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El Diablo: Miata Style

December 23rd, 2013

2001 Mazda Miata MX5

An average car will run a quarter-mile drag race in 15–16 seconds. That’s not a blistering pace, but it’s just enough to give a slight rush while accelerating up an on-ramp before settling into a steady stream of 65-mile-an-hour commuters.

The Mazda Miata, while relatively sporty and fun to drive, typically falls somewhere within that average time in stock, off-the-showroom-floor form. It’s nothing spectacular, and it won’t win many drag races, but the time is good enough to warrant the designation of “sports car.”

Barely.

A quick quarter-mile time in the Miata might fall somewhere in the 11–13-second range. When that stock speed just isn’t fast enough, upgrades can be applied, and the Miata, like any car, can become a drag racer.

An extreme case would be taking a Miata, stripping it completely of its powertrain, and replacing it with a source of power sure to embarrass even the most seasoned of racers.

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Admitting and Overcoming Range Issues

October 15th, 2013

2014 Mazda6

Hello.

I have a range problem.

I didn’t realize I had a problem until a spate of recent road trips in two different cars blatantly slapped me in the face with the realization that my car doesn’t go very far on a tank of fuel. Since I’d really rather not drop $60 every 300 miles, I have a decision to make.

I can go between 270 and 320 miles on a tank of fuel in my car. My average is about 300 even, which translates to about 22 miles per gallon. Not bad. But with premium fuel and more road trips on the horizon, I have to admit that I have a problem. Especially compared with the 2013 Subaru Legacy I borrowed that can easily top 400 miles on regular fuel.

MSN posted yesterday a list of cars with the longest range, and my 10-year-old car, which is smaller and lighter than the Subaru, can’t compare with any of them.

Yup, I have a problem.

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Aston Martin Cygnet: A Good Used Deal?

September 30th, 2013

Aston Martin Cygnet

The Aston Martin Cygnet is proof that even elite carmakers make horrible mistakes. Aston builds the most beautifully seductive cars in the world, which embody the perfect balance between luxury, power and grace. The cars are flawless in design and exquisite in execution.

To own an Aston tells the world that you appreciate, and can afford, the best material possessions life has to offer. Even used Aston Martins command hefty sums and remain aspirational symbols of wealth and excess.

Well, all but the Cygnet, anyway. Drivers of a Cygnet look more like they’re driving a giant toenail than an elite British supercar.

It seems the decision-makers at Aston Martin have finally come to their senses, though, because the Cygnet is about to sing its swan song.

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Lost Keys or Bus: The Evil of Two Lessers

September 27th, 2013

public-transportation

Due to a series of events that would take far too long to explain here, I found myself yesterday sans car keys.

Of course, I didn’t realize it until I had to leave and was slapped in the face by the unfortunate realization that I and my keys weren’t even in the same state. After a brief moment of panic and some creative rescheduling, I changed my day from one of business meetings and work to one of vacuuming, laundry and pink-and-white animal cookies.

I still had one very important downtown meeting, though, which meant I had only one choice.

The city bus.

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Performance at 30 MPG

July 11th, 2013

2000 Chevrolet Corvette Coupe

The 2000 Chevrolet Corvette is not a spectacular supercar. The base model uses a 5.7-liter V8 to deliver 345 hp, which the EPA rates at 15 mpg city/25 highway.

Fun, yes. Super, no.

The Corvette has always been the value-priced sports car playing in the land of supercars. For buyers looking for cheap horsepower, the ‘Vette fits the bill. It’s never been the most refined or comfortable or elegant, but that’s not what Corvette buyers of the past ever expected. Just raw, straight-line power.

The used market has lots of Corvettes from the last 6 generations for sale. The 2000 model I referenced generally is listed at around $10,000, which makes for an incredibly cheap sports-car experience.

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Buy One of These and Save Loads of Money

July 8th, 2013

2013_Volkswagen_Golf_TDI_2-Door_422306

I don’t always steal quotes from memes on Facebook, but when I do, it’s because I want to save you money. So with that in mind:

“I’d rather not save any money.”

Said no one.

Ever.

Saving money on a car isn’t just about keeping a few bucks in your wallet on the day you buy, it extends to the amount of money put into the car for as long as you own it. Fuel, insurance, maintenance and more all factor into the long-term costs of any automobile.

