Don’t think for a second that I am not aware of how fortunate I am to have an outlet in which to write almost anything I want to about cars. Plus, I get to drive nearly every new car that’s been introduced over the past year, sometimes on racetracks, and I often enjoy the perks of press cars provided by manufacturers. In return for “coverage” (a review, either written or video), we are given use of a new car for a week, including a full tank of gas and insurance. It’s a great gig that has kept many miles off of my own daily driver, a 2008 Cadillac CTS with just over 50,000 miles on the odometer.
When I was 16 and first started to drive, I of course began by driving a used car. It wasn’t a particularly fancy car – it was a five year old Pontiac Grand Am that my parents paid $4,000 for, and that they made clear was not actually my car. A car titled in my name did not come for several years later, but I remember at the time being glad that I had a Grand Am SE, not just an LE or a base model. At that time – 22 years ago – I decided that I would prefer to have a well-equipped used car instead of a bare bones new car.
Merriam-Webster defines ‘dust’ as “fine particles of matter (as of earth). The funny thing about dust is that it is quite literally nearly everywhere. Our bodies are equipped with mechanisms to deal with it (that’s what those awful nose hairs are for) and left untouched, almost every surface in your home, office, or car will accumulate a layer (or more than one layer) of dust.
As our regular readers may know, I own a 2008 Cadillac CTS. In August 2008, I fell for that car’s charms, and it has been a pleasant ownership experience, though not without some annoyances. Now that my car is five years old, I feel like I’m ready to move onto something else. I very much looked forward to spending some seat time in the ATS with the 2.0 liter turbo and six speed manual transmission as a possible candidate for the coveted left-hand parking spot in the Haak garage. But for reasons of cost, practicality, and in-car technology, I’m just not ready to start another few years of car payments for a car that’s arguably better than mine in almost every way, with the exception of two big demerits.
Back in October, we discovered a roofing nail impaled in the Techshake long-term 2013 Toyota Sienna’s right-rear tire. Because the 2013 Sienna is an all wheel drive model, it is equipped with run-flat tires. My father installed a temporary plug in the tire, but it continued to lose air, so we called the Toyota dealer to ask about having the tire patched from the inside. Their answer: our policy is to never do repairs on run-flat tires. Tire Rack didn’t have any OEM tires in stock for the van for delivery before mid-November (and they were $222 each, shipping, mounting and balancing) for the P235/55RF18 size that comes standard in the Sienna XLE AWD model. You’ll note that this is more than the $172 asking price for the 2008 Sienna’s P225/60R17 run-flat tires.
The scion of Toyota’s founding family, Akio Toyoda, has gone on record a number of times saying that he wants to make it more fun to drive his namesake company’s cars. Mr. Toyoda had quite a bit of input into the development of the Scion FR-S/Toyota 86/Subaru BRZ, and the cars have generally been well-received by the press, with criticism focused mostly on their stock tires and lack of power from the 200 horsepower naturally aspirated boxer four cylinder, which happens to be the only engine choice. We recently spent a week getting re-acquainted with the Scion FR-S; hit the jump to see how Scion’s sportiest offering fared in the Techshake garage.
In a giant blow to the ethanol/corn belt lobby, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has proposed to reduce the congressionally-mandated requirement of incorporating 14 billion gallons of ethanol into the nation’s gasoline supply. Due to lower overall fuel consumption from a more efficient vehicle fleet since 2007, the EPA would have in effect required higher than 10% ethanol blends in gasoline for 2014, which automakers believe could cause damage to fuel system parts. The new EPA requirement is between 12.7 and 13.2 billion gallons of ethanol for 2014.
Thinking of luxury brands that offer driver’s cars, Rolls-Royce is probably be pretty far from the first one that comes to mind. Rolls-Royce cars are generally built for those who prefer to be driven, not for those who drive. I was reminded of this again as I rode in the supple back-seat accommodations in a Rolls-Royce Ghost sedan that whisked me away from the airport in Phoenix. I didn’t travel across the country and take a red-eye flight home to sample the Ghost; I was in Arizona to be among the first to drive the all-new 2014 Rolls-Royce Wraith. A coupe, by its nature, is not going to be a chauffeur-driven car, so I was eager to see how the Ghost’s platform transitioned into not a personal-luxury coupe, but a personal ultra-luxury coupe.