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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Autos archive for Jan. 1, 2014

MONDAY, SEPT. 29, 2014

Self-driving features go mainstream

We all know that machines can be assembled and electronically programmed to exceed certain human capabilities. A couple of those capabilities are surveillance and reaction time — two skills used over and over while driving. That reality creates the main impetus for research and development…

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SATURDAY, SEPT. 27, 2014

Now, a 2012 makeover finds the Pathfinder back in the crossover fold, where it has established itself as a fuel-efficient, seven-passenger people-hauler. (Nissan)

Nissan Pathfinder: Efficient people-hauler

In its first four iterations, Nissan’s Pathfinder has changed identities more often than most people change their minds. The Pathfinder began life in 1985 as an old-school, truck-based, body-on-frame SUV. In 1995, it morphed into a car-based crossover, a “soft-ute” better suited to the daily…

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MONDAY, SEPT. 22, 2014

Controlling others invites havoc

Trying to control the actions of other drivers is generally ill-advised. It’s especially wrong when the perceived correction or “enforcement” is based on faulty knowledge. Last year, I witnessed a driver who made the effort to move into the about-to-be-closed right-hand lane of a construction…

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TUESDAY, SEPT. 16, 2014

The science of window tint

A recent column about vehicle equipment standards prompted a message form reader R.C., who commented, “I am sure I could find the state code site (for Idaho, since I’m in Idaho) but an article covering the subject might be appropriate since it’s quite involved. I…

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Jeannie and Jay Froehlich say they're not retiring. They're escaping. (Don Adair / Don Adair)

North Idaho couple sells it all, hits the road

In October, Coeur d’Alene residents Jay and Jeanie Froehlich will put it all behind them and hit the road. The Froelichs, both in their early 50s, say they’re not retiring. They’re escaping. Their escape vehicle: A 20-foot, 2015 Lance four-seasons travel trailer. “It’s exciting, to…

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MONDAY, SEPT. 8, 2014

V2V network needs funder

A long-proposed V2V (vehicle-to-vehicle) communications network needs someone to “take the reigns” for funding, building and running the proposed technology. A consortium of automakers, corporations and government agencies have envisioned and pondered the “Internet of cars” over the last several years. As currently conceived, new…

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TUESDAY, SEPT. 2, 2014

Vehicle equipment matters

On any given outing, your vehicle may run, its tires have air and be keeping up with the flow of traffic. But that doesn’t qualify your ride of being in accordance with a slew of state requirements. Non-compliance with equipment standards can render your ride…

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MONDAY, AUG. 25, 2014

Check engine light woes

Ignoring or sticking black electrical tape over your car’s lit check engine light is not an advisable course of action. Since computers began running and monitoring vehicle systems in the early 1980s, that yellow-orange check engine light has been a “catch-all” for warning drivers of…

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MONDAY, AUG. 18, 2014

The quest for low miles

During a recent chat with a car dealer, the subject of used-vehicle miles came up. As we spoke, we discussed one of the first questions asked by virtually every potential buyer: “How many miles?” I believe that’s a universal query, because as a licensed dealer,…

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SUNDAY, AUG. 17, 2014

At the moment, the K900 is available only with a 420-hp V-8, with a 311-horsepower V-6 expected soon. Both incorporate direct injection and variable valve timing and match up with an eight-speed automatic transmission.  (Kia)

K900: Kia’s $60,000 flagship

Now and again a car comes along that challenges the established order and makes us rethink the idea of car. Kia’s new $60,000 K900 flagship is one of them. Positioned to compete with flagship models from brands like Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Lexus, it undercuts the…

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MONDAY, AUG. 11, 2014

Avoiding vehicle crashes

This summer, I’ve touted my perceptions of the positive aspects of road trips. While currently in the midst of another 5000-miler, there is ample time to ponder some more. Covering wide-open stretches by auto allows one more time for thought than typical day-to-day drives. While…

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SATURDAY, AUG. 9, 2014

The compact crossover has remained resolutely compact; it exists in a no-man’s-land between large hatchbacks like the Nissan Juke and almost-midsize crossovers like Honda’s CR-V. (Hyundai)

Hyundai Tucson is a tidy package

By the terms of the unwritten rules of the automotive world, every car must grow larger with each succeeding generation. Larger, roomier, more powerful. It’s the automaker’s mantra. While Hyundai complies in nearly every case, its 2014 Tucson goes against the grain. The compact crossover…

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MONDAY, AUG. 4, 2014

How to act when stopped

Most drivers get a bit nervous when a police vehicle is following them. That nervousness is not warranted if you are driving properly, but if the cruiser’s rooftop-mounted light bar is activated, nervousness may be an understatement. A traffic stop by an officer of the…

