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Quick Spin: 2018 Volvo S90 T6 AWD Inscription

Volvo’s handsome large sedan has been on sale for two years now. Since then the Volvo brand has been growing and releasing new, equally good looking models, specifically SUVs and wagons. But they have also made some substantial, if subtle, changes to the big sedan. The first change is that in order to make space in the factory for all those new wagons and SUVs, Volvo moved the S90 assembly to China.

Along with this move, all U.S. market S90 models will get a 4.7” stretch in the wheelbase. Long wheelbase models have been popular in China for some time and many automakers offer LWB versions of their many models just for that market. BMW 7-series and Mercedes S-class have been sold in the US market only in long wheel base version for some time. Now they are joined by the Volvo S90.

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Pinewood Derby: We didn’t win but we won!

Kamil Kaluski February 28, 2018 All Things Hoon

My daughter and I completed her Pinewood Derby racer the day before the big race. Out slant-nose Porsche weighted in a 4.9-ish ounces, just shy of the desired limit. It had an original look and it adhered to all the rules, such as the fact that we had use the supplied wood, axles, and wheels.

There were three groups of cars, based on the ages of the Girl Scouts. In our class there were ten cars. To make a long story short, we finished fourth out of ten, which removed us from the finals. But there was also a design contest where we took second place overall and a trophy! Woohoo!

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Redusernab Asks: What would be your Uber car?

Kamil Kaluski February 27, 2018 Redusernab Asks

Uber, or Lyft, are seemingly favorite transportation choice of the avocado toast generation. I’m a fan of public transit, so I take that when I can or have to, and/or can’t drive my own car for whatever reason. I do use Uber when I am in a hurry or strictly as a matter of convenience, but that happens maybe once a month. I actually try to take a city taxi cab over Uber as I have some family ties to that industry and I believe they’re kind of getting screwed by Uber. The truth is that taxi cab industry screwed itself with its lack of progress.

But we’re not here to discuss that. We’re here to discuss the fact that most Uber/Lyft cars are Corollas, Camrys, Rogues, or something equally boring and painful to look at and be in. 

Today’s question is – if you were to drive an Uber or Lyft car, what would be your car of choice. Both companies have similar requirements:

  • Model year: Must be 15 years or less from current year.
  • Body style: Any with 4 full, independently opening doors.
  • Seating: Must have seats in good condition AND seat belts for driver and 4 passengers.
  • No commercial branding or taxi color paint jobs.
  • No cosmetic damage or missing pieces.
  • No large passenger vans or commercial/heavy duty trucks.

Now, there is more to choosing a car than just this. In order to fully monetize, the vehicle must be somewhat affordable, economical, and reliable. Low accident repair, part and service costs also add to the bottom line. BUT… but since you’re going to be spending hours driving it, it should:

  • Be comfortable for the driver. 
  • Be easy to drive for you.
  • You must actually like it!
  • Have features that you, the driver can’t live without. 
  • Be something you enjoy driving. 
  • Bonus: a third row will add to revenue. 
  • Bonus: USB ports for rear passengers. 

So what is your ideal Uber or Lyft vehicle? 

Image source:

My, err, my daughter’s Pinewood Derby racer is done!

Kamil Kaluski February 26, 2018 All Things Hoon

Some time ago I asked you hoons about Pinewood Derby race cars. I was deprived as a child, so I never got to do anything like that. I read all your comments and googled most of the internet extensively. Some advice was good, some was great, and some just totally wrong. Serves me right for asking.

The outcome of all this research, drawings, designs, cutting, painting, attaching, polishing, weighting is pictured above. We had three designs: a limo, a pickup truck, and a Porsche 911. We nixed the limo right away. I wanted to do the pickup because I made it aerodynamic and I could have easily placed all kind of weight in the bed, over the rear wheels. But no, my daughter wanted fancy not redneck, so it was the Porsche 911.

