Automotive Industry and Car Reviews

Old automotive pages from 2007 and Before

Armor All collection can help keep cars fresh with no sweat

Armor All collection
I’ve just washed my car from top to bottom without using water, a pail, or a hose. Or by using someone else’s efforts on my behalf, or someone else’s washing facility.  It was really cool!

And while I think I’ll still use the touchless wash down the street a lot of the time, I’ve learned that you really can get your car clean just by wiping it with a cloth. If it’s the right cloth.

By Jim Bray - Monday, August 13, 2018 - Full Story

Long Lexus RX lets you add passengers

Long Lexus RX lets you add passengers
Lexus’ top selling SUV, the RX series, has received a boost for the 2018 model year in a move that instantly makes it competitive with three row luxury people haulers.

It, as you probably guessed, is the RX 350 L, the L indicating that the vehicle has been stretched a few inches (about four, in fact) to allow for the installation of a third-row bench. It isn’t a third row like you’ll find in a minivan, but it’s in line with some of the competitors whose Steerage class seating is more of the “emergency-public-transit-alternative-type” of vehicle.

By Jim Bray - Tuesday, August 7, 2018 - Full Story

Synthetic suede gives high-end cars that luxury feel

Synthetic suede gives high-end cars that luxury feel
Leather car seats were once synonymous with luxury, but these days, synthetic suede is becoming the material of choice for high-end automobiles. With increased affluence worldwide, and the growing popularity of car-sharing and luxury-driving services, business is booming for manufacturers of synthetic suede. Among these companies, Japanese firms sit snugly in the driver’s seat, reports an article in Chemical & Engineering News (C&EN), the weekly newsmagazine of the American Chemical Society.

By American Chemical Society - Wednesday, August 1, 2018 - Full Story

Harleycans—(on the vroom side)

Harleycans
In my (much) younger years and on another continent, I was interested in motorbikes, like any other young male then. I even got my biking-license, requiring an actual “field test” (in the city) with all kinds of turns, etc. Of course, that was entirely separate from getting my car-driving license.

Somehow though, I never acquired a motorcycle myself. Instead, I rode my brother’s ~20 HP bike a few times, never far, except as “passenger” or via a tow-line to my (pedal-powered) bicycle.

By Dr. Klaus L.E. Kaiser - Monday, July 30, 2018 - Full Story

Mazda CX-3 AWD: an entry level SUV that’s fun

Mazda CX-3 AWDCompact SUV’s are a dime a dozen, but if you’re looking for one that’s not only capable, roomy and efficient, but is fun to drive as well,  the list gets decidedly shorter.

Small and fun SUV’s are available, but most of the lower end ones I’ve driven – the mainstream stuff from mainstream companies such as Toyota, Honda, Kia, Hyundai and the like – seem to focus more on the “UV” (Utility Vehicle) than the “S” (Sport), which is perhaps why the term “crossover” has become so popular.


Acura’s 2019 RDX an interesting and fun compact luxury SUV

Acura's 2019 RDX an interesting and fun compact luxury SUV
It’s being touted as Acura’s new direction and, as such, it’s an interesting case study in how a company responds to the ever-evolving competition.

I was on Acura’s junket to San Francisco when the original RDX came out. It was Acura’s first turbo four, and it was a wonderful SUV that featured what at the time was probably the best audio system I’d experienced in a vehicle.

That ELS audio system is still around, kind of, but it has also marched along with the marketplace—which to me is a double-edged sword.


When the heck is the flying car going to get here?

When the heck is the flying car going to get here?
We’ve been promised them for years, and periodically we get to see an interesting new supposed prototype appear in the media, or as a “character” on TV or in movies. But the real, consumer-friendly flying family car never seems to actually come to market. Why is that?

Well, it’s a pretty tough nut to crack, and there are questions of what infrastructure would be required (if any) and of course there’s also the question of whether or not we want to inflict a bunch of bad drivers onto the sky as well as the roads. I mean, if you think automated cars are a challenge, expand that to three dimensions!

By Jim Bray - Saturday, June 30, 2018 - Full Story

Missing the Matrix? The Corolla iM might fit the bill

Missing the Matrix? The Corolla iM might fit the bill
What do you do if you loved your little Toyota Matrix hatchback and want to get a new one, only to sally forth to your local Toyota store and find that, like the Pontiac Vibe with which it shared its DNA, it’s no longer available?

