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Friday
Sep062013

September 2013

September 20, 2013: It’s been a week since the Frankfurt Motor Show, and two things stand out in the clutter of concepts and new cars. The first is Ford’s decision to launch a trim level above Titanium for the Mondeo, and the introduction of a lightly disguised new S-Max people mover. Both could have a big impact on Lincoln’s future. The second is Ducati’s 899 Panigale. Need we say more? Next, a recent discussion with a VW insider gives deeper insight into the company’s recent moves, and how it maintains its competitiveness. Despite the seeming non sequitur, there’s a lot of similarities between NASCAR’s Richmond race indignity and Mercedes’ plans to build luxury pickups. Really. Speaking of indignities, TVD friend and Cars In Context TV host John Clor comes to the defense of Ford’s Mustang II with both passion and logic. When it comes to this reviled vehicle will either matter? Also, we spend a week with the Lexus LX 570, and get to the heart of this luxury SUV’s reason for being. We also spend time with Hyundai’s Elantra GT, and come away surprised, just not pleasantly. Plus, Al Vinikour gives us his take on modern, button-festooned steering wheels.

 

September 6, 2013: Last time, we took a look at the rumors and facts surrounding Ford’s eagerly anticipated 2015 Mustang. This time we look at some of the designs that never made it off the drawing pad 

or from clay to steel. Two Toyotas are on the road with us this week. First up is the Toyota Venza, a vehicle that, Toyota says, defies definition. Second is the Lexus GS350 F Sport. Is it a true sport sedan or just a high-resolution digital copy? One thing that’s not a copy is Evanta. This tiny English craft shop builds some of the most desirable recreations around, and a lot more. Speaking of  British heritage, the folks at BMH have a couple of new parts for your old MGB. Cars in Context TV is back for another round, this time looking at the death of the small pickup truck and its possible resurrection. Also, two new technologies break cover. This first is a Dutch transmission without any gears that has an interesting origin. The second is a new way to get electricity from waste exhaust heat. Finally, Al Vinikour, as ever, asks a pointed question about a simple problem.

 

 

Friday
Aug092013

August 2013

August 23, 2013: The Ford Fiesta started slow out of the gate, but can the 2014 Fiesta ST accelerate the small hatchback’s progress? Speaking of speed, we have in-car footage of a Dallara GP2 car winding its way up the narrow roads of a Swiss hillclimb. It’s quite a rush. Back at normal speed, the folks at Canadian General-Tower have created a synthetic interior fabric that looks and feels like top-grain leather, but doesn’t have any of the baggage. Also, we take a look at Ford’s 2015 Mustang and F-150, dispelling some rumors along the way. Meanwhile, some creative folks in Washington have created a self-balancing unicycle that you can take on an airplane. The folks at Bankrate.com list the most and least expensive states in which to own and operate a car. Plus, Al Vinikour questions the intelligence of people who make road signs.

 

August 8, 2013: Now that the i3 is out in the open, BMW pulls the wraps off the plug-in hybrid i8 sports car powered by its new three-cylinder turbo motor. Speaking of triples, GM has a new turbo three of its own that

debuts in the Opel Adam, but may make its way here as fuel economy standards tighten. Meanwhile, Hyperdrive hopes its add-on range extender makes electric vehicles more palatable by reducing range anxiety, while Caterham drops a Suzuki 660 cc motor into the Seven. Honda’s American racing arm builds a new endurance racing engine based on lessons learned at Indy. Coys holds an automotive auction this weekend with something from Schumacher, and more. We hit the road in Mazda’s CX-5, and come away impressed with this small crossover. Also, we review a fast-paced, riveting new book on the 1961 F1 season that left one teammate dead and the other America’s first F1 World Champion. Al Vinikour waxes lyrical about the divan of the sedan. Finally, Ferrari placates man’s best friend with killer kennels.

