Some weeks ago, we received word from Ford about “THE THRILL OF A LIFETIME” being offered in the parking lot of a local stadium on weekends during the summer. With a mug of hot coffee and the anticipation of the aroma of burnt clutches, we headed to Boston to experience it for ourselves.
A frequent argument among automotive journalists involves the ideal time and place to review a new car, given the constraints of time, the elements, and budget. Some contend that cars should be evaluated in their intended environment. Others maintain that a battery of controlled roads and testing procedures provides the best results. There is some rationale to the quixotic fantasy of doing hot laps with a yours-for-the-week sports car, or saving junkyard trips for weekends of testing full-size pickups and SUVs. But such practices breed bad habits, for sometimes, the fantasy is over when Saturday’s Facebook hot topic and Sunday’s burnout champion turns out to be Monday morning’s pretty lousy highway cruiser.
Is there a place in the world for a young person’s Buick? I mean, a Buick, with a heavily boosted turbo four, adaptive suspension, 20 inch wheels with PZero summer tires, sport seats, and various sporty adornments on its exterior? The folks at GM had better hope there is, because you can bet that they can probably count the number of long-term Buick customers who have purchased a Regal GS on one hand. To paraphrase a line from Top Gun, is the Regal GS’s body writing checks its powertrain can’t cash? Read on to find out.
Sometimes, spending some extra time with a car makes you develop a sense of fondness for it. Sometimes absence makes the heart grow fonder. Sometimes, completely the opposite happens. For instance, when reviewing a Chevy Volt for the second time, the car’s weaknesses (namely EV range and gasoline fuel economy) became much clearer to me once the car’s novelty wore off. Which would be the outcome with my second weekly stint in a Chevrolet Cruze?
Back in 2008, I was able to review Volvo’s then-new XC70 T6 AWD. I found its 281 HP to provide plenty of power, while the crossover wagon cosseted occupants with plenty of comfort, space, and luxury features. In the time since that review, revisions to the powerplant’s tuning have bumped power of the standard T6 AWD to 300 HP. For 2012, Volvo has partnered with tuner Polestar Performance to offer ECU upgrades for some models. In the case of the XC70, the sportier ECU bumps power output to 325 HP.
Next time you’re in the Kalahari Desert or the Hindu Kush, check out the cars. Chances are you’ll see two kinds: Land Rovers and Toyota Land Cruisers, with maybe the odd Jeep Wrangler or Nissan Patrol lurking in the background. But if the UN peacekeeping forces are anywhere nearby, they’ll be exclusively in Land Cruisers, of which the UN has bought approx. 12,000 copies over the years. Why? That’s easy: Land Cruisers are big and practical and they don’t break down. Go-anywhere durability has been their stock in trade since 1953, when an early-model Land Cruiser scooted up Mount Fuji, setting a record for the first and highest automotive jaunt up Japan’s sacred mountain. “The Land Cruiser,” , “may be the world’s most admired off-roader.”