Category Archives: Everyday Normal Cars

I call them “Transportation Appliances”, but this is what most people are looking for.

Alfa Romeo Giulia Ti AWD: Is an Italian Daily Driver a Good Idea?

Alfa Romeo Giulia Ti AWD 14

Italian cars are frustrating. Their good aspects are beyond wonderful, as in they will genuinely make your life worth living. The problem is, there’s always a catch, some significant issue (usually “issues”) that counter-balance the positives to such a massive degree that buying one is often a bad idea if you’re thinking rationally. Italian cars are made to give you an in-depth emotional experience, but like people, the great times come with the hardships. The Italians have always built cars this way, and it has always made their cars intriguing because they seem like so much more than cold machines. It makes them feel genuinely alive.

Because of their unpredictable nature, there’s always something daring about buying an Italian car. It’s not a sure bet, but the rewards are so immense when things are going well that it always seems it may be worth the risk. A test drive in an Alfa will make you ask yourself deep philosophical questions like, “Am I really living the sort of life I want?”

Playing it safe works, but are you really living, or do you just merely exist? There’s a big difference between the two, and that’s what Alfa Romeo is all about. It’s the sort of car that will give you a reason to get out of bed in the morning, and will have you lusting all day for your drive home.

I literally fell in love with the Alfa 4C Spider when I drove it because it spoke deeply to my inner desire. How can an object make you feel so fulfilled and so happy to be alive? It was insane.

The Alfa 4C is an impractical sports car, though. Meant to be a second car for the weekends, it’s Italian imperfections are more tolerable than they would be in an everyday sedan. That brings us to the Giulia Ti you see here. It is an everyday luxury sport sedan, here to take on the BMW 3 Series and the Audi A4. There’s surely less room for error in this market of everyday sedans.

That brings up my big question: Has Alfa kept the Italian magic alive in the Giulia sedan, and how much Italian “character” is tolerable to sedan buyers? Have they watered it down in an attempt to compete for the mass market?

I had heard good things about the car, but many people seem to let the car’s shortcomings overshadow its strengths. Knowing the risks of reliability and build quality, I wanted to know if the upsides were worth the the gamble on this Italian 4 door.

Continue reading Alfa Romeo Giulia Ti AWD: Is an Italian Daily Driver a Good Idea?

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Hyundai Elantra Sport DCT Review: An Unknown Gem

Hyundai Elantra Sport 10

Many good things in life fly just under the radar. Like the other day when I went to lunch at work, and noticed a bright blue Hyundai Elantra parked out front. The color caught my eye, but I figured it was just another Elantra. Then I noticed the wheels, the slightly aggressive body styling, and the dual exhaust tips protruding from the diffuser-looking rear valance. I thought to myself, “Damn, Hyundai is really trying to make the Elantra look like a performance model.” I saw the word “Sport” displayed on the back, and the subtle “Turbo” badge on the front grill. That prompted me to get out my phone and Google the Elantra Sport over lunch. What I found out was very intriguing.

Continue reading Hyundai Elantra Sport DCT Review: An Unknown Gem

Honda Civic Hatchback Sport Review: My Next Daily Driver?

Honda Civic Hatchback Sport 1

I’m starting to consider options for replacing my Volkswagen CC as my practical daily driver, and I’ve had numerous people tell me to try out the new turbocharged Honda Civic.

Now before any of you scream “Civic Si” or “Civic Type R” at the screen, just know that I need an automatic here because my girlfriend, Gab, needs to be able to drive the car. I have my Miata and my STI when I want to shift my own gears. Also, the mighty Type R is vastly out of my budget for this move.

I’m not going too deep into financials, but I’m considering a lease that would be the same or less than what I currently pay on my CC. I also want a car that is realistically capable of touching 40 MPG when I’m cruising.

So, automatic, 40 MPG capable, and a relatively cheap monthly payment. Sounds like driving excitement may not really be a factor here, right? The options are certainly limited, but the new Civic Hatchback Sport quickly captured my interest when shopping around. I’d heard some great things about the new 1.5L turbocharged engine, and it seemed like Honda had made the Hatchback Sport model a junior Si, of sorts.

I figured if I was going to try out the new Civic, I might as well try the one most likely to catch my interest. The 1.5L Turbo is available on all the Civic models, but the Sport would have the tighter handling and the sport exhaust, which would make it more my kind of car.

So, after work, I went to go check it out, and see if the Civic Hatchback Sport was the “8/10ths Civic Si” I was hoping it would be.

Continue reading Honda Civic Hatchback Sport Review: My Next Daily Driver?

The Lincoln Mark VII LSC Chronicles, Part 2: June, July, and August -The Plot Thickens

Mark VII Front

This is Part 2 in a series.