Several issues came up right away. First, the guy at the hardware store who was doing the cutting for all of the Girl Scout team (I don’t have a decent saw), could only do straight cuts. Crap, that means no iconic headlights and no iconic whale tail. I quickly decided that we should go with a slant-nose and typical non-spoiler rear. In order to cut down on weight and reduce the center of gravity, we decided on a cabriolet model.

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The Grand Tour makes you wanna do outdoorsy stuff!

Kamil Kaluski February 23, 2018 TV Shows

I get several dozen press release emails per day. Most bloggers/bloogers/writers get a lot more, I just don’t subscribe to them. I glance at them and delete 90% of them. I respond to some, usually asking for more information, only to never get a response. And then there are a few that surprise me, such as this one:

Hi Kamil,

Has a show or movie ever energized you to seek adventure beyond the screen?  a Prime Original that follows three intrepid former car journalists on their high speed escapades around the world, has attracted fans ready to hit the road for their own adrenaline fueled adventures. Amazon uncovered a few fun facts about Prime members who have streamed The Grand Tour, and we’re spreading the word on where to get inspiration for your next trip to the great outdoors. These trends were obtained by comparing the purchase behavior of a sample of 100K Grand Tour viewers on Amazon to that of 100K Non-Grand Tour viewers.

Amazon learned Grand Tour viewers are more likely to seek extreme outdoor hobbies and live in areas known for adventure in the great outdoors than those Prime members who haven’t streamed the show yet. In 2017, Grand Tour viewers spent 24% more in Amazon’s Sports & Outdoor store than an average non-Grand Tour viewer. And these Grand Tour viewers are not just novices of the outdoors; they purchased more brands for top outdoor athletes and serious outdoor enthusiasts including GoPro, Black Diamond, Osprey, Patagonia and Thule than did non-Grand Tour viewers. The largest percentage differences in spend on outdoor equipment between Grand Tour viewers and non-Grand Tour viewers were on cycling gear (53%), rock climbing gear (45%) and skiing and snowboarding gear (44%).

It is no surprise Grand Tour viewers in the US are living in places that are known as gateways to adventure. Washington – home of Mt. Rainier, Olympic National Park and neighbor to the Pacific Ocean, and Colorado – land of the Rocky Mountains and Mesa Verde National Park, had the highest number of Grand Tour season two viewers per capita in the US. These states have an abundance of activities for those seeking an outdoor and adventurous lifestyle.

Grand Tour viewers are more likely to drive cars that are compact and adventure-ready and steer clear of the family cars. When purchasing automobile parts in Amazon’s Automotive store, customers can add information about their current car to the Amazon Garage for shopping parts and accessories designed specifically for that vehicle. The Subaru Impreza was the top car model that was more likely to be added to a Grand Tour viewer’s garage than a Non-Grand Tour viewer’s in 2017.

If you have been looking for motivation to dust off your bike, climb a new route, wax your skis or take the family camping, check out The Grand Tour for some adventure inspiration and see you in the great outdoors!

Thanks!
Katie

So, first off, Amazon, like the NSA and Facebook, watch your online adventures very carefully. Don’t bother with the tin hat, if you’re that paranoid then just remove the internet from your life. 

Second of all, look at all you outdoorsy Colorado Subaru-driving types! Those of you that have been to Colorado know that basically everyone drives a Subaru or a Toyota body-on-frame vehicle of some kind. I’m assuming that Amazon does not really know the difference between Impreza and WRX, but that’s fine. Light-up, stream your show, and drive your Impreza, Impretza as Clarkson calls it, and do something EXTREME!!!

Personally, my inspiration from the show has always been to drive some kind of a super luxury coupe from a fancy hotel in Paris to the Amalfi Coast while listing to Margret Thatcher speeches. 

I’d just like to add that the second season of The Grand Tour was so much better than first. That Audi versus Lancia segment was some of Clarkson’s best work to day. Good job, Amazon! 

Review: 2018 Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk – The Best Hellcat?

Great news! Sports cars are not dead! You can enjoy them on a summer day or a drive down a twisty mountain road. They make great rewarding track cars, too. And you will certainly look cool driving around town in your mid-engine machine.

But if you’re looking for fast, like real-deal street fast, the answer comes from an unlikely place – Jeep!

