Archive for December, 2013
In a colorful life that came to an end on December 29, Andy Granatelli thoroughly blended a passion for cars with the promotional savvy of a master showman. It was a combination that made him one of the most memorable characters in racing—and marketing—in the last 50 years.
2014 Mitsubishi Mirage ES
Dates Tested: 12/16/2013-12/30/2013
Miles Driven: 266
Fuel used: 8.0 gallons
Real-world fuel economy: 33.3 mpg
The era of downsizing was a period of mixed blessings for automakers. Some vehicles were transformed into blockbuster sales successes, and met with enormously positive critical reviews. Other slimmed-down vehicles didn’t fare as well with shoppers or reviewers, however.
Think of the 1977 redesign of Chevrolet’s bread-and-butter Impala and Caprice. An instant success, the big “B-Body” sedans, coupes, and wagons, perfectly balanced size, economy, and price. Now, consider the 1980 update of the Chrysler Cordoba. Following the popular luxury coupe first seen in 1975, the newly slimmed and overtly aerodynamic two-door seemed to eschew the traditionally baroque trappings that made the first-generation car a success, and sales suffered as a result.
The name Ed Herrmann is far more likely to resonate with hardcore baseball fans possessed of long memories than it is to strike a chord with car buffs. The former catcher, who died December 22, played 11 seasons for five teams. The left-hand-hitting backstop was a lifetime .240 hitter with 80 career home runs and 320 runs batted in. In 1974, he was an American League All-Star.
But at his first and longest big-league stop in Chicago, Ed “Hoggy” Herrmann was involved in an odd bit of automotive lore: the Big White Machine.
It was a marketing experiment gone horribly wrong—but the thinking was sound. If German luxury-car makers sell diesel engines in premium automobiles, shouldn’t Lincoln?
Taking no chances, Lincoln secured a suitable engine from BMW, and placed it in its two most sophisticated vehicles, the Continental Sedan and the Mark VII coupe.
2014 Honda Accord Hybrid Touring
Dates tested: 11/25/2013-12/02/2013
Miles Driven: 306
Fuel Used: 8.0 gallons
Real-world fuel economy: 38.3 mpg
Before I myself began working at a gas station, I spent a couple of years doing grunt work at a local mom-and-pop drug store. It was a pretty big store for a non-chain establishment, and I learned a lot while sweeping floors and stocking shelves.
At some point during my time at Plum Grove Drugs, I asked the owner about all the odd, seemingly incongruous merchandise he stocked. “This isn’t a drug store,” he replied, “It’s a variety store with a pharmacy.”
2014 Toyota Corolla LE Plus
Dates tested: 12/02/2013-12/14/2013
Miles Driven: 349
Fuel Used: 13.1 gallons
Real-world fuel economy: 26.6 mpg
Nothing messes with the flow of a friendly quarter-ante poker game like the guy who suddenly whips out his wallet and throws a twenty into the pot. In an instant, the game has changed. The unexpected appearance of a double sawbuck next to a loosely clustered pot of coins strips the game of all perspective. Your carefully conceived plan to suck the other players in with a low raise has been blown out the window. Your only option now is to see this moron’s raise (guys like this never bluff—he’s sitting on at least three kings) or fold and hope he sits out for a few hands.
When Chevy’s popular Malibu midsize sedan was redesigned for 2013, it was offered with three engines, all 4-cylinders: a base 197-horspower 2.5-liter, a turbocharged 259-horsepower 2.0 (effectively replacing the former V6), and a 182-horsepower 2.4 with GM’s “mild hybrid” eAssist system for the economy-oriented Eco models.
Compared to the base 2.5, the 2.4 with eAssist raised the EPA city/highway fuel-economy estimates from 22/34 to 25/37, a healthy increase. But it also raised the price—by about $1300.