I write stuff. A lot of it is about cars and motorcycles.



2015 Volvo XC90 T6

I while back, in my review of the Volvo S60, I discussed the Swedish concept of lagom, which is the state of being acceptably good. The Swedes also have another, related concept, called Jantelagen. Basically, it means that, if you show your success too ostentatiously, you should be scorned and reviled. Frankly, the Swedes seem to hate and fear success, which seems a bit wacky. What this means in automotive terms is that, driving around in a high-status BMW X5 is a violation of Jantelagen, while driving around in a Volvo XC90 is not. And that seems wacky, too, because it’s totally wrong

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2015 Nissan Altima 2.5 S

If you’re looking for a reasonably priced, reliable, mid-sized family sedan, you’ve probably got the Nissan Altima 2.5 S on your list of cars to check out. And, on paper, nearly everything tells you that it should be a serious contender. Sure, if you’re a serious car aficionado, you might quibble over the front-wheel drive, but practically everything in the class is front-wheel drive, and literally everything in its price range is. Everything else on the spec sheet should fill you with a bit of enthusiasm, though. Like I said, on paper, it looks good.

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(Not) Buying a Beater

So, here’s my deal: Thanks to some unexpected income, and a lack of knowledge about tax law, I found myself with a 5-figure income tax bill. Obviously some belt-tightening was in order, so I had to sell the GTO back to CarMax, leaving me with just my Triumph Trophy for daily transportation. That’s not a bad thing on a daily basis, but, sometimes, you just need a car. And I need a cheap car that I can buy outright, because the IRS is on my back. So, I had to enter the exasperating world of buying a beater car.

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The Future That Never Was

Concept cars have been pretty boring in recent years. There are occasionally some interesting stylistic exercises, or some showcases of new technology, but for the most part, recent concept cars have been pretty dull. It wasn’t always that way, though. There was a time when concept cars were…insane.

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Pony Express

2015 Ford Mustang GT

Several months ago, I drove the 2014 Ford Mustang GT. It was…OK. The interior was cramped, and it didn’t feel as powerful to drive as you might expect from the paper specs. My knee also kept banging against the edge of the center console, which was painful and, eventually, enraging.

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The “Almost” Problem

2015 Acura TLX 3.5L

Soichiro Honda (1906-1991) was an automotive genius. In 1958, he created the Honda Supercub, about the least motorcycle you can buy, but which is still produced in many countries. There have been over 60 million Supercubs produced, making it the best-selling vehicle ever produced.  His Honda Civic and Accord led the Japanese charge in the 1970s to overturn the Big Four’s control of the American auto market. The company he created, Honda Motor Co. Ltd., is the world’s number one producer of internal combustion engines. In 1986, it became the first Japanese automaker to create it’s own luxury brand in Acura. Which brings us to the big push Honda is currently making for the all-new 2015 Acura TLX.

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Outdoorsy Communism

2015 Subaru Outback

Years ago, the Subaru Outback was the car of bucolic rural types who needed a car with some hauling capacity, and the ability traverse muddy dirt roads. Somewhere along the line, the Outback was discovered by outdoorsy communists and ladies with short-hair and broad shoulders. Since then, it’s become an increasingly upmarket vehicle, probably because Trotskyites have always been a little hazy about financial matters, so they’re easier to fleece.

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The Middle Way

2014 Buick Encore AWD

Driving a Buick says something about you. It says that you’re the sort of person who can’t afford a Cadillac, but not the sort of dirty, poor person who drives a Chevrolet. Buick is the brand for the middle class. While Chevrolet is the brand for the factory worker, and Cadillac is the brand for the factory owner, Buick is the brand for the senior software developer in the factory’s IT Department. Continue reading

Soul Searching

2014 Kia Soul Base

I wouldn’t have thought that Hamsters would be an effective marketing tool. Especially urban hamsters, with their hip-hop music and baggy clothes. I would, of course, be wrong, because that’s exactly how Kia markets the Soul. Apparently, the marketing works, because there seems to be a lot of them around. It works so well, in fact, that the Soul is Kia’s best-selling model.

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Sibling Rivalry

2015 Kia K900 Sedan

Kia is generally referred to as the sister company of Hyundai. That’s not an entirely accurate depiction, as Hyundai actually owns about a third of Kia Motors. But if we go with the “sisters” analogy, Hyundai would be the studious, sober sister, while Kia is the prettier, sluttier one. That’s not to say that that Hyundai is above flashing a little cleavage, in the form of the Genesis Coupe, which in its 6-cylinder Track or Touring spec, is pretty sexy in Korean car terms. But, in general, Kia’s cars are more fun to drive Hyundai’s.

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The Triumph of Style

2013 Nissan Juke Nismo*

There are cars that have hatchbacks, but are too big to be called a “Hatchback” and too small to be called an SUV. So, their manufacturers created a new category of vehicle: the “Crossover”. Nissan’s entry in the Crossover category is called the Juke, and they’ve turned it over to their in-house performance team, creating the Juke Nismo.

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