January: Car dealers are still on the prowl
Well I got off topic for the first month because I’d rather post a picture of a sweet Camaro than a Subaru Outback wilderness trying fruitlessly to connect to its Subaru cloud server to diagnose Photos of its electronic sickness, but didn’t do it because I got it stuck in the wilderness without any cell service. Also, I’m writing this in international waters where the rules don’t apply. (This is capitalized because International Waters is the name of my local bar.)
Anyway, the used car market in January is so wacky, and when I went to track down the Gladiator at the local Jeep dealership, they had a 1990s Camaro in there. This is usually the type of trade-in that goes straight to a dealership auction and ends up being sold at Lenny’s Used Kars and Small Engine Repair 10 miles out of town on 57, but in January the supply of cars is still very tight and new-car dealers will do what they can . Including Camaros built in a completely different millennium. Not that I’m judging. It was a wicked Camaro. It sells out fast.
February: Raptor on 37s, Unobtainium Truck
From time to time, we write reviews of limited-edition cars that have sold out because they’re interesting, and maybe you, the reader, might try to buy a car that you’ve used in a few years. But recently we have had to deal with the challenge of covering vehicles that are limited by supply chain issues.
For example, my friend Steve ordered a 37-inch tire kit while I was driving a Ford F-150 Raptor in early February. Then he waited. Then wait. Ford sent him a series of letters saying they really wanted to build him a Raptor with a 37-inch engine, but it didn’t work out. (The notice here was sent in late October.) Still, if he wants 35-inch tires, no problem! So he finally chose 35 years old. Unfortunately for Ford, they’re stuck on the Ram TRX.
March: I find the Kia EV6 has a poor self-image
Some cars go to great lengths to accurately portray themselves on on-board displays, sometimes even the correct paint color on the actual car. Not the Kia EV6! When you pull up the battery charge status display on the EV6, Kia paints itself as looking like a joint venture between Daewoo and the Chinese government circa 2002. Somewhere at Kia, buried deep in a stack of newspapers, is a memo that reads, “Remember to make that hatchback with solid plain wheels and six-inch-wide tires look like the real car before production.”
April: Mazda gets honest about premium fuel
All turbocharged engines love premium fuel, whether they need it or not (an accidental tank of regular unleaded gas turned an EcoBoost Mustang into a total dragger at Lightning Lap in 2015). But Mazda is one of the outliers that actually offers separate horsepower ratings based on octane. In the CX-50 Turbo, a full charge of 87 octane gets you 227 horsepower. Running on 93 octane, it was rated at 256 horsepower. Torque is also up from 310 lb-ft to 320 lb-ft. This is the difference you can feel. So if someone asks you if premium fuel really matters, your first reaction should be, “You own a Mazda?”
May: Kona N Knows Only Five Tracks
In some downtime with the Kona N on the Cherohala Skyway, I fiddled with the submenus on the infotainment performance page. There I found that N provides trackmaps of various road routes, which I think would add some VBox flavor to your lap sessions, assuming you don’t have an actual VBox. Kona, however, only knows five tracks: Atlanta Motorsports Park, Homestead-Miami Speedway, Lime Rock, Road America and Watkins Glen. This is a cool feature – if you live near one of the tracks. Relatedly, the Genesis G90 can make its sound system mimic the acoustics of any concert hall in the world, be it Boston Symphony Hall.
June: Lucid Air makes you sign a waiver to unleash all the power
My first and so far only exposure to the Lucid Air was at last summer’s annual EV test. It’s the 819-horsepower Grand Touring rather than the 1,111-horsepower Dream Edition Performance, but it’s still pretty quick, hitting 60 mph in 3.0 seconds. However, I think the disclaimer screen to unlock Sprint mode is a bit much. It’s the equivalent of an EV that lets you sign a waiver before heading off to ride the Matterhorn. Settle down, sober air. You get to 60 a second faster than the F-150 over there. However, I do appreciate what it means for me to be a “skilled advanced driver”.
July: BMW iX introduces me to Dave the Drifter
On a long list of things that can happen at a gas station, I’d rank “make a new friend” at 10,534, right after “somehow get the squeegee in your eye” but not far behind “make a Friendly Sasquatch pays your gas bill “before” but that can happen on EV chargers, everyone has more time to kill and has at least one thing in common. This is how I met Dave the Drifter way, as he’s tagged in my contacts now. I stopped to charge the BMW iX, and there was a Ford Mach-E on the charger next to it. Dave was there with his wife (that’s her car) and we started talking about BMWs. Then he told me how he got into drifting and showed me pictures of his E36 drift car. A month or two later, when I was driving the Mach at Charlotte Motor Speedway- E 1400, I gave him a call and we ended up riding in the Eluminator concept truck with Vaughn Gittin Jr.
