Why it Takes Forever to Get Anywhere

I'm Tired of Wearing a Helmet

2014 VW Touareg TDI

A Sabot in the Gears?

2014 VW Touareg TDI

There are three mid-sized (and real-deal, with significant off-road capability) German-brand crossover SUVs that consume not much more fuel than…

A Sabot in the Gears?

People sometimes accuse me of being a technophobe or even a Luddite because of my critiques of modern vehicles. But…

New Car Reviews

2014 VW Touareg TDI

'14 Tourage curb side 1

There are three mid-sized (and real-deal, with significant off-road capability) German-brand crossover SUVs that consume not much more fuel than many current economy cars. The fuel, of course, is diesel. And the three are: VW’s Touareg TDI – subject of this review – and its rivals, the BMW X5 diesel and the Mercedes ML350 BlueTec. Each approaches or even exceeds 30 MPG on the highway – exceptional for 5,000 pounders that can also…

2014 Ford Fiesta ST

'14 Fiesta last

What made the original, classic-era muscle cars what they were wasn’t high-horsepower … as such. Oh sure, it was a huge factor. But the decisive factor was the accessibility – the affordability – of those horses. The first (1964) Pontiac GTO – grand-daddy of the breed – was a fairly cheap car. In fact, it was a $295 option you could add to turn an ordinary Tempest into a GTO. And…

2014 VW Jetta TDI

'14 Jetta side curb

There are more diesel-powered cars available now than ever. Unfortunately, almost all of them are expensive cars. One of the few – one of the two – that’s not is VW’s Jetta TDI. Its only competition is the Chevy Cruze diesel, which is the only other diesel-powered sedan you can currently buy for less than $25k. But in the Chevy’s case, just barely. Its MSRP is $24,985 – and unless…

2015 Nissan NV200

'15 NV side windows

My buddy the electrician is being eaten alive by the cost of feeding the full-size (and V-8 powered) van he uses to haul his stuff from job to job. Eleven in the city (and 15 on the highway) makes 33 gallons (the size of the tank in his Ford E-350 van) disappear almost as fast as you can say Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries – or even ExxonMobil. I told…

2014 Mercedes E-Wagon

'14 E350 lead

The E-Class Mercedes has – or can be ordered with – just about whatever you could possibly want. Just not always in the same model. If you want an E wagon, for example, you can order a death-dealing 577 hp twin-turbo V-8. But you’re out of luck if you want the 42 MPG-capable 2.0 liter Bluetec turbo-diesel four. It’s a sedan-only engine. On the other hand, all E wagons come…

2015 Mazda Miata

25th Anniversary Mazda MX-5

McDonalds still sells the Quarter Pounder. McRibs have come and (thankfully) gone. Similarly over at Mazda. Since 1989 – the first year for the Miata – many other Mazdas have come … and gone. Not necessarily because they weren’t appealing cars (a twin-turbo RX-7 is very appealing) or even because they were bad cars (like the Millennia, which wasn’t).    It’s just that they were too much – or too…

Politics

I’m Tired of Wearing a Helmet

helmet lead

The tyranny that rules over us could at least be consistent. I’d object less to being told I must wear a helmet when I ride my motorcycle because it’s “risky” if it weren’t done by a cop who is 30 pounds heavy, hypertensive at 40 and a regular consumer of fried pastries (i.e., donuts). Shouldn’t he be out for a jog or some something? Why is his “risky” activity ok, but mine actionable? It’s an example of what Southerners call the “yankee” mindset. A kind of moralistic lecturing by unpleasant, intellectually solipsistic  people who…

A Sabot in the Gears?

smash technology pic

People sometimes accuse me of being a technophobe or even a Luddite because of my critiques of modern vehicles. But it’s not fear of technology that drives me. It’s cost-benefit analysis. Increasingly, the costs of all this technology are of little benefit – to me. I don’t feel the need for six (or even one) air bag, so I’d rather not have to buy them. I find it annoying that – as in several new cars I’ve test-driven recently – merely to place a small package (such as a Subway sandwich) on the front…

Want To Avoid Getting Raped by a Cop?

hero rapist 3

Why, just don’t get pulled over. This is the advice of George Brown, a captain of the Oklahoma State Police, shared during an interview with a local NBC News affiliate in the wake of revelations that three Oklahoma cops (see here) have been arrested for sexually assaulting women. Asked how to avoid being raped by a cop, Captain Brown urged potential victims to “…follow the law in the first place, so you don’t get pulled over.” Oddly, Brown seems to believe that a cop who would rape a motorist would somehow be reluctant to fabricate an…

“Safety” Winners… And Losers

bike wreck pic

Government is always a zero-sum game. There are winners – and losers. It is said – that is, we are told – air bags “save lives.” Well, yes. They do save some lives. Other lives have been lost as a result of air bags, though. Government decides who lives – and dies. Here’s another: Daytime Running Lights (DRLs). These always-on headlights are now ubiquitous. They have been standard equipment on GM cars for decades (since the early ’90s) and it’s pretty much impossible to buy a new car that doesn’t automatically turn on its…

The Diesel Dilemma

rabbit diesel pic

The last time people began to sweat the cost of gas, they were able to turn to diesels. The cars delivered tremendous mileage (e.g., a VW Rabbit diesel was capable of 50-plus MPG, as good or better than a new Prius hybrid) and – perhaps as important – the fuel itself was cheaper than gasoline. You may recall. What happened? Government. Diesel fuel became more expensive than gasoline – because of government edicts that made it more rather than less expensive to refine. Today’s “ultra-low sulfur” diesel runs close to $4 a gallon in…