#VOTY18 – Here Are Your Finalists!

2018 Kia Stinger GT2 AWD
All photos by Randy Stern

The scores have been tabulated. The Panel has convened and given their input on the Long List of Nominees. Therefore there is only one last step to take: Your vote!

It is now time to #VOTE4VOTY!

What are you voting for? The five finalists for #VOTY18.

They came from a field of 41 nominees. Each one scrutinized by various attributes to finally compile a score good enough for your consideration. These five survived the test of objective and subjective input. A panel of 23 journalists and influencers weighed in to provide their feedback on the Long List of Nominees. Not to mention your social media engagement was measured towards deciding these five finalists.

And, now, you get to vote for one of the following Finalists for #VOTY18… Continue reading

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Commentary: The Day The Guns Fell Silent

Victory Memorial on Veterans Day
,i>Photo by Randy Stern

One hundred years ago today, the guns fell silent on what could have been the war to end all wars.

The significance of this day yielded a day of Remembrance. Americans call this Veteran’s Day. Either title is appropriate, as we focus on those who served their nation with dignity and pride.

We have been through many conflicts since the end of hostilities on November 11, 1918. We have seen the bravery of our veterans in conflict repeatedly. We mourn the losses, we honor those who have served, and we promise ourselves to be a better nation because of their efforts in service to their flag.

Many of those who returned from conflict have settled back into the world. Continue reading

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A New Edge On The Market

2019 Ford Edge Titaniun Elite
2019 Ford Edge Titanium Elite – All Photos by Randy Stern

A Victory & Reseda review of the 2019 Ford Edge

For years, I have been trying to figure out where the Ford Edge sat within the segments of the SUV market.

It is not a compact SUV since it is too large for the segment. Besides, the Ford Escape resides there. It appears to be a bit small for the mid-sized segment, as the Ford Explorer exemplifies that segment perfectly. It was such an outlier among SUVs that, eventually, other vehicles were designed to compete directly against it.

Being unique helped the Edge’s cause since its introduction in 2006. It has always been a two-row SUV that has been right for small families, businesspeople, and folks with active lifestyles. Today, it serves a different function for Ford – a “larger” SUV for the European market. It may have found its niche In Europe. There, the gasoline engines have been swapped out for diesels and there is a manual available, along with a luxury Vignale model. You would also find the Canadian-built Edge in Australia and New Zealand under the Endura name.

For 2019, the second generation Edge receives a mid-cycle refresh. Continue reading

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#VOTY18 – Some Facts About The Nominees

2018 Toyota Camry Hybrid XLE
All Photos by Randy Stern

As the process towards crowning #VOTY18 steams ahead, let’s look at these 41 nominees, shall we?

The steps taken to get to the awarding of it can be a mix of emotion. It’s energetic, because of the chase of information needed to score the evaluation part of the process, along with capturing each social media engagement and impression. It’s frustrating, because of the task of waiting for the panel to deliver their votes to determine the finalists. It’s satisfying because the end product is an accomplishment.

It is simply all about selecting the best of the best. Just like every year, we do this.

Continue reading

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#VOTY18 – The Long List!

Untitled
The process is in there, somewhere… – Photo by Randy Stern

This is it! The #VOTY18 Long List of nominees!

This year’s Long List continues to be representative of the work V&R is doing to bridge its own flavor of reviewing vehicles to you. That are superb vehicles amongst this list – some were new for 2018.

Just like every #VOTY before it, the idea of “vehicle” is never separated. In our automotive world, we continue to recognize the realities of the marketplace – car buyers are buying more SUVs than sedans and truck buyers are still ruling the roost in terms of sales volume. This is why the Long List reflects more of the industry and the marketplace than of specific cubbyhole distinctions.

Yet, you will find some vehicles that represent the enthusiast. If you are one of those people, take solace that you have not been ignored through this work.

To review the #VOTY18 process so far, please read our introductory post.

