Big infotainment screens are great, but I still want gauges.
I blame the Tesla Model 3 for starting this because of its huge tablet and no instruments in front of the driver. However, now other automakers appear to be following this style. The Volkswagen Space Vizzion concept puts a tiny rectangle in front of the driver to display the speed and charge level, and the Ford Mach-E has a similar layout. Maybe I’m old fashioned, but needing to parse out the details on a huge screen seems a lot more distracting than simply looking down and seeing everything I need in one place.
Diesel's day is done. Please just let it die already.
Compared to gasoline engines, diesels can offer better fuel economy and impressive low-end power. You know what far exceeds diesel engines in those two metrics? Electric motors, and the power hits instantly, as soon as you touch the throttle. With batteries and quick-charge capability on the cusp of mainstream, there's no reason to offer diesels with their exceedingly complicated emission systems in small vehicles when EV power is superior in every way.
As for pickup fans in America, what truck enthusiast wouldn’t crave such instant-on electric torque? What semi driver wouldn’t want the kind of available power to climb mountain highways with a full load and not be stuck in a low gear at 14 mph? But, electric motors don’t have that delicious diesel clatter, and they don’t roll coal. There's certainly an unflattering archetype when it comes to the diesel truck scene in America, but that’s a grievance best left for another time.
To be fair, the realm of larger trucks and commercial vehicles isn’t ready to ditch diesels just yet. Battery range and recharging times need to at least double before it can become a viable alternative for many buyers, and we need a lot more charging stations. But at the current rate of EV evolution, there’s no reason to believe this won’t come to fruition in just 10 years, maybe less. That means the current generation of diesel engines offered in full-size pickups and larger semis should be the last, not to mention small mills in Euro-spec hatchbacks or SUVs. At this point, additional investment into diesel power is just a waste of money – for both automakers and buyers.
If you have to finance a car for more than 5 years (60 months), you can’t afford that car.
It wasn't so long ago that a 60-month auto loan seemed to push the limits of personal finance and common sense. Now, according to data from J.D. Power, over 7 percent of auto loans have 84-month terms. That's seven years of payments!
People, what are you thinking? Life comes at you fast and being on the hook for a quickly-depreciating asset for seven years is a very bad idea. Loan companies don't care what happens to you after you sign on the dotted line, so it's up to you to look out for yourself.
If you can't afford the payments on a car unless the payback is spread over seven years, you can't actually afford to buy it. Get something smaller or slower. Go used and save up for your dream car. Your future self will thank you.
Oh, and a hex on purveyors of sub-prime and long-term loans.
Stop debuting cars two years before they go on sale.
There were a lot of important vehicle debuts this year. Ford showed the electric Mach-E, Aston Martin debuted the DBX crossover, Tesla pulled the cover off the Cybertruck – the list goes on. But those three vehicles have one thing in common: they're all 2021 models. Why? When did debuting vehicles nearly two years in advance become the norm?
Credit to Ford, you will be able to buy some version of the Mach-E late in 2020. Even if it is merely the warmed-over “First Edition.” And even Aston Martin admits that the DBX will go on sale sometime in the middle of next year. We're not sure about Tesla. But debuting a vehicle nearly two years out leaves little to be excited about when the damn thing doesn't hit the road until more than a year later. And for the record, pre-orders do not equal sales.
The solution? Don't show a vehicle until it's ready to go on sale. If Ford reveals the Mach-E on a Friday, customers should be able to walk into a Ford dealer the following week and drive one home. Enough with the over-generous teasing.
Quit whining about electric cars being boring and souless. They aren't.
If a car with four-digit horsepower capable of sub-two-second 0-60 times isn’t exciting to you because it doesn’t turn gasoline into noise, you need to trade whatever car you’re driving now for a bus pass because you’re not really an automotive enthusiast. At best, you’re a sound enthusiast who also likes to drive. At worst, you’re a misguided narcissist merely seeking attention, and the world needs less of that right now.
Yes, noise is a thrilling part of the motoring experience for enthusiasts. Yes, manually shifting gears is both engaging and satisfying. There’s nothing wrong with enjoying the hell out of both, but guess what? Cars that do those things are everywhere, and provided humanity hasn’t destroyed itself in 100 years, those cars will still be everywhere for us to enjoy as classic machines of a bygone era. Electric cars will also be there, delivering the kind of power gearheads dream about – instant thrust – in a far simpler package that’s more reliable to boot.
Open your mind. Accept it. Embrace it, even. Get to know EV power and come to appreciate the noises associated with it. You’ll see it’s not worse, or soulless. It’s just different. And that’s not a bad thing.
