Season Recap: Car We Want in Our Driveway


Now that we’ve tackled the best economy cars, hybrids, SUVs and concept cars, it’s time to decide which car we want in our own driveways. This post is kind of like asking us what we’d do if we won the lottery, but considering we’re a fickle bunch when it comes to cars, there’s a bit more to consider than pure fantasy.

Kelsey Mays:
2009 Cadillac CTS-V
Energy independence notwithstanding, I’d gladly shell out $4 a gallon for a CTS-V. The regular CTS is one of Lutz & Co.’s finest achievements yet, and the thought of 550 hp underfoot is stupefying enough to make me crave one. Reality bites, but this Caddy bites back: It still has a full backseat, commute-friendly amenities and a trunk that can fit a weekend’s baggage. Naturally, if I had one, most of my weekends would be spent at the track.

By David Thomas | March 28, 2008 | Comments (15)

Season Recap: Concept We'd Like To See in Production


We’ve already recapped our favorite economy cars, hybrids and SUVs. Now it’s time for the concept cars to take center stage. This auto-show season carmakers were remarkably frugal in debuting new concepts. A stagnant economy and rocky financial situations for many of the major players might have had something to do wtih that, but we don’t like excuses. Those that brought the goods get our praise. Here are the concepts we’d most like to see go into production. 

David Thomas:
Land Rover LRX
While I’d really like to see more interesting hybrids on the market, like the Toyota A-BAT, Honda CR-Z and GMC Denali XT, the only concept that floored me with how cool it and had a possible segment to conquer was the diminutive Land Rover. If Land Rover could come out with a miniature all-wheel-drive hatchback before Mini, I think it could bring in a lot of folks looking to downsize while retaining functionality and capability in their car.

By David Thomas | March 28, 2008 | Comments (5)

Season Recap: The Best SUVs


We’ve already recapped our favorite efficient cars and hybrids, but what about the SUVs? Even with sky-high gas prices, new SUVs of all sizes are coming to market. This year brought some of the best interiors and fuel efficiency yet in this segment, but what glorified station wagon took our staff’s hearts?

Joe Wiesenfelder:
2009 Volvo XC60
Put simply, there were some impressive redesigns this year, but I have to go with an all-new entry — especially when it's a smaller alternative to an existing SUV: The XC60 is a handsome vehicle with a high-quality interior and all the safety features you could possibly want. It isn't too small in practical terms compared to the XC90, but it is smaller. These days, smaller is better.

By David Thomas | March 28, 2008 | Comments (4)

Season Recap: Efficient Cars


As the last major show of the season wraps up in New York City this weekend, it’s time to choose the best of the best. After trips to Los Angeles, Detroit, Chicago and New York, the staff reflects on which vehicles we think will make the biggest impact this year and beyond. We’ll start the review with each of our picks for the Best Fuel-Efficient Car from the four shows.

Best Fuel-Efficient Car

David Thomas:
2009 Ford Fiesta
This wasn’t so tough: It came down to the new Honda Fit or the Ford Fiesta. I picked the Fiesta — in spite of the fact that it didn’t show up at any of the stateside shows as a finished production car — because I think it will be a game-changer for Ford. It’s good-looking, has a wild interior and will hopefully bring an affordable entry-level car to a domestic automaker that needs it.

By David Thomas | March 28, 2008 | Comments (13)

Hyundai's Super Bowl Ads Show Revised Genesis

Hyundai Genesis Video 1

Hyundai has unleashed both of its planned Super Bowl spots. Narrated by Jeff Bridges, the subdued videos try to hammer home the message that Hyundai is indeed bringing big-car luxury at small-luxury prices.

At that it does a good job. But for us, we’re dismayed that the car in the commercials is sporting the Korean market’s grille and not the grille we fancied in Detroit, nor the alternate grille with the big H on it. Ho hum. Let us know what you think. The first ad is to the left, the second ad is below.

