Sunday, January 21, 2018

Happy 2018 and Happy 5 Years!

OK, so it is a little late for a "Happy 2018" post, but I decided to intentionally wait until this day because January 21st marks the fifth year that my brother and began actively working on this blog. I wanted to take the time to thank everyone who has been following us, and that has been reading our blog regularly. I know that we both haven't been posting as regularly as we did in the past, but we're both trying to work around our personal schedules to try and bring you more content. Thanks again for continuing to follow us through our wheeled adventures, and thanks for being patient while we write (and  maybe even film) more material to post. Until then, here's to a better year for all in 2018!

(And here's a pic of my washed and waxed S2000 to celebrate!)

- West Brother

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Looking Back at 2017

2017 has admittedly been a somewhat slow year for us. With lots going on in our personal lives, it's been hard to post regularly. Still, 2017 was still an eventful year for us in automotive terms. As East Brother is currently on vacation, I will share some of my favorite automotive moments from 2017.

Cadillac Truth + Dare 

Earlier this year, East Brother and I attended an event put on by Cadillac called the "Truth + Dare" driving event. It was an event put on to highlight some of the technological and performance aspects of Cadillac's newest crop of vehicles. This wasn't something we covered here on the blog, but ended up on our own personal Instagram accounts instead. Still, despite the coverage, we had a blast at the event. The highlights being getting to floor both an ATS-V and CTS-V down a 1/8 mile course, and getting to flog some cars through a small autocross course.


Instagram

Speaking of Instagram, we finally have an Instagram account! I know, it only took us a few years to hop on the bandwagon. You can find us @eastwestbrothers.

Alfa Romeo Giulia

2017 marked the year Alfa Romeo was serious about returning to the mainstream American auto market with the Giulia mid-size luxury/sport sedan. East Brother and I managed to snag a test drive a few months after it hit the market at our local Rusnak Fiat/Maserati/Alfa Romeo dealership. While we both walked away impressed with how the car drove and looked, the interior was well below our expectations of a car costing north of $50k (as equipped). Of course, there was also Alfa's "legendary" reliability issues constantly nagging us in the back of our minds. 
A few months ago though, I had noticed that the dealer had vanished. Considering that at the time of testing, the Giulia was probably only doing about 2,000 units per month, it was really no surprise that Rusnak decided to abandon ship. It's a fantastic car, and I really want to like it and recommend it to people, but the reliability issue and company longevity issue really makes it hard to like and recommend. Damn shame too because it's such a fantastic driving and gorgeous looking car. 

East Brother's Chevy Bolt

East Brother acquired a new vehicle this year with a new Chevy Bolt EV. I was never a huge fan of his Ford Focus EV, but the Bolt, despite looking funny, impressed me with its performance and level of technology. Funny how we now have two cars in our fleet in a shade of  "pull me over" blue. I think we've agreed to stick with the theme and possibly get our next car in a similar shade of blue.

Vehicle Retirements

2017 also marks the year we sent two of our long term cars back to their respective manufacturers: our 2014 Acura RLX and 2014 Ford Focus EV. You can read about our respective final thoughts on both of these vehicles here and here.   
I hope that 2018 proves to be an even more exciting year for us. 

Stay safe everyone, and Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Test Drive: 2017 Hyundai Elantra SEL

A few months ago, I wrote about how crowded the mid-size luxury sedan class was when I reviewed the Alfa Romeo Giulia. If you really want to talk about "overcrowded," take a look at the compact sedan class. Every single large volume manufacturer has a competing vehicle in this class (except for Chrysler, who abandoned that market - Ed.), so the number of choices can be...overwhelming, to say the least. There are a few standouts in this class though: the VW Golf, the Honda Civic, the Mazda 3, and the Ford Focus, to name a few. Hyundai's Elantra usually ranks relatively well when compared to other compact sedans, but just doesn't seem to sell quite as well. Heading out to Baltimore during Veteran's day weekend, I needed a rental car, and decided on an Elantra, as it was the most appealing vehicle available at National's "Emerald Aisle" lot at Baltimore/Washington International. Let's see if I can figure out why the Elantra ranks well in reviews, but lags its competition in sales.


Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Long Term Test: 2014 Ford Focus Electric wrap-up

One of our first pictures of the Ford Focus Electric
After three years and over 24k miles of service, it is finally time to bid farewell to our daily driven Ford Focus Electric. This was the first electric car that my wife and I have owned and was the start of what will likely be a legacy of electric car ownership going forward. While it was not a perfect car, the Focus Electric has quite a few charming characteristics that made it a fantastic daily driver and with a little bit of forethought, it became a perfect vehicle for how we live our lives. The ownership experience was largely a positive one, but also not without a few flaws. However, for a first generation electric vehicle, it served us well during its three years in our garage.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Road Trip: Brooklyn

Brooklyn is a part of New York City that, for no particular reason, I have completely managed to ignore for pretty much the entirety of my adult life. No matter how many times I have been to NYC since becoming an adult, my trips have always kept me within Manhattan or, at furthest, Queens. It really wasn't so much of a conscious effort to avoid Brooklyn, but rather the simple reality that I never had a reason to go there. And there is simply so much to do in NYC that unless you are staying for a good stretch of time, it is really easy to not even think about traveling to the other boroughs. But our recent trip to New York this summer gave us our first ever reason to visit Brooklyn and I realized that by having kept to Manhattan, I had missed out on what is a truly thriving and vibrant part of New York City.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Long Term Test: 2007 Honda S2000 post #8

Seven. Seven is the number of years that I have owned my S2000. I have never owned a car longer than I have had my S2000, and I see myself owning it for many more years to come. But in the meantime, has anything new happened with my S2000? Nothing major. With Android Auto now available to use directly through your phone, I have been looking for a proper mount for my phone to use in the car.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Comparison: 2014 Ford Focus Electric vs 2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV

Before we had to return the Focus, it seemed prudent to take a moment to see just how much electric vehicles have progressed in the last three years. When we first acquired the Focus in 2014, it was a competitive, albeit with a few shortcomings, vehicle among the rather small class of available EVs. During that time, we have gotten to see the EV landscape evolve significantly as the cars have gotten a lot more capable and the availability of charging infrastructure has improved dramatically, both in terms of more available Level 2 and both the speed and availability of Level 3 DC fast charging. Comparing our outgoing Focus Electric with our newly acquired Bolt EV allows us the opportunity to really examine just how significant those changes are and what that means for the future of EVs as we see more manufacturers make commitments to joining the EV marketplace.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Long Term Test: 2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV Premier

So last week, we hinted that big news was in store regarding the Chevy Bolt EV we tested. Despite my many reservations, I decided to attempt a little experiment and set aside my subjective criteria and focus on just the objective criteria in what we needed for a new car. That meant considering the range, the interior space, the performance, the technology, and, most importantly, the price. Given that I still have a deposit on a Model 3 and we are only looking at electric cars, the realistic options narrowed themselves down pretty quickly. Aside from the Model 3 and the Bolt EV, we considered the 2017 Ford Focus Electric, the 2017 VW e-Golf, the Hyundai Ioniq Electric, and the 2018 Nissan Leaf 2.0. Each of these had to meet the minimum criteria of being all-electric battery EVs with at least 100 miles of real world range. From there, it became a matter of determining how to weigh the other criteria to come to a decision.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Test Drive: 2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV Premier

Walking into this test drive, I really wanted to dislike this car. Having seen the Bolt a few times on the streets, it just never quite looked right to me with the stubby nose and tall hatchback proportions. As a day-one reservation holder of the Tesla Model 3, I did not expect the Bolt to change my mind based on its looks, but as the only other 200+ mile range EV on the market, I thought I owed it to myself to give the competition a go before plunking down any serious money on a car I have not even seen in person. Considering that Hyundai's roll-out of the Ioniq has been a disaster, the VW e-Golf was a no-show despite being announced nearly a year ago, and the Nissan Leaf 2.0 was not likely to make it to market in time for the end of our lease of the Focus Electric, it seemed only logical to take the Bolt for a spin.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Test Drive: 2018 Audi S5 Sportback Prestige

I have a real soft spot for Audi's performance sedans, especially the, S4/RS4 and S7/RS7 so imagine my joy when I found out that Audi is bringing the A5 and S5 Sportback, essentially an 80% sized version of the S7, to the US market. Originally slated to be displayed at last year's LA Auto Show, I was disappointed when it was a no show, but as soon as they started to hit the dealer lots, I took the opportunity to go and check one out, especially as we are looking for a suitable 4-door, 5-seat replacement to our long-term Jaguar F-Type.