Where we last left this story, I had taken a few interviews and the Lincoln had barfed coolant all over South Jersey. By the beginning of June, I’d parked the poor thing and taken back to driving the Legacy nearly full-time. I’d hit off on a few good interviews in the beginning of June, and while walking out to take the Lincoln to the center of town to pick up election results with my friend Damon, I got the offer as I started the engine. What started out as another day in the pack, had become a blessing. A blessing that turned into a curse, within due time. Continue reading The Lincoln Mark VII LSC Chronicles, Part 2: June, July, and August -The Plot Thickens

The Lincoln Mark VII LSC Chronicles, Part 1: April and May – Continuing The Story.

Mark VII Front Angle 3

This is Part 1 of an occasional series.

On April 16, as most of you dear readers know, I purchased this big gray Lincoln Mark VII LSC to replace my Miata, which I’d sold to Nick. What most of you don’t know, is the rest of the story. Through this occasional series, I will work to chronicle the past six months of what I’ve done with this gigantic piece of American history, and how it has fit into the other parts of my life in that time. Continue reading The Lincoln Mark VII LSC Chronicles, Part 1: April and May – Continuing The Story.

Toyota RAV4 XLE 2WD Review: More Ground Clearance With Less Compromise

Toyota RAV4 Review 5

Last weekend my girlfriend, Gabrielle, and I travelled deep into the lake country of Minnesota for a family gathering of sorts. I don’t get up there as often as I’d like to, and I always feel like the visit is too short when I do. This trip was different in a few ways, though. My Grandma Ann’s health had been declining, to the point where I knew we needed to get out to try and see her. I wanted her, and the rest of the family, to meet Gab, and I knew time was becoming a factor. Unfortunately, as it happened, our visit came a few weeks too late.

Our trip to Minnesota became about finding solace as as a family, and showing support for my Grandpa Don in this most trying time in life. On the lighter side, Gab got to meet everyone, many of whom had been anxiously waiting to see if she was real for some time. We really had a great time, and it was beautiful just being together with everyone as a family. It was a short trip, but it was extremely valuable.

Now, me being me, I don’t like to rent a car without doing an article on it. Gab likes crossovers and she loves bright blue, so this particular Toyota RAV4 seemed to check all of the right boxes in the car park. It’s not the sort of car I usually review either, so I figured it might add some relevancy for this site in areas other than expensive sports cars.

A few years back, my parents and I had a RAV4 in Sedona, Arizona, and we were thrilled with how well it did with some rather intense surprise off-roading. That one was 4WD, though, and this one was 2WD, so I guess it’s more of a “RAV2”. Even still, rural Minnesota has some off road areas, so I figured the ground clearance may come in handy, along with that legendary Toyota dependability.

Continue reading Toyota RAV4 XLE 2WD Review: More Ground Clearance With Less Compromise

BMW i3 Review: Expectations are Everything

BMW i3 Electric Car Review 1

The BMW i3 is just a car in the same way that an iPhone is just a phone. It does the job, but it’s really about so much more than basic functionality. It is a techy gadget on wheels, and it’s as much a personal brand statement as it is a mode of transportation.

As a new age city car, a Toyota Prius C will do the exact same functional job as the BMW i3 for less than half the price. But you could say the same for any other BMW as well, compared to a normal car. BMWs are pure luxury items, just like an Apple products, so we need to look at the car in that way.

As a car reviewer, I have my experience driving the car for a few minutes, hours or days, and then I give the car back. Owners have to live with the car, day-in and day-out for extended time. Consequently, our two experiences can often wind up pretty different.

The BMW i3 is one such car. I had my experience driving it, and I developed my initial opinion based on that. But then I looked around online to see what actual customers were saying, and I found much more I needed to consider before rendering my verdict. I think a lot comes down to how you approach the BMW i3, and how you intend to use the car.

Here is my take from both my drive in the car as well as from further research I’ve done.

Continue reading BMW i3 Review: Expectations are Everything

Volkswagen Touareg TDI: The Dieselgate Review

This 2011 Volkswagen Touareg TDI is my dad’s daily driver, and despite us owning it for nearly 5 years now, I’ve yet to do a review on it until now. But with the advent of Dieselgate, which now affects our Touareg, I figured it was time.

In the video I review the Touareg, and how it’s been for our family over the years. Then, with that in mind, I give my take on Dieselgate and what we plan to do as things progress.

I wrote an article on Dieselgate earlier, before the V6 diesel models were affected, but now that our Touareg has been drawn into it, I wanted to do show my take on the full issue on video.

Enjoy!

Here are some pics of our VW Touareg TDI shot by our friend, Dan Valanzola:

VW Touareg Diesel VW Touareg Diesel VW Touareg Diesel

-Nick Walker

Jeep Renegade Limited Review: The Italians Have Made A Jeep You’ll Love!

Jeep Renegade Limited Review 1

When you think of Jeep, you think of the iconic Jeep Wrangler. Drawing its heritage all the way back to the army jeeps of World War II, the Wrangler has become the staple off-road vehicle of choice for many.