Buy fun colors, you cowards.
Gray, white, black, silver – the ongoing cycle of boring colors keeps occurring. Dealers keep ordering the tame color combinations because they know that they will sell quickly. But friends, we are now living in a time with many, many fun colors. BMW debuted the M8 Competition in fricking purple! The Porsche Taycan comes in Frozen Blue metallic, and the Audi Q3 has orange available as a no-cost option. The manufacturers are providing options, so it’s up to us to make it worth their while.
Sure, the resale value might not be as strong when it comes time to sell, but who cares? Life is short – drive a car that doesn’t blend in, and you’ll be happy you did. There are some damn good colors to pick from currently, and a few of them don’t even cost extra money. Brighten up the roads and the smiles of enthusiasts everywhere – buy fun colors!
Stop using the same name for different cars.
I understand that it’s a big world out there and automakers must take a lot of factors into consideration when developing and selling a car. However, it always annoys me when two cars are sold under the same name, even though there are some important differences. The one that I find the most frustrating is the Volkswagen Passat, which was updated in Europe and the U.S. this year. However, the two cars actually have very little in common as the former is a much more modern MQB-based product, whereas the latter is still stuck on some very old bones.
Perhaps a more revolting example is when car companies develop models specifically for emerging markets such as India or northern Africa and then skimp on some safety features to keep the asking price low, all while retaining the same model name for brand recognition. I’m aware this is a business and you must make money at the end of the day, but there shouldn’t be any differences as far as safety is concerned between two cars that bear the same name.
The Cannonball Run record should be retired before someone gets hurt.
It was announced in early December that yet another team had broken the Cannonball Run coast-to-coast driving record with a time of 27 hours and 25 minutes. The speeds required to achieve such a feat have risen considerably since the early ‘70s when Brock Yates and Dan Gurney did it in 35 hours and 54 minutes; the latest team averaged 103 miles per hour.
This showmanship needs to stop before something tragic happens. The siren’s call of speed can be satisfied so many other ways that are sanctioned and safer. Sorry to be the wet blanket, but people should get their thrills without pointlessly endangering the lives of others, and there’s no excuse with so many great forms of motorsport to choose from, including One Lap of America, the spiritual successor to Yates’ original Cannonball Run that’s official, organized, and every bit as challenging as breaking the coast-to-coast record.
Hey automakers, stop burying important safety systems in expensive "luxury" packages.
Some automakers are worse than others when it comes to nickel-and-diming on options – we’re looking at you, Porsche. But pretty much every manufacturer inevitably buries notable equipment and yes, seriously helpful safety systems, into high-dollar option packages. This is the automotive equivalent of paying $150 for expanded cable TV with 200 channels just to get the two or three you really want, and frankly, it’s horse malarkey.
It’s one thing to stick something as basic as power seats into a super-expensive package filled with leather and a 20,000-speaker stereo system. Holding safety systems hostage, however, is borderline criminal. Why should a cost-conscious Chevrolet Blazer buyer have to pay $1,845 for the “Convenience and Driver Confidence Package” which comes with things such as heated seats and remote start, just to get the added security of blind-spot monitoring and cross-traffic alert? Those aren’t convenience or confidence features, GM. Those are safety features. You should be ashamed for relegating potentially life-saving tech into an expensive package festooned with frivolous extras, all for a blatant cash grab.
Why can’t fitted rubber floor mats just come standard on cars?
It’s 2019 and I can buy a Honda for less than $20,000 that comes standard with radar-based adaptive cruise control and automatic emergency braking, but I still must pay $155 extra for fitted rubber floor mats. Dear automakers: we all want nice rubber floormats that are fitted to the footwells of our cars. Just make them standard equipment. You don’t even have to carpet the floor beneath the mats; I guarantee that carpet will never see the light of day again once I’ve got my floor mats installed.
For the love of God, stop playing your competitor's game.
The final part of 2019 saw two cringe-worthy attempts by automakers to prove their worth. First, Tesla and its egomaniacal founder insisted on sending cars to the Nurburgring to try and beat the Porsche Taycan’s lap record. Then, following a controversial video that showed a Tesla Cybertruck towing a Ford F-150 up hill, a loudmouthed Ford employee issued a challenge to Musk, which Ford communications quickly passed off as a “tongue-in-cheek response.”
I understand the desire to prove you’re better than your rivals. I really do. But there’s nothing to gain with these stunts.
