Monday, December 31, 2018

Long Term Wrap-up: 2016 Honda Accord Touring

With every new year, the saying is always "out with the old, in with the new." Since 2019 is only a few hours away, I figure, why not do just that? Towards the end of the year, East Brother and I made the decision to part ways with our 2016 Honda Accord Touring ahead of schedule. We bought the car for two main reasons, and over the course of nearly two and a half years, both of those reasons became moot with further developments within our personal lives.

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Test Drive: 2019 Acura ILX Premium A-Spec

When the Acura ILX first debuted back in 2013, Acura touted it as the "return of the Integra." What we were supposed to get was a compact, sporty, Civic based sedan with an injection of luxury to separate it from its parent company sibling. Instead, what we got was a dud. Bland design, an under-powered and wheezy base engine strapped to an ancient transmission, a painfully slow hybrid with barely any fuel economy advantages, and Civic Si powered version that didn't sell because it only came with a six-speed manual (which was admittedly good for us enthusiasts). Acura tried to turn the ILX around in 2016 after three years worth of poor sales. The first refresh saw an updated exterior and interior, and a very slightly de-tuned drivetrain lifted straight out of big brother TLX. Sales initially surged for a few months but quickly dropped again.

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Comparison: 2018 Honda Accord Sport 2.0T vs 2018 Honda Civic Si Sedan

Ever since Honda announced in 2013 that the Accord would come in a Sport trim, with available six-speed manual transmission, I've often wondered if the Accord Sport would be a better deal than the Civic Si. For starters, both cars were very similarly priced and had essentially the same engine. For the price, the Civic did come with more features, a little more horsepower, sharper handling, and a limited slip differential. With the Accord, you got a much larger and more grown-up looking car, and that was pretty much it. Ninth gen versus ninth gen, I would have gladly taken a Civic Si home before taking the Accord Sport home.

Things are different with the tenth generation though. Both cars are much more feature rich than their predecessors, and the Accord Sport now actually has two engine options: a slightly up-tuned version of the 1.5 liter turbo four from the Civic coupe, sedan, and hatchback, and a de-tuned version of the 2.0 liter turbo four from the Civic Type-R. Unlike the previous generation though, the price difference has become much more significant. The Accord Sport 1.5T starts at an MSRP of $25,700 while the Civic Si stars at an MSRP of $24,100. I actually looked at the Accord Sport 2.0T, which adds an additional $4,580 on top of the base MSRP, making the Accord Sport 2.0T a $30,000 car. So the question isn't so much which is the better car for roughly the same price. The question has now become, "is the Accord Sport worth the extra $6,000 over the Civic Si?" As luck would have it, a local Honda dealer had both an Accord Sport 2.0T and a Civic Si Sedan available, so I decided to take a look at the cars side-by-side to determine if the Accord is worth the extra money.

Friday, July 27, 2018

In Memoriam: Sergio Marchionne (June 17, 1952 - July 25, 2018)

News broke this morning that the CEO of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, Sergio Marchionne, had passed away on Wednesday from complications related to shoulder surgery. Marchionne made his last public appearance on June 26 of this year and took medical leave soon after for shoulder surgery in Zürich, Switzerland. The surgery was for an invasive shoulder sarcoma, which he had kept concealed from his colleagues. On July 21, when the severity of his situation worsened, Marchionne was replaced at FCA, Ferrari, SGS (Société Générale de Surveillance) and CNH Industrial. He is survived by his partner, Manuela Battezzato, and his two sons, Alessio and Tyler.

For anyone in the automotive world who isn't already familiar with Marchionne, he was the chairman of Fiat since 2004 and oversaw the acquisition of Chrysler. His blunt and outspoken personality allowed him to turn a dysfunctional Fiat and a bankrupt Chrysler into a successful global giant. Known around the world for his classic wool, black sweaters (much in the way Steve Jobs is known for his black turtlenecks), Marchionne was especially well known in the enthusiast community for bringing us such vehicles as the Charger/Challenger Hellcat and Challenger Demon. Under his guidance, Marchionne also brought us a Hellcat powered Grand Cherokee, and third generation Viper, and various Ferraris, Fiats, and many other successful and amazing vehicles.

Marchionne was always an interesting character. As mentioned, he was always very blunt and outspoken. He was never keen on the idea of autonomous cars or electric cars. When asked if an autonomous Ferrari would ever be a possibility, he said "you'll have to shoot me first!" He also implored people to NOT buy the Fiat 500e electric car as it was built simply to satisfy California regulatory requirements and FCA was losing money on it. Marchionne also reportedly spent a good portion of 2015 on a quest to merge with another large automaker to reduce inefficiencies and lower costs. General Motors was one of the targets of this quest, but that obviously never happened.

