The 2016 Camaro Goes Cross-Country

October 29th, 2015

2016 Chevrolet CamaroNow through Nov. 14, depending on where you live, you might just cross paths with the 2016 Chevrolet Camaro. Teams of journalists are driving some cross-country in a promotion called the Find New Roads Trip.

Chevrolet is bringing the Camaro East, West, North, and South across the United States to consumer events where you can get up close and personal with the exciting new coupe as well as the Chevrolet Malibu and Chevrolet Cruze. The Camaro is going to cover 48 states in 25 days.

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Mazda RX-Vision: Reality or Illusion?

October 29th, 2015

Mazda RX-Vision concept

What happens when a Mazda RX-8 falls into a cotton candy machine?

You’ve seen how those machines stretch and pull the candy until it finally wraps itself around the cardboard stick. The new Mazda RX-Vision concept, pictured above, is the car-equivalent to stretched cotton candy.

And it’s gorgeous.

How did this wonder of automotive design happen? Will it actually come into existence? Will regular people like you and me be able to buy one? And most of all, if it does happen, how will it be powered?

The answer to that last question is perhaps even more exciting than the sleek shape you see in the photo before you.

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The Best Used Luxury Car You Can Buy

October 28th, 2015

2005 Volkswagen Phaeton

Do you remember the Volkswagen Phaeton?

This is the car that proved very few people in the U.S. were interested in a $75,000 Volkswagen. The Phaeton was introduced for the 2004 model year and was gone by 2006…so for two short years, American auto buyers had the chance to buy the nicest, most expensive Volkswagen ever sold.

An Audi-sourced 4.2-liter V8 was the *small* entry-level motor, while a massive 6.0-liter W12 was the up-level choice. Both engines were, and still are, magnificent.

The Phaeton was built in the same plant that created the Bentley Continental and Flying Spur. From the inside, one might never guess he or she is in a Volkswagen. From the outside, no one would ever think the Phaeton is anything more than a larger version of the Passat.

That’s where the Phaeton failed. Now, a good 10 years later, it’s time to look at the Phaeton again.

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Electric Cars That Don’t Look Like Electric Cars

October 27th, 2015


“Why do electric cars have to look like that?” she asked.

My wife referenced a parked BMW i3, a vehicle that certainly qualifies as eye-catching if not attractive.

I answered her question with some pre-programmed babble that included a perceived need by automakers to make their EVs stand out from the crowd, and a desire by EV owners to tell the world what they are driving.

Electric vehicles like the i3, i8, and Nissan Leaf are designed to invoke immediate recognition, but I questioned the logic as I spoke.

Why DO electric cars look like that? If we want them to be incorporated into the mainstream, they need to look like mainstream cars. Tesla understands that, but will other automakers evolve their EVs to suite the tastes of a mass audience?

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Toyota Goes Back to the Future for New Concept

October 26th, 2015


I realize that everyone is probably worn out on the whole Back to the Future thing. This, though, merits a mention because it’s arguably a major reason why a popular truck became so successful.

The infamous day when Marty McFly and Doc Brown flew into 2015 and wreaked havoc on the past happened last week. Bloggers and Facebookers everywhere spent the day bemoaning the lack of hoverboards, while actors Michael J. Fox and Christopher Lloyd made the rounds on the talk show circuit.

One of my fondest memories from the trilogy was Marty’s black 1985 Toyota 4×4 truck, which led to my eventual purchase of a similar truck. Last week Toyota announced a modern take on the classic truck, but does is it hold up to the original?

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Defining the Driver’s Car: Our Experience at IMPA’s Test Days

October 23rd, 2015

While many auto journalists will tell you they’re just trying to scratch a living out of whatever they can, it’s an undisputed fact that the job has some definite perks. Although we can’t live the life of the rich and famous every day, we do occasionally get invited to drive the cars we cover. For a couple of beautiful days in October, Monticello Motor Club—one of the most exclusive and impressive automotive country clubs in America—opens its doors for the International Motor Press Association‘s (IMPA) Test Days, where schlubs like us get asked to drive some of the best new cars in the world on both a technical race track and the back roads of the Catskill Mountains.

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Bye-Bye, Viper! Thanks for the Adventures

October 23rd, 2015

2016 Dodge Viper SRT GTS in competition blue

I can’t say I’ll miss the Viper.

About 15 years ago a friend of mine had a 1994 version that we enjoyed flinging along twisty back roads. The car was fun, and we got lots of attention (and third-degree calf burns from the ill-placed exhaust). The Viper was perfect for young adults in the late 1990s, but it doesn’t have a place now.

FCA has realized that fact, too, and come 2017, the venerable Viper will end production. There is no replacement car in the works.

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Before You Buy Your Teen a Safe Car, Invest in Safe Driving Skills

October 22nd, 2015

Ford Teen DrivingWe’re in the midst of National Teen Driver Safety Week, which runs through Oct. 24. That gives us a great reason to point out the variety of opportunities available for your teens to get into an advanced driver-safety program thanks to companies like Kia, Ford, and BMW.

John F. Paul, a AAA spokesman in New England, says these programs can be invaluable for young teen drivers. And don’t worry. Just like teaching martial arts doesn’t make a teen a fighter, advanced safety driving schools don’t make young drivers over-confident in their abilities. As Paul points out, kids are less likely to drive recklessly after taking one of these courses.

Startling statistics demonstrate why these courses are so important. According to Paul, 50 percent of teen drivers will be involved in some kind of accident within their first 6 months of driving.

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Do Your Tires Last as Long as You Think They Should?

October 22nd, 2015

worn tires

Who knew tires could be so controversial?

Back in 2009 we posted a blog about the need to replace new tires after just 20,000 miles. At the time I had a new vehicle that required new tires after just 22,000 miles, which turned out to be pretty common as evidenced by the people who left comments on the post.

In the years since, I’ve purchased other cars and other sets of tires. It seems there’s a new practice emerging of paying for a tire warranty. Are the days of 60,000- or 80,000-mile tire warranties gone?

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Volkswagen Golf Cabrio Coming to the U.S.

October 21st, 2015

2016 Volkswagen Golf Cabriolet

Perhaps Volkswagen is trying to make amends for all the trouble it’s caused. Or maybe it just wants to do something to make up for all the diesels it can no longer sell here in the United States.

The VW brand will struggle for a long time to overcome the damage its emission scandal has done to the brand. On top of that, money that would have been used to develop new products will likely be diverted to pay for massive fines and recall costs.

So how can Volkswagen continue to sell new product and survive? It needs to try to make us forget about its indiscretions. One way to do that is to introduce cars that previously weren’t available here.

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