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

2014 Mazda 3 GX vs 2014 Toyota Corolla CE

Today is the battle of the light weights (low curb weight, excellent fuel economy, inexpensive to operate), while they’re heavy weights in the automotive world (biggest market segment), especially in Canada.  The compact arena is a smack-down, blow-out, take no prisoners fight, where customers often purchase their first brand new car. A manufacturer like Toyota needs these customers to be happy so they can put them into a Lexus in 30 years.

So let’s take a look at the lower end of the compact scale, which doesn’t mean low-end in terms of amenities and features.  What would a prospective purchaser look at, and likely buy? Continue reading

2013 Toyota Prius Plug-in vs 2013 Ford C-MAX Energi

In the late 19th century, urban areas were facing a crisis. People needed to move from one place to another, quickly and efficiently.  Their primary mode of transportation was the horse.  As the population grew, so did the number of horses.  In his article, “From Horse Power to Horsepower“, Eric Morris sets the scene for us:

“In 1894, the Times of London estimated that by 1950 every street in the city would be buried nine feet deep in horse manure. One New York prognosticator of the 1890s concluded that by 1930 the horse droppings would rise to Manhattan’s third-story windows. A public health and sanitation crisis of almost unimaginable dimensions loomed.”

Something had to change to ward off the effects of the horse on the urban landscape.  That change, of course, was the invention of the car, and along with it, the rise of the internal combustion engine to power it. Continue reading

2014 Subaru Forester vs 2013 Toyota RAV4

I recently surveyed the latest of the Japanese Big Three contenders in the compact sport utility market: Honda CR-V vs Toyota RAV4, with the RAV4 a clear winner on value.  Now let’s take a look at the Japanese manufacturer I liken to Audi against BMW and Mercedes-Benz: Subaru. 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

Having been a part of it…

The Big Apple is in full spring mode.  Construction crews abound, traffic is a mess, road crews are fixing pot holes, the Yankees will win the World Series (just ask, go ahead and ask anyone) and the tulips and daffodils are in imminent bloom.

As a matter of fact, there has been much consternation about the Yankees’ chances this year. With the Blue Jays so active in the off season, Alex Rodriguez injured and this season being the swan song of Mariano Rivera, the Yankees are by no means the favourite to win the American League East.  That’d be the Blue Jays.

The New York Auto Show opened to a phalanx of tire kickers and enthusiasts on March 29; by 11am it was difficult to get near the vehicles.  The frenzy of activity so early in the show must give manufacturers, their suppliers and employees some confidence, given the turmoil in the industry resulting from the recession. Continue reading

Are Manufacturers Exhausted?

Most manufacturers would agree that an essential performance feature of any car is a dual exhaust.  Twin pipes, quad pipes, chromed tipped and other variations on this theme have been a hallmark since the 1950’s.

These visual reminders of a time when chromed exhaust headers, Edelbrock four barrel carburetors and glasspack mufflers ruled the roads, seem to be going the  same way as these icons of speed.

The latest Mercedes-Benz M Class SUV’s have lost their dual exhaust tips. Acura’s upcoming MDX , the 2014 Ford Fiesta, and 2013 Toyota RAV4 seem to be following this trend.  The pure electric vehicles have no tail pipe at all, and hybrids like Toyota’s Prius line don’t accent the exhaust outlet.

Wanting to minimize the impact of each vehicle on the road seems to be the goal. Greenhouse gasses are warming the Earth’s atmosphere, and the symbol of this warming has become the tailpipe.

Then again, the new Corvette Stingray has four exhaust tips, the new Kia Cadenza, the Hyundai Santa Fe XL, and Volkswagen SUV concept show two chrome exhaust ports and there are very few concept models without these rear end accents.

Perhaps I’m off base, or, in this case, just blowing smoke.