 

 

Friday
Jul122013

July 2013

July 26, 2013: VW’s diesel-powered Beetle was our mount for a road trip to Kentucky and a side trip to the U.S. Air Force Museum. How did it hold up? More importantly, how much did the fuel cost to get down to Kentucky and back to Michigan? Speaking of the National Museum of the United States Air Force, we take you on a tour of the massive complex, complete with pictures. Mitsubishi releases the first information about it 2014 Mirage, but is it the right car at the right time for the faltering automaker? Meanwhile, Mini peels back the veil covering the 2014 Mini Cooper with an audacious concept called the Vision. Toyota begins testing of its new personal mobility concept, but haven’t we seen this same idea elsewhere? Mazda goes to Indy with its Mazda6 diesel GX racer, but inadvertently shines a bright light on the problems facing the single-seater series. BorgWarner, sponsor of the trophy each Indy 500 winner receives, shows a new technology for diesel engines. And Al Vinikour weighs in on the breakup of the American family with his own blast-from-the-past solution.

 

 

July 12, 2013: This weekend marks the 20th anniversary of the Goodwood Festival of Speed. In honor of that event’s mixing of cars and aviation, the folks at Land Rover decided to stage a new “Battle of Britain” between the Range Rover Sport and a Supermarine Spitfire. We have the video. The Goodwood organizers also announced the return of a race it hasn’t held in years, but in modified form. On another note, EVs, despite the fact that they aren’t selling, are all the rage. J.D. Power and Associates surveyed EV owners and intenders, and have some suggestions to increase their appeal. BMW, meanwhile, pulls the wraps off the i3, its new rear-dive, all-electric city car that seats four. Meanwhile, the family of land and water speed record holder Donald Campbell have introduced a new sports car and racer that are, you guessed it, battery powered. Stretching the electric theme a bit farther, Infiniti just unveiled the steer-by-wire system it will introduce in some models of its Q50 sports sedan. It’s a real look into the future. Plus, Volvo outlines new technologies it will introduce on the next XC90. And Honda introduces two new ATVs and one new bike for 2014. Al Vinikour, always on the lookout for a way to make a buck, has a novel idea for getting driver to stop being such “jerks”.

 

 

Friday
Jun142013

June 2013

June 28, 2013: The rumor says the Dodge brand will soon be dead, but is that really such a bad thing? Maybe not. Porsche builds a pedal car for those 5 and under, but you can bet Mommy and Daddy will have to take out a loan to feed Junior’s obsession. Renault releases the first details of its 2014 F1 engine, and it’s a hybrid. No, really. Toyota may be famous for the Prius hybrid, but its Tacoma pickup eschews batteries for tons of personality, capability and charm. Mazda, meanwhile, pulls the wraps off the 2014 Mazda3, and produces a more mature, sophisticated compact car. Ford, on the other hand, goes in search of fuel economy, but finds the makings of a performance full-size pickup. Speaking of speed, Al Vinikour vents about unreasonable speed limits Michigan drivers, and O.J. Simpson.

 

 

June 14, 2013: Mercedes recently pulled the covers off the new S-Class. No longer hemmed in at the top by the Maybach, the S-Class can become the car it was always meant to be: the top of the line. The question is whether sybaritic luxury touches and tons of tech are enough to take on Rolls and Bentley. Speaking of Rolls-Royce, Silver Ghost enthusiasts leave today on a recreation of the 2013 Alpine Rally. Using period cars and traveling the same route, it will be interesting to see how participants fare on this centenary event. Operation 2015, on the other hand, is a charitable program designed to keep the only airworthy RAF Avro Vulcan in the air through 2015. We have the details. Meanwhile, Toyota showed a fresh concept at the Tokyo Toy Show aimed at bringing families together. It’s a car you build with your kids, and both of you can drive. Speaking of Toyota, the company recently introduced a new Corolla. Best known for its appliance-like durability and personality, the new version injects a bit of styling into the mix. Is it enough to counter the attack of more stylish and lively cars from the competition? The other side of that coin is represented by the Hyundai Sonata 2.0T. It wowed buyers with its long list of standard features, reasonable price and breakout styling, but how is this recipe faring four years on? Ever wonder what Le Mans was like in 1956 from the driver’s seat of a D-Type Jaguar? Thanks to a regular reader, we have the video. Lastly, Al Vinikour speaks out about what should be done for inattentive and incapable drivers, and what he thinks buyers of driverless cars should do. The answer is the same for both.