Mon06292015

On The Road

Deciphering the irksome sounds cars often make

Ahh – the troublesome, telltale auto noise. It’s that squeak, screech, squeal, groan, grind, hum, hiss, rattle, knock, clicking or ticking that drives drivers crazy.

Even with all the technology in modern cars, the sounds our cars make tell us more than any computer. When something mechanical starts to break, we usually hear it before we see it on a display.

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Redefining the SUV


Courtesy of Land Rover
The Land Rover Discovery Sports offers true off-road capabilities, at cost ($50,000).

Judging from the automobiles parked along Main Street any given day, it’s clear local families place high value on four characteristics when car shopping: height, space, accessibility and safety.

Three 2015 vehicles we drove last month – the Subaru Forester 2.5i Premium, the Nissan Rogue SL AWD and the Land Rover Discovery Sport HSE LUX 4x4 – fit the bill. All of them fit the class we call “compact crossover SUVs,” desirable because they’re so practical.

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Satisfying sedans


courtesy of Toyota
The Toyota Camry features comfortable seats and plenty of legroom.

Although recalls seem to dominate the headlines, we never cease to be amazed at the quality, safety and practicality that manufacturers are building into reasonably priced family-sized sedans.

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Best of the breed: Volkswagen 2015 e-Golf is electrifying


courtesy of Volkswagen
The 2015 Volkswagen e-Golf hatchback has a range of 80 miles and can fully recharge overnight.

The choices for consumers seeking battery-electric cars keep increasing, simply because manufacturers have to meet quotas for sales of zero-pollution cars in California and other states with similar environmental regulations.

Of the electric vehicles recently introduced, it’s hard to beat the 2015 Volkswagen e-Golf. In our view, it may be the best all-around choice in the compact EV category.

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General Motors roars back


Gary Anderson/Special to the Town Crier
Chevrolet’s 2015 Corvette Stingray Coupe can go from 0 to 60 mph in under 4 seconds.

Fifty members of the Western Automotive Journalists gathered a few weeks ago at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca near Monterey to drive several dozen brand-new, high-performance cars on the track.

Some might wonder whether journalists and auto manufacturers worry about the track performances of new cars when so few owners will ever drive them on tracks and at such high speeds. The answer can be wrapped up in our experience with three 2015 Chevrolets: the Camaro 1SS Coupe, the SS Sedan and the Corvette Stingray Coupe W/Z51.

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Taking on a mounting problem

Last week I had a customer complain about a vibration at idle in her 2002 Honda Odyssey.

She told me that as much as she enjoys the back massage while waiting at the stoplight, she felt it was important to get it checked out.

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Cars that are right on track


Courtesy of BMW
The BMW M4 is packed with power, featuring 425 horsepower and 406 pound-feet of torque.

There’s nothing more fun than driving a responsive automobile that feels alive in the curves and eager to go when given more than a touch of throttle.

Last month we drove two new coupes that felt exactly this way – the Subaru BRZ and the BMW M4. They made us smile every time we had the opportunity to drive anywhere other than on El Camino Real. However, beyond both being ready for the racetrack, they couldn’t have been more opposite – starting with price.

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