Quickies: As Published Elsewhere (Part III)

2018 Chevrolet Cruze Diesel Hatch
All Photos by Randy Stern

The summer may be turning its hottest corner, but that does not mean there’s no cooling down of content.

In this batch “As Published Elsewhere” Quickies reviews, the selection of vehicles turn towards the headlines. Vehicles that are found elsewhere with my byline, reviewed fully on those pages. They do find their way here because you want to know more about them.

Let’s again catch up on some vehicles that may not have passed these pages…

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My Favorite Places to Eat – The 2018 Edition

Joey Nova's Rally Team #TeamNovas
All Photos by Randy Stern

Before the Twin Cities readers figure out what this next My Favorites list is all about…yes, it is on this list!

As are other restaurants. Still, you can read the first list of favorite restaurants here. That way, you can see how much things have progressed from that point in 2016.

But, I digress. A place to eat is not about the food. It is the full dining experience. It is also location, service, atmosphere, noise, and selection. It is how they take the cuisine and make it theirs – for you.

Here is another list of favorite places to eat. Let’s start with the obvious, shall we?

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Travelogue: Kansas City…With Car Folks!

Waffle House Run to Kansas City
All Photos by Randy Stern

When a road trip falls in your lap – not literally, mind you – do you simply go?

I was presented with the idea of joining a group of friends/fellow car folks, taking a convoy of vehicles to drive – or ride along – through the night to arrive into a city I have never been to.

To be fair, I really do not have any choice of where to go, because it was their idea…and it was somewhere I have been waiting to go for years.

The result was a “day trip” to a Waffle House in Kansas City, Missouri. While it is this group of car folks’ third such adventure. I just went along for the ride.

Who are these group of car folks? Continue reading

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10,000 Lakes Concours D’Elegance 2018: A Different Kind of Coverage

2018 10,000 Lakes Concours d'Elegance
All Photos by Randy Stern

Normally, you would see a bunch of photos and plenty of text about this year’s 10,000 Lakes Concours d’Elegance. Instead, we did something completely different.

I had the chance to bring out Josh Dvorak (MNStreets, slashMedia), whom we were joined by the Minnesota Car Enthusiast Club (MNCEC)’s founder Daniel Balto, to cover this sixth annual event by video. You will see the final result below…in just a moment.

My sincerest thanks to Josh and Dan for joining me at this year’s Concours in Excelsior. To have them available and experiencing their first such event is indeed a proud moment. I am always grateful for the connectivity and support we got from Nemer Fieger, the public relations agency of record for the 10,000 Lakes Concours d’Elegance. My hats off to J. Marie and Abby for bringing us in to cover this event.

Any event is always better when you have your friends along. Continue reading

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Warren Brown: 1948-2018

Photo courtesy of William West Hopper/Washington Auto Press Association



On December 1, 1996, I landed at Dulles Airport with a few bags of my worldly goods on board an American Airlines red-eye flight from Los Angeles. Little did I know what would transpire towards the work you are reading now.

In the most powerful city in the world is a newspaper with equal power – the Washington Post. For insider stories of the machinations of the Presidency, the Cabinet, Congress, the Pentagon, and the Supreme Court, this was the best source for all of the above. I had occasion to read the Post as part of my four years in DC.

What you did not know about the Post was that it had one of the finest newspaper columnist writing about the automobile and its industry – Warren Brown. Continue reading

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What Does The “L” Really Mean?

2018 Lexus RX 350L
2018 Lexus RX 350L – All Photos by Randy Stern

A Victory & Reseda Review of the 2018 Lexus RX 350L

What if you can sell a three-row version of a very popular crossover/SUV?

Since 1998, the Lexus RX was the standard bearer for the premium mid-sized SUV/crossover. The 2016 model year ushered in the fourth-generation of this popular model for Toyota’s luxury brand. Since its inception, the RX has always been a two-row crossover made for nuclear families.

However, Lexus had been besieged with requests for a three-row SUV/crossover to compete with the likes of the Audi Q7, Acura MDX, BMW X5, Volvo XC90, and Infiniti QX60. The result is the RX L.

What does the “L” really mean?

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Sergio Marchionne: 1952-2018

Photo courtesy of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles



The following is a statement released by John Elkann, the Chairman of the Board of Directors at Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and its holding company EXOR NV:

“Unfortunately, what we feared has come to pass. Sergio Marchionne, man and friend, is gone.

“I believe that the best way to honor his memory is to build on the legacy he left us, continuing to develop the human values of responsibility and openness of which he was the most ardent champion.

“My family and I will be forever grateful for what he has done. Our thoughts are with Manuela, and his sons Alessio and Tyler.

“I would ask again everyone to respect the privacy of Sergio’s family.”

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Commentary: Much Ado About Trade and Tariffs

Photo courtesy of Toyota Motor North America from Rodney Choice/Choice Photography



The United States of America has always had a long and complicated relationship with trade and tariffs.

There are some basic principles that have been at the core of trade in this country. What do we need in terms of goods and services that can be done right here inside our country? What do we need from aboard that would offset our needs and wants? And how much do we really want to pay for these goods and services?

Basic, yes. But, understand where this gets complicated. We were once the manufacturing leaders in the world. That was true through the post-World War II era. We also did not need much from our allies for most of the 20th Century.

Then, things changed. Profit margins changed. Shifting of production facilities changed. We became a globalized economy relying on other entities across borders and oceans to supply us for both components and finished goods.

Were we comfortable with this? Continue reading

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Commentary: The Sudden Succession Plan

Photo courtesy of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles



He was supposed to hang in there until 2019.

Sergio Marchionne was set to retire next year. He would have left the CEO position at Fiat Chrysler Automobiles. However, his position on the boards of CNH, Ferrari, and of FCA was undetermined after his scheduled retirement. Nor was there any choice for his replacement in all of his positions – including the key CEO job at FCA. He deferred all comments regarding his succession plan at the last Investor’s Day in May.

Three weeks ago, Marchionne had surgery on his shoulder in Switzerland. After the surgery, Marchionne developed complications as his convalescence was prolonged. Sources close to the 66-year-old Italian-Canadian business leader Marchionne said that his condition was “grave.”

Due to his condition, Marchionne had no choice but to step down.

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Commentary: Cars vs. Crossovers…and The Debate Itself

2018 Lexus RX 350L
All Photos by Randy Stern

Reality is setting in. Not a lot of us are liking it.

The headline that has been on auto-repeat for the past few years has been the proliferation of the SUV/Crossover. They have been ruling the new car lots becoming volume leaders above mere mortal sedans, coupes, hatchbacks, minivans, and wagons. Manufacturers are banking on these family vehicles by supplanting slow-selling sedans, etc. with SUV/Crossover models.

According to you, this is unacceptable. You want cars.

You are angry that Mitsubishi slapped the Eclipse name on a compact SUV/Crossovera pretty good one, by the way. You are angry that the next Chevrolet Blazer will not be able to follow a Jeep Wrangler onto an off-road park.

The latest slap in the face of the car was a recent report by Automotive News that Ford will introduce their own “ruggedized wagon” that will compete with the Subaru Outback – and call it the Fusion. That’s OK, Ford is already paring down the Focus lineup to a single ruggedized model built in China positioned against Subaru’s Crosstrek. I know you’re angry about these issues, too! You’re cherished Focus ST and RS have been swept aside for an Active model.

Moreover, you are angry that you have to share the road with an SUV/Crossover because they are in your way from having a little fun.

I feel your anger. Continue reading

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