By David Thomas | January 31, 2008 | Comments (10)

Green Thumbs: Thumbs Up and Down for Detroit's Green Cars

Green Thumbs Diesels

What has been an auto-show trend for some time all but ran away with Detroit's North American International Auto Show this year, and the trend will undoubtedly continue in Chicago and New York in the coming months. American and foreign manufacturers painted the town green with talk of their current fuel misers, future alternatives and no small amount of wishful thinking. To separate the truly green from the merely envious, I ran around the show floor in two videos — one to the left and one below — in which I rated many of the concept and production offerings with green thumb up or green thumb down. To fill in some of the gaps, I've expanded the ratings below. To be clear, I only address cars and technologies introduced at the Detroit show, and I make no claim of comprehensiveness. And, as if you couldn't tell, there is nothing scientific or sophisticated about this examination.

By Joe Wiesenfelder | January 30, 2008 | Comments (4)

Through Ian's Lens: 2008 NAIAS Highlights


The North American International Auto Show in Detroit is gigantic. When I say gigantic, I truly mean GIGANTIC in terms of the number of new cars on the floor. It took me close to three days to see everything I wanted to see, and if I had stayed another day I probably would have found even more to look at. Here is a “Best of the Best” gallery I’ve put together from those three days of stomping around Detroit and the Cobo Center. Next year I’m bringing my Segway. A full set of photos is below.

By Ian Merritt | January 26, 2008 | Comments (7)

Auto Show Head-to-Head: 2009 Dodge Ram vs. Ford F-150

Dodge Ram vs. Ford F-150 Video

The 2008 Detroit auto show was the venue for two important redesigned-pickup-truck debuts: the 2009 Ford F-150 and the 2009 Dodge Ram. They are two of the best-selling vehicles in the country, and we've taken a look at what the new trucks have to offer, category by category.

Both the Ram and F-150 sport tougher new looks — not that either really needed them. The F-150's hood is taller than before, and it's now offered with even more distinctive grille designs that help separate the various trims. There are also new headlights, and all of these elements give the F-150 a look that's more similar to its Super Duty big brothers.

The Ram also has new headlights and a new take on its trademark grille. Dodge has given the Ram's grille a forward lean for 2009 that's a radical styling element for a pickup, even though it's appeared on sporty cars before. The look is traditional yet stylistically interesting, and that's what gives the Dodge the edge in this category.
Advantage: Ram

By Mike Hanley | January 24, 2008 | Comments (8)

Chinese Automakers Eye U.S. Market

Chinese Cars in Detroit Video

Four Chinese automakers displayed cars at the 2008 Detroit auto show, and while none of these models are available in the U.S. now, three of the companies said they plan to have cars for sale here in the future. We’ll believe it when we see them, but here’s a rundown on each company:

By Mike Hanley | January 24, 2008 | Comments (7)

Pickup Logos: Mine's Bigger Than Yours


Welcome to the Battle of the Badges, an arms race among pickups to adopt a logo capable of obscuring everything between the lights and the bumper. You may think we’re kidding, but Dodge announced at the Detroit auto show that the Ram-head logo on its namesake pickup is 250 percent larger than before. Asked if the badge had reached critical mass, designer Ralph Gilles chuckled: “It’s about there.”

Evidently, the competition knows no limits. Ford’s redesigned F-150 comes with a blue oval decked out in three-dimensional chrome trim. GM’s pickups sport titanic Chevy and GMC logos, and the Toyota Tundra and Nissan Titan badges don’t lack for impact either.

Who wins? Ruler in hand, we hit the floor in Detroit to investigate. Some ground rules: We calculated total size in area — length times height — with measurements to the nearest quarter-inch. We counted whichever badge was biggest, whether it was on the grille or the tailgate. Only half-ton, hard-working pickups need apply, so no Ford F-450s or International MXTs here. On principle — many principles, actually — we also disqualified the Cadillac Escalade EXT and Lincoln Mark LT. (Dissenters, the point is moot: Both trucks were AWOL in Detroit.)

Let the badge-nauseam begin.

By Kelsey Mays | January 23, 2008 | Comments (21)

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