Ready or Not, Here Comes the Porsche Wagon

May 5th, 2016

Porsche Panamera Wagon

News coming out of Stuttgart, Germany this week is being met with emotions ranging from pure exhilaration to downright depression.

My first reaction ranged from sadness to disappointment, but has now eased into acceptance of the new world in which we live.

The auto industry is in a constant state of evolution and this latest development is merely a reflection of the sacrifices that must be made in order to carry on certain traditions. One of those traditions is the purest form of automotive enjoyment: the rear-engine, rear-wheel-drive sports car.

I think we have to admit that some sports cars are still in existence because other, less awesome, vehicles foot the bill for their survival. Such is the case with the Porsche 911 and the new *gulp* Porsche Panamera wagon.

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Honda to Offer Electric, Hybrid, and Hydrogen Versions of Clarity

May 4th, 2016

Honda_Clarity

With its hydrogen-powered Clarity, Honda promises to deliver an alternative fuel source that it hopes will prove as viable as electricity.

Honda figured out how to package the vehicle as a standard five-seat midsize sedan with all the room and versatility buyers in the segment expect. Plus, it can carry enough hydrogen to propel it for over 430 miles and needs only three minutes to fill at a refueling station.

Previous efforts at creating hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles were limited by large tanks that infringed on passenger space, took too long to refuel, and didn’t provide nearly as much range. The Clarity, despite its odd proportions in the rear, is a design marvel that could bring hydrogen power into the mainstream.

Except that Honda will also create electric and plug-in versions of the Clarity. Why?

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Fiat 500: The Least Popular Car in America?

May 3rd, 2016

2016 Fiat 500

When the price of gas was getting close to $5 per gallon, Americans clamored for small, economical European cars such as the Fiat 500.

Fiat obliged after taking over Chrysler, and not only did it bring the 500 to U.S. shores, but it brought an entire family of 500-based cars including the 500L and 500X. Americans should have been thrilled. We should have flocked to our local Fiat dealerships and begged them to take our money.

That didn’t happen. Instead, dealers have struggled to even get the car in front of people, which has put the 500 among the slowest-selling vehicles in America. What happened? How did Fiat go from a desirable foreign brand to being shunned on dealer lots?

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Ford to Compete With Tesla, Chevy, for Long-Range EV Customers

May 2nd, 2016

ford_Focus_electric

Chevrolet will very likely be the first to get a 200-mile $30,000 electric car to market. The company’s Bolt will go into production this fall, followed a year (or so) later by the Tesla Model 3.

Ford has, thus far, shown no interest in a long-range EV, even saying earlier this month that a 100-mile range is plenty. Ford has increased the range of the 2017 Focus Electric from 76 miles to 100, and has said that’s as far as the company plans to go due to the increased costs of larger battery packs. Ford’s electrification guru, Kevin Layden, said,

I think right now with the launch of the Focus Electric at 100 miles, it is going to satisfy a big chunk of the population. It’s going to be really affordable and a step up from where we are now.

Ford CEO Mark Fields seems to have other plans.

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10 NHTSA 5-Star Safety Picks for Any Lifestyle

April 29th, 2016

2016 Volvo XC90

Cars and safety have had a long and difficult relationship, but it became way more complex with the arrival of the smartphone. A Pew survey last year determined that 64% of American adults own a smartphone, and anyone who’s spent any time on American roads within the last couple of years knows many people use those phones while driving. In fact, we’re just concluding April, Distracted Driving Awareness Month, during which the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) launched its “U Drive. U Text. U Pay.” campaign.

We strongly urge everyone reading this post to take NHTSA’s recommended steps to minimize their distractions while behind the wheel and avoid getting pulled over–and not just in April, but year-round. Unfortunately, there’s very little any driver can do about to prevent other drivers from getting distracted. So here are ten 2016 cars that should meet the needs and budgets of a wide variety of drivers, all with 5-star overall safety ratings from NHTSA. We hope none of you will ever have to test your car’s safety features, but just in case….

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Dream Cars of the Not-So-Super Rich

April 29th, 2016
If the Ferrari 488 is too rich for your blood...

