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Honda Heats Up the Civic

April 17th, 2015

Civic Coupe concept, shot 1

Honda has sold more than 18 million Civics since the car’s 1973 debut, making it the sixth best selling car of all time, according to the Cheat Sheet. One of the many reasons for the car’s popularity is its versatility—over the years, the Civic has been available as a sedan, coupe, hatchback, and wagon with power output ranging from a measly 50 hp in its first generation to 276 hp in the most recent version of the Type R (which hasn’t been available in the U.S., but stay tuned!), and won over passionate fans ranging from mileage-focused greenies to tire-shredding tuners. So perhaps it’s fitting that one of the most watched debuts at this year’s New York International Auto Show was of Honda’s new Civic Coupe concept.

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The New Optima and the Future of Kia

April 17th, 2015

2016 Kia Optima

Kia Motors introduced the 2016 Kia Optima at the New York International Auto show a couple of weeks ago as part of an effort to revitalize the brand. As the lesser arm of the mighty Hyundai Motor Group, Kia Motors has struggled to distinguish itself from the South Korean automotive giant’s larger arm (by which we mean Hyundai itself, of course). Kia owes a lot to Hyundai, having been rescued from bankruptcy and absorbed into the conglomerate back in 1998. Kia first introduced its rebranded Hyundai Sonata in 2000 as the Kia Optima in North America, and Kia has since been doing what it can to set the Optima apart from the Sonata and other midsize sedans, in much the same way it’s trying to distinguish itself from Hyundai.

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A New Standard of the World: the Cadillac CT6

April 17th, 2015

Cadillac CT6

If you heard the term “Standard of the World” 100 years ago, only one thing would come to mind: Cadillac. Fast forward a bit and you see the famed automaker enter a dramatic decline, followed by a powerful resurgence. Cadillac is going through a bit of a renaissance right now. Less than two decades ago, we saw the likes of the Cadillac DeVille roaming the streets. Sporting lackluster looks and even worse build quality, the DeVille is second only to the simply awful Cadillac Cimarron on the list of duds produced during Cadillac’s dark age. Thankfully, we have left those depressing days behind, and Cadillac is once again churning out pure gold in the form of cars like the impressive Cadillac CTS, comfy Cadillac Escalade and awesomely fun-to-drive Cadillac ATS. This fast ascent continued at the 2015 New York International Auto Show, where Cadillac unveiled the beautiful 2016 Cadillac CT6.

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Can You Spare the Spare?

April 16th, 2015

2015_volvo_s60

My daughter’s birthday nearly ended in the bitter cold, stranded on the side of the road in a questionable area of downtown.

After a nice birthday dinner, my wife and two of our girls clambered into the Legacy to thaw from the unusually frozen April night. With the car started and the heat on, I was ready to pull out of my prime parking space and embark on the journey home.

But I noticed a woman on the sidewalk taking a funny glance at the car as she walked past. Her brief but concerned look caused me to pause enough to wonder what she saw. I got out of the car and found my passenger-side front tire nearly out of air.

“Oh no,” I said to myself, “not here. Not now.”

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Want a Performance Car? Don’t Buy a Forester

April 15th, 2015

2015 Subaru Forester

Certain machines come to mind when we stop to think about cars that are built for driving. The usual suspects are BMW, Porsche, and anything else that can be brought out to the track and tear things up straight from the factory floor.

The Subaru Forester isn’t one of those cars. It doesn’t see much track time, nor do people customize it to make it as fast possible. That’s because a Forester, no matter what is done to it, is still a Forester. It’s the hiking boot of the auto world—not luxurious or fast, but it’ll get you to some fun places in relative comfort.

The Forester plays in a niche segment that also includes the Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV4, and Nissan Rogue. These are not fun cars to drive. They are nice to drive, don’t get me wrong, but no enthusiast alive would call them particularly entertaining when behind the wheel.

A Japanese tuning company thinks it can change that.

