Category: Features

By on May 14, 2019

As much as it pains us to say it, manual transmissions are on their way out. While car enthusiasts bemoan the matter incessantly, as we just did, the reality is that most drivers aren’t interested in owning something with a stick. It’s gotten to a point where many automakers no longer offer vehicles with a manual transmission, or just keep one high-performance model around with an optional clutch pedal just to appease a subset of their customer base.

Toyota, which sells more manual models than most, recently spilled its guts to after the outlet requested the company reveal the percentage of its new cars still sold with a manual while attending the Supra launch event.

The resulting figures are about what you’d expect.  Find Out >

By on May 14, 2019

Somehow, while I wasn’t looking, the box office has become dominated by movies featuring superheroes. Iron Man, Batman, Spider-Man, Wonder Woman, and the like have used various superpowers to make tons of cash for stale popcorn purveyors worldwide. Avengers: Endgame is raking it in as I type.

I won’t pretend to drop any movie references here  – I’ve never really been into the genre. Nothing against the various costumed fantasy characters and those who love them, but my heroes typically wear Nomex. Jerry Titus, Dan Gurney, Ronnie Bucknum, and Parnelli Jones are some of the legendary drivers who drove heroic machines to glory.

The machine is important in this movie, too. Loud, brash, and most importantly fast, a noble steed for motorsports triumph is critical. Ford has drawn upon an incredible back catalog to refine the Mustang into this, the spectacular 2019 Shelby GT350. Built for track duties, but with enough refinement to make it livable on the street, the GT350 is the All-American Superhero. Captain Blue Oval, perhaps.

And the only spoiler alert I need here comes with a Gurney flap.

Find Out >

By on May 13, 2019

The howling denizens of the Internet may not be a representative sample of real life, but they are loud nonetheless, and they’ve seemingly had it in for the Toyota Supra since the wraps came off.

It’s too much a BMW, they say. It doesn’t feel like a real Supra, thanks to all those German parts underneath. Others (understandably) whined about teaser fatigue, or complained about the car’s styling.

While subjective complaints about a car’s looks are understandable, and while I understand the complaints about the new Supra not being Toyota enough (I did ask for a percentage breakdown of Toyota/BMW parts content; the company politely declined to comment), all of the noise ignored one thing – what it’s like to actually drive the damn thing.

That’s what will likely matter most to those who will drop over 50 large on this car.

Oh, that “GR” stands for Gazoo Racing, but everyone is just gonna call it Supra.

Find Out >

By on May 12, 2019

Subaru may be getting too big for its britches. Despite seeming like it was positioned for nearly incalculable growth at the start of last year, the automaker’s latest financial report showed the period was actually plagued with problems. Over the full fiscal year, which ends on March 31st for Subaru, the company basically showed that its operating profit had been cut in half.

How could this have happened? Subaru’s commitment to all-wheel drive has given its sales a shot in the arm as the crossover craze has escalated and it has one of the best reputations in the business. Seriously, ask any automotive layperson what they think of the brand and they will almost always have something positive to say. However, for all of its presumed advantages, the company is reporting a 48.5-percent decline in operating profit (to 195.5 billion yen) and a 6.3-precent loss of global sales volume.  Find Out >

By on May 9, 2019

2019 Honda Passport

There always seems to be room for one more at the SUV and crossover table, regardless of marque. Witness mighty Mercedes-Benz, a company filling every niche and crevasse in its lineup with an ever-expanding portfolio of high-riding wagons. When the late Alfred Sloan posited a vehicle for every purse and purpose, this is hardly what the man had in mind.

It is where we are, however, and automakers are only too glad to serve up an ever wider buffet of all-wheel drive options. Honda, for its part, has been surprisingly recalcitrant in the SUV onslaught, soldiering on for years with simply the CR-V and Pilot. It took a relative age for the HR-V to appear and, along the way, the offbeat Accord Crosstour came and went.

That “H” badge carries a lot of weight, so you knew Soichiro’s Dream was eventually going to produce a two-row SUV with off-road pretensions and a lot of familiar Honda feel. Given all this, one thing is certain: the 2019 Honda Passport is going find buyers. A lot of them.

Find Out >

By on May 6, 2019

2019 Chevrolet Volt rear

February 15th was a sad day, even for those who hate cars. On that day, General Motors’ Detroit-Hamtramck assembly plant produced the last Chevrolet Volt — a green car born at the dawn of a new era that didn’t take off exactly as envisioned.

In the truck-loving land of (relatively) cheap gasoline, electric vehicles are only just now eating up more than 1 percent of the market, thanks mainly to the Tesla Model 3 and what ownership of said vehicle says about your lifestyle and viewpoints. Plug-in hybrids are struggling, however, and the most famous of them all is now dead. A victim of falling sales, though your author would be curious to learn the model’s margin.

Despite offering the most practical combination of conventional gas-powered driving and electric ability, many claim the Volt’s failure was one of marketing, not engineering. Find Out >

By on May 3, 2019

2018 Ford F-150 White Two Tone - Image: Ford

Americans love their Ford F-150s, but buyers are increasingly opting for a powerplant boasting fewer than eight cylinders. As such, the automaker is cutting the third shift at the Windsor, Ontario engine plant tasked with building the 5.0-liter Coyote V8.

