Throwback Review: The “Sobb Story” 2011 Remix

2011 Nissan Pathfinder 1
2011 Nissan Pathfinder SV 4×4. All Photos by Randy Stern

A Victory & Reseda Throwback review of the 2011 Nissan Pathfinder

Remember when Busta Rhymes was in Leaders of the New School?

I know – a completely random thought (and, perhaps, showing my age and taste in music at the time). But, let me talk you through this. One of the craziest lyricists of New York area Hip-Hop was part of a trio that was tied to A Tribe Called Quest, The Jungle Brothers, De La Soul, FU-Schnickens, etc.

There is a song I liked of LONS called “Sobb Story” about a young man’s want of wheels instead of riding bikes, buses or walking all over the place in suburban Nassau County. Busta began the song talking about how he was tired of walking all over the place. After he got paid from some sort of “scheme,” Busta cashed in on a Nissan Pathfinder – the original two-door model.

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#VOTY09: …And The Winner Is…

2010 Buick LaCrosse 8
Photo by Randy Stern

When #VOTY09 was awarded, it went through the ringer with another close victory.

For the third straight year, it just seems that the #VOTY process got more interesting with winners decided on a mere fraction of a score. #VOTY07 was won by the Hyundai Sonata, as it squeaked out its award over the Toyota Prius and the Toyota Yaris. Then, the surprise #VOTY08 win by the Nissan Altima was achieved on the backs of the Hyundai Genesis sedan and the Mazda6.

#VOTY09 was no different. It actually came down to two candidates scoring within two points of each other. One was a car I thoroughly enjoyed my first drive in one; the other yielded a few complaints about it. Yet, I found it worthy of its position within the brand and company it represented. I knew this one was going to be another loopy session of justifications and whatnot, but I would say that the award is well deserved considering everything it represents.

In the end, #VOTY09 went to the then-new 2010 Buick LaCrosse.

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Just Add “Sport”

2017 Nissan Rogue Sport SL AWD
2017 Nissan Rogue Sport SL AWD – All Photos by Randy Stern

A Victory & Reseda review of the 2017 Nissan Rogue Sport

Over a year ago, Nissan pronounced the 2017 model year as the “year of the truck.” It has been quite a good year for Nissan with SUVs and trucks up 14.9 percent for the first nine months of the calendar year. It helps to present marked improvements across the line, with the addition of the Armada and the Titan half-ton pickup to the lineup.

There was one more product Nissan wanted to introduce during this model year. It could possibly be the most important piece to the lineup – not that every model is equally important.

What Nissan needed was a proper small SUV to slot underneath the popular Rogue. They did not have to look far since it was already one of the most popular models in their global portfolio.

In those markets where it is hugely popular, the small SUV is called Qashqai. It is a Farsi name of the people who live in the mountains of Southwestern Iran. Given the nature of the name, and the fact that average American may butcher said nomenclature (repeat after me: cash-kai – see, it’s easy to pronounce!) or call for a political action on Nissan’s Franklin, Tennessee headquarters campus – it is called Rogue Sport for our consumption.

Before I dive into the vehicle itself, I have a kvetch to make. Continue reading

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Commentary: The Last Australian Automobile

Photo courtesy of General Motors/Holden

October 20, 2017, will become a date in Australia’s infamy.

That will be the day when General Motors’ production facility in Elizabeth, South Australia will close for good. It will also mark the end of automobile production in Australia – period.

GM, Ford, Toyota, Leyland, Nissan, Renault, Volkswagen, Mitsubishi, and Chrysler were among the manufacturers that built automobiles from the Lucky Country. The business of automotive production dates back to before the turn of the 20th Century with steam cars being made in Melbourne. GM’s Holden, Ford, Chrysler, and Leyland heralded the country’s manufacturing heyday as they built powerful cars for a growing nation. Chrysler was bought out by Mitsubishi and continued local production and Toyota rose to the top by the end of the 1980s. Ford’s assembly lines closed last year. Toyota shuttered their South Australia line a couple of weeks ago. Mitsubishi has since closed down years ago.

What happened? Why will there be no automotive production in Australia?

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On The Dial: The Game is On The Radio

Monument Park 3
All photos by Randy Stern

Sports on the radio has one of the deepest histories attached to it. Before television, radio and the local newspaper were the only ways to know what was going on with your favorite team and sport. They also help inspire the imagination of generations of sportscasters.

Vin Scully tells the story of how he discovered his passion for sportscasting with a vision of an eight-year-old laying down underneath the big radio set. Through the radio console, all he could hear – and feel – is the “roar of the crowd.”

Scully was a lucky man. Through he would feign the use of the word “lucky” when anyone describes him and his legacy. Still, to have his first professional sportscasting job alongside the great Red Barber in the Brooklyn Dodgers radio booth was indeed something to behold in 1950.

