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Autos archive for Jan. 1, 2014

MONDAY, DEC. 29, 2014

Reexamining lane use

The emailed comments and questions regarding lane use are seemingly endless, so let’s reexamine the topic. Reader R.H. commented, “I would like to broaden the conversation with regard to your recent article on the use of the inside lane when driving on freeways. The law...

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SUNDAY, DEC. 28, 2014

The reasons for Escape’s success are numerous. It’s good looking, comfortable and economical. It sports the latest tech wizardry and has the power to surprise; its available hands-free liftgate is one of the segments most thoughtful — and unexpected — innovations. (Ford)

Ford Escape: Multi-talented crossover

The reasons for Escape’s success are numerous. It’s good looking, comfortable and economical. It sports the latest tech wizardry and has the power to surprise; its available hands-free liftgate is one of the segments most thoughtful — and unexpected — innovations.

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MONDAY, DEC. 22, 2014

Passing, by any other name...

A line from William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet,” is often referenced to imply that labels don’t change what things really are. Similarly, passing, by any other name, is still passing. A reader once told me...

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SATURDAY, DEC. 20, 2014

Now comes the XC60, a premium crossover that marries Volvo virtues with dynamics that approach Germany’s best. Whether paddling about in city traffic or trimming your favorite corner’s apex, the XC60’s reflexes are confident and assertive. (Volvo)

XC60: Volvo’s pulse-pounding crossover

Historically, Volvos have appealed more to my head than my heart. Volvos define sensible transportation. Even the turbocharged trims of recent vintage have been more sporty-ish than sporty, stronger on reason than passion. Now comes the XC60, a premium crossover (from $36,675, including destination) that...

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MONDAY, DEC. 15, 2014

Lust for the left lane

Regular readers know that I exercise a crusade against wrongful left lane use for roadways with at least two lanes provided for each direction of travel. I will continue to do so, as I regularly find evidence of drivers with an innate lust for the...

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SUNDAY, DEC. 14, 2014

Its drum-tight chassis allows precise suspension and steering-system tuning — and contributes to outstanding safety results. The 3 aces all crash tests and available technology includes Smart City Brake Support, which can bring the car to a stop at low speeds if the driver fails to react to an imminent collision. (Mazda)

Mazda3: Small package, big fun

Buyers today face a raft of good looking, economical and well-equipped compacts, whose starting prices fall well below $20,000. Only a handful can make the morning commute rewarding. That’s the nut Mazda cracks with the 2015 Mazda3 ($17,765, including transportation). Even the entry-level 3, with...

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MONDAY, DEC. 8, 2014

The passing lane

When referencing the lane to the left of and adjacent to the right hand freeway lane, “passing lane” would be preferable to “left lane.” That designation better defines its primary purpose: to accommodate vehicles overtaking slower vehicles. An email from reader D.P. exemplifies potential confusion...

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SUNDAY, DEC. 7, 2014

Acura’s all-new TLX sedan may be the ideal near-luxury car for the Inland Northwest.

It favors subtlety over flash, does its business quietly and gets the job done, fair weather and foul.

And, at $31,890, including transportation, it’s as affordably priced as the segment gets. (Acura)

Acura TLX: Impressive newbie 

Acura’s all-new TLX sedan may be the ideal near-luxury car for the Inland Northwest. It favors subtlety over flash, does its business quietly and gets the job done, fair weather and foul. And, at $31,890, including transportation, it’s as affordably priced as the segment gets....

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MONDAY, DEC. 1, 2014

Pay-by-mile insurance

Metromile is trying to change the way low-annual-mile drivers pay for auto insurance. The 2014 San Francisco startup offers customers a free device that, when plugged into a vehicle’s OBD-II port, sends mileage data to the company via a smartphone app. Vehicle data, relayed to...

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SATURDAY, NOV. 29, 2014

Underway, the six-cylinder GT delivers a balanced ride-and-handling package, with sufficient power for effective freeway merging and two-lane passing. Seats are firm and supportive and visibility is good in all directions. Predictably, third-row seating is cramped. (Mitsubishi)

Mitsubishi Outlander: 7-passenger utility

Earlier in the month, I wrote this about Mitsubishi’s Outlander Sport: Some compact crossovers are more refined. Some are sportier and others more utilitarian. But, for buyers facing winter weather on a limited budget, the Outlander Sport may be the value proposition they’re seeking. If...

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MONDAY, NOV. 24, 2014

Styling is more mature this year, though the Sport trim’s chrome accents undercut that effort. Suspension tuning favors comfort over performance and the Sonata confidently soaks up road-surface imperfections, while passing little of the impact into the cabin. (Hyundai)

Hyundai Sonata Sport: What's in a name?

I don’t envy the people who name cars, but I do reserve the right to question their judgment. When I created this month’s review calendar, I scheduled a pair of midsize family sedans back-to-back. Each wore Sport trim badges, which seemed like a fair point...

