You Know, He’s Right…

2015 Chrysler 300S AWD - All Photos by Randy Stern

2015 Chrysler 300S AWD – All Photos by Randy Stern

A Victory & Reseda review of the 2015 Chrysler 300

Sixty years ago, one of the greatest cars ever made in America was born. It was as advertised: 300 horsepower from a hemispherical head V8 engine. After years of the Forward Look, the Letter Series and the Fuselage body, the Chrysler 300 was relegated to the shelves of history.

A couple of attempts to revive the nameplate went for naught, even as they were attached to a couple of Cordoba mid-sized coupes. The 1990s opened the door to revive the 300 using a second generation “cab forward” model. It was designed to a “five-meter” car, ripe for European markets under DaimlerChrysler’s “merger of equals.” Though it was on a front-drive platform and offered in a four-door sedan, the spirit of the 300 began to return into the psyche of American car-buying public.

Ten years ago, the next chapter of the famous nameplate arrived. The DaimlerChrysler developed platform took elements from a previous generation of Mercedes-Benz’s E-Class and produced a rear-drive platform that would cement the future of the brand. The Ralph Gilles-penned 300 survived the sale of the Chrysler side of the Daimler house to a private equity firm, bankruptcy, the gradual sale to Fiat, a major update to the model and the arrival of my good friend Al Gardner.

Who is Al Gardner? Continue reading

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Scion’s “Two-Fer”

2016 Scion iM - All Photos by Randy Stern

2016 Scion iM – All Photos by Randy Stern

A Victory & Reseda preview of the 2016 Scion iA and iM

This could be a classic two-fer…

What do I mean by a “two-fer?” Scion came up with an idea to promote their two upcoming products – the 2016 iA sedan and the 2016 iM hatchback – together. There are various reasons why, outside of the single release date to dealerships on September 1.

In essence, they are two different vehicles. Yet, they serve as an important part to bring customers to the Scion side of the showroom. While the tC and FR-S serve as keeping enthusiasts interested, Scion had to do something to replace the three models they no longer sell – the iQ minicar, the xD compact hatch and the xB wagon/crossover. The iA and iM fit to add context and contrast to the lineup attracting urban dwellers and fun seekers, respectively, by bringing cars that are fun to drive and accommodating for everyone.

Though Scion wants us to see the iA and iM as joined at the hip marketing-wise, I must reiterate that they are two different cars with different missions. Their audiences may be the same age groups, but they are looking at these two cars from different lenses.

A consumer must make a choice between one and the other. This was the approach I took with the iA and iM. It is not just which one I would prefer over the other, but which one would satisfy you. Let me guide you through these two cars.

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V&R Goes Video (Again)

2015 Ford Musang EcoBoost Premium convertible - Photo by Randy Stern

2015 Ford Musang EcoBoost Premium convertible – Photo by Randy Stern

It’s been about a couple years since V&R tried to do a video review.

It was a noble first effort. The subject was a solid one: A 2013 Dodge Durango R/T. My colleague and friend Scott shot the video with a point-and-shoot digital camera and was edited to his best ability. Me…I had no script and tried my hand on going “off the cuff.”

I figured I would forget about doing videos. That was when I received a 2015 Ford Mustang EcoBoost Premium convertible…in Triple Yellow.

Prior to the receipt of this vehicle, conversation swirled about doing video reviews. I was on the fence, but wondered how to proceed. When the Mustang showed up, I received a message from a content client of mine asking whether they could shoot the video with the Mustang in exchange for some related written work. There was a catch: They wanted me to star in the video.


Oh, wait, it gets better! They were willing to give V&R our own version of the video.

Well…fine…here it is! A Victory & Reseda video review of the 2015 Ford Mustang

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Label Shopping

2016  Acura ILX Premium A-Spec - All Photos by Randy Stern

2016 Acura ILX Premium A-Spec – All Photos by Randy Stern

A Victory & Reseda review of the 2016 Acura ILX

People love luxury. People love luxury brands. The more premium the label, the better they feel.

It is a common consumer behavior, regardless of income level or shopping habits. Yet, it is not as wide a consumer behavior as we think, yet it is the one we noticed the most from others.

In the automotive business, premium brands have been gaining in sales. They are prevalent in some of the common trends. For example, crossover and SUV sales ae up among premium brands, as they are across the board. These brands are also driving some of the newer segments – namely subcompact crossover/SUVs and smaller cars.

Taking a look at the latter, there are only a few entrants below the popular premium sports sedan segment. One of them happens to be the Acura ILX. Since 2012, Acura re-entered the premium small car segment in the U.S.A., thanks to customer demand. They abandoned the segment in this country with the demise of the RSX sports coupe in 2006, although Canadian customers got their fill with a couple of Honda Civic-based models during this six-year gap.

While I was at the Los Angeles Auto Show last November, Acura unveiled the mid-cycle refresh of the ILX for 2016. Continue reading

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Driving Confidence

2015 Volkswagen Golf R - All Photos by Randy Stern

2015 Volkswagen Golf R – All Photos by Randy Stern

A Victory & Reseda review of the 2015 Volkswagen Golf R

Can a car give a driver confidence and competence behind the wheel?

A lot of cars can. Some are more equal than others towards accomplishing driver competency. Yet, having confidence on the road means you can do so many things behind the wheel. For example, you can do a lap of a great motorsports venue. Or, taking on some of the great roads this country has to offer, hitting the line of every tough curve perfectly.

