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.
Across America, dealer showrooms are brimming with attractive vehicles, those that wow you with their gorgeous builds and/or dynamic performance. Some cars, however, are more like flashy blondes. They’re appealing on the surface, but once you examine them closely, you’re not so impressed. To wit . . .
Hyundai Veloster Base
Recently, Veloster topped KBB’s list as the coolest car under $18,000. Well, it’s different all right, particularly with its 3-door design. However, rear visibility is abysmal, and acceleration and handling for this “sporty” car are merely mediocre. The top-end Turbo model, with its turbocharged engine, quicker steering feel, and sport suspension, is considerably sportier. But that’s not under $18,000.
Navigator is the natural rival of the Cadillac Escalade, but in truth this premium-large SUV isn’t as upscale as that bling-mobile. Navigator, which hasn’t been redesigned since model-year 2007, is actually little more than a dressed-up Ford Expedition—at a much stiffer price.
While I’ve never been a fan of the Smart ForTwo, I was pretty impressed with these Smart ads, created for European audiences. They call out the car’s few notable qualities, including its small carbon footprint, fuel savings, ability to fit in tight spaces, and reinforced steel structure. They almost make me want to buy a Smart. Note: almost.
Nowadays, it’s probably not a good idea to name a car after an ethnic slur. (Just ask Paula Deen.) But to some Americans in the 1950s, stereotypes seemed like a handy, shorthand way of identifying a group of people. Back then, those of Scottish descent were known for being frugal. Hence, thought the marketing whizzes at Studebaker-Packard, why not make a stripped-down model and call it the Scotsman?
Recently, while thumbing through a 1919 issue of Motor Travel: A Magazine for Automobile Owners, I stumbled upon an article titled “The Motor Car Back in ’99.” This story profiled an automobile that was made to look like a horse, mostly as a calming effect for real horses that shared the road. The article explained:
“Under the head of ‘New Inventions’ is a note about the ‘Horsey Horseless Carriage,’ which tells about Uriah Smith, of Battle Creek, Mich., and his method of preventing runaways on the part of horses who meet motor vehicles. The device included the life size image of a horse down to the shoulders, which was to be fastened in front of the carriage. This he warranted would allay the fears of any equine, ‘for the carriage would have all the appearance of a horse-drawn vehicle; the live horse would be thinking of another horse, and before he could discover his error and see that he had been fooled, the strange carriage would have passed, and would then be too late to grow frantic and fractious.’ The inventor also recommends his device as a wind brake and as a receptacle for gasoline.”
To this day, no one seems to know if the Horsey Horseless Carriage was ever built. However, Time included the vehicle among its 50 worst-ever cars, and this illustration—of unknown origin—has been floating around the Internet.
Also see: Best Cars for Tall Drivers (non-premium)
Also see: Three Good Cars for Big Guys
While luxury cars tend to offer more comfortable front seats than non-premium cars do—not to mention all kinds of power adjustments—they don’t necessarily offer more room. In fact, with sleek styling that’s meant to woo well-to-do customers, headroom is often more limiting in luxo vehicles.
Are you sick of “sardining” yourself into a bucket seat? Tired of driving with your kneecaps on the steering wheel? Fed up with banging your noggin on the headliner? If you’re over 6-feet tall and need a vehicle to accommodate your large frame, look no further. We’ve got you covered.
In a previous blog, I questioned whether Shaquille O’Neal truly had enough legroom to fit in that Buick LaCrosse—you know, the one in the commercial that has aired incessantly for more than a year. Today, I stumbled upon this ad, which shows the late basketball legend Wilt “The Stilt” Chamberlain (who, like Shaq, was 7-foot-1) trying to get into a Volkswagen Beetle back in the late 1960s.
Could he do it? Not quite.
“They said it couldn’t be done,” the ad’s headline said. “It couldn’t.”
The ad continued: “We tried. Lord knows we tried. But no amount of pivoting or faking could squeeze the Philadelphia 76ers’ Wilt Chamberlain into the front seat of a Volkswagen.”
But, the ad went on to say, maybe you could if you were a “mere 6’7″. . . . There’s more headroom than you’d expect. (Over 37 1/2″ from seat to roof.) And there’s more legroom in front that you’d get in a limousine.”
I’ve never been in one of these original VW bugs, but I’m sure that many of you have. So let me ask you: Do you think a 6-foot-7 man, such as fellow Sixers legend Julius Erving, could have fit inside an old Beetle?
Chrysler Group officials were undoubtedly seething over the last two weeks. On June 3, NHTSA asked the company to recall 2.7 million Jeep Grand Cherokees and Jeep Liberties (years ranging from 1993 to 2007) because some of those SUVs had caught fire in rear crashes. Chrysler contended that the recall was unjustified.
You could feel Chrysler’s resentment in its early response to NHTSA. “The focus of this request,” asserted Chrysler in regards to the fires, was so rare that it occurred “less than once for every million years of vehicle operation.”
Chrysler had been challenging this recall for two weeks, and yesterday the automaker and federal officials reached a compromise. The automaker agreed to recall 1.56 million SUVs: 1993-1998 Jeep Grand Cherokees and 2002-2007 Jeep Libertys. Excluded were 1.1 million 1999-2004 Grand Cherokees.
To me, satellite radio is the greatest car feature since the stereo. After a lifetime of listening to the same old same-old on terrestrial radio, including the seven Fleetwood Mac Rumours songs that are played daily on every rock, oldies, and “light FM” station (am I right or am I right?), it’s liberating to have more than a hundred channels to choose from.