In the first case, it’s been clear since the Porsche Taycan debuted that it had advantages and disadvantages over the Tesla Model S. This was not a hard thing to figure out. But instead of continuing to emphasize his car’s huge advantages in range, price, and charging network, Tesla founder Elon Musk insisted on taking a fleet of gutted, aerodynamically enhanced, prototype vehicles on super-sticky rubber to the Nurburgring, all so it could beat the time of a pre-production Taycan Turbo.
What’s the upside here? Opinions on Tesla are already hilariously polarized, so Elon was never going to gain new fans with this stunt. At the same time, had this modified Model S failed to beat a stock Taycan... well, it wouldn’t have mattered. The Porsche fan will always buy the Porsche, the Tesla fan will always buy the Tesla, and those that are undecided have nothing more than a useless comparison, instead of new reminders about what the Model S does better than the Taycan.
The Ford/Cybertruck debacle was even worse, largely because it wasn’t Ford’s decision to get involved. While it’s arguable that there was an upside in the Porsche/Tesla stunt, Ford was facing a no-win scenario. First, there was no way an F-150 would win in this contest, because physics are constant. The heavier, higher-torque vehicle will always win in a tow-off, and the Cybertruck is always going to be both of those things (because as we now know, it’s not a half-ton truck like the F-150). Second, challenging Tesla shows Ford takes the company’s farcical video seriously when there’s ample evidence it shouldn’t.
All of this is a long way of saying that both Tesla and Ford fumbled their handling of these situations. They played their competitor’s game, and increased the credibility in two metrics that simply don’t matter to consumers (EV owners are hardly track rats, and unless you live in Alabama, you’ll never find yourself in a tow-off), instead of focusing on what their respective vehicles do better. Keep your head down, play to your advantages and stop fanning the fires for the competition.
No, Ford. This four-door crossover is not a Mustang.
You can probably guess which Motor1.com staffer aired this specific grievance. Yes, I own a Mustang and yes, I’m a fan of the moniker. Ford’s decision to brand this four-door crossover a Mustang goes beyond mere personal conviction, however. For 55 years, the Mustang’s basic formula has always been that of a two-door, 2+2 pony car driving the rear wheels. By simple definition, then, this four-door, five-passenger crossover with available all-wheel drive is not a Mustang.
Ford says this vehicle goes like a Mustang, so the moniker fits. Really? Does that mean the Focus RS should’ve been called the Mustang RS hatchback, because it's fast? Ford also says it feels like a Mustang when you drive it. I’ll have to wait on that until I drive it, but having owned three Mustangs and driven every single generation, call me skeptical that a high-riding, four-door crossover will feel anything like the steeds I’ve experienced personally.
And spare me the whole argument about Ford evolving the Mustang brand to include new vehicles. Humans evolved from primordial gobs of goo, but call your neighbor a gob of goo and you might end up with a black eye. Evolution means change, and when something evolves enough, the name changes too.
This vehicle is the first step for Ford in a new genre, and honestly, I’m a fan thus far. Let me say that again: I like the Mach-E. It looks good, promises an impressive range with exciting power, and it's got legit practicality. Ford obviously wants to tap the Mustang's significant brand equity to help promote the Mach-E, but that decision exudes a perceived lack of vision and confidence in this new vehicle.
By calling it a Mustang, I get the impression Blue Oval executives aren’t entirely sure this machine will win the hearts and hard-earned cash of buyers on its own merits. That creates doubt that maybe, just maybe, the Mach-E isn't as compelling as Ford would have us believe. As such, it gets wrapped up in a Mustang blanket in hopes that people will overlook the flaws. I legitimately hope I'm wrong, but alas, there's still a year of downtime before we can even put the Mach-E to the test.
Lastly, this decision tells me Ford is shallow enough to toss over a half-century of its history and pedigree under the bus in hopes of selling a car based on something it isn’t. I see that not as a bold, evolutionary move for Mustang, but an act of desperation from an automaker trying to correct years of stagnation in research and development. It's most decidedly not the best way to take a fresh step into a new automotive genre.
When did original thinking leave the room?
Here's the deal. The big grille trend looks good on some vehicles, but not all. Still, that's not stopping every freaking automaker in the universe from jumping on the bandwagon. Okay, not every company is big-grille crazy (thank you, Honda). But it sure feels like most automotive designers have abandoned all semblance of originality to play follow-the-leader to Lexus, which arguably started this trend years ago.
You really want to stand out these days? Give us something that doesn’t have a face resembling a walrus, or a beaver, or a massive broiler pan used to cook 20 steaks at a time. Be original, because at this point, there's nothing original about designing a grille that looks like it should be eating plankton in the middle of the ocean.
15 / 15