Big Family? Here’s Your Newest Chariot!

March 20th, 2015

2015_nissan_nv_passenger

I used to know a family who went everywhere in a Mercedes-Benz Sprinter van. You know the one. It’s long, tall, and looks dangerously top-heavy as it weaves through city streets.

This was a family who needed the space and weren’t ashamed to drive something out of the ordinary in order to be comfortable.

The traditional 5-passenger car or SUV just doesn’t cut it for large families. My family requires a 6-passenger rig, but if truth be told, sometimes I think an even larger vehicle would be nice, because there is little room for any of the stuff that comes with us.

Another family friend has a similar situation, and has announced her new dream car: a Nissan.

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The Two Tiers of Luxury: Which Do You Prefer?

March 19th, 2015
"Tier 2" does not mean "inferior."

“Tier 2″ does not mean “inferior.”

Is a Lincoln as good as a Lexus?

Can an Acura take down an Audi?

Will an Infiniti be as good as a BMW?

There are two groups of cars in the luxury world: the ones that command respect and the ones that desperately want it. Automotive News breaks these down a little more formally, calling them the “Tier 1″ group and the “Tier 2″ group.

Tier 1 includes BMW, Lexus, and Mercedes-Benz. Tier 2 includes Lincoln, Acura, Cadillac, and Audi.

If I were making the rules, I’d put Audi up in Tier 1, because it has decidedly outsold the others in Tier 2 and has, in my humble opinion, eclipsed the quality level of BMW.

The Tier 1 group continues to establish its dominance, while the Tier 2 group struggles to maintain relevance. Are cars from Tier 2 worth considering?

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So Long, Snowmageddon

March 18th, 2015

Automotion parking lot

John “Bugsy” Lawlor and the New England Motor Press Association gave one of New England’s worst winters ever an emphatic boot this past weekend. Having assembled an impressive fleet of new cars and trucks, not to mention a mouth-watering buffet, Lawlor and his Automotion crew hosted a large and varied group of auto journalists for NEMPA’s 2015 Winter Vehicle Awards testing.

Roads were relatively clear but very wet, and withering grey remnants of this year’s record-setting snowfall lingered just beyond the pavement. But having the opportunity to put a large and varied assortment of cars through its paces refreshed everyone’s perspective and attitude. We all learned a ton and had a blast, and we now eagerly look forward to ditching snow tires, opening car windows and roofs wide, and hitting the back roads in something speedy and nimble.

The list of cars available for testing included everything from hot compact all-wheel-drive hatches to full-size trucks, with a number of muscle and sports cars tossed in for good measure. My co-workers and I did our best to sample as wide a range as possible, though we’ll confess that some of our choices were driven by parking-lot logistics. NEMPA’s Winter Vehicle Awards winners won’t get announced until springtime, but here are some thoughts on the cars we drove.

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Next to Go: Toyota Venza, Honda Crosstour, or Ford Edge?

March 18th, 2015

2013-toyota-venza

Yesterday came the surprising news that the Volkswagen Beetle could be axed in favor of something new.

Less surprising is the recent announcement that the Toyota Venza will go extinct within a couple of months.

The Venza, which I like to call a cross between a Camry and an AMC Eagle, was supposed to be a huge hit. It was supposed to drive off dealer lots in droves and be exactly what Americans wanted; a large 4-door, cavernous cross between a wagon and a sedan.

It turns out Americans would rather just have the sedan.

Could the Venza’s exit be a precursor of what to expect from Ford and Honda?

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Could Volkswagen Kill the Beetle?

March 17th, 2015

VW_Beetle

The Volkswagen Beetle has a long history in the United States, and an even longer past in the rest of the world.

It’s a history that begins in the 1930s and includes Adolf Hitler, Ferdinand Porsche, and an entire country of people who flocked to purchase the new and inexpensive car built for the German autobahn.

Originally called the Volkswagen Type 1, the Beetle was manufactured from 1938 until 2003 and thrived in the U.S. in the 1950s and 1960s. More than 21 million cars were made before worldwide production ended in 2003.

A modern version of the VW Beetle still zips around U.S. roads, but its days may be numbered.

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GM Cuts 100,000-Mile Warranty in Favor of More Technology

March 16th, 2015

2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray

Would you rather have a long warranty on your car or have a car that features more technology?

General Motors says it knows your answer to that question and is reducing the length of its warranty in favor of building cars with higher levels of connectivity.

GM started offering a 100,000-mile limited powertrain warranty in 2007 as a way to keep up with the likes of Hyundai and Kia and to help build a better perception of its cars.

The only problem is that customers didn’t notice.

Rather than building a marketing campaign around the long warranty, GM has decided to reduce it and use the cost savings on things it believes its customers truly care about.

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Ten Stylish Summer Convertibles Under $10k

March 13th, 2015

2008 Mitsubishi Eclipse Spyder

It’s that time of year again. Well, not really, but we can certainly start looking forward to it. As the days get longer, the air gets warmer, and the smells get a little sweeter, it’s hard not to dream about one thing: convertibles. The snow hasn’t completely melted here in Boston, but what’s on the ground now is a far cry from the over 8 feet we’ve gotten this winter, and that completely justifies our looking months into the future.

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Digging Out? Get Your Car Ready for Spring!

March 13th, 2015

Car buried in snow, Boston

I love snow. I’m honestly a little jealous that a good majority of the country got buried this winter while I sat and watched my local ski hill warm up and close for the season by February.

If you live anywhere other than the West Coast, odds are good that you, and your car, experienced record snowfall. If you’re one of the many car owners who simply gave up and let your vehicle slumber under the weight of the white stuff, you might have some special maintenance to do once spring does the dig-out work for you.

The first thing to know is that a few weeks buried in snow and cold probably isn’t going to do any major damage to your car. There are a few areas to take special care of, though.

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Grilles: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

March 12th, 2015

2015 Ram 1500 Laramie Limited Crew Cab 4x4-front-three-quarter-03

Let’s spend a little time talking about grilles.

The face of a car defines its personality. Cars have been made and broken, praised and ridiculed, based on the front end alone. Failures include the famous Ford Edsel and, more recently, the Acura Beak.

Successes include recent Audi faces and just about anything with a BMW logo on it.

Truck grilles haven’t received a lot of attention, but one new model is at risk of falling into the category the Edsel invented.

The new 2015 Ram 1500 Laramie Limited needs to stand apart for two reasons, because the competition is fierce, and because it needs to distance itself from the Dodge brand.

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Ready for the Comeback of the Land Rover Defender?

March 11th, 2015

Land Rover's trio of Defender limited editions

We were just showering the Jeep Wrangler with some love and touting its prowess for being one of the best go-anywhere vehicles money can buy.

Well, reasonable money, anyway.

Yesterday came news that another legendary rig would invade the shores of the United States and give the Wrangler some serious opposition. Could this new challenger make the aging Jeep look like a Tonka toy lost in a sand dune?

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