Archive for July, 2013

Jul
22
Mazda 6 Aerodynamics

2014 Mazda 6

In Consumer Guide’s opinion, the redesigned 2014 Mazda 6 has leapt to the top of the pack of the extremely competitive midsize-car class. In addition to its athletic character, this car is remarkably fuel-efficient. In our three Mazda 6 testers, we have averaged 30.6, 30.8, and—with our long-termer—32.0 mpg. In 330 miles of 95-percent highway driving, Consumer Guide editor Don Sikora averaged 40.3 mpg.

Jul
22

Here’s where the mini-mart guys load up before irritating the crap out of everybody in the checkout line.

If you can, avoid driving through someplace for your morning caffeine. The line is often inexplicably held up, and the alternative is infinitely more entertaining. I recommend getting out of the car and venturing into your local gas station mini-mart for some good old-fashioned commuter-time people watching.

Jul
18
Chrysler Sebring

Chrysler Sebring

About once a week while commuting, I spot a car that I had mostly forgotten about. Today, I followed for some distance a Chrysler Sebring coupe. For the first time since I first became aware of that car, I was struck by the notion that it was not entirely without its charms. The Sebring coupe isn’t exactly stunning, but it’s attractive enough in a conservative, ages-well sort-of way.

Jul
18
2014 Spark EV

2014 Chevrolet Spark EV

They’re certainly not for everyone, but electric vehicles are getting better and better, and thus ever more suitable for a wider range of drivers. Witness the latest electric vehicle to join the market: the Chevrolet Spark EV.

Jul
16

Around View Monitor

As vehicles become more technologically advanced, the list of features buyers expect from them continues to grow. Just a few years ago, a Bluetooth cell-phone link was something you’d typically find only in luxury vehicles. Now even the least-expensive cars have them, though admittedly some of that is out of necessity to comply with local and state regulations.

Jul
16

The reason the Lamborghini Countach could hit 300 mph (which it couldn’t) was because of the rear spoiler. This is just one of three myths that have grated on Tom’s nerves.

I wrote recently about a trio of guys who were known to their acquaintances for weaving tall automotive tales. Those guys were, frankly, liars. No factory-stock Monte Carlo ever hit 200 mph, and the government never developed a secret performance chip for the Dodge Neon. We know this.

Jul
15
Trabant

Rick drove the 1962 Trabant 600 (left), pictured with the 1975 Trabant 601 convertible and a Citroën 2CV.

In 2009, a banner driving year that included a chance to slip behind the wheel of a Ferrari F430 and a Rolls-Royce Phantom Drophead Coupé, I decided it would only be fair to balance those automotive extravagances with a test drive of the worst car I could possibly imagine. Nothing built in my lifetime fits that description better than that antithesis of proud German engineering, the Trabant.

Jul
11
2014 Chevrolet Silverado

2014 Chevrolet Silverado LTZ “Z71”

This decade has been a fascinating one for large pickup trucks. Looking at the market as a whole, we’ve seen a shift toward big rigs equipped like luxury sedans rather than traditional workhorses. Chrysler rewrote the rulebook by giving its Ram 1500 trucks a more car-like suspension, never-before-seen storage capability, and a brand-new turbodiesel engine. As Ford readies a new F-150, likely for a model-year 2015 debut, it’s General Motors’ turn in the big pickup spotlight, highlighted by the recent release of new 2014 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 and companion GMC Sierra 1500.

Jul
11
Breakfast With Ed Welburn

Ed Welburn

One of the great perks of auto writing is the occasional, casual, sometimes rather sudden meeting with fascinating people. Seems that executives and other senior manufacturer folk aren’t allowed free time, and are expected to make the most of travel time, even time they might have spent alone with a newspaper and poached eggs.

My breakfast with Ed Welburn was just such a moment. Welburn, for those who don’t know, is General Motors’ global vice president of design. Ed has been with GM since 1972, and he just wrapped up work on the 2014 Corvette.

Jul
10
2013 Goodguys Heartland Nationals

“Barn finds” are all the rage these days in the vintage-car world. This 1969 Camaro SS 396 was on display in “as-found” condition, accumulated grime and all.

It’s a summer tradition of mine to attend the Goodguys Heartland Nationals show at the Iowa State Fairgrounds every Fourth of July weekend. I haven’t missed a single show yet, and this year’s edition was the 22nd annual. Goodguys shows are street rod, custom, street machine, and muscle-car events first and foremost, but every year I’m surprised at the number of interesting stock (or at least “stock-ish”) vehicles I find mixed in with the expected T-buckets, ’32 Fords, Tri-Five Chevys, Mustangs, Camaros, and Chevelles. Most Goodguys events draw huge numbers of cars (this year’s Heartland Nats reached a record-breaking 4,300 vehicles), more than any one person can see in a weekend. With that kind of volume, chances are good you’ll find something that’s right up your alley. I decided to chronicle some of the more unusual “non-custom” vehicles I came across. Have a look . . .

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