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Archive for the ‘Domestic Cars’ Category

America Arrives With the Cadillac ATS-V and Mustang Shelby GT350

November 20th, 2014

Cadillac ATS-V

To the list of things that make me happy, I’d like to add:

  1. The sound of the new Mustang Shelby 350GT
  2. The Cadillac ATS-V

Yes, this is the first time a Cadillac has ever made it onto this exclusive list. Usually the mere mention of the word “Cadillac” causes me to shrug and think of all the ways I’d like to customize my Audi.

The ATS-V, though, has managed to awaken something in my soul and has become a car I simply must experience.

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Say Goodbye to the Chevy SS

November 19th, 2014

2014 Chevrolet SS

Get it while you can, because the Chevy SS is going and going fast.

Like the beautiful and amazing GM V8 super sedans before it, the Chevy SS appears to be on the one-way track to discontinued-ville. The previous cars, the Pontiac GTO and Pontiac G8 GXP were ferocious and well-built cars, but didn’t last more than a couple of model years.

Personally, I kick myself, because I had the chance to buy a new GXP just after news of Pontiac’s coming extinction broke. A nearby dealer had one left and contacted me with a heckuva good deal, but I passed. Now, those used GXPs can go for close to 40 grand because there are so few on the market.

There are only 6 in CarGurus’ used listings as of this writing, and 3 them are flagged as overpriced. And they’ll probably sell.

The same thing could happen to the Chevy SS.

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GMC: The New Jeep?

November 13th, 2014
GMC Granite concept

Could the new face of GMC look like the Granite concept?

Aside from some leather and chrome, there’s not much that makes a GMC different from a Chevrolet. The Silverado and Sierra trucks are nearly identical, as are the Suburban and Yukon SUVs.

Both brands have small trucks, too, with the Colorado/Canyon twins. The Acadia and Traverse are different only because of the bodywork and the badge adhered to the front grille. So what would make a buyer spend the extra money required to get a GMC when a Chevy is basically the same car for less money?

The answer is perception, of course. GMC has built a brand out of being luxurious, professional and capable. What it hasn’t done is put out vehicles that differentiate themselves enough to uphold that image. Could change be in the air?

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The Perfect Car for a Picky Driver

November 10th, 2014

2015_audi_a3

The requirements weren’t easy to meet:

  1. Fuel efficient
  2. Fun to drive
  3. Easy to zip through traffic
  4. Not a 2-door, but not a lot of extra room for too many passengers
  5. Not a sports car
  6. Not a Honda, Toyota, Hyundai or Kia
  7. Must be new and available for lease
  8. Relatively inexpensive
  9. Not an electric car
  10. Reliable

A dear friend is moving from Washington to Los Angeles and needs a car better suited for SoCal than her current Hyundai Santa Fe. Things can get pretty snowy and cold up here in Washington, so all-wheel drive was a requirement, but front-wheel or rear-wheel drive will be preferred down south.

I set my mind loose to think up suggestions, but had a tougher time than I expected.

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Who Recommends the Cars You Buy?

November 4th, 2014

Mercedes-Benz M-Class

Who would buy a car that doesn’t come recommended?

Most car buyers get their recommendation from family or friends. Advertising inspires some, and others need no recommendation beyond their own research and experience.

Plenty of car shoppers use a combination of all the recommendations they can get, but few are more influential than the “recommended” status as given by Consumer Reports.

The stalwart of consumer protection and advice has a coveted list of cars it recommends to subscribers. Automakers love being on the list, because it gives their vehicles more credibility. Falling off that list, though, can mean trouble.

Just ask the 2012 Honda Civic, which failed to receive the publication’s recommendation for being underpowered and having too much road noise and a cheap-feeling interior. That led to a redesign for 2013 and a much better car for consumers.

This year, some surprising vehicles have lost their recommended status.

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Exploding Airbags: Who Has the Right Fix?

November 3rd, 2014

airbag-explosion

Ten automakers have recalled a total of 8 million cars because the airbags in them can explode.

While it’s true that airbags are, by design, supposed to explode out of the car in case of an accident, these airbags explode with so much force that they actually send shrapnel into the air. An airbag with shrapnel is worse than no airbag at all. Right?

All the defective airbags were manufactured by a company called Takata, which doesn’t have enough product on hand to repair all 8 million vehicles. Automakers are taking very different routes to address this issue, with at least one recommending that the affected airbag be turned off completely.

Toyota has recalled almost 900,000 cars, but doesn’t have enough airbags to fix all of them. While it waits for Takata to deliver more, the company said that it plans to disable defective airbags once it runs out of replacements.

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A Corvette for Every Year

October 29th, 2014

Peter Max Corvette Collection

Before yesterday I’d never heard the name Peter Max. Maybe that’s because I’m too far out of touch with pop culture, or maybe that’s because I’m not involved in the world of art.

I am, however, involved in the world of cars, and Peter Max has quite the car story.

Mr. Max, as you might have heard by now, owns one of each Corvette produced in the years 1953 to 1989. That’s a total of 36 unique ‘Vettes, which have sat in New York parking garages for the last 25 years.

The story of how they got there, and why, is unbelievable.

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Cars That Have Gone From Bland to Grand

October 24th, 2014
Remember how the Optima used to look?

Remember how the Optima used to look?

Automakers know that boring doesn’t sell like it used to.

Think back a decade or so, and I’ll bet you can name five boring cars right off the top of your head. I know I can. There were still a lot of beautiful and fun cars in existence, but plenty of mass-produced cars back then didn’t have anything to offer in design, power or handling.

Today some of those same models have experienced a renaissance and have gone from completely bland to utterly grand.

Keep reading for some of the cars that have graduated from transportation appliance to royalty of the road.

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Comparing Sound: Mustang Against Hellcat

October 21st, 2014

2015-dodge-challenger-srt-hellcat

Active Noise Control sounds like a feature you would want on your next car. The name implies that the car actively controls the noise you hear, or don’t hear, while driving.

That’s accurate, but Ford this week is catching all kinds of negative attention for the feature, which comes standard on all 2015 Mustangs equipped with the 4-cylinder EcoBoost engine.

You see, Active Noise Control doesn’t limit the sound coming into the cabin, it creates it. Since a 4-cylinder doesn’t sound like a muscle car, Ford pipes in some satisfying engine notes to make things feel like they match the 300+ horsepower the little engine delivers.

The Challenger Hellcat doesn’t require such technology.

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Porsche vs. Corvette: It Always Ends the Same

October 20th, 2014

 

porsche_vs_corvette

Showdowns between Porsche and Corvette always end in Porsche’s favor.

The word “always” is a dangerous one to use, but in this case it fits. There hasn’t been a time that I can recall when a Chevy Corvette has beat out a Porsche 911 or even a Cayman.

I suppose a Corvette vs. Cayenne showdown might end in Chevy’s favor, but that’s not a track competition anyone’s been too interested to complete.

European handling and balance of power simply destroys the American Corvette’s horsepower advantage. Every time.

Well, until now.

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