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November 2015

November 26, 2015: This week’s issue is a day early due to the Thanksgiving holiday, and gives you something to read while you’re waiting for second helpings. First up is a surprising comparison of two Toyota hybrid sedans, the Camry and Avalon. Formerly the poster child for old age, the Avalon is now a slick four-door with luxury and style. Is it enough to see off the mechanically identical Camry? Motorcycle racers may appreciate this. Bell has introduced a new Pro Star helmet that is more than 20% lighter than other carbon fiber lids. Staying with motorcycles for the moment, Suzuki recently showed a new GSX-R1000 concept, a revised SV650, and an addition to the VanVan line. BMW channels Sammy Hagar and Montrose with its C 650 scooters. Then it ties up with an Indian company to build a new single-cylinder entry in the sub-500 cc. class. On the technology side of the street, Dan Gurney’s Mode Cancelling 4 Stroke engine may be laid out for motorcycle use, but it has many other potential applications. VW brings 3D glasses into its Wolfsburg assembly plant. Land Rover builds a bridge of paper, then drives over it. DuPont creates a new line of electronic inks for making circuits that are literally printed. Mercedes-AMG shifts production of its twin-turbo V12 in order to keep up with demand. And just before he entered a turkey-induced coma, our own Al Vinikour highlighted the one automotive technology he loves the most, while wondering why it’s not standard equipment across the industry.


November 13, 2015: There’s a lot to cover this week, so let’s get right to it. First up is a First Run review of the Lexus RX 350 and RX 450h. Gone are the conservative luxury  crossovers of yore, replaced by a pair of enthusiastically styled vehicles with more power, F Sport tech and handsome interiors. Is it enough to keep current buyers happy while attracting new ones? Meanwhile, Cadillac released some information about its replacement for the SRX, the XT5. Does it have what it takes to break through the clutter and challenge the Lexus RX? For that matter, can either claim the sheer impact of Range Rover’s drop top Evoque? Completing the crossover coverage, we take a look at Toyota’s revisions to the RAV4, which includes a new hybrid model and sportier SE. On the car side, our pal and Motorway America editor Jim Meachen brings us his review of the 2016 Honda Civic. Then we compare three separate VW Golf models to see how they stack up against one another and the competition. Chris Sawyer recounts his first encounter with the Saleen S7 as the remnants of that program go up on the auction block. At the recent SEMA show, Brembo introduced a pair of wild new caliper designs created for large cars and light trucks. We take a look at Controlled Power Technology’s new low-cost hybrid system, which promises large fuel economy increases. We’ve given Al Vinikour the week off, but added a new grouping of Internet stories worthy of mention, and round up some of the more interesting and relevant odds and ends.


October 2015

October 30, 2015: The Tokyo Motor Show, a place where wild imaginations fueled by too much sake and raw fish meet the auto industry head-on, did not disappoint in terms of wild and wacky reveals on the show floor. But we looked for more down-to-earth introductions, and concentrated on seven vehicles that will make it to production in one form or another. Speaking of imaginations run wild, Acura pulled the wraps off the 2017 NSX, and it’s a digital tech monster. Which is a far cry from what the new sports car could have been. A leviathan of a different sort missed its scheduled debut at the 2014 Goodwood Festival of Speed, but its owner brought the aero-engined brute along to the Earl of March’s house for a run up the property’s private of drive. It was a flame-throwing good time. After watching that display, you almost wonder what our own Al Vinikour might make of this spectacle. Not a fan of non-adjustable shoulder belts, how would he feel about a car with none at all?


October 16, 2015: As its diesel scandal begins to die down, Volkswagen’s Board of Supervisors begins to make changes designed to staunch the bleeding. Can it work? Volvo, emulating VW’s MQB strategy, introduces its Compact Modular Architecture which it will share with its owner, Geely.  A former Carbon Revolution executive introduces a new line of road wheels that are nearly half the cost and almost as light as the composite rims from Australia. The mad scientists at Rinspeed combine autonomous driving and a drone with mid-engined performance to created the Etos, but will anybody care? Chevy’s new ZZ6 crate motor brings power to the people, while the folks at Falken Tires create a simple new technology that promises to make tires quieter, and Castrol introduces a combined oil and filter container that is more relevant than it at first seems. As part of its never-ending drip of information, Toyota releases more information about the technology going into the 2016 Prius. BMW pulls the covers off the M2, and increases both its performance and social networking capability. Ferrari adds more power and capability to the already strong F12. Chevy’s Silverado takes on a dirty garage and wins. We find out if Nissan’s Murano has more to offer than stylish looks. And Star Wars aficionado Al Vinikour breaks out his X-Wing fighter to take on folks who scythe through traffic.


