By on June 12, 2019

Today’s post is not meant to convince you that any particular crossover ranks super high on my personal Top Forty. Indeed, I would prefer if the Lincoln Motor Company was still cranking out Town Cars and Versailles (ok, maybe not the Versailles) than a myriad of tall wagons. However, market conditions rule the roost and here we are.

Longtime readers (thanks, both of you) know my unreasonable Stockholm Syndrome relationship with the Lincoln brand. This helps explain today’s choice, but you know what also helps its selection? That’s right — this platform’s return to rear-drive architecture.

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By on June 7, 2019
  1. After our most recent Rare Rides post, your author perused The Big List of BDB Ideas and discovered a suggestion commenter Sgeffe made many moons ago. He suggested the most basic coupe A-bodies on offer in 1979. Feeling cheap? Let’s get weird.

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By on June 5, 2019

It’ll not have escaped your notice that neither the Dodge Charger nor the Challenger has made an appearance in this series. Why? Because we try (emphasis on try) to include models which we think have base trims that might very well be the best of the line. With 797-horsepower options on the table, it’s hard to make that argument for the Dodge.

But what about its Chrysler cousin? A well-timed and much appreciated email from a reader suggested the 300 Touring might make a good candidate, especially since deep discounts can be had just for asking. We don’t usually consider incentive spending in Ace of Base, but when that figure routinely touches 25 percent — or more — of sticker price, it’s difficult to ignore.

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By on May 29, 2019

In all the years we’ve been presenting this series, Ace of Base has never focused on what was Hyundai’s first stepping stone into the world of crossovers and SUVs: the Santa Fe. Let’s correct that oversight with this new-for-2019 model.

To be clear, this is the two-row model, not the three-row which currently has an “XL” suffix appended to its name. That machine will vanish when the new Palisade appears later this year. Whatever it’s called, Hyundai sells a lot of ‘em; there must be a reason for that, right?

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By on May 22, 2019

Betcha forgot about this one. That’s okay – most people have. Thanks to Nissan’s glacier-like design cycle, the 2020 Z isn’t significantly different than when it first appeared in the late Jurassic period for the 2009 model year.

That doesn’t mean it isn’t worthy of our attention in this series, though, especially since it is one of the few remaining cars in today’s market that still offers a manual transmission, let alone two doors and a fast roofline. In fact, that steep chop aft of the windshield puts your author in mind of Godzilla, which is not bad company to keep.

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By on May 15, 2019

The Korean brand is no stranger to these frugal pages, stacking its Ace of Base trophy shelf by offering expressively styled machines packed with features that peg the value-for-dollar meter.

Kia’s Sportage has been around as a model name for nearly twenty years. Recently restyled with an atomic egg appearance, the compact crossover continues its missive of providing a tall-riding crossover for families who don’t yet want (or need) to move into a three-row rig.

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By on May 9, 2019

This variant of the Golf family inhabits a grey area in which it’s not quite a crossover but is also not quite a station wagon. VW will still happily sell you one of those, sans this model’s taller suspenders and black over-the-wheel trim. The Alltrack is kinda like a SportWagen that’s clomping around in dad’s big boots.

As always, we’re suckers for a good wagon. Let’s see what it has to offer in base S trim.

(Find Out…)

By on May 1, 2019

Let’s get one thing clear: it is my opinion that the 2020 Explorer XLT is not the best 2020 Explorer. Powered by a 2.3-liter Ecoboost four-pot, the XLT falls far short of the 400 horsepower 3.0-liter Ecoboost V6 found in ST trim. As a proponent of acceleration, your author will always select the biggest engine.

Not everyone will, however. Scads of buyers, many of whom lie directly in the target market of Ford’s new Explorer, will think the 300 horse mill is more than suitable. In that frame of mind, let’s find out what $36,675 buys you at a Ford store these days.

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By on April 24, 2019

With each iteration, Kia has been refining its shaped-like-a-toaster rig, sharpening its styling and broadening its appeal. What some dismissed as a too-weird little box at it introduction has found plenty of traction and is now in its third generation.

A dozen years removed from its debut at the 2008 Paris Motor Show, the new Soul remains an affordable proposition for those who don’t want to resign themselves to the low seating position of a small sedan. And, yes, three pedals are still available for 2020.

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By on April 18, 2019

Yep, they still sell this thing. Betcha forgot all about it.

Or perhaps not. The “styled with a t-square” profile of the Flex has always appealed to the funkier side of the crossover/SUV customer base and, if my eight years of toiling for this publication has taught me anything, the B&B is nothing if not funky. Let’s see what this coffin-shaped crossover offers in base form.

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By on April 10, 2019

Yes, the ZR2 is far from a base truck. But based on a suggestion from the peanut gallery  (*waves at PrincipalDan*) we thought it would be a good idea to see if a “base” off-roader is a healthier bet than upgrading to the full meal deal.

In fact, calling the ZR2 a base truck – with its DSSV dampers and other gonzo off-road kit – seems like heresy to your author. Jumping a Colorado ZR2 at 40 mph over an obstacle on a trophy truck track proves just how capable the thing is.

(How’s that Ranger Raptor coming, Ford? Oh, it isn’t? I see. Thanks for the mobility scooter, then.)

Chevy has, however, added another layer onto the ZR2 cake. Called the Bison, is its extra gear worth the cash? Or are gearheads better off with a “base” ZR2 and spending the money on mods of their own? Let’s see.

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By on April 3, 2019

Yeah, I know. It’s a crossover. Most of the B&B would prefer I write about some hawt hatch or a 1993 Ford Ranger but the reality is this: more consumers than ever before are signing a note on vehicles such as this Passport, making them worthy of our attention. Hey, at least this one doesn’t have a CVT.

Designed as a foil to the likes of the Ford Edge and Nissan Murano, the two-row Honda Passport not only revives a name but jumps onto a very profitable bandwagon. With the same powertrain throughout the entire range, is the base model your best bet?

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By on March 27, 2019

 

Our man Corey took the wheel of Mazda’s new compact car last week, flinging the little four-door up and down Californian roads, at least during the times when he was not answering pointed questions from stern Park Rangers.

The base 3 has always had a spot in the Ace of Base trophy room, managing to combine sleek looks with a dose of non-somnambulant handling. Freshly refurbished for 2019, this new model appears to do the same, but has the base model sacrificed any content at the hands of flinty-eyed Mazda accountants?

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By on March 20, 2019

2020 Kia Telluride

Korean automakers have a history of labelling their crossovers and SUVs with names ripped from rugged-sounding towns of the American mid- and southwest. Witness the Santa Fe and Tucson. The newest entrant? Telluride. Even the little-known Borrego Pass got a nod during the five minutes in which Kia built a body-on-frame brute.

Until now, the most we’ve seen of the new Kia Telluride was that oddball New York fashion week thing, replete with a not-from-factory rear spare tire carrier and leather hood straps. Now that the build and price site’s gone live, we can see the model without all that froufrou. You know we’re most interested in the base LX model…

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By on March 13, 2019

When you start life advertising yer brand as “The People’s Car,” you’d better have a hella good value proposition. Fortunately for Volkswagen, that’s exactly what it had when the brand burst onto these shores all those years ago. Before long, driveways and parking lots were filled with affordable Bugs as customers bought into the Size Small lifestyle.

What’s is it like these days, though? This calendar year is, allegedly, the final one for the stalwart VW Beetle. Does it still offer value for money? Or is it fading away into the wings as an overpriced retro throwback that should be thrown back in favor of a Golf or Jetta? Let’s find out.

(Find Out…)

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