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The Best Driver’s Cars of 2012

August 24th, 2012

2012 Motor Trend Best Driver's Car test

Anytime a list like this gets published, lots of opinions are built into the equation.

One person might call the Subaru WRX the year’s best driver’s car, while another would bestow the honor on the BMW M3. How a car drives and reacts to input is an incredibly subjective experience and open to interpretation by many different styles of drivers.

That said, there are some mainstays in the perennial quest to find the best car for drivers. Not just go-to-the-store drivers, but the drivers who understand the value of properly warmed tires, a perfect apex and heel-toe shifting.

Keep reading for Motor Trend‘s surprising list of the year’s best driver’s cars, ranked 9 to 1.

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Cars Coming Soon: C7 Corvette Better Not Look Like This

August 23rd, 2012

C7 Corvette?

The next-generation Corvette could debut at the 2013 Detroit Auto Show. There’s no official word on if that’ll be the case or what it’ll even look like, but there’s so much speculation and excitement about the car that it’s already impossible to ignore.

Considering GM’s poor track record of keeping cars coming soon a secret, it’s pretty remarkable that the C7 Corvette still remains an object of speculation. There have been heavily disguised spy shots, but nothing concrete revealing the car’s final design or specs.

In an effort to keep its super-secret C7 from leaking before the big reveal, GM will even suspend tours next month of the plant that builds the Corvette. After September 14, according to a report in The Detroit News, the factory will close to retool for production of the next-generation car. So much for a curious member of the public spilling the beans with an iPhone.

So, until GM finally pulls the sheet off the new ‘Vette, we’re left with unofficial renderings and speculation about what’s to come. I really hope the latest guess proves significantly off-base.

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Mind-Boggling Future Car Tech That Can Really Make a Difference

August 8th, 2012

Headlights in the rain

I like in-car technology. To a point.

I can’t live without heated seats, air conditioning and a pumping audio system, but back-up cameras, internet connectivity and touchscreens are all beyond the realm of necessity in my book.

With each new model year, there are new techno bits placed in our cars that are meant to entertain and inform us, but usually just end up distracting us. Even the stuff meant to keep us safe seems redundant and unnecessary to anyone who actually pays attention while driving. Blind-spot monitoring? Turn your head. Lane-departure warning system? Drive straighter.

But how about technology that can see through rain and snow, eliminating that scary white-out situation we’ve all experienced on the nation’s highways?

That’s a box I’d check on the options list of a new car.

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Beat the Drought: Wash Your Car!

July 6th, 2012

Washing a car

At last count, drought covered 56 percent of the continental United States. Crops are dying, people are sweating, and A/C units are chugging down freon like people are drinking water.

Intense heat pounds most of the country. Oftentimes, I’m shielded from triple-digit heat in my tucked-away Washington state location, but even my local weather girl has warned of hundred-degree misery come Monday. That panics me. But I have a way to deal with it.

I’m going to wash my car.

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Quality? Don’t Care. Performance? No. Safety? Pass. Fuel Economy? Yes Please!

May 23rd, 2012

Ford Focus Electric

Fuel economy, at least temporarily, has become the single most important factor to new-car buyers.

I say “temporarily” because we all know it won’t last.

Americans have a tendency to overreact to things. Remember in 2008, when gas prices jumped and folks traded in their SUVs en masse for more fuel efficient rides? Remember, later that year, when prices dipped below $2/gallon and many of those same buyers flocked back to their big rigs?

Now it’s 2012, and prices are hovering near $4 again. No surprise that fuel economy is an important factor for buyers, but *the* most important? This world has gone crazy.

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Should a Global Mustang Still Be Called a Mustang?

April 13th, 2012

Ford Evos Concept: A preview of the 2015 Mustang?

The Ford Mustang will soon turn 50 years old.

In planning for the 2015 edition of the beloved and classic muscle car, Ford has some options.

Option 1: Let the car finish out its natural life then fade into history, proud of the contribution it has made to American culture.

Option 2: Carry on as usual, with a slight nip and tuck but no drastic changes, because Americans will keep buying it.

Option 3: Completely redesign the car, throw out everything the Mustang has ever been and relaunch it to a worldwide audience.

The Ford of the past would be perfectly content with option 2. Plenty of folks throughout the country surely believe the Mustang has run its course and deserves the dignity of option 1.

Option 3, though, could be what’s in store.

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Cars Coming Soon: The Next-Generation Lamborghini Gallardo

March 15th, 2012
Lamborghini Gallardo

Say goodbye to the Gallardo

Try as I might, I can’t bring myself to write about a Civic over a Gallardo. Sure, one has more mass appeal, because it’s a mass-produced vehicle accesible to anyone who wants one, while the other car might as well exist on the same planet as unicorns and leprechauns.

Everyone has a Civic. If we’re not driving it on our way to the Red Robin for Happy Hour, we’ll certainly pass a dozen on the way. But very few of us will ever drive a Gallardo, or even see one in person to verify they exist.

And yet, power and grace capture our attention over practicality and go-slow every time.

The simple fact is, we read about Civics when we need to buy one. We read about Lamborghinis because we love cars. If that’s you, keep reading for some clues into the successor to the Gallardo!

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Uh-Oh: Fisker Karma Belonging to Consumer Reports Breaks Down

March 9th, 2012

Consumer Reports' Fisker Karma

List of things you don’t want to happen:

  1. Have spinach stuck in your teeth for the duration of a first date.
  2. Buy a new car and have it break down on the way home.
  3. Have the car you built and sold to Consumer Reports break down even before it’s checked in.

A positive Consumer Reports review can make or break a new car. Even established cars can suffer when the great CR Oracle turns its head away, as the Honda Civic is well aware.

So what happens when a start-up automaker sells a $100,000 car to the almighty CR, only to have it on a flatbed truck moments later? It’s not going to be good.

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Cars Coming Soon: A Lamborghini Surprise in Geneva

January 26th, 2012

Lamborghini logo

Will we finally meet a Lamborghini SUV? A Raging Bull family sedan? An Aventador roadster?

All are possibilities, and, from what we hear, the Geneva Motor Show in March will finally confirm (or deny) the presence of at least two new Lambo models.

That’s big news, and would double the lineup of the two-car exotic automaker. It shouldn’t be too surprising, though, coming from a brand owned by ultra-ambitious Volkswagen.

How exciting will these two new models be? Let’s explore the options.

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The World Needs More Mangusta

January 2nd, 2012

The De Tomaso Mangusta was the predecessor to the automaker’s more famous Pantera. Only 401 of these Italian Lambo-esque exotics were built between 1967 and 1971, and only about 170 are known to remain in existence.

Rumor has it that De Tomaso chose the name Mangusta, Italian for “Mongoose,” because the namesake animal is capable of killing cobras. That was a little bit of trash talk directed at Carroll Shelby, whom the company had been in talks with to replace the Shelby Cobra with a De Tomaso.

Shelby, of course, went on to build a storied relationship with Ford while De Tomaso slipped into automotive oblivion after the Pantera’s respectable run.

Now, a design student has taken a stab at designing a modern Mangusta, and it’s just what the year 2012 could use.

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