Bellwether Events

The year 1973 was tumultuous for the world, and calamitous for the United States.

In October 1973, Richard Nixon, the beleaguered President of the United States, ordered his Attorney General, Elliot Richardson, to fire Archibald Cox, who was investigating the Watergate affair.  Richardson refused and resigned his post rather than fire Cox. Cox was ultimately fired for wanting to subpoena the Watergate Tapes. Eventually the tapes were made public, and Nixon resigned rather than face impeachment for lying to the American public. Continue reading

With apologies to Jim Kenzie…

The column by Jim Kenzie published on Saturday October 1st, 2016, needs a little editing. Jim’s words, my words.


Is the time finally right for electrically fuelled cars?

It’s long past time.

There is little doubt that electric motors are a pretty good way to power a vehicle. Maximum torque at zero r.p.m., so excellent launch characteristics and strong acceleration. Low to no noise, compared to ‘infernal’ combustion. And zero emissions from the vehicle itself.

None of this is news. It was all true of the Baker electric, which went out of production in 1916.

The problem with the Baker Electric remains the problem with all modern battery-powered cars.

It’s called “energy density”, which is a measure of how much power you can get per kilogram of weight.

And, frankly, we are a heck of a lot farther advanced now than we were a century ago. Continue reading

No allergy to duck fat: 2016 Honda HR-V vs 2016 Mazda CX-3

On a recent trip to New York, we found ourselves in a great French restaurant on Park Avenue.  While ordering, I asked if their ‘frites’ were cooked in oil that was shared by breaded items.  The owner happened to be sitting nearby at the bar, and he assured me that there was nothing to fear in the fryer, unless I was allergic to duck fat.  He said he’d give up wine before giving up duck fat.

North Americans are having their wine/duck fat moment.  Large SUVs are giving way to small CUVs.  People are downsizing their vehicles, and not a moment too soon. Continue reading

2014 Ford Fiesta ST versus 2013 Honda Civic Si

When Ford recruited Alan Mulally from the Boeing Company to be its CEO in 2006, the Blue Oval was in trouble.  Costs were high, the ‘English Patients’, Jaguar and Land Rover, were hemorrhaging money, and investment in new product and platforms was desperately needed. Continue reading

2014 Kia Forte versus 2013 Honda Civic

Kia has had an unremarkable history in Canada.  For a while, it was looked upon as the poorer sister to big brother Hyundai. In the last few years, however, all has changed.  Kia’s styling has matured, its sales have increased in multiples of thousands and it is now a brand with which to be reckoned.

Although there is a great deal of platform and technology sharing between Kia and Hyundai, each is carving out their own niche in the marketplace.  Kia has a sportier intention, while Hyundai, even with its sports models like the Veloster and Genesis coupe, is more mainstream.  Kia’s philosophy is rooted in “The Power To Surprise”.  Let’s see how the new-for-2014 Kia Forte surprises the recently refreshed Honda Civic. Continue reading

2013 Toyota RAV4 vs 2013 Honda CR-V

When Toyota first ventured into the ‘cute-ute’ market, the RAV4 was small, agile, maneuverable, and cute.  It had a sassy style about it that appealed to many who didn’t need a vehicle with authentic off-road credentials. It was classed as a truck, and those early models didn’t even have a proper rear bumper.

Fast forward to today, and RAV4 is a key vehicle in the Toyota line-up.  Built right here in Ontario, Toyota has grown the RAV4 along with its market.  It’s much larger than the original and has a multiplicity of features of which that first model couldn’t even dream.  But it has stayed true to its roots as a smaller sport utility that provides the security of all-wheel drive when the on-road going gets tough. Continue reading

2013 Hyundai Santa Fe vs 2013 Honda CR-V

It’s funny how in places like New York you see nothing but massive sport utilities guzzling fuel at a rapid rate yet hybrid cabs everywhere.  Then again, driving in New York could be viewed as a full contact sport.  But I digress.  Those massive sport utilities are giving way to the rapidly growing compact sport utility segment.  The smaller ‘cute utes’  are growing by leaps and bounds in market share, given the ever higher price of liquid gold that we need to pour down the fuel pipes of our vehicles. Continue reading

A needed refresh: 2012 vs 2013 Civic

In a rare misstep, Honda introduces an all-new Civic to replace one that, while still selling extremely well, was universally criticized for its moribund interior, questionable ergonomics and general malaise.  Success in the subcompact segment is essential to the later sales of Accords, Pilots and Acura MDXs, so Honda needed to make things right.

Continue reading