Friday, September 28, 2018

In the mood for something retro? How about a new Fiat 500 1957 Edition?

1957 Fiat 500 ad
Photo: FCA Media website.
It’s hard to keep up with the many flavors of Fiat 500. Clearly, a Fiat 500 is not for everybody. The basic characteristics of the variations that Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) markets under the 500 nameplate invite a number of obvious criticisms—too small, too quirky-looking for some tastes, too underpowered.

And for a car that looks so bleepin’ little, they’re actually surprisingly heavy—not a great quality if you’re looking for a small car that you can have fun chucking around.

But, if nothing else, the Fiat 500 lineup adds a lot of personality to an automotive market today that, overall, from a design perspective, at least, is pretty humdrum and samey-samey. For the driver who simply wants to stand out as different or make some kind of a contrarian statement, a Fiat 500 fits the bill quite well.

Monday, September 24, 2018

Vintage car with no Bluetooth? Amazon’s new Echo Auto could be a good solution.

Vintage Plymouth AM car radio
Photo: Tiffany Bailey (Wikimedia Commons).
Amazon announced a new device last week that could expand smartphone connectivity options to those of us who drive older cars that haven’t been upgraded with aftermarket stereos featuring all the fancy-schmancy Bluetooth technology.

As long as your car stereo has a 3.5mm auxiliary input, you’ll be able to plug in the new Amazon Echo Auto, which can then connect to your smartphone through the Alexa app, enabling you to use Alexa voice commands to access features available through your existing phone plan, such as music, navigation, and hands-free calling.

Friday, September 21, 2018

A car that we’re glad exists: Nissan announces pricing for the 2019 Versa Note

2019 Nissan Versa Note
Photo: Nissan Media Newsroom.
With a 1.6 liter, four-cylinder powerplant that makes 109 horsepower, the 2019 Versa Note is not an enthusiast’s dream. It does not exactly qualify as a hot hatch that’ll take you on a thrill ride. That’s in spite of Nissan press materials that seem to be trying to hint in the direction of the hot-hatch vibe, with their reference to the vehicle’s “sporty hatchback design” appealing to buyers looking for “an added level of style to go with a hatchback’s 5-door utility.”

But new cars are expensive today. And with MSRPs for 2019 ranging from $15,650 to $18,360, which Nissan announced on Wednesday, the Versa Note gives you a lot for the money.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Don’t forget: the Dammerman Car Collection goes up for sale Friday at the Saratoga Auto Auction

Dammerman Car Collection
Photo: Saratoga Auto Auction.
If you’re interested in bidding on pristine-quality mid-century American muscle cars, sports cars, or other collector-quality American vehicles of various vintages, you might not want to overlook the second annual Saratoga Auto Auction, which runs this Friday, September 21, and Saturday September 22, at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center in Saratoga Springs, NY.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

‘Off-road cruise control?’ Ford’s new Trail Control feature for the F-150 Raptor actually sounds like a good idea—but maybe they should position it a little differently

2019 Ford F-150 Raptor with Trail Control
Photo: Ford Media Center.
By Bill Hayward
If you’re like me, you use cruise control as a means of restraint in higher-speed situations, to try to keep the velocity a little lower and decrease the odds of your driving pleasure being interrupted by red-and-blue lights when you’re on a long roadtrip in your favorite silky-smooth, miles-devouring highway cruiser.

Monday, September 10, 2018

If you're not yet hip to the wonders of diesel culture, steer your cable box to Diesel Brothers on Discovery tonight

Diesel Brothers with Jose Caballero
Photo: Discovery Communications.
According to Discovery Communications, tonight's episode of Diesel Brothers on Discovery Channel and Discovery Go (Monday, September 10 at 10 PM ET/PT) is a big one.

In the episode, the fun-loving, truck-building men of Dieselsellerz, known for crazy online videos and over-the-top diesel builds, will be showing a better side of the American spirit to a Hispanic-American family that, as graphically documented in a smartphone video that went viral, was unfortunately exposed to some of the worst of 'Murican behavior when their truck broke down at a campground.

Friday, September 7, 2018

It’s a little late to announce back-to-school specials, but for a college kid with around $20K to spend, the 2019 MINI Oxford Edition is a pretty cool idea

2019 MINI Oxford Edition 2-Door and 4-Door versions
Photo: BMW Group Press Club.
Cars that are relatively inexpensive when new but still offer some level of an enthusiast-oriented driving experience aren’t exactly plentiful on the market these days.

And now that the industry—in the U.S., at least—seems to think everyone wants a crossover, “cheap sports cars” might become even harder to come by.

But there are a few around, like the Toyota 86 / Subaru BRZ twins and, of course, the Mazda MX-5 Miata.

And then there is MINI.