Tokyo 2017: The Big, Luxurious Star of Imperial Importance

Photos courtesy of the Toyota Motor Corporation

The Tokyo Motor Show used to be the hub for all things Japanese – including new production models. It seems that this recent edition of Japan’s key auto show focused on concepts and technology than a new product.

There was one new product that actually sparked a lot of interest. Just one. And, it’s a big one.

In Japan, the Toyota Century was the limousine of choice for the Imperial Household and the highest personage in the country’s society – in government and in business. The front-engine, rear-drive sedan was made for Japanese consumption only, though some seeped their way into other countries.

The Century is indeed a special car. Made mostly by hand at a special plant since 1967, it is based on the domestic Crown model with a specific mission in mind. Earlier models had V8 power, except for the last generation’s V12 engine. It was never offered with Toyota’s Hybrid Synergy Drive nor catered to a global audience beyond Japan and the few places where the Century has shown up.

At the Tokyo Motor Show, a new Toyota Century was introduced. Continue reading

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Commentary: Commuting Is Bad For Your Health

Hennepin Avenue as a Two-Way Street

In social media, something will pop up that will spark some form of interest.

It could be a headline – though, some may take caution to determine whether it is a decent article or some click-bait that has nothing to do with the intended subject matter. It could be certain topics that affect the work I do and your readership.

Recently, an E-mail came from my LinkedIn account that did catch my eye. After clicking on the link, I came upon the hashtag #MiserableCommutes. The short piece also came with the title “Longer commutes increasing loneliness.” This sounds interesting. Let’s see what it says…

First of all, it was a set of statistics – but not without a starting sentence that hits the nail on the head. It is true that the increase in the length of a commute does result in employee dissatisfaction. If we look at major North American cities, where does our worker base live in relation to job centers? Let me get to that in a bit, because there are too many examples of this right near V&R’s base of operations of the Twin Cities.

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Throwback Review: Das Auto for the Urbane Set

2008 VW Jetta 2
2008 Volkswagen Jetta S – All Photos by Randy Stern

A Victory & Reseda Throwback Review of the 2008 Volkswagen Jetta

There is urban. Then, there’s urbane. Can you be both?

Both are valid lifestyles for city living. Yet, each label denotes certain socio-economic, geographic and aesthetic qualifications. The larger question centers on the idea of purchasing a vehicle that is common amongst one of these groups, if not both, and not lives either lifestyle.

The challenge for Volkswagen of America is to present themselves as an automotive brand that caters to everyone. Their urbane core is loyal to a fault. However, they would like to get back into the urban community as well as the mainstream of North American consumer society.

You will hear in next several months about how Volkswagen is doing that, through products such as the Routan minivan (essentially a Chrysler LLC mainstay with a few Volkswagen bits added on) and the forthcoming city car product.

In the middle of all of this is the Mexican-made Jetta sedan. The volume seller in the Volkswagen lineup, these sedans reflect a product no longer wanted by Europeans, but loved by urbane Americans. The proposition seems fine, but there are some things that simply do not fit…such as where it is supposed to be in the marketplace.

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#VOTY17 – Ten Years of Audacity

VOTY '11 Handoff at the 2012 Chicago Auto Show
Photo by Tyler Mallory/General Motors

Formally known as the Victory & Reseda Vehicle of The Year award, the #VOTY is an invention of modern automotive coverage.

Born from social media engagement, #VOTY has been a stalwart against many more significant awards over its ten-year history. The idea of giving people the power to vote their favorites among a list of finalists is audacious as the award itself. It is audacious as the outlet that awards it to its worthy, democratically-selected recipient.

That fact that it is still being done after ten years is an amazing feat onto itself.

Being a presenter of a “best of” is not easy. Nor is the job of facilitating the process towards presenting the #VOTY. The fact that V&R does it gives it an edge on other websites and blogs. Continue reading

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#VOTY17: Introducing The Long List!

2017 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid
Photo by Randy Stern

This is it! The #VOTY17 Long List of nominees!

It is a larger list than #VOTY16. However, it is 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 2017.

Just like every #VOTY before it, the idea of “vehicle” is never separated. In our automotive world, we 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.

To review the #VOTY17 process so far, please read our introductory post.

