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January 2016

January 29, 2016: FCA chairman Sergio Marchionne presented a revised business plan for the automaker, and confirmed that the Chrysler 200 and Dodge Dart will be replaced by crossovers. He also has big plans for Jeep, and new plans for Alfa. We assess the changes. Continuing with this theme, NASCAR announced the Chase format would extend to the Xfinity and Camping World series. But it’s the other change made to the truck series races that has us scratching our head. Recently, we had the opportunity to test the GMC Canyon and Toyota Tacoma, and spent some time in a Canyon diesel. We compare, contrast, and choose a winner. Nissan launched a raft of accessories for its Titan XD pickup, and we take a look at how you can personalize your Titan. Mini pulls the covers off the Clubman ALL4 station wagon, while Opel brings back a name from the past – GT – for a concept with seemingly little future. The same isn’t true for Ducati’s Scrambler concepts. These three were created by outside designers, and show how far you can stretch the entry-level bike. Goodwood’s Member’s Meeting brings ground effect F1 cars back to the track, while we tell how BRM almost beat everyone to the punch by nearly a decade. Also, Hyundai’s latest take on the Elantra goes live. We bring you the details along with a new feature that summarizes a vehicle in as pithy a manner as possible. Racers can look forward to a new ultralight throttle body setup matched to their engine, while GT350R buyers clamor for, and receive, a back seat kit for their two-seater track car. All this, plus Al Vinikour’s take on cockpit roominess.


January 15, 2016: As promised, we’re back with full coverage of the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. Hot on the heels of sales reports that broke volume records, the industry was ready for a celebration. However, a few storm clouds crossed the horizon, taking Jaguar, Land Rover, Mini and others off the show floor. Though last-minute substitutions were made, the show had a pall cast over it that only the most optimistic could ignore. Is this a portent of things to come, or will Detroit rally back? It’s too early to tell. A new survey of British drivers shows that demand for EVs may have peaked. With emissions legislation forcing automakers into the EV business, there may not be enough demand from buyers for the coming glut of electric vehicles. Finally, Al Vinikour takes an rather, uh, interesting look at drivers who follow their fellow motorists too closely.


December 2015

December 25, 2015: We are on vacation for the next few weeks, and will be live again with a report from Detroit’s North American International Auto Show in the New Year. In the interim, we’ve compiled a few past favorites for you to enjoy:

Al Vinikour did our first Lifestyle piece, a review of Steven Tyler’s autobiography. It’s a funny, heartfelt look at the aging rocker’s life, loves and addictions.

Our next item is a look at the Eagle Speedster, probably the most achingly beautiful – and expensive – Jaguar E-Type ever built.

The last of our Lifestyle picks is a perennial favorite: Andy Peace’s road worthy copy of the Maserati Tipo 250F F1 car. Powered by a BMW inline six, the “Masercopy” has to sit high on the dream list of every gear head.

We’ve also chosen an early Opinion & Analysis piece that looks back on how motorsport has changed, and not always for the better.

Next up is a look at the looming vehicle electrification process, and the deleterious effect it could have on water consumption, with little CO2 reduction. In comparison, gasoline and diesel look pretty darn good.

We close with a look at VW’s diesel scandal, and the real effect it might have on the environment, which is not much. Especially in light of the number of non-compliant cars being cut drastically, and the revelation that the vaunted MIT/Harvard “study” claiming the emissions from these cars will kill people was never presented for peer review.

On the technology front, one of the more interesting engines we’ve run across is Achates Power’s opposed-piston engine. The two-stroke motor is claimed to be capable of meeting Euro 6 and EPA 10 emission standard while returning fuel economy that’s 15% better on average.

Somewhat whimsically, our former Director of Web Development spent some time at Burger King and wondered why Pininfarina’s name was on the beverage dispenser. It’s an interesting story about the intersection of industrial design and fluid technology.

John Bereisa’s isn’t a household name. The father of the Chevy Volt, he has a lot to say about electric vehicles, electrified powertrains, and the global governmental push to force these technologies on the public and the industry before they are ready.


December 11, 2015: This week, Volkswagen gave journalists an exhaustive look inside its investigation of its diesel emissions scandal, and the changes being made within the company. We examine the plan. Porsche announced that its Mission E show car from Frankfurt is headed toward production, and pulled the wraps off the 2017 911 Turbo and Turbo S Coupe and Cabriolet prior to their launch in Detroit. Plus, the company revised the names, pricing, and powertrains of the Boxster and Cayman. Toyota has accomplished a lot with its New MC platform, but is the platform accomplished enough to support cars from Scion, Toyota and Lexus? Ducati Scrambler, a Ducati sub-brand, signed an agreement with Italia Independent, and creates both a new model and a line of sunglasses. Meanwhile, Mercedes-Benz showed the new E-Class interior, and puts most homes to shame in the process. Hyundai previewed its Prius fighter, but goes one better. Lotus launched a new Exige, but left the U.S. out of the mix. Rolls-Royce showed a hand-built, designer cocktail hamper that brings a whole new meaning to “limited edition” while Al Vinikour pontificates about car care and parental pride.


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.