers vote with their wallets every year, choosing a smaller-yet-taller, less fuel-efficient alternative to the traditional sedan. Automakers would build nothing but brown, diesel, manual station wagons if buyers would buy them — so you can’t fault the manufacturers for tossing every possible permutation of the CUV as chum for the always-hungry shopper.

Mitsubishi is no different. Of the four distinct models it offers here in the States, three are crossovers. But which one is right for you? Today, we look at the 2018 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport, the smallest of the trio. Is it distinct enough to be worthy of your driveway?

(Read More…)

By on August 30, 2018

I want to love you, CKD.

But who, or what, is CKD? It stands for Completely Knocked Down, and it’s a term used for a rather strange way to build a car. It works like so: A “mother plant” builds a new car. But not all the way. Just into sub-assemblies that can be put together in another plant devoted specifically to final assembly. Think of Ikea furniture; that’s CKD. That Tamiya Hornet you built back in 1985? Miniature CKD, my friend. I think you get the idea.

Now, it so happens that there are some countries out there that like to stimulate local employment by placing heavy tariffs on cars built elsewhere. Malaysia is one of those countries. So in March of 1967, Volvo opened a plant there to assemble CKD Volvos sent over from Sweden. This wasn’t “manufacturing” in its purest sense, but CKD assembly is often how “transplant” factories are jump-started; the first Accords made in Ohio were CKDs and now Marysville is itself a Global Mother Plant that is capable of making CKDs to be assembled elsewhere. Sure enough, after a while the Malaysian plant came up to speed and started building Volvos from soup to nuts.

In 2016, Volvo introduced the T8 “Twin Engine” version of its razor-edged S90 sedan. Compared to the S90 T5 I reviewed last year, the T8 has another 63 horses from increased boost pressure, plus an 87-horsepower electric motor driving the rear wheels. That S90 T5 was made in China to be sold in America. China is a long way from the United States. It is not a long way from Thailand. So when the owners of EVOLTN Magazine asked me to drive a Malaysian-assembled Volvo S90 T8 across Thailand, it seemed reasonable to assume that the CKD “kit” from whence it sprang would be Chinese. But as we all know, when you “assume”…

(Read More…)

By on August 27, 2018

2019 Chevrolet Malibu RS front quarter

I thumbed the start button, adjusted the mirrors, and backed away from the coffee shop. A couple of miles later, my co-driver/navigator was distracted and we missed a turn on our route guide. I hustled around an unexpected roundabout, trying to make up time, and the mid-sized sedan dove into the corners like a much smaller car.

It’s remarkable how unremarkable the 2018 Chevrolet Malibu RS really is. I expected a dull car with dull responses and no power — which would provide ample opportunity for devastating snark. And yet, I can’t stop thinking about how surprisingly well this Chevy drives.

(Read More…)

By on August 1, 2018

Image: Steph Willems/TTAC

Spend a little time in the gentrified corners of your fair city, and in between all the Audi Q5s and Subaru Outbacks jockeying for spots outside the artisan cupcake shoppe, you’ll spy a right-sized pickup that doesn’t conjure up images of dreaded rural riff-raff. It’s the model that can’t help but post sales increases with each passing month, and it doesn’t come in an opulent western/ranch-themed trim.

Now, aside from a low-range uphill excursion in an old college buddy’s extended cab 4×4 in Nova Scotia, my impression of the Toyota Tacoma was — perhaps unfairly — that it, like the protagonist in the Glenn Frey song, was something that belonged to the city. It’s hard not to notice its popularity with the type of urbanite who probably jogs, but only on weekends. And only with a female companion.

With these shallow stereotypes in mind, I accepted the keys to what seemed to be the most urban-friendly Tacoma in existence: the 4×4 Double Cab V6 TRD Sport model. What would I become after a week behind the wheel? (Read More…)

By on June 6, 2018

I didn’t fear failure when I was young. I feared being just like everybody else, another face in the crowd. In a word, I feared being average. It seemed like a fate worse than death. Well, look at me now, living in suburbia, just another middle-aged white guy with a lawn and a 401(k) and a nagging worry that each and every racing physical I take will reveal that I do, in fact, have inoperable Stage IV cancer of the colon. “You have 42 pounds of undigested meat in there,” the doctor will sigh, “just like Elvis.”