Well, you could check out the Corolla iM, which right now is the closest thing Toyota offers to that great little wagon. It started life as the Scion iM, but once Toyota decided to say sayonara to the Scion era (sorry…) it dumped all that line except for this little hatch and the wonderful little FR-S sports coupe that’s now known as the 86.


Toyota’s Sequoia may have been treemendous once – but it’s time for an upgrade

Toyota's Sequoia may have been treemendous once – but it's time for an upgrade
Maybe it’s Toyota’s way of ensuring the long-term viability of “old growth” forests, but the Tundra-based Sequoia SUV seems more like a blast from the past than a state-of-the-art “people and stuff hauler.”

That doesn’t mean it isn’t a great vehicle – it’s a Toyota, after all, and so if nothing else the thing’ll probably serve its owners forever – but it’s a vehicle that, to make a Sequoia analogy, seems to have a few more rings in its trunk than some of the “new growth” gigantic SUV’s with which it competes.


Up-engined Mazda 6 sports even more ‘Zoom-Zoom’

Up-engined Mazda 6 sports even more 'Zoom-Zoom'
Truth in advertising gets even more truthful for Mazda with the release of the 2018 6 sedan and its optional choice of a turbocharged engine.

The engine, which comes from the company’s big SUV/Crossover CX-9, ups the 6’s entertainment/engagement ante substantially, which I imagine is the entire point behind Mazda’s move.

I’ve never driven a Mazda that didn’t put a smile on my face (well, their old pickup truck was pretty ordinary, but that was quite a while ago), and even though I’d have preferred a bit more oomph from the current generation 6 when I first reviewed it back in 2013 I still liked the car and found it to be a rewarding driving experience.


New Accord offers plenty of reasons to like Hondas again!

New Accord offers plenty of reasons to like Hondas again!
The Honda Accord, all-new for 2018, provides substantial evidence that the Japanese carmaker does indeed listen to its customers (and maybe critics, too!). That’s because, after a few years of making vehicles that are nearly as annoying as they are pleasant, the new Accord is a lovely breath of fresh air.

I used to love Hondas and always looked forward to driving them. Then the company seemed to go off the rails, doing things that defied logic (as defined by me, anyway) such as removing the volume and tuning knobs from the audio system, forcing you to use a touch screen that wasn’t particularly usable – especially while the vehicle was in motion, even if you could figure out the interface.


Lexus NX hybrid a winner despite a couple of annoyances

Lexus NX hybrid
The good news is that my favourite Lexus has received some tweaking for 2018, and the Japanese luxury brand has wisely refrained from messing too much with the successful NX SUV/crossover.

The bad news is that doesn’t mean there’s nothing to whine about, which comes in handy for a reviewer who doesn’t want to seem overly hyperbolic about a vehicle. And in this case, one of my complaints is easy enough to correct: buy the turbo gas engine version rather than the hybrid, with its whiny continuously variable transmission.


Reborn VW Jetta is a terrific small sedan

Reborn VW Jetta is a terrific small sedan
It may be German inside and out, but VW’s new small sedan makes me think in French.

French, as in “Je t’adore” because (putting it into pun-dit English) “Jetta adore” is how I came away from my week with the new, 2019 Volkswagen Jetta. This probably surprises no one who reads my columns regularly, because you know that I’m a big fan of VW’s, just about any VW – and that includes Audi and Porsche as well (and would probably include such other VW brands as Lamborghini, Bugatti and Bentley, if I were ever lucky enough to get seat time in them).


Big Navigator a cushy and plush drive

Big Navigator a cushy and plush drive
This was certainly the nicest bus I’ve ever driven!

Lincoln’s new Navigator, redesigned for the 2018 model year, is a really nice vehicle for those looking for a motorhome-sized SUV that coddles with the best of ‘em.

It isn’t a motorhome, of course, just a reasonably conventional LARGE three row SUV for the luxury-minded buyer.


Ford’s biggest and (until recently) littlest SUV’s offer a lot to like

 Ford Escape
Ford continues to expand and update its line of SUV/Crossovers for 2018, with a minor refresh of the Escape but also with a brand new Expedition.

