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The Latest News And Reviews
Throughout The Car Industry

Categories: Car Reviews

Haunted Highways: A Series Exploring The Ghosts Of Cars Gone By (Quickly)

On: Fri, Jan 13, 2012 at 3:59PM | By: Lou Ruggieri

Ferrari F40 test 2

If you sit back and think about just how many different model cars have come across the assembly lines, it’s amazing that we remember any of them at all. Sure, you personally might remember your first car, but by-and-large, not too many of us are really emotionally vested in a 1987 Buick Skylark the way you might be. But then there are cars that come along every once in a great while that we as a collective civilized world can appreciate. Cars that are so striking, and so stunning that men and women that have no automotive knowledge whatsoever become awestruck and mesmerized by the mere sight of one of these mighty machines. That list of cars is very short, but it can be argued that at the top of that very short list lies one car, and one car only -- the Ferrari F40.

The Fit Is Go(od): Consumer Reports Ranks It Best Value Along With Many Other Japanese Cars

On: Mon, Jan 9, 2012 at 3:25PM | By: Chris Weiss

The Fit Is Go(od): Consumer Reports Ranks It Best Value Along With Many Oth test 2

Consumer Reports has released its latest Best New-Car Value List, a list that combines metrics from its performance, reliability, and cost of ownership data pools to determine value scores for some 200 vehicles. Japanese vehicles perform particularly well this year, with the Honda Fit topping the pack again.

Out of 48 "best value" picks, 34 come from Japanese manufacturers, while other countries only rank in the single digits (six European models, five American and three South Korean).

Euro-Spec Up! Headed For Production

On: Wed, Dec 28, 2011 at 9:58AM | By: Chris Salamone

VW Up! test 2

Back in 2007, VW unveiled the Up! concept at the Frankfurt Motor Show. Americans giggled condescendingly in delight, unable to appreciate the benefits of minicar ownership. Well, now we’re waste deep in a global recession and stuck paying gasoline bills on cars which rarely summit 25 miles per gallon.

Who’s laughing now? Although currently slotted for a European production run, VW’s Up! will officially go on sale in February of 2012. The company has yet to specify whether not the Up! will drive under the good ole’ red, white, and blue, but microcar fans can at least wait with some level of enthusiasm in knowing this production vehicle looks good…really good.

Classic Car Cultist: Pontiac Aztek

On: Mon, Dec 26, 2011 at 1:17PM | By: Chris Salamone

2003 Pontiac Aztek test 2

The Pontiac Aztek?! How can a vehicle which tops Edmunds’ “100 Worst Cars of All Time” and ranks 39th in AOL’s “50 Worst Cars of All Time” be featured as a classic? While not a mainstream classic – to be sure – the Aztek was a vehicle of immeasurable, yet quirky practicality that charmed nearly 30,000 sales per year from a dedicated following. But the Aztek looked like some sort of pseudo-futuristic Orwellian disaster – a fact which has landed countless criticisms.

Love it or hate it, the car’s freaky looks and uber practicality are precisely what made this vehicle a classic among certain demographics. Ok, fine. Generation X hardly qualifies as a demographic.


Chevy Malibu Eco: A Hybrid, Hybrid?

On: Thu, Dec 22, 2011 at 4:46PM | By: Lou Ruggieri

Chevy Malibu Eco: A Hybrid, Hybrid? test 2

Truth be told, when you look at the 2013 Chevrolet Malibu Eco with eAssist, it doesn't look like anything special. Same old Malibu, blah blah blah. That's not to say it's a bad looking car, but to enthusiasts, the Malibu is what it is - a company car. Chevy plans on the Malibu being its first global offering in the year ahead, and with that in mind, the GM guys went out of their way to make a version of the Malibu that has drawn our attention.

To your average enthusiast, a hybrid (outside of the exotic Porsche 918 Spyder hybrid) is nothing more than a harbinger of death for our beloved internal combustion engines. While some see a decrease in oil consumption, we see a decrease in performance and driving enjoyment. Well, it seems that the guys over at Chevy are enthusiasts, with an eye for the future. The Malibu Eco is a sedan that starts with a gasoline powered engine (thankfully), and then utilizes a small electric motor powered by a 115-volt lithium-ion battery. Now, that probably sounds pretty familiar by now, but instead of using a tiny 98-horsepower motor like the Prius, the Malibu uses a legitimate 150-horsepower 2.4-liter inline four cylinder engine to begin with, making the Eco a legitimate sedan even in the non-hybrid segment.

Detroit News Columnist Blasts GM For Saab Collapse

On: Wed, Dec 21, 2011 at 12:05PM | By: Chris Salamone

Saab Factory Workers Departing After Being Informed Of Bankruptcy test 2

Issued today, Daniel Howes delivered a gut-wrenching opinion column in The Detroit News which effectively decried Saab as the ‘neglected stepchild’ of GM’s scheme for worldwide automotive colonization. Considering Saab CEO Victor Muller filed for bankruptcy on December 19, after years of questionable GM leadership and a final rejection of the proposed Chinese restructuring, Howes’ article would appear to be accurate.

However, in the spirit of fairness, let us not forget that a theoretical opportunity still remains during the bankruptcy process for a buyer to step in – a fact that GM and Saab execs are certainly aware of. Further, GM’s initial Saab makeover was anything but neglected. The company gave Saab the full American treatment, intended to take Saab from the quirky nether realm of Swedish aircraft devotees to a mainstream public.

The problem: GM failed to capitalize on the makings of Saab’s trademark oddball practicality.

