IMPA Test Days: We’ll Be Back

#IMPATestDays2016

The spectacular trees of New York State’s Catskill Mountains had to settle for backdrop status early last week. The New York City-based International Motor Press Association assembled a magnificent collection of cars, trucks, and motorcycles as well as a bunch of car and motorcycle writers at the Monticello Motor Club‘s (MMC) racetrack and extensive off-road course for IMPA Test Days 2016, 48 hours of intense on- and off-road testing.

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The Times They Are a-Changin’

Mechanic fixing old car engine

Everyone knows someone who regularly gripes about “the end” of the manual transmission, uncovered V8 engines, and our ability to get away from it all. We prefer to drive with a stick, thank you, but we know manuals aren’t always faster, cheaper, and less expensive anymore. And while we love the sound and power of a V8, a turbo four can go a lot farther on a tank of gas and lets a driver get more value out of the car’s stereo. And we think our newfound inability to really escape has more to do with smartphones and the Internet than the advance of car technology.

So we’re going to take a look at some new and different cars that mark big changes we hope all drivers can agree are positive. We’re not sure they’ll end up on as many high-schoolers’ bedroom walls as the GTO Judge and the Lamborghini Countach did, but we expect to see plenty of them on the road, and who knows which 2016 might just become a sought-after collectible to today’s hipsters.

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Two New Tires Bring Fun Driving Year Round

Michelin Pilot Sport A/S 3+

The Autumn Equinox is September 22, but when the kids go back to school, summer is unofficially over. Sure, there are plenty of warm days left, but the nights have started getting cooler, and it’s only a matter of time before the leaves change and the chill of fall and winter will take hold. Now’s the time to start thinking about tires.

Automakers routinely tout all-wheel drive as the best way to deal with challenging conditions, but regardless of which wheels get power, the tires are the only parts of a car that actually touch the road. A good set of winter tires can turn a rear-wheel-drive sports car into a competent winter commuter car, while a set of ultra-high-performance summer tires can render an AWD-equipped car useless in the snow.

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What Was That? Some New Model Names for 2017

2017 Porsche 718 Cayman and 718 Boxster

In 2015 Americans bought more new cars than in any previous year, but those numbers can’t hide one of the auto business’s dirty little secrets: even when shoppers buy lots of cars, not every model sells well. We’re now winding down the 2016 model year, so we know which models won’t return for 2017. There are a few we won’t miss too much (take care, CR-Z!), but happily, a number of good models that won’t come back for 2017 have already been replaced or will move on under new names. Here are some vehicles we’re glad will return, even if they’ve had to adopt an alias to do so.

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Digging Into Self-Driving Cars

NEMPA MIT panelists John Leonard, Gil Pratt, Timothy Anness, Mary Gustanski, and Michelle Finamore.

Panelists John Leonard, Gil Pratt, Timothy Anness, Mary Gustanski, and Michelle Finamore.

People are funny. We’ve complained about having to waste time sitting uncomfortably in traffic for decades now. But when the phrase “self-driving car” and the idea of traveling in a car without having to dedicate full attention to it started becoming unavoidable in auto news, drivers of all sorts cried foul, calling the idea bad for reasons ranging from practical and real to theoretical and imagined.

Too far along to abandon the self-driving idea, automakers experimented with new language; disruptor Elon Musk demonstrated his wisdom with words by naming Tesla’s system Autopilot, after an established technology that’s already trusted and relatively understood, at least conceptually. Another important differentiator for Tesla is the fact that Autopilot promises partial rather than full autonomy, a critical difference that came up repeatedly at the recent New England Motor Press Association (NEMPA) and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) conference on The Intersection of Technology and Design.

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Hidden Used-Car Costs New Grads Must Know

A car has hidden costs

In many students’ minds, “car” and “graduation” go together. For some, it’s because a post-grad job requires a vehicle to commute to and from work. Others may simply want a car to maintain their independent lifestyle from college (especially if they plan to move home).

This isn’t changing for the class of 2016, either. According to a recent survey conducted by CarGurus, almost one-third of upcoming graduates plan to buy a car. And of them, 57% plan to pay for it entirely on their own.

Buying a car is a major purchase—even if you opt for a moderately priced used one. Taking this on yourself is a big sign of financial freedom, but it’s also a big financial responsibility. To handle it wisely, keep in mind the following hidden costs.

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If a Chicken Screams in New York City, Does Anyone Notice?

Trans Am Worldwide's Bandit Edition 7T7 Trans Am

In a low, good-ole-boy grumble, the representative for Trans Am Worldwide told me that the Bandit Edition 7T7 Trans Am on display at the New York International Auto Show was already sold to a customer in Dubai. “You know, all of those guys have Ferraris and Lamborghinis. If you want to get noticed, you drive something like this. Our cars are popular there.”

Signed personally by Burt Reynolds, star of the iconic “Smokey & the Bandit” trilogy, the Bandit Edition 7T7 Trans Am starts life the same way every vehicle built by Trans Am Worldwide does. With a fifth-generation Chevy Camaro SS. Officially licensed to build the cars, the company undertakes a significant styling conversion and offers the 7T7 Trans Am in a variety of color combinations as well as with varying degrees of equipment and performance.

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How to Enjoy a New England Winter Weekend Without Snow

2016 New England Int'l Auto Show Press Day

CarGurus was honored to attend yesterday’s press preview of the 2016 New England International Auto Show. With more than 600 cars from 37 manufacturers valued at over $22 million, we were able to see and get into a bunch of brand-new vehicles for the first time. The show offers any car fan with an interest in new vehicles an unbeatable opportunity to take a close look at and ask experts questions about the wide world of cars available to American buyers.

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