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Driver etiquette lacking

I could easily relate to a reader’s recent note. Within it, P.Z. pointed out a couple of pet peeves that bother him, me, and many other drivers. The first gripe described a typical, annoying and unsafe driver habit: the inability to make an expeditious pass....

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MONDAY, NOV. 17, 2014

Adjust to winter driving

Soon, we are likely to experience additional driving challenges. With the advent of winter’s rain, fog, ice, snow and additional hours of darkness, we must adjust our driving behavior accordingly to be safe. First, never drive “over your head.” If weather and road conditions deteriorate...

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SUNDAY, NOV. 16, 2014

MONDAY, NOV. 10, 2014

Scrutinize those driving tips

I received a reader email with a couple of driving tips that especially apply as winter approaches. Sometimes, simple reminders like these may thwart an accident or save a life — just be certain that it’s good advice before you heed it. Reader R.L. actually...

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SATURDAY, NOV. 8, 2014

The Outlander Sport’s softly sprung all-independent suspension favors ride quality over handling, but at freeway speeds, it feels stable and planted. Decent on-center steering feel minimizes driver fatigue over long distances.
 (Mitsubishi)

Outlander Sport: Mitsubishi’s value proposition

Top dog in Mitsubishi’s abbreviated U.S. lineup, the Outlander Sport claims an affordable price tag, a big warranty and a loyal following. With winter in the offing, the compact crossover presents a solid value proposition: AWD trims start at $23,020, including destination, FWD at $20,420....

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MONDAY, NOV. 3, 2014

Applying the B.R.A.K.E.S.

Tragically, an inordinate number of teenage drivers — some 5000 annually — lose their lives in automobile accidents. We all hear about those disasters in the news, but when one father, NHRA drag racer Doug Herbert, lost his own two sons in a 2008 highway...

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MONDAY, OCT. 27, 2014

Many are driving well

What if every driver had a sign affixed to the rear of their vehicle asking, “How am I driving?” Based on the driver mistakes discussed here and the countless peeves reported by readers, the toll-free number typically following that question would be very busy with...

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SATURDAY, OCT. 25, 2014

Passat is Volkswagen’s mid-size, four-door family sedan. When the time came to introduce the expected two-door coupe, VW instead stretched the Passat a half-inch, lowered its roofline 2 inches and re-sculpted its sheet metal. Hands-down, the resulting four-door was one of the prettiest VWs ever. (Volkswagen)

VW CC: One pretty Passat

In 2009, Volkswagen debuted the CC, a slick “four-door coupe” whose flowing silhouette suggested high-performance European luxury, but whose platform was strictly Passat. Passat is Volkswagen’s mid-size, four-door family sedan. When the time came to introduce the expected two-door coupe, VW instead stretched the Passat...

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MONDAY, OCT. 20, 2014

Sign, sign, everywhere a sign

At the risk of appearing ancient, I’ll admit that the 1971 hit song “Signs” came to mind the other day as I drove east on 29th Avenue. When I approached a green light at the intersection with Perry Street, a vehicle going north on Perry...

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FRIDAY, OCT. 17, 2014

 (Lexus)

Lexus RC F: F stands for fast

Halfway through my fourth of fifth fourth lap — almost time enough to sort out the braking points and apexes — I realized was driving a Lexus like I had never before driven a Lexus. Or ever expected to. Tires squealed. Brakes stank. Ponies —...

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MONDAY, OCT. 13, 2014

Open to interpretation

Each state has formed a lengthy list of road rules, attempting to govern every driving scenario with a required course of action. Within those laws, one can find a prescribed behavior to match nearly every traffic situation. At times, however, those specifics of required driver...

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SATURDAY, OCT. 11, 2014

 (Audi)

Audi A3: Little, but all grown up

My grandson Henry is smart, as well-read as a seven-year-old can be and fairly certain he’s right. All of the time. Also, he’s a car guy. He wanted to know what I was driving on a recent visit. “It’s an Audi A3.” “That’s not an...

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MONDAY, OCT. 6, 2014

Exceptions to the rules

I previously recounted a reader’s episode experienced while passing a left-turning vehicle within the city limits of a small town north of Spokane. In that instance, the driver of the turning vehicle attempted to thwart the reader’s pass with a blocking move. My reaction was...

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SATURDAY, OCT. 4, 2014

Longer than last year by 1.4 inches, wider by 1.5 inches and heavier by about 100 pounds, the 2015 Escalade (from $72,690, including destination) carries eight, tows up to 8,300 pounds and accelerates from zero to 60 in 6.1 seconds. (Cadillac)

Escalade: Bigger and better 

As long as there are big buyers, big loads and big families, Cadillac’s Escalade will always find a home. A big home. For 23015, Cadillac’s large luxury SUV is redesigned inside and out. It’s bigger, stronger and quicker. Its cabin is quieter and its ride...

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