Carmmunity: You Knew What I Did This Summer…

Stars of a show this summer... - All Photos by Randy Stern

Stars of a show this summer… – All Photos by Randy Stern

How did I spend my summer?

Let’s see…chasing cars…chasing car meets…covering a few car shows…attending media drives…driving and reviewing vehicles of all sorts…

That’s pretty much it.

Well, no, it is not. This summer was quite significant, as I continue to grow this site and my work. However, I had been thrown into various situations that took some time to navigate. They were good experiences, but new ones to navigate.

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That Certain Smile

2015 Lexus RC F - All Photos by Randy Stern

2015 Lexus RC F – All Photos by Randy Stern

A Victory & Reseda review of the 2015 Lexus RC F

No one should be able to drive this car.

There are a few drivers who understand what this car is all about. It is not just a road car, but one that has proven its worth on the track. In fact, one test showed that this car had a faster time around a track against the benchmark in the premium performance coupe class – the BMW M4.

You know, these class names are getting insane. “Premium Performance Coupe” – what does that mean? Who made this one up? Why? Because we want to put out vehicles into pigeon holes that we cannot see the overall appeal of these machines that trump above all comers.

In the pantheon of automobiles, there are those that cannot be compared to anything. They are simply loved for what they are, not whom they beat at some motorsports venue.

Then again, a certain vehicle can be loved on an individual basis, not by what the hive mind dictates. Continue reading

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Luxury. Hot Rod.

2015 Hyundai Genesis 5.0 - All Photos By Randy Stern

2015 Hyundai Genesis 5.0 – All Photos By Randy Stern

A Victory & Reseda review of the 2015 Hyundai Genesis 5.0

When you think a story is over, there is another chapter to write.

For example, the 2015 Hyundai Genesis sedan was a huge surprise a year ago. Hyundai wanted to create a premium sedan that would be on par with its intended competition. The first generation was good, but not really up there with the rest. As I found out last year, this current Genesis pretty much landed on target.

Go ahead and check the list and find that with distinctive styling and character, Hyundai finally created a car for the luxury set that concentrated on its mission rather than its badge. Last year’s tester – one equipped with the 3.8 liter V6 with Hyundai’s first all-wheel drive system for a non-crossover/SUV – was a good driver that spelled confidence while pouring on the luxury. That was good enough to become one of the finalists for last year’s Victory & Reseda Vehicle of The Year award.

I will admit being surprised by how the Genesis sedan fared last year among the panelists of journalists and influencers. The praise was high…better than my own words alone. It is indeed a good car from a company that has been putting out some really compelling products of late.

Yet, my curiosity was piqued. Continue reading

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Commentary: 1995

One thing that happened in 1995... Photo by Randy Stern

One thing that happened in 1995… Photo by Randy Stern

The automotive mind is one to behold for a lifetime. However, it was never in the cards twenty years ago that it would become front and center of this life.

Back in 1995, I was in a completely different space. As much as I loved the automobile, I threw away a lot of dreams and ideas about it. perhaps because nothing inspired me to do anything on the subject matter, except drive rental cars that would be seen as mundane and boring to today’s standards. Yet, I never thought that the life choices I would make twenty years ago would end up framing what I do today.

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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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