This is again something that has never happened to me at the gas station. While I did once meet an ex-Ford engineer named George who worked on the original Thunderbird, I had him drive a Bentley across the parking lot to prank his wife. But I don’t have George’s phone number. That’s what makes the charging station different. Anyway, a few days after I met Dave, a squirrel tore a large, juicy pine cone from a tree and shattered the windshield of the BMW. So I guess July is a duo, but I told you I play by my own rules.
August: Genesis G90 has well-crafted curtains
Of the G90’s slew of power and luxury features (remote parking, power doors, interior fragrance dispenser), I’m particularly impressed with the power side window shades. Many cars have curtains, most of which are pulled up manually and hung on hooks. The really fancy rides have electric curtains.But the G90 comes in two shades per page. In addition to the main curtain that unfolds vertically, they concealed a horizontal curtain on the uprights of the small rear window. Such is the attention to detail. Sorry, dads. I will not be seen unless I deign to allow it.
September: The Acura MDX Type-S Doesn’t Need Your Cold Air Intake
I love peeking under the hoods of test cars, especially those with new engines like the Acura MDX Type S and its 355-horsepower turbocharged V-6. The Acura V-6 intake pipe gave us a sense of the amount of work car companies need to do in any given area of development to get to the finish line — just look at this intake pipe. Air is drawn upwards from under the lip of the hood into this doc-looking contraption. Seuss instruments, even before they reach the flight case, feature some sort of appendix-like resonator. You’ll hear some turbo intake whoosh, but presumably can splash your way in some serious water without worrying about drowning it. If you want to put in a big K&N cone filter and call it a day, be my guest, but I imagine doing so will result in a certain number of Acura engineers coming to TP your house, not even on Halloween.
October: The C8 is still a Corvette in terms of panel clearance
As I’ve documented more than once, the C8 Corvette takes Chevrolet’s supercars to new levels of sophistication and performance. But check the alignment of this panel. Pretty sure your fenders shouldn’t be casting a shadow on your door. Somewhere, a C3 owner nods knowingly.
November: Infiniti QX60 says you should now expect massaging seats
When my 12-year-old gets into the Infiniti QX60 Autograph, he immediately declares, “This seems like one of those cars with massaging seats.” Moments later, he finds the button and confirms his suspicions. While I know the top-of-the-line QX60 is not a cheap machine, with a base price of over $60,000, I’m a little surprised that it has massaging seats. For me, it marks the realization that massaging the front seats is a given in a certain class of vehicle, even the luxury versions of mainstream crossovers. I think the signifier is quilted leather, Autograph has many of them. If I see quilted leather, it would be nice to have some massaging seats. Even if they’re the kind of people who feel like the idiot sitting behind you gets kneed in the kidneys in a red-eyed Las Vegas home. That’s not how the QX60 feels. Its system makes you feel more like your seat is alive and trying to squirm and explore the world outside the car. In fact, when I mention it now, they all feel this way. But they’re everywhere now, so get used to it!
December: GM makes no fuss when it gives Super Cruise new capabilities
I was driving a back road in a 2023 GMC Yukon Denali Ultimate when I started using the cruise control and noticed the gray steering wheel icon showing up on the dashboard – Yukon says you can use Super Cruise for hands-free driving if I want If you want. Super cruising on a road with oncoming traffic? I don’t think this will work, but when I push the button, the top of the steering wheel lights up green and the truck calmly centers in the lane and assumes (supervisory) control. My reaction was: Huh? Since when can it do this? I drove a Sierra equipped with Super Cruise earlier this year, and while it was able to navigate highway interchanges, it never offered Super Cruise on side roads. Is this Yukon some kind of sneaky beta test car? Maybe I stumbled upon some code that I should not have found. So I emailed GM asking, and they said yes, and they put out a press release about it. No big secret.
While this is true, they don’t take it seriously. They didn’t make any ads touting this new ability, which seems to be harder to execute than driving on a split road. It makes Super Cruise even more useful. More than half of a two-hour trip in the Yukon was spent on Super Cruise roads. Well, did you know about this? Well, now you know. So the only thing you might still be wondering is what happened to that photo with the monster truck and the Bronco Raptor. you will find out. But not this year.
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