Category: Editorials

By on July 16, 2019

When Elon Musk announced Tesla was developing a new Roadster, he promised us the moon. When released, the car is supposed to yield a 0-to-60 time of just 1.9 seconds and possess an all-electric range over 620 miles, thanks to its sizable, 200-kWh battery pack. As if that wasn’t ambitious enough, he spent last week outlining an optional SpaceX package that includes “cold-air thrusters” that might allow the vehicle to fly.

Then he said he was serious.

As you know, flying cars are bullshit. The closest we’ve come after decades of work are road-going airplanes. But Musk asserted over Twitter that some variants of the Roaster would fly or, at the very least, be able to hover. This has to be a joke, right?  Find Out >

By on July 16, 2019

The demand for executive limousines in North America was once satisfied by OEM-lengthened versions of domestic sedans. The Detroit Three built them in-house, or sent regular cars to a domestic coach builder. The lengthened cars were then sold via the regular dealership network. The desired buyer was a wealthy customer who’d have a driver for their daily conveyance. By the Eighties, the limousine market shifted in favor of coming with length: Stretch limousines were in demand. Independent companies built super-extended wheelbase cars for livery-type needs. The factory limousine car market faded away as business magnates chose standard sedans, or long-wheelbase offerings that were not limousines.

But there were one or two holdouts in the factory limousine marketplace, and today’s Rare Ride is one such car. It’s the Chrysler Executive from 1983.

Find Out >

By on July 16, 2019

Do you remember what the compact SUV market looked like in 1989? Me either. But it was a time where every Japanese manufacturer (except Honda, obviously) offered a three-door SUV. Nissan, Mitsubishi, and Isuzu all vie for your 1989 dollars.

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By on July 15, 2019

Amazon is striving to put Alexa, the home assistant/listening device, into more automobiles in the coming years. As a result, the company is working feverishly to enhance her vehicular-related capabilities — including wriggling her way into the embedded software systems of new cars.

On the surface, it sounds great. Networking your car with your smart home device opens up a bevy of new conveniences and Alexa should also help your car get better at understanding everyday voice commands. In the future, you’ll be able to order groceries, check the stock market, call the office, and adjust the thermostat of your house and car without ever having to take your hands off the steering wheel. But this also opens up a bevy of concerns, now that we know Amazon’s employees listen to and record pretty much everything you say to the device — sometimes doing the same for background conversations that were never intended for Alexa’s ears.  Find Out >

By on July 15, 2019

Once the original two-door wagon became a sacred icon among those who prize Detroit machinery of the Eisenhower Era, all GM two-door wagons attained a certain prestige among those who enjoy cruise nights, car shows, Time Out dolls, and the 119,544th repetition of Hot Rod Lincoln (no, not the gloriously hillbilly , the , which ). I would have thought that a ought to have found someone willing to keep it on the street, but this car in a northeastern Colorado yard proves me wrong. Find Out >

By on July 15, 2019

The Rare Rides series has visited a performance 442 Oldsmobile previously, when we took a look at a one-off Hurst Intrigue 442 (which most everyone hated). Today we’ll see the very last time 442 appeared on a factory Oldsmobile.

It’s a Cutlass Calais Quad 442 W41, from 1991.

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By on July 12, 2019

General Motors is issuing a recall on select Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra pickups, including HD models. According to , trucks equipped with a power sliding rear window could have a defroster circuit that can melt itself or, in rare instances, catch fire.

As no fix currently exists, GM is asking owners to bring their vehicles into the dealership so that the fuse for the rear defroster can be disconnected while it works on finding a better solution. The recall encompasses 159,240 trucks from the 2014-2019 model years.  Find Out >

By on July 12, 2019

Hyundai and sibling brand Kia were once known for being cheap, but not necessarily the best value. That’s because cheap and value aren’t always synonymous — especially when it comes to consumer products.

That’s changed over time. Both brands have mostly shed their reputation for crap quality and have been steadily offering up products that can compete with everyone else on that front while still offering value pricing.

Kia’s Telluride is an example of that — it’s a well-built machine with premium content available at a price that undercuts rivals like the redesigned Ford Explorer. Logically, it follows that the Hyundai Palisade would pursue a similar path, since it and the Telluride are strongly related.

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By on July 12, 2019

We, very literally, have a bit of a fluff piece for this Friday afternoon. Coming out of Frankfort, KY, a curious little kitten had mistakenly selected the rear subframe of a 2000 Honda Accord as a safe resting place. Little did she know, she was about to have a very tall tale to tell her furry friends.