For a full season, the nation’s radio has not heard the golden voice of Scully. Continue reading

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Throwback Review: Another One Bites The Dust

2009 Saturn Outlook 6
2009 Saturn Outlook XE AWD – All photos by Randy Stern

A Victory & Reseda Throwback Review of the 2009 Saturn Outlook

How could I discuss another automotive nameplate being euthanized? How should I honor it? It would depend if there were any of said nameplate’s products around to drive.

Well, I found one. It’s not a Pontiac, but rather a Saturn. You remember Saturn? You remember that General Motors was supposed to sell the brand and its retailers to an independent company and commit to building on contract a run-out of two products through 2011. A buyer was found. However, said buyer couldn’t find a partner to contract build products for Saturn. Therefore, the deal was nixed.

The termination of the deal left GM holding the bag. Instead of finding another buyer, GM decided to throw the bag away – just as did Pontiac – expecting to run out in a year’s time.

It is a shame, really. Since 1990, Saturn created a lot of memories and loyal customers. It was about to embark on some creative ideas to transform the brand into something even more special. Unfortunately, no one was buying. Not even its most loyal customers. These customers still wanted cars with easily replicable plastic body skins, optimal fuel economy, and affordable prices. Instead, it got overpriced rebadged Opels, minivans, roadsters, and crossovers. This product mix became an Achilles heel to GM. At bankruptcy, Saturn became part of the old GM. At a range of time to be determined – Saturn simply became a footnote in history.

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Isn’t It Ioniq, Don’t You Think?

2017 Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid Limited
2017 Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid Limited – All Photos by Randy Stern

A Victory & Reseda review of the 2017 Hyundai Ioniq

Before we talk about the car featured in this review, I must address the proverbial elephant in the room.

As the new Millennium arrived, so did the gas-electric hybrid automobile. It came in the form of a four-door sedan, called the Toyota Prius and a two-seat commuter hatchback called the Honda Insight. From these two similar-but-different automobiles came what could be seen as an automotive revolution. Others have seen it as the antithesis of what we have grown to understand what an automobile really should be.

No matter where you stand on hybrids, this is our reality. They are not going away anytime soon. After all, I review plenty of them year round – the number of them I work with has grown annually.

Not to mention, the number of hybrid automobile offerings have grown annually. This past year is no exception. This also includes vehicles designed from the ground up as hybrids – just like a certain aforementioned Toyota model that was introduced at the beginning of this Millennium.

However, this particular hybrid will spawn more variants on a single body style than that aforementioned Toyota. Continue reading

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#VOTY08: …And The Winner is…

2009 Nissan Altima 3
Photo by Randy Stern

For the past ten years, it always seems that it gets tougher to choose a #VOTY.

That first year, the voting and scoring came down to three vehicles before the Hyundai Sonata squeaked out the win as #VOTY07. Toyota made up the two other finalists, the subcompact Yaris and the Prius hybrid to be exact, made life difficult for me to make that decision between them. The Hyundai won…by a nose.

#VOTY08 yielded the same problem. Three fantastic vehicles were again at the top of the table, with another Hyundai in contention: The rear-drive Genesis flagship sedan. It was joined by two other mid-size sedans in another tight horse race.

After everything was sorted out, we now have a winner. With apologies to the Hyundai Motor Company, this year’s VOTY is the second midsize sedan in a row to grab the title. It is not only the first Japanese brand to get the nod, but also the second USA-built car to win it.

In the end, #VOTY08 went to the Nissan Altima.

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A Different View – 2017 Toyota Prius Prime

All Photos by Kevin Tran/The Nomadic Tire

One thing I love seeing is new energy in this business.

The bonus in this case is the fact that this person is right here in Minnesota.

Meet Kevin Tran – car enthusiast, road rallyer, motorcyclist, photographer, and now blogger. His blog, The Nomadic Tire, tells his story about his exploits on the road with his Mazda3 he called “Blackberry.” He also gets into his ideas on car photography and the people he met along the way throughout his journey.

BTW, did you know that “Blackberry” just turned 200,000 miles? Way to go, Kevin!

Recently he did two photo shoots of the vehicles I have been working with. The first of the two is the 2017 Toyota Prius Prime prior to publication of its review. What he did was to find art in its design and make it shine at a park in the town of Corcoran, Minnesota.

Here is what Kevin came up with on the Prius Prime:

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#MAMA17FR In Pictures

No, we didn’t drive that… – All Photos by Randy Stern

For the fourth time since 2012, I returned to the Midwest Automotive Media Association’s annual Fall Rally. This was my third time attending this event at the Autobahn Country Club in Joliet, Illinois.

It was also the first time that I did not stay overnight at the out-of-towner’s hotel.

I already discussed the journey to this event, but one must understand how much this event compares to others during this timeframe. Rather, let’s not compare other events as I have never been to other such media confabs of this kind other than ones put on by MAMA.

But rather to go into my mindset and so forth, let me just do a photo essay from the events. This will feature photos fo the vehicles I drove and of others of interest. I did not drive a lot of vehicles, as most of them have either been driven for publication or are being scheduled for said purpose.

Without further ado, here are the photos from #MAMA17FR…

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