Without further ado, here is the Long List of nominees for Victory & Reseda’s #VOTY17: Continue reading

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Making The Step Up

2018 Volkswagen Tiguan SE 4Motion
2018 Volkswagen Tiguan SE 4MOTION – All Photos by Randy Stern

A Vctory & Reseda review of the 2018 Volkswagen Tiguan

Compact SUVs and Crossovers are what the mainstream want to drive.

I hate to repeat myself, but it’s the truth. The entire market has acquiesced to a normalcy that is both necessary and disturbing. Let’s face it – we can’t change consumer habits.

Or, can we?

In some conversations I had with industry people, fellow media colleagues, and others, one truth came up as to the core reason for the rise of the SUV. It has to do with the Baby Boomer generation. They all told me that Baby Boomers are concerned about their short- and long-term physical health. Therefore, this group of consumers found that they were more comfortable stepping up into an automobile, rather than stepping down into one.

SUVs provide the step up, along with higher ground clearance and a great command of the road visually. They also provide superb interior and cargo space for their family, friends, and future passengers using their beloved ride-hailing app.

That explains everything! Continue reading

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A Different View – 2017 Volvo V90 Cross Country

All Photos by Kevin Tran/The Nomadic Tire

There’s more to show from The Nomadic Tire‘s Kevin Tran!

While the review of the 2017 Volvo V90 Cross Country did not originally appear on here, Tran was still interested in capturing this big Swedish wagon’s essence. We reconvened in Corcoran, Minnesota to give the V90 Cross Country some country atmosphere under lightly hazy skies.

What Tran saw was more than just a Volvo. He saw detail. Every detail wowed Tran. He went deep with his camera and picked up things that the average consumer might miss.

Here is what Kevin came up with on the Volvo V90 Cross Country:

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Throwback Review: Think “Country Squire”

2010 Ford Flex 4
2010 Ford Flex SEL. Photo by Randy Stern

The Monday after Jamie Foxx’s crew extolled the positive virtues of the Detroit area at the MGM Grand Casino in Greektown (and live on Sirius XM), some good news came out of the Motor City. Ford reported a $1 Billion profit in the third quarter of 2009. This is the best financial news to come out of Detroit/Dearborn in a long time.

To celebrate, I figured a Ford product was in order: The Ford Flex.

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#VOTY10: …And The Winner Is…

All photos by Randy Stern

#VOTY09 yielded a resounding winner. A winner reflecting on the future of the automotive industry and trumpeting a sea change at a much-maligned brand.

What about this year? The shortlist reflected a hodgepodge of vehicles ranging from a benchmark in subcompacts to a new luxury icon. In-between were three SUV/Crossovers – a reflection of our increasing infiltration of a vehicular juxtaposition.

In the end, it was a two-horse race. One is a sedan that would raise the bar in what continues to be one of the most competitive market segments in North America. The other is an automotive icon reborn.

In years past, this group would not have been so divergent. A couple of years ago, I had to rethink about the winner (2008-2009 Nissan Altima), as two others seemed more worthy of the VOTY (2009 Mazda6 and 2009 Hyundai Genesis sedan). While a very sporty family sedan won, two more newsworthy challengers had their cases for being a better winner.

The year before yielded a three-car race between the subcompact benchmark (2007-2008 Toyota Yaris), the icon amongst hybrids (2007-2008 Toyota Prius) and the most important Korean car of its time (2007-2008 Hyundai Sonata). By the Hyundai winning, you simply cried “foul.”

No one knows how this year’s winner will be perceived. Last year brought the award back into American hands. One of the frontrunners comes from a brand based in Detroit, yet both of them are built in North America.

Enough teasing – the #VOTY10 is… Continue reading

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Commentary: Goodbye, Jumbo

Photo Copyright © 2016 United Airlines, Inc.

I have never flown a Boeing 747.

Yet, I admired the majesty of the original Jumbo Jet that has been christened the “Queen of The Skies.” One look at one and you wondered what it was like inside of there. The feeling of comfort had been unrivaled since its first flight in 1969 – that is until Airbus produced the A380 and the airlines of the Persian Gulf elevated flight to beyond Juan Trippe’s own airborne fantasies.

The big plane arrived at the right time when flight was a luxury and we only dreamed of going somewhere exotic and unique. Boeing created a masterpiece of engineering that challenged the idea of flight. Its weight alone made us wonder how could one be able to fly with those lean 707s and DC-8s?

The 747 came about as soon as I recalled my first flight. Continue reading

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