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.
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.
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.
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.
Today was the annual Orange County Auto Show. I went and took a few pictures of things that interested me. All of the pics are linked to the big, hi-res versions. Enjoy the pics, and the commentary as well.
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.
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.
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
There are some reasons why buying a car at CarMax kind of sucks. They don’t negotiate prices. The prices they don’t negotiate are too high. But there is one reason why CarMax rules: The CarMax Warranty. If you never need it, it might be pricey. If you do need it, it will save your bacon. Like it did mine.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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