Archive for August, 2013


“The Tail of the Dragon” is a twisty ribbon of asphalt just outside of Knoxville that contains 318 turns in 11 miles. While a Toyota 4Runner – or any SUV, for that matter – is hardly the utensil of choice for carving through these corners, it managed to hold its own in this motorcycle mecca.

Its official designation is U.S. Route 129, and though it runs through four states along the Appalachian Mountains, it’s most renowned for an 11-mile stretch of tightly twisting asphalt known the world over as The Tail of the Dragon.


Cars of Walmart, Part 2

Written by Tom Appel in Audi, Humor
more cars of walmart

One wonders if more Cadillacs or Mercurys have been forced to suffer the indignity of a thickly padded, after-market chrome-ringed vinyl top. This Cougar looks to have lovingly received the deluxe treatment, only to be later passed along to less caring owners.

A suggestion left by a reader of the Cars of Walmart post we shared yesterday suggested that were we to revisit the same parking a few hours later, we would find an entirely different collection of interesting vehicles worth sharing. Why not?


Cars of Walmart

Written by Tom Appel in Humor
Cars of Walmart

Spotted this morning in the Walmart parking lot. Hanging from the bumper? A product known commercially as Truck Nuts™.

Inspired by the People of Walmart website, I present the Cars of Walmart. The five rides shared here were all found this morning at the same time at the Walmart closest to our Chicago-area office.

Car Ads with Prices

According to the text, this 1970 AMC AMX is priced comparably to a “loaded Mustang or Camaro.”

Automakers tend to avoid talking price at the national level. That’s why it was relatively uncommon to see prices in magazine ads. At the local dealer level, however, that’s where the haggling begins. There’s little more entertaining to a car guy than to find the car ads in an old newspaper. We’ll have to post a collection of those some time soon, too.

With the average transaction price of a new vehicle hovering around $32,000, the prices in these ads now seem a little quaint. But the real charm is in the small print. Apparently “loaded” once meant that a car came with headrests (see the AMC ad above).

2013 Wrangler Sahara

Our test Wrangler Unlimited came in Sahara guise and with the removable soft top.

26-300x792013 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited “Sahara”

Miles driven: 183

Base price: $31,495 (not including $995 destination fee)


The top of the line Lounge trim level (shown here) comes only with an automatic transmission.

2014 Fiat 500L “Lounge”

Dates tested: 8/12/2013-8/26/2013

Miles driven: 317

Base price: $24,195 (not including $800 destination fee)

Price as tested: $27,455

Options on test car: Sun roof ($950), Black “Nero” roof ($500), Premium audio ($500), painted wheels ($500)

Real-world fuel economy: 27.8 mpg

Driving mix: 50 percent city, 50 percent highway

Quick Hits

The great: Spacious, airy cabin, great visibility

The good: Good mileage, fun styling

The not so good: Limited rear-seat headroom, clunky low-speed drivetrain behavior

2013 Hyundai Sonata Limited

2013 Hyundai Sonata Limited

Steve King and Johnnie Putman, Chicago radio personalities and car enthusiasts, are longtime friends of Consumer Guide Automotive. Click the video below for their latest car review.


2013 Lincoln MKZ

2013 Lincoln MKZ

Dates Tested: 8/15/2013-8/29/2013

Miles driven: 353

Base price: $38,710 (not including $895 destination fee)

Price as tested: $45,550

Options on test car: Group 102A ($3150), Technology Package ($2250), polished alloy wheels ($750),

optional paint ($495), rear inflatable seat belts ($195)

Real-World Fuel Economy: 21.9 mpg

Driving Mix: 60 percent city, 40 percent highway

Quick Hits

The Great: Bold styling

The Good: Good power, reasonable fuel economy for class

The not so good: Cranky MyLincoln Touch control interface, lack of character

ZAP Xebra

Though the Zap! Xebra boasts four doors, it has a stated load capacity of just 500 pounds.

Visit the Zap! website and poke around for a while, it’s kind of fun. What you’ll see is a dozen or so electric vehicles that fall readily into three categories: those that look like farm implements, those that look like crappy low-end Chinese cars (which they are), and those that look like seventh-grade concept-car design contest runner up drawings come to life.


A small fleet of ForTwo Electric Drives lined up in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The electric Smart starts at $25,750

In an automotive world where many vehicles look too much alike, the Smart ForTwo stands out. Like a baby shoe surrounded by sneakers, wingtips, and cowboy boots, the Smart’s diminutive size almost always elicits a smile. But just like that baby shoe, it really doesn’t fit the needs of most American buyers.

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