Archive for September, 2012
The redesigned 2013 Honda Accord Sedan and Coupe are hitting dealerships nationwide right now. A new generation of a benchmark car like the Accord is always a special occasion in the automotive world, and the new ninth-generation Accord doesn’t disappoint.
My last post, which mourned the forgotten ideas of yesteryear, brought a number of good suggestions as to others I clearly missed. These included the swing-away steering wheels found in Thunderbirds of the ’60s (odd, since a friend had a ’66 so equipped), “wind wings” (the flip-out vent windows that used to hug the front roof pillars), bench front seats (currently offered in only one 2013 car, the Chevrolet Impala, and will soon be discontinued), Insta-Clear windshields (a ’90s idea that greatly speeded defrosting but made windshield replacement hyper-expensive), and hood ornaments (obvious pedestrian skewers that would never pass today’s safety initiatives).
History—what little of if has passed since the last of these unloved vehicles rolled off the assembly line in 2005—has been unkind to the Pontiac Aztek. But, I ask, beyond being arguably ugly and saddled with a misspelled name, what did the Aztek ever do to you?
“Progress” isn’t always good. Following are five automotive features I remember (or in some cases, I’m pretty sure I remember) from the past few decades that somehow have been discarded into the trashcan of history.
Destination charge, that non-negotiable component of a new car buying, is the cost of delivering the car from the factory to your local dealer. The cost has been steadily rising. Now, many destination charges are nudging the $1,000 mark. All 2013 Chryslers have a $995 destination charge. Ford and Chevy charge in the $800 range for cars, but order a full-sized SUV or pickup truck and you’ll pay $995 for delivery.
Station wagons may be a hard sell in SUV-crazy America, but Volkswagen isn’t giving up on them. A recent Car and Driver online report quotes Rainer Michel, product-strategy director for VW of America, as saying the front-wheel-drive Jetta SportWagen will be redesigned for 2014, the first complete re-do for this model since it was reinstated for 2008 after a few years furlough. Not only that, Michel says the company is thinking of adding an all-wheel-drive quasi-SUV version along the lines of the Alltrack concept from last April’s New York Auto Show.
Today’s SportWagen is built alongside the Jetta sedan at VW’s Puebla, Mexico, plant. The sedan remains the brand’s U.S. top-seller, and was redesigned for 2011 as a slightly larger, more competitively priced compact in a bid for even higher volume. Both body styles are based on VW’s older PQ-series platforms, but the next-gen wagon will move to the new MQB modular-matrix corporate architecture that hosts the redesigned 2014 Golf (and, eventually, some 40 distinct models among VW Group’s four mainstream brands). As a result, the SportWagen will lose its structural kinship with Jetta sedans, and that could mean a change to European sourcing and consequently higher sticker prices despite the lower manufacturing costs being claimed for the new architecture. As far as we know, the Puebla plant is not yet tooled to produce MQB-based vehicles.
For 2013, Honda has redesigned the Accord Sedan. The base 4-cylinder is more powerful, as is the optional V6, yet fuel economy for all models is improved. Besides new styling, the car welcomes new features including the available forward-collision warning system—a rare option for a non-premium car.
For more details, read Consumer Guide Automotive’s complete review of the 2013 Honda Accord Sedan.
Inspired by esteemed Consumer Guide Publisher Tom Appel’s entries about what cars Star Trek characters would drive, I figured I would take my own passion for video games and do something similar.
My plan is to split this among the major video game companies: Nintendo, Microsoft, and Sony. Today we start with “The Big N,” one of the granddaddies of the business. I’ll largely keep within the same framework as the Star Trek entries. Production vehicles only, but I would like to keep the costs to less than $100,000.
A thorough test drive is always an important part of any new-vehicle buying experience. However, when it comes to high-end performance cars and enthusiast buyers, a run-of-the-mill dealership test drive on city streets isn’t always sufficient to truly show off the vehicle’s capabilities. Luxury manufacturers realize this, and most of them offer a variety of brand-specific “driving experience” events that range from complimentary half-day product samplings to expensive, multiple-day high-performance-driving instruction courses. These events are held at various racetracks and private country club-style road courses around the country, usually during the summer months. Manufacturers get to showcase their current offerings and do a bit of direct marketing. Enthusiasts and prospective buyers get a dose of professional instruction and a supervised high-performance test-drive opportunity that’s (briefly) unconstrained by those pesky speed limits and traffic laws.
I last pumped gas for pay sometime in 1985. It was then that I last peeked into another person’s car using a windshield squeegee as cover for my furtive voyeurism. You can learn a lot about a person while nosing around their car. I’m pretty sure most folks pulling up to full-serve weren’t thinking about what conclusions were being drawn about them while they filled up. But us pump jockeys, we noticed stuff.