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Archive for the ‘Foreign Cars’ Category

These Three Unsafe Minivans Will Surprise You

November 21st, 2014

2014 Nissan Quest crash test

You assume you’re safe. You’re surrounded by acres of sheet metal and protected by a sturdy steel frame. You’re riding higher than most other vehicles and under the impression that you’re nearly invincible.

Your most valuable possessions, including your new 60-inch television, your sporting equipment, yesterday’s leftovers and probably even your children, are along for the ride. You might smile to yourself, because you think you’re riding in one of the safest vehicles on the road.

But if you’re driving one of three popular minivans, you’re not.

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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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Are New Hydrogen Cars Better Than Electrics?

November 18th, 2014

Honda FCV concept

If cars ran on water, the price of H2O would probably jump to $4 per gallon, and filling our tanks wouldn’t be any less expensive than using gasoline. The good part, though, would be that we’d have an unending supply, and we could drive forever without polluting our environment.

Cars powered by water won’t ever happen, but cars powered by hydrogen, which emit only water, are happening already.

Much like electric cars, hydrogen-powered cars aren’t very practical, because there is no refueling infrastructure in place. Unlike electric cars, fueling up involves filling a tank with compressed gas, which can take a matter of minutes rather than hours.

Toyota and Honda are both big proponents of hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles, but owning one certainly won’t be cheap.

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Scion’s Comeback Effort Looks Like an Old Toyota

November 17th, 2014

2014_scion_im_concept_la_auto_show

Let me be clear: I don’t think Toyota needs the Scion brand.

The initial intent in creating Scion was to appeal to a younger crowd at a lower price point with small but exciting vehicles. It worked for a little while but Scion has slowly been dying in recent years.

The cars, with the exception of the great FR-S (which should have been a Toyota) are lifeless and dull.

Regardless of this humble car blogger’s opinion, Scion trudges on and will introduce a new vehicle at the LA Auto Show this week.

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You Could Buy an F1 Race Car! But You Probably Shouldn’t

November 14th, 2014

2001 Jaguar F1 for sale

Yes, that’s correct, you could buy a used F1 race car. For the right amount of cash, any regular guy or gal can shop online and find the perfect used racer to suit his or her needs.

I discovered this fact while reading about a car for sale: a Red Bull RB3 Formula One race car that was driven by Australian Mark Webber during the 2007 season. The car didn’t do particularly well that season, but it would sure be enough to wow your friends and win a trophy or two at your local track day.

The above 2001 Jaguar F1 car is also for sale.

There are two catches, though, when shopping for a used F1 car:

  1. They are incredibly expensive (upward of $400,000 for the RB3).
  2. Sometimes they don’t include an engine (this is the case with the Jag).

For those of us without an F1 budget, but with the desire for speed, check out one of these used cars that’ll fight the good fight on track day.

And probably come with an engine, too.

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Sports Cars: Dead or Coming Out of Hibernation?

November 12th, 2014

porsche-911-gt3

There are a couple of quotes we need to address today. The first is from Automotive News:

“The sports car market is roughly half of what it used to be,” Ian Robertson, BMW’s head of sales, said in an interview at the manufacturer’s headquarters in Munich. “Post-2008, it just collapsed. I’m not so sure it’ll ever fully recover.”

In Europe and North America, the car’s role as a status symbol has diminished, with SUVs and crossovers becoming ever more popular.

The second quote expands on the first, and comes to us by way of The Truth About Cars:

Increased congestion, urbanization and a demonization of speeding (backed by harsh, if not draconian penalties) has made the notion of a sports car an outmoded one for many people. Even the latest 991 Porsche 911 GT3 has abandoned the manual transmission.

Do we, the sports car fans of the world, have something to worry about?

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Toyota and BMW Will Partner on New Car

November 11th, 2014

Toyota FT-1 concept

Toyota teamed up with Subaru to build a sports car, and it ended up with the FT-86, known here in the States as the Scion FR-S.

The car is significant because it’s the first time in many years that Toyota has injected some rear-wheel-drive fun into its lineup. The only problem is that the car is a bit underpowered. The FR-S is fun to drive because it’s perfectly balanced and handles beautifully. It won’t, however, win a lot of speed races and isn’t very refined or comfortable.

The other mistake I think Toyota made was badging this car as a Scion. It would have been better for the car’s image had it worn a Toyota badge.

Toyota’s next partnership, now confirmed, will result in something just a little faster and, we hope, all Toyota.

Buckle up, friends, because BMW and Toyota have announced that they are moving forward with the joint development of a sports car.

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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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SEMA 2014: Cars From the Weirdest Show in the Industry

November 7th, 2014
2015 Lexus RC 350 F Sport

2015 Lexus RC 350 F Sport

The Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) show could only be held in Las Vegas. SEMA is North America’s annual trade show for the tuning and customization market, and it’s traditionally packed with weird displays from everyone including the major manufacturers to independent tuning shops.

This year the Las Vegas Convention Center has been packed with more crazy creations than ever, including a dragster disguised as a boring sedan.

Here are the highlights of SEMA 2014.

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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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