It's hard to imagine many other people who would be able to pull off what Marchionne did for the automotive world. His recovery of Fiat, acquisition of Chrysler and the subsequent creation of a global car empire are nothing short of amazing. If there were two faults with him, it was the fact that the man was ruthless and a bit of a workaholic, both of which probably weighed on him towards the end of his tenure. Nonetheless, Marchionne spent 14 years at the helm of Fiat and then FCA, making him one of the longest serving chief executives in the automotive industry.

With Marchionne's passing, one thing is certain: the automotive industry just lost one of its most interesting people.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Test Drive: 2017 Nissan Maxima SV

We arrived at Dulles early in the evening on a Friday. The Emerald Aisle selection was slim pickings, especially if we wanted a car with reasonable cargo space that was not a crossover of some kind. The thought occurred to me to ask for something particular, but I eventually settled on the one car in the line-up I had not driven yet, the loan Nissan Maxima. With its legacy of being the 4-door sports car (4DSC as the marketing mavens at Nissan called it back in the day), the current Maxima has an awful lot of history to live up to, especially considering that the last one I drove back in the early 2000s seriously failed to live up to expectations.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Road Trip: Lake Arrowhead

She's not a fan of photos...
We don't often get to take our pup out of the local area where we live, so every once in a while, we make the effort to find a place to go that is within driving distance and is pet friendly. Last year, we were out in a more rural part of San Diego county, near the Temecula wine country. This year, we decided to try for a weekend in the mountains of San Bernardino County. Lake Arrowhead, one of several lakes nestled in the San Bernardino National Forest, was a place that we frequently visited as kids. I have fond memories of various trips with family so it seemed fitting to do a trip there, though this would be a much nicer and much more outdoorsy trip than the ones of my childhood.

This would also be our first long distance drive in the Bolt so we took some extra precautions, charging up the Bolt's battery to full for the first time since we got the car. Google Maps showed our driving distance as about 100 miles with around 6,500 feet of climbing in the last 20 miles. We also spent some time to make sure we knew where the charging locations were along our route in case we needed to top off on the way back. My rough calculations indicated that we had plenty of range on the battery to make it to the top of the mountain, but it never hurts to be prepared. Of course, we needed not have worried as the Bolt performed admirably.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Test Drive: 2018 Honda Accord Touring 2.0T

I'll be the first to admit that we're a bit late to the party when it comes to reviewing the all new, 10th generation Accord. The car with the 1.5 liter turbo four cylinder has been out since late last year, and the 2.0 liter engine version has been around since about February. As the owner of a 2016 Accord Touring V6 though, I still felt it was relevant to review this car, as East Brother and I are considering it as a potential replacement for our current Accord. So how does it stack up to our current Accord?

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Editorial: Ford Phasing Out Small Cars and Sedans Except Mustang and Focus Active

Image courtesy of
It's been some time since we've posted anything, but after reading that Ford announced it will be axing nearly all of its small cars and sedans in favor of CUVs and SUVs, something needs to be said. If you haven't seen or heard the news yet, check out this article from Autoblog:

Or this one from Jalopnik:

This is a HUGE mistake. Not everyone wants a tall and ponderous CUV or SUV. There are those of us that still prefer the stable, low center of gravity offered by a traditional sedan, coupe or wagon. People constantly argue the reason for getting a CUV or SUV is because of growing family needs or space needs. Wagons are perfect for that purpose! Unless you find yourself driving over large, irregular obstacles on a normal basis, what need do you have for a lifted vehicle? Are you an actual off-road enthusiast? Do you actually use the bed of your pick-up to haul things on a daily basis? Go nuts! Buy all the big vehicles you want! The rest of us will do just fine with regular sedans, coupes, and wagons.

Another issue is the fuel consumption equation. The cost of gasoline in the United States is lower than in most other developed nations, and we seem to take this fact for granted. As the supply of petroleum becomes lower and lower, and the price of gasoline steadily rises, consumers who jumped on the SUV bandwagon are going to regret their decision. Unfortunately for these people, trying to get rid of their inefficient SUV or CUV will be difficult since no one will want them anymore. So why do we do this to ourselves? Who knows...

The CUV/SUV apocalypse is upon us, and Ford has chosen to herald the demise of the small car. If FCA and GM jump on the bandwagon along with Ford, then we know we're doomed.

At least the Mustang will still remain.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Product Review: Anker Roav Dashcam A1

Ah...dash often unlimited source of entertainment, but also a Godsend when the inevitable accident occurs. There are all sorts of different types of dash cams available now. You have ones that replace your review mirror, ones you mount directly to you windshield, even ones with back-up camera capability. I've been driving my S2000 for quite some time without a dashcam, but the fear of getting hit while I'm on the road now that I'm driving my S2000 a little more often again prompted me to get a dashcam. The S2000, being a small car with a low and wide windshield meant finding a dash cam that would be low profile enough to not eat up too much real-estate and become a distraction. Thanks to after Christmas sales, I had plenty of options to choose from.

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