The Car Features People Love to Hate

Great car, but avoid the front defroster

Great car, but avoid the front defroster

Modern car features are practical, convenient, irritating and outright absurd.

Heated seats are a gift direct from the heavens, while heated windshields are the kind of irritation that will slowly drive you to insanity.

The number of available car options has grown exponentially since the days of optional air conditioning and power windows. I’m certainly not alone in my loathing of some features, as our friend Jil McIntosh recently posted a rant about the features in cars that are more infuriating than helpful. I have to say that she nailed a lot of them, but there are more.

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MG Roadster Hints at U.S. Comeback

MG MGB Roadster

As far as cars with a convoluted past go, there aren’t many like MG Cars and the infamous MGB Roadster.

Ownership has historically been British, as MG Cars gave way to British Motor Corporation, which yielded to British Motor Holdings, which evolved to British Leyland Motor Corporation.

Production lasted, in some form or another, from 1962 to 1980 with a range of 4-cylinder and 6-cylinder engines and even an iteration with a Buick V8 under the hood. There was a brief comeback between 1993 and 1995, which had a slightly updated body, suspension and a 3.9-liter V8. The strategy for all MG cars was simple: Create a lightweight, front-engine, rear-wheel-drive sports car.

The cars, while not great, did have some popularity and sold well. Following decades of financial turmoil and mismanagement, though, MG struggled, quit production and has sat dormant for over 30 years. In 2005, it was purchased by Chinese company Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation, with hopes of rebuilding the brand. Nearly a decade later, where does MG stand?

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Volvo Redefines the Luxurious and Purposeful Interior

2015 Volvo XC90, Interior

I thought I had it good with my Q7.

I’ve embarked on road trips with 4 kids, I’ve taken it on a trip with 5 other full-grown adults, I’ve used it to pull trailer-loads of trash to the dump, I’ve hauled a 600-pound concrete fountain, and just this weekend I brought home 425 masonry bricks in the back.

The big Audi has done all this for me without a single complaint and in extreme comfort. I thought I had it good. Until, that is, I read about the interior of the all-new Volvo XC90.

I must have one.

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Shopping for the One That Got Away

1966 Oldsmobile Toronado

We all have one we wish we would have kept.

Mine was an ’84 Toyota Pickup. My fiancée’s was a ’74 Porsche 911. My dad had two: a 1967 Mercury Cougar and a 1966 Oldsmobile Toronado.

I was a mere baby when he had the Cougar, so hardly remember the car. I was a young teen when he had the Olds and have fond memories of helping with the restoration. (And by “helping,” I mean “standing in the garage and handing him tools.”)

The Toronado’s 385-hp, 425-cubic-inch V8 engine was rebuilt, the interior reupholstered in ivory leather, and the exterior painted Crystal Green. The finished product was stunning.

After all the restoration, Dad sold the car for $5,000.

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Remember the True Meaning of Memorial Day

traffic jam

Ahhhh, Memorial Day. It’s the time of year when we leave early from work on Friday, load up our favorite recreational vehicle with hot dogs and baked beans, then drive for 14 hours to a place that would take only 3 on any other weekend.

Yes, this is the sacred time of year when we also take Monday completely off of work and take time out of our busy schedules to remember and reflect on the fact that 1.4 billion other families with RVs also take road trips on this weekend… to the exact same campground.

This is why we pledge every year to revise our Memorial Day schedules in hopes of missing the traffic.

Of course, everyone forgets and makes the same travel rituals again next year.

This weekend, my family and I embarked on a day trip to Seattle, completely unaware of the fact that every other human on Earth would be traveling the same highway.

I didn’t intend to become a Memorial Day statistic this year. I typically like to enjoy my Memorial Day by going to Costco and forgetting that it is closed so employees may spend the day remembering why they don’t like to travel on Memorial Day.

Rather than a peaceful 4-hour drive, this trip consisted mostly of idling over a mountain pass with one kid chanting she had to pee and the other making dire warnings about an impending poop.