Earlier this week, over a journey of several hours, the kitten rode from Lexington to Versailles to Frankfort in the undercarriage of the Honda. It wasn’t until the car’s owner was stopped at a Hardee’s restaurant that he finally heard her meowing from within the chassis. By good fortune, they were right next to , which is owned by a fellow racer and friend, Scott Bourne. When the restaurant manager went over and asked Scott if his crew could help, they didn’t pussy foot around and got right to it.  Find Out >

By on July 12, 2019

Portland seems to be a relative hot spot for old, well-maintained Saabs, and Rare Rides covered this Portland-based 99 previously. And while that little blue sedan racked up 195,000 miles, today’s 900 has covered several times more than that. Just how far can an old Saab go?

Find Out >

By on July 12, 2019

After suspending manual background checks to encourage fresh users in April, Daimler subsidiary Car2Go found itself with a problem in Chicago — its new customers were stealing cars by the gross.

On the April 15th, the ride-sharing service notice an uptick in usage that was well above the norm. However, as the day progressed, the company found that a lot of its higher-end vehicles weren’t coming back. Instead, they were convening on Chicago’s West Side. Two days later, the Chicago Police Department announced that it had been notified by Car2Go that some of the company’s vehicles may have been rented by deceptive or fraudulent means and was officially on the prowl for justice.  Find Out >

By on July 12, 2019

After our last installment, I feel nothing but regret for misrepresenting butchering TTAC Commentator Arthur Dailey’s query.  Because people do get in their car to warm it up before beginning the process of rooftop snow removal. And they’d prefer to remove roof snow, not snow that fell into power window switch pods.

So after multiple emails, a promise to try again. To which Mr. Dailey’s reply was:

“OK.  But perhaps you could expand that to explain something related to car design?  Which is why I sent the question to your attention.”

Find Out >

By on July 11, 2019

Clear Snow from tops of cars. Image: Ottawa Police Twitter

TTAC Commentator Arthur Dailey writes (and edited to remove confusion):

Sajeev,

Opening my 2011 Hyundai Sonata’s door this morning after a beautiful overnight snowfall (Yes, it takes that long to answer Piston Slap questions – SM), I once again was confronted with a driver’s seat and inside door panel, covered in snow.

Those living in the snow belt will often park their car at the rink, library, ski hill, mall, at work etc. and return to find it covered in snow. You don’t bring your scraper with you in these situations. And even if you use your glove/arm/hand to clear some of the snow, when you open your door, the residue falls. Onto your power window/mirror/door lock mechanisms. And often onto the seat. You get into your car and start it to warm it up and help clear the windshield. And that residue melts.

This is a re-occurring problem: happening in many other vehicles that I have recently rented/owned. With the sloped roofs now common on cars, snow regularly falls into the passenger compartment when you open the door. There used to be gutters/sills along the edges of car rooflines. In fact I believe that up until the 1960’s they might have been an optional extra, as they were often chromed. Later they were just an integrated part of the roof.

I can’t remember exactly when roofline gutters disappeared from cars, but I understand that this was probably due to aerodynamic issues. I also noticed that there are a number of aftermarket options now available, sometimes referred to as ‘rain guards’.

However why can’t auto designers develop a roofline that prevents snow from dropping onto the car seats whenever the door is opened?

Find Out >

By on July 10, 2019

Toyota Motor Corp announced on Wednesday it would be building a new sport utility vehicle at its $1.6 billion joint venture assembly plant in Alabama, rather than the Corolla. This brings its strategy in line with Mazda, which announced it would also be building an SUV at the facility earlier this year.

Officially, Toyota said the change was due to “changing market demands and a growing consumer appetite for light trucks and SUVs,” while slipping in a mention of how well the RAV4 has been selling for good measure.  Find Out >

By on July 10, 2019

I’ve owned this pair of New Balance running shoes for at least 10 years. I don’t know why I call them running shoes – I’m a fat, middle-aged guy who doesn’t run unless being chased by a predator. Anyhow, they are old, worn, with dark stains from 10w-30 and greenish stains from mowing the lawn. These are not casual shoes to wear out on the town – unless your idea of date night is a run to Home Depot. They aren’t fancy, but they are always comfortable and will seemingly never wear out.

This 2019 Hyundai Tucson is the automotive equivalent of those shoes. I’m not saying it’s covered in grass stains or is otherwise ugly – but neither is it a flashy special collectors-edition limited colorway pair of hypebeast sneakers. It’s simply a solid, comfortable car that is incredibly easy to live with. I put a ton of miles on the Tucson in my week with it, and it felt like home. Like those old suburban dad shoes.

Find Out >

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