What kind of car should it be? Would a sports car, such as a Porsche 911, be that car that would make a driver better? How about a luxury flagship, such as a Mercedes-Benz S-Class, with is driver’s assisting technologies and built-in safety? Perhaps a roadster, such as a Mazda MX-5 Miata, where it delivers a driving experience once the measuring stick of fun along with the science of center-of-gravity equaling road holding?

No. In my case, I discovered a new appreciation for driving in a car with a turbocharged four-cylinder engine, a dual-clutch transmission, all-wheel drive and a hatchback. This is the latest edition of a car revered for 40 years to be the measuring stick of another kind – the common person’s car.

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Commentary: The Supreme Court of The United States of America v. This Work

Photo by Randy Stern

Photo by Randy Stern

On Friday, the Supreme Court of the United States of America ruled 5-4 in the Obergefell v. Hodges case that enabled all 50 states to recognize same-gender marriage. This was considered a ruling on par with two of the biggest cases in the last 75 years enabling social and legal change: Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka in 1954 for desegregating public educational institutions and Roe v. Wade in 1973 enabling a woman’s right to an abortion.

In today’s socio-corporate climate, several companies added their names to the Amicus brief on the plaintiff’s side of the case. Some companies were public about their views of this case, including Fiat Chrysler Automobiles. FCA, in conjunction with the LGBT community center in Ferndale, Michigan, Affirmations, invited couples that were married in the brief window of legality in Michigan to join them at Motor City Pride earlier in June.

Upon the announcement of the ruling, FCA released a statement of congratulations. It was joined by other manufacturers. According to, BMW, General Motors, Honda, Infiniti, Nissan and Subaru issued similar statements.

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Ride Along…in an Exotic

All Photos by Randy Stern

All Photos by Randy Stern

What would you do if you were around some of the greatest automobiles ever made?

There are many layers of automotive enthusiasm. At the top of the mountain are automobiles that are perceived as dream machines. These machines contain a complex combination of horsepower, technology, engineering, craftsmanship and elegance. They are the kind of automobiles that will draw attention, even when its owner would rather not want it.

Yet, these machines are very special – to its owners and anyone witnessing their approach. Seeing is believing, true. What about touching it, feeling it…and experiencing it?

For a fortunate few, the greatest automobiles in the world happen to belong to them. These are owners that care about fine machinery. Though there is pride in ownership of these great automobiles, there is also a lifestyle that goes along with it. When you are at the top of the automotive food chain, you live as you are expected to do to fulfill the rewards that come with exotic car ownership.

But, what if you never experienced an exotic car? What if you wanted to sit inside and simply feel it, even when it is not in motion? What does it feel like when it on the road.

To many, there are several experiences available to do exactly that. Continue reading

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A Different View – 2015 Volkswagen Golf R

All Photos by Eric Vilendrer - Eric Vilendrer Photography

All Photos by Eric Vilendrer – Eric Vilendrer Photography

How do you transform one of the world’s most popular cars into something truly special?

The Volkswagen Golf celebrates 40 years of existence this year. It defined a segment worldwide with a simple formula: A hatchback that does everything and the ability to please everyone. Since then, the Golf (and the Rabbit for a couple of generations in this country) had the ability to excite enthusiasts with performance editions that created new segments along the way. The GTI was the original “hot hatch.” It remains this way today, now in its seventh generation.

For VW, the GTI was not enough. During the MkIV era, the R32 took Golf onto another plateau with its fire-breathing VR6 engine, 4Motion all-wheel drive and segment defying performance for a consumer vehicle.

Here is the MkVII version – the 2015 Volkswagen Golf R.

To celebrate this magnificent car, my friend, photographer Eric Vilendrer, focused his lens onto the latest edition of VW’s hottest Golf to make this Tornado Red example as it basked in the late afternoon sun. Later that day, the car went on a drive with the crew at SouthWest Sunday Cruise group from Shakopee, Minnesota to Tonka Bay. These are Eric’s images of the Golf R from that drive.

A review of this newest hot Volkswagen is forthcoming on the web in the near future. In the meantime, enjoy these images from Eric.

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Commentary: “Back To The 50s” and Classic Car Stewardship

All Photos by Randy Stern

All Photos by Randy Stern

Quick: Name the largest car show in the USA?

Tough one, isn’t it? Consider this: This show had a record of over 13,000 cars in one spot a couple of years ago.

Still guessing? Here is a clue: It is held in the Twin Cities.

In is forty-second year, the Minnesota Street Rod Association hosted the largest car show in the country inside of the Minnesota State Fairgrounds. It is called “Back to The 50s” and it is an annual “can’t miss” event for the car lover.

Having been there last year, I was on the fence about going. There was a media event I needed to attend at the Mall of America and I was concerned that I would not be able to do both in one day. Somehow, miracles do exist and this one was pulled off nicely. To return to the Fairgrounds to see these wonderful classics again is a treat.

This time, I left happily fulfilled.

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Putting EcoBoost to The Challenge

All Photos by Randy Stern

All Photos by Randy Stern

How do you know if a technology is good or not?

The technology in question is a familiar one to me – the lineup of Ford’s EcoBoost engines. Ford went on to install a turbocharger – or two – to some smaller engines across their lineup. The idea was to prove that boost is more than just a modern substitute for good old power from a larger engine. Though equal in power, Ford claims they will turn improved fuel economy than the original engine for each vehicle.

Through my experience with several Ford and Lincoln vehicles equipped with EcoBoost engines, I have seen a series of results. In all, performance with the EcoBoost is quite good for each model I drove. The fuel economy part was a mixed bag.

Was I missing the point every time I drove a Ford or Lincoln product with one of these engines?

Perhaps I needed convincing. Continue reading

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