The universe depends on my average-ness. I work three jobs and I pay a truly astounding amount of taxes to at least five separate governmental entities. I haven’t taken a non-working vacation since 2006. There is not a single assistance program anywhere for which I qualify. About a decade ago I decided to go back to school in the evenings and get my doctorate in literature. “As a 35-year-old white man,” the dean told me, “you wouldn’t be eligible for any of our assistantships.”

“Not a problem,” I replied, “I’ll pay cash. How much does the degree cost?”

“Well…” he huffed. “There’s no actual cash price per se because everybody is on assistance, which is only fair given today’s bigoted climate.”

“So I can’t pay to go to school, because nobody pays and you don’t know how much I would have to pay, because there’s no cash price for presumed bigots who are not on assistance because they’re ineligible for assistance.”

“I’m not sure that’s a fair way to phrase it.” Each and every day I have a better idea of what motivated the character of “D-FENS” in Falling Down. He, too, was an average fellow.

As fate would have it, I have a perfectly average car, and a perfectly average payment. Two of them, actually, although I only have a payment on one of them. Let’s see how they are doing.

(Read More…)

By on May 24, 2018

Image: Steph Willems/TTAC

I could have told the guy “71 extra pounds.” Then again, maybe “$5,400 more” would have been a better response. Both of these figures are correct, but it’s the latter that best answers the question, “What’s an Avenir?”

The passer-by who accosted me — in a friendly manner, thankfully — outside my residence hadn’t seen the word “Enclave” on the back of the big, white Buick I had parked outside, but I assume he knew the model and wondered what the hell an Avenir nameplate was doing on both front doors.

“Okay, you know Denali…?” I answered. The rest isn’t hard to imagine. (Read More…)

By on April 23, 2018

Image: Steph Willems/TTAC

Years fade into the past, but the public’s thirst for high-riding, do-everything vehicles never seems to ebb. In light of this seismic shift, the Toyota Avalon’s continued presence at the top of the brand’s model line increasingly comes across as mysterious. Perhaps it shouldn’t be.

Introduced for the 1995 model year, the front-drive full-sizer always stayed true to itself — dressed in conservative clothing, it boasted a comfy, roomy cabin, ample V6 power, old-school Toyota dependability, and little chance of drama. If flashiness or cargo volume wasn’t your thing, who could ask for more?

In its recent study of America’s longest lasting vehicles, iSeeCars.com discovered the Avalon was the passenger car most likely to see 200,000 miles. Treat it right, and it’ll outlast multiple owners.

There’s a problem, though, in the fact that fewer and fewer buyers visit Toyota showrooms in search of a large sedan. Avalon sales declined each year following the model’s 2013 post-recession sales peak. Clearly, a change is in order. In crafting its next-generation Avalon, Toyota sought to create a model capable of wooing loyal, returning customers and — for the first time, it seems — younger buyers.

The trouble is, by messing with a formula that worked well for two decades, you risk alienating both groups. (Read More…)

By on April 11, 2018

2017 Mazda CX-5 Front Quarter

 

The look back. That longing glance at your beloved ride as you walk away is a rite of passage for car enthusiasts. One more gaze at the car’s beautiful lines before you walk into the office can help that first cup of coffee kickstart another day of work.

Until I drove the 2017 Mazda CX-5 Grand Touring, I’ve never looked back at any crossover. Never had the need or desire, since most CUVs have all of the style and personality bred out of them in an effort to attract the widest variety of shoppers. Not the Mazda. The design of this compact crossover is nothing short of stunning.

(Read More…)

By on April 10, 2018

Image: Steph Willems/TTAC

“When the mind houses two personalities, there’s always a conflict. A battle.”

So says the psychiatrist in the third-last scene of Psycho in an attempt to explain the curious behaviour of an odd motel proprietor. It’s an age-old internal conflict depicted time and again in novels and film — Norman and Mother, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Golyadkin Sr. and Golyadkin Jr. in Dostoevsky’s The Double, that Black Swan girl — and it’s perfectly embodied by the sportier of the “green” Toyota Camrys.

In SE Hybrid guise, America’s best-selling midsize sedan tries to be two things. At its core, it’s a competent, mature sedan, endowed with all the attributes needed to make it a first pick among car buyers. But it’s also conflicted, pressured to be something it’s not.

If these past stories tell us anything, it’s that the dominant personality always wins. (Read More…)

By on April 9, 2018

2017 Jeep Compass front quarter

I’m certainly an outcast among automotive journalists. So many in this line of work absolutely fetishize the Jeep brand. Mottos like “It’s A Jeep Thing, You Wouldn’t Understand” and “If You Can Read This, Roll Me Over” flow through reviews and tweets like a lifted CJ on thirty fives. I’ve never really seen the appeal. I’m a suburbanite to the bone and, as such, I’ve never had the need or desire to take a vehicle off-road.

