2014 Audi S4
Several years ago, Audi went through a bad patch. People were accusing Audis of unintended acceleration. The story was that you’d be plodding along through a school zone at 10 MPH when the Audi you were driving would suddenly accelerate at maximum speed into a gaggle of children. Audi disputed this. Consumers didn’t believe them, most likely because the media hyped the story, a lot. Turns out it was most likely the idiots behind the wheel. It still put a lot of hurt on Audi, and their US sales cratered.
2014 Mazda6 Grand Touring Sedan Review
The Honda Accord and Toyota Camry sell well. They aren’t bad cars, either, though they’re inoffensive and boring. Honda and Toyota sell quite a lot of them, too. They’re one of the bread and butter sedans you see on American roads. They aren’t the only choices, though. They may not even be the best choices. Even Toyota now seems to realize this, as this week, one of Toyota’s chiefs told the motoring press that Toyota has decided to start making cars that excite 10 people out of 100, instead of trying not to offend all 100. Still, the Camry is what it is, for now.
2014 Honda Accord EL-X V6 Sedan
Some cars are appliances. They aren’t exciting and massively powered. They don’t cosset you with sumptuous luxury. You just, you know, drive them, and they take you places. The Honda Accord is one such appliance. But the thing about appliances is that they aren’t all the same. In fact, some of them are quite good. You can buy a mixer from Hamilton Beach, and it’ll be alright, and do what you expect it to do. But, if you want a mixer that will not only do a fantastic job, but can be passed down to your great-grandchildren, you buy a KitchenAid.
2014 Chevrolet Camaro SS
In certain parts of the country, the way you show your family and friends that you’ve hit the big time is to buy yourself a double-wide mobile home and a Chevy Camaro. In these politically correct times, it’s not polite to mention this stereotype, of course. But it’s so prevalent that it’s hard not to do so. For instance, I couldn’t even avoid it in the first sentence of this review.
2013 Chrysler 200 Touring Review
Chrysler is a brand of cars that I just don’t understand. They only make four models of car, and, really, those cars are just rebadged Dodges. The mechanicals are all the same, and so are the materials used in the interiors. The only difference between the Chrysler and Dodge versions of a car is that the Dodge incorporates exterior styling that makes it look like it wouldn’t mind slitting a few throats if it got bored. Chryslers have softer exterior styling, and look a little less blue-collar than Dodges on the inside.
2014 Ford Fiesta ST Review
When you review cars, the good cars are the worst. You see, bad cars allow you to get snarky. You get a chance to gleefully rip years of work by thousands of people into utter shreds. You can reach for colorful metaphors involving the incompetence, ancestry, and probable spiritual destination of everyone involved in the car’s production. You can make fun of the vehicle’s clownish face, and go on for paragraphs about turbo lag, slow shifting, bad suspension, and cheap plastic dashboards.
2013 Mini John Cooper Works GP
At about the same time that Britain was giving us Doctor Who, they also gave us the original Mini. Badly underpowered by today’s standards, it was so responsive and fun that it quickly became the original hot hatch, and began tearing up rally and racing tracks all over Europe. The years have been more or less kind to both British cultural icons. Doctor Who is in its tenth or eleventh incarnation on TV, and Minis are being built again in Old Blighty. Happily, rather than being built by British Leyland communists in the Midlands, the Mini is now built by Germans in Oxfordshire, which means when you go out to start it in the morning…it will.
2013 Fiat 500 Abarth Review
Italian cars have a bit of a reputation, and it’s both good and bad. The good part of their reputation is that they’re usually pretty, and fun to drive. There’s something that the Italians and their automotive engineers just get about the act of driving, and about how a car should look. The bad part of their reputation is that they don’t get everything else about cars, like, say, reliability. The bad part of that reputation has lingered in the US, because Fiat and Lancia bid goodbye to these shores in the early 1980s after a series of disastrously unreliable cars, followed by Alfa Romeo in the early 1990s.
2013 Dodge Dart Review
Jeremy Clarkson, the host of BBC’s Top Gear, often says that you can’t really call yourself a car person if you’ve never owned an Alfa Romeo. Having been fortunate enough to have had an ‘84 Spider 2000 for a while, I agree fully.
2013 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution MR Review
The Subaru WRX STI has only one real competitor as a rally-bred street car: The Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution, called the Evo, for short. The Evo is the one bright spot in Mitsubishi’s otherwise sad line-up of mediocre-performing, front-wheel drive, budget cars. The thing is, the STI and Evo people each love their vehicles desperately, and they hate the owners of the opposing vehicles with a passion that burns with the heat of a thousand suns. Much insult and ridicule is exchanged between the two groups.
2013 Ford Fusion SE Hybrid Review
There are a lot of reasons why you might want to use less gasoline. Maybe you think all the ice is melting and Johnny Polar Bear will lose his home. Maybe you’re tired of buying gas from Johnny Foreigner. Maybe you just want some extra cash for coke and hookers. On the other hand, you don’t want a Prius, partly because you don’t need to display a smug sense of moral superiority, but mainly because a the Prius is a horribly dull car.
2013 Range Rover Evoque Coupe Review
The full-sized Range Rover is probably, as Jeremy Clarkson would say, the best SUV…in the world. But it’s a big vehicle, with a huge V-8 engine. Luxurious and off-road capable, sure, but big and fuel hungry. But let’s say you want a smaller but still off-road capable SUV and you don’t want to give up luxury and drive around in a shabby Subaru or Nissan? Or even worse, a Land Rover LR2, with its sad, horrible, under-powered V-6. The answer, according to Range Rover, is the Evoque.
2014 Jaguar F-Type S Review
It’s been 50 years since Jaguar has produced a proper, purpose-built sports car, in the form of the classic E-Type, one of the most beautiful cars ever made. It was, perhaps, the most beautiful thing ever made. Since then, Jaguar has been more about luxury than sport. Sure, Jaguar makes fast luxury cars, and there was the XK, of course, which was amusing, and in the R-spec version, very fast. But it didn’t quite press all the right sports-car buttons, especially in convertible form. The convertible was basically an XK coupe with the top sawzalled off, which meant loss of torsional rigidity and scuttle shake. Since the E-Type, Jags have always been fast, fun, and luxurious, but not truly sporting machines.
2013 Subaru Impreza WRX STI Review
Subaru is a brand that has a lot of stereotypes when it comes to the average owner. There’s the modern, new-age version of hippies, who need a Subaru Outback’s All Wheel Drive to navigate the muddy dirt roads that lead to their dirty, all-organic, locally grown produce communes. The lesbians, treehuggers and PETA enthusiasts figure prominently, too. Basically, Subaru makes cars for outdoorsy communists.
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