Our Favorite Super Bowl Car Ads

2011 Volkswagen Passat

Photo courtesy of the New York Times

This Sunday night, Russell Wilson and Peyton Manning will duke it out in New Jersey’s Meadowlands as the Seattle Seahawks and Denver Broncos fight for NFL supremacy in Super Bowl XLVIII. While millions will watch to find out who will take home the Lombardi Trophy, even more will tune in to witness what are widely considered to be the year’s best commercials.

Year after year, Budweiser has reigned supreme as the undisputed king of Super Bowl commercials. That being said, car manufacturers are making serious inroads in the Super Bowl advertising game. While we wait to see what car makers will come up with this year (Volkswagen and Audi have already released some pretty hilarious commercials online), we thought we’d take a look back at our favorite car commercials from Super Bowls past.

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Place Your Bets! The Best Super Bowl Commercial Will Be…

Clint Eastwood Chrysler ad

I have a really hard time with the fact that most Super Bowl ads can be viewed online right now. I treasure the memories of Super Bowls past, when the Broncos were getting whooped by the 49ers, Redskins and Giants. I miss the times that Macintosh shocked the world with 1984 and Coke made us cry with Mean Joe Greene.

I miss the days when Super Bowl ads were surprises.

In these modern times, Super Bowl ads are promoted like movies, shown on YouTube and shared on Facebook with reckless abandon. By the time the game comes around, the ads are old news.

We know exactly what companies will advertise, and we know exactly what they are going to say. Where’s the fun in that?

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Bad Gas Mileage or Lack of Common Sense?

2014 Toyota RAV4

I have a family member who doesn’t know anything about cars. I mean that quite literally, so the fact that she routinely sits behind the wheel of one is more than a little frightening.

Allow me to correct myself: This is a person who knows one thing about cars. She knows that they go. She knows how to make them go, how to make them “not go” (her words for stop) and how to get them to go in the general direction of her choosing.

So when this family member asked why her Toyota RAV4 was taking more gas than usual, I didn’t know exactly how to answer or what questions to ask. So I took it step by step.

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This Is How to Get an Electric Car

Tangos sharing freeway lane

Did you ever think you could drive an electric car for about $25 a day?

That probably sounds like a cheesy ad for a low-priced rental-car company, and I guess there’s some truth to that. When compared with the costs of buying or leasing a new EV, this brilliant little plan seems like the way to go.

Selling electric cars in the traditional manner will take decades before enough are on the road to make a real difference in air quality. Speeding that process up will require some thinking that challenges conventional wisdom. We all know that nothing changes when things are done the way they always have been.

So what’s the most economical, efficient and accessible way to get electric vehicles on the road? For that answer, we should look to China.

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2015 Lincoln Navigator Poses One Question: Why?

2015 Lincoln Navigator

Despite the decreasing practicality of the giant luxury SUV, I see some really compelling reasons to get a used Navigator.

A new one… not so much.

Getting a second-hand Navigator means substantial savings over buying new, along with guaranteed access to a proven, sturdy, rumbling V8. Getting a Navigator that’s about 5 years old can easily save 50 percent or more off the cost of a new one, which is a real no-brainer for people who enjoy the status that a luxury SUV offers.

We could sit here all day and debate why Lincoln even built a new Navigator. Honestly, I was under the impression it had gone extinct quite some time ago.

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Small and Fun, Not Big and Heavy

MAZDA MX-5 Miata

There’s no better time to think about a small, sporty roadster than in the middle of winter.

That must be why a friend asked yesterday what car I’d recommend if he’s looking for a somewhat low-maintenance, small, sporty convertible to add some fun into his otherwise mundane life. Naturally, my thinking went straight to cars like the Porsche 911 before he dropped this little factoid:

He doesn’t want to spend any more than $5,000.

My friend mentioned a Miata, a used version of which could certainly be had within the budget. But come on. What self-respecting man drives a $5,000 Miata for fun? Here are the options he should consider, even if it means plunking down a few extra bucks:

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Relying On Technology That Isn’t There

BMW Sentra crash

I’ve outsourced my brain to my phone.

I can’t believe it’s happened, but it’s true. Last night’s conversation at home turned to the Dave Matthews Band, which led to trying to remember which movie Dave was in a few years ago. My first reaction was to reach for my phone, rather than pause, process and try to remember the title.

That’s just one example of relying on technology. There was no harm done, other than to my ego upon realizing my phone does most of my thinking.

Relying on technology, though, can quickly turn bad. Relying on car technology can be even worse, especially when it’s technology that’s not even there.

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Nissan IDx, Kia GT4 Stinger Make Things Interesting

Kia GT4 Stinger concept

Kia GT4 Stinger concept

I remember the old era well. I remember when things were different, a time when the concept of having fun while driving was reserved for people with super-expensive cars or for mechanically inclined tuners who liked to turn econoboxes into home-built racers.

The idea of an inexpensive, well-engineered, rear-wheel-drive sports coupe was nothing more than a fantasy in the minds of people who remembered the Toyota Supra and Datsun 240Z.

Subaru and Toyota teamed up in recent years to grace this planet with the kind of car so many of us dreamed about: the BRZ and FR-S.

The cars have been an enormous success, which means just one thing:

There will be imitators.

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Be Honest: Are You a Distracted Driver?

distracted driving

I’m guilty.

I’ve spent a lot of time on these pages preaching about distracted driving and the dangers therein. I think we all admit that it’s a huge problem, but very few of us willingly admit that we are guilty.

Today, I’m saying it: I’m guilty.

I had my moment of truth when I pulled up next to a truck at a stoplight. Inside was the familiar glow of a phone illuminating the drivers face. He was obviously texting. I shook my head at the complete disregard for safety and silently scolded him for looking at his phone while behind the wheel.

Then, without even thinking, I picked up my phone and checked for new emails.

It wasn’t until messages began downloading and the light turned green that I realized I was doing the exact same thing.

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