Of course, that’s not news to anyone. But what kind of car costs the least to own over the years that you have it? Figure that out, and you’ll laugh in the face of friends and family who thought they got a great deal, but now suffer from a maddening case of financial drain. Symptoms include itchy, watery eyes and severely dry bank accounts.

If you want to avoid such embarrassing problems, read on.

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Who Should Pay When Filling Up Goes Terribly Wrong?

June 12th, 2013
Uh-oh...

Uh-oh…

A few nights ago a tired drive home nearly ended in catastrophe. Not for me, but for the fuel system of my car.

I pulled into the station, popped my fuel door, swiped my card and picked up the handle before I realized it was green. That realization woke me up very quickly, as I uttered a mild profanity and then proceeded to move to another pump, one with the 92 octane my car requires, not the diesel I almost filled it with.

Despite being clearly labeled, and the fact that diesel nozzles are typically larger than those dispensing unleaded gas, people mistakenly fill their cars with the wrong fuel occasionally. Doing so won’t necessarily cause serious damage to the fuel system or engine, but the car won’t start, and the fix could cost a lot of money.

When a moron like me makes that mistake on his own, the cost is an obvious consequence of a bone-headed mistake. But when the mistake is made by a fuel company, who should pay?

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2014 Chevrolet Cruze Diesel or 2010 Volkswagen Jetta TDI?

May 28th, 2013

2014 Chevrolet Cruze diesel

It’s taken way more years than it should’ve, but Chevy has finally put an oil burner in a small sedan.

Diesel has been Europe’s choice for propulsion since, well, probably the time of King Charles. Because of a history of cheap gasoline prices and a public disdain for dirty diesel, it never caught on in the USA. With gas inching up in cost here every day, alternative fuels are seeing more demand. Electricity has been the focus for the last decade or so, but a new round of clean, efficient diesel engines is on the way.

Chevrolet has offered a small diesel in Europe for years and has finally adapted the engine to meet U.S. standards and put in on the options sheet for the 2014 Cruze. With this new American diesel in showrooms, does it make sense to add it to your shopping list, or are you better off looking for a used Jetta?

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10 Cars and Trucks That Should Go Diesel

April 19th, 2013

2012 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Sahara

If you’re like any other car buyer in America, you’ve probably noticed the wider availability of diesel models in recent months. It seems like everybody is starting to get in on the diesel game, with Volkswagen adding more diesel models after the huge success of its Jetta TDI, Porsche introducing a diesel version of the Cayenne and Ram recently announcing a diesel 1500.

Attracted by higher fuel-mileage ratings, greater reliability and longer-lasting engines, consumers are becoming more and more receptive to the engines that were despised just a few short years ago, when diesel was synonymous with noise, pollution and foul odor. Driven by advances in diesel technology, the new engines have largely wiped away consumers’ bad memories and are now finding their ways under the hoods of sports cars, family cars, trucks and SUVs.

While there is already a large selection of diesels that will appear in the 2014 lineup from the likes of Volkswagen, Mercedes-Benz, Mazda, BMW, Chevrolet, Audi, Jeep, Porsche and Ram, there are still many holes in that line-up that we here at CarGurus would like to see filled. In order help fix this, we’ve brought together the 10 cars we’d most like to see offered with a diesel option in the U.S.

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Ford, GM Team Up on Development of New Transmissions

April 16th, 2013

Ford & GM logos

It can be hard to sit here and write about cars on a day when so many humans were hurt in a senseless act of violence. I am not in Boston. I’ve never been to Boston. But that doesn’t take the pain away. This wasn’t just about Boston, but about the running community, the families of runners, the volunteers for the race, the citizens of the city and the people across the world watching live footage of the response and the tremendous outpouring of support that came immediately.

I know this is a car blog, and I’ll get back on topic, but I can’t let this event go unnoticed here, especially with so many fellow CarGurus, family and friends in the Boston area. I truly hope everyone is well, and that, if there is a positive to be taken away, it’s that the darkness of evil is replaced just a little more by the light of all those who choose to love instead of hate.

Part of recovery, of course, is moving on and finding stories of cooperation and getting back to the things that make us happy. With that in mind, I want to talk about two adversaries coming together for the better good of the automotive industry.

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