Many people just love the Wrangler’s unique style, though, without much interest in actually using its vast off-road capabilities. These buyers spell big opportunity for Jeep.

You see, while the Wrangler is quite “cool”, it’s strict off-road focus gives it some pretty serious drawbacks when it comes to everyday on-road driving. Anyone wanting to drive a Wrangler for its style points will have to be willing to sacrifice on fuel economy, practicality, handling, comfort, and security (with open models). Kind of a tough sell.

The big solution for Jeep was to create an all-new model that would take the Wrangler’s DNA and distill it into a more useable package for normal on-road use.

The new Jeep Renegade is that solution. Where the Wrangler is an off-roader first and daily car second, the Renegade is daily car first and an off-roader second.

Jeep Renegade Limited Review 7 Jeep Renegade Limited Review 20

Renegades are selling well, and I do think Jeep may have a home run on their hands here. Honestly, there are more buyers out there who just want a Jeep for the unique style of the brand, rather than to actually go rock crawling in the desert.

My girlfriend, Gab, is a perfect example. She’s all about the Jeep image, and she loves the car’s features, but she’s not all about getting it muddy or traversing the Mojave desert in her spare time.

Gab got this black 2015 Jeep Renegade Limited a little over a month ago, and she’s been letting me drive her around in it. I feel I’ve gotten to know the car pretty well at this point, and now it’s time to share my take on it with you, my dear readers.

So put your boots on and lets get to it! Continue reading Jeep Renegade Limited Review: The Italians Have Made A Jeep You’ll Love!

Tesla Model S P85D Review

Tesla Model S P85D Front

Tesla has taken the industry by storm, shattering all expectations and continuing to surprise everyone. I remember about a year ago when Tesla shares were around $120 and many analysts were saying that was far too high. Well guess what, today shares are selling for $218.

Elon Musk’s can-do spirit permeates through the Tesla brand. That charisma associated with the brand seems to appeal to many customers as much the car itself does. Lately, I’ve grown accustomed to seeing Teslas everywhere in my area. For a high-end luxury car, they are selling like hotcakes.

The Model S P85D is surely the most multi-functional vehicle that I’ve ever experienced, and that is what surprised and impressed me the most about it. In fact, I’d say it’s like having four distinct cars in one…

Continue reading Tesla Model S P85D Review

Porsche Panamera S E-Hybrid Reviewed (10/10)

Porsche Panamera S E-Hybrid Review

Everyone, meet Porsche’s Prius! The new Panamera S E-Hybrid, like the Prius, is a 4-door hatchback, and it uses an electric motor to help out its gas engine in a similar way. Furthermore, the Panamera S E-Hybrid has shown in real world tests that it can top 50 mpg, also just like the Prius! Yes, the similarities between the two cars go surprisingly far, much further than most might expect, but they couldn’t be more different in their fundamental purpose.

The Toyota Prius is an economy car for people who want to spend as little money as possible on a car. The Panamera, on the other hand, is a high-end luxury machine for people who are comfortable writing a six figure check for a single car. You can buy four Toyota Priuses for the starting price of this Porsche Panamera S E-Hybrid, and that’s before adding any expensive options. However, playing Devil’s advocate, the Panamera does have nearly the horsepower of all four of those Priuses combined. The Panamera may cost as much as four Priuses, but you could also argue that it’s also four times the car.

I remember being amazed when Al Gore’s son got caught going 100mph in his Prius, not because of his behavior, but because he actually got a Prius to top 100mph. If he buys one of these Porsches, then maybe next time he can be pushing 170mph.

Okay, it’s time to acknowledge the elephant in the room here: The Porsche Panamera S E-Hybrid will not be competing for buyers with the Toyota Prius (sorry to disappoint). No, it will be going head-to-head against the almighty Tesla Model S, and Elon Musk’s trendy “King Innovator” brand image. It is a massive challenge, one that basically killed Fisker, but I think this Porsche is up to it, and I will explain why.

Continue reading Porsche Panamera S E-Hybrid Reviewed (10/10)

2014 FIAT 500L Trekking Review (Grade: C+)

Fiat 500L Front Left

Fiat has been doing a pretty good job of marketing whatever new product they have.  They have come a long way from the cringe-inducing “Jenny From the Block” ads that were running a few years ago, to running ads with P.Diddy and a little kid to advertise their newest creation.  The 500 was a hit for them worldwide and in America, they’re certainly selling pretty well.  In fact, there’s been a new kid on the block for them in the past year or so now, the 500L, a four-door model designed with the small family in mind.  Fiat needs all the sales it can get right about now, as the 500L is in a tough marketplace and has not been getting a good amount of positive press.  I decided to take myself to the local Fiat showroom a few miles away and see what the fuss was all about. Continue reading 2014 FIAT 500L Trekking Review (Grade: C+)