The Non-American American Car

April 8th, 2014
Could the new Alfa Romeo Guilia and Dodge Charger  share a platform?

Could the Dodge Charger share an Alfa Romeo platform?

Some things are inherently American.

Think of things like Mt. Rushmore, Kentucky and the Heart Attack Grill. These are representations of Americana that showcase our country as it exists today. We love our history, our freedom and our food. And, of course, we love our cars.

There’s a new list of the most “American” cars of 2014 that includes Hondas, Toyotas and Chryslers among the Fords and Chevys of the world. I find it interesting when foreign-owned brands get named on lists like this, as it blurs the line between the domestics and the imports.

This is a phenomenon that will continue, as the Chrysler 300 and Dodge’s Charger and Challenger could become the next American cars to lose their heritage.

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Burning Oil in a Brand New Car

April 7th, 2014

oil_level_low_warning

Burning oil in a 1973 Cadillac seems legit.

Drive an old boat like that around for long and you’ll stop at every gas station and put in a quart of oil. Worn engines simply burn and leak oil, often causing heavy smoke and the putrid odor of crusty black tar.

Drivers of those old cars don’t get too angry at the oil consumption because they know it just comes with the territory of having the pleasure of driving a Nixon-era automobile.

A 2013 car should never burn a quart of oil between oil changes.

Right?

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Which U.S. Car Brand Should China Buy?

April 4th, 2014
Lincoln: Could it be sold to China?

Lincoln: Could it be sold to China?

When you and I go shopping for a new or used car, we start by thinking about the features we want, the brands we’re attracted to and the price we want to pay.

It’s a similar process when corporations look for a brand they want to acquire. The problem for corporations is that buying used is the only option and there’s a lot less inventory available. However, acquiring a brand is much easier than starting a new one.

Automakers in China have wanted a piece of the U.S. auto market for at least a decade, but have lacked the ability to break into the country.

Now, things are about to get serious.

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Should the Nissan Titan Still Exist?

April 3rd, 2014

2013_nissan_titan

When a Q7 feels small, you know you’re next to a big vehicle.

I forget sometimes just how big some trucks are, especially in areas outside of big cities. Every once in a while I venture into North Idaho and am surprised, each time, by how many pickups fill the parking lots of places like Costco and Walmart. Not just regular trucks like the average F-150, but jacked up rigs that reach a thousand feet into the sky and have tires big enough to flatten a Prius in one revolution.

The purpose of these trucks, I assume, is similar to why peacocks have massive feather displays: an effort to prove masculinity and win chicks. I’m not so sure that works in the human world as well as it does in the animal kingdom, but that doesn’t stop guys from trying.

Not just any truck, though, can qualify to be a massive hogger of rural American parking lots.

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Objects in Mirror Could Soon Disappear

April 2nd, 2014
Tesla-Model-X-Concept

Hey look, no mirrors

How many cameras do we need in our cars?

Back in 2010 we posted an article that said the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration would require backup cameras in all new vehicles by September 2014.

Obviously that mandate didn’t come to fruition, and the good ol’ fashioned rear view mirror has continued to function perfectly fine.

During the time of that 2010 article, I remember thinking backup cameras were an unnecessary and expensive piece of technology. In the last four years, though, I’ve come into possession of a 2013 Subaru equipped with a backup camera and I never want to go back.

Now there’s a new mandate from the NHTSA, along with new technology coming from the most innovative automaker on the planet that could eventually eliminate the simplest piece of automotive safety gear: the mirror.

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Farewell, Great Evo, and Good Riddance

April 1st, 2014

Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X

Mitsubishi sales are circling the drain. The carmaker hasn’t had a major commercial success since, well, ever. I can’t think of a single model that reviewers and consumers alike have lauded as the best in any class.

There is one car that has given Mitsubishi a huge dose of respect in this country: the Lancer Evolution. While every other Mitsubishi in the stable is pretty much a bargain-basement find shoppers settle for when they can’t afford a Toyota, the Evo, as it is known, is something special.

The Evo, a suped-up and turbocharged version of the homely Lancer, is the most extraordinary car Mitsubishi has ever built.

And it’s finally being killed off.

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Speed Limit: 80. Who’s Ready?

March 31st, 2014

80_MPH_SPEED

We all do it anyway. With many Interstate speed limits at 70 miles per hour, it’s easy to push that to 75 or even 80 when cruising the vast spaces between cities.

On a recent trip from Washington to Oregon, I had my cruise set at 75 and still got passed by cars that had to be going 85. Upon entering Oregon I experienced the pain of a sudden decrease to 65 and wondered why the law there required me to go so painfully slow.

Modern cars are capable of easily cruising at 80 or more, especially with the advent of 8- and 9-speed automatic transmissions that are built for efficiency at high speeds.

With the advancement of technology and the ability to go faster, the Interstate highway system needs to start keeping pace.

In some places, that is happening.

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Here Comes Tesla’s Competition

March 28th, 2014

Commuter Cars Tango and George Clooney

When you think of electric cars, the first maker to come to mind is probably Tesla. The company has done an amazing job branding itself as the leader in vehicles powered by electrons. With sexy car designs, lots of media coverage and a personable-yet-eccentric CEO, Tesla has become the gold standard in electric vehicles.

That doesn’t mean Tesla is alone, though.

Other carmakers build and sell vehicles that use alternative fuels, and there’s no way the legacy automakers are going to sit down and watch Tesla silently drive into the sunset with all the cash.

From the big boys to some small guys with big ideas, it seems EVs are here to stay. Keep reading for some interesting competitors Tesla may face.

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Underdog Chrysler 200 Goes for the Win

March 27th, 2014

2015 Chrysler 200C and 2015 Chrysler 200S

We root for the underdog.

We want the Cinderella team at the NCAA tournament to advance to the Elite Eight. We want to see the #15 seed defeat the #2 seed, and we get excited when a 35-point football underdog pulls out an overtime victory.

In the automotive world, there is no greater underdog than the Chrysler 200. It has to overcome the stigma of being based on the Sebring, the constant deriding by reviewers across the land and the low-quality association of being a rental-car stalwart.

With the 2015 model, Chrysler and new owner FIAT know things have to change. In order to be a viable and profitable company, Chrysler simply must field a competitor to the top-selling cars in its class: the Toyota Camry, Honda Accord, Ford Fusion and even the Nissan Altima.

This is an underdog story like no other.

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Subaru Dealer Wins Union Fight

March 26th, 2014

subaru_union_fight

Kill ‘em with love and humor.

What better way to combat a hostile situation than by offering up some comedy. Maybe we could avoid everything from wars to domestic disputes by simply opening our arms and asking for a hug, then telling a joke.

I know it sounds like I’ve gone all hippie, but when we all just get along, things are so much happier. For the latest proof of this concept, I direct your attention to a Subaru dealership in Wichita, which has effectively diffused a union protest.

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