Two Surprising Cars to Challenge the Porsche 911

2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray

When you’re the best in the business, everyone else wants to beat you. When you’re the best in the car business, everyone else wants to build a better car.

The thing is, when you’re the best, you rarely lose. When you feel the competition getting close, you up your game and make sure whatever you do next sets you apart and shows the world exactly why you’ve earned the title “The Best.”

In the sports car world, “The Best” is Porsche. Other carmakers desperately want to take down the 911, or at least field something somewhat comparable. That’s no easy task, but two recent reviews of new cars both come to the conclusion that Porsche has some surprising new challengers.

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Ready or Not, Here Comes the New Escalade

2013 Cadillac Escalade

There will be chrome.

The Cadillac Escalade is a vehicle that shouldn’t exist. It goes against all current rationale of what a car should be. It’s big, heavy, extravagant and laden in what the kids today call “bling.” The Escalade is expensive and gets horrid fuel economy. People who buy a new one are telling the world that they don’t care about money, the environment or a little thing called subtlety.

The Escalade might be the most in-your-face mass-produced vehicle on the market today. Common sense would say that it shouldn’t exist any longer.

Since General Motors has never been one to succumb to the pressures of common sense, not only will the Escalade live on, it’ll be re-imagined and introduced all over again in October.

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Pebble Beach: The Best Used Car Lot Ever

Ferrari 275 GTB

The 2013 Concours d’Elegance begins this weekend, with some of the most expensive used cars ever to hit the market available for discerning buyers.

While a $17 million Ferrari may not be on the shopping list for everyone, maybe a sub-$50,000 classic could. If so, what could be better than finding your next classic ride in Pebble Beach? It may not be a Ferrari, but there could be an old BMW or Studebaker in your future.

One thing for sure, the cars at Pebble Beach aren’t the cars you’ll find in your local used listings.

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Will New Cars Become More Like Video Games?

2013 Ford Focus ST

I like ice cream, and I like tuna fish, but I don’t like tuna fish ice cream.

That same theory goes for cars and video games. I love cars, I think video games have their place, but the two just shouldn’t be combined. Well, let me be more specific: Video games that include cars are great. Cars that incorporate pieces of video games are not.

A post on Ford’s social media site got me thinking about this. A young engineer has figured out a way to make a manual gear shift knob vibrate in the same way that a video game controller does.

To which I ask: Why?

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Let’s Revisit Our First Cars

2013 Toyota FJ Cruiser

My son is torn up about what he wants as his first car. Part of him wants me to hold onto my old ’04 Jaguar X-Type so he can have it when he turns 16, freeing me up to go get the F-Type after which I’ve lusted.

The other part of him wants to get a Toyota FJ Cruiser as his first car, something he’s had an eye on for the last couple months and excitedly points out anytime he catches sight of one.

He’s genuinely concerned about this dilemma and doesn’t know which car to choose. The kicker here?

He’s 11.

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Lessons Learned and Dreams Lived at a Ferrari Dealer

Ferrari_California

I spent the majority of the afternoon yesterday hanging with some new friends at the Ferrari/Maserati dealership in Seattle, and all I got was a hat.

An exotic car dealer is nothing like your run-of-the-mill Chevrolet dealer. The showroom is more like an art gallery, with strategically placed cars sitting behind placards that display the model name, some highlights and available options. One would almost expect the cars to sit behind red velvet rope.

The prices at a Ferrari dealer aren’t as evident as they are for shoppers at a Chevy dealer, but that’s to be expected when the wares for sale cost upwards of $250,000. Even the certified used cars have a special place, right alongside their later-model cousins.

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An Absurd Lack of 6-Passenger Vehicles

Chevrolet Impala interior

What happens when 6 people need to drive from one side of Washington State to the other, but only own a couple of 5-passenger sedans?

One choice is to bring both cars and coordinate meal and bathroom stops, but that costs twice as much in gas and obviously separates everyone.

Borrowing a vehicle makes sense, but there aren’t many that can comfortably carry 6 people and all the stuff that goes along with 2 adults and 4 kids. The only options are minivans or large SUVs, and each has drawbacks. Large SUVs are nearly impossible to park in downtown Seattle, and minivans are… well… minivans.

After humbling myself, renting a van, and getting the kids and the stuff situated, something occurred to me:

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Everyone Needs a Car for Recreational Use Only

car parked in forest

I have no idea what kind of bug it was.

If a cobra had wings, legs and a creepy bug mouth, that’s the bug that was trapped in my car. In fact, it’s probably still there. I’m too afraid to go check.

I spent the day yesterday rafting a river, my car parked at the take-out point and another parked at the put-in spot. Upon returning to my car after 5 hours of “fun” on the water (four kids under the age of 11 are the reason for the quotes), I realized I’d left a window down all day. Aside from the usual suspects of flies and other small, buzzing creatures that tend to infiltrate unguarded vehicles left in the wilderness, the cobra bug is the one that made me scream louder than a 5-year-old girl terrified by approaching rapids.

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Are U.S. Truck Prices Artificially Inflated?

2013 Chevy Silverado

The Detroit News yesterday morning said,

Some industry experts believe American consumers are paying thousands extra for pickup trucks because of a lack of true market competition.

Well that’s disheartening, isn’t it?

How many years have faithful buyers of F-150s, Silverados and Ram pickups been paying more than they should for their American workhorses? What about faithful repeat buyers, who religiously remain loyal to a brand and buy new on a regular basis? Those guys have, theoretically, paid tens of thousands of dollars more than necessary for their made-in-America trucks.

It is interesting that the only full-size pickups sold here are the trucks made here.

Now think about the market for sedans and SUVs in this country. There are makes and models from Asia, Europe and North America in every corner of this great country. But even the pickups from foreign automakers, the Toyota Tundra and Nissan Titan, are built in the United States.

Why is that?

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If You Want to Really Drive, Buy Used

2004 Jaguar X-Type

2004 Jaguar X-Type

Fun to drive and nice to drive are two very different things.

The 2013 Subaru Legacy is about as advanced as an affordable midsize car can get. The top-of-the-line trim is swathed in leather, connects wirelessly to your iPhone and drives all by itself.

Seriously, the Legacy is just a few steps away from letting you set your destination, climb into the back seat and take a nap until you get there.

I could go on and on about how great the Legacy is, but there’s a certain dynamic that is missing while behind the wheel:

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