March 29, 2013: The auto show circus stopped in New York this week. Plenty of new sheetmetal, new tech and new ideas mixed with enough facelifts, refreshes and updates to keep journalists on their toes. Even Hyundai, which showed off its revised Equus luxury sedan, got into the act with a reveal that combined lounge and trendy eatery on the show floor, and made company President and CEO John Krafcik look as though he was trying out for Leno’s slot on The Tonight Show. You can read about the more interesting models in our New York coverage. Under the Driver’s Seat heading you’ll also find a comparison of Toyota’s Camry and Ford’s latest Fusion. The best-selling Camry had a higher trim level than the Ford, but that didn’t hold Dearborn’s mid-size sedan back. It came out swinging. See if it landed a knockout or got its clock cleaned. On the lighter side, though the folks from Consumer Reports probably didn’t intend it that way, is a report on motorcycle reliability. It’s an eye-opener for reasons other than the obvious. And Al Vinikour tells tales of car salesmen and their tricks.
March 22, 2013: The weather in The Soo, as it’s called, was great, and so were the technologies shown by Continental Automotive Systems. You can read about them here. Speaking of technology, it’s a big week for new tech at The Virtual Driver. Xtrac shows off a hybridized automated manual gearbox for supercars that cuts emissions, increases efficiency, improves shift quality and costs less than a DCT. Not to be outdone, the folks from CVT maker Torotrak have taken a financial interest in Flybrid, makers of flywheel-powered hybrid units. McLaren Automotive, meanwhile, put out a video to celebrate the Stateside arrival of the MP4-12C Spider, and shot it on a cold and snowy pass in Colorado. Speaking of marketing, why is Chrysler doing better than Lincoln despite spending far less money? We have an opinion. Saab’s creditors are auctioning off the last 78 vehicles in their possession, including a few rare treats. Detroit Electric rises from the ashes with two ex-Lotus types at the helm, and promises a new electric sports car that’s built in Detroit with the help of a “global manufacturer.” Meanwhile, Hyundai teases its next-generation Genesis Coupe with a concept to be shown at the South Korean Motor Show. And Al Vinikour goes off on a tirade about gas caps and the people who ignore them.
March 14, 2013: We’re a little early this week as the staff is heading for beautiful Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan to drive vehicles with new technologies from the folks from Continental Automotive. Given that this Upper Peninsula paradise just got seven inches of new snow, it might be a great place for the Ford Explorer Sport we just tested. The Terrain Management System and all-wheel drive would be a big help, but its relative thirst and sporty pretensions might not. Another non-starter in the snow sweepstakes would be Harley-Davidson’s new bike, the Breakout. The chopped fenders and fat rear tires are best left for sunny weather. Speaking of vacations, how about renting a supercar the next time you travel to Europe? Hertz Supercars has a lineup you won’t want to miss. However, if low-volume exotic that doesn’t need constant care is more your style, check out Infiniti’s QX60 Hybrid. It’s powered by a combination of a supercharged four-cylinder engine and electric motor. Speaking of force-fed small displacement motors, the rumor mill is full of talk that McLaren will dump Mercedes power for Honda in 2015. And our own Al Vinikour spouts off about manually shifted automatic and automatically shifted manual transmissions. He’s not happy, though that’s nothing new.
March 8, 2013: The Geneva Motor Show was this week, and saw the introduction of a number of new cars. Perhaps the most interesting, as much for its technology as its name, was the Ferrari LaFerrari. (You read that right.) This hypercar brings F1 technology to the street, and is a direct competitor for the McLaren P1. Speaking of the LaFerrari, Ferrari President Luca di Montezemolo’s statement about who the car is for is perhaps one of the most cynical utterances ever, and raises the question about the need for such machines. You can read our take, here. At the show, Rolls Royce pulled the wraps off its gargantuan Wraith Coupe. And Toyota and Buick (through Opel/Vauxhall) showed a pair of convertibles destined for these shores. Back in the real world, we test a Mazda MX-5 Miata in the snow, and like it. Ditto the Mercedes C300 Al Vinikour piloted, though with the bonus of 4Matic all-wheel drive. Al also takes to task the “geniuses” who measure out parking lot slots.
March 1, 2013: We spend time with Jon Bereisa, spiritual father of the Chevy Volt and all-around smart guy to talk about EVs, hybrids, Tesla and more. Bereisa pulls no punches, lays out the plusses and minuses of our current trip down the road to vehicle electrification, and gives a fascinating look into what the cars of 2040 might be like. Closer to this decade, Al Vinikour drives the 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee, and disses a girly-man who gets in his way. Chris Sawyer takes a first look at the 2014 Kia Forte. But does this handsome compact sedan promise more than it delivers? Finally, Al gets a truck delivered to his home, and finds technologies he forgot existed inside.