They Forgot the V8s: Wards Announces 10 Best Engines for 2017

Volvo V60 Polestar engine

For the past 23 years, WardsAuto has published a list of the 10 best engines available for the upcoming model year. In an industry where reviews are more and more dominated by instrument tests, where cars are differentiated by tenths (if not hundredths) of a second on a drag strip and by tenths (if not hundredths) of a g-force on a skid pad, Ward’s list is based on objective, but also delightfully subjective, data.

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When Used Cars Come With Extra Surprises

2014_volkswagen_jetta

This is a true story: A friend had purchased a new-to-her Honda CR-V. She was instantly in love with the car, a spotless low-mileage white 2006 model. After a few days of driving, however, she started to notice a peculiar smell. The odor worsened over the coming days until it became so offensive in the summer heat that she had to drive with the windows down.

She scoured the car for the source of the smell with no luck until, one day, she discovered a rotting tuna sandwich under the driver’s seat.

It’s not uncommon to find forgotten possessions in used cars, but they normally amount to some loose change or stray crayons.

A man in Kentucky, though, may have won the award for the most interesting find yet. Continue reading >>>

Gifts for Gearheads

Dodge_challenger_red_bow

Car commercials have a very specific flavor during the holiday season. They range from humorous to overly sentimental, but they often involve the advertised car sitting in someone’s driveway with a comically large, red, tightly wrapped bow on the hood or roof. It’s the universal symbol for “This car will be on sale this holiday season, so why not surprise a loved one with a brand new car?” Well for most of us, this is a very unrealistic scenario.

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Will Car Brands Survive the Age of Autonomy?

uber_volvo

When flying on an airplane, travelers generally don’t care if the maker of the plane is Boeing or Airbus, but they do care if the carrier is United or Southwest. Apply that thinking to the world of cars as autonomy sets in over the next decade or so, and perhaps it won’t matter if the maker of the car is Ford or Chevrolet, but if the operator of the car is Uber, Lyft, or even IBM.

Automotive News published an in-depth article about the future of car brands, and it doesn’t look good for automakers as we know them today.

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Mazda: The Car to Drive or the Car to Own?

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Think back to 2002, when the all-new 2003 Mazda6 came onto the market and redefined what a sport sedan could be for families. I still remember the first one in my neighborhood. It was bright red, sleek, and looked nothing like the Accord sedans and Dodge minivans that littered the suburban area. The driver would come in to the neighborhood way too fast while us young parents vocally chastised his reckless driving but secretly wanted to be just like him.

The Mazda6 brought some zoom-zoom to the previously bland sedan segment and changed things forever. Now we’re coming up fast on 2017 and the Mazda6 still has that sporty spirit and has spawned a smaller, equally-as-fun Mazda3.

But there’s a problem in zoom-zoom land.

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Costco’s Christmas Corvette: A Good Deal?

2017-chevrolet-corvette

If you’ve ever dreamt of a Corvette under the tree with a giant red bow on top, Costco may be your best bet for making it happen. The discount membership club has long offered an auto program through which members can get pre-negotiated deals on cars, but this winter, for the first time, the deal extends to America’s supercar.

There’s been a mixed response on whether Costco’s deals are better than what any regular Joe can negotiate on his own, but at the very least the Costco price saves a buyer the hassle of negotiating.

To be clear, buyers don’t actually purchase cars through the warehouse. They must still buy through a dealership, but typically work with a salesperson familiar with Costco’s program to get the Costco-approved price. Trade-ins can still be negotiated as part of the deal.

How good of a deal is buying a new Corvette through Costco?

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When It Makes Sense to Drive Instead of Fly

Road Trip Car

The holidays bring many things: festive decorations, various holiday foods, crackling fireplaces, and general merriment and cheer. Oh, and travel. Lots and lots of travel. Looking at expensive plane tickets during this time of year, it’s pretty clear the air-travel industry is aware of this, and who are they to pass up the chance to leverage a little supply and demand? Airlines may love it, but at times, the juxtaposition of Thanksgiving and Christmas–just 30 days this year–can put plenty of strain on even the fattest wallets. In some cases, it can make you wonder whether it’s more affordable to drive instead of fly. Continue reading >>>

What’s Your Most Trusted Car?

subaru-legacy-2014

There were a few brief moments yesterday afternoon when I wondered if today’s blog post would get written or if I’d spend the night huddled in a dark, frozen, and snowy forest. Three hours earlier, we loaded our Subaru with snowshoeing equipment and drove up to the base of our local mountain. My wife and I embarked on a trail that we thought was a quick 2-mile loop.

Three miles later we realized we didn’t recognize our surroundings when the trail disappeared into a blanket of freshly fallen snow. We panicked a little because we knew we had about 45 minutes of sunlight left and at least three miles of deep snow to trudge through in unfamiliar forest if we turned back.

Luckily we found a posted trail map and learned that we were on the verge of starting an 8-mile loop and turning around gave us our best shot of getting out of the forest before nightfall.

Obviously we made it home to the comfort of my laptop and a warm fire, but not before the thoughts of, “We could actually get lost out here,” started echoing through my head.

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2017 Trucks: Getting Better All the Time

2017 Nissan TITAN SV Single Cab

Remember when American pickups had a single bench seat and vinyl upholstery? When trucks were built to cart heavy stuff, in the bed or on a trailer, and didn’t need to do much more than that? The explosion of the crossover category proves shoppers want cars that deliver more practicality than your average sedan, and given the generally larger profit margins in the truck business, we’re not surprised truck makers want their products to offer more capability, too. That’s why truck lineups are growing, boosting capacities, and adding lots of useful cargo-management, safety, and driver-assistance features—not to mention leather upholstery, heated seats and steering wheels, and plenty of chrome.

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Alfa Romeo Brings Italian Style, Craftmanship, to U.S. Buyers

2015-alfaromeogiuliaqv-01

Get ready, because there are a lot of words coming your way that you’ll probably have no idea how to pronounce. Alfa and Romeo don’t present much of a problem, but some you might stumble on include Giulia, Internazionale, and Quadrifoglio.

We’re talking, of course, about Alfa Romeo’s new lineup of the Giulia midsize sedan, which will finally be available for purchase in the United States. We will get the base Giulia trim, the Giulia Ti, and the top-of-the-line Giulia Quadrifoglio.

Prices start at reasonable levels, but the Quadrifoglio will be as hard to afford as it is to say.

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