Without further ado, here is the Long List of nominees for Victory & Reseda’s #VOTY18: Continue reading

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The Turbocharged Move Upmarket of An Old Favorite

2018 Mazda6 Signature
2018 Mazda6 Signature – All Photos by Randy Stern

A Victory & Reseda review of the 2018 Mazda6

Since the day it returned to its “Zoom-Zoom” roots, I loved the Mazda6.

Three generations of this car showed me the kind of gumption Mazda had – and, sometimes, with the help of Ford – to demonstrate that a mid-sized sedan can be sporty and exciting while providing the right amount of space, content, and performance an enthusiast-driven family wanted.

There were some highlights along the way. The Mazdaspeed6 was iconic in the way it delivered big turbo power with an all-wheel-drive system. The third generation 6 brought a new combination of Skyactiv and KODO towards delivering a touring sedan within its class. Through every generation, I looked forward to taking my turn in one to regain that feeling I had when I took over my brother’s 1979 626 coupe back in my collegiate days.

Yet, we wanted more from Mazda’s premier product. Continue reading

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Quickies: The Mercedes-Benz of Compact SUVs

2019 Mercedes-Benz GLC 300 4MATIC
2019 Mercedes-Benz GLC 300 4MATIC – All Photos by Randy Stern

Just like the rest of the industry, Mercedes-Benz has committed themselves to selling SUVs and crossovers alongside their famous sedans, coupes, and cabriolets.

It took them a while to bring their vaunted G-Wagen to our shores – 2002, to be exact. Before that, Mercedes-Benz developed a softroader that was amenable for our tastes – the M-Class. This one was built in Alabama for global consumption. Let’s be honest, it was made for American consumers than anyone else.

Two decades later, the question of whether Mercedes-Benz has the products to compete in the premium SUV/crossover marketplace. With Lexus and BMW dominating their respective segments, one would hope that a long-standing purveyor of luxury utilities has a lineup that would sway customers to the brand.

Case in point, Continue reading

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A Sharper Tack On An Original

2019 Lexus ES 350 Ultra Luxury
2019 Lexus ES 350 Ultra Luxury – All Photos by Randy Stern

A Victory & Reseda review of the 2019 Lexus ES

Back when the first Lexus dealerships opened up in 1989, all eyes were on the big flagship – the LS 400.

It was a game changer. A Japanese flagship luxury sedan that matched up with the best from Germany, Britain, and the USA. The LS was priced below the European flagships, which gave it an advantage when it came to delivering more value at the upper end of the market.

However, Lexus did offer a second model alongside the big LS. The ES was a hardtop four-door sedan based on the popular Toyota Camry. Its 2.5-liter V6 help it stands out in the luxury car field, while the interior seemed like a scaled-down version of the bigger LS.

While the LS grabbed all of the headlines and the spotlight, the ES quietly began growing on potential customers. Every subsequent generation of the ES became an entry point to the kind of luxury Lexus was offering.

Yet, the ES had an image problem. Continue reading

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Commentary: Preserving The Retail Business

The old Broadway store at Topanga Plaza
The department store that once was – All Photos by Randy Stern

If it weren’t for the popularity of the automobile, the department store would have not seen its greatest growth in the last century.

Think about it for a moment: the department store was supposed to be a destination. That is why you found them in the heart of downtown – in any city, you can name. You came by streetcar, bus, train, and car. You found what you wanted – not just needed but wanted – and proudly took it home.

After World War II, our idea of a place to call home changed. We wanted land around our detached homes, distance away from a changing city environment. Our suburbs became our solace. Places, where you can shop by catalog soon, became potential locales in bringing the downtown shopping institution closer to home.

Shopping malls sprung up. The department store would anchor these malls as destinations onto themselves. Continue reading

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Historiography: The Personification of Genuine Mopar

P4271069
All Photos by Randy Stern

Well before the late Sergio Marchionne arrived at Auburn Hills, there was a brand that competed in the budget car field under the Mopar banner. It was once the match for Chevrolets and Ford, while putting out some of the most compelling models of the Muscle Car Era.

Maybe you have forgotten about Plymouth. You might have, until that moment when someone points out a 1970 Barracuda.

By the way, that was a Plymouth.

Consider the history of the Mopar side of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles for a moment. Continue reading

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