Three Month Absence

 In case anyone was wondering why this blog was silent for three months, we've produced a short video offering an explanation...

 Late To The Party

 Ford's done a restyle on the 2008 Escape, and it's less than impressive.

 I guess this would be enough if your competition was standing still, since it looks an awful lot like the 2006 Honda CR-V.

 But, the competition has not been idle, and this mild refresh of the Escape does not arm it well enough to fend off the new CR-V...

 or juggernaut Toyota's new RAV4.

 Once again we find Ford at the rear of the class when it comes to cutting-edge design, something that used to be Ford's turf back in the 80's when Honda and Toyota were making little boxy sedans.


 I'm in an Isuzu mood today, so here's some links about one of my favorite (ex)car companies...

 Wikipedia article on Asuna, a short-lived GM brand that sold a rebadged Isuzu Impulse as the Sunfire., a forum for owners of Isuzu Piazzas (the Impulse in the USA)., another forum for Isuzu Impulse/Geo Storm owners.

 A Trip To The Cafe

"We were in love with speed,"

 There's sportbikes, standards, and streetfighters, but my fave style of bike has got to be the cafe racer. Wonderfully minimalist, they sum up the essence of speed in a way few machines achieve. Check out this article for a short history of cafe racers from Cycle World, and then visit Steve "Carpy" Carpenter's site, to see more of these beautiful machines.

Happy Thanksgiving!

 If At First You Don't Succeed...

 Give up! Apparently, so sayeth GM about it's line of minivans. The Detroit News is reporting that GM is probably going to drop out of the segment, instead focusing on crossovers. Umm, yeah.

 "We do believe it is a declining segment," GM Vice Chairman Bob Lutz told The News on Tuesday. "Our new crossovers, Acadia, Outlook and Enclave with their three rows of seats and economical V-6 engines, can meet the same customer needs, minus the 'Soccer Mom' stigma.."

 Yeah, it was worth it to spend all that money to redesign GM's full-size SUV's that aren't selling. Of course, having a coherent naming strategy would have helped too. Astro, Lumina APV, Venture, and now Uplander. Hard to make a name for yourself if you keep changing your damn name. Abandoning market segments is not a way forward, but I guess in GM's case there is no way forward. It's all downhill from here on out.

 The Master Of Ergonomics?

 Having worked as a technician for a Honda dealer for the last four months has exposed me to many of Honda's models from the past two decades. While it is true that they are very reliable machines overall, the reputation Honda has as a master of ergonomics perplexes me. I see little evidence of it, finding that usually it's done well, but not any better than other manufacturers out there. And sometimes Honda makes some monumental mistakes.

 The Element has the shifter mounted on the dash, slightly awkward if the transmission is an automatic, absolutely infuriating if it's a manual. Why? There's nothing to support your arm while shifting, maximizing your fatigue while caught in rush hour traffic or enjoying a twisting road. While some may consider taking an Element down a tight, curvy road a recipe for disaster, taking the last gen Civic Si should be a joy, except for the same shifter-on-the-dash design. Different is not automatically better.

 Talking about the Civic, the current design features an unusual split-level instrument cluster. The tach is on the bottom, while the digital speedometer is on the top tier. It's disconcerting at first, and serves no purpose other than to make the tach basically useless. All the magazines say they grew accustomed to it. I say The Master of Ergonomics shouldn't design something you have to grow accustomed to.

 Then there's the CR-V with the not quite column mounted, not quite dash mounted shifting column. Or the Prelude with the neo-Buick dash, placing some of the gauges in the middle of the car to "include the passenger" in the driving experience. The list goes on, but the point is that the Master of Ergonomics doesn't really deserve the title.

 As a side point, I have yet to see any mention that the current Civic features a radio design that is not removable, being an integral part of the dash. Apparently Honda thinks they know best when it comes to car audio. This goes against the whole "personalize your machine" movement that Scion has latched onto. Good move Honda.
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