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The Kings of New York

April 10th, 2015

2015 New York International Auto Show

The 2015 New York International Auto Show will come to a close this weekend, and as usual, automakers packed the Javits Center with beautiful new vehicles in hopes of making as big a splash as they could during the crowded hypefest. We attended last week’s 2-day press preview, and we have to say it was a very fun but exhausting trip; the automakers like to keep the press moving around the venue. But we moved quickly and made it to nearly all the press conferences with help from plenty of free coffee and some life-saving free chairs.

Some of the biggest names in the business were there to show off what the next year of production has to offer the market. Automakers all more or less stressed the same common themes throughout the preview, but some of the more unexpected themes included fuel cells, semi-autonomous-driving features, and affordable luxury (with the exception of Land Rover and Jaguar, who touted their models’ steep price tags). Dozens of reveals took place at the press conferences, and we thought we’d share our impressions on some of the biggest.

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Rusty Undercarriage? Don’t Blame the Carmaker

April 10th, 2015
Don't let this happen to your car

Don’t let this happen to your car

Bad things happen when brake lines leak. Who’s to blame when they do?

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has wrapped up a 5-year investigation into the cause of rust on the undercarriages of about 5 million GM vehicles.

The problem has been the rusting of brake lines on 2007 and older Chevrolet, Cadillac, and GMC pickups and SUVs. Usually an investigation of this magnitude results in an expensive recall and the mandatory repair of affected vehicles.

This time the NHTSA let General Motors off the hook and blamed someone we can’t sue for the problem:

Us.

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Praise and Controversy for the Lincoln Continental Concept

April 8th, 2015

Lincoln Continental Concept

When people talk about Lincoln, we often hear the terms “unremarkable,” “dated,” “second-tier,” and “Beluga whale” used to describe its cars.

Why is that?

Frankly, it’s because the company’s cars have been unremarkable, dated, second-tier luxury automobiles. The SUVs and crossovers look a little like, you guessed it, Beluga whales.

It’s no wonder Lincoln hasn’t been on the shopping list of many luxury buyers in recent years. But a drastic design change and the return of a legendary name could start to change that.

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Nissans at NEMPA: Delightfully Suburban?

April 5th, 2015

2015 Nissan Rogue

Winter has finally started to recede here in New England, but that doesn’t mean practical vehicles are going anywhere. John “Bugsy” Lawlor and our friends at NEMPA were kind enough to have us down for a look at some great crossovers for 2015, and as always, we’re thrilled to let you know what we think.

Nissan’s been an inspired contributor to the crossover market ever since the Murano debuted in 2003. Its three current mainstays—the Murano, Rogue, and Juke—all offer above-average driving dynamics, comfortable interiors, and funky good looks. We had the good fortune to have a closer look at all three and took the 2015 Rogue out for a spin.

One of the key selling points in this segment is the functionality of an SUV without the loss of a car’s agility and ride. The Juke’s been a standout in the small crossover segment for a few years now thanks to its excellence in these respects. Not only does it provide a uniquely quirky look, it also provides an exciting drive and the convenience of a hatchback. We greatly appreciate the availability of a manual transmission and the utility of all-wheel drive; we only wish the two weren’t mutually exclusive in the Juke. The model on hand was a fantastic Solar Yellow, and while we didn’t get a chance to drive it, it’s safe to say you’ll never lose this one, no matter how crowded the parking lot gets.

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No Joke: Exciting Cars are Coming!

April 2nd, 2015
2016-Chevrolet-Malibu-005

2016 Chevy Malibu

 

This is the hardest time of the year to be a car blogger.

Like Black Friday sales, the jokes of April Fools’ Day are starting to creep into the day prior. This can make it very difficult to separate fact from fiction. Some stories this year were obviously so far-fetched that the odds of being real were virtually none.

A story about a Ford/GM hypercar was originally posted on March 31 (later updated to April 1) and managed to rile up bloggers and forums everywhere.

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