Yup, the Grand Cherokee Trackhawk. For those not paying attention, the Trackhawk is a Grand Cherokee based on the SRT model but with the 707-horsepower engine from the Challenger/Charger Hellcat twins under its hood. And, unlike on those twins, that engine sends all that power to all four wheels.

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Temporary Solution to Buggy UConnect Update

Kamil Kaluski February 13, 2018 Featured, Jeep Reviews

Yesterday, the walking obscure car encyclopedia of man, , reported about an over-the-air update to FCA’s UConnect system. The update went out on Friday, right before all the FCA software engineers packed-up and left the office for the weekend. Unfortunately the forced update introduced an amazingly annoying bug into many of the newer vehicles – the whole UConnect infotainment system would reboot approximately every minute. 

This is a big issue because the UConnect system is more than just a radio. The touchscreen controls audio sources, phone and other Bluetooth connections, climate system, navigation, and even heated seats. Most importantly, the backup camera image is displayed on that screen. When the system is in the process of being rebooted none of that works. Once it’s finally up and running, everything can be accessed but for less than a minute, until the vicious reboot cycle starts up again. 

I currently happen to be reviewing Jeep’s amazing 707-horsepower Grand Cherokee Trackhawk which received this update. Like on so many other vehicles, this Jeep has the rebooting problem. Let me tell ya, it is extremely annoying, even on this ridiculously powerful and fun-to-drive vehicle. The system gets stuck while changing Sirius radio stations. Using Apple CarPlay is pretty much impossible. USB ports lose power, and obviously connection, when the system is rebooting. The biggest problem I have noticed is backing up, as the camera simply does not display during the reversing process. We all have come rely on these as the rear visibility in many new cars isn’t great, so this is a safety issue. 

But there is a solution…

UPDATE: FCA pushed a new update. The system no longer reboots itself but the SiriusXM Travel Link no longer works, upsetting the three people who actually used it. 

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Top Gear season 25 premieres on March 3rd

Kamil Kaluski February 8, 2018 Top Gear

After some teasing (one, two), BBC America finally announced the date for the premiere of Top Gear season 25. Matt LeBlanc, Chris Harris, Rory Reid, and The Stig will come at you on Saturday, March 3 at 10:30pm EST, on BBC America. But it gets better, the following day, Sunday March 4, Top Gear will air its second episode in its regular weekly time slot, Sundays at 8:00pm. 

Because teasing is what they do, another quick video previewing the upcoming season was shown. I personally liked last season quite a lot, so I have high expectations for this. 

Quick Spin: 2018 Dodge Challenger GT All-Wheel Drive

Last year, when the all-wheel-drive Dodge Challenger was first launched, the good folks at FCA invited me to snow-covered race track to hoon that thing. And the damn thing proved to be shockingly good in snow, even with stock all-season tires on. It went, it stopped, and it turned while wagging its huge butt around course.

But outside of the track, there was no snow that day. It was January’s warm spell that lasted exactly for the week that Dodge was showing its first AWD pony car to the press. And, to be honest, I am always a bit skeptical about how a vehicle I have never driven before behaves on a track that was purposely set up for me to drive on. I’ve seen cute ‘utes do the three-wheel motion on big dirt mound only to be sliding all over the place in a trace of snow.

But now, I year later, I get to drive this big all-wheel-drive boat on a snowy day…

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Ford teases the new Ranger Raptor

Kamil Kaluski February 7, 2018 The News!

The Ford Ranger was just recently introduced at the Detroit auto show, but Ford is already, and rightfully, teasing us with a Raptor version. And I mean teasing us, because right away they say that this 2-liter diesel-powered Raptor isn’t for the North American market. Whut!?

Put your torches and pitch forks down for a second. Ford showed the Ranger to the rest of the world before showing us to its home market, first. And that strategy makes sense because why introduce a product in its biggest market first, right?

Wait. No, it doesn’t make sense. What makes sense is the marketing. They will tease us with it for a bit, create some hype, and then unveil it at some auto show in all its glory.

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