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

Automobiles

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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Hanging In There

2013 Honda Fit

“Why,” you may be asking, “are you writing reviews of 2013 models when we’re already a couple of months into 2014?” Well, the thing about the Honda Fit is that there isn’t a 2014 model. The tsunami in Japan last year messed up things at the factory in Sayama where the Fit is made, forcing them to skip the 2014 model year. A new 2015 model has been announced as the next refresh of the model, and it will be an all-round update to the car, inside and out. For now, though, the 2013 model is the only Fit you can buy.

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Help a starving student

There’s this college kid named Evan Ewing in LA who really wants to make a cool, short film for one of his classes. And he wants to make it about the Nissan GT-R. He loves the GT-R and he’d like to show his fellow students, teachers, and car enthusiasts how much he loves it. Frankly, he’s a bit nuts on the subject. But, the thing is, he’s a student, which means he’s a dirty, poor person. And it costs money to make movies, even really short ones. So he needs to somehow scrape up $2,500. He can’t do it himself because he’s, as I mentioned, poor and dirty. So, he’s got a kickstarter page where he’s begging for money, like some sort of shameless third-world indigent.

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Enraging

2013 Ford Focus SE Sedan

Car enthusiasts know all about the Ford Focus ST. It is the quintessential hot hatch, dropping 264 horses of fun through the front tires. It has a stiff suspension, hard ride, aggressively bolstered seats, and a pleasing manual transmission. The Ford Focus SE Sedan is almost exactly unlike this in every possible way.

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My Happy Place

2014 Jaguar XF Supercharged

Jaguar is a brand with a long and storied history. It was Jaguar, for instance, that gave us what Enzo Ferrari called “the most beautiful car ever made”, the original E-Type. When it was introduced at the Geneva Auto Show in 1961, it became an instant icon of 1960s motoring. Jaguar also gave us the best getaway car ever made, the Mk. II, which was used by every robber in Britain who could get their hands on one, mainly because the police had nothing that could catch it.

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Horsemanship

2014 Ford Mustang GT

For fifty years, the Ford Mustang has been the Pony car standard. Indeed, the Mustang is why we call them Pony Cars. It might seem that this isn’t the best time to review the Mustang. With the 2015 Mustang, the Pony will be smaller, lighter, faster, and will come standard with an independent rear suspension for the first time. Someone at Ford apparently realized it was 2014, i.e., past time to ditch the live axle in the back. Drag racers will still be able to order the solid rear axle, but for those of us who would like to, you know, turn, we’ll be getting a modern rear suspension.

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Frugality

2013 Hyundai Genesis 5.0 R-Spec Sedan

The BMW 550i sedan is a really nice car, there’s no doubt about that. It’s got 449 HP, and lots of leather and brushed aluminum bits, and all sorts of electronic wizardry. But there are some downsides, the primary one being the $63,000 base price. Add some decent options to it, and you’ll find the sticker price soaring over $70,000. That’s the equivalent of one-third of a house. Or a couple of very nice houses in Detroit. Yes, it’s fast, luxurious, and comfortable, but it costs quite a lot. Of course, horsepower, as they say, costs money, but does it have to cost that much?

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The Poor Man’s Hyundai

2014 Hyundai Accent GS Sedan

Let’s say you’re a young person who wants a new car. But, sadly, you’re a high-school drop-out, knocking tin in the construction industry as an air conditioning installer. Or you’re a recent college graduate working at your first office job in the mailroom. Basically, you’re young, and just starting out in life. Unless you have rich, benevolent parents, that means you’re a dirty, poor person.

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Getting My Goat

2006 Pontiac GTO (Used)

For weeks and weeks I looked for one particular car. I wanted a 2005 or 2006 Pontiac GTO, with low to average miles, and the available 6-speed manual transmission. They aren’t easy to find. The 4-speed automatics can be found here and there with some regularity, even though the car had a limited run for GM’s Pontiac division. But the manual transmission cars are truly rare, cost significantly more, and get snapped up quickly when they become available.

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Coming Attractions

It’s been an extraordinarily busy week and a half for me. Last weekend was almost completely taken up with going up to Orange County and getting the GTO, while this weekend was taken up with getting the GTO fixed up a little bit, and running errand we missed doing last week. Add in the business of working, teaching my college business class, and doing client-related stuff, it’s been a bear. I have not, however, been completely idle with things for the blog, so here’s a preview of coming attractions for the next week or so.

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