Of course, the true intent of Memorial Day is to take time to remember and honor those who have passed on to the great freeway in the sky. For some reason, we as a society have decided that the best place to do so is in an outhouse on the side of a backed-up Interstate.

Maybe next year we’ll all remember to stay home and honor our ancestors from the comfort of our living rooms.

Happy Memorial Day! Did you take a road trip this year?

-tgriffith

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10 Ways Modern Cars Keep Us Safe

Crash Testing Volvo, side view

Photo courtesy of Motor Trend

If you’ve been inside a newer car lately, it’s very likely you’ve seen some of the awesome safety technologies new cars come with these days. While cars have become more reliable, longer-lasting and more fuel-efficient in recent years, safety is really where cars have grown by leaps and bounds. In the past, it was all cars could do to protect us during a crash. Today, they actively try to prevent crashes.

We decided we wanted to take a closer look at just what cars are doing to keep us safe. While some of the best safety features on the road today have become standard in many cars, some of the coolest have yet to become mainstream. To help give you an idea of what, exactly, cars are doing to keep the airbags from going off, we put together a list of what we think are 10 of the coolest, most interesting and best safety innovations automakers put into cars.

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Holy Hellcat, the Horsepower Wars Just Got Real

Dodge Challenger Hellcat

This whole horsepower thing is officially out of control.

Before I really get into things, I’d like to point out a great irony: Automakers across the world are vying to create the most powerful street-legal cars ever available, with horsepower numbers and 0-60 times once reserved for only the most exclusive supercars. Five hundred horsepower was once the realm of fantasy but can now be had in just about any suburban garage across America.

At the same time, automakers are trying to sell the most fuel efficient hybrid and electric cars to econo-loving environmentalists. It’s the very definition of a double standard, yet we all seem to accept it.

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Tesla Moves Ahead While Keeping an Eye Out for a Ghost

Fisker Karma

Tesla has reached its tipping point.

How do I know this? I can feel it. I can sense it. I credit my finely tuned sense of the automotive industry.

Well, that and I’m hearing about Tesla everywhere. In the news, in blogs, on drives with friends and coworkers, and while working in my front yard. Tesla has infiltrated the auto world, and things are looking great for the California automaker.

Unless Fisker’s rebirth poses as much of a problem as its new owner promises.

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Jaguar Heading Back in Time to Recreate E-Types

1963-Jaguar-Lightweight-E-Type

Hop into your DeLorean, kids, we’re going on a time-travel adventure.

Set your clock to February of 1963, a time when the Beatles opened for Helen Shapiro, Mickey Mantle signed a $100,000 baseball contract and Jaguar built 12 special-edition E-Type Lightweight race cars.

The E-Type is, to many people, the most beautiful car ever made. The ultra-rare Lightweight version was crafted out of aluminum, got its power from a 3.8-liter straight 6-cylinder with an aluminum block, had a stripped-out interior, no chrome trim and lighter-weight side windows. Those modifications resulted in a 250-pound weight loss and an increase in performance, especially useful around a race track.

Legend has it that Jaguar was supposed to build 18 of the rocketships, but managed only 12. The outstanding 6 were allocated chassis numbers but never built. For the next 50 years their shells sat gathering dust while Jaguar marched ahead, hence the time machine to go back and get one or somehow convince Coventry to go ahead and finish the missing 6.

Lucky for us, we can keep the time machine parked and thank our lucky stars that Jaguar is going back in time for us.

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To Haggle or Not to Haggle on Your Next Car Purchase

2009 Saturn Sky Redline Ruby Red Limited Edition

Remember Saturn?

I know how easy it is to forget things once they are out of mind, and Saturn has been out of our minds for about 5 years now. If you’ll recall, Saturn branded itself as “a new kind of car company” and famously sold new cars at a no-haggle price through standalone dealerships.

An article from 2006 at CNN Money said,

People who buy Saturns generally love the no-haggle price. In J.D. Power and Company’s annual surveys of dealership satisfaction, Saturn consistently ranks higher than any other non-luxury car brand.

So why hasn’t the no-haggle pricing structure caught on at other automakers and dealers?

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