September 2015

September 25, 2015: When the news broke this week that VW had fitted a “defeat device” to its four-cylinder turbo-diesel engines, you would have thought the end of the world was near. Unlike the GM ignition lock scandal, where hundreds of people actually died, the VW imbroglio will have a very minor health effect. We take a look at this growing scandal, and put it in context. We also look into what may have caused VW engineers and executives to follow this path, and one of the reasons may surprise you. Just before the VW situation exploded, we went to a private launch of the 2016 Honda Civic sedan. It’s new from the ground up, and surprisingly aggressive in both look and content. A happy coincidence gave us the opportunity to test the BMW M4 and Lexus RC-F back-to-back, and the comparison isn’t always flattering. On the technology side, Brembo introduces a new fixed caliper design for high-performance cars. Automotive supplier Brose tests the waters with an e-bike design that uses a repurposed power steering motor. The American Chemical Society put forward a video about a new rubber formulation that is self healing and could radically change the idea of run-flat tires.  And Nuance, the folks behind Dragon voice-recognition software, gives us a look behind the curtain at how it develops this software for vehicles, and what’s on the horizon. Just when you thought it was safe to like automotive technology, Al Vinikour chimes in about the need for fail-safing these new systems. While the well-heeled kids out there can forget the technology overload with a new pedal car from Land Rover and stunning powered F1 lookalikes from the folks at Pocket Classics.


September 11, 2015: The closer we get to the Frankfurt Motor Show, the more cars break cover. It’s enough to make you wonder what automakers get out of blowing the surprise comes with a grand unveiling on the show floor. Nevertheless, a number of new vehicles were introduced and we picked a few for special mention. They include the 2016:

Porsche 911 Carrera and Carrera S. 

Renault Alaskan Concept.

Bentley Bentayaga.

Toyota Prius. 

Lexus RX 350 and RX 450h. 

Kia Optima.

If that’s not enough to get your attention, we take a look at a British barn find made of fiberglass that’s named after a short-lived cigarette brand, and it’s not a Lotus. Plus, we take a look at new technology from Land Rover that could make towing a trailer a more relaxing experience. Also, driven by search engine politics, we bite the bullet and introduce a new feature, Worthy of a Mention, that pulls snippets from other car web sites that we think you’ll find interesting. And for those looking for their ration of road rage, we took pity on Al Vinikour, and gave him some time off.


September 9, 2015: Click here to watch the live reveal of the next generation Toyota Prius at 12:00 am EDT.


August 2015

August 28, 2015: There are a lot of previews this week. First up is the 2016 Honda Accord with a mid-cycle refresh and the same price as 2015. Next comes the 2016 Camaro. Chevy has played it smart and restricted the pony car to just four trim levels, but doesn’t hold back on the goodies. The comes Mazda, which has two new vehicles (CX-3 and MX-5), and plenty of updates for the carry over cars. Plus, Mercedes and AMG give a sneak peek of their respective takes on the 2017 C-Class Coupe that officially debuts in three weeks at Frankfurt. Motorway America’s Jim Meachen takes us along for an off-road ride in the 2016 Toyota Tacoma that shows it hasn’t lost a step even if it looks much the same. We also drive the BMW i3, an electric city car well-suited to the “mega city” life, and compare it to the BMW 328d, a much more rational choice for most drivers. On the tech side, Zircoflex produces coatings that should keep the Bloodhound SSC cool as it tries to break the 1,000 mph land speed barrier. Ford shows us what the multi-modal transportation future could look like, and how cars could be 3D printed sooner than you think. Project LM launches a new line of LED light units at a surprisingly low price point. Plus, our own Al Vinikour complains about those drivers who commit DWO.


August 14, 2015: Whether you are at Monterey or the Dream Cruise this weekend, we give you some Random Thoughts to ponder about the state of the auto industry, and what’s going on behind the scenes. The VW Group has been busy. First, VW releases the changes it will be making to its 2016 lineup. Second, Audi adds a third 3.0-liter V6 engine to the 2016 Q7. Third, the boys and girls in Ingolstadt pump the already potent S8 up a little bit more. Hyundai, meanwhile makes a statement of intent with the Vision G Coupe, but there’s more to this vision than meets the eye. Taylormade Racing introduces a MotoGP-inspired exhaust for the Yamaha R1 and R1M. Plus, there are two Tirades this week. First, former Mini Cooper owner Chris Sawyer reviews the new Mini Cooper S 4-door, and finds it hard to be civil. Al Vinikour takes designers to task for increasing his paranoia by adding a seemingly innocuous item to the back of their cars. Finally, the editor fondly remembers his father on what would have been his 97th birthday.