Fuel Economy Challenge: 1990 vs. 2014

2014-Ford-Fiesta

In 1990, a car was available that had a 1.0-liter 3-cylinder engine that took regular gasoline and had a 5-speed manual transmission. It wasn’t anything special to look at, but delivered economical travel. Today, the car carries EPA ratings of 38 mpg city, 45 on the highway and 41 combined.

Used versions of that car are still around today and typically cost between one and two thousand dollars.

Today, as we approach 2014, there’s a car available with a 1.0-liter 3-cylinder engine that takes regular gasoline and has a 5-speed manual transmission. It’s rated at 32 mpg city, 45 on the highway and 37 combined.

What a difference 24 years makes, huh?

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The 2015 Mustang Could Have Looked Like This

Ford Evos concept

Instead of the sleek and sporty look of the Evos concept, seen above, the 2015 Mustang will probably look, well, like a Mustang.

That makes me sad.

With new architecture and the promise of a new era spanning continents, I had hoped the Mustang would ditch all things retro and forge new paths while going on sale in places like Germany. Instead it appears the mostly new car will be an evolution of the pony car instead of the revolution I had wanted.

Small steps forward are good, but the new car doesn’t seem like it’ll be enough to render the 2013 and 2014 used models obsolete.

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Miss Pontiac? Blame Obama

2009-Pontiac-G8-GXP

I like the Blame Obama jokes. Politics aside, I love to hear about minuscule problems blamed on our president.

Tired of Nigerian e-mail scams? Blame Obama.

Burn your toast this morning? Blame Obama.

Hate the fact that you can no longer buy a new Pontiac G8 GXP, or any other new Pontiac? Blame Obama.

That last one might actually have some truth to it, if the president’s name is synonymous with the federal government and if former GM exec Bob Lutz is to be believed.

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Supercar System Doesn’t Look Super

2014-Supercar-System

Supercars are, by definition, super. It’s right there in the name. A car is just a car if it isn’t super.

Supercars, of course, also come with super prices. Just look into anything made in Modena, Stuttgart or Sant’Agata Bolognese. A supercar that doesn’t cost well over a hundred grand is probably not a supercar at all.

One company hopes to change that by offering a $70,000 “supercar” that will challenge some of the world’s most respected and revered supercars. The question is, can that be done on a budget, and, more importantly, with a GM engine?

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Infiniti and Aston Martin: Manly Cars or Not?

Infiniti Essence concept

If someone were to ask me what my favorite car is, I’d say, without hesitation, the Aston Martin Vanquish Volante. This, in fact, happened last night as I sat on the couch with my girlfriend, a fellow car geek.

I showed her a picture of the Infiniti Essence concept, which I happen to think is one of the sexiest concepts to ever hit the circuit, and her response was one of complete non-interest. I asked what she thought of it, and she said, “Well, I’m sure you like it. It’s your kind of car.”

“My kind of car? What do you mean?”

“You know… not a car a real man would drive. That car is for sissies.”

Whoa.

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Ready for a Scion FR-S Sedan?

Toyota GT 86 sedan

Oh, Auto Express, we love your rumors and enthusiastic reporting on yet-to-be-produced vehicles and the unnamed sources who out them early.

While your stories are often outrageous and your journalistic qualities somewhat questionable, we have to admit you seem to have a knack for getting things right, or at least close to it.

So when I read your story that Toyota might consider building a sedan version of the rear-wheel-drive GT-86 sports car, my initial reaction was to say, “Yeah, right.” But then I considered your track record and compared it with the fact that Toyota’s head honcho, Akio Toyoda, has injected the brand with a healthy dose of fun and seems ready to try all sorts of new things.

And a RWD sports sedan would definitely be new.

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The Chevy Corvair: Classic or Forgotten?

1964 Chevrolet Corvair

Who can name the Chevrolet from the 1960s that was, and is, the only American-designed, mass-produced passenger car to feature a rear-mounted air-cooled engine?

You might guess from the photo above that the answer is the Corvair.

I’m thinking about the Corvair because earlier this week I pulled into the parking lot of a Chinese restaurant with a special lady friend who noticed the car and said, “Wow, what car is that?”

It was dark out, and my first response was, “It looks like a mix between a Mustang and a Plymouth.”

It wasn’t until a close inspection of the car that we both said, in unison, “Ohhhh, a Corvair…”

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Jeep Cherokee Problems Keep Vehicles from Dealerships

2014 Jeep Cherokee

Going from a manual transmission to a car equipped with a continuously variable transmission (CVT) can be a bit jarring. I’ve driven a 5-speed for as long as I can remember, and sitting down in an auto-equipped car sends my senses into no man’s land every time I step on the clutch pedal that isn’t there.

The feeling is amplified when I drive a car with a continuously variable transmission, since my brain is programmed to feel a shift of gears at very precise moments in an engine’s rev cycle. When shifts don’t happen, I get dizzy and confused.

Strange, I suppose, but true.

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Signs That Chinese Automakers Are Getting Closer to the U.S. Market

Lifan 630

I like Chinese cars.

Not because I believe they are especially well designed or engineered to exceptional tolerances, but because I think it’s fun to browse through images and see how often they blatantly rip-off international car designs.

There’s a Lifan that looks like a Lexus, a Hawtai that looks like a Hyundai, a Shenboa that looks like a Saab and so many more. Everything from the design of the F-150 to the MINI Cooper has been shamelessly copied by a Chinese automaker for sale in its home market.

Now there are signs that China is getting ready to export West.

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Some Love for the Ugly and Slow

2013 Honda Pilot

Reading through the auto blog-o-sphere daily, I find plenty of opinions on cars that are beautiful, cars that are ugly, cars that are fast, and cars that are slow.

I’ve offered plenty of my own opinions on such matters in the past, and today I’m in the mood to defend some of the slow and ugly cars.

We’ve all read about the Camaro Z/28 that beat a Lamborghini’s time around the ‘ring. No need to revisit that. We also know what cars sell the most and which ones are considered beautiful. Been there, done that.

For a look at some of the ones that sell the slowest and some that have been written off as ugly, keep reading. There could be a goldmine of a good deal in here.

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