Travelogue: “Self-Care” Gone…Almost to Plan

All Photos by Randy Stern

“Self-care” maybe a fashionable term for “finding ways to take care of yourself – even if means spending some money to do so.” It is part of a much larger conversation about emotional/behavioral/mental health.

Before I was born, it was standard practice that anyone exhibiting such behaviors are sent to institutions away from the general population. That was how we dealt with it – throw them away from their family and everyone else.

This was a very expensive practice – and quite a horrific one. When budgets were called to question, those institutions were shuttered an everyone living in them were sent out into the streets.

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Historiography: A Quarter Century of Giving It Everything

16th Annual TSI/Smith Nielsen Automotive Service Car Show
All Photos by Randy Stern

In the spring of 1994, a new brand arrived at unsuspecting showrooms.

This was not just any new brand. It became the second manufacturer from the Republic of Korea to sell their vehicles in the USA.

Kia arrived in the USA at a time when there was room in the automotive market for another inexpensive offering. Yet, the market had already turned towards the pickup truck and the SUV, even though mid-sized sedans prevailed in terms of volume.

In the early 1990s, we experienced a few pratfalls in terms of inexpensive offerings from new brands. Hyundai promised “cars that made sense.” What customers received were vehicles yielding a host of quality and reliability issues that did not meet the demands of customers in the USA.

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Twin Cities 2019: Four On the Floor Plus Overdrive

All Photos by Randy Stern

Since 2005, the Twin Cities Auto Show has become a part of my annual routine. Each year provided a larger personal role than before.

For example, I was presented with an opportunity to expand my automotive media horizons in 2011. A meeting with the regional public relations representative from Toyota offering to send a vehicle for me to do a story on. That moment sparked this career onto new heights.

Every year since, I was welcomed by the auto show’s management and public relations teams to see more of the show than ever before. This trajectory continues, as I continue my role as one of the few automotive journalists working in the Twin Cities.

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Commentary: Wagons, Ho!

2019 Volvo V60 T6 AWD Inscription
All Photos by Randy Stern

Here is a little factoid from last year’s 17.2 million vehicles sold in the USA: wagons experienced a 29% jump in sales growth in 2018 compared to 2017.

The car-based vehicles with the long-roofs that were thought to be extinct compared to the SUV are coming back. Their numbers are growing not because of consumer guilt or a sense of nostalgia.

It is because of the SUV and crossover.

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Geneva 2019: I’m The King of T-Roc…and More

Photo courtesy of Mazda North American Operations

Oh, Geneva, you are one expensive place. Perhaps that is one reason why I have never stepped foot inside Palexpo…

But, for those who work this show know that it takes a shift in overall perspective to understand why this spring European show is important. Because of the money that fuels Geneva and Switzerland, you do see a lot of supercar reveals and other things that could be considered vulgar. Mansory’s creations are the first thing that come to mind.

However, if you sift through the multi-million Euro debuts and fantasy concepts, there are a few gems that are worth talking about.

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The V&R Comparo: Two Compact Sedans, No Cups

2019 Kia Forte EX – All Photos by Randy Stern

Comparing one vehicle against another can go a few ways.

One, it can be a treatment towards a bias. This brand of automobile is far more superior than the other brand. Another is to try to make the comparison between an apple and an orange – and we’re not talking smartphones and laptops here. Seriously, does anyone know what is in which segment to make a competent comparison anymore?

Lastly, there is the unbiased apples-for-apples comparison. The one match-up you rather see above all. A comparison so perfect that you would be amazed at which one will be on top.

That is what I have come up with – a perfect comparison, thanks to a serendipitous spark of timing.

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Quickies: As Published Elsewhere – the First 2019 Edition

2019 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross SEL Touring
All Photos by Randy Stern

We’ve got some catching up to do…

It is not that I have been neglecting to publish reviews on this site. I have been working through several vehicles for other publications. In those instances, I have to adhere to a specific formula and balance to present to those magazines and websites.

However, V&R gives me a bit of freedom. To turn a phrase, to say something else. You get the idea.

Last year, I did several postings on a quarterly basis to catch you up on what I have been working for those other publications. Just to keep you in the loop, dear reader.

What have I been working on elsewhere? Let’s begin with something rather…ahem“controversial.”

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Commentary: Your Driving This Winter Really Stinks

2019 Ford Edge ST
Photo by Randy Stern

 This is not about climate change. Although there will be some who might argue one way or another.

It is about this round of winter that our country had to endure so far. We had it all. There was rain, sleet, slush, snow, and sub-zero temperatures. This is not just in Minnesota, mind you.

I have not forgotten the “Polar Vortex.” That was quite an experience, wasn’t it?

 A winter like this – along with multiple rounds of storms ranging from dustings to blizzard conditions – can be a challenge to motorists.

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Historiography: The Celebration of The Roadster

1990 Mazda Miata 1
All Photos by Randy Stern

Thirty years ago, McCormick Place was the place to be.

The lights inside the exhibition hall south of Chicago’s Loop would shine upon a return of a motoring revolution from another generation. The new vehicle reminded us of a time when cars were easier to work on but required a bit elbow grease to handle. It took bravery when the weather would change to make sure the driver and its other occupant were secure from the weather.

It was not because of varying design flaws. Quite the contrary. Since the first automobile, the idea of a roof was not completely thought out. You drove with the elements above you without a filter.

The open roof automobile came in various ways. One such variant on the theme was the roadster. A smaller two-seat machine that was designed to minimal offering nothing but maximum fun.

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Chicago 2019: One Look Back Towards Looking Forward

2019 Chicago Auto Show
All Photos by Randy Stern – except noted otherwise

“Another year, another Chicago Auto Show…”

That was the mantra among those of us who arrived in McCormick Place for the 111th Chicago Auto Show. We may be either new to the game or are hardened veterans of the business, but we came, saw, and not exactly conquered what could be the only Tier 1 auto show left in the wintertime.

Before we get to 2020, we have to get through 2019. Chicago never disappointed us. At least, it never disappointed me.

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