2012 Hyundai Santa Fe- To The Moon And Back

DSCI1209In the Summer of 2000, my parents and I were  actively looking for a cheap set of reliable (used) wheels for my upcoming college years.  Like many in that same situation over the years,our quest sent us on a pilgrimage  to the local Hyundai dealer.  While checking out an Elantra, my mother’s attention was diverted by a shiny vehicle across the showroom floor and she exclaimed “what’s that!?”  “That” was the all-new for 2001 Santa Fe, Hyundai’s first attempt at an SUV.  Previously known for selling cheap, cheery economy cars, the Santa Fe represented a new chapter for the manufacturer.  The automaker wanted to be taken seriously and couldn’t do so without a truck in its stable.  But Hyundai isn’t one to shy away from risks, and looked to outer space for inspiration for the first Santa Fe.  Instead of the traditional outdoorsy look, that Santa Fe had love-it–or hate-it bulging fenders, a gaping grill, and a spaceship like interior. It begged for attention and the gamble paid off.  My mother eagerly bought one, which she still owns to this day.  And she wasn’t alone, Hyundai couldn’t keep up with demand and it quickly became their best-selling vehicle in the early 2000’s.  The stage was set for Hyundai in the 21st Century.

Continue reading

Advertisements

2011 Mazda2- Where’s The Beef?

DSCI1182Until recent years, the economy car segment in the United States had been nothing more than teases and disappointments.  We could only watch from afar as Europe, Asia, and the rest of the world would attain interesting and intriguing small city cars that were enjoyable to drive and fuel-efficient.  While everyone else was having fun, we had to make do with bland, boring cheap-and-nasty subcompacts that were intended to be throwaway cars for college students.  Sudden spikes in fuel prices changed perceptions on small cars and suddenly they became en vogue.  One such tease from years ago was the Mazda2.  Sold overseas since 1998, the first two generations were decent little boxy cars that boasted lots of room but were a tad humdrum.  But the 2’s redesign for 2007 changed the car’s personality.  That version became lighter and more emotional than its predecessors and was recognized as “International Car of the Year 2007” by a jury of 22 auto journalists from 11 countries.  Yet the 2 still wasn’t  sold in the U.S.  That was until 2010, when Mazda made the sudden announcement it will sell the 2 in North America.  Woo-hoo, let the party begin!

Continue reading

2013 Buick LaCrosse- Not Your Grandfather’s Buick

DSCI1133In the movie “Pleasantville”, two modern day teenagers are sent back in time to the perfect 1950’s middle-America community .  There were no pregnancies, no divorce, no plastics and no fab diets.  The milkman made his delivery every morning, and the most unthinkable saga was a cat stuck in a tree.  And everyone had an American made car in the driveway, including the Buick Roadmaster that belonged to the primary household.  Those were Buick’s brightest days- the age of  bench seats and floaty suspensions.  Fast forward to more recent times and in the late 90’s and early 2000’s Buick was nothing more than an afterthought.  A rebadged Chevy with added chrome and large, easy to read radio buttons that you’d only find in the senior center parking lot.  Buick’s sales numbers spiralled downhill as its targeted clientele aged.  Things looked bleak, but then a funny thing happened…..

Continue reading

2013 Ford Mustang- Faster Than You Can Say “Heilige Scheiße!”

DSCI1102It’s Saturday evening and just like clock work, the Santa Monica Freeway is to its usual crawl. My fiance and soon-to-be mother-in-law are navigating through the maze of LA traffic and we’re anxious to have a ramen dinner in Little Tokyo. We’re hungry and exasperated from seeing endless brake lights, but fortunately tonight we’re in the 2013 Ford Mustang. Suddenly, we stumble across an opening to the near-empty carpool lane and I punch the accelerator. Faster than my mother-in-law can exclaim “Holy s**t!”, we’re well over the speed limit and those brake lights are a distant memory in the rear view mirror. Not only has the Mustang put a smile on my face and gotten us to our long-awaited dinner. but it also scared the scheisse out of my in-laws. Suddenly, the Ford Mustang has become my new best friend.

Continue reading