Ford V8s and Windsor have a long association, but the extraneous employees needn’t worry about hitting the job boards. There’s a much larger V8 in need of assembly. Find Out >

By on May 1, 2019

Tesla Model 3, Image: Tesla

Forgive this writer for channeling Jonathan Pryce. Brush up on your secret handshake, too, as Tesla has a new version of the Model 3 customers can’t order online.

It’s a model that stands to become even more of a ghost than the U.S.-market Model 3 Standard Range, which disappeared from the company’s website after being on sale just a few days. American customers don’t apply here, as this cynical model’s sole purpose is to undercut a government EV incentive program’s price cutoff by a single dollar. A dollar, it should be said, that’s worth about 75 U.S. cents.

Who’s excited about 93 miles of range? Find Out >

By on April 30, 2019

Take a good look at the state of the sports sedan. Once defined as four doors, compact dimensions, rear-wheel drive, and a manual transmission, there are precious few new cars sold today that fit that narrow criteria. The German manufacturers who made their names in this segment have abandoned the third pedal.

The only choice left is this 2019 Genesis G70 Sport – fitted with a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder, a six-speed manual transmission, and rear wheel drive. Does it win by default as the last car standing in a shrinking market, or is it worthy of accolades on its own merits?

Find Out >

By on April 26, 2019

General Motors has officially announced that the Chevrolet Corvette will continue production in Bowling Green, KY after it transitions into a mid-engined car. The automaker will add 400 new jobs and a second shift to support production of the new model, bringing the factory’s workforce to more than 1,300 individuals.

However, the Corvette news — such as it is — doesn’t end there. The vehicle’s factory-sanctioned Facebook page also revealed the car’s new logo on Friday.  Find Out >

By on April 26, 2019

Mercedes-Maybach S 650 Pullman

Daimler, maker of top-end Mercedes-Maybach automobiles, is on the hot seat after North Korean leader Kim Jong Un was spotted scooting around in brand new armored limos at recent international summits.

Sales of luxury automobiles to the despotic regime are banned under a UN Security Council resolution passed in 2013, and Daimler does not count it as one of its customers. Still, the country’s leader travels in uncompromising Germanic style. Find Out >

By on April 24, 2019

2004 Toyota Camry LE V6 - Image: © Timothy CainThe story of the 340,000-mile 2004 Toyota Camry LE V6 that became the 15-winter story of a 347,000-mile Camry now belongs to another author.

My in-laws’ beautifully-maintained Camry ticked up to 352,000 miles – 567,013 kilometres on the odometer, to be precise – when they finally replaced their stalwart sedan with a 2019 Kia Optima.

The decision was not prompted by a breakdown. The Camry isn’t destined for a junkyard. It’s not being parted out.

We listed the Camry for $1,200 on Kijiji, quickly fielded 26 inquiries, and ended up selling this famous Camry to, you guessed it, a Camry owner who wants to add to his Camry stable. Find Out >

By on April 22, 2019

fca

Your author tries not to create too much of a stir with his vibrant and eventful Chevy Cruze, but sometimes it’s hard. Still, there’s at least an attempt to keep the peace, ensuring owners of alternative-fuel vehicles feel respected in the presence of my potent 1.4-liter studcarriage.

Others aren’t quite as respectful, as documented in certain videos. “ICEing” Teslas isn’t cool. As public charging stations proliferate, it’s bringing the two sides into direct conflict with each other — especially in areas where parking is a limited commodity. What to do? Impose fines and hope for the best, it seems. Find Out >

By on April 19, 2019

Ford celebrated its iconic sports coupe’s 55th birthday at the New York International Auto Show this week by proclaiming Wednesday as “Mustang Day.” But Mustang Day was overshadowed by other nostalgic celebrations taking place at the New York Auto Show, specifically Nissan’s 50th Anniversary Editions of the GT-R (which looked excellent) and 370Z (which one of our anal-retentive staffers criticized over technical inaccuracies). The Japanese manufacturer even had a multi-tiered display and brought in historic models, countering the building apathy many automakers seem to have developed for giant trade shows.

Despite Nissan winning the battle for eyes in New York, Ford still appears to have won the day — at least from its own perspective. Following the NY debut of the Mustang’s 2.3-liter High Performance Package, which brings up the base auto’s peak output to 330 horsepower just for starters, the company proudly announced that its pony car has remained the world’s top-selling sports coupe over the last four years.  Find Out >

By on April 19, 2019

Does a crossover really need to be good to drive, or is mere competence good enough to win buyers? Most carmakers settle for “good enough,” and yet they keep selling.

Mazda, of course, doesn’t settle. Performance is baked into everything it offers. I’m certain that if Mazda offered a panel van, some fool out there would start racing a Mazda Los Pollos Hermanos truck.

Thus, I had high hopes when a turbocharged crossover was announced. Already the best-driving crossover available, the 2019 Mazda CX-5 Signature adds power and class to family hauling perfection.

Find Out >

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