Mercedes wagon outdoes the sedan
Someday, psychologists will plumb the dented brainpans of auto journalists to figure out why so many are so in love with the humble station wagon. But maybe I’ve got it figured out: for all our unhealthy obsessions with racy-yet-unattainable beauties, we’re mostly dorks who secretly want to settle down with a nice, smart, practical girl (or guy).
And there’s nothing smarter and more practical -- yet still reasonably fun and handsome -- than a wagon. SUVs generally don’t handle as well, or get as good fuel economy. Minivans? Even auto writers have standards.
Cutting back on your car insurance bill
First, make sure you're not spending too much money insuring a pile of junk. Of course you have to keep some insurance, but going keeping full coverage on a clunker means you may be insuring it for more than it's worth -- and in case the car is totaled, you'll be paid out based on the car's actual value rather than the value at which you insured it. (Check Kelley Blue Book for your car's current value.)
By Izzi Bendall
Custom-body designer Lumma Design worked over the fire-breathing BMW X6 to create an even more powerful version bolstered with carbon and aerodynamic enhancements.
It's called the Lumma CLR X 650 M, and as always, speed is paramount. It pumps out 670 hp and has a top speed of 193 mph.
California looks into transforming license plates into ad-carriers
That's right: California is looking into way to turn drivers' license plates into an advertising platform.
According to bill SB 1453, which passed without a dissenting vote on May 28, the DMV is authorized to partner with companies for R&D purposes aimed towards (and here I quote Gizmag): "the utilization of digital electronic license plates with specified areas of discussion and to conduct “real world” trials to gather data on the ability for DELP technology to deliver cost savings, workflow efficiencies and revenue generation."
By Izzi Bendall
The Crackdown 2 video game doesn't go on sale until July 6, but the sweepstakes to win the “Crackdown Cruiser” has already begun.
Based on the 2011 Dub Edition Ford Mustang V6, the customized car features Crackdown 2 graphics and 20-inch wheels fitted with Pirelli Zero Nero tires.
Paying homage to gaming, the cruiser also includes two Xbox 360s and an LCD screen in its trunk. Performance fans can also opt for a Roush fascia, splitter, lowering springs or window louvers.
Porsche beats MINI at Road Atlanta
MINI challenged; Porsche demurred. MINI went on the offensive; Porsche went silent.
In the end, the most shocking thing about Porsche's two-second victory at Road Atlanta is that the automotive giant partook at all. As I predicted, even in defeat the race was a victory for MINI, who now has a cute marketing gimmick: that two-second victory amounts to $38,000 per second when comparing the price of the two vehicles. Still, head of MINI North America Jim McDowell still has to wear a t-shirt that reads "We did not beat Porsche" at his next public appearance.
Notice how the BMW-run MINI failed to mention that the race wasn't even held on a real track, but rather a "handling track" at Road Atlanta's inner paddock. (Their explanation is that the twisting, turning course, almost completely devoid of significant straightaways -- thus hampering Porsche's most obvious asset, horsepower -- is more indicative of "real world" driving.)
A video of the race, after the jump. For some reason, stand-up comedian, Ultimate Fighting Championship color commentator, and former Fear Factor host Joe Rogan is presiding. Also, for some reason, the race simply repeats itself around the 2:08 mark -- no real need to watch past that point.
The Lincoln MKZ hybrid goes from back of the pack to center stage
Inside the GM-SAIC pavilion
I was met at the Expo by GM specialist Tina Qiu, who was kind enough to pull me from the incessant drizzle and give me a thorough rundown on what the GM-SAIC pavilion is all about. The concept of the pavilion is the "drive to 2030," a look at the possibilities of urban transport 20 years into the future. Given that some reports put the number of daily visitors at the several hundred thousand mark, long lines are the norm, and GM-SAIC pavilion guests who make it inside are treated to a pre-show video projected onto the walls of the waiting room. The pre-show was of course in Chinese, though it included English subtitles -- which, given the fact that the actual show was also in Chinese but without subtitles, meant it was the last bit of specific information I understood. (They do also run some shows in English, but I missed the boat on that one.) The pre-show was simple, tracing the life cycle of a man and woman's relationship over the years -- meeting, courtship, marriage, etc. -- as the narrative that also allowed viewers to see the progress of automotive design and technology over the same time frame.
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Clifford Atiyeh has spent his entire life driving cars he doesn't own. Raised in Volvos, he has grown to love fast, irresponsible vehicles of all kinds. He is the senior news editor at MSN Autos and also reports for Car and Driver, Road & Track, The Boston Globe and other publications.
In the garage: 21-speed Iron Horse, 2002 Jeep Wrangler X (not his)
Doug Newcomb has covered car technology for over 20 years for outlets ranging from Rolling Stone to Edmunds.com. In 2008, he published his first book, "Car Audio for Dummies" (Wiley). He lives and drives in Hood River, Ore., with his wife and two kids, who share his passion for cars and technology.
In the garage: 1996 Chevrolet Impala SS, two 1984 Chevrolet Blazers, 2008 Honda CR-V
James Tate learned to drive stick at age 13 in a 1988 Land Cruiser - in La Paz, Bolivia. He's since been a mechanic, on a pit crew and has wrenched on every car he's owned since his first 1989 Honda CRX Si (and won't stop until the car is a 1973 Porsche 911 RS). His work has appeared in Car and Driver, Popular Mechanics, Automobile and others.
In the garage: 1995 Porsche 911 Carrera, 1988 BMW M5