Like employees of any outlet in the business of reviewing cars, one of the questions we hear often revolves around where we get the cars we review. Are they supplied by dealerships? Does CarGurus buy the cars? Or do manufacturers actually set aside brand new vehicles specifically to send them off to automotive journalists, knowing that doing so opens them up to potential criticism?
With perfect blue skies overhead and a couple cups of coffee in our stomachs, a CarGurus team made its way to the Larz Anderson Auto Museum yesterday in Brookline, Massachusetts, for this year’s Ragtop Ramble and Crustacean Crawl. The objective: mingle with automaker PR folks and New England auto journalists, check out a bunch of cool cars, capture footage, snap photos, and eat lobster.
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.
On May 26, the New England Motor Press Association, of which some of us here at CarGurus are members, will host a conference at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology with the theme Technology Intersecting Design. It may sound like a boring topic, but as you’ll see, it’s a compelling one.
The NEMPA conference will include prominent industry figures like Timothy Anness, head of advance design, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles – North America; Mary Gustanski, vice president of engineering, Delphi; Michelle Tolini Finamore, curator of fashion arts at the (Boston) Museum of Fine Arts; Dr. Gill Pratt – CEO, Toyota Research Institute; and John J. Leonard, professor of mechanical and ocean engineering at MIT.
We had just finished considering whether or not our current car would be held in such high regard if it came packaged with a different badge on the steering wheel. Would it elicit stares and draw myriad cell phones, all pointed in our direction, as it does now? Surely, plush carpeting and massaging seats are common enough nowadays to be found in a Kia K900 or a Hyundai Equus, let alone one of the more and more ubiquitous luxury brands. Was our car really so special?
Then we saw it. Driven by what very well may have been a chauffeur, a brand spanking new Mercedes-Benz S63 AMG pulled alongside us and, sure enough, compelled my co-driver to utter the following:
Winter has finally started to recede here in New England, but that doesn’t mean practical vehicles are going anywhere. John “Bugsy” Lawlor and our friends at NEMPA were kind enough to have us down for a look at some great crossovers for 2015, and as always, we’re thrilled to let you know what we think.
Nissan’s been an inspired contributor to the crossover market ever since the Murano debuted in 2003. Its three current mainstays—the Murano, Rogue, and Juke—all offer above-average driving dynamics, comfortable interiors, and funky good looks. We had the good fortune to have a closer look at all three and took the 2015 Rogue out for a spin.
One of the key selling points in this segment is the functionality of an SUV without the loss of a car’s agility and ride. The Juke’s been a standout in the small crossover segment for a few years now thanks to its excellence in these respects. Not only does it provide a uniquely quirky look, it also provides an exciting drive and the convenience of a hatchback. We greatly appreciate the availability of a manual transmission and the utility of all-wheel drive; we only wish the two weren’t mutually exclusive in the Juke. The model on hand was a fantastic Solar Yellow, and while we didn’t get a chance to drive it, it’s safe to say you’ll never lose this one, no matter how crowded the parking lot gets.