It’s that wonderful time of year again: Snow is on the ground, holiday music fills the air, and automakers have started revealing all the fantastic cars that will be in people’s driveways come the new year. Although 2013 saw some fantastic cars come our way—cars like the 2014 Chevrolet Corvette, 2014 Cadillac CTS and 2014 Mazda3—we can’t help but look at 2014 with wide eyes, as some of the most promising cars many makers have turned out in generations sit just beyond the horizon.
The engine in my car never has, and never will, win any engine-of-the-year awards.
The 2.5-liter V6 in my 2004 Jaguar X-Type produces 192 hp and pulls the 3,400-pound sedan to 60 miles per hour in 7.9 seconds (when the check engine light isn’t on). My last tank of premium unleaded delivered 22 miles per gallon.
None of those numbers are even the least bit impressive by current standards. The truth is, they weren’t all that impressive in 2004, either.
One thing the engine has proved to be is reliable, as a mostly trouble-free 124,000 miles have rolled by so far.
Reading about the latest list of Ward’s 10 Best Engines sure gives me an inferiority complex, though.
Some say it’s a truck in appearance only, used only by men who want a truck but who also have wives determined to keep that from happening.
The Honda Ridgeline has, for nearly a decade, stood bravely in the shadow of real trucks and pretended to be just as good. With looks resembling a cross between a Chevy Avalanche and a Subaru BRAT, the Ridgeline shook up the truck world when it went on sale in 2005.
In the years since, sales trailed off, and plenty of people relegated the truck to the “I’m sure it’ll be discontinued soon” list.
Like a real pickup in the depths of an unescapable mud pit, it pushed on, slowly, toward its ultimate demise. Two years ago news surfaced that the Ridgeline would finally, mercifully, be put out of its misery.
But then something crazy and unexpected happened.
As we saw this past week, snow and ice can be quite a drag when you need to get somewhere—especially when half the country does at the same time. With Winter Storm Boreas hitting just in time for the Thanksgiving travel rush, we got to thinking about just which cars we’d prefer to take out in extreme winter conditions. Some of them are practical, some are sensible, and others are downright nuts—but they’re all cars we’d love to be in when the white stuff starts falling.
The new Colorado is built for people who want strength and capability in a truck but don’t want to park a full-size one in the garage.
Also, the truck is a much better choice than a large and lumbering Silverado to take on an epic trek to the deadliest road in the world. Just something to keep in mind, because, well, you never know.
Cars are dangerous.
It’s easy to forget that something so common in our lives, something so many of us safely use each day, can cause utter devastation in people’s lives.
Cars and trucks are essentially large, heavy chunks of metal that are capable of inflicting great damage. I was reminded of this fact by the tragic story of a Chevy Avalanche owner who accidentally backed over a child. It’s a terrible reminder that cars are dangerous, especially many of the late-model vehicles with sloped roofs, small windows and large blind spots.
Is a sleek look worth the added safety risk?
You’ve seen the stickers on the back of Suburbans everywhere. You know the ones, the little caricatures of each family member happily bouncing soccer balls or petting a puppy.
There’s usually a mom, a dad, 4 kids or more and two pets. Presumably they are all in the vehicle at the same time, and I’d almost guarantee they aren’t nearly as happy as their sticker-selves represent.
A lot of crying and yelling happens in the back of those Suburbans, I’m just sayin’.
For large families in need of a 7+-passenger vehicle, the choices are surprisingly ample. Expensive, but ample.
Get ready for the return of the midsize truck!
The Toyota Tacoma and Nissan Frontier have been the only real contenders in the “small” truck market for years now. I use quotes there because the Tacoma has become the size of an older F-150, which in effect has turned it into a full-grown pickup.
It’s that time of year again. Last night the streets of America were filled with beards, baseball bats and World Series rings, as the Boston Red Sox went door to door seeking gifts of candy from gratuitous strangers. Well, the night may not have played out quite like that in the rest of the country, but that was certainly the scene on the streets of New England.
This week’s World Series finale got us thinking. The Red Sox are a lovable team because of the personality they bring to baseball. Their stadium is the oldest in the league, their history one of the most prolific, and with the exception of a few years (we’re looking at you, 2011), the Sox tend to field a team of talented “characters” (think Pedro Martinez, Manny Ramirez, David Ortiz, etc.). All of this gels together to give the Red Sox a distinct personality—a personality that makes them one of baseball’s most lovable teams.
If personality can make a baseball team loved (or hated, in the case of the New York Yankees), what can it do for a car? The answer is quite a lot—many an otherwise awful car has been saved by the personality it projects. Conversely, many excellent or innovative cars have been easily dismissed for having the wrong sort of personality (the classic example being the Pontiac Aztek). So, on this day after Halloween, when every parent in New England has a full year until they have to chauffer around some of the biggest personalities in baseball again, we ask the question, “What cars have big enough personalities to match the likes of David Ortiz, Johnny Gomes and Koji Uehara?”
Going from a manual transmission to a car equipped with a continuously variable transmission (CVT) can be a bit jarring. I’ve driven a 5-speed for as long as I can remember, and sitting down in an auto-equipped car sends my senses into no man’s land every time I step on the clutch pedal that isn’t there.
The feeling is amplified when I drive a car with a continuously variable transmission, since my brain is programmed to feel a shift of gears at very precise moments in an engine’s rev cycle. When shifts don’t happen, I get dizzy and confused.
Strange, I suppose, but true.