If the Ferrari 488 is too rich for your blood…

Most of us dream of one day hitting it big and being able to afford the car of our dreams.

Traditionally we’ve lusted after the likes of Ferrari, Lamborghini, Maserati, Porsche, and Aston Martin. Today’s dream cars still include those brands, but they also include newer models from Tesla, Ford, Lexus, and Nissan.

Most people won’t ever be able to afford a new Ford GT, Nissan GT-R, or Ferrari 488, but there are plenty of dream cars available to satisfy the need for speed at a much more reasonable cost.

A friend comes to mind who recently purchased a couple of cars he’d wanted for a long time. He didn’t sell his company to Google, didn’t inherit tens of millions of dollars, and hasn’t become rich off an IPO. He did, however, work hard for many years and is now enjoying a comfortable, if not extravagant, income.

Keep reading for the cars he purchased, along with a few other choices that prove you don’t have to be among the super-rich to own a car of your dreams.

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The Impact of the Japanese Earthquakes on Lexus, Toyota Models

April 28th, 2016

2015 Toyota Camry

The news of the recent earthquakes that struck Japan had a strong impact on the U.S. auto market when it comes to Toyota and Lexus. Several models have had to suspend production while the factories are inspected and repaired.

It’s even affected Toyota’s position as the number-one automaker. That spot was usurped by Volkswagen because of the shutdowns. Yes, in spite of the diesel emissions scandal, VW is on top because of the popularity of its Audi, Porsche, and Skoda brands.

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Ford’s Intelligent Speed Limiter: Controversial, but Necessary

April 28th, 2016

ford-speed-limiter

Claiming ignorance will never get you out of a speeding ticket.

Speed limit signs are there for a reason, and not seeing one isn’t an excuse for flying through a 35-mph zone at 49. Sometimes, though, speeding is a genuine mistake rather than an intentional offense.

That was the case last time I got pulled over. The speed limit had dropped from 45 to 35 and I somehow missed the sign. Thankfully, the police officer let me off with a warning, along with the kind advice to not speed anymore.

Noted.

Had I been driving a Ford equipped with its new Intelligent Speed Limiter feature, the car would have seen the speed limit sign for me and slowed down accordingly. It seems like a great feature, but there’s a lot of fuss about it online. Why?

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Can Cars Drive Better Than People? Elon Musk Says Yes

April 27th, 2016

tesla-autopilot

This is a topic that’s come up before, but it’s becoming more and more relevant as time goes on. We’re talking about autonomous and semi-autonomous driving.

First, let me recount a quick conversation with my wife yesterday morning as she drove to work:

Wife: “I may be becoming too comfortable in the abilities of my car.”

Me: “What do you mean?”

Wife: “I don’t even have my feet on the pedals. I’m vaguely aware that the car in front of me is slowing down, but I don’t even move my feet. I assume the car will stop for me.”

Me: “You know, that’s meant to be a safety feature that stops for you if you aren’t able. You’re not supposed to rely on it like that. Please don’t do that.”

Wife: “But it always works, and I don’t have to think about it.”

Her car is equipped with adaptive cruise control which does indeed slow down and even stop to accomodate traffic ahead. However, my lovely wife uses it all the time, whether cruising at 70 down the Interstate or in stop-and-go traffic on city arterials. Is she right to rely on her car?

Tesla CEO Elon Musk says yes.

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GM Hires New Design Chief, but Don’t Expect Much Change

April 26th, 2016

2010_Chevy_Camaro

A change will happen at General Motors on May 1. It’s a change that could potentially send GM down an entirely new path while creating an all-new look for the company and its vehicles around the globe.

More than likely, though, the change will happen without anybody taking notice.

On May 1, Mike Simcoe, an Australian with decades of automotive experience, will replace current GM VP of Design, Ed Welburn.

Oftentimes when a new design chief comes on board at a car company, there’s a big hullabaloo because he or she left a post at another prestigious automaker to take the reigns at the new place. The new designer provides auto writers with plenty of speculation and excitement about how the designer’s past might meld with his or her future, while the automaker that scored the hire touts an upcoming revolution in design.

GM didn’t do that.

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