The two units bookend the Edge and Explorer, ensuring there’s a model for every person’s size preference, from small to absolutely humongous. And they’re pretty nice vehicles as well. There’s one smaller, the just-out Ecosport, but that isn’t covered here..

I spent a week with each of these units, an Escape wearing the Titanium trim level and an Expedition Limited, both of which come with about as much tech and toys as one can want. Of the two, the Escape would be my personal choice because, as a small person, it’s much more a size I’d find useful – but that doesn’t mean that larger folk (or folk who need to carry more folks and/or stuff) won’t find the Expedition worth a look.


Toyota Prius a surprisingly driveable hybrid

Toyota Prius a surprisingly driveable hybrid
Who’d have thought a Toyota Prius could be an engaging vehicle to drive?

I never did, until this current generation came along a year or so ago, and after having a second kick at the car a couple of weeks ago I came away liking the Prius even more. Heck, if it didn’t have a loud and obnoxious continuously variable transmission, and such a strange-looking exterior, I might even think about putting one in my garage.


Motoring: Subaru Outback

Subaru Outback 2.0D SE Premium Lineartronic AWD
“It’s too big, I can’t drive it,” says my wife when she tries to drive the Subaru Outback. True, it is a large vehicle. But if given the chance it exceeds expectations. Because here we have an estate that boasts a massive boot, large enough (once the retractable cover is removed) for all the stuff that the Saunders family regularly travels with: two pushchairs, travel cot, luggage and lots of food. And there’s still room to change my young son’s nappy. But the great thing is that when behind the wheel the driver forgets that it’s an estate car.

By Tim Saunders - Friday, April 6, 2018 - Full Story

Honda brings Clarity to the plug-in hybrid market

Honda brings Clarity to the plug-in hybrid market
It’s loud. It’s whiny. Its interfaces are incoherent. But it’ll help you save the world, and you might be able to make other people help you pay for it!

It’s Honda’s new Clarity, in this case a plug-in hybrid model. Honda calls it the newest member of their “completely redesigned lineup,” even though it sports exactly the same dashboard abomination – as in no knobs for tuning the stereo or tuning the volume up or down - that the company is finally moving away from with its new Accord and other models.

Claritys (Clarities?) start at a Canadian MSRP of $39,900 and if you want to step up to the top line version – the Touring trim level – it’ll cost you and/or your peers $43,900 (your peers, according to Honda, thanks to “up to $13,000 of government incentives”). For that price you’ll get what Honda says is “a big step forward for the company’s electrified fleet, entering the Canadian market with the best overall combined range and interior volume in its class.”


Mustang Bullitt looks like more than just a fun movie tie in

Mustang Bullitt looks like more than just a fun movie tie in
It’s green and powerful, and it isn’t the Incredible Hulk. Instead, it’s the new Bullitt edition of Ford’s legendary pony car, the Mustang. And it looks like it’ll be a heckuva ride!

The tie-in comes as the iconic Steve McQueen cop film Bullitt celebrates its 50th anniversary, assuming a movie can celebrate its own birthday, so what better time than now to exploit, er, honour, a dead actor and what’s undoubtedly his most famous movie vehicle other than his LeMans Porsche and the motorcycle with which he leapt tall barriers with a single bound in The Great Escape.

By Jim Bray - Tuesday, March 27, 2018 - Full Story

Electric Vehicles Beware: Customers Prefer SUVs and Pick-Ups

Electric Vehicles Beware: Customers Prefer SUVs and Pick-Ups
SUVs and crossovers made up more than one in three cars sold globally last year—almost tripling their share from just a decade ago. The world increasingly wants these larger vehicles that originated in America. Spurred by rising incomes and lower gas prices, drivers in China, Australia, and other countries are showing a preference for SUVs over smaller sedans. Compared to smaller cars, SUVs are about 30 percent less efficient and they are less likely to have electric versions because there are technological and cost hurdles to powering a larger car with batteries. Further, many automakers believe that drivers of SUVs value power and performance and do not want to be constrained by battery-powered cars with far less range.

By Institute for Energy Research - Tuesday, March 20, 2018 - Full Story