2012 Mazda 3 With Skyactiv Technology: The End Of Cars As We Know Them?

On: Thu, Dec 15, 2011 at 2:49PM | By: Lou Ruggieri

2012 Mazda 3 With Skyactiv Technology test 2

Skyactiv Technology. When I first heard the term, I immediately thought that Google had finally invented the modern-day version of Skynet and we were all going to be privy to the short-term benefits of artificial intelligence... That is until it realized we were too dangerous to be in charge of our own lives and tried to take over the world. Upon further investigation, that is apparently not what Skyactiv technology is. Nope, as it turns out Skyactiv is just kind of an umbrella marketing term that doesn't actually describe too much about the 2012 Mazda 3. Make no mistake either, it's not 'Mazda 3 Skyactiv' or 'Skyactiv Mazda 3', no, it's just Mazda 3 with Skyactiv technology.  

So what exactly is this Skyactiv stuff? Well, strangely enough this quirky term actually refers not to some gimmicky tunes-itself-to-a-station-it-likes radio junk, but to advancements in engine technology. The 2.0-liter four cylinder in the new Mazda 3 is quite the phenom. Although it looks tiny, this mighty-mini-motor uses direct-injection and has a mind-blowing 12:1 compression ratio -- a number that only race motors were running not too many years ago. Both horsepower and torque have gone up from last year, though not to racecar numbers at 155 ponies and 148 lb.-ft., because both low and mid-range torque numbers are up too combine with the fact that the 3 only weighs in at 2,872 pounds, the Mazda 3 feels extremely quick and nimble through the corners and off the line.

Haunted Highways: A Series Exploring The Ghosts of Cars Gone By (Quickly)

On: Thu, Dec 15, 2011 at 11:03AM | By: Lou Ruggieri

Ford SVT Lightning test 2

There's hauling, and then there's haulin'. When Ford resurrected the Lightning nameplate for its supercharged super-truck in 1999, it proved that it could build a pickup that could do both. The Ford Lightning was a two-wheel drive Flareside pickup that was fitted with a 5.4-liter Eaton supercharged and intercooled Triton V8 that made a ridiculous 360-horsepower and massive 440 lb.-ft. of torque. 

One look at the Lightning and anyone could see this truck was something a little different than your average F-150. Lower, wider, and more dramatically styled thanks to a sporty front facia and side skirts (replete with a passenger side-exit exhaust, the SVT truck made its presence known at every stop light.

F-150 Claims Motor Trend's Coveted Truck Of The Year

On: Tue, Dec 13, 2011 at 1:14PM | By: Chris Salamone

2012 F-150 test 2

Many awards are handed out in the automotive industry. But in the United States none is more desired, more lusted for, than Motor Trend’s Truck of the Year. This is because trucks represent an enormous revenue stream in the American car manufacturing biz – and a veritable ‘thumbs up’ from Motor Trend creates something like divine support in revving up sales volume.

But, make no mistake. The 2012 Ford F-150 is one serious contender, a truck capable of handling enormous challenges time and time again.

For 2012, truck buyers can expect a few new F-150 features. A 36-gallon fuel tank has been added to the 4x4 F-150 EcoBoost, which allows up to 756 miles of driving range and extremely wallet-unfriendly stops at the pump. The Lariat, King Ranch, Harley-Davison, and Platinum models receive a two-speed 4x4 system designed to improve all-weather traction. Hill Start Assist, meant to prevent rolling stops, make San Francisco a less horrifying road trip prospect. And, of course, Ford is happy to point out that the 2012 F-150 once again carries a best-in-class payload capacity of 3,120 lbs.

Honda Struggles With Latest Lineup, Three Little Pigs

On: Thu, Dec 8, 2011 at 3:15PM | By: Chris Salamone

Honda Crosstour test 2

After earthquakes and Thai flooding, Japanese automakers have certainly faced an array challenges for one year. So much so that the damage caused by those events can still be seen today in lackluster 2012 model updates and limited supply offerings, a fact which Honda readily admits. However, with Honda’s latest sales report, devout followers may begin to question yet another aspect of sales operations: the model lineup.

What could be wrong with a lineup marked by year-after-year of Car and Driver 10Best Awards, widely recognized as the most reliable and efficient set of cars around? Considering those awards only went to Honda’s traditional fan favorites – Accord, Civic, Fit, Prelude, and so on – the issue rests squarely on the shoulders of Honda’s latest niche additions, aka the three little pigs.

Don’t get the wrong idea. Honda is an amazing company which currently produces some of the best vehicles on the road. But, the Ridgeline, CR-Z and Crosstour are not helping the company’s fiscal bottom line or reputation.

Element Era Ends: Ode To The Box

On: Wed, Nov 30, 2011 at 10:13AM | By: Chris Salamone

Element Era Ends: Ode To The Box test 2

For years we heard rumors that the much-adored Honda Element would be axed due to slumping sales numbers. But, year after year, the Element reappeared in Honda’s lineup with some fresh new makeup meant to reignite a formerly strong market contender. Fans remained content – few could question the Element’s versatility, CUV efficiency, or boxy good looks. Nevertheless, as of last December, Honda announced plans to officially end the Element’s production after the 2011 model year.

The Element will be forever missed, but is survived by the all-new CR-V and Crosstour – for better or worse. Honda’s Element execution marks a significant loss in the percentage of completely box-shaped vehicles remaining in the market, and an even larger loss when the Element’s class-leading cabin space, 4WD, and fun-factor are taken into account. In light of these facts, we thought an ending to the Element era deserved a special tribute, an ode to the box.