Dodge’s mid-size do-all is the very picture of a nondescript suburban vehicle. Introduced in 2009, the Journey has quietly infiltrated our neighborhoods, offering just-right size and cargo capacity, available all-wheel drive, and decent handling that suggest Chrysler learned a lot from the failings of its first vehicle of this type, the Pacifica.
You don’t notice them, but the Journey has sold well and they’re all over the place. I didn’t notice until my test vehicle arrived and I started seeing others. A comprehensive round of styling updates in 2011 has improved the Journey’s appeal, while brings a low-cost “American Value” option package (AVP). (more…)
A long trip in a Yaris (nee Echo) used to be a thing to be avoided. That’s the way things were five or ten years ago; while the smallest sub-subcompacts were gentle on the wallet and improving in quality, they were still best as city cars.
These days, it’s gotten harder to be an entry-level car. When the Echo debuted in 1999, there wasn’t much to compete with: a few embarrassing Hyundai and Kia products and the Chevrolet Metro. These days, the Yaris has to contend with the Honda Fit, Ford Fiesta, Chevrolet Sonic, Kia Rio, Hyundai Accent…a lot of shockingly nice little cars. Not to mention stylish premium compacts like the MINI Cooper, Fiat 500 and upcoming Chevrolet Spark. Simply being small and affordable just doesn’t cut it any more. (more…)
I’ve got a rare opportunity for some track time in a Porsche 911. I’m sitting at the entrance to the track, staring down the straight, and, I floorboard the gas and brake at the same time. It might seem ridiculous, but this is exactly what the car wants. The engine snarls and immediately starts hitting its rev limiter—wwwrrrrrrrrrrYAPAPAPAPAPAPAPAPA—and then I lift off the brakes and all hell breaks loose, without a hint of wheelspin or tire squirm, courtesy of a system called “Launch Control.”
The Porsche 911 appears to defy all automotive and racing logic. This rear-engined, rear-wheel drive sports coupe hasn’t just remained unchanged in spirit for the past forty-nine years, all the while competing with the elite sports cars of the automotive world–it’s consistently been one of the best. Ferraris and Jaguars have come and gone, and the Chevrolet Corvette had a few forgettable years, but the 911 soldiers on undaunted and not at all threatened by the competition. The 911′s basic concept and form have remained the same over the years, but Porsche’s obsessive attention to minutia has ensured that with each successive generation the 911 gets better. For 2012, there’s yet another all-new 911, becoming the seventh generation since the car’s introduction.