2012 Nissan Maxima- Maximum Confusion

DSCI0053Parents have a habit of saying that their kids grow up way too fast.  That it’s only a matter of a short time before the little ones blossom from infancy to downright looming over their folks in size and strength.  Not to quote a famous lion, but it’s all part of the circle of life.  And it’s a harsh reality that the Nissan Maxima must face. Originally introduced in 1981, the Maxima has historically been the grand daddy of the Nissan family- being the largest, most well-appointed, and priciest of all the sedans  from the manufacturer.  But times have changed, and the Maxima is now eclipsed by its own children.

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2013 Infiniti G37- Leading The Way To Infiniti And Beyond

DSCI1272Charles Dicken’s “Tale of Two Cities” depicts life in London and Paris during the years leading up to the French Revolution.  Despite the two city’s obvious cultural and social differences,  both had unflattering parallels and similarities during the time period.  It could be likened to the clashes and battles between Lexus and Infiniti.  Although rivals, both have taken similar paths through history that resulted in completely different outcomes for both.  The two brands are divisions of large Japanese parent companies (Toyota and Nissan respectively) and were introduced to the market the same year, in 1990, Both debuted showcasing large, rear-wheel drive sedans to compete head-to-head with the German luxury brand names.  In the years following, compact front-wheel drive spinoffs were added to the lineups, the Camry derived ES250 for Lexus and the Nissan Sunny based G20, to appeal to younger professionals.  Whereas Lexus found success in the 1990’s with most of its models, Infiniti struggled and soon faced extinction.  As a last-ditched effort, Infiniti promised to keep its sights on BMW and released the G35 in 2003- forever changing the brand’s character and propelling it on a different course than archrival Lexus.

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2013 Cadillac ATS- The General Takes On The World

DSCI1229Cadillac’s history is a checkerboard of triumphs, innovative achievements, downfalls, and the occasional identity  crisis.  One of the oldest automakers in the world, founded in 1902, Cadillac embodies American prosperity and has been interwoven in our culture and music; from Bruce Springsteen’s “Pink Cadillac” to  “Cadillac Pimpin'” by Young Bloodz.  The brand has been a trailblazer over the years, introducing the electric starter in 1912, memory seats in the 50’s, and automatic climate control during the Kennedy era.  Probably the most well-known Cadillac feature were the outlandish tailfins that defined post-war America.  But Cadillac lost its way during the second half of the century and in its lowest times was shamelessly selling rebadged Chevy Cavaliers and Opel Omegas, as well as catering to buyers who were in their twilight years with front-wheel drive floaty behemoths.  Meanwhile, pesky competitors from Germany and Japan were eating Cadillac’s lunch.  Something had to change otherwise the brand faced impending doom.

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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.

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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!

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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…..

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