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SATURDAY, AUG. 2, 2014

ts DNA dates to the late-‘70s, but the 2014 E Class wagon is fresh and vital. Fully made-over in 2010, the entire E Class family receives sweeping mid-cycle updates this year. A handsome new front end debuts, along with a batch of new safety technologies, an auto stop-start system and a new diesel engine. (Mercedes-Benz)

Mercedes-Benz E350: The not-so-retro wagon

Few things in life are as retro as a station wagon. Regardless, few cars are less retro than Mercedes-Benz's E350 Station Wagon. Once the wagon-of-choice for the well-heeled, Mercedes-Benz’s venerable mid-sizer has survived the wagon-killing onslaught of the SUV and its domesticated, sedan-based spawn, the…

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TUESDAY, JULY 29, 2014

Your commute to work

The route to and from one’s workplace, commonly known as a “commute,” varies widely among drivers. The time it takes people to get to work depends not only upon the distance involved, but also on traffic, road conditions and weather. How long is your commute?…

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MONDAY, JULY 21, 2014

Be tolerant of road work

I don’t think anyone is happy to see “Road Work Ahead” signs while driving. Those warnings typically foreshadow miles of detours, single lanes, and lowered speed limits. But even though we dislike the slowdowns that come with them, those signs also represent good things to…

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SUNDAY, JULY 20, 2014

Customers asked for a roomier cabin, so the 2014 Highlander is three inches longer and a half-inch wider. A redesigned rear suspension makes room for a third passenger in the third row, boosting capacity to eight, and increases behind-the-seats cargo capacity by 34 percent. 

2014 Highlander: Toyota delivers

Now might be a good time for Toyota to revive the old “You asked for it, you got it” slogan. Buyer input played a large role in this year’s make-over of the midsize Highlander crossover. Customers asked for a roomier cabin, so the 2014 Highlander…

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MONDAY, JULY 14, 2014

Some laws to bike by

I’ve had numerous written and personal discussions that involve the intermixing of bicycles and motor vehicles on our roadways. Usually, those discussions involve the rights and responsibilities of motorists and bicyclists. Recent reader inquiries on the subject run the gamut, so it’s a timely moment…

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MONDAY, JULY 7, 2014

The lure of the road

After I recounted a recent road trip in this spot two weeks ago, emails from readers supported my enthusiasm. I’ve always touted a road trip as a freedom to cherish: something that could feasibly become restricted or prohibited in the future. From journeys with demanding…

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This year, Volkswagen’s compact Jetta sedan enjoys the benefits of a trickle-down product strategy. New to Jetta is a turbocharged, 1.8-liter engine that arrived earlier on such models as Passat, Beetle and CC.

It’s stronger, lighter and more efficient than the 2.5-liter five-cylinder engine it replaces. (Volkswagen)

VW Jetta: Trickle-down theory at work

Mention “trickle down” in a political crowd and watch the sparks fly. It’s a different ballgame in the car world, though. This year, Volkswagen’s compact Jetta sedan enjoys the benefits of a trickle-down product strategy. New to Jetta is a turbocharged, 1.8-liter engine that arrived…

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Blowing your horn

I reprinted a Washington law (RCW 46.61.245) in a recent column concerning the mix of motor vehicles, pedestrians and bicyclists on our roadways. A segment of that code requires that drivers, “…shall exercise due care to avoid colliding with any pedestrian upon any roadway and…

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The Charger’s  waspish waist and muscular flanks carry more than a hint of the Viper’s menace. Its powerful and protuberant grill is as blatant as a Mac truck’s. (Dodge)

Dodge Charger: Exuberant, economical muscle 

Retiring types should not become auto writers. We drive too many cars that draw too much attention. Your basic Camry, Escape and Passat may go unnoticed, but the double-take cars — the ‘Vettes, the Bentleys, the Plasma Purple Mitsubishi Mirages — can drive a shy…

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The Fiesta ST rides 15 millimeters lower than standard trims and gets a sport-tuned suspension, a quicker steering ratio and more powerful brakes.  (Ford)

Ford Fiesta ST: Euro-flavored fun 

There’s no good reason to want Ford’s new Fiesta ST. Fun is its own good reason. The ST is a sharply focused, sport-tuned subcompact built by Ford in Spain. It debuted in Europe in 1976 and had a three-year US run, from 1978-80. In 2010,…

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MONDAY, JUNE 23, 2014

Anatomy of a road trip

I take a few road trips each year. To qualify as “road trips,” according to my own definition, those journeys must consist of distances greater than 500 miles. At modern freeway speeds, that typically translates to 7 or 8 hours behind the wheel. To me,…

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