My first experiences with Jeeps came as a service writer, where I’d drive a vehicle to try and better relay handling problems to the tech. Every Jeep I drove was a loose-steering, ill-handling pig. Of course, in that job I was always driving vehicles that needed work, but the pride of Toledo always seemed particularly nasty on the tarmac.

Jeep was listening, it seems, as it has begun offering a variety of car-based crossovers that are pavement rated. Take this 2017 Jeep Compass Limited — the big 19 inch alloys with low-profile tires make the intended path quite clear. Has the essence of Jeepness become eroded, or can this Compass point the way forward?

(Read More…)

By on March 27, 2018

2018 Hyundai Elantra GT Sport front quarter

I’m not joking. The Supertramp song in the title did indeed start playing on SiriusXM’s Classic Rewind station as I pressed the start button after another long day at the office. I’m sure “Take The Long Way Home” and Foghat’s “Slow Ride” are the most often-played afternoon drive time songs for classic rock stations nationwide, but it seemed serendipitous.

I didn’t have to be home right after work. It was a dry, sunny, albeit brisk afternoon. And I had a willing partner – the 2018 Hyundai Elantra GT Sport – fitted with a proper six-speed manual gearbox. Instead of turning south at the roundabout toward home, I turned north, dropped a gear, and followed the meander of the river. Magically, I’d forgotten about the day I’d spent glued to spreadsheets.

(Read More…)

By on February 22, 2018

mercedes benz cla 250

To be honest, I would have rather had anything else on the lot, and I do mean anything. However, when I arrived at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, National Car Rental was a bit short on cars on the ol’ Emerald Aisle. There was a line of people about ten deep waiting for cars to be brought up from the overflow lot, and I had a meeting to get to. So I did what anybody else (who rents 40 cars and spends about $10,000 annually with National) would do — I walked over to the “upgrade” area, hopped into the least expensive “luxury” car available, and drove it to the exit booth.

“I won’t be paying any extra for this,” I explained to the booth attendant, “because a Mercedes-Benz CLA 250 is not an upgrade.”

Three days and a couple hundred miles later, I realize how prescient I’d been at the time. I would have rather had a Chevrolet Impala, a Dodge Charger, or even a Nissan Altima over the Hungarian Baby Benz. Here’s why.

(Read More…)

By on February 21, 2018

2018 Jaguar E-Pace

Jaguar claims the F-Pace, its first crossover SUV, more or less doubled the automaker’s sales almost overnight. That little factoid makes a statement about the state of the automotive industry – namely, that crossovers are hot and that just about every brand needs to sell one to survive, regardless of a brand’s history.

Just ask Porsche. If not for the Cayenne (and now the Macan), could that company continue to afford to build the venerable 911, as well as the Boxster and Cayman?

The answer, of course, is probably not. That’s a big part of the reason why even “exotic” brands such as Bentley and Lamborghini have gotten into, or are getting into, the SUV game.

Certainly, Jaguar has picked up on the trend. Following the F-Pace comes the smaller E-Pace, and soon to follow is the I-Pace, complete with an all-electric powertrain. It may still seem weird to many of us that Jaguar is building and selling crossovers, but we’re also living in an era in which former Jaguar owner Ford offers a turbocharged four in the Mustang (as something other than a weak “base” powerplant) and Mitsubishi is planning on using the Eclipse name on a crossover. Things change, man.

(Read More…)

Recent Comments

  • Hummer: $650 for key fob protection? You can buy 10 key fobs for that much, how often is that a problem?
  • Hummer: Rearranging the chairs on the Titanic, realistically unless all these upcoming names are going to be ‘new’...
  • thornmark: Escarole, for the vegan luxury segment out in front of Tesla on that one
  • Master Baiter: I’d be surprised if they sell enough of these to recoup their development costs.
  • SPPPP: Haha, I just replaced Eagle Sports with Continental DWS06 and I am happier. (But those Eagle Sports were on...

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Staff

  • Contributors

  • Timothy Cain, Canada
  • Matthew Guy, Canada
  • Ronnie Schreiber, United States
  • Bozi Tatarevic, United States
  • Chris Tonn, United States
  • Corey Lewis, United States
  • Mark Baruth, United States